Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas! (Very Late)

Most of you already know that we had a terrible illness here at this house all through the week of Christmas, and most of you also know that it's taking me a long time to recover. I'm still sleeping a lot and feel pretty weak - even today I'm napping a lot.

PRAISE be to GOD and thanks to some good advice right at the start of this horror from Pete, (get masks and gloves - which we did within an hour of the phone call where he told us to do it), Mom was spared the bug.  The rest of us all got it.  First Amanda came home from work on Friday with it. (It was going around at her work.)  She was so violently ill that we spent late Friday night into Saturday morning at the emergency room.  Then Sunday night David and I started to show symptoms.  I even had hallucinations from the dehydration.  It was the first time in my life that I'd ever hallucinated.  Stephan didn't show symptoms until Monday, and he only was sick for two days - the least hit of all of us.  I think I might have been the hardest hit, and I am still not back to my old self yet.  David and I were both still pretty sick even until Christmas Day (we couldn't safely go to Church on Christmas Eve so Stephan and Amanda went to Saint Paul's together - I'm really sad about missing that - it is my favorite service of the whole year).

I did take a video on Christmas morning. You can click here to see the link to the video (fixed link).

(edit to add) Near the end of the video, Mommy identifies the people in the ornament as "Mom and Dad" which is AMAZING.  It's very unusual for her to call to mind identifying words like that when she is trying to think of what something is.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh! This was like the best puppet moment with Mom ever!

This is a blurry, cell-phone video, but it is so adorable, I'm sharing it anyway. After we did our tree-decoration exercises today, I put a few dolls (including this puppet) on the box for Mommy to reach for, and when she picked up the puppet she said, "Something's supposed to go in here," and so I knew that she had a memory of how to use a puppet.

After we got it adjusted on her hand, she really got going with it.  <3

Here's a little of the wonder I got to enjoy with this puppet and Mommy.

Mail Time and Alisha Time

Today, Mommy got some mail.  She got a Christmas card from her sister, Bonnie, and she got a letter from my daughter, Hannah.

Click here to see the recording :-)


And, yesterday, Mommy watched a video of Alisha that we captured.

Click here to that :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2014


No time to write a post, but I've uploaded our miracle video.


Click here to see the miracle.

(And, this is actually the third time she made that trip across the living room this morning. That, when she hadn't done more than a few shuffle steps and few feet the whole time she's been here until today!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig (+ breakfast video link)

Jeanie has been especially faithful about praying that Mommy will feel as though she's at home here at my house.  I am so thankful for her prayers.  For the last few months, Mommy has been wanting her own parents to come and get her and to take her back to Herrickville.

Mommy was fixated on this when Marjie and I went down to visit a few months ago.  Mommy told me that when she gets back home to Herrickville, her mother is going to fix her hair.

One of the therapists mentioned to me that this is a common dream for Alzeheimer's patients. A dream that their mother will come and fix their hair.

One of my friends (I still have to email her back!) has offered to help me and she is a hairdresser, so maybe we can make Mommy's dream come true in a little bit of a way.  Although neither my friend nor I look anything like Grandma O'Connor ;-)  And, I doubt we could make Mommy's hair look as she is envisioning it in her imagination.

At any rate, back to the feeling that she is home.  Yesterday, the PT came for a visit and this conversation ensued:

Physical Therapist to Mom:  "Have you lived in Pittsburgh your whole life?"
Mom: "Yes."
PT to Mom: "Have you lived in this house your whole life?"
Mom: "Yes."  Then she turns to me, "I have, haven't I?"
Me: "You've lived in Pennsylvania most of your life."
Mom to PT:  "I've always lived here."
Me to PT: "Always is about a month long."

This is not only adorable, it is a direct answer to prayer. Praise God and thank you, Jeanie, for your faithfulness in prayer.

I've also taken another video.  I was going to post this yesterday, but the PT fussed at me a little for feeding Mom as Mommy needs to do as much as she can for herself.  So, I thought, I shouldn't post that I was doing too much for Mom.  But, if I worry about posting possible mistakes, I'll never upload a video.  Also, I look hideous in this one.  I know you're not hitting the play button to look at me, but I still have my pride to consider.  But, again, if I worry about posting only videos where I look good, I'll never upload anything.  (I really thought about retaking the whole Mommy opening the gift from Aunt Bonnie because I looked so bad.  Nobody would know because if I waited a day, Mommy would not remember the gift and it would be brand new again for her :-)  )  However, this isn't about me.  And, I'm never going to look like I want to look on camera.

So, enough said.  Here is a link to see a typical breakfast time.  (And, this morning I fed her again.  Morning time is a little rushed around here.  A lady was coming to bathe Mommy at ten so we needed to get the oatmeal bowl empty and pot filled if possible before ten o'clock.  I'm doing the best I can, and tomorrow, I will try to have her feed herself while I read and we'll see what happens).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Package from Aunt Bonnie

I did another video today for you all.  Videos work better because then you can see her expressions.  Anything except for the almost constant stoic expression is really hard for me to catch with camera.

And, this has been a really hectic day.  I knew this morning that we were going to be getting a visit from the nurse, but then around 10:00 this morning, a social worker called and asked if she could drop by.  "Yes, of course," I said, and so she came and she was just about one of the nicest people I've ever met.  She gave me a lot of tips about how to access ways to help care for mom.  Like wheelchair compatible transportation and so on.  She also said that the reason that PA is so wonderful when it comes to helping care for the elderly is our Lottery.  She said that PA is the only state in the Union where all the profits from the lottery help the elderly.  Of course, I remembered Daddy buying all those lottery tickets for all those years.  So, in a round about way, he helped provide all these wonderful services for Mommy.

Anyway, while the social worker was here, an occupational therapist called and asked if he could also stop by today, and, of course, I was really excited to have more help.

That meant that Mommy (and I) got a short nap between the nurse's visit (after the social worker left) and the visit from the occupational therapist.

But, all those visits took their toll on me as I am worn out and have no energy for a long blog post telling all that the three visitors helped with and gave hints about.

So, to end this post, here is a video of her unwrapping a package from Aunt Bonnie.

Click here to see it :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Tree Exercises

The physical therapist wanted her to practice reaching for things, and so we decorated the tree some today for exercising.

I made you all a video of it.  I thought you might like to see how Mommy is doing and how I am tricking her into doing her exercising.  I'm pretty proud of me - plus, as David noted, "We're getting the tree decorated too."

Click here to see it :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

And, to make the showers easier in the future

Merry Christmas, Mommy!


She loved the shower.  Thank you so much, Chelle, for getting us moving again on that! And, thank you Jeanie, for calling me and telling me what Chelle suggested.

While she was in the shower, Mommy kept moving her hand into the stream of the water while I moved the shower wand over her, and she was watching the water fall over her hand as if it were magic.  I was able to get her really, really clean, and I think that it was the best thing that happened to her in a long time.  (Maybe even better than a Little House  read aloud marathon.)

After her shower, David did the physical therapy wheelchair exercises with her.  He was so patient and good and she really worked for him.  (For me, she refuses to do even the easy things.)

All in all, this was a good day :-)  <3

Friday, December 12, 2014


She is in such a good mood tonight.  Thanks to the physical therapy, she is already so much more mobile, and I think that it is giving her confidence a real boost.

She just watched an adorable rom-com with David and me, and is resting in bed for a few hours now.

Her iphone came (Thanks, Pete!) and she got to see using a facetoface talk app, Jeanie (and kids) and Pete.  She LOVED it!

Chelle had an amazing idea about how to get the shower happening - which I will put in practice tomorrow evening when both men are available to help me if I need help.  (I was going to do it tonight, but Mommy is so tired from all the exertion and so am I.  It's been a long day.)

All in all - life is very good right now, and I think that it is all the prayers (and positive thoughts) that people put in for us.  Thank you all.

