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.

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.

Cheryl’s Cookies (Not the Commercial Venture)

Living with a parkie makes me alert to new information when it comes up. That being said I do not always recognize my new task. This is about becoming a master cookie maker on the fly.

Executive function

Dementia occurs in about 40% of Parkinson’s sufferers. Some behaviors are side effects of medications. Some come with build up of unpronounceable proteins in the brain. No matter the source, the behavior can be disheartening and annoying from a care partner perspective. Cheryl’s reaction often is anger to some perceived slight or merely, the question, why do it that way? (It is an engineer’s question.)

It starts with me. Words and question structure is important. Engineers always want to ask why something is done some way or simply is some way. Why often sounds like a challenge, even to other engineers, if it is not asked properly.

How to do

Our latest challenge to our marital bliss is Christmas cookies. Baking is a hobby and a passion. I like to think I have perfected my meager talent at making breads of various types and shapes. I am proud of that but lately I have pushing into cakes and pies. The pandemic pandemonium gets to us all in various ways.

My perception of making cookies is one of a trivial exercise in baking. That seems to be an incorrect perspective. Cheryl’s helping me. Two cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for a challenge to peaceful coexistence. Two bakers near an oven enables battle lines to be established and defended with vigor. Starting a question with why is akin to removing one’s glove and casting it upon the dueling ground. (smiley face)

Cheryl has made perhaps a giga-dozen (I just made up that word) of cookies. I have made none. What can I say to redeem myself? Engineers ask why a lot.

Where to start

To a skilled cookie baker the recipe is merely a guide, a refresher, a list that says these get lemon zest. Interestingly, that is much like how I view a new bread recipe. I am on familiar territory.

But not so fast apprentice! Nearby there is a master cookie baker. Do not question the master’s skill at her craft with disdainful utterances such as, why and how come? All will be revealed. But also keep an eye on the recipe and make suggestions such as, yes, we have put that in the mix. Shall I add the butter?

Sometimes with creeping dementia ingredients are forgotten. Sometimes without that factor ingredients are forgotten. Try to be kind and remember that no one got up in the morning thinking, how can I mess with his mind today? Most importantly, do not raise your voice two octaves, that is a dead giveaway to your ignorance.

How does one check for doneness? It is common sense! Look at them. (the “fool” is left unsaid.) They will look right. What is right? (and on and on and on…)

Cut out the Crap in the Conversation

To a person standing nearby this conversation can sound rude. It sounds like one person is giving another orders and it can be that way. If, however, it is done with kindness in the communicator’s heart and with understanding that a Parkinson’s patient also may be dealing with confusion issues, it is neither rude nor demeaning in any way. Often a person experiencing Parkinson’s cannot or does not get the implication or inference. Be clear. Have kindness in your voice when speaking.

The onus is on the care partner to be patient, kind and clear. Be aware, care partner, that this is hard to do because you remember how your partner/spouse/parent/friend was before. (Good natured teasing may be misinterpreted. Be certain that your partner is not confused.) You too can be unaware of how they are now. The Parkinson’s patient may become sad or angry. Be persistent if you as care partner are very concerned about safety. Add some love to the conversation if you think you are not getting through the confusion. Strive to not become frustrated and raise your voice (two octaves).


We did wind up with our first battle batch of cookies. Although they are a motley crew, they taste fine.

Carpe Diem.

Almost the last day of October

Last evening she asked me, are you staying here tonight? To which I responded yes, I live here. You live here? Yes…

We have these conversations occasionally.

I wish that we did not have them but we do. Every day is a new adventure. It is hard to keep that in mind. Last evening I was very hard for me to resist correcting her. She wanted to call her sister to find out who I was. I decided to let her do it. I am sure her sister was confused. I did not find that out until earlier when I sent a message to her sister explaining Cheryl’s confusion yesterday.

Carpe diem.

They are back tonight

The little people who used to visit are back. That is my own little joke. The little people never really left our home. I was merely ignoring Cheryl’s behavior.

They were back in a vivid sense to Cheryl. This chair arrangement is left over from their visit. She was showing them the pictures on the frame. She went into full on grandmother mode describing the picture to the kiddos.

I asked who was there and she replied Natalie and Max.

We left a little while later to got to our support group meeting. While there she asked if I had called home to make sure the kids were all right. Apparently they were more vivid than at other times in her head. When we returned home she looked for them.

We sat and watched Bob hearts Abishola which is her new favorite show. The kids seemed to be gone for now.

