Friday, November 30, 2007

It was a whopping 6 degrees this morning when Mom and I headed out for her mammogram appointment and protime. It takes such a long time to get Mom out of the house and into the car with her mobility issues. When we got to the appointment I was told that it had been canceled on Wednesday. What must have happened is that they called our house to confirm it, Mom answered the phone and canceled it. I mouthed the word 'Alzheimer's' to let them know that's why Mom didn't know anything about it. Luckily they fit us in and Mom had the test. Now I hope that it comes back negative.

A winter storm is heading our way. It's due to hit at around noon tomorrow with accumulations between 4 to 8 inches. Strangely enough, I'm sort of excited. I plan to put on Christmas music and haul up the tree to decorate. I bought some evergreen branches that I would like to put in a basket in the den. They smell so good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today I found out that giving Mom her seroquel before I leave for work makes a big difference for the home health aide. Today I forgot, and Mom was difficult to say the least. Terri said Mom was really angry, agitated and vocal. She refused to go to daycare. She had an accident in her bed and she didn't want Terri to clean her up. Eventually Terri did get her cleaned. Afterward, Mom always feels sorry for her behavior.

Mom and I watched the finale of Dancing With The Stars last night. I was glad that Helio won the competition. Although the Spice Girl was great, it wasn't much of a stretch for her to become a ballroom dancer in my opinion. A race car driver that can learn ballroom dancing, that's a stretch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I was not prepared for the cold this morning. It was 10 degrees when I drove to the vanpool. It didn't warm up much at all.

For some weird reason I'm not feeling a Thanksgiving let-down, though I think Mom is. Perhaps that is because I experienced my let-down before my sister left and now I have pulled it together in order to accomplish all that I was assigned to do.

My aunt called twice today. I think she is really worried and upset about her sister. Amazingly, when I called Mom this afternoon she told me her sister had called. I usually take this with a grain of salt but sure enough, her name and number were on the caller ID for today. Way to go Mom remembering this! I wish I could have prepared auntie for Mom's AD progression better.

I am on the waiting list now for one of the memory care facilities, I'm touring another on 12/7 and I need to get a check to the third one. I feel good about the places my sister and I chose, I think they will take good care of Mom when the time comes. But I know she will pitch a fit.

Joyce stopped by for an hour just to make sure Mom was OK and to chat. She said Mom was in good spirits. Terri also said that Mom was in good spirits this AM with her. And she took a shower. Bu she didn't go to day care. She was too tired.

Friday she is scheduled for a mammogram. I hope it warms up by then.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This morning Mom asked if anyone was still here and I told her they had all left for home. She was sad. But, she went to daycare! And it wasn't even a scheduled day so we have been scurrying around to get her a ride home. And to top it off, one of the Memory Care facilities called to say that they have an opening for an apartment December 3. We are going to wait, but I am going to put Mom on the waiting list for that one and a couple others.

Mom came home on the bus from day care, only stupid me gave them the wrong code for the garage door. They tried to call me but couldn't reach me so they called my sister who knew the code for the lockbox. Thank God I told her that on Saturday. Anyway, they got Mom into the house and settled into the den. She was very anxious and tearful when I got home, but she calmed down after a while.

It is a gorgeously sunny day here today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today we visited 2 more memory care facilities. Both of us liked these 2 as well as one from yesterday. The big dilemma now is to decide how many waiting lists we would like to be put on. Each facility charges to be put on the waiting list.

Last night Mom awoke at 12:30 AM with some weirdness going on. I'm still not sure what the problem was. I had given her half of a muscle relaxant before bed (I cleared this with the pharmacist based upon all of her medications first), I wonder if she had a drug interaction. I won't be giving her that again. It was scary and we were up until 4:30 AM. I gave her a banana just in case it was a muscle cramp (she hasn't been eating her banana daily).

To top things off, Joyce let me know that she needs 24 hours notice when Mom is going to cancel. I guess we will be using the bus sooner than I thought.

