It takes Time

Many months ago Cheryl started on this puzzle. I wrote about it before. I could figure out exactly how long ago but the specific span of time is actually unimportant to the story. Last week when Cindy came to sit with Cheryl for a bit so that I could go do whatever I wanted to do by myself, I said to her that she could help Cheryl with this puzzle that she has been ignoring for months. I said that thinking that it would go over like the proverbial lead balloon – what is a lead balloon? – but Cindy is an enthusiastic puzzle doer and she sucked Cheryl along with her. I left to do a couple errands and take a walk.

Two hours or so later when I returned Cindy and Cheryl had not moved from the spots alongside the dining table where I unrolled the puzzle and reinflated the tube that the felt surface was wrapped around with the trapped puzzle pieces. Cindy had Cheryl hard at work sorting pieces of like color and they had assembled several chunks of pieces to figure out where they fit in the picture that came with the puzzle. They did not finish it that day. It is a half thousand pieces of a complex image of small town Christmas.

The picture when completed

Lots of colors are involved. We bought this puzzle several years ago. I think we may have had it for a couple years by the time the pandemic broke into pandemonium everywhere. It came from a Barnes & Noble book store that we happened to be shopping in for one of the grandkids. Cheryl passed by the puzzles parked in the aisle and was inspired to retell the story about someone at Bridgeway Pointe assisted living facility who worked puzzles all the time and lived down the hallway from her mother. I remarked that she should pick one out to do for herself and she selected this Christmas scene.

Leaving it on the dining table is somewhat of an inconvenience at dinner time as I had gotten into setting the dining room area for two. We had used mostly the kitchen table when we first moved into the new condo and reserved the dining table for company. As I took on most of the cooking duties I decided to use the dining area more instead of preserving it for non-existent company. Had we stayed in our old house I suspect that I would have gotten to this point there also. For now, we are back in the kitchen for dinner.

For several days after Cindy’s inspiration we walked around the puzzle on the table awaiting Cindy’s return. I did not mention it. Cheryl once suggested that she could put it in her office and I persuaded her that it was not in the way of anything. She was worried that her little people that she sees occasionally would disturb it but they have not. Last evening she started to work on it. It was a spontaneous move on her part. She worked on it for a bit. I texted this picture to Cindy. She responded with, “Great! Don’t let her finish it without me.” There is not much danger of that, Cindy.

I checked on her during the evening. She worked on it for about an hour. She found two pieces that seemed to fit together but they did not. I was able to help her find a couple pieces and fit them somewhere in the picture.

Her memory seems to be going faster. She looks at a piece and as she looks at the picture the shape is lost in her visual memory. It is a long process.

Carpe Diem.

For Two Nights – in a Row

She has slept solid. Happily for me, I have also.

Cheryl is much better doing the day as are most people after a good night’s sleep. Her little visitors are still around here and there but she seems to know they are not real.

We have had lots of discussion about what we can do to get to bed at a reasonable time. The sun always looks better after a good rest overnight.

This picture is one Ken’s sunrise pictures.

Carpe Diem.

It Must be a Terrible Thing to be Losing Your Mind

And be aware of what is happening.

These days Cheryl is certain that we are not home and wonders when we are going home.

In the background she knows she is home.

But maybe not.  Cheryl has lost most concept of time.  Calendar time,  Day of the week, hour of the day, time until the next event, how much lead time to get dressed or ready; all of these time conceptions are gone. She becomes angry with me reminding her how much time she has left. Maybe I am doing it wrong. She talked (and talks) in implication and inference but my conversation is direct. When she says she is going to do something I assume that she going to do it and I will reminder of her conversation, even help steer her toward her goal that seems to anger her sometimes. It is not my intent to anger her but merely to remind her what road she started out with and keep her on it to completion.

Little girls seem to come and go. The woman who takes care of the little girls seems to come and go with them. Others seem to move her stuff around. And then daylight returns.

Carpe Diem.

Today is Martin Luther King Day

This is often abbreviated MLK day which always says to me in my head “milk” day. It fact the first time I read that abbreviation I had to stop and think, what is milk day?

Martin Luther King memorial in Washington D.C. – from the Wall Street Journal today 1/17/2022 online

This memorial does not look to me like Dr. King. Everyone perceives art and sculpture and the world differently. Dr. King wherever you are I apologize for the fact that we cannot see the world as you saw it. But thanks for your vision and wisdom.

It is also wash-the-sheets day in our house. Routine is important to maintain in our life nuanced by Parkinson’s disease. It snowed overnight. The outside view is white.

Winter is melancholy.

Carpe Diem.

People Are Still Dying

She went to bed early and did not seem to stir all night long.

Look at this she says to me holding up the obituary page in the paper today. I rarely look at the obituary pages. Cheryl reads them everyday. It is the one of three reasons we still subscribe to the U.S. News and World Report Cincinnati Enquirer. The three reasons are obituaries, comic and puzzle pages, banner page with today’s date. I occasionally look at Daugherty’s sports column. He is a good writer.

