Sunday, October 27, 2013

Church Girl and Her Blessings

Last evening we double-dated with Jake and Sally and went to see a movie. Now finding a movie for Alzheimer's husbands is difficult. I read this anonymous plot summary below.

Miles Montego (Ja Rule) has it all - cars, boats, good looks, mansion, money, women, but more importantly, he has a past. Miles is a retired high level drug trafficker who is now completely legitimate. Even though Miles has turned over a new leaf, the DEA can't seem to let him out of their sights. Miles' only downfall is that he is extremely loyal to his circle of friends and former colleagues who are not retired from the lucrative business. Struggling to keep on the right side of the law, Miles meets the one girl of his dreams but she's not the usual type of girl that he's used to dating. Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon) is a church girl in every sense of the word. They are tested to their last ounce of faith and strength in God and each other. God continues to chip away at Miles through struggles from his past, having to live up to his reputation, feelings of unworthiness, the death of his mother, federal charges, his friends being indicted, the strain on his relationship with Vanessa, almost losing her in a near fatal car accident, and finally the spiritual breakdown and one on one with God that brings Miles to his knees.

Now the mechanics of getting a hubby with a walker and with Alzheimer's into the theatre are difficult, but because Sally and Jake were with us, it worked. Not seeing a handicapped spot nearby, I let all three of them and the walker off and went park the car.  Inside the theater hubby needed to sit in the lobby a while and Jake sat with him while Sally and I found places for the movie. Our husbands sat in handicapped seating and Sally and I sat in front of them. They were throughly entertained. How refreshing to have a movie where Jesus Christ, faith, and church attendance are featured and no swearing! Not all the actors and the dialogue were polished but enough happened so I cried. Miles even becomes a preacher at the end! Then the four of us went to dinner. When we left, Sally accompanied me to our car and when we got to the restaurant she told the security guard that we needed to stop in the street while we got a handicapped person into the car. 

Blessing one. Sally and I did have some privacy to talk about how it is going with our husbands.

Blessing two. Kenny smoothly moved in on hubby about 8 am Saturday morning. In our bedroom they took their pills as "pill popping buddies". Then skillfully without the nagging wife Kenny moved hubby into the master bath to shave him and have him take his shower as I have described on this blog.

Blessing three. Pharis and his two teenagers came over Saturday morning and here is a picture from the front yard. They added lava rock instead of mulch. Much just ends up on the porch in a heavy rain, but lava stays put. 

What a difference

Blessing four. Yes, I am a church girl and am grateful that I married a Christian gentleman like church girl Vanessa in the movie. My husband's faith shines through his Alzheimer's when he is not angry. When he is angry I ignore, although it is hard at times. Another blessing to my church going habits, is that Kenny has started going to our church with us. I so enjoy attending our two PM service, not at all like the stereotyped service in the movie. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

More Baths and Less Talk

Disclaimer: This is not a book review about a very funny book where UK author Nick Hornby rattles on and on about the books he buys each month, but then reviews the books he actually reads each month.  

However, the title of the book has everything to do with the topic of this post.

At the end of August our lives were thrown upside down when my husband couldn't walk. You add a disability to Alzheimer's and life indeed is complicated and my stress and ability to cope with life is hammered. When I showed neighbor/caregiver Kenny the title of this book, we both laughed. Kenny has been helping me with my husband's showers and today's shave and shower was the most successful to date. Hubby needs more baths and I need less talk. It's all about the wife nag factor. I know he needs more baths and cranberry juice to avoid another UTI, but I need to shut my mouth about this fact. 

This morning Kenny skillfully suggested that hubby sit on the toilet while he gave him a razor shave. The idea was that hubby is already in the room where he showers. 

Now I was outside enjoying Pharis and his daughter Dezarae landscaping in Area 8 of my project, The House That Cleans Itself. When I left you HERE last May, one of the plants in the front yard was dying. Those were removed and new croton plants have come to our front door, mainly purchased from a country neighbor about two miles away. Stephanie sells wonderful plants cheaply and gives more help than Home Depot. 

Huge Landscaping Improvements Being Undertaken
Pharis has many plans to save this the yard and improve the house, including the roof. How blessed are we!

Meanwhile I popped back inside and Kenny had gotten hubby in the shower without me! 