This sucks so much. I feel a gamut of emotions, but I know I can't go on like this much longer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today my sister and I visited 2 memory care facilities. It was difficult. Now I need to figure out which ones to put our names in for the waiting list.
Mom has been very emotional since her sister left for home. She keeps thinking that she didn't know it was her sister when she was here. And she wants to know when she is coming back for another visit. We took lot's of pictures, but Mom usually cries when she looks at them. It must be so hard for her, but I'm so glad that we got nearly the entire family together for this holiday. My uncle is my aunt's caregiver and like so many other spouses, I worry about him and hope that he accepts some help. He's too important to lose to caregiver burnout.

My sister and her husband are staying until Monday which is nice. I glad that people are leaving in waves and not all at once. That would be so hard.

It is finally sunny here. We had a light dusting of snow on Wednesday into Thursday. It will probably warm up a little now that people are gone.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving went well. Mom stayed with the crowd until the end. I think her sister was a little upset by her disease progression though. We all had a wonderful time looking at photos and reminiscing. Here are the two sisters along with their daughters. I've also included a photo of Mom and her sister at their grandparent's summer home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So far so good with Mom and the relatives. They are all here now and on their way to a Minnesota Wild hockey game. Mom and Auntie and I are home together enjoying each other's company. Tomorrow will be the big test. It must be hard for my auntie to see her sister like this. Mom is busy coloring away and watching the news with auntie, and I'm making quiche for dinner. Mom seems very happy to see everyone which is good.

Lily has taken this opportunity to come out of hiding. She's very shy and likes to hide. Olivia has been socializing all day.

It is COLD here in Minnesota, only in the 30s. We picked up the dinner this morning. Everything is already made, we just heat everything up.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in blog land.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another blogger acquaintance has lost their loved one. I knew of Stef, and her wise-beyond-her-years posts, from the Alzheimer's boards. She is an amazing young woman who showed such incredible love and devotion for her beloved grandmother. She has been such a supportive member of the ALZ community through her blog and her posts on the web board. Today I learned that she is from Syracuse. My beloved nephew attends Syracuse University. God bless you Stef. You have been an amazing support for so many people.
I've included a link to Martha Stewart's blog. Love her or hate her, you've got to admit that she handled her recent incarceration with grace and dignity, and she has moved on. I think she has also acquired some humbleness. I like her by the way. Martha lost her Mom this past week. We all know how hard that can be. Earlier this week, I think it was Friday, she mentioned that her Mom was in the hospital and one could see the tears in her eyes. Godspeed Big Martha.

This version of I'll Be Home for Christmas is a wonderful tribute to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wish they were home.

Listening to: Josh Groban - I'll Be Home for Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mom's sense of time is totally gone. Sure, we mark off days on the calendar and circle important dates, but that no longer seems to help. She is aware that we are having lots of people for Thanksgiving. Tonight was the night she thought they were coming. Even though I tell her they are not coming until Tuesday, she thinks each day is the day. When they don't show up it is like she feels betrayed. She says that she knew they weren't going to show up. And she gets confused about who is whom. I'm not sure what to expect from here once they all get here. My sister isn't sure that they are prepared for Mom no longer being Mom. She's different. She looks the same but she's not the same. AD has robbed us of our Mom. But I think that once they are here she will realize who they are and will be so happy to see them. Damn this disease.

Today we received a certified letter from Mom's clinic. It was time for her mammogram back in September. I dropped the ball, mostly because if they do find something, what are we going to do? Can she withstand the treatment? She can barely withstand the mammogram. I talked this over with my sister and we came to the conclusion that I should make the appointment so I will.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today was a quiet day. The nurse from the agency visited and checked Mom's vitals. Her BP was 100/62. We talked about the 'incident' on Wednesday and they still aren't sure what happened; they just know that someone dropped the ball. But now they are aware of an issue and they will be making sure that it doesn't happen again.

