Sunday, July 30, 2006

Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity. I am glad that now she can receive treatment for her mental illness. It will be difficult for her to get better and come to terms with what she did while she was ill. I hope that the one good thing that comes out of this tragedy is that society will be more informed about mental/emotional illness. Perhaps if there had been a better understanding of her illness, more could have been down to help her and prevent this tragedy. Illness is illness, whether it's cancer or depression. People must accept that and realize that you need to treat every illness with understanding and compassion.

The heat continues to scorch here. Today the forecasted high is 99 degrees; tomorrow it's supposed to be 102. It's very humid here too. We are getting a little bit of cabin fever. We do try to get out in the evening though when it is slightly cooler. Global warming seems a lot more real now. Especially when I hear that the Arctic is melting. That is a scary, scary though.

Lily actually ventured up the stairs on her own yesterday...twice! Stinky chased her down the last time though. It was nice to have her up here. I miss seeing her all day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I know you feel guilty. You keep neglecting to tell me things. Stop hiding behind guilt and just tell me things. You don't need to avoid telling me things. Just be honest. I know it's not very fun to spend time with us. Are you embarassed by us? I don't want you to have any regrets. Regrets are hard to live with. I hope you are reading this. I'm not angry about you having fun and a life. I'm disappointed that my prediction that you would forget about me is coming true.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My crankiness turned out to be the beginnings of a migraine, nausea and all. But I feel better now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sometimes I get cranky. I'll admit it. It's hard to care for someone who is slowing losing their memories while one holds down a full time job, and manages a household. Is it really someone's fault that they get sick? I've struggled with depression off and on for 10 years. Did I do something to cause this to happen? Maybe. Perhaps I invest too many feelings in my relationships. During this 10 year period my sister experienced major trauma, my dad had terminal cancer, I found my beloved Sammy lying dead at the top of the stairs, 9/11 traumatized me, and I lost my job but got a new one, I moved to a new house and now I'm dealing with a mom who is slowing losing her memory. Suddenly, I'm no longer caring for myself alone. I've lived on my own for nearly 20 years and worried and cared about everyone around me. I knew that my parents time on this earth was finite so I cherished the times we spent together. I miss my siblings and their children, my aunt and uncle and cousins. My family is small and somewhat close knit. But distance has kept us from seeing each other as often as we would like. Yes, sometimes I get cranky.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The rudest generation. That's what I feel like right now about the greatest generation. I've already mentioned the old guy who tried to run Mom off of the sidewalk. Well, she didn't hear him coming and he got really rude with her yelling "and to think, I fought in WWII for the likes of you!" Then, tonight we were out and about and stopped to listen to a jazz band that was playing. There were picnic tables with 1 or 2 people sitting around them. We asked one old couple if we could join them but no, we would block their view. Another old lady was waiting for her grandkids. Fed up, I left. Everyone thinks the younger generations are rude, and actually all generations are rude. But here I was with my elderly mother who quite obviously cannot stand around for very long, she has a cane, and no one was willing to let us sit with them. They can all bite me! I guess I'm just too accomodating for others. Not anymore, I'm going to try to be more self centered, that seems to be the thing to be nowadays, from family members to society as a whole. Next time you're feeling self centered, try a little compassion instead.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

We went to breakfast today and then we went out to the lake to enjoy the sun and the beach. It was awesome and I almost couldn't get Mom away. We were there for 2+ hours. But now Mom has a headache, probably from too much sun. Some cranky old man tried to run Mom off the sidewalk in his coot cart. Heck she needs the sidewalk to walk on more than him!

I also got a new Italian charm bracelet. I'm starting a big one!

Vintage. I never thought I'd be old enough to have worn something that is now considered vintage. But back in 1981 I had a pair of Candies stilletos. Well those shoes are back in style and they are being advertised as 'vintage'. I've officially crossed the line. By the way, those things are killer to walk in.

Last night I was reading the Home for Life Sanctuary website and bawling my head off. So many animals who were abandoned or abused. It rips my heart apart. I was reading about a kitty named Cedric who was burned with acid and left for dead. Someone rescued him (an angel!) and he ended up at Home for Life. Recently Cedric died and I cried that a sweet, innocent animal was mistreated and then ended up in the wonderful place called Home for Life where he was given much love and affection. I think about Stinky and how much happiness she has brought to us, and about Lily who has got to be the best kitty that ever walked this earth and I am so thankful for them.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mom is having more difficulty walking. She says that she feels very unsteady when she is on her feet. She uses a cane, and when I suggest that maybe she should use a walker she is adamant that she won't use one. She is so stubborn!! I am concerned about how much longer it will be before she falls. Her hygiene has really gone downhill too. I've stopped trying to persuade her to shower, she gets so upset with me when I do! Instead I try to remind her how good a shower feels and she seems to accept that.

