Friday, September 15, 2006


This is from my other blog, and I know that there is stuff here that I've already posted, but there are also updates from this week. I'm just too tired to go through and edit.

Some of you have asked how mother is doing, so I thought I would take this step away from all of the frivolity and do a little sober reality check. Mom took a sudden turn for the worse on Friday, September 8, when she suddenly decided to no longer stand up. She would lay in bed and weep and moan, screaming about people being in her room, etc. Erupting into hysterics whenever we tried to sit her up, we perceived what looked like panic attacks. This continued throughout the weekend, with me ending up in exhausted hysteria by Sunday night. We knew at that time that things could not continue status quo. It was decided that my sister – the human barracuda – should talk to the doctor. This woman does not take no for an answer. By Tuesday we had an antidepressant/anxiety medication called Serzone. This has seemed to calm her down a bit – she is no longer lying in bed screaming. She still will not stand. Wednesday we had a visit from the Home Health Nurse who immediately set us up with an aide, social worker and physical therapist. This is on a limited basis since Medicare doesn’t pay for long term care. The aide will help teach me how to take care of a bedfast (the proper term for this) person, like how to change sheets with a person in the bed – no easy task. The social worker is making recommendations to two organizations for relief – The Alzheimer’s association and some government agency whose exact title I can’t remember right now. The best was the physical therapist – although she said that mother may never leave that bed until she dies or goes into a nursing home – she is getting us a wheelchair and is recommending us to an organization which brings a doctor into the home so that we don’t have to struggle to get mother to her doctor. It means changing doctors, but it will be worth it. I am physically and mentally exhausted right now. I haven’t had a nap since Tuesday, a decent one since Monday. I’m running on adrenaline. I’m also in a bit of pain, all of the lifting and turning (we’re looking into a hydraulic lift) of mom, plus the cranking of the bed (only the head and foot parts are electric – to raise the bed you have to crank) is wearing on my shoulder – but raising the bed saves on my having to bend clear over to tend to mom. Soooo, that’s the 411 on the situation here. I’m hoping that things are going to start getting better – it’s too soon to tell how well the Serzone will work, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed on that one. I’m sorry that I haven’t been a regular blogger – I try to hit everyone at least once a week, but it’s hard some days to do any at all. Thank you for bearing with me – cyber hugs to each and every one of you who has supported me. I appreciate it more than you can ever know.

There was something interesting (and I mean that in a funny way) about the social worker - I said that mother was in stage 6 Alzheimer's and she said that there were only three stages. I replied that there were 6. She then told me that she had recently been at an Alzheimer's seminar where the speak was "that author who wrote the 36 Hour Day" and they said there were only 3. I countered her again. "Well, where did you get your information?" I looked her in the eye and said "The Alzheimer's Association's webpage." She just looked at me. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Serzone (nefazadone): Serzone is a newer antidepressant which appears to be well tolerated in the elderly. It is similar to trazodone which is more effective as a hypnotic agent in the elderly than as an antidepressant. Serzone is effective as an antidepressant and actually has immediate anti-anxiety effects so it is also beneficial in relieving anxiety associated with depression.
Dosing is usually twice daily. In general, older adults require less frequent dosing compared to younger adults. Side effects may include; blurred vision, clumsiness or unsteady gait, low blood pressure (with or without dizziness), diarrhea, stomach pain, hypertension, angina, tinnitus, abnormal dreams, drowsiness, headache, among others

Hmmmm, mother starts this tomorrow. We'll see. The doctor is also going to get up a visit from the home nurse thingy to come here and evaluate what we need. My sister is good for one thing - she's a barracuda, so I sicked her on the doctor. Unfortunately, she's in a nursing home and can't go with me to appointments (or help with mother). After a weekend of crying fits (mine), my sister finally decided that I'd had enough. (Previously remarks were along the line of - well she took the job and this is part of it - and we wonder why I don't talk to her a lot.) My sister-in-law, Bebo, will be going with me to mom's next appointment in December - since I'm not sure I can get her there by myself. Mom is now refusing to get out of bed and has screaming fits. (of course, she says she could get some rest if "that" woman would quit screaming)

Mom funny: To me - "You sound like you don't look too well." I'll try to sound better from now on.

