Thursday, September 30, 2010

FlyLady's System for No More Spring Cleaning

You will always be ready for someone to drop by!
(Valkommen in the picture at the left is the Swedish for welcome.) I have set up my Control Journal using the ideas from Flylady. My goal is to have a home ready for company by Thanksgiving. Things could change by Thanksgiving, but this is the plan. Author Marla Cilley, the FlyLady and author of Sink Reflections, says that once you de-clutter you work on one zone of the house per week. I am de-cluttering still for the Garage Sale, but am using much
of the five zone theory already, the "home blessing" and the 15 minute timer.

Flylady is delightful. I feel that I am part of a group. Success isn't defined by perfection, but baby steps are okay. "You are not behind," Marla says constantly on her radio program or in e-mails. She tells you to "stop whining" cold turkey! My stress and grief at having more responsibility for things my husband used to do is just irresponsble. Have the systems in that Control Journal--how to turn off the water and the electricity at the house, how to mow the lawn, how to use the carpet cleaner. DH doesn't have the energy now and it is my responsibility. Yes it is a lot and at times situations such as weeding in the yard do get me down. But no whining! As caregivers need to do, I will ask for help.

Here is news in our continuing story.

  1. My pastor has already helped so much with financial strategies and emotional support. I can call him.

  2. We went to a Disney Theme park yesterday--a gift from friends. DH had wanted to do this. We choose Hollywood Studios. Together we will put pictures of this on my husband's Facebook photo section. We did have to take it slowly, but we were able to do much of that theme park. So enjoyable. We ended the day with American Idol, seeing the seven winners from earlier in the day compete.

  3. It's just  under two weeks until DH is tested for driving. He took off the sign I put on his steering wheel (to not drive until tested). He doesn't accept that he may not be able to drive at some point. I am hoping they say that he can drive when I am in the car, but he proudly tells me he has taken a few trips when I am not home.

  4. My husband is wearing a medical bracelet from now. It says on the back his name, diabetes and memory. A card in his wallet tells my cell phone number, our home number, some of his medicine, and his doctor. Should he slip out and drive and have a problem, his cell phone and that bracelet will help.

  5. We are not parking my car in the garage now, as it is the staging area for the Garage Sale. That sale will happen when I am ready--why stress about it!

  6. As caregiver Dolores e-mailed me this week, it is one day at a time. She also quoted her favorite verse from PhilippiansI can do all things through Christ who strenghthens me.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clutter's Last Stand

Fly Lady is helping me with how to de-clutter and Don Aslett in Clutter's Last Stand is radically altering my thinking on what I need to not have. You can order a used copy from Amazon for under $3 plus shipping. Or, instead of buying it, you can read a little here. He talks about junkees who have junk bunkers for their stuff. Here are a few quotes from Aslett:

  • Why wait until clutter has choked you to death before casting it off?
  • "But these things are valuable," you say? What about the value of the life and time to store, to clean, to insure, to transport, to protect--what does that cost?
  • Remember, it's not just "Is it faster or neater?" but "How often will I use it?"
  • School teachers, too, are right in the running for the Junk World Series. (LOL, I'm a retired teacher who substitutes and thinks I might need some of my junk when I sub.)
  • Junk doesn't generate self-esteem or fulfill our ambitions--only we can do that. "Owning" is like theory, totally worthless if not put to use.
  • The secret is to assemble the most meaningful documents and materials, prune them down [into scrapbooks or write a book as I did].                                     
  • Leaving junk to a family is often more an act of revenge than of love. It's pathetic how families are broken apart, divided into a mass of quarreling maniacs squabbling and suing over dead people's junk. . . Don't burden someone else with your junk. Spend it, give it away, sell-it--don't leave for heaven with it. Cash in your clutter before you crash--start at age forty-five just to be safe.
  • Most of us wear only about 20 percent of the clothes in our closets.
  • Anything that crowds the life out of you is junk. Anything that builds, edifies, enriches our spirit--that makes us truly happy, regardless of how worthless it may be in cash terms--isn't junk.
  • De-junking is a true miracle that will happen to you; and I guarantee it's the best anti-depressant going.
In the last chapter Asletts quotes Matthew 6:25, 28-29; Ecclesiastes 5:10  and Ecclesiastes 3:1-6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