Today her friend Edna called to say hi. I need to drive Mom up to her old neighborhood to see some of her neighbors, but when I ask her she never wants to go. She is afraid that they will think she is 'stupid' because she can't articulate sentences very well when actually she does pretty well. Her broker is coming next Thurs. and she is very worried about seeing him because I won't be here. He's coming at 4:00 and I don't get home until later.

I got 3 new charms, the last 3 that I needed, for my Italian charm bracelet. Now I need to start a new one. I think I will get the big bracelet this time, it looks pretty cool.

It's beautiful here today, sunny and cool. It was cloudy the morning but now the sun is out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush vetoed the bill that would provide more federal funds for stem cell research. What will happen to embryos that are never implanted? Wouldn't it be better to let them be used for research? I know this is a tough decision; on one hand you have embryos that will more than likely never become living, breathing children, while on the other hand you have children and adults who are suffering from diseases like diabetes, Parkinsons, cancer and Alzheimers who are grasping at the promise of a cure. Their families and loved ones are experiencing pain and fear as they helplessly watch, praying for something, anything that would give them hope. Stem cell research seems to promise hope. How can you ignore their pain?

There are so many children who are born into this world who experience pain and suffering. Recently there was a 10 year old girl who was found scalded over 70% of her body here. She was born to parents who were far to young to have children. She was removed from her mother's home allegedly because of molestation by the mother's boyfriend. The mother also suffers from bipolar disorder. She was placed with her father and his girlfriend. Last week the girlfriend called 911 and reported that this innocent 10 year old wasn't breathing. When the EMTs arrived she was already dead and had probably been dead for at least a few hours. My heart goes out to that child who was treated so horribly in this life. I hope she has found peace in the next life. Isn't just as immoral to let children like this suffer? Instead of worrying so much about the unborn, perhaps we should divert some of that caring and worry toward children who are already living and breathing outside the womb. If all of the energy that is put into fighting a woman's right to choose were instead put into helping living and breathing children outside of the womb, think of the things that we could accomplish. Think of the pain and suffering that might disappear. If we cared more about making sure that every child had health insurance, food to eat and a loving home to live in I think that we would be accomplishing a lot more morally. Think about it. It's time to start taking care of children living outside of the womb.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just got done wrestling a toothbrush out of Stinky's mouth. This morning I found my mouth guard (which should have been in my mouth) on the floor. Stinky strikes again.

The humidity has finally dropped. It feels nice. It has been pretty tropical here.

There is a fire raging in the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) at Cavity Lake near the end of the Gunflint Trail. They are working to keep it away from the inhabited areas further down the Gunflint. So far it has burned 20 square miles. I'm sure that it was just a tinderbox waiting to happen; it's been so dry all across the state. I hope that they are able to contain it soon. I've never been to the BWCA, but Dad and A have and they loved it. It must be so beautiful and peaceful there.

I've changed my profile photo. That's me at about 3 on my rocking horse. By the time it got to me it must have been in bad shape. I broke springs, handles and stuff. But I loved my horse! It was my favorite thing in the whole wide world. I still love to rock; it soothes me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Every once in a while it's nice to be told that your doing a good job. It's nice to be rewarded in some small way. The daily routine can become mundane and repetitive; wouldn't it be nice to shake it up and let someone do something different?? Even if just for a day?

The heat is beginning to abate here. It's already is a lot less humid. The humidity gets to me so much. I love being outside and having the windows open. But when it's hot and humid I have to have the AC on or else I can't breathe. Plus, I don't think it's healthy for Mom to be exposed to the intense heat and humidity. We both look forward to when we can breathe fresh air.

