Cheryl really enjoys these classes when I can get her moving quickly enough to get there. Joelle leads a cardio (seated) that involves a lot of dance moves (shoop, shoop) and alternately boxing moves in time to the music.
Unfortunately I had the sound off when I made this video the other day. The rest of the staff joined in as background dancers.
One of our regular social gatherings is Pizza Tuesday. (Yes, I know it is supposed to be taco Tuesday.) Most times it is just a few of us, maybe 3 or 4. Occasionally Cheryl’s brothers and sister show up. Last evening in a moment of serendipity her cousin and many of his family showed up to celebrate their father’s birthday. Cheryl got a hug from her cousin that she really has not talked to for years.
Bob’s second wife died about a year ago and I took her to the funeral mass. We did not stay for the gathering after because Cheryl was not doing well that day.
Cheryl did not talk much to Bob. For one thing he was there to celebrate with his family in the big front room. For another although he may know of Cheryl’s on going battle with parkinson and dementia, he may not know how long it takes for her to get a thought out. Sometimes her thought is gone before she can vocalize it. I have been watching this for years. At home I merely wait.
Others have a hard time waiting so they want to guess what she is trying to say. Forming thoughts and then assembling complete sentences, keeping track of any names that need insertion is a hard task for Cheryl these days. I only help when I am very sure of who or what she is talking about and even then I can be wrong. Parkies can change topics in a heartbeat.
Last evening, however, was special and when we got home she wanted to do two things. Get Bob’s telephone number so she could call him and talk. And sit outside for awhile and watch the clouds go by to expose the moon and the planets. Venus is very bright and the moon is several days past its crescent phase. Watching the night sky lately seems peaceful for her.
I asked her siblings for Bob’s phone number. She now has his phone number for when she wants to call him.
As we left the restaurant her brother, as he often does, said to me thank you for taking care of my sister. My inner thought to him is I love her dearly and we made a vow to each other fifty years ago. What I say to him is “you’re welcome” and that bothers me sometimes. Some day I will pour my heart out to him. He is a good and kind man.
Carpe pizza Tuesday Diem
Cheryl only likes pepperoni on her pizza but last night was a bruschetta night.
Cheryl delights in getting phone calls from people. It is a simple way for people to talk to each other on a direct basis. It is not a public conversation like so many on Facebook. Cheryl does not understand Facebook. You say to yourself- what is there to understand. Exactly. Now you know where her mind is.
About a year ago I wrote a long letter to her brothers and sisters in the hope of one or several of them would occasionally call Cheryl on the phone. Perhaps it was too subtle of me to suggest that they could do that in amongst a long list of other things that could and would help her to stay connected. They are not as communicative as I had hoped.
Cheryl, however, is always hopeful. When we return from anywhere – literally anywhere – she always wants to check for messages. She does this even though she is unable to remember how to do that. We still have a “landline” although it is no longer connected to the land. I keep it to give the robocallers something to do. Sometime this nice man in India (or Pakistan) who claims to be Mike with Medicare calls. He rarely leaves a message but once in awhile a real person does like my brother-in-law in Florida or a friend of Cheryl’s who does not understand her plight and still calls on the sort of landline. I can check for messages on my computer by logging into my Spectrum account. I suppose that is too much technology but I like it.
I think I miss the days when the phone was a phone. I think I miss phone books too. It was easier to track down folks that you had not talked to for some time. A method to reconnect was in the phone book. People who did not need connection had their phones unlisted. The roboes did not call as much then.
We used to have dumb phones. Now the phones that everyone carries around are small hand held computers that people rarely talk on. Many seem afraid that we will miss something. My sister-in-law walks around with a single inexpensive earbud in her ear that looks like a cicada in case someone calls. Maybe she is a secret telemarketer like Mike from Medicare.
When I was still working as an engineer, if I was talking to someone in my office, I did not answer the phone on my desk. Once one of the technicians and I were discussing a problem we were having with a machine and the phone rang – with an actual bell. I ignored it and he said – aren’t you going to answer that? My response was – not right now. You and I are working. If it is important they will leave a message or call back. He seemed bemused that I did not answer it right away. Others I knew would and if I needed to talk I called them on the phone even if they were in the next cubicle.
Many broadcast messages on Facebook and twitter and tiktok etc. I think that is like trying to find information in a noisy pub. It takes time to narrow down the source and then details may not be initially forthcoming. You might have to shout your question in a pub – you might have to ask your question in public on social media. It is possible to get an answer from a totally disinterested party. Who needs that?
