Saturday, January 22, 2011

Well, we are down to the ten day count down. I feel kind of like I did when I was pregnant. Anxious. When you have been carrying the baby around for 9 months, you are READY to hold the baby, ready for THIS to be over. But it is mixed with a touch of fear when you think of the labor and delivery part. You know you can't be done with the pregnancy until you experience and endure the labor and delivery part. You can't cross the bridge, so to speak. That is where I am. I want this to be DONE. I want my body to look normal (will it ever be normal again?). But I am anxious about the whole anesthesia, surgery and recovery thing again. I am anxious about the pain!! I know I am not to be anxious about anything. But I am human, and I am anxious. I worry about my momma and how she will handle me going into the hospital again. When she gets stressed or anxious, she gets harder to "handle". Meaning, her moods are not as pleasant. At this present stage, dropping her off at her house to stay by herself all day is just no longer a comfortable option. As my husband said, the last time we did that..."it's like we are dropping off Emma Jean to stay by herself at this house all day, except that Emma Jean can dial the telephone." It is sad, but that is what it felt like. She fell down last week. On carpet, so no slipping sliding falling down, just falling down. Again, since I was not in the same room at the time, I don't know what happened, or how it happened, or why it happened, just know that it did happen. I am extremely grateful that she was here in my house, so as soon as she needed assistance, she had it within seconds. I do know that it was NOT dehydration, so who knows why she lost her balance? She says she got "woozy", and "must have passed out". But as soon as I heard the boom, I ran in there and she was already trying to roll over and get up. We are talking seconds here folks, so there was no "passing out". But anyway, I got off topic. I don't really know how to describe mom when she gets really really rattled. But suffice it to say that bad things happen, things nobody wants to deal with or clean up. And of course, momma will continue to act as if nothing is wrong with her, and whatever is happening is somebody's fault, and she will be mad, yet she won't know what she is mad about. And when anybody tries to make any "suggestions" to momma, she will dig in her heels and rebel, and usually refuse to even try what is being suggested. She was complaining her feet were cold the other morning, and I said, "that's because you have not gotten your socks on yet woman", and I got up to head to her room to grab her some socks. She was saying "I do to!" as I went past her, and kept saying, "Deb, I do have my socks on! Your wasting your time!" I got the socks, and came back to her chair, picked up her bare foot and said "really? what color are they?" She looked honestly surprised that she was barefooted! That's my momma. It takes an extra dose of patience to be able to do what you need to do to take care of my momma, when all the while she is trying to tell you she doesn't need any help. It truly is a full time job, being the caregiver to an Alzheimer's patient, especially when that Alzheimer's patient is at this stage.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Saturday, I got the word that another very dear friend of our family had gone to be with the Lord Jesus. This has been a busy year for funerals. Bro. Bill Brown was our State Farm insurance agent in Portageville Missouri for many years. He was a deacon in our church. His daughters and I were very close friends. They were both in my wedding. We have remained close all these years through phone calls, emails and visits. Bro. Bill Brown had Alzheimer's Disease. Somewhere in those ten years of marriage, not only did she take care of Bro. Bill, but she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This lady and I have some things in common, don't you think? I truly believe I could have talked with her for days. I felt like we could have been best friends. She was easy to talk to. I doubt that I will ever see her again. As you can imagine, when you attend a visitation and funeral for a loved one that died of Alzheimer's, no matter where you went, there were small groups discussing his "condition", and when it first began to show, when it first became evident to others, how they knew, etc. I found myself sitting on the back pew, talking with a friend I graduated high school with. My momma was sitting in the front, on a pew filled with ladies her age and older, including "T", one of momma's best friends. As my friend and I were engrossed in our own conversation, suddenly Thelma was there telling me I needed to come up and sit with momma for awhile. Thelma said momma was afraid they were going to turn the lights off on us, if we didn't make a move towards the door. It was 6:00 p.m. I came up there and joined those ladies. Momma had made the rounds and talked to all three of Bro. Bill's children, Billy Gene, Tammy and Kristi. Yet any time someone would make a comment on how Tammy didn't look any different, momma would ask which one was Tammy. Then she would say something like, "I would not have recognized her! I need to go and speak to her, I have not talked to her yet!" After that being repeated several times, people began to look at me funny. Yea, it was very noticeable to others. A couple of people felt it necessary to point it out to me that momma was showing some signs of Alzheimer's. Ya think?? Before long, someone else came up and got me and led me back to "meet someone" else. I saw all kinds of people from my past!! Then, here came Thelma and momma, coats on and purses on their arms, Thelma giving me the look that said "momma was ready to leave". As we were leaving, we hugged the Brown kids one more time, and each and every time, momma made some statement eluding to the fact that she had not talked to them yet, would "not have recognized you!" We loaded up and left the visitation at 6:30 p.m. After we got to Thelma's, momma sat down in the chair and kicked off her shoes. Thelma offered us cake and ice cream. Keith said that would be great, but momma declined. As Keith walked by with his dish of ice cream and cake, momma said, "well, I didn't get any ice cream!" I said, "momma, can I get you some?" She said, "Yes, just a small portion, very small, and no cake for me, just