In the latest Minnesota Poll, 57 percent of Minnesotans said that things in the United States are "pretty seriously off on the wrong track". The US is engulfed in a war that is not popular, but because Bush started this war we need to finish it. We can't abandon the Iraqi people leaving them to the insurgency. The economy is on shaky ground; if someone looks crosseyed at someone in the middle east the price of gasoline goes up. Don't even get me started on gasoline and oil. I still don't understand why the energy crisis in the 1970s didn't push this country away from gas guzzling vehicles. As sales of SUVs skyrocketed in the 90s I kept thinking of the 70s. I guess we didn't learn any lessons. At least, the American car companies didn't learn any lessons. I'm sure that big oil didn't help either. They are making unprecedented profits at this time. They must be loving the turmoil in the Middle East. A good hurricane would send them into ecstasy. Well enough of my tirade for today.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Today is the 9 year anniversary of the day Dad died. I remember it like it was yesterday. I still miss him so much but like with all things, the passing of time has eased the pain.

We are having thunderstorms and light rain. We need it so badly. It is so hot here still though. Right now it's 82 degrees but the high for today is supposed to be 95. Yucky. We are grateful for AC. It's nice to hear the thunder though.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Everyone is out of town this weekend. A and J are in Atlanta, Aunt ME and Uncle N are in Au Gres and Trog is in St. Louis (though soon that will be his home). We are sweltering near 100 degrees this weekend so we are laying low in the house where it is cool and comfortable. We may go to the mall in the afternoon either today or tomorrow just for a change of scenery.

Heard from our friends in Duluth. They too are sweltering in the 90s. For Duluth that is virtually unheard of. I remember when I lived there I'd have given anything for a few warm days. In fact, my parents never had to have AC there, but they put it in in the latter years of living there for the one or two hot days they would have in the summer. And of course Mom was having hot flashes then so she needed it for comfort. And there is always Lake Superior to go swimming in. That would cool you off in seconds if you could even stand to put your foot in it. I miss Lake Superior.

Friday, July 14, 2006

It's hot in Minnesota today, and it's going to get hotter. We finally got some much needed rain last night. The sky was black around 8:00 pm and the wind began to pick up. Now the grass is a little less crunchy.

Got the washing machine hoses replaced today. I guess they were defective, so it's a good thing we had them replaced.

Took Stinky to the vet. She had two patches on her neck where she had lost fur. The vet thinks they are scars; they weren't raised or inflamed. Poor baby, no wonder she is aggressive towards other animals, she was probably forced to defend herself a lot. I'm glad that I took her in since I have experience with Lily's IBD.

I have had a dull headache off and on for about a week. Today Mom was complaining about having a headache too....

I'm really nervous about the mess in the Middle East with Israel and Hezbollah. I'm scared that this could escalate out of control (it already seems like a major possibility). That region is so unstable and it seems like it's a tinderbox waiting to blow. And of course it's the innocents who are caught in the middle of this mess. I pray for them.

Let's hope we don't heat up too much this weekend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

After 2 days back at work I'm fatigued and achy. Last week was so great because I wasn't tired and I had no aches and pains. Sitting at a desk is hard for me, I really have to remember to get up and move around more often and I need to walk at lunch. That helps me in so many ways.

One thing that I've noticed is that my memory is sort of foggy this week. I can't remember things as well as I used to be able to.

The heat is coming! Today it was very humid and warm; tomorrow is going to be much worse. I can feel it too, my asthma is acting up. But at least it's not winter.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Today I called the Alzheimer's Association. This is a big step for me. I've always shared everything with Mom, but now she would get upset by this so I can't. It's hard for me to not share this. They are going to send me a packet of information. They also convinced me to push for a diagnosis. I also signed Mom up for the patient online system at her clinic so that I can see her doctor's notes and can communicate with her doctor online.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

It's a beautiful day today. We went swimming bright and early this morning. No one else was using the pool so it was ours to enjoy. Mom was up and dressed in her swimming suit ready to go when I got up. Some things stick in her head while other things...well. It was nice and cool. We even laid in the sun to get some color. I just hope I don't burn. So far so good.

We watched "Saving Milly" tonight. Very good movie, very sad story. Think of the trillions of dollars being spent on the Iraq war that could instead be spent on research for Parkinsons and Alzheimers and cancer. I keep thinking "what if Bush hadn't 'won' the election in 2000. What would this world be like? Would we really be more vulnerable to terrorism?" It's an interesting thought.

It's back to work for me tomorrow. I've enjoyed not having to wake up and leave the house at 6:30 AM only to return at 5:00 PM. I've gotten in some sleep, some exercise and some time with Mom.

Talked to my Aunt and Uncle last night. It's nice to know that they think about us and sort of understand and support us. Sometimes I feel all alone.

