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Saturday, December 31, 2011

100 words for Sunday, January 1, 2012

As I write on the last day of the year, I check on my hopes and dreams for the past half year, plans I made at the Jewish New Year, in September. Limiting myself to my checklist permits me to feel a sense of gratitude for the blessing of good friends and hard work done well. I signed the papers to move my husband to a higher level of care, beginning February first. My book is ready to be published, probably by Monday. My knee has healed; the medical and dental procedures I promised to do have been successfully accomplished.
It will take more than 100 words to detail what I am grateful for these past six months and my hopes and dreams for the next six months. A year feels too long to plan for.I love the reaction of you, my blogging public, to these posts which give me a way to communicate with so many of you in a public way that somehow feels intimate.
My first goal for the new year will be to support my husband as he transitions to the new environment. I will work hard to speak to groups to inform folks about Alzheimer's disease as well as to promote my book, Put That Knife Away.
On a personal level,I will work to strengthen my body, attempting to return to pre-knee strain , but slowly. I will continue to write these blogs, my journal of my husband's illness and chapters for my new book, the one about my grandparents' survival during the time of the Holocaust.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am truly grateful that I am able to recognize and enjoy moments of peace when they present themselves, as unfortunately but probably inevitably those times are merely moments--and don't last.
My reality moment arrived Monday morning, at 4:25a.m. with a telephone call from the care facility. Marsha was informing me that she had ordered the paramedics who had just left with my husband, to take him to the emergency room of the nearby hospital. She reported that Bob had been asleep when she checked and then twenty minutes later as she was making her rounds, she found him walking in the hallway with blood on his hand and on his shirt. Assuming he had fallen out of bed and had hit his head on his nightstand, she followed procedure and asked me to phone the hospital for further instructions.
The hospital sedated him so they could perform a CT scan of his head, then the doctor placed ten stitches in Bob's ear and dressed him for a Vincent Van Gogh look-alike contest. He could not tell the admitting personnel his name, but he said, "Hi dear," when he saw me.The doctor reported his mood and demeanor softened upon my arrival, making the anesthetizing injections and the stitch placement easier for everyone, but he still cried, "Get me out of here," several times and climbed off the gurney. My poor dear isn't aware of any moments of peace. The only wish he has I cannot fulfill--to spend every waking and sleeping moment next to me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

100 words for Sunday, December 25th


It’s the day before Christmas and I have a choice, holiday music or quiet.

Having neither stereo nor i-pod, not trusting my voice, I sigh.

Chanukah week is concurrent this year; the computer provides Jewish musical cheer.

 From u-tube to radio stations far away, the strains of songs from long ago play,

But lo and behold --this, too, is not what I want to hear.

I’m really enjoying the silence today and actually realizing why.

No reason to fill up on manufactured cheer

No cobwebs, no ruminating. My head is clear

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday's Science News

There is an interview with an internist from Nova Scotia in The New Old Age postings column in today's NY Times Science section. He speaks of the language we use to speak of end of life, but what struck me most was the use of language that suggests the patient is to blame. For example, "Your mother failed to respond to treatment." He suggests instead, "Our treatment is not working." 
I am so tired of people who blame the child or the demented person when an accident happens or a planned event is spoiled. Hooray for Dr. Stephen Workman who shows us how important it is to speak clearly, honestly and without blame. Dr. Workman also does not like the phrase "We're switching to comfort care." What kind of care was the person receiving before? Hurtful care?
I learned yesterday the language for the levels of care in a residential facility for the infirm--supervisory care, personal care and direct care.In the first level of care, the person is independent; able to attend to his/her own needs for dressing, toileting, feeding and ambulation. In the second level, the person needs some direction or assistance with these skills of  daily living. In the third level, the person needs direct care in these areas. No longer will a staff member tell me "Bob is putting on soiled clothing" or "Bob is getting up from the table during his meals." Only the clothing he is wearing will be available to him and he will be spoken to, and asked what the matter is, that he had to leave the table.
In my years of helping parents develop the skills to raise their children successfully, it was always important, too, to help the parent use language to see the child as wanting to cooperate and to look for the reason Johnny was "always into everything" or "always misbehaving." Some parents believe their two year-old child "has the devil in him" or is purposely misbehaving to annoy the parents.Quite often these parents were very uncomfortable when Johnny interacted quietly and in a goal-directed manner in my office.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

100 words for Sunday


A Sunday without 100 words? I cannot let that be, but I feel so empty, drained, spent, without my usual energy. I thought of these sentences as I awoke today and just now connect them to the procedure I endured on Friday. Once again, against my better judgment I did as bid, putting myself in a degrading, vulnerable, deprived position, alone with insufficient guidance on how to make this inconvenient preparation less onerous. Now I know, of course, and I presented my findings to the staff at the endoscopy and colonoscopy center who merely said, “Thank you for your input.”
I guess the rainy day didn't help my mood this morning, neither did the fact that Skype decided not to work, and I can't use my tv to run Netflix, something about the Internet connection. But I recovered after reading the Sunday paper; I have a gluten-free bread baking in my new bread machine, my grandson will fix the computer problems when he returns from an off-road bicycle ride and Steve and I have just returned from visiting my husband in the assisted living community.

