Friday, June 28, 2013

Gardening Reports (Areas 8 and 9)

Flower on one of our three magnolia trees

The last time I posted on the yard was May 11 HERE.  The gardening is for Areas 8 and 9 of The House That Cleans Itself project. Gardening will have to be a continuous project and I will now be moving on to Areas 10 and 11 (my husband's workshop and our garage). I am hoping to find many items from the workshop and the garage for a yard sale the last weekend of  July. Also, because of a minor operation on July 1st, I will not be able to sweat for three weeks and work outside in our Florida heat.

Cleanup and Exercise. We had a pile of lumber in the second backyard on the cement where I am holding that yard sale next month.  In the process of moving the wood to the front yard for Saturday pickup, I fell! I relaxed as I fell and was not hurt. Senior citizens need to relax when they fall so they do not break a bone.  

Instead of using my carts to move boards (how I had fallen), I devised an exercise plan. I continued moving one board at a time and pretended they were weights, moving the board up and down for exercise. I wonder what some neighbors thought as they saw me do this, but I was happy for the exercise, but not the sweat. .

It Takes A Village. I am so impressed with the help we have been receiving. Kenny's brother-in-law, Kevin,  assessed our water softner situation and advised me about calling one of our plumbers. Not only did Kevin do this, but he cleaned the rust off of the wall in our back yard. I was working at the time, but I understand that he had to use acid to get it off. Incredible difference as you see below!



I found where the septic tank is located! It is in this corner where the rusty walls had been. I mentioned it to my husband and he said he always knew where the septic tank was. Now I need to know these things and my plan to put a lot of plants here had to be changed since I couldn't dig into the ground. before finding the cement from the septic tank. Instead I bought three huge pots with holes in the bottom from Lowes here in Plant City. I weeded and layered that corner with red mulch and put out the pots of Bengal Tiger Cannas--deciduous perennials with hardiness to 15 degrees F. Kerby's Nursery in Brandon is where I got them.  Kerby's said they need 4-8 hours of sun and this they have. During the morning I can sit in the corner and read while rocking in the swing. Under the gutter there is actually a live plug that works in case I need a light. Or, sometime I could use that plug for music!

Bengal Tiger Canna plants have
orange flowers all summer.

We had 16 bags of Home Depot mulch delivered by Wayne, who does our lawn now. So grateful that he does our lawn and we try to take him to dinner as thanks whenever he mows. To date I have used twelve of the sixteen mulch bags. I also used the mulch under large pots of Umbrella Plants in the front yard by the house.

Front yard
 It takes a village indeed. So thankful for:

* Our backyard neighbors (Kenny's relatives who help willingly)

* Wayne who mows and who delivered the mulch from Home Depot

* Kerby's Nursery

* Home Depot

* Lowes

Meanwhile, folks, please pray for our wonderful caregiver Kenny whom I had interviewed here. He is under the weather now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another Year Older

Ernie Ford used to sing a song called "16 Tons""

Another year older but deeper in debt. . .
Saint Peter don't you call me. . .

Yesterday was my  birthday. I am another year older.

Another year older but not deeper in debt. Last year we changed our mortgage to every two weeks and shortened the length of the loan. At this time next year I hope we will be less in debt.

My birthday gift from hubby is a walking treadmill. His personal shopper got it for less money at Play It Again Sports.

Not everyone does this on her birthday. Get Botox? No. Yesterday morning I had my consultation on my eyebrows and next Monday the deed (tattooing my eyebrows) will happen. For three weeks after that I will not be allowed to sweat while the forehead heals. So after Monday I cannot sweat on that treadmill and work in the yard. How can I not sweat when I have a middle-of-July yard sale coming!!! There are sweat headbands, however, and I do have those and know where they are.

Yesterday we also went to dinner with Sally and Jake at Grillsmith in Brandon. Eliza, the manager, took a picture of hubby  that I am posting on the Plant City Lady and Friends LIKE page on Facebook. We loved our service and the food there. Sally and I both had a delicious salmon salad and my husband had "Pork Chop Marsala", recommended by our waiter. I embarrassed my husband when I did two raps for Eliza. He put his red napkin over his face.

