Ten meter walk – How fast does it take to go 10 meters? (36 sec) The metric system is everywhere except in American society.
This U-Step is a great walker. Why don’t you use it inside? It is a great question from the physical therapist. When I first brought it into the condo it merely sat next to the dining room table until we went somewhere but in Cheryl’s defense there are a lot of close by things, chairs, tables, half walls, door handles and grab bars that she ignores the walkers during the day unless she is feeling very unsteady. We have had a standard looking walker for quite some time. She worries about bumping into things.
We do use it when we go anywhere away from home. The wheels track in what ever they got pushed through elsewhere. I do not care about that. It is old carpet on the floor. It cleans up good when the carpet cleaner folks show up. It is just another maintenance item for the budget. I can encourage her but usually it sits by the dining room table. – This goal is use the walker more for safety.
Sit to stand – scooch forward, lean forward… like a rocket ship… push up off the arms of the chair. Stand to sit – lean forward and reach back, hold the chair and sit. The PT person provided this as a recipe for standing up. I have helped her with this at home but when we start it from a sitting position I can she her become anxious about making a mistake and “getting up wrong.” I am unsure about how to help her past this feeling.
Balance 7/56 — I took this note but I am unsure of its meaning now. I think it is intended to mean that of several tests for balance (56) Cheryl has a poopy score for balance. She has to think about balance. In most of us it is an autonomous function.
Difficulties with balance and walking are linked to the brain changes that take place with PD. For people who don’t have PD, balance is automatic, a reflex. But Parkinson’s affects the basal ganglia (a part of the brain essential to balance). To compensate, the brain assigns another brain area — an area used for thinking — to take over. The thinking part of the brain, mainly the frontal cortex, can’t control balance automatically. The result: for many people with PD, balance becomes less automatic.
In my never ending battle to keep us safe and healthy and because Cheryl kept pressing me to do it, I scheduled us for a second booster shoot for the covid virus yesterday.
I got some chicken out of the freezer for dinner and helped her get moving in the morning. The morning was busy for me because it was my last care partner class. From that I have a mountain of valuable information about various service providers for the future. We are not there yet but in a few years we will be.
Linda appeared a little early and we chatted for a bit and then I was off to class. When I returned Cheryl had gotten cleaned up and dressed herself. I think the big new bed is giving us better rest overnight.
Our appointments at Walgreens were scheduled for 4 PM and 4:10 PM. We got to the store with plenty of time to fill out forms and prove who we are. Except for me. I had forgotten my wallet and ID. (Alas and drat!) As Cheryl came down the aisle pushing her U-Step walker I explained that I had forgotten my wallet. I asked her to sit down near the pharmacy desk and I would return in a few minutes. This Walgreens is about 5 minutes from our house. I zipped home and back to the store. When I returned she was sitting in the chair filling out a form on the clip board that the pharmacy assistant had given to her. Ordinarily this small task would have been confusing and incomprehensible to her. She had even found her ID and previous covid info in the purse of many pockets. I am beginning to understand that much of her confusion and mental fog of late may merely be poor sleeping patterns.
It is hard to overemphasize how important good sleep and rest is. The big new bed seems to help. One less Carbdopa/Levadopa CR seems to be beneficial also. She seems brighter during the day and not so inclined to pund around in her office at night. She is sitting in her recliner with me to watch a show or read a magazine article more during the past couple weeks.
She had plenty to eat at dinner. She even complained that I had not made gravy to go with the chicken. It was a normal (mostly) conversation during dinner between two people who had been married for 53 years. (Smiley face here) Later in the evening she felt a little chilled. I went to recover her sweater from the backseat of the car where it had been warming in the 90 degree heat for several days. We sat for a bit longer and then she got ready for bed. She returned and we watched the PBS show NOVA for an hour and we went to bed at 11 PM.
We were up again at 1 AM until about 3 AM. I am going to blame the booster shot. I was having difficulty also.
Today we slept until after 9 am. She seems rested. I know I am. It is off to the doctor today for our semi-annual wellness check. I feel well. She seems well.
The need to do something, anything even if it is a mindless thing is referred to as punding. Parkinson seems to generate this need in many of its participants. It is generally harmless until it gets in the way of other things. Here is more from the Davis Phinney Foundation website.
Cheryl does this at different times. It used to drive me crazy and sometimes it still does if she starts up immediately before we are going somewhere. She often does it in the car with the purse of many pockets.
The big new bed was delivered yesterday. I thought that I had paid for the removal of the old mattress, box springs and the bed frame. Apparently there are tiny variations in the language of such agreements that I did not realize and was not privy to. When did furniture or any purchase like that become so complicated. Even though I asked the salesman – Can you guys remove the old bed? – what he checked off and I did not question was – “Removal mattress and box springs – $99.00.” I forgot to ask about something that I knew nothing about. I should have asked, “And the old bed frame, headboard and footboard too?” He would have responded with, “That’s an extra $50” to which I would have said okay. Once I am making the switch lets go for it. It served us well for fifty or so years. It is merely a bed. It has no particular sentimental value. I remember when we bought the whole bedroom set thinking to myself, that is a lot of money ($1600 in 1979). Beyond any of those thoughts it has served us well. It is time for it to go. It does not fit our Parkinson life.