ice cream." I fixed her some, and after I sat down, Keith gave Thelma a compliment on the cake, how it was delicious. And yep, you guessed it...momma said, "I didn't get any cake!" I got up, took her dish, and went and put her a small piece of cake on the side of her ice cream. Momma didn't go to bed until nearly 10 o'clock!! I laid awake, I could not shut my mind off, running all the topics of conversation, everything momma had done, and everything I had learned about Bro. Bill and his speed of progression in this disease. The next morning, we had breakfast, and got ready to head to the church for the funeral. It was a hard service. Music played a huge part in their family life. They used to sing together all the time, as a family in church services. As a tribute to Bill, they all got up at the scheduled time and gathered around the piano, and as Tammy played the piano, the family, his daughters, his son, their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc., all gathered around and sang a medly of his favorite songs. It was very moving, and brought back all kinds of memories of the times we all joined their family, in their family home in Portageville, pushing back the chairs and furniture and joined around the piano with Bill and Alta and the family and had old fashioned sing alongs!! Then we went to the grave side service, where full military honors were bestowed. The guns were loud, but very impressive. The young man playing taps on the trumpet was equally impressive. It never ceases to impress me, no matter how many military funerals I attend. Although it was very cold and windy, I was grateful that the rain had ceased long enough for us to gather around the tent as all this was happening. Once it was done, we all joined back together at the church, as First Baptist Church of Portageville, Missouri put out a meal that was fit for a king. There we all got to relax and visit some more with the family members. I walked down the halls to the nursery. I walked to where the church offices used to be, as I remembered walking to the church after school, coming in through those back doors, and walking into daddy's office. We always stopped at the store that was right across the street and got some penny candy first, teehee. Oh man, those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end. Before long, we knew it was time for us to pack up and head north. By the time we got home, it was close to five o'clock and I was pretty tired, emotionally and physically. But here came my daughter Jenna and Cole, and we get to baby-sit my grand-daughter, Quincy Alice!! Just to let you know how tired my momma was, momma would hear Quincy make a noise behind her chair, like in the dining room, and momma would say "Quincy Alice is here??!!" We would say, yes she is! Then a few minutes (seconds??) later, Quincy would make another sound or noise, and sure enough...."Quincy Alice is here?" She did that like 6 times!! I finally motioned to my girls to bring her over here in the living room, and play with her right in front of momma please. Eventually, momma went to bed. This morning, as I was picking up some of Quincy's toys and putting them in the toy basket we leave in the living room, momma said, "when will we ever see Quincy again? She doesn't bring her for you to watch anymore?" I ever so gently remind her that the reason I am picking up these toys is that Quincy was here last nite, and we had her from about 6 until 10:30. With the impending snow, I needed to go get some groceries. Momma asked me if I was going to Festus or down here. I told her "down here, Farmington", so she said she thought she would just stay here under her blanky, sitting by the fire. I got Jessy to go with me, and away we went to town. We went to Wal-Mart and got the groceries, then the feed store and got some feed. After our "chores" were done, my daughters Kate and Jenna met us at the Chinese restaurant and we relaxed a bit and enjoyed some much needed laughter around the table. Now, supper is finished, and we are relaxed around the TV watching "Minute to Win It". Ah, to be back home and know I don't "have" to go anywhere the next few days.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This morning, as I was whipping up some waffles and pancakes for my crew, I heard a "boom". I looked around the corner, into the dining room, and questioned Emma, my five year old. "Was that you?" "No, it came from Gramma"s room!" I ran into momma's addition, and as I rounded the corner, there was my momma, laying in the floor. She was trying to get up, she was not passed out, mind you, but was trying to roll over and pick herself up. I asked her what she was doing on the floor, and she went into her explanation. "I was getting up from the potty, and felt woozy, so I was trying to make it back to the bedroom I guess, and I just passed out before I got there?" It made sense to me, so I got some pillows from her bed and picked up her shoulders and put the pillows there so she could lay there a few minutes and get some color back into her face. In the meantime, I sent one of my kiddos to get Keith, who was down in his shop. Within minutes, here he came. We stood there and talked to her a few minutes, as she began to be momma, meaning she was cracking jokes trying to play down the serious moment. "I didn't like that bed, so I thought I would see if this floor was more comfortable for me and actually it is quite comfortable." After a few moments, of us picking at each other, she said she felt like she could get up and get back in her bed now. Keith picked her up, and let her stand there a few moments to get her bearings, and then as he was right there, we let her walk to her bed, which was only about 4 steps, but far enough for us to see if she was in any pain when she walked. She didn't wince or show any kind of pain whatsoever. Thank God, she did not hit the door frame or anything that could have made her bleed!! We talked a bit, as I sat on the chair there beside her bed, about what may have caused her to be light headed this morning. She ate three meals yesterday. She has a glass of some liquid, be it tea or water or coffee, being refilled all day. She did stay up later last nite than usual. She didn't go to bed until 9 o'clock! She got up and I walked her to her room last nite, gave her the night time pills, and then closed the doors to her part of the house, so she could "brush her teeth, wash her face and put on her night gown", her bedtime routine. Before we go to bed, we turn out all the lights, and open those french doors. One, so we can heat that part of the house with the wood heat, and it keeps her furnace from running so often, and two, so we can hear anything that might happen in the night if she comes out of her room. She did eat her breakfast, eventually. I gave her a plate of eggs and bacon and toast, as I do every morning. She ate it all! She is sleeping now. I have been in there several times to check on her and she is still propped up on her pillows, resting. I had planned on taking her to town to get her hair done today, for church tomorrow. I guess those plans might need to be postponed. I will play it by ear and see if she gets out of bed today, before I even consider taking her to church tomorrow. Thank you God for watching over my momma, even when she is here at my house.