We caregiver wives stick together. Earlier this month Sally had pointed out the card section at Family Christian Bookstore and hubby bought me a DaySpring card I received yesterday with Proverbs 11:10. Now this card was in a small bag that I didn't peak at, but I knew where it was. I put the bag out yesterday morning. Hubby signed it. It said,

For My Wife
Your birthday is a time to reflect
on the amazing woman God
made you to be.
Your caring heart, ready smile,
and love for those around you
make sharing life with you
a blessing.
With each year, I discover
a little more of who you are
and who you're becoming,
and that's a lifelong adventure
I'm thankful for.
I love you,
and thank the Lord for the
precious gift you are in my life.

Sigh! Life is such a precious gift. I love my husband even more than when I married him in 2000. We didn't know what these senior years would bring (his dementia, our car crash, my biopsy next month), but each and every day I see the LORD's sustaining hand.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Senior Health: My Second Thyroid Test

For weeks now I have been waiting. I wrote about my thyroid HERE.  I decided to write daily this week on this post while I waited.

Monday morning I swallowed a radioactive pill at Brandon's Total Imaging. Some people have radioactive iodine injected into a vein, but I only took a pill. The technician explained that there are cold and hot nodules. The cold nodules can contain cancer cells. I would have to return the next day for the actual test. For twenty-four hours I had to limit salt, processed foods and even green vegetables before my test. I ate eggs, carrots, strawberries, a banana, a baked potato and beef without any seasoning. That day our long awaited tax refund came and hubby wanted to go out to dinner, but I said I wouldn't be able to because of my 24 hour diet.

The next morning, Tuesday, I went under the gamma camera at Brandon's Total Imaging. This camera measures the function of the thyroid and can for every other organ of the body exceptt the pancreas. The results would be faxed to my doctor later in the day. She would call me and give me the results.

I then went shopping and bought a lovely white linen skirt and lime green jeans--basics for my wardrobe badly needing updating and both on sale. Lime green is a basic for me; why one time my Alabama niece used to call me the lime green aunt. Now she calls me MC AC The Rap Lady.  

Finally hubby and I took Kenny, our volunteer caregiver to dinner. We told him how much we appreciate his friendship and he said that we enrich his life. Then I finished that quilt Tuesday evening and posted a picture of it on the Facebook LIKE page Wednesday.

Wednesday I put a call into my doctor expecting to have the results of the test, to know if I need my TSH tested before I resume taking thyroid pills. I realized that I am fidgety. The Mayo Clinic says HERE:

Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone. The great majority of thyroid nodules aren't serious and don't cause symptoms. Thyroid cancer accounts for a small percentage of thyroid nodules.

By Wednesday night no one had called from the doctor's office and I was on pins and needles waiting to hear about cold nodules and whether or not I would have to have a needle biopsy to determine if it was cancer. It has been five weeks that I have been off of thyroid medicine waiting for test results. I feel tired and weigh myself often and watch what I eat because those pounds I lost last year might come back. The highlight of the day was a call from my Alabama brother in the evening. Another highlight was that my husband prayed an eloquent prayer when we went to bed. He will not remember all that I am feeling, but our LORD does. I need to exercise faith.

Thursday I determined to be useful. Well be assertive. We are going to breakfast, I announced to hubby. He wanted to know if he had to shave. It had been two days since he had shaved and I said no because I really had other motives.

Shortly after they opened I was at the doctor's office with hubby waiting in our air conditioned gas guzzler. I was told that Total Imaging had not faxed the test results yet and Yes, Mrs. Johnson, we do have your call about this issue on the computer and we will let you know when the text results come to our office. I called Total Imaging and they said it had been faxed, but they would send my doctor another fax with the results.

We went to Snellgrove Restaurant across the street from the painted brick building at the top of this blog. Men outside were talking about this car.

This restaurant is the local hangout where I interviewed my husband for this blog HERE.  I usually recognized people at Snellgove and even my husband recognized D.J. from Toastmasters. Now D. J. has survived cancer and I wondered if we would get a chance to talk with him there but we never caught his eye in the crowded place. I ordered the special for hubby--a huge waffle with sugar free syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon. I ordered a veggie omelet and hash browns for myself.