I said something when I saw this and my husband snapped back. I should have left them alone--not said anything like the book title suggests:


In the midst of many hard days, today is so encouraging. Thank you, LORD, for people coming alongside this journey. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dealing With Caregiver Stress

Graphic from Vitacost
I am on a campaign to deal with stress in my life. I need margin for things that come up. I need to cope with duties like emptying urinals, preparing and removing false teeth, pretending that I am not asked the same question repeatedly and dealing with the anger of sundowners. Patience, Carol, it's called patience.

When Sally and I went to the Alzheimer's Association Support Group recently. Sally shared wonderful advice for our care receivers that say anything contrary to what is correct. Just say,

"Sweetheart, that could be true!"

Works like a charm.  I've tried it. Gives you something to say. 

At the support group we received the Associations's pamphlet, "Take Care of Yourself: 10 Ways to be a Healthier Caregiver". The pamphlet gives ten things to watch out for: denial, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of concentration and health problems.

 So I thought I would reflect on these ten ways. 
  1. Understand what's happening as early as possible. It is common knowledge that the shower for the Alzheimer's patient is a struggle.  I have interviewed caregivers on this blog for my own preparation for this journey,. 
  2. Know what community resources are available. The Alzheimer's Association has much help available. 
  3. Become an educated caregiver. We will have stress, so deal with it and learn all you can about the disease. 
  4. Get help. Look around my house and I feel so hypocritical because I have been blogging about the book The House That Cleans Itself. It hasn't been working for me lately. The rooms that were finished were somehow trashed again because I didn't work at it. I am still enslaved with the endless de-cluttering.  Encouragement of help from Kenny, Margaret and Pharis. Margaret, Kenny's mom who is a few years younger than myself, sees all I have on my plate. Kenny brought over a DVD for me to watch. Novel idea--sit down to watch something! Margaret who comes over to help with DH's pills or lunch when Kenny cannot, decided that helping with cleaning would help my stress level and I worked with her to do that one day. I look around and the house is better and I am encouraged to keep it up It was actually fun. She helped me get rid of clothes I didn't really need to clutter my my closets--huge relief--something I had not gotten to in the bedrooms. We are not done with the clothes, but there is a start. And there is help for the outside gardens and the roof with Pharis and his teenagers coming over next Saturday.
  5. Take care of yourself. It was a treat to have lunch with Sally this week while our husbands were at Plant City Senior Center for the middle part of the day.  
  6. Manage your level of stress. Right now medical bills I haven't had time to research are on my plate--some Preferred Care should have paid. Can you believe they think my husband fell in the house and that the homeowner's insurance should pay!!! We may change to another plan. Got to think medical bills through--pay a little on each. I know where they are--just for some reason haven't gotten to them. The denial of stress I guess. 
  7. Accept changes as they occur. My husband's trouble walking has been hard for me, but fortunately the chiropractor is helping him. 
  8. Make legal and financial plans. Did that early. 
  9. Give yourself credit, not guilt. Actually I want to thank my LORD for sustaining me and forgiving me. 
  10. Visit your doctor regularly. I saw my doctor on Tuesday. She gave me a prescription for the lowest dosage of Paxil, an anti-depressant, should I need to take it. I am getting it filled should I need it and some days I do feel I need it. I took it years ago when I was a widow and it helped me over hard times. 
The decision to not take ANY long-term substitute position is related to stress. I need to keep life simple.  I really think that life is a bear many days, and not just for ordinary living stress, but also perhaps it is because of my husband's Alzheimer's that it's hard to cope lately.

Yes,  I am so fortunate to have help. But there are no guarantees in this life and my future in heaven is secure and longed for.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I have seen others post a "Thankful Thursday" post and I have sooooo much to write and I have sooooo much to be thankful for that I am bursting.

First of all I think of the Scripture from James 1:2-5 Count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

I am thankful for:

1. The frog that I was able to capture and put outside this morning. It was on the kitchen floor early this morning, probably was weakened from its time inside. A towel thrown over it and it's captured and it was taken to the back yard.

2. Home Team Pest Control who sprayed a Yellow Jackets nest this morning--the best time of the day to get them. They also took care of a  wasp nest. We thought they were Guinea Wasps in an earlier post on this blog, but the pest control technician took a sample to check what insect it is--most likely Yellow Jackets, but they will confirm. These critters had stung Pharis earlier and Pharis had told me Monday night that these insects were still around.

