Monday, December 27, 2010

Drawing for Free Book

In honor of the two year anniversary of this blog (and two other ones), I am giving away to three people a copy of my book Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill. You have to have commented in November or December on any post to enter the contest. The drawing will be 1/1/11.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saga Seven

We had an automobile accident Sunday coming home from church. It was a crash waiting to happen. It is no "accident" when someone decides to drive after drinking. The picture shows the investigation by the Sheriff's Department. Call it that driver's crash and our "accident", where we were protected by divine hands. (Nothing in our lives is an accident knowing that the almighty God is there for us.)

I am driving our Saturn and see an Explorer not stopping at a stop sign and barreling though the railroad tracks perpendicular to our car. There is going to be a crash! I swerve into the oncoming traffic lane where there were no cars to try to avoid being hit, but it was not to be. LORD, thanks for our lives. Thanks that I am not a widow again. The driver gets out briefly and then tries to leave the scene. However the good old boys of Plant City are not going to let him flee the scene. The Explorer trying to flee loses control and ends up driving on the railroad tracks before being stopped by perfect strangers who are waiting for authorities to come.
  • 5:01 pm the Sheriff  receives call from 911 dispatcher.
  • 5:08 pm they arrive at scene.
  • Paramedics check us out. Huge bump on DH's leg gets treated with an ice pack. I suspect that the glove compartment flew open and caused this. Note in the pictures how close my husband in the passenger seat was to being hit straight on.
  • A lovely lady whose husband is the Youth Minister at nearby church comes and prays with us. We also pray for the gentleman who hits us. By that time we have heard that he smells of alcohol. She also uses my digital camera to shoot pictures.
  • Daughter of DH comes and we transfer items to her car where we wait until they are able to let us leave. (I had called her on my cell and police let her car through the barricade.) 
  • Tow truck carts off our Saturn.
  • Railroad worker inspects the train track.
  • 7:00 Report is finished and we are allowed to leave. We see Explorer driver given sobriety tests as we leave.
  • 9:00 Arrest for DUI with Property Damage and no valid driver's license. He did not face other charges according to the Sheriff's on-line report such:  open container (reportedly he had taken them out of car); fleeing the scene; running a stop sign; and no valid insurance.  
  • 10:37 PM Gentleman  is checked into jail and bond is set at $2,750. DUI with property damage is $500, $250 no driver's license, $2000 for previous warrant for no driver's license. BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) given as .172/.180. This makes his BAC well over .25 ( three times the presumptive legal limit in Florida) at the time of his crash and the estimate is that he could have had ten beers or whatever alcoholic drink he chose to imbibe in a short period of time. (You lose .015 BAC per hour after you stop drinking. According to Sheriff's web site he has been in jail two nights now--no one bonded him out.)
  • Meanwhile at home DH goes to bed with yogurt and his medicine including Ibuprofen which DH's daughter thoughtfully goes out to get for us. I take a pain med and Ibuprofen and start to get food before I pass out. I recall holding strangely to the kitchen counter and thinking what am I doing this for?  I was passing out. I raise up and fall down and vomit. I call DH and he comes and then leaves and vomits. Our problem was we didn't eat enough with the meds.
  • Middle of the night my husband complains of back pains. I finally get to sleep at 4:30 AM.
  • Monday at 9 AM call State Farm Insurance and receive calls from them all day. Both of us are sore.
  • 4 PM husband has doctor's appointment, gets anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant, shot, and prescription for x-rays for his back. My doctor will get back to me about an appointment on Wednesday.
  • 7 PM we have dinner with Sally and Jake at ABC Pizza and tell them all about it. We make tentative plans to spend New Year's Eve at their home.
We both thank God for our lives.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Economical Update for 2011

Two Alzheimer's medicines have almost bankrupted us. Not taking them is not an option. See Research.

"The combination of the current symptomatic treatments for Alzheimer's disease improved the patients' quality of life, since those who used concomitantly cholinesterase inhibitors -- donepezil, galantamine, or rivastigmine -- and memantine had a diminished risk of institutionalization compared to those who used no medication or used cholinesterase inhibitors alone." -- Dr. O. L. Lopez, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
I once e-mailed Dr. Newport (lady who introduced me to coconut oil) and she said to not discontinue either medicine as we continue with the coconut oil. I was not consistent on the Exelon Patch and that is when we went to Exelon pills. DH has to eat when he takes his twice-a-day Exelon pills or he will vomit.