The light fixtures for our ceiling fans have finally come in (I ordered them in late July!) and I will pick them up tomorrow. Hopefully Joe will be able to install them while he is here. I don't want to have too many things for him to do, I'm hoping he will be able to have some enjoyment when he is here.

This is a picture of me, in my crib!, with my very first kitty cat, Muffin. I think I was about 3 years old. I still have my Raggedy Ann doll pictured here. I have been trying to scrapbook. I have hundreds of photos that I ripped out of those sticky 'magnetic' albums. Now I need to put them all in acid free scrapbooks. It's a long process. Tonight I was able to get one page done in my album that I am trying to put together, that documents 2 trips that I took with Mom and Dad on ore carriers. I've lost my creative-ness or something. Digital scrapbooking is much easier, but then I would have to scan all of these hundreds of photos into my computer. Ick.

Listening to: James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind
via FoxyTunes
The local NBC affiliate is running a story on Alzheimer's (thanks for the heads-up Annie!). It's so sad to see this disease and the people it robs. Last night they showed June as she was 2 years ago. I am not looking forward to seeing how the disease has progressed tonight; she was such a lively, vivacious woman in 2005. AD SUCKS!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today was Caregiver's Day at Mom's daycare. We arrived promptly at 11:45 for lunch. It was really crowded! There were about 30 people there. It was nice to meet some of my fellow caregivers. After lunch, they had a jazz band play. The band was comprised of older men and they really played quite well. Mom really enjoyed it and so did I.

Mom gets squirrelly sometimes from the AD. Darn that disease!

I am addicted to snow villages and snowbabies. Last year was my first year of collecting snow villages. My nephew gave Mom and me an adorable cottage that is part of the Dickens village. I, on the other hand, bought some pieces from the New England village. I like both the Dickens series and the New England series. I was initially attracted to the NE village because the first piece I purchased had kitty cats in it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This morning I gave Mom her Seroquel before I left for working in hopes that it would help calm her for Terri and daycare. Tonight when I came home, her pills were still where I had left them, Terri didn't come. I called the agency thinking maybe I had screwed up and told them not to come today, but they had Mom on the schedule. They weren't sure what had happened. I was concerned that something had happened to Terri. But it turned out there was a mix up and she thought she was supposed to come tomorrow, but not today. Meanwhile, Mom went without her pills and had no food for the entire day. Not good. The agency said that their system should have notified them that no one showed up on a scheduled day, but it didn't. They apologized over and over, and they said that Terri felt awful about it. She feels uneasy about leaving Mom home alone on days when she refuses to go to daycare. Mom was very confused and teary of course, she hadn't been fed and she hadn't taken her meds. And I was quite alarmed. I will now leave a snack out for her just in case. I will also be calling to make sure that someone shows up.

She felt better though after I gave her dinner and her meds. Tonight we watched the Osmonds on Larry King. She enjoyed that, and she seemed to be calmed.

I am on vacation until the 26th. I'm looking forward to some time away from work, guilt free.

It has turned cold here, it was 38 tonight as I drove home. That's the one downside to having a temperature control on my dashboard; now I know the actual outdoor temperature. Ick.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to the daycare for caregiver's day. I hope I can get Mom to go. Then I am getting my hair colored. I need to cover all of the gray hair I've gotten.

My mood has evened out. I feel less overwhelmed and depressed. I've also noticed that I am not as irritable. That is something that I need to keep in mind as a possible indicator of a breakthrough of my depression; I get irritable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mom did not go to day care today. She refused. I guess that she had an emotional morning. Terri did get her to take a shower though. And she left her a snack so that she wouldn't be starving. Terri is a treasure and an angel.

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving and our houseful of relatives. I can't wait to see everyone. It has been several years since I've seen my cousin Jill and her family.

Annie has a link to an entertaining blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. The woman who writes this blog is very good at telling a story and her photos are great. Thanks for sharing this link Annie!

Not much else going on. Downloaded a few Led Zeppelin songs from iTunes. I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I just have fond memories of trying to learn Stairway to Heaven on my guitar. That song about killed my fingers.