I have a poem from chapter nine in my book that I rap for good classes when I subsititute and last week in one class the students who knew I was working on a humorous speech on clutter (but clutter's not funny) suggested I write a new rap on the clutter of us old people. Mind you, some of them have cluttered bedrooms, they say, but our generation introduced houses with more storage and holds on to old technology. Yesterday the high school students enjoyed it. It is in draft form here, and I have yet to memorize it and polish it for the rap. It is written from the viewpoint of a young person.

Grandma and Grandpa
Mom and Dad
Can we have this discussion
Without repercussion?
We know you might be busy
But some of your junk might be risky
And you are stuck
With the junk
In the trunk
Bins, baskets and boxes galore
Mucho papers might ignite
A horrible eye sore
Get it out and take a peek
We know this will take
More than just a week
No more shoulder pad
Move to a new fad
And all the vests you had
Junk just makes us mad
The world is now digital
No more rigid you all
Slides no longer square and small
Slides on Power Point that’s all
Put your books on Kindle
Just make DVDs a rental
No more overhead projector
An Elmo we expect director.
Old technology is all junk
Old technology smells like a skunk
Get you some spunk
Get rid of that junk
Get rid of that mail
Have a garage sale
To fund our education
So we can help the nation
Call yourself mature?
Saving stuff is not a cure
Want less to dust for sure?
Junk is like manure
All this clutter
Makes us sputter
But, if we can help you
Make the house look new
Then no more clutter
Will make us sputter
Grandma and Grandpa
Mom and Dad
Can we have this discussion
Without repercussion?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He Can Do

It is early morning now. I go out on our backyard deck, accompanied by our dog in the cool and quiet. A full moon is overhead. I pour my heart out in praise, adoration, confession, pedition and surrender to God. I am thankful from prayers of people I know, don't know or have yet to meet. Some of those people follow this blog.
  • C writes in an e-mail: I would be honored to receive any prayer requests you want to send.  We have a family prayer time most evenings where I write the requests we received that day from church or wherever on an erasable whiteboard in our dining room and we pray over them.  We will be praying for your husband's ability to accept the loss of his freedom to drive and the loss of his car.  
  • H writes in an e-mail: Father, I want to pause and pray for Carol. You have seen fit to give her a difficult burden, please give her the assurance that you are going to provide the strength, the wisdom and the patience for this walk. Lord, I pray for her husband. As he is in the limbo land where he knows what is going on and yet knows that what is going on is not “normal.” Help him Lord to trust Carol. Lord, I remember how blessed I was that my Dad trusted me. Lord, bring those around her that she needs to support her and Lord, provided the economics to fund everything to meet their needs even as you have promised to do. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
  • A Plant City church (not even my church) calls and asks for prayer requests. They must have gotten my name from the phone book because a postcard dated September 16th comes in the mail: I want to let you know that we prayed for you tonight, for wisdom and courage in the days ahead. We believe that God does answer prayer.
  • A friend from Tennessee calls last night and reminds me that her church is praying for me.
God is able to forgive when I get angry in my heart at the insensitivity of others. God is bigger than my stress. God is able to supply our needs. He who put that moon outside and hung the stars can do. He goes beside the blogger who has ALS, the husband who is separated by necessity from his wife undergoing cancer treatments in another country. He can do.  

Thank you Lord that you privileged me to bear this trial with the pillars of prayer of others.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and Strokes

Neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke. It took her eight years to recover after surgery to remove the blood clot. She describes the brain and her thoughts during her stroke. Very fascinating. Dr. Jill's Stroke She will also be on Oprah, but I found that I hadn't taped it.