The mattress and box springs left yesterday. The headboard, footboard and frame assembly went into the garage. There is a lot of useless crap in the garage, like, I suppose, everyone’s garage. On another day I will rid myself of useless crap so there is more space in the garage. I will probably not paint anything in the condo on my own so why am I keeping old paint brushes? I also have an electric hedge trimmer. We live in a condo complex that although it is small we pay to have mowed and landscaped and trimmed. Useless crap it is.
Alas, we were probably the last delivery of the day. The young men were on the way out when I asked lets see how you left it. I asked them to move the bed about a foot closer to the doorway of the bedroom so that it was basically in the same place as the old bed. they did as asked. The delivery included a sheet set and I had purchased a set of mattress covers from Amazon as well as a quilt and shame set and blanket. The install team left me with a queen size mattress protector which I was not expecting but again, had I realized it was coming, I could have checked that the correct thing was delivered. I did not check that fact. The queen size mattress protector still sets on the dining room table awaiting the delivery truck to bring to correct item (which is probably not on anyone’s delivery list for today.) I am waiting to see how this all works out.
I am not perfect either! I ordered the correct size blanket from Amazon but I incorrectly ordered a queen size quilt. Woe is me. Amazon now uses Wholefoods Market for returns. There is one about two miles from me. It was a painless activity. Perhaps I will return to shop there. It is an alternative to Kroger which was there when the building was first put up and then got mired in some developer default controversy about ten years ago. Kroger moved out. The building was eventually completed. I do not know if the crane operator was ever paid. The crane stood idle along the highway for about a year while everyone traded paper and shouted at each other in court. Now it is where I return my oopsios to Amazon and there is a store that sells stuff to store stuff in. America has a lot of stuff. (Sorry I digressed.)
The first night was wonderful. Cheryl did awaken me to help her in the middle of the night but that was after she had gotten up to go to the toilet. I did not feel her get up.
After I got her up at 7 am for her first meds, she fell asleep deeply until I awakened her at 8:45 am. Bliss.
It occurred to me this morning as I was reaching for the Cheerios that lots of tiny things have changed in our life together. Not all of them are Parkinson changes. All can seem associated with Parkinson. I will stop using the possessive and leave Parkinson by itself.
Starting with Cheerios, Cheryl rarely ate Cheerios until recently. The why of that thought is unknown. It may or may not be a parkinson. Before Cheerios she was a huge fan of Life cereal. So much so that I was buying Life cereal in the four box collection from Boxed Up online. For several months perhaps a year and a half it was Life cereal, some dried cherries on top and orange juice. Then it suddenly switched to Frosted Mini-Wheat cereal but only for a couple weeks. Sticking with the heart healthy ideas I bought some Cheerios for myself on day as I passed through IGA shopping for the other things on my list. They were quickly adopted by Cheryl as a breakfast option. Cheerios is the current choice virtually every morning now.
A Partial List of Changes:
dementia and support
Me and tea
showering and hygiene
keeping track of meds
Daily chore responsibility
handholds around the house
Emotional response to songs
Falling and fainting
and on and on…
As these changes occurred in our life together I did not take notice of them, I merely rolled with it at the time. I admit to being initially annoyed and sad to see something change away from what it was. Old people like to keep things as they are. The past tense is disappointing but the Beatles broke up in 1970. People move on.
Parkinson symptoms are treated with powerful mind altering chemicals. It is the doctor’s call as to what will help. It is the care partner’s call to observe and listen and respect and help with those drugs. The doctor is global and strategic. Day to day caring is tactical, down-to-earth and immediate.
Cheryl fell in the shower this morning. Slid down the wall is probably a better description. I heard no thumps. It is always our discussion – I’m going to take a shower. Okay, I will listen for thumps. Thanks. And then she goes to the big bathroom to get cleaned up. Today I thought I heard her futzing with her walker but she was occasionally bumping the shower door as she tried to reach the hold bars to pull herself back up.
I ordered a shower mat from Amazon. I told her from now on we put the bench in there with it. A few weeks ago I had the plumber put in the really fine hand held shower head in preparation for this day. Several times I have suggested that she use the bench. Resistance to infirmity is great. No bench she insisted up until now. I will insist but I want her to maintain as much independence as she is able.
The shower floor does not seem slippery to me but I could be wrong.
One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
Today sitting in Anna’s house chatting, Anna told her mom that today was June the fifth. Did Mom know whose birthday was today. I thought, shit, I forgot to write that detail on the white eraser page that I put on the kitchen table in the morning. And I had lost that fact also. I have been so focused on Cheryl and getting some activity for her each day I lost track of my own son’s birthday.
