My desire to write hasn’t wavered since going to #BlogHer13, yet life seems to keep getting in my way. There’s some days I don’t get a moment to myself and when I do, I’m too tired to do anything but maybe play Candy Crush on my iphone. Sometimes I fall asleep doing that. I had such a favorable response when I wrote about the challenges I’ve been dealing with as an Alzheimer’s caregiver. I decided to share my latest adventures or should I call them misadventures?
I’ve been dealing with a lot of other things besides the Alzheimer’s lately like my own health issues, my husband’s diabetes (which is finally under control), going to physical therapy and trying to lose weight. Then add on the stress of looking after another human being and I become crabby and short tempered. Last night was a prime example. Hubby was going to work at 3:30 pm today and working until 2 am. So we went to bed about 12:30 am and were going to get up at 8 am which is sleeping in for us. Instead at 3 am, I heard my mom up and moving around. She usually stays in bed until the morning. So I got up to investigate and she was using the toilet. Of course, then I had to make sure she got back in bed. She was fussing looking for an incontinence pad which I keep by her bed. Instead she was looking in all her drawers and I asked her what she was looking for. She said a pad so I gave her one. Then I asked her why she was putting that on since she wears a diaper to bed now. She said she was getting up for the day!! It was a little more than 2 hours after we went to bed and dark as a sack and she was going to get up. I had to yell to make myself heard (since she didn’t have her hearing aids in) and I ended up swearing a blue streak. I told her it was the middle of the night and to put a diaper on and get back in bed until I wake her. I’m not proud of how I lost my temper and then she says to me, “What happened to you? You’re not the same person anymore.” Gah! I said something like, “I could say the same about you!” I hate what Alzheimer’s has made me become. I hate what it’s done to both of us.
That’s only the half of it. I went back to bed and had a headache and couldn’t sleep after that. Then at 6:30 am, Ivy was screaming in her bed. We put our 2 dogs, Amber and Ivy, in their kennels at night only. Ivy usually cries in the morning as soon as she hears us up. Amber we never hear a peep out of. Anyway, this screaming of Ivy’s only happens when she’s sick in her bed and wants out. It hasn’t happened for many months. I don’t know what could’ve made her sick but maybe she ate something outside in the yard. Hubby went down and let the dogs out and Elvis stayed spooning with me in bed. Hubby came back to bed after taking her kennel outside and cleaning it. Ivy came and layed in bed with us too. Before 7:30 am, my mom was up and dressed and going down the stairs. I can’t let her get up on her own anymore and can’t seem to keep her in bed. Luckily this isn’t an everyday occurrence since I’m functioning on the level of a zombie.
I lay our cereal bowls out on the counter the night before along with her coffee cup and her banana. Inside the cereal bowls I put our morning pills. For me, it’s just a blood pressure pill and a multi-vitamin. For mom, it’s a different blood pressure pill, Plavix, a multi-vitamin and an incontinence pill. Hubby has 2 blood pressure pills, a diabetes pill, a man’s multi-vitamin and a fish oil pill. Ideally, in the morning, I get up and come downstairs to get mom’s hearing aids and glasses. I take them off her at night before she goes upstairs to bed. I had to do this after one night she put her hearing aids in a jar of hand cream. To her credit, the 2 jars were similar in shape. Then I go put them in the bathroom, open her door, pull back the covers and help her out of bed. She walks to the toilet and lifts her nightgown and I give her the last push so she’s in front of the toilet before she takes her underpants down. Then I give her her glasses and put the batteries back in her hearing aids and put them in her ears. Then I repeatedly take her left hand off her leg as she keeps reaching to scratch it. I repeatedly admonish her not to scratch it. In my last post I mentioned how this is the bane of my existance. She has skin ulcers from congestive heart failure and won’t stop scratching long enough so they can heal. I keep them wrapped but she undoes them as soon as she gets the chance. Usually when she’s sitting on the toilet or when I’m busy out of the room. Even if she leaves them alone for most of the day, all she needs is a 5 minute session of scratching to undo all the healing and get it bleeding. At times I give her a pill for the itching but it puts her to sleep for the entire day and it’s even more like she’s not even here. Even if I keep her on the pills constantly, when she wakes up in the morning or in the night when I’m not right there, she can do a lot of damage before the next pill gets in her system. It’s such a quandry that there doesn’t seem to be a solution to. I need to invent something where if she even touches her leg, a huge buzzer goes off that scares her and alerts me that she’s at it again!