As a caregiver, I need to guard my health. My blood pressure and cholesterol scores are good--would be better if I could walk/jog those nine miles a week. I have lost some weight recently, and need to keep it up. Seven years ago I had a TIA, a mini stroke. See information Here. Tests could not find any area of my brain where this happened, but since that time I have taken Aggrenox to prevent a further TIA or an actual stroke. Today in my e-mail from the Johns Hopkins Health Alert:
A number of factors contribute to your risk of a stroke. Some of them, for example, age and family history, obviously can't be modified. But fortunately, many other major stroke risk factors can be significantly reduced through lifestyle measures, medications, surgery, or a combination of all three. Recently, an article published in the journal Circulation (volume 119, page 1093) reported that women who stick closely to a Mediterranean-style diet lowered their risk of stroke.Women who received high aMed scores ate more vegetables (excluding potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, and monounsaturated fats like olive oil; those who ate less of these foods and more saturated fat, red and processed meat, refined grains, and sweets received lower scores. During the study, a total of 1,763 strokes occurred. Women with the highest aMed scores were 13% less likely to have a stroke and 39% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest scores. Take-away: Numerous studies confirm that following a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. Now we have some evidence that this healthy eating pattern may reduce stroke risk, too.
So the Mediterranean diet it is! Also helps memory as I reported earlier on July 30, 2010.

My husband complained about how greasy his bagel and cream cheese were this morning. It was the coconut oil. Got to be more clever in modifying our diets.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Out-of-Town Relatives

Many people have extended family that live near them. My nearest kin, my brother and his family, are a long day's trip away in Alabama. This past weekend that brother and sister-in-law came for a visit. This meant that they took Friday and Monday off from work just to be here! This was a spur-of-the moment decision for them and such a heart-warming gesture in view of the news of the past week.  Their Alabama daughter and her family of four were also on a work-related trip in Orlando, an hour away from here, and we were also able to connect with them on Sunday.  So I saw six of my family! My husband thoroughly enjoyed the time also and said he wished they could have stayed longer. He really doesn't like to travel much anymore--I know it will be hard to take trips now.

Friday night we served them dinner and then the four of us went to a Plant City winery for some of their famous strawberry wine.

Saturday morning I served a breakfast of waffles with trimmings that included strawberries, blueberries, walnuts and light Cool Whip. This season our Plant City fields in the neighborhood are getting ready to plant strawberries, but the strawberries I served were from California! We joked about that because Plant City is noted for its strawberries. A full day was planned for the rest of Saturday.

First we went to Tampa's Ikea, a Swedish store with so many good products for the home at reasonable prices. We also had lunch there where I had Swedish lingonberry punch with my salad. We found a bunk bed that would be carted back to Alabama on Sunday. For ten dollars I purchased a standing clothes rack (called mulig, in Swedish) for my home organizing project. I have too many clothes that will go in the yard sale and having that rack helps now for sorting and later for the yard sale. Shopping with my sister-in-law is always a joy, and our husbands spent time sitting and chatting while we were in this store.

Next we went across the bay to St. Petersburg's Haslam's Bookstore, a favorite of my brother. The three of us ended sitting while he shopped. I did ask about selling them books there and will call for an appointment to do that. What I can't sell to them can go in my yard sale.

Back to Tampa to the elegant, up-scale Hyde Park area for the  four PM showing of  "Get Low" at Cinebistro. This is such an up-scale theatre that two tickets for my husband and myself were $29. The four of us were escorted to our purchased seats and a waiter came by to take our orders. My husband had a beer and I had a capachinno. Popcorn just didn't seem appropriate in this fancy movie theater. At the end of the movie we were warmly greeted by staff in the hall.

We walked down the street and settled on a place for dinner, treated by my family. My husband ordered the same thing as lunch--a chicken Caesar salad. He often has me order for him and probably forgot that he had that same order at Ikea.