Does Prescription Solutions from the AARP plan really help save in the new year? Absolutely not! For several years we have been going beyond the donut hole and into catastrophic coverage for my husband with them. One recent year when we maxed out our credit cards due to prescriptions from AARP, we used the line of credit on our house to pay off the credit cards. We are about to do that again and I do not want this. We have until December 31st to decide.

We went with WellCare at 1-888-888-9355. Gene was great in helping us. Got our new cards. They are excellent. However it meant a change in doctors, but much more savings.

Wait folks. News just in! In the dash for the best plan for 2011 by December 31st, an insurance representative Ned called. I research and listen to all possibilities and it is not yet December 31st. Possibly we could keep the same doctor. He took time to see us last Saturday. We didn't go with his plan that would keep my husband's current doctor, however, because Ned had a different idea--a plan with a higher amount until we would go into the donut hole ($3500  compared to $2840 with WellCare). Preferred Care Partners, Gold Plan, at 1-866-231-7201. They also offer dental coverage and eye coverage. I visited the local doctor's office and chose another doctor for us, unfortunately not keeping our same doctors, but bringing those other fabulous benefits.

All we save a month that we used to spend on the AARP plans (over $400) a month, we can use to pay down our credit cards and not go into our line of credit on the house. Thank you Lord, for answering prayers from the women at church who were praying about this and for the rest of you in blogland who pray for us.

Oh God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say,
"Who is the LORD?"
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus
insult God's holy name.
Proverbs 30:7-9, TLT-- What I heard today on The Daily Audio Bible,
my third year going through the Bible with this podcast. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What It's Like for Carol's Husband

Bob on the Reading Room wrote a poem that says it all. See Bob's poem.

by Max Wallack

It gallops in silently on powerful hoofs
Snatching sweet, precious, forgotten memories
Turning true-blue loyal friends into treacherous strangers
Clogging synapses with emptiness
Crumbling trust into excruciating paranoia
With bleak darkness comes the anxious wakefulness of broad daylight
And bitter terror encompasses every living fiber
"If I sleep, where will I be when I wake up?"
The compulsion to run, the paralysis of fear
Mature, child-like dependence
Retracing youthful development, but in rapid reverse
Cureless medicines, meaningless conversations
Leading up to the inevitable

Increasingly DH is asking questions about what the schedule is.  I do not at all tease him when he asks repeat questions, despite the fact everything is on the large FlyLady calendar.

We enjoyed a dinner at Cracker Barrell last night with a couple my husband had known years ago. He was very comfortable. They noticed that he had lost weight since they had seen him. They are part of his long-term memory. I don't think that they really noticed his dementia last night.

On the way home from this dinner he asked about where he worked when he retired over a year ago--he didn't remember. I reminded him that we passed it on the way home.  I need to go there, he said. We have a Christmas party to go to tonight and we will go by that business and also where we lived when we were first married over ten years ago.

Somewhat in denial about memory, he enjoys his days and trusts me. Often he tells me he loves me. We do normal socializing at this stage. I am blessed each day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Husband Is Not the Person I Knew

My name is Dolores, my husband, David has Alzheimer's; he was diagnosed in 2005.   David retired from his job, as a C.P.A.  in 2003.... we were seeing slight signs of Alzheimer's in 2003.....

Most days I do really well as a care taker, but each day/hour  with Alzheimer's is a new experience, and some days are harder than others.  I'm in this for the long haul, so I try to stay as upbeat and positive as's not always easy or possible.

I read articles from the Reading Room each day, and this article hit home for me.  

Alzheimer's Disease, This is Not the Person I Knew

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's disease is difficult to comprehend.

Alzheimer's caregivers find it difficult to accept and understand that the new, different, and often bizarre behaviors they experience from a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease are a product of the disease.

The person suffering from Alzheimer's did not choose to go into this new and bizarre world. They are not acting irrational by design or with intent.The Alzheimer’s sufferer is not engaging in these behaviors intentionally. They are engaging in these behaviors because their brain is sick. The result of this sickness is an inability to cope effectively with the world around them.
Once you come to the understanding that these new, hard to accept and deal with behaviors are being caused by Alzheimer's disease you'll lower your own level of stress and anxiety.

This simple understanding leads to more effective Alzheimer's care giving.

Dolores and Carol Chat on Facebook

Notice that we have new contributing authors on Plant City Lady and Friends. Dolores is one.