When I tell her that there is no one else here except us I feel as though I am standing in the back of a crowded room saying this to her.

Today, earlier, she asked me to rub her hair conditioner into her scalp. I do this once or twice a week when she asks. She referred to me as “Mom”. I had a little petulant moody reaction and said “I am not your mom.” She said, “No. You are my dad.” I replied that I was not her dad either, I was her husband. To which she said, “But you are the one I love.” (AHA! Edie) She merely could not pull the name and relationship out of her head.

It was another Aha-moment in our life together. It was a very important moment. All of my life as an engineer words have had a very specific meaning to me. Perhaps the words should not when understanding Cheryl’s needs.

Carpe diem — hunt for the special moments of insight and empathy. Those are special. If you miss them they may be gone forever.

Why is Slumber so Hard to Achieve?

The ageless question that I ask myself. Why does Parkinson not allow her to sleep and rest?

Tuesday – dinner with friends; A completely sleepless night afterward. Up, down, up, down. Eventually she slept for a couple hours.

Wednesday — nothing special about it, just Wednesday. A totally restful night. She didn’t move when I got up several times.

Thursday — Exercise class as normal. Overnight a couple odd things; teeth brushing at 2AM and Noxzema face cleaning ( I said not church today) she came back to bed. Leg pain — half in and out of bed at 5AM.

Friday was slow moving. Overnight she slept through although she was awake when I came to bed after reading (11:30PM). This morning for the first time she leaked. She was totally asleep when I got her pills at 7AM. She didn’t awaken for her bladder. She did not act upset about it as she has in the past when she occasionally had mistaken perspiration for a leaky situation.

Saturday overnight she slept peacefully. I awakened her at 3AM or so to use the toilet. She easily fell back asleep. She was sleeping deeply when I got her pills at 7AM. We went to church in the afternoon. She missed her 4PM meds in the confusion of preparing for church at 4:30PM. We had dinner with friends after church.

Sunday morning she was agitated and slept fitfully. She was fidgety in bed. In the morning she was worried about something. We went to my son’s house to celebrate a birthday of one of the kiddos.

Sunday night and early Monday morning she slept little. She was certain she had to prepare for the appointment with her neurologist at 3AM. We read the calendar. I showed her the annoying alarm clock that displayed MONDAY. She slept little if at all. I reminded her several times that her appointment is tomorrow TUESDAY. The information did not reassure her nor did it seem to stick with her even as she insisted she understood what I had told her.

Monday (today) she is still convinced she has a doctor appointment.

Carpe Diem…

Sunday used to be Different

This story is about nostalgia and remembrances of past years. We used to go to 9AM mass. When the kids were small it was 10:30AM mass. Over the years as the priestly population dissipated and became smaller the parish we belong to reduced the number of masses from five to three to two to sharing a priest with another parish. Word is that is to change again here shortly as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati tries to find a solution to the priest shortage. The Roman Catholic church’s own rules keep it from fixing its own dilemma.

A few years ago we switched to attending 4:30PM mass on Saturday. Cheryl’s medication, sleep and “feeling good” circumstances changed when she could tolerate being in church.

Covid-19 changed it again. We stopped attending for a while. The archbishop said it was okay to not go to church on Sunday. People in secular society argued about wearing masks inside. The pandemic eased a little. Health officials said vaccines are coming but wear a mask for now. People argued about other folks telling them what to do or not to do. No one argued about the archbishop saying no one need attend mass. Attendance in person was no longer obligatory. (Is the archbishop telling us what to do?)

The church scrambled to put the mass online as a streaming service. Cable TV still provides a local service channel with an incredible amount of boring but sometimes interesting stuff. A live streamed mass with no videographer or camera operator can easily out do the cable public channel for uninteresting content. There are many boring live streams now. Many live on with YouTube. Seems like every parish has its own live stream. Public health and government officialdom said it was okay to go to church again but wear a mask.

And then little blue ribbons appeared to separate folks from sitting to close together in the pews. Hand sanitizer appeared in the back of church with little baskets of disposable masks. Everyone wore a mask to keep from inoculating others with our asymptomatic illness for many weeks. The ranks at mass were very thin especially the old people’s 4:30PM mass. An entire year went by in this fashion.

Random arguments started about vaccines and how they were made. Experts who knew little about the process spoke anyway spreading the gospel according to Dimwit. The church got on the side of social empathy and “get any vaccine you could.”