I asked, “Is there anyone you know?” But she does not recognize any of the names. She goes through the list several times. The first go does not register every name. She has had two and a half doughnuts and she brings a clementine orange as well as some orange juice with her to her chair as we settle to watch the TV. Lately I have been purchasing Minute Maid orange juice concentrate from the store. It is about $1 more that the store brand orange juice. I do not drink orange juice with breakfast. It is the only thing Cheryl drinks and has been for some time.

She tells me that the Enquirer publishes a list like this a couple days a week and it is much longer on Sunday. I relax as I listen to her talk about dead people. Death is a part of life I remarked. Yes it is she replied without looking up from the list as she read it one more time.

She reads the list carefully as we watch Sunday Morning on CBS. There is a story about Liza Minnelli. Cheryl catches the reference to Judy Garland at the end and remarks that she is dead too. She is thinking Liza is dead, I suddenly realized. There is no point in correcting her thought so I do not.

It is Donut Sunday and she is sitting with me watching what I think of as our Sunday show. We used to watch this show on the VCR after Sunday mass. We often stopped at the Pleasant Ridge Donut Shop on the way home. We always walked to church.

Last evening after church we went to a local pizza haunt to enjoy the quiet and have something to eat. The Cincinnati Bengals playoff game had sucked the life out of the late afternoon pizza scene. The NFL had assigned them the 4:30 PM slot on Saturday. Few people attended church that evening. Some of the lack of attendance may have been due to the latest covid wave or the play-off game.

After we entered the empty restaurant and settled at our table conveniently located with a clear view of the sixty-inch flat-screen TV, another crowd of six appeared and was seated at a nearby round six top. After our dinner – a small pizza for me, a favorite appetizer for her – I suggested that we drive over to a local bakery for some doughnuts or a coffee cake for our breakfast tomorrow.

We did that and as luck would have it, the doughnuts were a special price to move them out of the store. I will have to remember this for future reference and future Donut Sundays.

Today is a good one. I am pretty sure that she slept well last night.

Carpe Donut Sunday Diem.

School? or the Farm?

Cheryl will ask about school and for the longest time I was certain she was talking about school when she was a child. Now I am not so sure. She often makes reference to “that woman who runs the school here.” This morning while she was eating her new favorite cereal, shredded wheat, she asked who is taking me to the farm today? She had been looking at the used-to-be local paper. I gently reiterated that she did not have to go to the farm or school or church today. These are all circular conversations (my term) that we have.

Early this morning, when she first awakened, we started with the church discussion and I told Her today is Thursday there is no church service but you do have exercise class at noon. This seemed to satisfy her at the time.

Yesterday morning she asked about school and I told her that there was no exercise class today. These are often conversations we have early after getting up in the morning. Last evening, however, as she was getting ready for bed, she began to tell me about “that woman who runs a school here.”

I have begun to tell her what is in store for the day as soon as I am aware of her wakefulness. It is my own way of dissuading her anxiety about missing something. These days the calendar is meaningless. The LARGE annoying alarm clock we use in the morning announces the time and date but she seems unable to connect that information to the calendar squares to find any extra information that we may have written there.

A clue to this confusion may have been when I first put it together and set the time its display read; 4:00 PM, Thursday March 15, 2017, Early Evening or a display similar. She asked me, “early evening”, what does that mean? I turned off that part of the display so that now it only shows the time and date.

Now we have two calendars, one on her office door and one in the hallway to our bedroom. It is up to me to keep them in sync. My life is getting busier while hers is getting more confused.

One day medical science will have answers for where these thoughts come from in parkie’s heads. Maybe one day Dr. McCoy will understand what no man has understood before. Or maybe not.

Carpe Diem.

A Third of the Way

It is now a third of the way through January. Cheryl and I went out to a small diner on the other side of town to visit with one of her life long friends.

They call themselves the “Clementines”. They attended grade school together and many attended the same high school. They number about a dozen and they used to meet every other month at a local pizza place to chat and reminisce and catch up.

Cheryl was the the original organizer of this group and convinced the others to come and chat. She teased many of them into it at first. She kept the friendships alive. And then Parkinson’s hit and took away her organization and her cognition.

At first she hid it well. It drove her crazy that she might forget something or someone. The computer, something that she had used throughout her working career as a database analyst, something she wrote code for to extract information, became a confusion. I (behind her back) asked one of her friends t take over the organizational task. Kathy stepped up and did it.

Covid struck and they moved to Zoom. I set up the zoomeetings for a bit because I had a corporate account with the community college that I work at part time. Kathy got her own license because she was using Zoom to visit with family.

Today we went to lunch with Marilyn who was unable to zoom a few nights ago. It was a wonderful lunch. Cheryl was able to talk to someone other that me in person.