Dolores: Good morning! You are doing great at Wordscratch [on Facebook]!
Carol: I just happen to be ahead this time. You usually win.
Dolores: I’m having a hard time playing with a bunch of vowels.
Carol: You can put some of your vowels on the board and swap letters.
Dolores: We had our Sunday school party last night.
Carol: Great! Did your husband attend?
Dolores: 72 people there. I had a terrible time getting DH dressed, but once we were there he was fine. I started not to go at the last minute because he was getting so obstinate about getting his clothes on, but I’m the leader of our class and felt I needed to be there for introductions, prayer requests, etc. It ended up being good.
Carol: My husband is getting stubborn also. They become self-centered as the disease progresses.
Dolores: He was in a very down mood yesterday. I put a turtle neck sweater on him and he threw a fit that he couldn’t stand the way it felt. I was bawling and he didn’t even notice. He seems fine now.
Carol: My husband didn’t like the chicken wings I served him. Then they don’t remember these incidents.
Dolores: It’s hard, isn’t it, because you never know what to expect.
Carol: I’m starting to just relax with it and realize this is how the Lord is completing His work in me. Yes it is hard.
Dolores: Some days I can do that but since he has totally stopped reading, he has too much time to do nothing.
Carol: I guess we will have to educate them into new activities as the disease progresses.
Dolores: We walk around the block a lot, drive around, he sweeps, but the reading was something he did almost half the day.
Carol: My husband watches DVDs, videos, movies on TV constantly. Sometimes I have to retrain him in how to use the remote controls.
Dolores: David is past educating him into doing anything. He can’t pick up the receiver of the phone.
Carol: I’ve read that they lose procedures.
Dolores: DH can’t learn and won’t even try anymore. My husband is further along in the disease than yours is.
Carol: Yes, and I want to hang in there with you and learn and keep praying for you two.
Dolores: Thank you and I pray for you two also. Prayer is what got me through last night. Once I was there, I was all smiles. LOL
Carol: I am going to put some of this conversation on Plant City Lady and Friends. OK?
Dolores: Sure . . . that’s fine. The only pressure I feel is saying anything that will make DH worry about himself since he has Alzheimer’s.
Carol: Being a helpmeet under these circumstances is hard. My hubby doesn’t want to be looked down on or made to appear inadequate in any way.
Dolores: One has to tread lightly to not let or make them feel like a child. Gonna fix DH’s oatmeal and toast. Hope you have a good day!
Carol: Ok! TTYL. You too!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saga Six

So both "Jake" and DH have had birthdays recently. Both are 73! Both couples were going to go to Disneyland's Magic Kingdom in Orlando this week, but it is just too cold here in Florida. My wise husband suggested we postpone it. I love having the day off and so does "Sally". We enjoyed having a birthday breakfast with "Sally and Jake" two weeks ago to celebrate Jake's birthday. We celebrated DH's b.d. with a cake after church yesterday.

The Memory Walk I participated in last month has raised $61,000 plus.

The diabetic medicine Metformin can help prevent dementia according to Alzheimer's Weekly and more tests are being conducted to confirm this. My husband takes Metformin and we now get it free at Publix.

Geriatric Care Manager Carole Larkin of Dallas Texas writes on the Importance of Socialization in The Alzheimer's Reading Room. This has made such a difference for me when I realized this. Before that I had been withdrawing slowly from my husband. He is so much happier when we just act like a normal couple. Love him!

Socialization is easier to accomplish than exercise, however. Sally and I have a plan to go walking in January around a track and then DH and Jake can walk together also and stop when they want to. Hope January has mild days when our husbands will agree to walk.

Caregivers have 6 simple suggestions at Johns Hopkins Health Alerts. We have covered these tips in a different format on this blog, but the tip I have been neglecting is my health. I realize that when we are older we forget to get enough liquids--I haven't been getting enough water. Then I wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps because I didn't get enough water, or the liquid I consumed was mainly coffee. So I got sick last week and am still taking antibiotics for the respiratory infection. Urgent Care gave me prescriptions for four medicines recently (antibiotics, strong pain, cough and alergies,) and two of them made me vomit. Never got the allergies meds as the helpful drugist at Walmart suggested I could get an over the counter med if I determined I needed it. In my 66 years I have never been diagnoised for allergies, however, but you never know! I am just taking the antibotics now.