Before and After/Mom and Me

Not much time this morning as the physical therapist will be here at 1:00 - in just over an hour from when I'm typing this.

But, I'm so behind I wanted to take a quick minute to let you all know what's the nurse and other physical therapist visit were like.

The nurse evaluated Mom and asked her only a couple questions, I think that the "What month is this?" question that he asked while standing in front of the Christmas tree was pretty telling.  She thought and thought while she looked at him (standing right in front of the Christmas tree), and he repeated the question a few times, and then she said, "Well, I guess I don't know."  I think that the tree could have given her a hint once upon a time when her brain was working like it used to.  Lol.

He told me that he's recommending to the doctor that we schedule nurse visits a few times a week, but it will be the doctor who makes the final call on that.  He also checked the soft spot on her backside that I've been concerned about and confirmed that it is the start of a bed sore and I MUST make her get up and roll her over and not let her sleep and/or stay in one spot for hours and hours as I've been letting her.

I cringed to hear that because as you all know, I am very softhearted and very sensitive and the idea of making Mommy do things that she doesn't want to do terrifies me.  But, the idea of dealing with a full-fledged bedsore is slightly more terrifying.

The result of that is that Mom is getting moved every few hours whether she likes it or not, and she does NOT like it.

Yesterday, she explained to me that she doesn't love me anymore.  :-(

So, here are my before and after pictures.


Don't worry :-)  I am feeling better today, but I don't have a "today" picture.

The physical therapist gave me additional things to do with mom, adding to what the nurse already outlined, and explained that if she isn't walking herself - using the walker - in six weeks, the physical therapy will end.  So, we got to do what they say, Mommy, and that is that.   And, I have been doing everything even though Mom does not like (see above pic of me crying and being a baby because she hurt my feelings).

However, I think it is worth it because look at HER after picture - even if she is looking a little grumpy.  After only two days of doing what the nurse and physical therapist said, we have this:

She's watching "You've Got Mail" for the fourth in as many days :-)

And, here's another shot:

There is certainly a marked improvement, and I hope it shows in the photos as well as I can see it in person.

She looks as good supporting herself as she did when she had the extra support of the corset!  So, must get off here to get ready for the physical therapist, . .  Time is not my friend . . . But, hope this gives ya'll an idea of where we are and, as always, your prayers are really appreciated.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Home Visits (and music box magic)

I've been really depressed over the last few days as I've not had any idea what I should be doing with Mommy and what I shouldn't be doing.

I remember, years ago, telling God that if He would just plainly tell me what I should do, I would do that thing.  This is when Stephan and I had just realized that Stephan would never pass his oral exams at Baptist Bible College if he didn't believe at the time of those exams- if I remember correctly - that sign gifts stopped at the end of the second century and that the rapture would for sure, no other possibility occur before a seven year tribulation.  For both these things, we felt the proof-texting and required extra Biblical supports made for a very uncertain certainty, and we could NOT say we believed those things. We could only say that we thought that they were possibilities among other likely possibilities.

At that time, our whole life was in flux, and we didn't know what God wanted from us, and we were both just wanting to do what was right, to be good, but how to "be good" wasn't clear-cut and simple.  Instead, it was all complex and confusing, and it involved making decisions without actually being positive which path was the right one.  We were like the man in the Lady or the Tiger only we didn't have the confidence to "turn with firm and rapid step" when we chose which doors to open in our lives, we always walked instead with faltering steps and many missteps and opened a lot of the wrong doors.

Through all this, I often thought to myself, if I just had clear instructions, I would do what I needed to do.  I would be obedient.  I would do whatever I was supposed to do.

That's the same way I felt about caring for Mommy.  If I just had a checklist and knew exactly what I was supposed to do, I thought, I would do that thing.

Yesterday as I sat in Mommy's room while she slept and used a flashlight to read my prayerbook and to pray my prayers and brought these concerns before God, my prayer was answered.

The phone rang, and the home visits that the Doctor ordered for Mommy were about to begin.

The nurse on the phone asked if he could stop by in about thirty-five minutes.  "YES," I said, "OH YES, come right away."  And, he did.  He is a nurse, and he knew what to do, and I got my checklists and a few hours later a physical therapist came who did all kinds of exercises and gave me all kinds of tips and who had even more details about how to help Mommy.

We're going to be okay.  We've got some direction.

And, we've also discovered that Mommy loves our Christmas music box.  This was a gift from Stephan's mom several years ago, and I play it a lot over the holidays.  This year, I am already - after only one day of use - playing it more than ever.

I've posted the video on youtube (for that click here) as well so that those of you whose browsers won't play videos on this blog can enjoy this as well.

posts I didn't write

I didn't write the posts over the last few days about moaning and grumping that one of Mom's legs was all swollen up (I think because I was lying her flat at night to guard against contractures), and I didn't write about that I thought that there looked like there might be a soft spot starting on her backside that could turn into a full-fledged bedsore (again probably because I was laying her flat at night to guard against contractures).

I also didn't write the posts over the last few days where she flat refused to get out of bed and was generally grumpy and upset.  I didn't write about how Jeanie was right and that the glow would wear off, and Mommy would become used to me and then she wouldn't do what I asked so easily.

Somehow, Mommy knows - somewhere deep down - who the person is who is caring for her on a daily basis and she behaves WAY, way, WAY, better for others.  Jeanie, of course, noted this - you can't help but note it if you are the person who she lets herself be grumpy at and you are not the person who she is on her best behavior for.  And, like the amazing and kind sister that she is, Jeanie warned me about it.  And, I took her warning to heart.  However, believing something will happen and experiencing it are two different things, and my heart has broken as Mommy has become more comfortable with me and so fusses at me more when I try to help her.

If I get fussed at, I cry.  As I've told you all before, I've got to grow up, a 47 year old woman can't burst into tears because somebody tells her she is doing it all wrong or that she is driving them crazy.  You've got to grow up sometime, and my time must be now.

In addition to all that, I didn't write that I had some kind of bug that gave me an earache and made me sleepy, and I wasn't in the best spirits myself.

Nobody really wants to write about the failures and the discouragements, at least I don't.  But, I suppose that I should get used to it because there is going to be a lot of discouragement as this horrible disease steals more and more of our mother from us.

However, as I'm about to write, not everything over the last few days was bad.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Letter writing

Since Mommy likes getting letters so much, I thought she might like to send one.  The above pic is us working on that.

Yesterday, I finally made the applesauce recipe that Aunt Bonnie shared with me, and Mom LOVED it.  (So do I, in fact.  It is perfection.)  The four apples made enough for three morning breakfasts for mom (at about 130 grams each serving) as well as some for me to sneak on the side.  She had good, homemade applesauce yesterday instead of Gerber food (which is good too, but . . . )  She had the good stuff again today, and there is 135 grams in the fridge for tomorrow.

I was going to call Aunt Bonnie to tell her that it turned out wonderful and that Mommy loves it, but then I thought that it might be a good occasion to write a letter with Mommy.  She dictated the part where she says:  "I thought it was delicious," and she really meant it when she said it.  I'm seeing if she'll be able to sign her name to the card.  She probably won't.  I've given her a couple pens to try so far, but about them she said: "I just know that he won't be able to use them."  She's reverted to quite often referring to almost everyone with the pronoun "he" - even herself.

So, I switched to crayons as I think that the memories for using crayons are deeper in a person's life experience, but she doesn't seem very interested.  (Maybe I might make a copy of the above photo and enclose it so that Aunt Bonnie will see how much Mommy loved the picture on the card.)

Here is the picture on the card.

The doodlings are all mine.  I was trying to prime the pump, but I think the well might be dry this morning.