Call Cheryl on the phone. She really enjoys conversing even though she is not good at it anymore. Be patient. She may really have a hard time finding words. Keeping connected with others is important to parkies and care partners. It gets lonely sometimes on the road. Conversation is crucial to good mental health.
Sparingly. Although it does amuse me. Mostly. My immediate life is not driven by my need to read social media posts. I am old I guess. It is much more fun to sit with friends and family, have a beer or soft drink and chat. Face to face. Mano a mano. In close proximity. Body language is part of communication. Social media has managed to strip away everything other than the words.
Many years ago I had the privilege of working with my father at a company that manufactured machine tools. Dad and I worked very little together but on one project we found ourselves in many design meetings essentially working for a guy Dad did not particularly like. I could tell that by how my father held himself occasionally while in the meeting this gentleman was talking about various ideas. When I asked my father about it he said that you always have to listen to the other guy even if you think he is a jerk because it is possible that he might have a good idea.
That thought has helped me through many uncomfortable conversations where I might have rejected the other’s opinion or thought simply out of hand because he rubbed me the wrong way.
I could have rejected my Dad’s lesson but I decided to keep it for my own.
On the third Monday evening of each month we gather at the Parkinson Community Fitness facility for our support group meeting. Support groups are not for everyone. I would probably not go if it was left up to me. (I am smiling.) As this disease has taken over I realize that sometimes I just want to listen to other people’s stories. I want to hear what they are interested in. I want to let them tell me what their concerns are. I have to resist telling them how to fix it long enough to discover how they solved that problem or overcame that obstacle. It is part of my personality to jump in with a solution. If I resist the temptation long enough, I learn things. Dad said to me a long time ago that you need to listen to the other guy even if you think he is a jerk because he might have a good idea. I took that to heart and remember it. It was during my early working career. Do not let personalities get in the way of good ideas.
Do not let personalities get in the way of conversation. Little snippets of intimate knowledge and deep personal beliefs and fears emerge in between comments. Listen carefully. Many people are not very guarded in their speech. Many will become comfortable and reveal small but important details that might not be spoken out loud in another venue.
Our group always starts with a list conversation starters. We are not that good. There are plenty of support group resource materials. We always select too many and often use few or none. For our Monday meeting we used these seven.
A UC Health article shows in a new trial, led by Dr. Espay, says that drugs delivered continuously through a pump was more effective at controlling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease without causing dyskinesia. Also, over a three month trial period, patients receiving ND0612 had 1.73 more hours of daily “On Time”. Does anyone have additional information about this?
What are some fun activities for Parkinson’s Patients?
What are some positive coping mechanisms for managing Parkinson’s Disease?
What are some important goals for caregivers to have in caring for a Parkinson’s Patient?
Can you name any other ways to improve the quality of life of a Parkinson’s Patient?
How can a person with Parkinson’s Disease cope with depression and/or anxiety?
Have you, as a Parkinson’s disease patient, made any adaptations to your diet that have helped you in any way physically and/or mentally?
Our group is a joint group. Some have Parkinson. Some are care partners. Last evening one of the group members needed to talk about her recent experience as caregiver to her husband of many years. They recently changed doctors. (It is important to find a doctor that you trust in.) During the doctor’s initial evaluation, the great ones do not accept what is written in previous records from others, which was supposed to last for two hours, her husband experienced some odd symptoms which extended the visit by several hours. Tests were done. After a team evaluation it was determined that his meds and dosage were incorrect. These were changed and in her words, he is like the man I married again. In a support group environment let the members speak about their concerns at the present regardless of the list of conversation starters that was sent prior to the meeting.
The second topic – fun ideas – produced a long list of activities. We can save the rest for later. Sometimes it is necessary to simply talk to a group that empathizes with your situation in life.
As we progress down the sad road of Parkinson and intermingled dementia I am always looking for ways to help Cheryl or get help for her and me. This web blog by Cheryl Hughes is and has been a source and an inspiration to me.
For the past few days as Cheryl has struggled through various mental clouds I have begun to ask about and look for trusted home health services. She is coming off of a UTI which I am getting pretty good at recognizing just by behavior. Some sort of mild sleep disturbing cough (thankfully not Covid related) has messed with sleep cycles for her and me. All of that is easing as the antibiotics have been used up. We are slowly drifting into our weekly sameness.