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year! I have been doing a lot of thinking and pondering over this idea of "suffering for Christ". What does that mean exactly? I don't mean to sound all holier than thou, but if it is the Lord's will that I suffer, and it is the Lord's will that I suffer for a long time, am I suffering for Christ? And, even worse, does that mean I am supposed to be "glad in it"? Don't tell me you haven't given any of this any thought before, when your life was turned upside down. This has been an exceptionally hard time for our family. My son's wife left him, and says she wants a divorce. She left him several months ago, and took his son, my grandson. She is being "good about it". She lets Nick see Ruger anytime he wants. But that is not every night, which is what Nick really wants. While she is at the home of her mom and dad's house, she has people around her, someone to talk to. Nick sits at home, in an empty house. And with this season of our life, comes winter, which means, he is also sitting at home alone most of the days as well. Work is extremely slow, worse this year than any year I can remember. Nick needs the distraction of work, to give his mind something else to focus on besides how lonely he is without his family. Hard times are so much easier to get through when you have someone by your side, to go through those hard times with you. I have even been looking on Craig's List trying to find him a job! A different job, one that perhaps is not so weather related? I asked him if he wanted to go to school, and he said no, he felt like work would pick up and if he could just make it through the next couple of months, he would be fine. His wife, has filled out all the paper work needed for her to go to school. She is a "single mom", so therefore, the government is picking up the tab, she is going to school on government grants. And yea, if Ruger gets sick, or she gets sick, again, she is a "single mom", so you guessed it, the government will pick up the tab. This society is set up to reward divorce. What a huge carrot that is to dangle in front of young women these days. If you divorce your husband, your money problems will be over?? We will take care of you medically, and you can go to college for free. I know this is a real hot topic for both sides of the fence. I know people that actually need the government to help them, since they are single moms who could not make it without the government helping them. There is just no good answers here. I just know that society in general, our tax breaks in general, reward those that choose to walk away from their marriage. There is way more support out there for single moms. Where is the help for the single dads? O.K., I need to move on to a different subject.

Mom has been doing well. Even my kids have noticed that she has been more "settled", and not nearly as irritated. Woot! Woot! Thanks for the prayers people! Of course, we have not been going and doing very much. As long as momma stays pretty close to her routine, she is easy to get along with, she is an easy keeper, LOL. And maybe it has something to do with her sleeping schedule? If she goes to bed early every night, like say 6, she sleeps until 9 or so, she wakes up in a good mood. Her closet fell down on Christmas morning. We fixed it that morning, with a temporary fix. Yesterday, we picked up one of those closet organizers with the wire shelving and put it in for her. The whole time we were in there putting that together, she was asking why we were doing that, she wasn't aware that the closet rod broke, and who broke it, and it wasn't her that broke it, etc. Oh well, we are getting used to that kind of behaviour. The things she does remember and the things she doesn't remember still amazes me. She does frequently get her stories mixed up, the details from a story from years ago, mixed in with a recent story is not uncommon. As we drive past the small church next to the interstate 55, she starts to tell me a story, "I never pass this church without thinking about your daddy and about Bro. Godair, and how he wanted your daddy to fill his pulpit, but your daddy never got the chance. I wonder if Bro. Godair is still the pastor there." I am pretty sure that Bro. Godair pastored a church down around Portageville, where I graduated high school. Or, as we pass a restaurant, she will say, "we used to go to that restaurant with another couple every Friday night, and then go home and play dominoes with them every Friday night". The restaurant we are passing is always different, but the story is always the same. Today, she picked up Kim's Bible, and opened it up and said "Look at this! I have never heard of this! You have heard of the New Testament? This is the Old Testament!" I nearly choked on my coffee!! Yesterday, she looked at her jacket and said, "this is the first time I have worn this jacket this year. I haven't worn it in a long time." I said, "well, momma, it is the first time you have worn it this year because it is January 3rd, 2011!" She laughed, and the moment passed. Never mind the fact that she has worn it to church the past two Sunday's. Life is sure interesting living with an Alzheimer's patient. Like one lady said, "you've seen one Alzheimer's patient, you've seen ONE Alzheimer's patient". Every one of them is different, yet every one of them have some common ground. There are similarities in all Alzheimer's patients, yet each and every one of them travel this path at a different speed.