Yesterday the doctor said I could give Mom up to 3000 mg of Tylenol per day, so I ground up 1,000 mg with her vitamins in a few spoons of that applesauce this morning.  I'm hoping that in a few minutes she'll be able to be moved out of bed without having so much pain.  (She didn't wake up until 9:30 -I was up reading aloud to her until after 1:00 AM last night, and she was still wide awake when I turned out the light - so getting out of bed by 11:30 seems an appropriate goal. I'll let you know if we meet it.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

"horrible no good very bad day" - that was yesterday, but today has been quite good

Yesterday, Mommy had a really bad day.  At one point, she said to me:  "Would you please just go and get Ike," and I was so shocked that I stood there without saying anything - I think without breathing - for I don't know how long before I finally thought to say, "He's not here right now, Mommy."

I went into the kitchen and cried for a long time.  I'd probably still be crying now, but I got interrupted - by a phone call from David.  He's good to his mother.

I'm not sure what makes the days go well or go badly.  But, in retrospect, I think I should have taken Jeanie's advice yesterday, and just got her out of bed whether she liked it or not.  That's what I did today, and the day went much better.

Both yesterday morning and this morning, when I tried to exercise her feet she said it hurt so badly that she couldn't stand it, and yesterday, I let her rest. She didn't get out of bed all day long.  I think that lying still like that - she wouldn't let me do any exercises.  She fought against them, and that made the pain so much worse.  Anyway, I think that just being immobile like that made the aches worse instead of better.  (I was hoping a little rest would ease the aches.  Didn't happen.)  Today, I got her out of bed and put her on the commode without bothering to ask if she felt like it.  I just did it.  I have to learn to stop asking her things and to just do what I know is right.  If she's anything like I am, she probably doesn't really know what she wants, but as soon as she voices a choice, that is IT.  There is no going back.

Today, I called the doctor and found out that I am allowed to give her up to 3,000 mg of Tylenol on a daily basis.  I've been giving her under 500.  (No wonder she hurts :-(  I was not giving her enough medication to touch the pain.)

The doctor's office is also contacting a physical therapist home visit person to see if we can get someone to give me help and instruct us about how to help Mommy retain her mobility since the Allegheny Agency on the Aging in processing may take several more months.  After she's in-processed, they will provide physical therapy home visits.  (I called about getting something in the interim on Pete's suggestion.)

To make life nicer for both Mommy and me, we took a little bit of a break today and put up the Christmas tree.  She loved it.  And, I did too.  It makes the room so happy.  Maybe it's a little less effort to be happy when there is Christmas tree only a few feet away?

Christmas Tree!

A couple of days ago, Amanda and I decided to ask Mommy if she'd like the Christmas Tree to be in her room.  We asked, and she said she'd like that.  So, we're going with it.

Here's a video of what the tree looks like today after I got it set up and lit up.  Mommy really seems to love looking at it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Letters from Hannah

Yesterday, a card came from Hannah, and enclosed in the card was a letter from one of Hannah's students.  Mommy LOVED it!  David could understand that.  He said that when he was in Iraq, the soldiers all loved getting mail from students.  This letter was from Joseph, and he wishes for Mommy to have "joy from the angels,"  What a sweet wish!

Yesterday also, Mommy's sister, Bonnie, called, and Mommy was able to use my cellphone by holding it up to her ear without accidentally turning it off, and she could hear pretty well, I think.  So, anytime anyone wants to call, call my number.  It's easier for her to talk with the handset, but it is possible for her to talk without it.  She spoke a few minutes with Aunt Bonnie this morning, too, and her face just lit up like a Christmas tree when she heard Aunt Bonnie's voice.  (I'd called to get her recipe for applesauce.)  I almost didn't think to give the phone to Mommy this morning because she was in a bad mood and was mad at me for changing out bed linens, but after just that short bit of phone call, her mood lifted, and she is so happy now :-).

Frugal living sidetrack . . .

I'm working on being frugal here, and I'm trying to use an entire chicken.  I need help with ideas for what to do with aspic.  Anybody ever done anything with it?  According to Google, it has over 19 grams of protein per 200 grams. That is an AMAZING protein content.

Here's what I've done with the chicken so far.  Of course we ate the meat. Then, I boiled the bones and skin all day yesterday.  Then, I strained out the liquid from that first boiling and let it sit in cold overnight.  This morning, I scraped the fat off the aspic that had set from the liquid (I'll use the fat for baking powder biscuits in a few minutes here).  Now, I'm boiling the bones and bits again today and I'll use what I get from them for a base for homemade dog and cat food.  After that, I'll bake the bones until they are dry and smash them with a hammer for bone meal for my garden.

But, I've got around 2000 grams of aspic so far - and there is more to come as I cook more chickens . . .  Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Perfect Peace

This morning Jeanie called, and during the conversation she mentioned that Aunt Bonnie had shared a Bible verse with her that was a real blessing.  She told me to look it up and repeated the reference a few times.

Then, later when Mommy was pondering over a page in her poetry-prayer book, I asked if I could read it, (sometimes I read the poems and verses out loud to her), and she handed me the book.  This is the page she was looking at.

Coincidence?  I think not!

What a wonderful comfort on a cool, December morning!

Here's Mommy looking at the book.  You can see why her expression would make me curious to know what she was contemplating.  :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Back Brace" magic!

She's absolutely exhausted, but she walked nine steps to the commode and then TWENTY steps to the chair.  She was really pushing herself.  I think that she was just as excited as I was that she was walking.  Of course, I stood behind her with her leaning on me to steady her, and all but for about three seconds I was supporting her full weight, but I did not have to push her feet with my feet to get her to move her feet as I usually do.  And, when she first stood up, and I told her to "feel the floor under your feet," I felt her steady herself and stand by herself.  It only lasted a few seconds, but it was amazing.  

However, I let her (maybe even encouraged her) to overexert herself, and she threw-up a little of her breakfast just after this photo was taken.  You can see, just looking at her, how tired she is.  (Sorry the pic is blurry.  I took this one with my cell phone.)

The twenty steps she walked were probably about four feet of actual floor space, and I had the recliner positioned so I could reach and grab it as soon as she was tired, but I shouldn't have let her walk so far.  She got too tired.  I could have easily grabbed the recliner when she'd done ten steps, and that would have still been an amazing accomplishment!  And, I think she wouldn't have worn herself out so much.

It's hard for me to keep in mind that twenty steps for her is probably the equivalent of me trying to run a half mile.

In both the above picture, (before she was sick) and the below one (just after we got all cleaned up), you can see how the corset is just aiding her own body in sitting straight.  (I call it back brace with her because it's job is to brace her back not reduce her waist).  

Yesterday, I repeatedly asked her - every few hours - if the brace was bothering her at all and if she was ready to take it off, and she kept saying that it was fine, and "maybe we better just leave it."  Last night, we did take it off.  Amanda and I checked her front, back, and sides to make sure the brace wasn't rubbing her wrong anywhere.  It seems to be a perfect fit.  I think that is a miracle from God.  However could my old underbust corset fit her for an overbust back brace?  It's too impossible to not be a miracle. 

She's so proud of herself in the above picture!  She sits like a queen, and I really feel a difference in her demeanor.  Maybe it's like when you do power posing before job interviews?  It gets some hormone or something working.  Maybe sitting up straight gives a person confidence?  I don't know.

I can't believe that this corset fits her perfectly.  I don't even think it's at all necessary to make her a new one.

She dozed off in the recliner soon after I took this picture.  She's leaned back and Jeanie's neck pillow is supporting her head. I tried to wake her up for some lunch about fifteen minutes ago.  She won't wake up.  I think that her sleep schedule is pretty settled in for a long afternoon nap - sleeping very soundly - after breakfast and before lunch.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Letter from Chelle!

If my camera would have snapped a half-second before this, you could have seen a lovely, lovely smile.  But, the tail end of a lovely smile is still beautiful!