Tonight for dinner I made oven fried chicken and roasted brussels sprouts with carrots. But for dessert I made Apple Oatmeal delight which is a recipe from BookBakeBlog’s site pages. It was pronounced good! Write that one down!

Apple Delight (not BookBakeBlog’s name)

Life is a journey. Enjoy the apples (and other fruit) were you find them. Carpe Diem!

January Eight

I am not a huge sports fan, so, should I write or should I read? On that day I elected to read after hanging the new calendar on her office door, putting away most of the Christmas decorations and helping her finish a batch of cookies. It was a pleasant two hours of downtime before preparation for church.

Church was sadly uninviting as the pastor is out with illness due to covid. We are back to socially distanced mask wearing in a gathering of perhaps eighty people in a building that holds 450 but has not experienced that level of participation for many years prior to the whole pandemic pandemonium.

So today is January 9, 2022. I checked with Cheryl and it is time for the three kings to go back to the orient. But the storage area is actually slightly west of where they are displayed this morning. Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper) are their names according to Western church tradition. Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia or sometimes Ethiopia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India. So, maybe, the fact that the bucket and the storage area is west makes little difference. It is a much shorter walk than the guy going back to India.

Guys chasing a suspected super nova…

The past week has been a bit of a trial. Cheryl has been having trouble sleeping through the night. It is a common issue with Parkinson’s disease. As a consequence during the day she is easily upset, occasionally moody, somewhat apathetic, quick to anger and often fatigued. The rivastigmine was making her nauseated so it was discontinued. She has been taking quetiapine (Seraquel) and in working with her nurse practitioner we are slowly changing the dosage and timing of that to help with sleep. It is an annoying process but it seems to be working sort of.

Last evening we made blueberry muffins for Sunday breakfast today and for awhile she sat with me to watch our used to be favorite CBS Sunday Morning show. She has not sat and watched this show with me for any length of time for many months. It used to be our Sunday morning activity after returning from church.

Times change and I suppose I am attempting to preserve as much of the routine as possible while we travel this Parkinson’s journey. I do miss watching various pieces with her and commenting about it.

As her memory, creeping dementia and other odd behaviors appear it is incumbent on me to not correct her or even explain those behaviors to others. Her friends all know what she is dealing with. I do not have to remind them. People will show kindness or not. Total strangers can be remarkably kind and generous. Maybe because Cheryl navigates with a cane in her hand.

Carpe Diem!

HAPPY new year and other Random Thoughts

It was a miserable eve.  Cheryl has had her meds adjusted a bit to help with creeping dementia issues.  The doctor has been slowly increasing the dosage to creep up on the optimal dose. The most common side effect is nausea and vomiting. The new prescription is at the optimal dose and it appears Cheryl cannot tolerate it at that level.  She has been sitting on the bathroom floor on and off for most of the afternoon. 

As she was building up to this dose for the past  several months, I expected to see some behavioral changes.  I have not. As the situation got worse I terminated giving this med to Cheryl.

But last night (New Year + 1) was very difficult and very different. I thought that perhaps this drug did not work for her but it did reduce and eliminate the strange compulsive behavior that she exhibits. She also became delusional. She was certain I did not belong here.

On the next day, Monday, I called the doctor’s office and got her nurse practitioner on the phone. It is hard to explain how excited I was to have someone call back that knows Cheryl and her condition and has seen her on a regular basis. I explained what Cheryl was going thru and that I had discontinued the medication to relieve the symptoms. The NP recommended that I adjust one of the meds she was already taking with no ill physical effects and perhaps Cheryl would sleep solidly through the night and do better the next day. It worked.

Still searching for clues at the scene of the crime (Joe Walsh).

It’s a new day.  Today is football day.  Seems like everyone everywhere is tuned to some kind of football game.  It used to be, many years ago, a time to visit our in-laws.  Our niece’s birthday was January 1st.  She died a year or so back not from the Covid dilemma but from other health issues.  She had not been well for some time. We have not celebrated her birthday for some time.  Families are complicated and estrangement is often part of the complication.

It’s a new month.  January is often cold but it seems to take winter some time to get started. This January is no different. It is rainy and poopy outside today and the temperature is expected to drop into the upper teens overnight. I am so glad we live in the times we live in. It will not be necessary for me to add coal to the fire for overnight nor will it be necessary for me to huddle underneath a buffalo skin.

The current federal administration authored a congressional bill referred to as “build back better”. The previous administration had a motto of “make america great again”.  Both of these are ludicrous. Both imply that there is something not quite right with now.  That is absurd. Nothing is wrong with now.  We are not heating with coal or huddling under buffalo skins. Slowly, ever so slowly we are converting to electric powered transportation.

Now is not perfect, of course, but it is greatly better than what was. We often think what was is better that what is. Still searching for it, clues, that is. Try to enjoy and be in the moment.

It’s a new year and thank God for that.

Resolutions? Yep. Do better at living now not ago. Try to not get fat living now.

Carpe Diem.