Insect Nest Disabled This Morning
2. That Pharis mowed and trimmed Monday. Great job!

3. That I have the day off today, Thursday,  to be home with my husband.  I booked myself unavailable to substitute for two days this week--Tuesday and Thursday. Getting over a cold here and teaching a class for DUI offenders on Saturday. I need time for him and for me.

3. That Kenny could go in the car with DH and me Tuesday because the wheel chair is too heavy for me to put into our SUV.  I was so thankful I didn't have to substitute on Tuesday because the regular teacher was scheduled to return! Two appointments, lunch and getting that handicapped parking sticker. Kenny helped DH get into our high SUV and put the wheel chair he had been confined to in the back.

4. Thanks for Walgreens and appointments. My husband has been getting cranberry juice to help prevent the dreaded UTI, but once a senior citizen gets a UTI, they can get another one. Treat it early, they say. Monday night I bought the pictured kit from Walgreens to test it out on hubby since both Kenny and I saw a sudden difference in my husband a week ago today that I also blogged about Saturday.  For more information on UTIs see HERE. Monday night I used a strip with my husband's urine as well as Tuesday morning. Sure enough it looked like there was an infection starting from the strip results. I could take hubby (also called DH for dear hubby) to two appointments I booked suddenly for Tuesday.

5. First appointment at Markley Chiropractic in Plant City. These magnificent chiropractors helped us after our crash in December of 2010. Will the chiropractor help with hubby's walking? It was so difficult to get DH into the Expedition Tuesday morning, but Kenny carefully coached DH in how to do it and then helped him get into the chiropractor's office.  Dr. Robyn  had seen hubby about his knee before recent hospitalizations. I explained to Dr. Robyn all about the hospital trips and that the X-rays just showed torn cartilage and arthritis. Over the counter and then prescribed medicine for pain wasn't helping him walk, and in fact DH was becoming more wheel chair dependent. The hospital report hadn't been faxed over, but she took our word for it and performed wonders on his twisted knee and back. Right after that appointment his getting in the SUV was easier. DH will continue appointments with her.

Kenny and DH while
Dr. Robyn fixes the back
"Why didn't the hospital find all this out?" I asked her.

"It's like apples and oranges," Dr. Robyn  replied. (There is the medical community and then there are chiropractors is how I interpreted her apples and oranges statement.) 

No more rides for dog Ziggy in the wheel chair! Hubby is using the walker and may not need it soon.

6. Second appointment. We went the primary care office where my husband's doctor was off, but my own doctor saw us to get an antibiotic (Ciprofloxacin HCL 500 MG twice a day) for the UTI. Fortunately she listened to all the symptoms that Kenny and I gave her and saw the Walgreen strips. They would send their own sample of his urine to a lab for tests. By the way I had brought the urine sample to the doctor because I wasn't sure that DH could provide a sample on the spot and he didn't. Note for future: refrigerate any samples you bring in.

6. A handicapped decal for parking. Last week my husband's doctor had signed the paper for privileged parking. When we went to get it Tuesday it was free, despite the government shutdown!

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went back to the school where I have been teaching in a special education classroom. I was scheduled to teach for another teacher, but that special education teacher had not returned from her leave and was going on a year's leave and I was put back in the class that I had said good bye to on Monday and others covered the class I had been scheduled to teach. A gentleman had been offered the job in special education and I was happy for them and happy I was put in there for the day.

After the students were on the bus yesterday,  I was told to wait for an administrator. That gentleman had accepted another teaching position. Could I take a long term job in this class for the rest of the school year, of course taking off on days I needed to be gone? I do love these thirteen students and the paraprofessional I would work with.  I need to call today with my answer.  Pray for the decision which I need to make today. Apparently there are not enough special education teachers around and my years of teaching all grades except fourth grade will come in handy. I do not have training in special education, however. This will postpone my working on the dissertation, but can answer some financial considerations such as paying off credit cards so I can stay home full-time with hubby in a year should the need arise. And less gas because the school is closer than other schools where I substitute! Both DH and Kenny thought it would be great to have me do this.  Kenny prayed about this with us last night. DH and I prayed this morning. Stay tuned. Pray for wisdom that is promised in that James verse above.