We next headed home for an Alabama-Pennsylvania football game that our husbands enjoyed. It has been a while since DH has watched sports and he appeared to enjoy it.

A covered pool table is a great place for organizing clutter. In the den my sister-in-law saw video cassettes piled on top of the pool table. She said she would type up a list.  We got busy organizing my husband's video tapes and then went on to the DVD collection. There were several duplicates and he had wanted to order DVDs that he already had. One I mailed back last week hoping to get a refund. (I have wanted to take the debit card and credit card away from him so this doesn't happen. He doesn't understand how limited our income is now with all of his medicine and recent unexpected expenses.)

Sunday morning breakfast consisted of healthy oatmeal--company's choice. I took my husband's dish and put coconut oil in it. We talk freely about how that coconut oil has helped him and as usual he quips that it makes him slide across the bed at night.

I drove us to church for the first time (he is not to drive now and had usually driven us in his car on Sundays) and my brother also took their van. Our close-knit small church makes a whole day of the Sabbath. After the worship service we always eat together. By lunch time my niece and her husband, three-year old boy and infant daughter had come from Orlando and connected with us. The guys went in my brother's car to Subway to order sandwiches . My husband had a list and managed to buy our sandwiches with his debit card while we gals socialized at church.

About two we have an afternoon class and the Alabama family in their two cars left for Ikea to buy that bunk bed that my brother and sister-in-law would transport back to Alabama.

Ah, such a lovely weekend after a hard week. I substitute this afternoon and DH is watching a DVD this morning. On to re-organizing the home. Think I will work on my too-many clothes now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day After the Diagnosis

I was able to cry! I thought about how sweet and loving my husband is on the way home from substitute teaching today and an ocean of tears came--right in downtown Plant City--miles from that ocean. I put my glasses on when I came in the door so he wouldn't see I had been crying and gave him a big smile--so glad to see him.

I guess I had been hoping for Vascular Dementia instead of Alzheimer's, but not both. He had been helped by Namenda and Exelon and coconut oil, slowing down the progress of the disease which may have even started fifteen years ago according to Nancy! Certainly we are fortunate to have such a professional evaluation from that Alzheimer's Institute close by. I had thought that the first MRI in December of 2008 did not show Alzheimer's officially, so I had been hoping against hope all this time. Those scores only meant he learned to take those tests and raise his points from 22 to 25.

Thanks so much to you who have sent me your expressions of prayer and concern. One person I heard from is my Alabama brother! He and his wife are coming down this weekend! This is just what the doctor ordered for the caregiver. That brother and his wife have been there for me countless times in the past.

Yes, my husband did hear the diagnosis yesterday and he was told point blank that he can't drive. An appointment is now set for October 13th to assess his driving skills. He is mad about this. "Of course I can drive," he says. I reminded him about being sued for our home if he were in an accident because of his Mixed Dementias, and this reasoning didn't make sense to him. Usually he doesn't drive when I am gone anyway--just when we do things together.

12:45 Thursday AM.  I am up in the middle of the night not sleeping. I get his car key out of his jeans.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Long-Awaited Diagnosis: A Mixed Dementia Diagnosis

THIS IS POST NUMBER 100 ON THIS BLOG BEGUN DECEMBER OF 2008 WHEN MY HUSBAND WAS FIRST DIAGONOISED WITH DEMENTIA! Actually it is the 100th started--I have drafts that I haven't posted yet. Today we expect to find out what kind of dementia he has--that neurological appointment that we needed beyond the primary care doctor's 30 question diagnosis in December of 2008. Lord, go with us, as you have in the past.

6:30 AM We are up after a good night's sleep. Coffee. Anticipation. I can feel prayers of family and friends.

10:00 AM is the appointment.  DH drives to the appointment--maybe his last time driving.