Are we riding the horse into the dirt? Many years ago I worked for a large company that kept shrinking and shrinking until it no longer existed. Remnants of it are still around but it no longer exists as a whole. I met one of the former management folks later in a different company around town. The conversation often drifted into what happened? The perceived fault always lay with others or some insurmountable object, however artificial that may be.

Is that happening to the Catholic Church? It seems that many stalwart parishioners spent a great deal of time analyzing what church meant to them. I know I did. The church is changing. I am changing. For me the church and parish is a spiritual socialization. And I like the stories in the bible, many of which I have a different take on then the priest might have in his lecture after the readings.

I started down this thought about Sunday not thinking about church in particular. We used to get some donuts on the way home from church and sat and ate them with coffee for me and tea for her and watched the prerecorded CBS Sunday Morning news magazine show. We did this for many years. I miss it. Cheryl no longer sits for any length of time longer that fifteen minutes to watch anything on TV. We would sit quietly and watch with only occasional comments from either of us. Later in the afternoon we would prepare a meal for her mother and my parents that evening. Sundays are different now. Some of that is age and some of that is the disease of Parkinson. Sundays are just different.

Carpe Diem! Even when the days are short and numbered, remember that we are all flawed humans but if we pool our talents the flaws are out numbered.

An Odd Conversation

It is an odd conversation for two people who have spent the greater portion of their lives together but these days it is less so. Last evening Cheryl was lucid in her confusion. She was unsure of where she was and she was unsure of who I am. We calmly discussed those things. She seemed to know that I am Paul and that her husband is Paul but was unable to associate the two concepts in her mind. We talked around those concepts for some time. She expressed the fact that it was sometimes a little worrisome that we were staying here for long periods of time.

The conversation changed to; if you could take me home then I could get some rest. I think I am very tired. A friend and work colleague had told me a story recently about a similar experience with his mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. He got her to put on her coat and rolled her around in her wheelchair and announced, “We’re home!” I tried a similar tactic.

I got her to bring whatever she needed with her and we got in the car and drove around about a four mile long rectangle. On the last leg we turned right onto our street in the same way we might have come from other short trips to take a walk or visit the kids, she said when we get home to the condo, I am going to get ready for bed. She had recognized the approach to our home from the west. Her mind said to her – we are home – I guess. She was okay when we walked in the door.

As I went back out to the garage to turn off the lights and lock up she said to me,”You’ll call me when you get back home?” This is something her mother always wanted the kids to do. Cheryl always called her mom when we arrived home after we left her house to say we arrived safely. I do not know if the other kids did this or not.

I told here that I would stay with her until she was settled in. I did not ask her – who am I? I have done this in the past and although it sometimes bumps her into current reality it was not working tonight.

Earlier she had told me; you are Paul but a different Paul. It seemed as though she was offering an answer that she thought I wanted to hear much like a child trying to please a parent would do. After “taking her home” I did not want to disturb that. I told her again that I would stay with her that night and she seemed satisfied with that.

Sometime you have to drive around the block to get to the start and when you care deeply about a person you love you can easily go the extra four miles.

Carpe Diem.

This Morning a small Success

I got up at about half after eight. We had been up at 7AM for meds and she went back to bed. I knew she had not slept well overnight. As I got up and she headed toward the bathroom, I talked about what the days events would bring. We have nothing on the calendar except for the exercise class, I told her. There is no church today. Today is Thursday. Yes, she replied.

I went to the kitchen to make coffee. As the beans were grinding I went out to fetch the newspapers. When I returned I set the coffee maker to making coffee and turned on the CBS This Morning show while waiting impatiently for the coffee maker to complete its task. Finally after an arduous four or five minutes where the succulent aroma wafted through our small living area the coffee genie made its happy gurgle and later a tiny beep. I poured a cup. Heaven is fresh bread straight from the oven and fresh coffee made from beans ground only moments before.

I carried my mug to my chair purchased during the waning days of the Trump administration with stimulus funds. I restarted the DVR recording so that I would not miss any of the covid, border, weather or political disasters. I nestled in for the first sip and looked at the WSJ front page. I few minutes later I checked and she was getting ready for church. I was in time to head that off with a minimum of anger from her that “no one tells me what’s going on”.

As I headed that off I reiterated that she did have exercise class today and she should dress for that.

After enjoying much more of my mug of joe I returned to check on her. She reported numb fingers and she was angry about it because it was causing her to drop things – her watch – and making it hard for her to put in her earrings. She thought she had broken her watch so she selected a different one.