I swear, I thought her eyes were twinkling!

"This work seemed to overtax my abilities. I was also afraid that I was sitting in judgement on the work of someone else. As doubt and anxiety disturbed my spirit, it occurred to me that love could substitute for my abilities, which are limited by ignorance, and that it might be better to be a laughing stock in front of people than to succumb to the danger of being disobedient." - Monk Theoderic (on his task of completing the story of Hildegard of Bingen begun by Monk Gottfried, who had left it unfinished). How much I need this today! And, how much I must take this to heart!

This morning as I was getting Mommy out of bed, I was so encouraged by her neck being straight and not twisted all out of shape because I'd done the right thing. So, I decided to do something really bold. I put one of my old corsets on her before I tried to stand her up. It is not even really tight, just snug to help her hold her own core muscles in, and praise God, she stood for a count of ten, and then walked using the walker a few steps. Granted I was holding her up and I moved her feet forward, and granted she said, "I CAN'T DO THIS! AND practically fell over onto the commode once we got to it, but we did it together, and that is something that has not been possible for the last few days - even with Amanda's help, that is Amanda on one side and me behind Mommy, Mommy's mobility has just been melting away - frighteningly! But, today, just the two of us, Mommy and me (with a little help from our corsets), stood and walked together.

I guess as I put on my own corset this morning, knowing that without it, I could throw out my back lifting Mommy, it occurred to me that she needed support too, and maybe if she just has a little help - like I need- that she'd be able to support herself better. It worked.

As I was contemplating it, I asked the picture of Francelia Hall if it was a good idea, and I swear it seemed like her eyes were twinkling. (You all may think I'm crazy, but I will admit that I do talk to photographs, And, I'm not even into old-timers yet.)

(A few minutes later) I just went in and helped Mommy into her recliner. SHE WALKED! She moved her own feet without me pushing either the backs of her knees or her feet behind her! (Of course, I was supporting her from behind - she was still too tippy to support herself, BUT SHE MOVED HER OWN FEET!)

After I got her into the recliner, I said: "Mommy do you want to take the back brace off or do you want to leave it on?" And she said, "Might's well leave it on." I checked to make sure that it was pretty loose and not too tight and then I took her picture and asked Stephan to go in there and see if it was my imagination that she seemed so much more comfortable, and he went in and talked to her for a few minutes and says that it isn't my imagination. He and Marjie both suggest that I can measure her to make one that is actually fitted to her body and put handles on it. If this isn't a fluke - that is if it works for a day or so, I'm buying a yard of duck cloth and getting to it!

As you can see, my old corset fits her like a Renaissance over-bust :) Look how straight and proud she's sitting. I feel that I was actually really given a little bit of direction, and I am so happy. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Good Morning!

I've decided to celebrate Mom's life with her today.

I'm amazed at all the happy memories that have been flooding my mind the last few days.  I know that Mommy was the best mother that God could have ever chosen for me.  Just the things I've been thinking of!  She is amazing.

I just went in and asked her if she was ready for her fruit yet, or if she wanted to wait until after I got out of the shower, and she wants to wait.  She is really enjoying her poetry prayer book.  I need to find some more of those.  I think that since they're illustrated, she may actually like them better than the Daily Bread, which hasn't come yet, anyway.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

need prayer regarding exercise

I'm really worried because Mommy has had a stiff neck for two days now and is not at all cooperative when Amanda and I try to massage her neck or help her stretch.  She is having trouble drinking because it hurts to tip her head back.

At night, she uses the bed rails to pull herself into a "neck scrunched to the right position," and sleeps that way, making her neck twisted and stuck in that position.  She is VERY resistant to changing her position when she gets herself pulled into place. She's been doing that since she came here, but now since she's been sleeping so much it has become a worse issue - as she scrunches up this way in both the bed and in the recliner.  Jeanie made her a neck pillow to help her keep from getting this way, but she's somehow figured out how to scrunch with the neck pillow - no matter how tricky I try to position it or prop her with pillows.

Tonight, I've put the bed all the way down and she is sleeping without scrunching herself up into that hunched over position at the moment.  (She can't do it when the bed is flat.) She doesn't like to be all the way flat, but I don't see how to make this problem better if she doesn't change her sleeping position.  Lying flat was suggested in the pdf of Alzheimer's exercises that Jeanie sent me.  It was suggested as a way to relax the neck (lying flat for 20-30 minutes).  I'm hoping that it will work, and that all night will be even better than 20-30 minutes, or at least will have no adverse effects.  I'm going to bed in a few minutes, and she's sleeping soundly now so the bed won't be raised up until I get up in the morning.  (Unless when I get up to visit the bathroom and check on her, she's awake and uncomfortable - then, of course, I'll raise the bed.)

I haven't ever been making her lie flat because she complains so much about how it hurts her when I lower the bed to a flat position.  (It's so very hard to figure out when to be firm for the sake of Mommy's health or when it's OK to let her say she won't do something.  I am a real pushover - you all know that - and I just want her to be happy.  I HATE making her upset in any way.)

I'm very worried, because I've done some research and learned that what she is doing will cause contractures - getting stuck in that position and being unable to straighten out again.  These are a real problem with people with dementia, and I don't want Mommy to end up so pulled into the fetal position that she breaks her own bones.

Remember when Mommy used to say that if we kept that frowny face, our face would get stuck that way.  I guess in the case of muscle contractions that has a terrible truth to it.

Physical therapists have tools they teach to caregivers to prevent these, but I haven't learned them yet.

Prayers appreciated.

Lion Hunt?

Last night we read aloud together in the living room, and in a break with the poetry and stories, I did a short lion hunt with Mom and Amanda.  But, I couldn't remember all the things Mommy had us do when she lead the lion hunts.  Anyway, I'd like to relive that.  Mommy was such a great lion hunter.

I've been remembering a lot of things she did, and celebrating her amazingness with my own memories.  Like, lion hunts and her reading stories I wrote in "cursive" squiggles before I was even old enough to know how to read.  I remember her playing "I see something . . . "  I remember her making math worksheets for us to practice school with.  I remember her sewing up books I wrote to make them into real books.  I remember the doll's clothes, and the clothes she made or remade for us.  I even think I remember riding in the snow on a shovel she was pulling.  But, I'd have been so little then, that I must only remember her telling me about it.

I remember her lying in bed with us when we were very, very small and singing us lullabies.

But, I don't remember the lion hunts very well.  I remember we used to do lion hunts sitting in a circle outside in the evening in the summertime.  Do any of you remember them?  We sat cross-legged and using our hands to slap on our legs we "walked" through the jungle, and passed through plains and crossed bridges, or - when there was no bridge - using our arms to air-swim, we crossed rivers. Then, finally, after much traveling, we'd see the lion, and for some reason, we'd have to turn around and run back home - remembering and repeating everything we did in order to get there safely, and slam the door just before the lion caught us.

I'd like to do a proper Lion Hunt with Mommy.  Her eyes twinkled while I did my shabby one yesterday, and a proper one would be an amazing achievement.  Can any of you help me?

As far today goes, Mommy has slept most of it again.  She woke this morning, and had her fruit and vitamin and then she fell asleep during her oatmeal.  I just spent oven an hour in there reading aloud, and she didn't wake up during it.  Sometimes, if I read, she wakes up, but this time she's just too tired.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Doesn't she look like Grandma O'Connor!

I don't suppose this is the most flattering of pictures, but I thought she looked so much like Grandma O'Connor that I wanted to share it.  NOT that looking like Grandma O'Connor is unflattering!!!!  By no means!!!!  But, the expression is a funny one that I loved to see on Grandma's face just as much as I love to see it on Mommy's.