Listening to: Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 12, 2007

I took Mom to get her hair cut tonight. This is always a trial. Mom is in pain from her hips so she's not very mobile. I purposely made an appointment for mid afternoon so as to avoid the sundowning that occurs in the evening. The salon called early this morning and asked if we could move Mom's appointment to 5:30.The stylist's daughter was sick (a stomach virus like Mom had last week!). OK, I said. Mom acts like she is being tortured the whole time. I try to keep a grip on my patience knowing that it's the disease. I'm getting tired of being patient though. Tonight she started in about me having work to go to and she has nothing. Well, she has daycare so I guess she just has to accept that. After nearly 2 months she still complains about having to go to daycare.

My cousin called tonight. They will be here next Tues. They plan to drive to Madison, WI the first day. It will be nice to see them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our neighbors have started to put out their Christmas lights and decorations. In Minnesota you have to plan ahead. Today it is 65 degrees, lovely weather for hanging lights. Tomorrow it could be freezing and snowing. I, on the other hand, still have my autumn mums growing in baskets outside. I experienced a whiff of Christmas; I went to the local nursery/garden center where it seems many were buying their winter greens. It smelled lovely with all of the evergreen branches. Come to think of it, I think most of the customers where football widows who were out shopping while their husbands watched the Vikings get slaughtered by the Packers. I myself was there to check out the Department 56 village buildings, and I ended up buying a Snowbaby and a village building. I've got quite a collection of Snow Babies; in 1995 Mom was struggling to figure out what to buy me for Christmas. Dad suggested she buy me a snow globe. She found one in the Snowbabies collection and that is what I received for my present that year. Since then she and my sister have bought me snowbabies. That is until about 2 years ago. Now she can't remember that she had been buying those for me. That upsets her. Anyway, the Snowbaby I got is really cute, it's called Girls Night Out and has a snowbaby and a kitty cat dressed in pearls.

Tomorrow is a day off for me in honor of Veterans Day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tomorrow is the 32nd anniversary of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I remember this event quite clearly. Mom says she remembers my dad coming home from work and stating that a ship had been lost on Lake Superior. It hit home for him because Captain McSorley of the Fitz was a member of his shipmasters' lodge in Detroit and he knew him. Later in life we would become good friends with Captain Jesse Bernard Cooper, who was the master of the Arthur Anderson, the ship that was following the Fitz. He was the last person to speak to the crew of the Fitz. There were many theories about what caused the vessel to sink. My dad's theory was that the ship bottomed out on Caribou Island, tore a hole in the hull and then foundered soon afterward. The official theory was that the hatch covers were not secure causing the hatches to fill with water. The wreck has been located and the ship's bell was removed and placed in a museum in Whitefish Bay, MI. The Fitz is probably the most famous Great Lakes shipwreck of all time, perhaps helped along by the ballad by Gordon Lightfoot. A friend told he that when he went to buy Lightfoot's album he was told by the clerk at the record store that the 'ship was carrying Christmas trees'. Not true, it was carrying taconite. Mariner's Church of Detroit is the 'musty old hall' sung about in the song. The rector at the time, Father Richard Ingalls, rang the church bell 29 times for each man lost on the ship. My father would sometimes attend the service for the crew of the Fitz, and he would always attend the Blessing of the Fleet service every spring as shipping season began. One of his memorial services was held in this beautiful church on the Detroit waterfront.

If I won the lottery, I'd give money to Mom's day program. They are located in a church basement currently. I'd also make sure that home health aides had health insurance for themselves. This is my dream. I'd also make sure that Mom was well taken care of. And guess what, my sister would love this, I'd move closer to family, I'd buy a summer house on Mackinac Island (which is heaven on earth to our family) and I'd have a place in a warm climate for winter. That's what I'd do with my lottery winnings.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Here's an interesting article from WebMD. Boomers not Planning for Parents' Care
I am still home. Now I have a cold and feel miserable. But on a good note, I was able to meet Mom's home health aide Terri. She is awesome! She's really good with Mom too, though Mom refused to take a shower or go to Prairie today. I guess that's OK though since I'm home anyway. She likes kitties too which is good since we have two. Terri didn't realize we had two since Lily hides. I showed her Lily hiding under the sofa.