Into the breakfast I got a call on my cell phone. Mrs. Johnson, you will need a thyroid biopsy and you may resume taking your thyroid meds. We will schedule your biopsy. . Total Imaging must have sent them the fax. We took our pills and I had my first thyroid pill since May 14th.

Hubby's many pills  in the background and
my calcium, baby aspirin and LEVOTHROXINE
Then I got another call on my cell phone. Mrs. Johnson, your biopsy is scheduled for July 31st at 9 am in Brandon. So I have another five weeks to wait to know if I have cancer in a "cold" thyroid nodule.

You know what! Now I do not have fear of gaining back weight. I can lose the next five pounds more easily. And, good gracious gravy, I am going to get a tattoo! I have such light eyebrows that I always have to add eyebrow pencil to them. If I have to be in the hospital again, God forbid, at least my eyebrows ought to look like I am awake.

Beyond good eyebrows, however, the world needs cures for cancer and Alzheimer's. I consider it a privliege to trust our LORD for the outcome and am grateful I can have those thyroid pills again which a person needs if they need them.

Added June 27, 2013 when the written report came in my mail.
Technique: the patient received 278 microcuries I-123 by oral capsule.
Findings: There is a relative photopenia in the mid pole of the right thyroid lobe indicating the dominant nodule seen here on ultrasound is cold. Normal uptake seen in the left love. 24 hour uptake is low normal measuring 8%.
IMPRESSION: Dominant mass in the right thyroid lobe is cold on nuclear sutyd. Biopsy of this nodule recommended.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quilt for Granddaughter

She's going off to college and I have her quilt to finish, along with other projects this summer. Love the colors she chose for the quilt when we were with her last Christmas. Several months ago I cut this out and put some old and new in the fabric including a pocket from her grandfather's shirt.

Summer project
I got the idea for the slanted design from a Plant City quilt shop below. At right are the tools I used including my rotary cutter on plywood.

Tools to cut evenly;
polar fleece backing on top 
Plant City's
Inspire Quilting and Sewing
The fabric chosen includes brown scraps from when I made the "step" grandkids and my husband matching bathrobes when we were first married. Everyone except my husband has now outgrown those brown bathrobes.

Wednesday morning June 12.  I clear the pool table to spread out the pieces ready to sew on my

Great to have a pool table for sewing quilts
Swedish sewing machine in the background on the pup table. Hope to have this is some kind of condition by Friday when Sally and I and our hubbies are going to Lakeland. (The husbands entertain each other while we shop and this usually works well.)

Wednesday afternoon. That bobbin winder doesn't work. I think I have to go back to Fabric Warehouse in Lakeland before Friday. I take a nap. I think about those Swedes that make my wonderful Husqvarna Viking sewing machine. They can't write directions in English, but their Ikea furniture and my Swedish machine are wonderful.

Wednesday night. After dinner I disregard their directions and get the bobbin wound and I am off sewing again.

Thursday morning. I wake up glad for the new day. But hubby can't get out of bed. We ice his knee as he sits in the bedroom for maybe 45 minutes.  Soon he is motivated to get to his "Archie Bunker" spot in the den and the ice does the trick. He has soon forgotten about all knee problems, hospital trips, etc.  I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop in this caregiving journey.

The other shoe did drop after a very productive morning sewing on the quilt--I get cocky and sew over a pin and break the sewing machine needle. Bummer. Now I have to look up the directions for putting a new needle in the sewing machine. Think I will make hubby lunch.

Thursday afternoon. Somehow I get the needle installed. I finish sewing all the top pieces together with one mistake. One brown strip is going the wrong way--didn't observe the nap on the fabric (when you do this it looks like two different colors). But I am careful to iron the seams one way throughout the quilt. It's starting to take shape.

Ironing seams and top
Friday morning. I repair the one brown strip so the nap goes the same way as the other strips. So excited to share this project with Becky, Holly and Melody at Fabric Warehouse and get their input on the binding. Should it be brown? Should it be beige? They will know. Need to ask them where to sew through all layers for quilting -- straight or slanted or in the blocks? 