This morning, I overslept.  Mommy was awake when I came downstairs just after 9:00.  Amanda had already checked on her once, and Amanda had asked, "Do you want me to turn the light on for you, Grandma?"  And Mommy had responded, "You can do whatever you want, but if you want to leave it off, that's okay."  So, Amanda left it off.  The sunlight through the curtains was giving off a dim light, and it was enough for Mommy to look at the pictures in the Little House in the Big Woods book.

I turned on the light when I brought her the vitamins crushed in a little applesauce and the regular (not ruined by vitamin bits) applesauce.  It was the homemade stuff that I made yesterday.  I was inspired to make applesauce by Aunt Bonnie, and I think I might ask her for her recipe as I wasn't very happy with this attempt, but Mommy ate it without any complaints.

Then I gave her a couple spoons of Tylenol.  I don't think it's helping the pain any though, so I might stop giving it to her.  A medicine that doesn't help and might hurt (on a daily basis) seems pretty stupid to me.  Once she is off the blood thinner, she can take aspirin again.  And, once she gets moving the pain doesn't seem too bad at all.  It's just those first few minutes of moving to get up and to get out of bed that are really painful.

After I waited for the Tylenol to ease the arthritis pain, I sat her up and lifted her to the commode.  I'm using the method Jeanie used instead of the lift belt.  (If I remember what Jeanie told me correctly), and it's working really well.  It's much easier to lift with the lift belt, but Mommy is so afraid of the stupid thing that its very appearance defeats its purpose.

While she sat on the commode, I washed her (including hair).  Mommy LOVES the hair dryer.  She was very pleased when she saw "that thing" ~  I think the warm over her is like a massage.

In the picture above, she is eating her oatmeal (with prunes instead of raisins this time).  Even though she seems really regular, and she went this morning, she told me while she was on the commode that something is stuck in that thing back there and it hurts.

Jeanie has suggested that I try to find old Ranger Bill or Children's Bible Hour episodes for her to listen to, and in a few minutes, I'll see if I can do that, and take the computer in there for her if  I can.

Like every day (so far) after she's slept the whole day before, she's perky and happy this morning.  It looks like it's going to be a good day.  :-)

Edit (addendum):  As if to make a liar out of me, when I finished the above post and went in the room, she was sound asleep with her head slumped forward.  I got the neck pillow that Jeanie made her, and I positioned it so that she was leaning on it, and, of course, she woke up, and she said, "Oh, that's better."  Then I got her a blanket, and put it over her, and she gave me the most beautiful smile before she drifted back to sleep.  Then, as I was going out the door, she woke a little and said, "Thank you, Laurie." Oh, how I love it when she knows me!  This horrible disease steals so much from her, and from us as we miss her, but it gives little reprieves here and there where she remembers - where her brain works.  I just love when that happens.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Boy, she woke up hungry!

I love it when people like the food I cook.  I especially love it when the people who likes it is Mommy.

At 5:30, I woke her to ask if she wanted to taste my fresh applesauce.  She had a few bites of it, and then I asked if she'd like some oatmeal.  She said yes.  She ate the whole bowl.  Then I said, there's split pea soup out there too.  Would you like some. She did, and she ate a bowl of that.  Then she had a slice of apple pie, and when I asked if she wanted another one, she did.

In a few minutes, I'm going to take some pudding in there.  That will be Greek yogurt mixed with a little brown sugar and vanilla.  Mommy and I agree that it is better than ice cream.  I won't be at all surprised if she eats a whole bowl of that too.

It goes to show that if a person sleeps all day, they've got to eat enough to keep the body going in just few hours, I guess.

She's also listened to half the book of Little House on the Prarie, one chapter after another after another.

I guess the sleep did her good.  :-)

Had a Happy Thanksgiving

But!  None of the pictures turned out.  And, I was just doing things and stuff and only got a few of those bad pictures.  However, this proves that Mommy was here and we did have turkey.

She was up almost the whole day long, and we had a nice meal.  Albert came to see her and had Thanksgiving dinner with us.

edit (adding a picture)
I decided that this pic isn't so bad, and I've added it.

After dinner, we watched Miracle on 34th Street, and we visited for a little while.  By 6:00, Mommy was ready to head to bed, and she has slept most of today.  She didn't wake up until after noon, and then I gave her fruit, vitamin, and Tylenol.  While I fed her, I read to her from Little House. It was the chapter where the whole family got malaria, and she seemed to really be understanding and following.  I went out after that and made her oatmeal.  By the time I got back in there with it - less than a half hour later, she was sound asleep.

She's been asleep every time I check on her since then.  (I check on her every half hour.)

Does that mean that you will get a well-thought-out and beautifully written blog update?


That means I ran around trying to catch up and did a quick trip to Aldi (while David listened for Mom), and made pickled eggs, and split pea soup, and a tiny batch of applesauce.  No blogging.  Just living.

Pete, that's a one gallon jar there.
Might even be worth a plane ticket to Pittsburgh.
(Although, the chances are good that Stephan will scarf them all.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Yummy Stuff

1:18 - Apple Pie is in the oven.  Mommy is still sleeping.  I've decided to just let her sleep straight through until 4:00, and then I'll turn on her sunlamp, and I'll see if I let her sleep uninterrupted for all those hours without any trying to wake her up, if she can wake up for real and good at 5:00 instead of 6:00 today.

Plan change.

2:00 - Pumpkin Pie is in the oven, and Mommy is awake.  I guess that changes plans from a few minutes ago.  I heated up and spoon fed her leftover quiche from Stephan's breakfast (which if full of spinach!), and she loved it.  YaY!  While she ate, I read to her from Little House on the Prairie. David came in and sat to listen with Grandma for a few minutes. That was really nice.

3:00 - Gave Mommy some cranberry juice and water mixed, and she drank all of it.  It was just a small juice glass.  I have been giving her several of these through the day.  I stopped trying with the straw because it frustrated her, but I need to be more speedy with the refills.  She hasn't gotten enough liquid these last couple days.

I also gave her oatmeal, and she has been eating it herself with the American Girl and Little House propped to one side.  She's reading and eating and perfectly content!  I tried to help her sit up and not be hunched to one side, but she is determined to lean back over.  She asked me, "You don't like the way I'm sitting?" and I said, "You just look so uncomfortable,"  And, she insisted that she was comfortable, so I stopped putting in more and more pillows to prop her up.

For the picture above, I kept trying to get a good picture.  A good picture is one that doesn't have her squinting at the flash or looking as severe as she should in an 1880 daguerreotype.

So, for this picture, I said, "What are you supposed to say?  Cheese!  Say cheese?"  And, she did, but it doesn't really give the appearance of a smile, does it?  ;-)  She looks cute and very engaged in the world though, and I think that shows her mood this afternoon perfectly.


She loves the pies!  I took in the Apple Pie to show her first. (Here is a picture of it for you all.)

Her response: "Wow!"

Then, I took in the Pumpkin Pie.

Her response: "Bee-you-tee-ful!"  (I'm glad she thinks that. And, hearing her say it that way brought back the past in a flash of sudden wonder.  That is her own way of saying it, and she still has that.  I was glad to hear Bee-you-tee-full because it was "Mommy-speak" and because I was worried she might not approve of this pie as much because I used whole wheat flour in the crust, and that makes it look a little darker colored than usual - it has an appearance - to me - of almost burnt.  It was entirely possible she would have commented on that.  One interesting aspect of this disease is that it makes the elderly as brutally honest as small children.)

Looks Like Another Dozing Day

Mom dozed most of the day yesterday, and I got some stuff done around the house.  Not a lot, mostly I caught up on devotionals and prayer.

I tried to wake her up with food or reading aloud a few times, because I think she might have her days and nights mixed up, and I was going to try to encourage her to get more on the schedule of the rest of the family, but she wouldn't stay awake.