I also had a psych appointment. I am switching meds and may end up upping the dose too. She also wrote me a note for work so that has lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Unfortunately I don't really get much support from work and I feel like they think I'm just slacking off. But between caring for Mom, dealing with my fibromyalgia and depression it's hard. I have to put Mom and myself before my job. I've taken up the slack for others my whole career so now it's time for me to receive the same kind of understanding that I've given to others. I don't know how many times I've picked up the workload of people on maternity leave or surgical leave. Because I'm single, I've always volunteered to work overtime or holidays without nary a complaint. Now it's my turn for some understanding and support.

Mom is feeling much better but I'm still feeding her the BRAT diet just to be sure. Last night I gave her plain white rice for dinner and she couldn't finish it and got a little sick. Today she seems better though.

It's sunny today! YAY!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Here is the completed ramp. Pretty nice!

I'm in drama queen role big time. I've been crying and feeling low; I think my SAD is kicking in. It didn't help that Mom was sick and I didn't sleep much and now I'm stuck at home and it's cloudy. Mom is doing much better, drinking 7-up and eating some Jello. I feel so alone though and there is no one to turn to. It's a good thing I'm going to the psych tomorrow cuz I think I need to up my meds. Or switch meds. I hate antidepressants. But I can't function without them. I've tried. I think that underlying all of this drama is a fear that I have missed too much work between my issues and Mom's and there may be repercussions.

On the plus side, the home aide wrote in her report that Mom was combative and teary yesterday. She was still sleeping when the aide showed up and confused. I called the agency and told them Mom felt bad and the social worker said there was no need to apologize, they deal with that type of behavior all the time with ALZ patients. I am impressed by this, since the last agency just wanted to push meds on Mom for this behavior, and several of them quit because of it. If you're going to deal with ALZ patients you have to know that this is part of the disease. Today Mom was smiling when I came into the den. She has a lovely smile and I almost feel like my old Mom is back when I see it. I love to see that smile.
Mom called out for me at 12:30. She was vomiting and had diarrhea. I'm not sure if it's food poisoning or just something didn't agree with her. She finally fell asleep so I thought I would come back down to my room. I called the nurse line to find out about what to do. They said to give her small sips of water in the morning and if she can keep that down, to give her larger sips. The key is to keep her from getting dehydrated. I am worried about her. I hope that what I gave her for dinner didn't make her sick. But I'm not sick. It maybe didn't agree with her or she caught something somewhere. This sucks so much. I've never dealt with sick kids so this is my first time dealing with someone who's sick. It's probably a good thing that I never had kids; I'd be a basket case. I wish there was someone close to me who could help me out with this. I probably should have moved Mom and me to PA to be with Allyson. But what's done is done.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I am feeling better now. Our nightly ritual is to get into Mom's bed and watch TV. Tonight, Mom was ready at 7:45 so off we went. Mom fell asleep holding my hand. I kissed her goodnight and told her I love her. She's sleeping now. It's so cold here tonight, I left an extra blanket along with her down quilt on Mom's bed.

Lily and I are cuddling and watching Dancing With The Stars. I hesitate to vote for the celebs who having dancing as part of their profession. I'd rather vote for someone who has no dancing in their background. It makes it more interesting to take someone who's never danced and turn them into a dancer. That's my philosophy anyway. I also think that the choice of music makes a big difference. Last week when Jane Seymour danced, I think it was the jive, to David Bowie's Modern Love, it just didn't do it for me, mostly because of the song. Tonight someone danced to Jeanne, Jeannie, also a weird choice. Oh well.
Tonight I am irritable. I think it's the fact that it is getting dark earlier now that we are off daylight saving time. Or maybe it's because Mom is whiny. I got her to get up and go see the ramp in progress in the garage, and that seemed to help her mood. It, the ramp, is going to be nice. All that is left to do is to add the railings and put the steps in. It is really cold here today so around 2 PM the guy left to go work on the modular steps at home. Speaking of cold, I saw SNOW FLURRIES flying around this afternoon. ICK! I'm definitely NOT ready for that. I think my seasonal depression is starting to kick in too. Think positive...