We leave with Sally and Jake and go on Lakeland errands. First we stop at Fabric Warehouse. Every time I have had a project since buying my fancy sewing machine from them, I confer with them. Even had classes there. T

They suggest brown cotton binding, not the brown (bathrobe) knit material I put in the quilt;  turns out that kind of materials would give me trouble and cotton works best. For the body of the quilt they suggest I sew slanted in the opposite direction of those slanted blocks for the machine quilting. I buy more quilting safety pins which speed up the process so you do not have to baste. The safety pins go through the cotton to the turquoise and brown polar fleece. (Without that polar fleece, I would have had to use a third layer of perhaps a product called Wonder Under between the front and the back of the quilt.)

Sally, Jake, hubby and I have lunch at Olive Garden and as usual Sally and I order for our husbands who no longer make decisions on what to order in restaurants. Then we go to Michaels, a craft store, but hubby doesn't want to go in the store and he stays in our air conditioned gas guzzler.  Sally, Jake and I go inside. Sally is working on Christmas gifts for her family and gets what she needs.  I buy two T-shirts for $5. I plan to make one of T-shirts say "MC AC The Rap Lady"! Then we all go to a book store and both hubbies go inside and sit down, but not before Sally helps my husband buy me a birthday card for later this month. (We wives help each other out.) I get two gifts for family. Sally buys assorting items and we all head back to Plant City.

Friday night.  I cut out three inch strips of the brown cotton to be used for the binding of the quilt as I did in December HERE. I put more safety pins in the quilt to keep the front and back together while I sew.  The binding doesn't need to be on the bias this time. I start to sew diagonals through the quilt with the machine and the fancy $129 presser foot made for quilting. Then I will attach the brown cotton binding. Time to make dinner and prepare for Saturday activities.

The project is turning out well.  Love the three pockets in the quilt.
Granddaughter can keep her cell phone in quilt.
Don't all young people live with their cell?
Will post the final picture on the Plant City and Friends Facebook Like Page when it is done hopefully early next week.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Does Medicine Always Work for Us?

My husband had been on the Exelon patch when he was first diagnosed with dementia. He was working then. Hubby did more yard work and he could sweat off this patch. I felt the Exelon pill was easier to take with DH's other pills and he would not sweat it off.

Coconut Oil Fudge, Pills and Whatever
We Can Manage Have Hubby Eat

For several years now he has had Exelon or Rivastigmine pill morning and evening. At one time my husband experienced nausea with it when he didn't eat and had that pill in the morning. How he eats a small breakfast with the pill (if we are lucky here), but can get diarrhea several hours later. In April I wrote about one sort of humorous incident HERE. So I have not been giving him his Exelon morning pill some days such as Tuesday when he goes to the senior center and Sunday when we go to church. But I think we need to return to the patch and so does Canada.

Canada is going for the Excelon or Rivastigmine patch as reported HERE.  Two pills are not needed and the patch can be applied once a day.

My carpal tunnel syndrome seemed to have gone away and so I wasn't taking MSM. Bad idea. Hands are showing signs I need it. Will buy more of it to take.

Currently I am off of my thyroid medicine because I am undergoing another test on June 17 and need to be off of the medicine for that test and also no fish--bummer. I have been so careful to not gain weight and do get hungry without that thyroid medicine. I have a small twinge in one eye that I used to get when I taught in the stressful public school system full-time. I wonder if this stress is because my system needs that thyroid medicine.

To save money I have been taking one of my medicines only at night with my doctor's knowledge. She may let me get off of it entirely.

My husband also takes a full strength aspirin instead of Plavix in the mornings. This suggestion came from a comment on this blog and his doctor has always approved.

What do you do to evaluate or save money on your medications?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What My Husband's Dementia Means, Part Two

With his recent trips to the hospital for UTI and another for a fall, I get asked if my husband has gone into a further stage of Alzheimer’s. This post is an attempt to answer that question. He did not receive an anesthesia in the hospital—a sure road to a future stage.  I do not think he is in a further stage.  I have seen three different lists of stages.

• Alzheimer’s Reading Room HERE.

• Alzheimer’s Association HERE.  He is in stage four of seven stages.

• Mayo Clinic HERE.  He is in stage three of five stages.

