Monday, August 24, 2015

Good News

Today marks the 4 week mark since my fall.
4 down. 4 more to go before my toes get to touch Mother Earth again.
I can't exactly explain what the difference is, but I think my toes feel different. Maybe not so swollen. So numb.
I take this as a sign of good things to come.
My knee is still "asleep".

On the ALZ front, we got some interesting information. Sweetie saw a new doctor (old doctor left). After the routine round of questions and memory tests, Dr. Huang said, in a way not quite as condescending as it sounds way, "you know, there's no definitive way to tell if a person has ALZ. No scans or tests tell the full story. If you want you can say you have dementia, not ALZ."

Neither Sweetie nor I knew whether to feel comforted or bamboozled. You mean maybe Sweetie doesn't have ALZ and we've been depressed and angry for no reason? The thing is everything we've been told from day one is true.

Sweetie has several conditions (diabetes, sleep apnea, age) that could impair his cognitive functioning. He also has diminished volume in his brain that goes along with ALZ.  ALZ is not like cancer. There is no test you can take, or biopsy made, that can tell for certain a person has ALZ. Only an autopsy can do that. The diagnosis is a clinical one, meaning your doctor(s) gives you his/her best guess with the information at hand at the moment - especially in the mild  (beginning) stage. All signs point to Sweetie's diagnosis being accurate.

The good news is he's had no changes or advanced memory loss since he started seeing the neurologist. Everything we've read says that on average people live 8 or more years after being diagnosed. I'll be honest it's hard to hear that the person you love has a disease that will take him away from you in a slow and steady progression. The other side of that is none of us know how much time we have to live. So, the thing to do is not focus on the dying side of ALZ, but the living.

Believe me, if the last 3 months are any indication, that is easier said than done. We've both been angry and depressed. Our communication skills suck. We've turned inward rather than towards each other. We've forgotten how to laugh. Our good night kiss is perfunctory at best. Because of my accident, our roles have changed. Neither of us likes that very much. We are quick to point that out in words and by silence. The heated, deep sigh, kind of silence that screams listen to me dammit. Only we have to guess what the words are.

I felt life flow back into my toes today.
I think that's a good sign.
Perhaps life is going to flow back into our relationship too.

Opting for an attitude change,
Merry ME


Saturday, August 15, 2015

6:30 AM

Clang goes the cat dish. Mary throws off covers and fills the dish. She is just back in bed and a cat starts to vomit a sound we are familiar with, great. Now we are both up in bed looking for the cat. No Cat. "Is it Buddy" Mary asks? I'm out of bed and the end cover is lifted off the crate and sure enough, vomit on the pillow and cage end. I open the door and urge Buddy to come out. He sits there and yawns big at me. "Come out of there," I said in what I am sure was a very pleasant voice at 6:30 AM. Another yawn. Jack in door way, dog in crate. A stand off. Not really, Buddy has now reclined.

Mary exits bed, in the wheel chair comes around to Buddy's crate. All sweetness and light she says "Buddy, kiss kiss kiss."  Buddy rolls his eyes and looks at both of us as if we are crazy. At 6:50 AM
Mary and I look at each other, helpless in this stand off. OK, I reach in and tug on Buddy's collar. He does not resist and we are not headed down the hall to go outside. No hesitation on his part. Buddy is
very cooperative, he poop's and pees and we are back in the kitchen in short order.

At 7:05 AM  We are back in the kitchen, all three of us. Buddy is teased with fresh water and kibble, we sit and watch him - sit there. I put 3 or 4 kibble's on the floor. Buddy eats them and sits there. Mary looks at me, shrugs, turns her chair and heads out the door. Going back to bed. Buddy is in the same spot. Then he is up drinking a little, On to his bowl and soon the kibble is gone. At 7:20 AM we are in the office. Buddy plays with plastic water bottle, Jack drinks coffee.

We are out again, we are in again, Buddy plays some more, then stops. He snuggles up under the computer stand and is now fast asleep; it's 7:55 AM. Good Day! The rest of the story later.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Quiet

I'm sitting in my recliner. Sweetie within arms reach sits in his.
Buddy sleeps on my lap.
The ceiling fan hums, stirring up stale air.
I'm struck by the quiet,

Tears fill my eyes.
I relax into the stillness while it lasts.

Shhh,
Merry ME

Monday, August 10, 2015

Almost a month has passed.....

since last I sat down to blog, So let's see; Buddy has grown a lot, had some more shots and in general is getting better with toilet training. Mary has fallen, broke her ankle, is in a cast, and gets around the house with the aid of either a wheeled chair or walker contraption. The chair is the easier of the two. Healing seems to be a minor role to attitude. Not a surprise to know how much she dislikes being
incapacitated. Can't keep her out of the kitchen or from doing things around the house which I can easily handle.

The kindness of friends and neighbors is amazing. Food deliveries, visiting, get well cards, flowers, packages of goodies and books, Mary is well Loved. Looking into the refrigerator is heartening. I've never seen it so full. Nor have I ever had so many choices, friends and neighbors are great cook's. With everything available to us, we both have been eating less. Mary dining in her recliner, me at the kitchen table.

Rationally I knew Mary was in no danger of demise with her accident. Emotionally is another story. Sitting, waiting to learn something, anything from the Dr's is nerve wracking. The ER Doc was really good and informative. He showed John and I the x-rays of Mary's ankle and it was not good at all.  Multiple breaks in bone and the separation of two major bones just at the top of the ankle joint. The good news is that with rest, not allowing any weight on her ankle for 8 weeks followed by several weeks of therapy to learn to walk steady again, regaining her former footing should take care of the situation.