Last night, again at around 6:00, I woke her with creamed potatoes for dinner (to have with her Xarelto).  At this point, she was wide awake and wanting to go out and join the family and do things. I got her into her wheelchair and took her into the living room (whose floor was freshly washed and waxed :-)  So, it was all shiny and pretty in there).  We watched The Robe, an old movie with Richard Burton and Jean Simmons.  Then we watched a few episodes of Keeping Up Appearances, which I can state with confidence that Mommy likes even better than she likes Star Trek spin offs.

I fed her all the things she hadn't woken up to eat during the day. So, she got all her calories in while she was watching TV.

I hated putting her to bed when she was so awake and chipper at around midnight, but I couldn't stay awake any longer.  I left her with her light on and an illustrated poetry book to read.  I woke up at a little after 1;30, and checked on her and she was asleep.  So, I turned off the light.

She was awake again at 8:00 this morning, and I fed her crushed vitamin (the last of her old ones - she starts the new ones tomorrow) and Gerber mashed fruit mix.  I also gave her Tylenol for her arthritis pain.

I left her looking at an American Girl catalog and came to the kitchen to make Stephan mock-quiche which I often make him in the morning.  (1 can drained spinach, 3 eggs, chopped meat, 1 ounce cheese - all this is fried up like an omelet).  Mommy eats this when I feed it to her, and it's got greens in it, so I took some to her room when it was done, and she was fast asleep.

She isn't waking up for Request Time this morning, so I'm going to have to let her sleep for a while.  It's hard - really almost impossible - to wake her up when she wants to sleep.  Even if I help her out of bed when she's sleepy like this, she just falls asleep wherever she is sitting.

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving to All!  (We're making pies and bread today!  Yummy!  Yummy!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In the Good Old Summertime and other sleepy stuff

Last night, Amanda watched In the Good Old Summertime with Mommy while I made chocolate peanut butter cookies.  (Mommy was way under calorie count yesterday as she wouldn't eat much of what I brought her - even the Gerber meat mash stuff didn't appeal to her.)

But, a cookie (289 calories) later, and she was pretty close to her recommended amount.

She loved the movie.  She just smiled through it. And seemed almost as interested in it as she is in Star Trek (plus, I could understand her liking this kind of show ;-)  )

Then, Stephan and I watched an episode of Keeping Up Appearances with her.  She just loved it!  She laughed out loud during some of it.

I think that getting her to laugh is a lofty and worthy goal, and I'm always happy when it is achieved.

Today, she was awake when I checked in on her before I left for church at 7:55. Church is only a five minute fast walk away, and I got home before 8:45.  As soon as I got home, I gave her the vitamin and fruit mix, followed by straight fruit as well as the Tylenol for her arthritis pain.  I gave the Tylenol about forty-five minutes to work, and then I changed out her linens and got her clean and comfortable.

I am thankful to Stephan (today) and David (many other Tuesdays and Thursdays) for staying with Mommy so I can go to church when the service is held here in town.

Later, she had her oatmeal while I read to her from Proverbs and then from Matthew.  Then, it was time for Request Time.

During Request Time she dozed in and out between bites of oatmeal and listening.

She's dozing now.

Yesterday, she refused to get out of bed almost all day, and I was getting worried that I'd have to figure out a way to convince or else get firm about it (which is depressing for both of us).  The doctor said it is important to keep her getting up and getting around as well as she can for as long as possible, and I'm determined to make sure that happens. Thankfully, around 6:30 or so she was ready to get up when I suggested it (for the seventieth or so time that day).  That's when she and Amanda watched the movie.

Even after sleeping and/or dozing almost all day, she was still ready for bed around 9:00.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Phone Success!

Thank you, Brian, for the handset recommend!  As you can see, it works really well.  Mommy got a phone call today, and she was able to talk without any trouble.

This is her second call using this device.  The first time, she used Amanda's cell phone, and I was upstairs, and the call ended before I got a chance to document it with a photo.

This time, she is using David's phone (you can see it on the pillow).  And, I stayed in the room long enough to get a picture.

My cell phone won't work with it.  It's not a smart phone, and I either have to upgrade or get an adapter that works, but Stephan's, David's, and Amanda's phone can all support the handset so we should be pretty well set until I figure out what to do about my "dumb" phone.

The startled expression on Mommy's face is because my camera flashes a few times while it figures out the light situation before it actually takes the picture and does the actual camera flash. About half the pics I've got of Mom have this "what is that flashing light?" expression.  Usually I keep taking pics until I get a good one, but I didn't want to interrupt the phone call with multiple events of flashing lights, so I just took the one.

Again, thanks, Brian!

Happy Thanksgiving card :-)

This morning Mommy got two things in the mail!  Both are from her sister, Bonnie, and so far she has opened the card.  (She's waiting on the envelope.)  It's a Thanksgiving Card, and she loves it.

She's been just looking at it for the longest time!  She read the signature part to me when I went over to take a look at it with her.  She loves mail so much, and she loves thinking of her family.  I'm so glad that those memories haven't been stolen from her yet.  I think, as I understand this wicked disease, that her memories of her sisters and brothers and her parents will last longer than her memories of me,  For some reason, that isn't making me sad as I ponder over it.  You can tell from the look on her face, that those memories are good.  The memories that she can hang onto for longer are pleasant, and that's such a comfort.  I'm thankful that my mother had a good childhood.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Sunday!

This morning, Amanda stayed with Mom while Stephan, David, and I went to church.  Amanda gave Mommy her vitamin and her mashed banana.  Then she read Mommy the story of Ruth, and they listened to hymns together.

When we got home, we had a late breakfast together at the kitchen table, and Mommy really seemed to love the interaction while we were all joking around as Amanda and David were thinking of "fun facts" that they thought nobody else would know.  It was actually a lot of fun, and if I can remember any of it, I'll have learned a lot.  For instance I did not know that an earthquake once made the Mississippi run backwards. 

We had Yorkshire pudding.  I made it with whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and I more than halved the oil, and yet - with changes that I thought would detract from the taste - it was the best I've ever made. 
Recipe (included for those very few of you who can have carbs and gluten):
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
Melt oil and butter in the oven in a 9 by 13 inch pan.
Mix all other ingredients into batter and pour into the pan in the oven.
Bake at 350 for about a half an hour.
Slice and serve with syrup or just butter or with grated cheese.  Delicious.
For dessert we had some homemade Greek yogurt mixed with brown sugar and vanilla.  This Greek yogurt did not strain for whey [sic - lol] too long, and it was just delicious.

After this, I worked on finally starting my cottage cheese - being stuck at home almost all the time has really transformed kitchen habits for this family.  There's also more split pea soup bubbling on the stove.

Then, as we were all either working or sitting around in the kitchen, Mommy looked at her mail file for a while until she wanted to go somewhere which we interpreted correctly as the commode.  Smart move on our part.

After that, now, she has been spending some time in her recliner.  She is reading "Little House on the Prairie" in the picture above.  She's holding her juice with iron supplement, and sipping it while she reads.  She hasn't been able to figure out the straw for a few days.  I might stop trying to have her use it since it is so frustrating for her.  If she spills the glass, I have this amazing new dryer to help me keep up on the wash.

Edit:  You can see the phone that Brian suggested we get for Mommy on the tray on the table. It works great with Amanda's, Stephan's, and David's cell phones, but I have to upgrade to a smart phone or get an adapter for it to work with mine.  As soon as that's done, Mommy will be able to talk on that kind of phone - like she remembers using most of her life - all the time :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Morning :-)

I kept checking on Mommy this morning, and she wasn't awake and wasn't awake and wasn't awake, until finally a little after ten, she woke up groggily when I went into her room.  I said, "Good Morning!" and I told her what day it is, that's it's less than a week until Thanksgiving, and that it's crisp, cold, clear morning outside.  Then, I opened the curtains, and sat her up a little to start to get ready to eat her apple-strawberry-banana sauce.  She gets the first two or three bites with her crushed up vitamin in it, and then she gets the rest of it without any crushed vitamin and so much more delicious.