On July 8, 2012 I posted Part One HERE. As in Part One, the red below is from the Family Doctor Organization, but the link in Part One seems to be broken. Nonetheless I want to credit these red descriptions.

• Recent memory loss. All of us forget things for a while and then remember them later. People who have dementia often forget things, but they never remember them. They might ask you the same question over and over, each time forgetting that you've already given them the answer. They won't even remember that they already asked the question.  My husband is very conscious of his short-term memory and we use techniques to compensate.  I have been working out in the yard and he has wondered where I am, upsetting to both of us because of course I had told him I had gone out. Now I have a sign that says Carol is outside.

• Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People who have dementia might cook a meal but forget to serve it. They might even forget that they cooked it. When I have left the house to substitute teach early in the morning, hubby would often forget to take his morning pills. I have been dealing with this aspect for quite some time now. For example, he kept the sprinkler on overnight some time ago. Fortunately Kenny comes in and the two gentlemen take their own pills together, with Kenny pointing out that he takes more pills than my husband does.  No more forgetting lunch. Kenny comes over and fixes it for hubby and sees that he eats.

• Problems with language. People who have dementia may forget simple words or use the wrong words. This makes it hard to understand what they want. He does forget nouns, but really no worse than in July of last year.  I have read about “word salad” and have been watching for that, but it hasn’t happened.
• Time and place disorientation. People who have dementia may get lost on their own street. They may forget how they got to a certain place and how to get back home. No further deterioration. Very alert any time I am driving us somewhere.

• Poor judgment. Even a person who doesn't have dementia might get distracted. But people who have dementia can forget simple things, like forgetting to put on a coat before going out in cold weather. Hubby's judgment is still fairly good. I am not sure if this is because I give him coconut oil, turmeric, and Ribonucleic Acid, but he has good judgment and often if something is arbitrary, or not to my liking, I bend to his suggestion. I do not need to get my way, unless something has to do with logic and safety. For example, I can talk him into a shower and shave with reason. You need showers so you do not end up back in the hospital with another Urinary Tract Infection, or You have to shave with your razor every other day or I have to use the trimmer on you.

• Problems with abstract thinking. Anybody might have trouble balancing a checkbook, but people who have dementia may forget what the numbers are and what has to be done with them. Has little to do with finances now, or will ask how we are doing financially. I tell him the IRS owes us our tax refund which should come by the end of the June according to our accountant,  so we can make it through the summer when I work less.  Hubby likes to take notes now on what is happening for the day. DH wants me to say only one idea at a time—to not switch subjects. I still have to work on telling hubby one idea at a time. Hubby is training me by how he reacts when I say too much.

• Misplacing things. People who have dementia may put things in the wrong places. They might put an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. Then they can't find these things later. Sally has trouble with Jake misplacing things. Jake put his electric shaver in their RV for example. I thought "Alzheimer's" and suggested she look there and sure enough Jake was planning a camping trip in his mind and put his shaver there. "Thinking Alzheimer's", as Bob DeMarco on the Alzheimer's Reading Room suggests, helps you to help your loved one. So far he is not losing cell phones as he once did.

• Changes in mood. Everyone is moody at times, but people who have dementia may have fast mood swings, going from calm to tears to anger in a few minutes. DH can swear at other drivers when I am driving, as if that will help. As I noted in the last post, swearing is common in Alzheimer's patients.

• Personality changes. People who have dementia may have drastic changes in personality. They might become irritable, suspicious or fearful. Have yet to see much personality change. Love his sense of humor. Hubby is happy. Kenny often texts me while I am working that hubby is in a good mood. Linda Born calls it "pleasant dementia" HERE. I am accepting that loss of initiative and grateful for every little thing hubby willingly does. For example, to get our gas guzzler in the garage is a challenge now with bags of mulch to be spread in the yard. I have him direct me so I do not get too close to the bags of mulch. I thank him for his help.

• Loss of initiative. People who have dementia may become passive. They might not want to go places or see other people. Monday night hubby wanted to go to Toastmasters with me. On the way home from Toastmasters he said he doesn't want to attend this two hour meeting again, but worries about me being out in the evening. I said to him that we will work this out and that the LORD is our protector. He agreed. So glad for my husband's faith, and mine. Knowing that he has loss of initiative makes me not nag him to do something he used to do enthusiastically. Sometimes I just say to him that he and Jake are lucky they married younger women and pass inactivity off as part of the aging process.