My back is killing me from moving her around that bed and constantly bending. Yes, we have the sheet trick going, but it's still a lot of tugging and pulling.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Pickle Jar

My cousin sent me this in an email.

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar. As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank. Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck. Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back." Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly "These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me." We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again." He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But you'll get there. I'll see to that."

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done. When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me. "When you finish college, Son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want to."

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. "She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

This truly touched my heart. I know it has yours as well. Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person's life, for better or for worse. God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in some way.

As I read this I wondered Maybe there was a reason that I never married and had children. God might have had this planned for me all along. I hope that I have made mother's life better. And I hope that doing this blog helps someone else along the way.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Not a good day. We started off on the wrong foot and went downhill from there. Mom refused to get up to change her depends. I managed to get her up enough to slip a pee pad under her in case she leaked, gave her breakfast plus meds and then let her rest for a while to let the pain pill kick in. And hour later I tried again. I have to admit that at one point I threw the (dry) depends at her. I started crying. Mother looked at me and for the first time in a long time, I think she connected. She patted the bed next to her and told me to sit down, then she patted my arm and said “I love you.” I laid my head on her and cried while she stroked my head. At noon I gave in to frustration and pulled the depends off of her while she lay down. I had to have her stand up to pull them up though, and she stood. While leading her around the bed to her food she said she had to go to the bathroom. I got her in there, changed her depends again, and back out to the bed where she ate lunch. We then took a much needed nap. She sat up and ate supper with no problem. At 7:00p.m. I tried to get her up to take her meds, change her depends again for night and we went through the same thing – her screaming and being stubborn. A half hour later I gave in and called my sister-in-law. She didn’t cooperate very well for her either. I went to sit on the porch and could hear mom screaming – even though her room is at the back of the house. You’d think we were torturing her, but we weren’t doing anything other than trying to get her to sit up. I’m sure my neighbors must think I beat the woman. At one point I came into the room just as Bebo (my sister-in-law) was telling her how I take care of her – mom said “No she doesn’t, I do everything”. When I started to say something mom looked at me and told me to shut up. So I left again. Bebo managed to get her changed and her meds down her, then we covered her up, said goodnight and left her. My agoraphobia is really hitting me – I can’t make the necessary phone calls – my stress levels are so high that I can’t manage the panic attacks. Plus I’d only had 2 ½ hours of sleep Thursday night (although the nap that afternoon helped). We’re also facing an anniversary this weekend. Sunday will be 1 year since my brother (Bebo’s husband) died. Bebo took the phone numbers for Social Security, Medicare and Human Resources with her and she’s going to make the calls for me. We need to get someone in here to give me relief. It’s been 7 months since I had a day out. Bebo watches mother on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings so I can work – but she’s in school too. I need a break. Mom is too cognizant of her surroundings to put her in a nursing home – I don’t want to help the AD progress, but I can’t do it alone anymore.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm Still Here

Sorry I haven’t been around much – just a bit overwhelmed at the moment, and quite frankly, after I get through taking care of mom in the mornings I’m just so frustrated with AD that I don’t want to talk about it. It now takes me about 45 minutes of arguing and cajoling to get her out of bed, onto the pot and then back into bed. I’ll admit, there’s a bit of yelling going on too. On both sides. Her arthritis is really bothering her, and I know it’s painful, but it has to be done. By the time I get finished with that there’s housework, then lunch and naps, supper and evening TV. It seems that there isn’t any time to blog that hasn’t just followed dealing with AD. She cries a lot during the night. I used to run in every time, thinking there was something wrong, but when I ask her she says she’s fine, so now I just listen for a more hysterical cry. I can hear her babbling, having conversations with people who aren’t there. I’m feeling more and more alone, frustrated, tired, stressed. My agoraphobia is worsening – phone calls to strangers will bring an almost immediate panic attack. Going to work twice a week is the only break I get. People have offered to sit with her, but I don’t know how she’ll react to strangers. Getting her to eat is difficult, so I hate to leave her during eating hours, even with those people she knows, because I don’t want to scare anyone away. I need them more for grocery shopping than my getting out.

I’d forgotten how cathartic this is to just get things out.

I promise not to let it go so long next time.