Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Comments Moderation

Just stopping in to let you know I have enabled "Comments Moderation" on this blog.  Unfortunately I have starting getting spam in the last month.  So I have decided to place a filter on comments - shouldn't be a hinderance to you - but it is an easier way for me to delete these unwanted visitors.

If the people who like to cause this mischief focused their energies into something positive, maybe the world would be a better place!

And a short note to regular readers:  mom is doing better.  It is unknown if she will "graduate" from the nursing home, but for now she has recovered much of her own personality.

A better update will follow.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Coping Strategies

Personal goals go out the window at a moment's notice when you are a care giver.

But I haven't lost sight of them and now they are no longer optional goals ... some of them are coping strategies. 

The most important goal of all - walking.  My simple goal is to increase my daily step average each month.  
7112 average daily steps

7094  average daily steps

8502 average daily steps

April - first 8 days
9293 average daily steps

It is remarkable that March showed improvement.  I guess I was putting in a lot of miles the early part of March because once mom was hospitalized, I was only walking from my car to the hospital and back.  Oh, and let's not forget the steps I took from her bed side to the bathroom or the cafeteria and back.  But the real goal is the daily average - not individual day totals.

Now I am walking - sometimes twice a day - because I can't sleep.  And I am just so darn tired all the time.  Walking during the day is the only thing that helps me get through the night.  So this is Coping Strategy #1.  Walk, walk, and walk some more.  It does help, truly.

A special thanks to my Fitbit pedometer and its ability to track my steps when I really could care less, and automatically sync with the website capturing my stats until I am ready to look at them.  The only thing I need to do is keep the battery charged.

I had one knitting goal - to finish my daughter's shawl.  Thankfully I did that before mom's hospitalization.  Ironically my crafting life stalls when I am upset or worried.  I know that is the exact opposite of many folks who find escape in the act of knitting during tough times.  Not me. But I am knitting a little each day.  And when I do force myself to knit those few rows each day - I do feel better afterwards.  

This was a pretty simple goal - clean two closets.  It did not happen, and now the rest of the house is in a desperate state of dirty!  Usually when I am upset I become a cleaning machine!  Not this time.  My energy levels are very very low, so I am not going to fret about a dirty house.  

Blog more ... was my goal.  Blogging has always helped me - especially when things have been difficult with mom.  The story of my mom and care giving continues.  I did blog a bit more.  But I don't want this blog to become only my care giving journey - so I will try to broaden my focus going forward.  

Do more strength and stretching exercises.  This was the goal.  While totally worthwhile, it has been really hard right now.  No time, no energy, no immediate feedback - like walking gives - to make the effort right now possible.  I haven't lost my desire.  I'll be back. 

My April Goals!
Walk more!
Sleep better!
Settle mom in her new environment!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Unfamiliar Faces

As I walk into the nursing center every day to visit mom ... (and it has been about 10 days now) ... I can never predict how the visit will go.  The face of my mother seems little different each day since the hospitalization.

Sometimes it is her contented face I see - happy to see me and other residents.  She gives a brilliant smile to everyone who addresses her.  At other times it is her sleepy face - asleep in her wheel chair for most of the visit.  She expresses no interest in her surroundings, no desire to eat, and only wants to nap.

Today another face greeted me.  She had rolled herself up to the nursing station and appeared to be looking around.  She recognized me as I approached, but the look was that of inquiry.  "Where were you?"  "I am ready to go home now."  "I think we need to go back home today."  "It is time go to see Walter."  (Walter is her brother who lives in New York.  She hasn't seen him for longer than I can remember.)

The focus today was "home."  It entered most of our conversations.  "Home" sometimes means her room - but not today.  "Home" might have been her assisted living bedroom or it might even have been my "home."  Regardless - the only home she has now is her nursing home room - and that definitely was not where she wanted to go today.

She was restless and irritable as the visit progressed.  At one point she stopped and looked around asking for me or my sister.  She wanted to know if we were still here.  I was sitting right in front of her.  She asked about home again.  She understood that she could not stand now without assistance from 2 people - but she couldn't make the logical leap to understand that her limitations made this environment the only choice for now.

It was a hard day.

And so I suspect I am seeing the many one-dimensional faces of advancing dementia -  unfamiliar faces that are rising to the surface as we discover what mom's new normal is.  And it is very apparent that she has both a new lower norm physically and mentally.

I miss the familiar face of the woman who raised me.  She was interested in her surroundings and the activities of her friends and family.  She was consistently friendly even when she was having a bad day.  She'd occasionally ask if she could go home - but she followed the logic that my house had too many steps - that her wheel chair would not work there - and she was safer in Assisted Living.    She had a multi-dimensional personality - even as she continued to decline.

I miss that woman more than I can express.

I fear that familiar face will not show itself again.

Another loss.

The losses never seem to end.

But I am thankful she is still in this life with me - no matter what face she is showing.  I know our days together grow few.  I will love all those unfamiliar faces that rise to the surface now - even the difficult ones ...

... because someday I might not even have those.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Nursing Home

How to begin.

My mom was never one to express preferences in life.  She usually went along with life - adjusting to whatever was put in her path without much resistance.

With one exception!

She never wanted to be placed in a nursing home.

Today she sits in a nursing home - because her physical and mental abilities do no permit her to continue in an assisted living environment.  She is getting physical and occupational and speech therapies ... and it is hoped that this caring environment will help repair the damage to her dementia that that hospitalization caused.

It is hoped.

But as I look back over the last 7 or 8 years of being there while she aged - it breaks my heart to know she is now in a nursing home.

I console myself with the knowledge that this nursing home, Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Skill Nursing Center, is an excellent facility.  This retirement community is number 1 in the county and in the top 5 in our state.  I have been there with her through several rehabilitations 2 years ago and during this admission as well.  The staff is very stable - with many of them remembering her from other times.  And since her hospital discharge she has improved markedly because the environment is very much less stressful.

When I am feeling very down, I remind myself of those facts.

But how do I overshadow some of the memories from the hospital ...

One memory is burned in my brain.  It brings tears to my eyes even now.  After one especially difficult and frightening hospital procedure my sister and I returned to the room and found mom quietly very upset - trembling.  We stood on either side of her bed - trying to be there for her.  I don't recall if she was aware of our presence, but she pulled the covers up and began performing the sign of the cross on her person.  She silently repeated the sign of the cross over and over again.

In her mind there was no other help for her except God.

I felt helpless.

My own belief in God is less traditional than mom's and certainly not as intense.  But in that moment I desperately hoped that the spirit of God was standing by her with us.  She deserved at least that much.

Today her medical record has an order ... no ambulence transports, no hospitalizations.

Finally I have found the silver lining of dementia  ...  hope that dementia has lost that memory in her brain.

Now I must find a way to cope with that memory in my brain.