I am  so glad that I blog. The July 8, 2012 entry helps me see that my husband is really not going downhill quickly. Caregiver Kenny thinks that he will remain like this for several years.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tax Refund and Computer Woes

I checked where is my refund. The IRS on line reported our refund status results:

"We cannot provide information about your refund."

Our accountant will look into it on Monday. We filed jointly and the accountant did it electronically this year for the first time. Every day this last month it seems I have gone to the mailbox to get that check that will help us through the summer when I do not substitute teach. Our church tithe and mortgage give us a substantial refund. I have started charging things I shouldn't change because no refund, trying to "save" somewhere. I maintain a strict budge and it will need to be more strict. The gardening projects and the grocery budget will suffer. We save on gas because I will be home, but will suffer in other areas. Really, government, I am conservative, but not in the Tea Party whom reportedly are persecuting with tax audits, etc.

Computer Woes. I am typing this post on my notebook computer because this morning a computer problem reared its ugly head. I cannot type on our main computer. I had hoped to post two posts--one on my husband and one on The House That Cleans Itself--garden areas including pictures which are on the other computer.. I am not sure if it is Microsoft 8 rearing its insertion into that computer or some other problem.

Do you ever feel like swearing? These two problems make me feel like it, but I hate the cheap dialogue of swearing! It's enough to deal with Alzheimer's in the home, but computer woes and tax refund woes are weighing heavily on me today. I hear swearing when I am driving and at home from my husband. With the frustrations of dementia at times hubby swears--what he never did before Alzheimer's when married to me. Swearing is common in these patients, however. Then they forget they swore. I just let his swearing roll of my back, but in public school, I have to deal with it, teach students to have more precise and careful words when they are angry.

Yesterday I wrote a rap about the limited vocabulary of swearing, calling it Much More Pizzazz. It needs revision and if it works with students, it will maybe in a 2014 YouTube at the same site as the 2013 videos to be released this month.

Got the hebe jibes about your swearing
Name callin’ makes you think you’re daring
Don’t give me lip and think you’re hip
And “OMG” has so been had

Your words need much more pizzazz.
No more A-B-D-F-MF-N-or SH words
These are all you use
And you have no clue
Helps the script writers on movies or TV
But your words need much more pizzazz.
Let’s ban obscenity
Let’s ban profanity
Impaired thinking
Vocabulary stinking
Your words need much more pizzazz.
If you’re not happy
Don’t say something crappy
Or suck your teeth
Roll you eyes instead of speech
When you speak
It’s rude to be crude
Speak with modesty not obscenity
Be truthful but not offensive
Your words need much more pizzazz.

Say “Jiminy Cricket” when someone’s wicked
Say “plug nickel” when someone’s fickle
Say “dumbfounded” when you’re grounded
And "holy cow" and “bejesus” are sort of iffy
“Good gracious gravy” might be more nifty
Your words need much more pizzazz.
There’s a lot to do for your anger
And it’s not to use your finger
Say “cripes” for your gripes
Say “bummer” if it’s hot this summer
Say "fudge" when you made a smudge
Get you some chutzpa
Get you some respect
Deal with the issue
As precisely as you can get
Your words need much more pizzazz.

Got the hebe jibes about your swearing
Name callin’ makes you think you’re daring
Don’t give me lip and think you’re hip
And “OMG” has so been had
Your words need much more pizzazz.

They say all that is certain is death and taxes. Both will resolve themselves. Maybe that other computer problem will be resolved. Today I just need prayer and maybe coffee, or a phone call.

Added June 4, 2013. I put color on this post and added the above photo I took in a classroom. Rap keeps getting revised. Tax refund will come by the end of June. The accountant checked and made an electronic correction.  The computer keyboard works by unplugging and plugging it back in thanks to a Facebook suggestion. There is so much patience needed to be a caregiver/lovegiver, but apparently I didn't have patience for my computer and my tax refund. Thank you for your prayers and concerns, folks.