Getting back to the pills at breakfast. One morning about a month ago, hubby went down with her and gave her her glasses and hearing aids and while he was testing his blood at the counter, he looked over and she was pouring HIS bowl of pills into her mouth. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. I was upstairs and I heard him yell, “NO!” at the top of his lungs. He caught it in time and had her spit them back into the bowl and then he took them. Yes, ew. But I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind what could’ve happened to her if she had taken them. We’d have to get her stomach pumped or she’d have some sort of incident, no doubt. Now I put a paper over hubby’s pills in his bowl. She asked me the other day what that represents. I told her, ”It’s so you don’t take his pills by accident!”
We’ve been fortunate to have a very mild summer this year. Temperatures have been lower than normal and we haven’t had to use the air conditioning hardly at all. Not only is that good for the wallet, it’s good for my sanity. I love having central air conditioning but after a few days, I start feeling suffocated. I love having weather just cool enough to have all the windows open and fresh air circulating throughout the house. I prefer it. The week before #BlogHer13, we had a week straight of hot weather in the 90′s. We HAD to put the a/c on or we’d perish. One day, hubby and I came back from shopping. We’d been gone a few hours and came home to find the back door wide open. We have the Magic Mesh screens which are perfect for the dogs. Our backyard is fenced in so all 3 dogs can come and go to the bathroom as needed. They can also run outside and chase squirrels or just lay on the deck and come in for a drink. When the a/c is on, we feel like slaves to them since one or the other wants in or out all the time. Rarely together. My mom had opened the back door for the dogs without remembering that the a/c was on. I’m proud to say that’s one time I didn’t get mad at all. I just explained to her that we had it on and shut the door. It always irked me when we went on vacation to places like New Orleans and the businesses have the a/c on full blast (stores feel like they’re chilling meat inside) and the doors to the street in the French Quarter sit wide open. I can’t imagine how much money that costs but I know I don’t have nearly enough to pay for that type of luxury.
The bath adventures have been interesting. Yesterday’s bath went better than they have in ages. Last week Mom said to me, “Have I ever had a bath like this before?” To which I replied, “Yes, every week for years.” I have to stay in the bathroom and shout directions to her. “Wet your face with the washcloth, now put soap on your face, now rinse with water.” I do this for every part of her body so she knows what to do next. It’s exciting stuff but I manage to contain my enthusiasm. Then she has me wash her back and says she hasn’t had it washed in ages. Yes, since the last time I did it. It’s very selfish of me to want “credit” for things I do for her but it feels like if she doesn’t remember I did them for her, it doesn’t count. I guess knowing I did should be enough.
Last week was my birthday. We had talked about going out for dinner one night but never did. One reason is we’re trying to lose weight and it’s easier to control the calories and eat healthier at home. The other reason is we asked my mom if she’d go out with us for my birthday and she didn’t want to. She doesn’t like going out of the house at all anymore. She used to go along when we’d shop and get one of those 3 wheel mobility carts the stores provide and have a gay old time zooming up and down the aisles while we shopped. Now she turns down all offers to go out. We’ve got a vacation coming up in a few weeks and it’ll be interesting to see if she pulls this while we’re away from home. Of course, we could’ve gone out to eat without her but have only done that once or twice in the past decade! It just doesn’t feel right to be without her. So we had a day like any other day at home. I figure we’ll live it up some on vacation.
It’s an odd world we live in when my own mother asks me “How old are you going to be?” Half the time she doesn’t know if she’s 90, 92 or 93 so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s just something you’d think she’d never forget. Then I asked her, ‘How old do you think I’ll be?” She first answers, “I don’t know” and then, “You’re 6 years younger than me, aren’t you?” That’s an interesting feat of science there. I remember a few months back, maybe around her birthday in April, I had asked her “How old were you when you had me?” and she said “24.” This wouldn’t be strange at all except she was 41. Has anyone seen the Serv Pro commercial? They’re the company that cleans up homes after a fire, flood or other disaster. They use a slogan for their business that could easily apply to Alzheimer’s. Like it never even happened. So I’m hanging in there, using my blog to vent since I don’t have another outlet where I can get my frustrations out. Just taking it one day at a time and counting my blessings, even if they appear to be fewer and farther between.