At around 11:30  or so, she was ready to eat breakfast.  I'm letting her set the pace of the days.  She seems much happier when I'm not announcing that it's time to eat or get up or anything.  (The only exception to this is time on commode [half hour max] and other clothes changing times.)

This morning I gave her a picture of Grandma O'Connor to look at.  It's one where Grandma is holding a dog, and when I wondered whose dog it might be, Mommy told me it was Grandma's dog.  Maybe it was?  I don't know.  :-)

In the picture above, you can see Grandma's picture is leaned up against the book.  Mom spent a lot of time this morning just staring happily at it.  I think that she feels close to Grandma when she is looking at the picture, and it made her happy.

On the tray in front of her is her oatmeal and her cranberry juice.  She's not up to feeding herself this morning, so I got to spoon feed her, and while I did I read Proverbs 22 and some of the Gospel of Mark.  Reading while she's eating makes it easier for me to remember to be patient.  It's best if I don't get the next bite on the spoon until she has actually swallowed the bite before.  Otherwise, she can tell I'm ready and it makes her nervous.  So, I read while she chews until I see out of the corner of my eye that she's swallowing and then I slowly, slowly, slowly get the next bite ready.  That seems to be making mealtime more enjoyable for her.

She's laughing in the picture.  The conversation that brought the laugh went like this:

Me:  "I love you so much, Mommy."  (I'm standing with the camera hoping to get a good picture for you all.)
Mommy:  "Me too."  (And then she laughed :-)  the laugh you see captured above.)

Another thing that has made her laugh three mornings in a row is this.  When I tell her it is almost Thanksgiving, I say that the day after Thanksgiving we're going to decorate for Christmas, and I can't wait.  Then I say, "It isn't even Thanksgiving yet, and Marjie has already got her house decorated for Christmas!"  Every time I've said this, Mommy laughs or smiles.

After she finished breakfast.  It was already noon, but she'd only been awake for two hours, and I asked her if she was ready to get up or if she wanted to rest in bed a little while longer.  She wanted to rest.  So, I'm letting her.  We changed the linens again real quick, and she got really depressed.  She hates that part of this disease, and I don't blame her.

So, she was lying there depressed, and I went and checked the mail, and there was a letter from Hannah.  I took it in to Mommy and her mood just lifted like magic.  She really still loves mail.

I snapped a pic with my cell phone to send to Hannah, and I'll copy it here.  It isn't as good quality as it would be with a camera, and it doesn't show her face very well, but she has a really peaceful, happy, smile on her face.  You can almost see it from the side.

Update (12:45):  I just went in to see if she was dozing or awake, and she was awake so I brought her some other things to look at.  She really loves the pic of Grandma O'Connor, and I managed to get a cell phone shot of her face while she looked at it.  I thought I'd share it real quick too.   (And it's Janet's dog in the picture - the back of it is a postcard and it's written there.)

Friday, November 21, 2014


Just a note for all you big brothers out there.

If you want to make your sister very, very, very happy, buy her a dryer, and have it delivered to her door.

This dryer is amazing.  It's HUGE!  I think I could dry a zillion sets of sheets and all kinds of other bedding all at once.

Thank you, Pete.  :-)  Mommy and I both thank you.

Now, that's service!

Early yesterday afternoon, at Mommy's new patient doctor appointment, the doctor wrote her a prescription for a hospital bed.

Late yesterday afternoon, I made phone calls trying to find out who fills those prescriptions for medicare.

At a few minutes after 5:00 yesterday, I finally had the right number, but the business was closed and wouldn't open until 8:00 AM.

At 8:05 AM this morning, I had them on the phone.

The woman I needed to talk to wouldn't be in until 9:15.

I called again around 9:30, and she had me email her a pdf of the script.

She had me call the doctor's office for additional information.

They faxed it to her right away. (I think they must have done it pretty much instantly.)

AND - drumroll - by 2:30 this afternoon, the bed was being assembled in Mom's room.

Who could ask for better service from either the doctor's office, Premier Medical, or from Westmed. the company who filled the prescription.

We are some happy customers.   :-)


This is a bragging sidetrack - it only has to do with Mommy because I'm going to feed her some of it.

The Greek yogurt dripped out whey for too long last night in the fridge and turned into better than the best cream cheese I have ever tasted.  I took several tastes to be sure about how wonderful it was.  Even Amanda, while packing her lunch, sneaked a couple tastes of it - I saw her.  She told me it was amazing stuff and that I should make a spread with it and honey.

The recipe I was following said to let it strain in the cheesecloth for two to four hours.  I guess I should have realized that overnight was too long, but I'm so glad I made this mis-take.  Because, it's a winner!

Deep Space Nine Voyager

I'm taking a little second this morning to let you all know that Mom was just enamored with Deep Space Nine and then Voyager last night, episode after episode.

I wonder if she'll still like it today?  She seems to fixate for a while on one thing, and then loses interest and moves on to the next fixation.

After dinner, she heard the TV going, and she wanted to watch with David.  She actually said while sitting at the kitchen table (listening to the TV going in the living room):  "What did that woman say?"  So, I asked if she wanted to watch it, and she said, "Probably I do."   That was enough of a yes answer to get her wheeled into the living room.

While she watched she was leaning forward a little in her wheelchair like she was afraid she'd miss something, and she was this interested for hours.  I mean she just loved it.  I kept watching her face instead of the TV screen as I came in and out of the room because the intense expressions pleased me so much.  She was really drawn in.  (I wonder if she was able to follow the convoluted story lines?  Stephan suggested maybe it was more the special effects?  I don't know, and we'll probably never know, because she isn't able to verbalize something as complex as why she finds something interesting.)

However, as the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight, and she still didn't want to go to bed, I started to get a little tired.  Even if Mommy isn't, I'm a little too old for Voyager-binge-watching into the wee hours.  (Also - she gets to sleep in this morning - lol - my alarm rang at 5 AM to get up and make coffee and breakfast for my working man.)  So, at 11:40 PM, David didn't start another episode until I announced that the "movie" was over and got Mommy out of the room.  The credits were rolling, and we rolled the chair away, and I got Mommy into bed.  Even then, she didn't want her light out.  She wanted to read for a while.  (At that moment I decided that I'll leave the light on all night if she wants to read all night, but I noticed that the light was out this morning.  David said he'd check on her periodically until he went to bed, and if she was sleeping, he'd turn off the light.)

Anyway, I just was realizing from this absolute love of something I would have never thought of that I should expose her to all kinds of different things just to see what she is wanting to do now.  She was never interested in science fiction years ago, but it fascinates like crazy cakes yesterday.  And, as we've all agreed, and as I think Pete said first (hopefully I don't misquote), she's 80 years old, do whatever makes her happy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Doctor Visit

Here's Mommy all ready to go to the doctor's office.  She's in the living room, and "Deep Space Nine" is involved in a huge flashing space battle on the TV.  She said she just can't figure out what those people are saying.  (I couldn't either - it was wild battle dialog with flashes of explosions in between the words - but David seemed to be following the story line pretty well.)

From here, Mommy got put into her hat, gloves, scarf, and a black coat/cape that I thought would be easy to adjust in the wheel chair.  Then we wheeled her out to the truck, and Stephan lifted her into the passenger seat.  I sat between them in the front seat.  I held her hand while we drove because I think the flashing scenery makes her a little nervous.  I asked her what she thought about the scenery and she said that it was hard to see it.  (From context I thought she meant it was going past too quickly.)