Saturday, July 8, 2006


Against all odds, she is raising hopes in Alzheimer's research
Dr. Karen Hsiao Ashe's quest for answers has broken new ground.

Maura Lerner, Star Tribune

In the fall of 2004, a research assistant sheepishly approached Dr. Karen Hsiao Ashe about a problem with one of her experiments.
It involved a group of mice that had been bred to become forgetful, like people with Alzheimer's. Only this time, the mice had surprised them.
"Something very funny has happened," the assistant told her. "These animals are getting better."
Ashe, a University of Minnesota neurologist, was astonished. "Something must have gone wrong," she said. Actually, it was a breakthrough in disguise. The experiment turned out to be the first scientific evidence that memory loss could be reversed in an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease. And it helped seal Ashe's reputation as one of the leading scientists in her field. Her groundbreaking work, colleagues say, is raising hope that it may be possible to halt the destruction of memory in people suffering from Alzheimer's.
In the past six months, Ashe, 51, has been showered with honors --including the $250,000 MetLife Foundation Award for Alzheimer's research and the Potamkin Prize, known as the "Nobel Prize of neurology." And just last week, three of her discoveries were named among the 12 most important advances in Alzheimer's research in the past three years, in a survey of experts by the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. Of the top three studies, two were from her lab.
For the publicity-shy scientist, the attention is unnerving. "I'm really happiest when I'm looking at data and making discoveries," said Ashe, who grew up in Arden Hills, the daughter of scientists who emigrated from China. At the same time, she's eager to translate her good fortune into something that will help patients. So in addition to her research, she is heading the new Center for Memory Research and Care at the university to help speed new treatments from lab to bedside.
For 14 years, Ashe has been quietly making her mark at the university where her father, C.C. Hsiao, spent his career as a professor of aerospace engineering.
Ashe, who is married to a neurologist and has three children, said she chose to study Alzheimer's "because it robs people of what makes [them] human: Their thoughts, their memories, their feelings." She has bucked animal-rights activists and skeptics in her quest.
"She's a brilliant scientist, but she's a very careful scientist," said Dr. Deborah Powell, dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School.
"She waits until she has something major to say and then she says it."
Ashe is best known for developing the "forgetful mice" used worldwide to study memory loss. Now, she has shed new light on the cause of Alzheimer's, which affects more than 4 million elderly Americans.
She discovered, among other things, that memory loss can be caused by a poisonous type of protein, which she named "A-beta star," found in the brains of her lab mice. And she found that even forgetful mice begin to recover when another type of protein, known as tau, is cut off.
Her discoveries could lead to new treatments, she believes. But it will take years to get there.
Ashe, who graduated from both Harvard and MIT, says she knew at age 3 that she wanted to be a scientist. "I just can't remember wanting to be anything but a scientist," she said. "I just wanted to discover new things about how the universe worked."
Maybe it was a combination of genes -- both of her parents have Ph.D.s -- and the games she played as a toddler, counting peas on her plate. "She was a very inquisitive and creative child," said her mother, Joyce Hsiao, a biochemist. "I thought every child was like that. We were not really teaching her; we thought we were just playing games with music and science and numbers."
Ashe's parents came to the United States as graduate students in the late 1940s and decided to stay after the Communist revolution in China, settling in Minnesota.
Karen, the eldest of four children, laughingly calls herself "one of those extremely over-achieving Asian-Americans, first generation." An accomplished pianist, she won a citywide music competition as a teenager, even sewing the dress she wore. After graduating from St. Paul Academy, she skipped her freshman year of college and entered Harvard as a sophomore.
By 1982, she had earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. and before long landed a job studying brain disorders with Dr. Stanley Prusiner, the University of California scientist who went on to win the Nobel Prize for discovering the cause of mad cow disease.
Ashe was fascinated by what made brain cells go awry. She turned her attention to Alzheimer's when she joined the Minnesota faculty in 1992.
Like most scientists, she believed Alzheimer's was caused by sticky clumps of molecules, known as plaques and tangles, in the brain. But she wanted to see how they affected behavior. For that, she needed a living model.
So she set out, through genetic engineering, to design a mouse that had both the brain defects and memory loss of Alzheimer's. It was tougher than she expected. And it almost undermined her career.
For two years, she didn't publish a thing, which didn't exactly impress her colleagues. When she came up for tenure -- a lifetime appointment -- her own mentors lined up against her.
But Dr. Shelley Chou, then dean of the medical school, realized that she was getting close on the forgetful mouse. He took a leap of faith and gave her tenure, Ashe recalled.
By 1996, she had created her first Alzheimer's mouse, Tg 2576, and made breeding pairs available for free to academic scientists. Today, hundreds of thousands of descendents of those first mice have been used in experiments around the world.
In 1999, a few of them made news when animal-rights activists broke into Ashe's university lab and "liberated" 50 to 100 of her research mice. But it wasn't much of a setback; the mice were only a part of her total population and had been separated from the main colony because they were infected with mites. Most of her work was untouched. The lab beefed up security afterward.
The real breakthroughs have come in the last few years. They've shown that memory loss isn't caused by plaques and tangles in the brain; the culprits are elsewhere. Ashe believes she has found one of them and is closing in on another.
Her work, experts agree, could change the way scientists look at Alzheimer's.
Ultimately, Ashe hopes they'll be able to detect the disease early enough to make a difference, maybe through a blood test. It may only be partly reversible once it has begun, she said, but "I believe that it's preventable."