Assistant Director, Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute, Nancy Teten, presented Dr. Ashok Raj's evaluation of husband's memory loss. She confirmed Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's, A Mixed Dementia.
Dr. Raj wrote: "There is severe atrophy of the hippocampal complexes and of the amygdala bilaterally, strongly supportive of a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease."

He continues: "Vascular: There is absence of flow in the right cavernous carotid artery, indicating probably obstruction upstream somewhere in the neck. The cirle of Willis, however, appears be completely patent and the right middle and anterior cerebral arteries fill via a patent anterior communicating artery and a right posterior communicating artery. The remaining intracranial carotid arteries and the vertebral basilar system show signal void and are patent."

Nancy told my husband that until he takes a driving test at the Mortan Plant Mease Madonna Ptak Center for Alzheimer's and Memory Loss in Clearwater, he is not to drive. Dr. Raj will send them a prescription and I will call to make the appointment. If he were in an accident, an attorney might sue us for our home with his medical records. I was so impressed with Nancy's warmth and professionalism.

I then drove to lunch at Sweet Tomatoes where I had a coupon, but where he complained "Where's the beef?" I found some in the chilli soup for him.  Then I drove to Sam's where he bought a DVD and I got a few other supplies. I might fight his getting a DVD because of finances, but he just had had driving taken away from him.

He doesn't remember much of the morning, but I want to cry. He is watching his new DVD now. With Vascular Dementia he will always remember me, but with the Alzheimer's part he may not. Nancy said she was surprised that he still dresses himself, but owes that to his taking Exelon and Namenda since December of 2008. She was surprised that he is not exhibiting signs of depression. Nancy is looking at financial help for our medicines because the best place for DH to live is our home and we don't want to mortgage our home because of his expensive medicines (or lose our home due to an accident). He will have a yearly assessment at the USF Johnny Byrd Alzheimer's Institute and may or may not get it a research study. His past heart problems may keep him out of a study, Nancy said.

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Communicate With a Husband Who Has Dementia

Link to Ten Tips in red bold are from the Alzheimer's Reading Room. The ten tips are followed by my comments.

1. Make eye contact. My Sweetheart was watching "Fireproof" this Labor Day. We own that Christian DVD about marriage. I was sitting here at the computer when he said from the next room "I love you." Then I made it a point to go to the next room, look and him and say  that I love him very much and I am in this "for better for worse, for richer or poorer, 'til death us do part." He smiled back and continued watching "Fireproof". In fact he watched it twice today. We both had tears in our eyes during it.
2. Be at their level. He loves it when I sit by his side while he is watching TV which he does constantly.
3. Tell them what you are going to do before you do it. However, I am learning to write things down on the calendar. When I was teaching a class at night, I told him there was a frozen dinner for him. When I got home at 9 pm, he hadn't eaten and didn't remember what I had said. "What is the plan for dinner?" he wanted to know. The next night I wrote down fozen dinner on the calendar. We have a large calendar from FlyLady where I can write a lot down. I think this also means in the present--for example I say I am making breakfast and that is his clue to put in his teeth. When he doesn't pick up on this, I give him Ensure with his morning pills which doesn't involve his false teeth.
4. Speak calmly. Sometimes in his anger (part of the disease) I get accused of starting an argument. I let somethings go now and do not argue. I try to keep calm.
5. Speak slowly. I tend to speak slowly anyway from my years of teaching. However, a message on the answering machine is often delivered too quickly for him and he will ask me to listen to that message.
6. Speak in short sentences. He keeps teaching me this when I try to rattle off too much.
7. Only ask one question at a time. I really do frustrate him at times with my verbosity!
8. Don’t say “remember”. "Many times they will not be able to do so, and you are just pointing out to them their shortcomings. That is insulting, and can cause anger and/or embarrassment." Absolutely! I want to build him up, not point out his disabilities.
9. Turn negatives into positives. I remember when I sounded like I was nagging,  DH told me to not nag. His next sentence was asking me what he was supposed to do! I realized I have to be so careful how I phrase things. I am still working on this one.
10. Do not argue with them. I have to let my DH spout off about the bad drivers and traffic he sees. It will do no good to tell him to calm down, that we will get there when we get there. He is impatient about the driving of others, but is still driving safely now. Spout off all you want, Sweetheart! I can always say, "I see your point," even if I disagree.