The past week of April has been beautiful in Ohio. On Tuesday I road my Rad City bike out of our drive onto the public roads. This is something that I have spent the winter gathering the courage to do. I rode around late morning to early afternoon on residential streets near me so that I did not have to deal with rush hour frantic antics. I greatly enjoyed my ride and although it was not long I realized that I was relaxed when I returned. My cousin-in-law was sitting in the kitchen with Cheryl having lunch and I was pleasantly fatigued.
It is time for me to get some consistent considerate help. It will cost money but there is that story about camels and needles that reminds me of my real responsibilities. Financially rich is not a good description of us but I am acutely aware that Cheryl’s care will cost more as time goes on. I may be too concerned about that but it is something I think about often.
Cheryl Hughes has pointed me to DailyCaring.com which is now sending me email newsletters. This website may prove invaluable as I try to learn more about helping Cheryl. Other friends have pointed me to a home care group that I will contact in the coming week to get established.
Yesterday (a few days ago actually) was Easter Sunday. Like many families we gathered to celebrate it and simply be together.
Grandpa made a ham and all the kids showed up with food and drinks to provide sustenance.
All of the grandchildren, save one, are teenagers or older anxious to get onto their lives. As I looked around the room and watched Cheryl light up and become mom for awhile I wondered who they would all turn out to be.
The oldest soon to be graduated from the university will remain in the same city. After having accepted a position with a business consulting firm there, apartment hunting is the main concern. Frugality seems the overriding criteria although location is also important. There is a gap between starting the new job and commencement at the university so there is time for vacation with family and trips with friends before starting the new career. This time of life is exciting. It was for me. I can understand a little about how this grandchild is feeling. She was such a cute little one growing up. We have many great memories of her. I pray she will do well in life.
Her younger brother is in his first year of university. It is the transition year. He is looking for himself. He is attending classes at the same school that I was graduated from 50 years ago. The fact that he is attending my old school probably influences how I think about him. He will do fine in life if he becomes aware of other’s needs. He is attentive to his grandmother. I remind him when I get the chance to take classes in topics that he may be interested in. He is actually a pretty good family storyteller. He found some old videos from his family’s younger years and strung them together in a competent narrative. I suggested journalism might help with his nascent storytelling talent.
Behind him in age is a younger sister who after becoming an early reader and chocoholic like me, flashed by him in high school math classes. She ran through the math available at her high school and takes college level classes. She has learned to fly and is interested in attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Her mother wants her to have a backup plan if she does not get into the academy but I think her heart is set on Colorado. She is so young. Her entire life stretching before her. She is a wonderful dancer and a part of her high school’s competition dance team. She will accomplish her goals.
The baby sister in that same family is clever and crafty. She is a child that has been and is always interested in many things both arts and crafts. She has her own workroom in the basement of their house were she can pursue her interests without disturbance. She plays in her high school band and seems to love it. Just a few months from driving age and the freedom that driving yourself to activities and friend’s houses, she too has limitless horizons in front of her.
Her cousin is an avid swimmer and swims with his high school swim team. He is ahead of his younger sibling by eleven years in life. Their relationship is special. At grandma’s house he often sits quietly somewhere with his earbuds in, futzing with some game on his phone. Like many kids his age (and his Dad) he is an avid gamer. He does not isolate himself though, if you address him directly he responds. He has a couple more years until he needs to think about university or other. I hope he gets his driving license soon. I could hire him to take me places. He is a good student and will do well.
His tiny brother is eleven solar circuits behind him. His happy face lights up the room and makes my heart smile. Grandma got down on the floor to help with the marble track. Oh, to be young again.
Another grandson and the oldest of his family group is still searching for himself. He has come to the conclusion that driving pizzas for a living, although okay for now, is not a career goal. He is a wonderful photographer with a high skill for composition that I think he should pursue. But I am grandpa. I am not a counselor. He is still searching for his dream.
The only one of the grandchildren missing is his sister. She graduates from high school next month and has her sights set on a university in southern Ohio. She is president of her high school class, an avid volleyball player and has her sights set on bigger things. She will do well in life.
It was a wonderful visit and I hope a good time was had by all.
There is a sameness to our daily life with this disappointing disease of Sam Parkinson. On many of these days I am saddened by the fact that he described it but was unable to say, “Aha! Here is a cure.” Early on few have been able to describe all of the other features of the disease. From my perspective, preparation is a big part of success in future endeavors. All of these kids I have described know this. Some learned it early, some learned it later but all of them recognize preparation is important. I want to be prepared for what the future brings Cheryl and me. So many aspects of Parkinson disease are unknown. Every day is new. Every day is the same. Easter, however, was special. Most were here.