I am reading a sad but well-written book about another wife caring for her husband with dementia. As a poet and a college professor, she is able to share her feelings which are so similar to mine. She also lives in New York several blocks from our old apartment near the Hudson River. The author is Rachel Hadas and the book is titled Strange Relation.
The proof copy of my book will be delivered by Wednesday; I can hardly wait, but I need Skype to be working so I can share the experience with my cousin Nora in Switzerland as well as with Linda who helped design the cover. We will each open a split of champagne and toast our accomplishment!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Uploaded

"Congratulations," said the email from createspace.com,"You have satisfied all the submission requirements for your cover and for the interior of your book. Please go to the site and order a proof copy."
With my cousin Nora working overtime in Arosa, Switzerland since there hasn't been enough snow to ski until today, and my daughter Linda consulting and designing the cover with her on Skpe and email, we accomplished what I had planned as a three month goal in less than a month.
I now have a new phase of publishing to learn--marketing and distribution. Within six weeks, you will be able to purchase a copy on amazon, downloadable to Kindle or order a trade paperback. More outlets to come as I figure out how.

There were many serious topics discused in today's NY Times Science section, about sexual abuse, treating older very ill patients, the scarcity of many important drugs, but the one I choose to mention here is a small article from the Postings, the NYTimes blog, entitled The New Old Age. It reminds the female reader who is past age 65, that annual Pap smears may no longer be necessary, if she is in a monogamous relationship( or not sexually active,) and has had a series of negative Pap smears prior to age 65.Although my internist asks each year if I will have a Pap smear done and shakes her head when I indicate that my gyn has excused me from this one test, I have successfully avoided this procedure for the past 5 years. My physician wouldn't let me forego a routine colonoscopy, however, scheduled for Friday, as it has been ten years since the last one. We must all be cognizant of our own needs and our bodies, keep up with the research and get regular checkups, annoying as this one surely is.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Company Time

Although I so understand the columnist Maureen Dowd who writes a column in the New York Times today revering silence, as in the new silent film "The Artist," I really DO appreciate the visit this week of my husband's brother, who flew "in that big thing" from Florida to visit. Irving is a very emotional man, who last saw his brother in May, 2010 when Bob had a psychotic break requiring a visit from the local Mesa police officers. As upsetting as that visit was, the change in the past eighteen months overwhelms Irving.
"Last time, Bob was all angry, wanting to sell the house, but he talked, he walked regular, up to the sales office with me. And now, he shuffles, he can't finish a sentence ..he's my last full relative, you know. He's my brother." And his eyes well up, his face turns beet-red, he sobs and his shoulders slump; I fear he might have a stroke. After all, he is 89 years old.
Monday evening, Bob did not recognize his brother, but said when they met, "I have a brother." Steve brought Irving Monday evening, as I had a class. When I brought him on Tuesday morning, Bob did not recognize me either.
"You're my nurse," he said."Go away," he continued, "You're confusing my brain."
However, when we returned later in the day, Bob called me by name and told me how wonderful it is that his brother flew here to see him.This morning again, he was happy to see both of us. He played a version of pool with Irving that Steve invented. The helper places the ball near the pocket directly across from where Bob stands holding the cuestick. The white ball is placed in front of Bob and invariably he can shoot the ball gently enough and correctly into the pocket. He is usually willing to try all the balls until he misses and the game is over.
I hate this disease and the swiftness of its current progression; I am so sad at the toll this illness takes on the family members of the person with the disease. It is so hard to understand and it seems so unfair.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

100 words for Sunday, December 4 , 2011


My friend Adele says I’ve been spending my week catching fleas; the period that floats outside the quotation mark, the comma before the word “and” and several –ed  endings that need to be –s. My cousin Nora has me highlighting all these corrections and she will input them when I’ve finished. Meanwhile she and my daughter Linda have been designing covers, one nicer than the next, to illustrate my book. My attorney has promised she will read the book this weekend on her computer to make sure I have not offended anyone enough to merit a lawsuit. It’s almost done!
There is much to be said about having an overriding passion to get a work accomplished, to see the realization of a dream. There is the excitement and the anticipation -I want to hold the finished book in my hand-and the enormous sadness I have each chapter I re-read. I wish I didn't have this as my first book. I wish I could have been happily writing about my grandparents successful escape from the second world war, anything but losing my dear, sweet husband to Alzheimer's disease.
Update on the home. I've taken the  name of his residence out of the book, just in case I do not like the promised changes, but for now, I have signed an updated (meaning twice as expensive) services package which will provide more hands-on care. He is clean and neat whenever I arrive; he is accepting the help that is offered and he is complying with requests to take his medications. The staff really feels affection for him and he downgraded me yesterday, by saying, "You really are the best of them all."