At the doctor's office, they were very nice.  The doctor, herself, seemed brilliant and businesslike.  I was pretty impressed by her.  She wasn't too impressed with me - I don't think- as I didn't know lots of the answers to questions she asked and had to call Jeanie twice for clarification, but by the end, I think the doctor knew pretty much what was going on with Mommy, and that's what's most important.

Even is she wasn't impressed by me, the doctor was very impressed by Jeanie and her iron supplement research.  When I showed her the iron supplement Mommy is taking now, and explained how it didn't upset Mom's stomach, she got really interested.  She looked at it for a few minutes, and then she handed it back to me.  Then she clicked away on her computer.  Then she said that it "wasn't in her system" and she asked for the package again, and apparently found it outside the system.  She kept saying, "This is a very good product."  Maybe she knows people who are anemic who can't tolerate the other iron supplements just as Mommy can't.

Mommy made a pertinent comment while we were there.  When I was asking the doctor how long a person should be allowed to stay on the commode because somebody might want to sit there for hours and a time, and the doctor said, "half hour max."  I said to Mommy, "Sometimes life is crazy hard, isn't it?"  And Mommy responded:  "And sometimes it's easy."  That reminded me of Pete's "Don't sweat the small stuff" comment.  (That comment is finished with something like, "and there's no big stuff," or "and everything is small." - something like that . . . )

The doctor prescribed a hospital bed, and I spent an hour or so on the phone after we got home trying to track down what medical supply place in Allegheny County provides hospital beds for Medicare patients.  It seems that it was a won-bid contract (or something like that) and that nobody has any idea who won the bid.  I've got a lead to call first thing tomorrow morning when they open up at 8:00.  Wish me luck.  A working hospital bed will make our life a zillion tons easier.  Or, well, maybe only 114 pounds easier, but those 114 pounds seem like a lot more to me when I lift them.  

Tomorrow!  Dryer arrives!  I'm really glad - I have to guiltily admit that knowing the dryer will be here has allowed me to slack off and instead of having clothes hanging all over the basement (after the basement clothesline is filled up), I now have a pile of clothes to wash beside the washer.  I am so excited about that dryer!  (THANK YOU PETE!)

Must go now.  I've got yogurt set up and ready to strain into Greek style yogurt.  Having Mommy here has made my kitchen be full of good things made from scratch.  I've got my sourdough bread going again.  David said that the bread I made yesterday is the best he ever tasted.  Plus, I made yogurt today, and I plan to do cottage cheese tomorrow.  I've got split pea soup bubbling on the stove.  (Everybody loves my split pea soup - even Mommy ate hers the other night, although she likes the yogurt mixed with brown sugar and vanilla - that we call "pudding" much better.)  Tomorrow, I'm going to make cottage cheese.  The kitchen is pretty much bubbling with yummy.  

Update  (Here's my first attempt at Greek yogurt - I've made regular old yogurt many times, but straining it into "Greek" - this is a first):

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mom's view

So, here's mom getting ready to eat her lunch.  She's having Gerber mashed meat stuff (I think it was chicken this time.)  She really likes those Gerber mixes and she always eats them first.  I tasted them and I can't stand them.  Once I put salt and pepper on them to make them "palatable" and she shuddered when she took a bite.  So, now I just heat them up the way they are.  She's also having sweet potatoes grown deliciously in South Carolina and Basmati white rice. There is watered down cranberry juice to drink and a slice of chocolate cake for desert.  (I bribe her with chocolate since she gets very mad at me when I move her from bed to commode to chair.)

Just before time for lunch, the caseworker from Allegheny County Area Agency on the Aging called and offered to come out today instead of tomorrow.  He knew that I was worried about having two things going on tomorrow - both Mom's doctor appointment AND the intake for Allegheny County AAA.  After I made the doctor appointment, I had called and asked at the county about how long it would take for the home visit, and mentioned that I was worried about getting Mommy to the doctor on time.

So, today, Richard (her intake caseworker) had a cancellation, and he called and asked if he could swing by today instead of tomorrow, and I said yes, of course and breathed a sigh of relief about the appointments and (also of course) then got myself all worried about having the house and Mommy "government official ready" in an hour and a half.

Then, naturally, Mom didn't want to get off the commode and move over to the recliner.  And, she got really upset about having to hurry up, or having to move from the commode at all, but I thought to myself if Richard came while she was still sitting there and asked me, "How long has she been sitting here, and I said, oh . . . over an hour . . . " he would think - and rightly so - that I wasn't taking very good care of her.  So, as it got closer and closer to the time he was going to show up, I told her that it was time to move and she was not happy.

That's why she is looking so frustrated at her food.  And, it is also why there is a slice of chocolate cake there.

After she started eating, I sat by her and read "Little House in the Big Woods" aloud.  I decided that Mom's emotional health was more important than impressing Richard by having my house in perfect order.  By the time he arrived, we'd read for several minutes and she was feeling better about life.

He completed her intake and he was so nice.  He said that I was very organized.  HA.  Only about paperwork and Mommy stuff -  clearly he hadn't paid much attention to my sink full of dishes when he walked through the kitchen!  (The dishes I'd decided not to wash so I could read to Mommy instead.)

At any rate, that appointment is taken care of, and now tomorrow we have only the doctor visit to get through.

I thought you might like to see what Mom gets to see when she's sitting in her recliner.  It's a nicer view than the doorless closet that is almost always the background for pictures I take of her.

Although, it's pretty cluttered too - with stuff and more stuff, but I think the pictures hanging on the wall that grandchildren drew and painted for her are wonderful.  I snapped the above picture today just after I gave her lunch. You can see the tips of her toes in the slippers Pete bought for her at the bottom edge of the picture.

Here's a pic of the other side of the room.  I just went in and took this one now.  As you can see, Mommy is dozing in her recliner.  It's very warm in her room, and Christmas carols are playing on the CD player.  "Noel" is on as I snap the picture.

There.  Now you can see what she sees.

chilly morning

At a little after 8:00, I checked on Mommy, and she was awake, but sleepy. I got her a hot water bottle for her feet and turned the space heater up in her room.  It's hard to keep the temperature good for sleeping.  If I make the room too warm, she gets sweaty in all her blankets, and that makes her cold.  If I make the room too cool, she's cold in spite of the blankets.  She doesn't have the dexterity anymore to kick off too many blankets or pull more blankets on if she's too warm or too cold.  She was warm enough, but her feet - that she'd stretched to slip off the edge of the bed - were cool, so I brought her a hot water bottle and put her feet back up on the bed, under the blankets, snuggled up with the hot water bottle.

At 9:00 she had her crushed vitamin mixed with a few spoons of applesauce, and then she had about a 1/4 cup of non-vitamin applesauce.  It is MUCH more yummy without the vitamin mashed into it.  By now her feet were warmed up.  Usually, (if you can call a few days of schedule "usually") we'd get on the commode now and be all washed and dressed and in the recliner for streaming WPEL's Request Time, but this morning is cold, and Mommy is really sleepy, so we've decided to listen to Request Time while lying a'bed.  Then, after that, we'll get up and get moving into the recliner.

9:30, she's sleeping again.  I've got the soundtrack to "Gettysburg" on repeat in there right now.  She listened to it all night.  I think she likes to have music going in the background.  :-)  (Or maybe I just like it and so I imagine she does?)

She is too sleepy to stay awake this morning.  She's waking and dozing while Request Time plays.  I worry about her, that she sleeps so much, but I think it's normal, and I can't keep waking her up.  It's better to let her rest.

You can see her in this pic - trying to wake up to eat her oatmeal and answer the question I just asked her "Don't you want to eat that yummy oatmeal?"


Then, a few minutes later . . .

I'm really glad that I decided to let her lay in bed.  It's much more comfortable to sleep in the bed with the air mattress that keeps changing pressure while actually lying down than slumped over in the recliner.