Mom is coloring now and we are watching Raymond. Dancing with the Stars will be on in about 40 minutes. Mom has already said she wants to go to bed. We need to get more coloring books. Watching Raymond always makes Mom miss Dad.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mom has been sneezing a lot. I hope she's not coming down with a cold. I bought some Zicam rapid melts for her. That's the only problem with the day program: Mom is exposed to more germs. But if she's happy there then that is OK. It's a beautiful sunny day today, but chilly. The lumber was delivered for our low rise steps bright and early this morning.

At 1:30 this morning I had both kitties on my bed. Lily seemed indignant that Olivia dared be on her bed. Olivia, like a bull in a china shop, was climbing all over, knocking things off the nightstand and jumping on me. She's still a baby relatively.

Gasoline is over three dollars a gallon again....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I downloaded Carrie Underwood's new album Carnival Ride from iTunes on the day it came out. I have listened to exactly 3 songs. They all send shivers up my spine and I choke up with tears. One is about daddy's little girl, and one is about a young woman who loses her husband in the war. I can't listen to the rest of the CD, it's just too sad for me. And it's called Carnival Ride?? This song, All-American Girl, is for all of us who are Daddy's girls (I'm a Mama's girl too though).

Mom is in a good mood today, she is coloring and watching the Hallmark channel movies. It is slightly overcast and chilly. I cleared out the right side of the garage in preparation for the new steps. I hope they make it easier for Mom to get in and out of the house. Then I did a Target run, to Super Target, and I killed two birds with one stone; I bought groceries and other things. But boy that store is huge, and it was busy!

Mom made a funny comment today. She said she's not ready to die. I don't know what brought that up unless she was retaining something from my conversation with Allyson about how my blog friend Betsy had lost her mom. This is a strange disease. Mom will start out saying something completely lucid only to end with something completely off the wall. Usually all in the same sentence. I try to be patient and let her express what she is trying to say. But it's hard. I'm so grateful for every minute that we get to spend together. Even though it's hard, and I get tired and inpatient, I'm glad that I can be with Mom. She is so important to me and she's a good mom. I'm not ready for her to leave me.

Listening to: Carrie Underwood - All-American Girl
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 2, 2007

And then there was one.

My friend Betsy posted today on her blog that her Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. Her battle with the enemy that is Alzheimer's is over. I am so sad for Betsy and her family, but I am also relieved that her mom will no longer suffer and decline into the abyss that is Alzheimer's. God Bless you Betsy. And Godspeed to your Mom. has an excellent Alzheimer's Blog. It seems very interesting, but not much different from the Alzheimer's Association boards.

They are going to begin work on the low rise steps in the garage on Monday. The lumber will be delivered either Sunday or Monday. Should be interesting. I need to clear the stuff off that wall before Monday.

Today is a beautiful sunny day. Mom and I need to go for her INR/Protime at 2:15. She doesn't want to go and I can't say I blame her. I wish there were nurses who visited to do this.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November is National Family Caregivers Month.

1 in 7 over age of 71 has Dementia
I found this interesting statistic on WebMD.

Mom talked a lot about the day program today. It's hard to tell what she means most of the time but I was able to discern quite a bit of what she said. So, she attended 3 days this week. That is a milestone. We had a different caregiver today. I was a little concerned to find my bedroom light on when I came home. I don't think either of the cats turned it one and I KNOW Mom didn't. Hmm. Maybe I should invest in a web camera after all. Actually, I need several, one for Mom's area and one for my area.

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...