Dr. Charles DeCarli, Neurologist/ Alzheimer's Director at the University of California at  Davis has an informative  Update on Vascular Dementia. Now this hour long video is informative if you are a doctor. :)  I tried to follow it, but had difficulty. As a layman I received two insights from it, however. 1) People start out with Vascular Dementia and end up with Alzheimer's. He pictures a landscape rectangle with a diagonal line to illustrate the concept with mainly V. Dem. on the left for an earlier age growing to mainly ALZ on the right for maybe ten years later. 2) V. Dem. patients have trouble with sequential directions, like how to use the remote control, etc. Yep, true of my husband, but he has been trained to use them, regresses, and then gets up to speed again. He loves using his GPS, but needs help inputting a new address. I say train and retrain them while they can learn.

Soy may not be as good for you as we thought. A report from Dr. Mercola:
Myth: Phytoestrogens in soy foods can enhance mental ability.
Truth: A recent study found that women with the highest levels of estrogen in their blood had the lowest levels of cognitive function; In Japanese Americans tofu consumption in mid-life is associated with the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease in later life.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sixth Book Report: Finding Your Way: A Spiritual GPS for Caregivers

Sally and I went to a book signing on October 23rd after our Altzheimer's Association workshop on "Spiritually and Memory Care".  Sandy Lovern is the author of the newly released Finding Your Way: A Spiritual GPS for Caregivers and here she is pictured with Evelyn. I met Sandy and Evelyn when I did a presentation on publishing my book at their writers' group.  I bought Sandy's GPS book and had her autograph it.  Sally bought Sandy's other book Engaged! A Devotional to help a Bride-to-Be Navigate Down the Aisle. Obviously Sandy is fresh on the "how to" book trail.

What does local author Sandy Lovern suggest for the caregiver?  First of all Sandy writes from experience, but generalizes "you" as a caregiver for "Mama" as the loved one being cared for. She does not explore the Alzheimer's patient, nor the Alzheimer's spouse as caregiver. What I received from her book is other insight and I know I will return to what I have underlined in the book.

Bitterness. She writes that "Bitterness will spoil every area of your life. Do what you can for your loved one and rest in that." The Lord has dealt with me on this topic before in other issues of my life.

Martyrdom. "Avoid the martyr syndome like the plague. . . . You can avoid the syndrome by remembering you are the one who has been entrusted by the Lord, to fulfill a promise He made to your loved one, or their partner." In my case, it is my wedding vows--for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.

The Past.  "As your life begins to unravel you will probably catch yourself constantly reaching back into our memories, trying to recapture what once was, and is no more. It's the 'what is no more' that can trip you up. If you don't learn to adapt and accept the new changes in your relationship with your loved one, you could find yourself constantly ensnared by feelings of anger and frustration."

Family. "Surround her with pictures of her loved ones, decorate the walls with drawings from her grandchildren and stimulate her with news of the family." Together we are putting photos on my husband's Facebook page so he can remember events. I noticed that his niece wished him a Happy Birthday on Facebook and wants to know when we will visit them again in Georgia. My husband wants a photo album made--one of my important items on my "to do" list.

Joy. "Do what you can to bring joy to their life, and then go on with yours." DH has a wonderful sense of humor and really he brings joy to my life. I can't close myself off from him. He would be lonely and so would I. Sandy writes, "Special moments are created, they don't just spontaneously occur." I guess that I am going on with my life by taking classes and working while I can. Joy comes when I improve parts of our home also.

Finances. "Your finances will recover over time, but your heart won't if you don't take some time to invest in what is really important." Finances are rough for us. I have been sick this week and have gone to substitute anyway. Whoops! Maybe I am acting like a martyr by working!

God's Word. Sandy writes, "Arm yourself with the Word of God, and wage war over the battlefield of your mind. . . . The Word of God is the only power you have that can override your negative thinking." At the end of her book are Bible verses for each of her chapters.

The Future. "You can sit on the sidelines and watch your loved one's passage into a new life, or you can walk side by side with them until they enter another dimension. The Lord will give you the strength you need to pass your loved one's life into His capable hands. "

This last quote reminds me of an old song, "Side by Side" written in 1925 by Harry Woods.  DH and I like to sing this together:

Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money,
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along
Singing a song
Side by side.

Don't know what's comin' tomorrow
Maybe it's trouble and sorrow
But we'll travel the road
Sharing our load
Side by side.

Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall?
Just as long as we're together,
It doesn't matter at all.

When they've all had their quarrels and parted
We'll be the same as we started
Just a-traveling along
Singing a song
Side by side.