The watch she was trying to put on was one which she rarely wore. It has a clasp that is hard to visualize even with the new reading glasses I got recently.

Cereal for breakfast this morning and a new thing – checking blood pressure – because of the numb fingers were at the top of her list once she came out of the bedroom dressed and ready for exercise. We left for PCF right on time. And then as we approached the parking area, zip, unzip, zip again, unzip again, different zip, the same zip as previous over again — I asked what are you missing? My little pill bottle. I want to find a Hall’s she told me. I helped her search to no avail.

Damn! We are out of Hall’s.  It is the only,  absolutely the only thing,  that can relieve a Cheryl scratchy throat.  (I am whining a bit. I have tried to push other solutions.  All have been rejected, alas.)  The fact that we are out was interpreted by me over time after a discussion about the Hall’s being kept in the upstairs bathroom cabinet so that the hallucinatory kids would not find them. (Smiley face) But we are out. I did not register the out part.

Later at PCF we searched the purple multiple zippered perfect purse but, alas again, no Hall’s in the little pill bottle. It fact there was no pill bottle. Where is that? It is not in the many zippered bag.

I left Cheryl to start her exercises and I went to Walgreens down the street to stand in line behind three people grocery shopping at Walgreens while I hold a bag of Hall’s that eventually cost me thirty-nine cents. I should not be a curmudgeon about it. I own Walgreens-Boots stock.

Carpe Diem

Purses, Zippers, Pockets

Cheryl really did not use a purse much. She had one she used when the children were small but with small children there is a lot of extra baggage and equipment so overtime she consolidated everything. So it is my recollection that she did not carry a purse but I am thinking that is probably incorrect.

As her neurological condition degenerated I encouraged her to carry a purse. I helped her find a purse that had a long strap that she could drape over her shoulder and would not require her to keep a hold of it with one hand. She needed more and more to have hands free to keep her balance and grab me or the door frame or the car or the back of a chair or the back of a bench or a stair rail or something.

The first bag I helped her find was a smallish brown leather purse that was perhaps 10 inches by 8 inches and a depth of 4 inches. She carried little with her. In my maleness it seemed adequately sized for the couple of things that had to go along. Glasses case, small wallet, keys, a pen or two, a small package of tissues, this purse had room aplenty for all of these. We left Target with our prize one evening after eating in Frisch’s restaurant across the road from Target.

Two things happened over a period of weeks. The strap, although it seemed adequate at the time became inadequate. The capacity mysteriously reduced in much the same fashion as a cotton T-shirt that had resided too often in a hot water bath to be cleansed.

Back at our favorite Target store we found a somewhat larger green cloth purse with a different style of strap which I thought could be made much longer. Alas I was foiled by the fact that the straps did not get longer as it first appeared. The straps converted the purse to a mini back pack. Unsure of what to do about that situation or whether it might prove useful for Cheryl, we gave it to one of our granddaughters who happened to be visiting a few days later.

The selection at Target seemed to be shrinking. I started to search Amazon for a suitable new carryall to replace the rapidly shrinking brown artificial leather messenger bag. One night the pinkish purple purse appeared in my Amazon search window. It is available in other colors and made of a canvas material. Most importantly Cheryl likes it.

It has other features that are not readily apparent. It has a total of five zippered compartments. These provide the entertaining feature of hiding most anything that Cheryl puts in there. Additionally there are several internal zippers that provide further confusion for any parkie. It is, even without these extra attractive accouterments, a fine messenger bag with plenty compartments to organize one’s stuff whatever that stuff may be.

This purse can be a distraction and an entertainment. Cheryl often zips and unzips one or two or three zippers as soon as she spies this purse benignly resting on the edge of the table as it is shown above. It is a delicate dance between her and the bag. Men cannot understand the attraction to the zippered compartments.

Parkinsonism must provide a bit of obsessive-compulsive attraction to the zip itself. Much like a fidget spinner the zipping happens but somewhere in her thought process she puts stuff in, maybe takes it out, maybe not, maybe moves it so that it is in a better situation.

She seems in no hurry to disparage this bag and it features. Sometime she will complain that it has too much in it. That is good information.

I try to unobtrusively observe where she has placed objects in the purse. I often place her medications in her purse before we go somewhere if we might not return before the next dose. Have you ever watched the guy with three cups upside down a pea or a pebble underneath one of them. Same thing with the zippers if close attention is not paid.

Carpe Diem and happy shopping.