Today DH said several times, "It's not fun getting old." Today I read in The Tampa Tribune about new research at the institute where we have our 10 AM appointment tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Someday I May Need It

Collecting and then de-cluttering!
Keep a thing seven years and it’s bound to come in handy.”
― Russian Proverb

Most people think they need to do this, don't you, gentle reader—save things because one day we may need them! Then we are stuck with junk in a trunk and our life has gone amuck! Come with me while I sputter about clutter and the things we really, after all, do not need.

Not so hard for DH. We were discussing my home de-cluttering projects.

"Why are all those books on the piano?" and "Why are all those things on the couch?" he reasonably wanted to know.

"Sweetheart, it will get worse before it gets better," I explained about my whole summer de-cluttering project. The summer is now turning into fall.

He did ask if I could clear my organizing off of the pool table so we could play pool. Reasonable. I did that. Only this is not what you should do according to FlyLady principles. My friend Kathy reminded me that FlyLady says take baby steps. "Only take out what you can organize," she advised. So the stuff that used to be on the pool able was moved, not tossed out or given a home.

DH just said the word two years ago when he wanted to get rid of his stuff. His books are for the most part gone. Lumber was given away and shop machines were sold to friends. He quipped, "All my junk is junk, and all your junk is valuable!" I helped him get rid of books, but he is right that I want to go through my junk in case there is something valuable in it. Now his main collection is his DVDs to watch on TV, a main pastime of his.

I have to tell you that my de-cluttering is harder than writing a book. I wrote my book last year, but simplifying our home, getting rid of things is a huge project. I am so ADHD about the whole thing--Almost Done Here Dilemma. Not quite ready for the yard sale and not sure when it will happen. The yard sale will prove it was junk and not valuable anyway.

How did all this happen? I have a couple of theories.

1) We really believe we might need it someday. It could save us money. I got rid of shoulder pads, and then found a wonderful project making Christmas angels out of shoulder pads! See! I could have used those shoulder pads one day!

2) We are attracted to these books like FlyLady's Sink Reflections. We read books on procrastination and collect magazine articles about getting organized. We hear the horror stories. Peter Walsh helped a lady get her home back we saw on Oprah; it took 8 weeks and 100 people to get it back for this couple. Two warehouses were used for a giant yard sale of her stuff. People hoard. We love these stories and we think we are not that bad. See Seniors and Hoarding. Until September 6th there is an "enter to win" tab above where you might win an autographed copy of Peter Walsh's book! If I win I will have another book on organizing to add to the collection pictured above! One day maybe I don't need those organizing books.

3) We collect containers to put our stuff in. Then things look neat. Binders, baskets, tubs, file cabinets, rooms, garages, storage sheds. We have that room with the extra closet where we put too many clothes and where we put the junk when we have company. Containers solve nothing when you get to retirement and face the music.

3) Technology changes. We have old records, audio tapes, video tapes, slides, discs, printers, overhead transparencies, etc. We don't take the time to discard or transfer pictures and sounds to new technologies. Why I bet techno nerds are thinking up new stuff to replace the newest stuff that we have! We buy terabytes of memory so we could one day, however. And information is increasing. They say in this link that every two days now we create as much information as we had in all of 2003.

Anthony J. D'Angelo said, The most important things in life aren't things. How true.

Also Matthew 6:19-21 says: 
Do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust consumes and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Back to de-cluttering, and organizing while thinking of the words I posted here. Done with procrastinating and want a simplified life when I can get there. Ordered another book, however, recommended by Nancy: Clutter's Last Stand: It's Time to De-Junk Your Life. I will review it probably in October, if I don't procrastinate.