We saw the surgeon in his office last week. The complete bandage and support cast was removed. Staples in a long line up her ankle were ugly and could not be taken out yet due to swelling. so, back we go in ten days to get them removed. Mary experienced feeling sick and light headed just getting an x-ray. Good news; the fractured bones are in perfect alignment. If the plate and screws don't bother her there will be no need to remove them. Most people leave them in place.

Personal news: After peeing, pooping and checking out the yard Buddy is ready for breakfast. He eats like I do - in a hurry. In a blink of an eye he is done eating and drinking and ready to play. Puppy Mom is still asleep so Buddy and me hang out in the office together. He plays while I check e-mails and such on the internet. Next thing I know he is curled up at my feet, asleep himself. This guy has big feet. Indicator he will be a big dog.

Using a 0 to 100% scale I am depleted emotionally by 40%. I am frustrated and hurt that I cannot do anything to ease Mary's physical or emotional pain. I feel the strain of keeping a positive attitude to support both of us. We are withdrawn from each other, short tempered and communication seems to be gone. We both know all this but don't seem able to get over it. Maybe it's too soon in this mending process and we need to be patient. Patience is not a virtue Mary and I are familiar with.

I am staying in the moment when I am physically active - doing something to help Mary. But when I am sitting my thoughts are fear filled and get me down. I know the hour, day, or week will come when I suddenly realize these negative patterns have left me and  my normal is normal for me. 

Enough! Live in light and love. Be filled with loving kindness for yourself and others. jdc

Monday, August 3, 2015

Learning to Slow Down

“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others 
and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”
Katrina Kennison





When I was a kid playgrounds had merry-go-rounds where you held onto a bar, ran around in a circle to get up speed, then jumped up on the spinner where you sat in a dizzying state as the wheel slowed down. You couldn't do much more than hold on. The point of the ride, was to do it over and over again, letting each spin fill you with a weird sense of freedom. Especially if an adult or big kid was doing the spinning.
There were also times, as in life, you'd fall, legs splayed out behind you caught in the rut beneath the wheel, unless or until you let go of the bar. Then you limped home for a combo treatment of stinging, red mecuricome and a chocolate chip cookie.

All of us have spent time on that metaphorical merry go round. Either by our own choosing or at the hands of a mad twirler with no sense that things were beginning to fly out of control. On occasion we remember to slow the pace down, and relax into the ride, while the sounds and sights of the world remind us that slow and steady will get us where we want to go. 

And, yes, there are those times we are not prepared for when we fall - literally, figuratively, or spiritually - into an unexpected hole that stops us cold. We need help to stand up. We need a quiet, restful place to heal. We need chocolate chip cookies.

If you've been following my blog, you know that the merry-go-round in my brain has been going way too fast. Work? ALZ? Caregiving? Garage Sale? Move? I've been worried, anxious, angry, and tired most of the time. Weary even of things I love. I've been lost in a world of my own creating where too much noise buried the cries of my soul. I yearned for rest. Some ME time. A quiet, restful sanctuary where the only person I needed to think about was me.

In her recent blog post Katrina Kennison wrote what I longed for:

"… what a relief it would be to spend a whole day without talking. Without cleaning or washing or weeding or folding anything. Without make-up, without good cheer, without a to-do list, without getting in the car, without reaching for your wallet or your phone or the dog leash or the sponge."

I'm not alone with these kinds of thoughts. Ask anyone who juggles the myriad of balls it takes to get through a single day. Ask any of the millions of caregivers who use most of their energy caring for others but neglect to do the same for themselves.

While Terry Hershey's weekly Sabbath Moment newsletter encourages my fantasies to "Do Less. Live More" where/how does one find the time and space for such a holiday?

Obviously I don't know the answer to that question. I can tell you, however, fracturing your ankle is the not the way to do it. Sure, I now have many long hours to fill doing nothing. I've got someone who jumps to attention when I call his name. Friends have brought in delicious food I can eat without worrying about doing the dishes. Purple carnations, yellow-studded daisies and sweet-smelling roses brighten my little corner of the room. I'm connected via computer and cell phone to the outside world if I want to be. What, in other circumstances would be a sanctuary where I could relax into the rhythms of my soul, now feels more like toddler's "time out" - a punishment. I want to rest when I want to rest, not because the doctor told me I couldn't put my foot on the ground for 8 weeks.

My merry go round stopped too abruptly. I had no slow down time to adjust. There I was spinning in circles one minute, my butt growing roots to this chair the next.

Some might say "be careful what you ask for." Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the R and R. I just wish it didn't come with an 8 pound cast on my leg. At the end of this forced sabbatical, I hope to be restored to health and sanity. Right now I'm doing little more than holding on, or as Kennison writes:
"... resting, listening, waiting in the silence of your heart to feel the next step."

I'm hopeful that as the days progress, I will "dive down, naked, into the sacred quiet." Echoing the same sentiment Christine Valters Paintner writes, "This is my time to sink into myself and be present to the spirit moving through stillness.

This quiet time may not look the way I pictured it - room by the ocean, sound of waves tip toeing onto the shore - no clocks, no routine - but can be sacred nonetheless. For it to be so,  I must release my need to be in charge. I must give others the opportunity to care for me. I must learn the fine art of patience. I must look for God's divine presence in the most ordinary places. I'll be honest, it's going to take some work on my part.

"Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. 
It’s the way it is. 
The way you deal with it is what makes the difference."
Virginia Satir

Merry ME