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
We enjoyed seeing our friends the Fleischmanns yesterday. They look great. They brought pictures of their villa in Green Valley. It looks really nice. I didn't realize Green Valley is so close to the border with Mexico, I thought it was further north in AZ. The drive to Hinckley was nice and went pretty fast. I dislike driving through the city though; all those curves and speed changes. Luckily it was an early rush hour so traffic was slowed down quite a bit.

Today the sky is overcast and we are supposed to get rain. That is fine because we need it. It has cooled off and we have the windows open which, of course, feels really good.

Mom is in a teary mood today. She found one of her bracelets and is wearing it because it was her mom's (actually it was a Christmas present from Dad). She pretty much thinks that everything is either my Dad's or her Dad's. She took a shower this AM on her own!

Friday, July 7, 2006

I see that New Jersey has shamelessly followed Minnesota by engaging in a state government shutdown. Bureaucrats just don't realize the hardship that they place upon families and workers when they do this. State workers aren't making the big bucks; most are living paycheck to paycheck and can ill afford a loss in income, even for a few days let alone weeks. I hope that the bureaucrats come to their senses soon and get these people back to work. Not only are the state employees suffering, also the constituents who rely on services are suffering. C'mon New Jersey, get state workers back to work!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Tomorrow we are driving to meet friends. Hopefully we won't run into any road construction delays. We'll take my car. I haven't driven long distances in almost a year so this should be interesting.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

I saw an interesting thing in The Onion. Yes, The Onion. In the May 24 Infographics, it lists ways President Bush can curtail illegal immigration. The last one is the most interesting to me. "Whatever he does, don't risk looking like weak-minded appeaser by working with the Mexican government to improve their economic environment so citizens there have a chance to make a decent life for themselves". Why isn't the Mexican government working to improve life for its citizens? And why isn't the US government encouraging that?

Monday, July 3, 2006

I'm tired of worrying. I'm going to work really hard not to do it anymore. I'm going to practice letting go and letting God. I'm going to live in the present.

Today Venita came and washed the floors, bathrooms and vacuumed. The house smells all lemony now. It's nice. She is a sweet person.

Weather is getting hot and humid now. It's definitely July.

Wonder how Mom will do with the visit to the Fleischmanns? I really wish that they were coming here and that we didn't have to drive to meet them. But Mom really wants to see them so I will do it for her.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

We went swimming in the pool today. It was really nice until a bunch of kids showed up and started throwing balls and stuff. I'm a stickler for rules, and none of them took a shower before they got in the pool. ICK! Even Mom took a shower before she got in. She loved it and wants to go back. Maybe this will get her to the Summit Place senior living where they have a wonderful pool and water workout. I've been trying to get her to go there for a while.

Got Stinky's claws trimmed. They were pretty bad. She nailed me last night and it brought tears to my eyes.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

June has flown by way too fast. Today we went out to breakfast to Byerlys where we had fresh fruit for breakfast. It was really good. And it wasn't very busy for a Saturday morning. Afterward went to Target and bought a new Forman grill.

I finally replaced the showerhead with a handheld one in Mom's shower. Hopefully that will make it easier to take a shower.

We are meeting the Fleischmanns, friends of Mom's and Dad's, next Friday halfway between here and their house.

Nine Years and Counting

Mom has been gone for a little over nine years. This blog was a huge mechanism for helping me cope with her illness and daily downfall. I...