My window of opportunity has closed at this point, so I will write about my doctor's appointment today, later. Perhaps tomorrow? Bottom line, I am healing good and it is time to schedule Phase II. My surgery was scheduled for February 2nd. Report to the hospital at 6:15am. Plan to be in the hospital 2-3 days, perhaps one drain. Here we go again......ready or not.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

When you have had cancer, it seems like every little "new" ache or pain sends you into a small panic attack, wondering if your cancer has returned. Last week, on Wednesday, on my way home from bible study in Festus, I began to feel "funny". Like a pain on my right side, that was kind of in my lower back on my right side, but it came around to my side, and my stomach, but only on my right side. At another time, and another place, my first thought would probably be, "oh, I must have pulled a muscle". But in this post-cancer stage of my life, that always seems to color my thinking. It always seems to rattle me a bit, mess with my focus a bit, and depending on how tired I am, may even cause me to have a little panic attack. I laugh as I write that. Again, in my pre-cancer days, I would laugh at the thought that I would even have a panic attack. To tell you the truth, I never really believed in panic attacks, having never experienced one myself. But now that I have actually experienced one, I now believe them to be real, teehee. I feel like that line from the Amy Grant song,

"People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child"

I guess once cancer invades your world, it never seems to go away. When you are going through all that mess, you meet and chat with all kinds of people that are on their second and third recurrence. It kind of messes with the ideas you have that once you beat this, you will get on with your life. It will always be in the back of your mind, waiting for a weak moment, a pain, a lump, a twinge, anything that seems like it came from nowhere, and the next thing you know, you find yourself wondering, toying with the idea, that it is possible that your cancer has returned. Even though I had not been on any of the breast cancer web sites in quite awhile, I found myself going there again, and asking the girls if they too had these same fears every time they had a pain or twinge, and sure enough they did. Whew, that made me feel like I was normal, LOL! I know what you are thinking, what is normal exactly. Fine, I have never been normal, but at least the fears that I am having are common among those of us that have faced cancer. As Keith and I were discussing the pain I was having, where it was located, he was the one that reminded me that the kids did tell him that I had carried a two-drawer filing cabinet case downstairs by myself, that maybe I did indeed have a pulled muscle. I did take the drawers out first!! But yes, it was heavy enough that I only carried the one, then made Adam carry the other one for me. My kids looked at me when I came down the stairs with the cabinet in my arms, and it was Kimberly that said, "uh, mom, I thought you weren't supposed to be lifting heavy things". Everything in life is relative. Just when you think you have your focus back, and life is going along ok, a pebble is thrown, breaks your glass and your view is no longer clear, everything is out of focus. I remember thinking, when daddy was going through the Leukemia battle for his life, that I would be glad when life would get back to "normal". Then the Lord took my daddy home to be with Him. And I knew then, that no, my life would never get back to "normal". From now on, there would be a new kind of normal. This new kind of normal includes dealing on a daily basis with the fears that my breast cancer will indeed return and mess up my life again. This new kind of normal includes dealing on a daily basis with the stupid disease that has a death grip on my momma's mind....Alzheimer's. This new kind of normal includes me learning a whole new level of faith, and what it truly means to walk in the dark most of the time, with nothing to guide me except my faith. I don't know how people do it without faith, this life that is filled with fears that seem to cause even the strongest believers to fall to their knees on a regular basis. I love my Lord, and am proud to know that He loves me and calls me friend. I love that He still loves me, even when I fail Him on a regular basis, and He lovingly guides me gently back on the narrow path that He wants me to walk. He forgives me when I get lost in my pity party of "why is this happening to me, to my family?" He knows in my heart of hearts, that I love HIM and want only to please HIM with my life. I am grateful that HE continues to help me do that.