Cheryl always wants to make a list so she does not forget something. How does one even begin to write a list of things or events not to be forgotten when one cannot remember what is to be on the list?
That is a tricky question. It is hard to remember what you have forgotten or maybe did not know at all.
Another subject for a list is the places and people we need to visit . Maybe we have not seen them in person for awhile. there are many people that we have not seen in person for at least two years. I did travel to see my sister about a year ago. We attended my nephew’s wedding in California. It was hot. It was fun. My brother-in-law, my nephew’s father, had brought along his fiance to the celebration and for some arbitrary reason she blew up and their wedding is not happening. Cheryl is working on a list for visiting folks. My nephew and his new wife are expecting a baby very soon.
Should she ever get her list together I will make every effort to figure it out. Planning trips is hard. Cheryl needs a lot of extra equipment these days. The new U-Step walker, although it folds, is better transported by a pick up truck. She is much more steady behind it.
Cheryl went to lunch again with a friend yesterday. Barb had arranged a luncheon with another member of the church decorating committee. (See my previous post)
They were gone for a long time about five hours. When Cheryl got home we talked for a bit and she went to lay down. I think she actually fell asleep for about thirty minutes. Or, at least, she was very still for a while when I went to check on her about an hour later.
In the evening she declared herself tired a about 10 PM and she went to bed. After a few preliminaries she was laying down at about 10:20. I remained up to read as I usually do before retiring. When I came to bed about thirty minutes later she was still when I laid down.
At 1:30 AM or so she was restless and awake. To the bathroom she went. I helped her a little with the toilet because she has confusion and balance issues in the middle of the night. She lamented that she really needed to sleep but she was fidgety and agitated. Nothing I could do seemed to help. I began to think that my presence was disturbing her. She couldn’t get comfortable.
She stayed in our bed. I got up and opened our sofa bed in the living area. I had never slept on it before. It was a new purchase we made with the mad money that we got from the federales during the height of the pandemonium. After a couple false starts and finding a blanket and my pillow from our bed. I fell asleep from 2:30 until about 5:32 AM when my bladder reported fullness to my brain. That is a much longer span than laying with Cheryl fidgeting her way back to sleep. The sofa sleeper itself while not perfect was quite comfortable to sleep on.
I will have to study the living room area floor plan and think about things some more. I had to rearrange furniture in the early morning hours to open the sofa sleeper. That was a little inconvenient in the dark.
Perhaps we are at the stage of her disease and our lives when we will need different sleeping arrangements.
Cheryl told me she is scared to be on her brother’s boat.
Recently Cheryl’s youngest brother invited her and the rest of her living clan and clan-in-laws for an evening ride on his pontoon boat that he moors in a small man made lake near his home in southern Indiana. I am always on the hunt for things to do with her that let her socialize a bit out of and away from our little condominium living situation.
Since Ken’s text message came to me on the family text chat, I told her what he proposed. Cheryl responded with, “I will think about it.” This is a phrase that she learned from her mother as a small child and she has used throughout our fifty years of marriage and many times during our child rearing years. Roughly translated it means “NO” or “no thank you.” But being the polite person that she is, she does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, she rarely says no directly. (She also learned this from her mom.)
Cheryl has a lot of her mother’s traits. She does not want to put anyone out. She does not want to offend anyone. She can be angry with me as could her mother when she thinks that is appropriate, as when I am being pushy. She does not want anyone to stifle their good time by worrying about her welfare. She is okay with isolating herself to (her perception) benefit others. She enjoys the presence of small children even if the small children are unsatisfied and complaining about it. She enjoys the presence of big children and wants to be a part of their life even if the big children are uninterested in letting her in. She likes big family gatherings.
Most recently she has a new special Parkinson’s patient walker to help her move around with steadiness. After her appointment with her MDS neurologist on her birthday several days ago, I ordered this for her. In the picture is her new U-Step. I should have gained my AHA here since I just ordered this over the phone three days ago. (I am buying her a stabilized walker and suggesting we go on a boat that will wobble every time someone moves.)
But, getting back on track, she said to me that she is scared to be on Ken’s boat. That is the first time she has ever expressed that to me.
AHA MOMENT – Occasionally these pop up and I cannot always understand her needs. Prescience is not a strong trait of mine. But imagine for a minute, here is a person with balance issues and I am promoting going on to a less stable surface than she is used to. She can lose her balance and fall backwards when changing positions in our living room. Our building is built on a slab. It is hard to get a more stable surface. AHA (you moron).
Ken caught on pretty quick and proposed dinner tonight on the deck at Willie’s restaurant next to the puddle (his term for the man made lake.) Tonight is anything goes pizza Tuesday. Willie’s fits into the anything goes part of pizza Tuesday.
We will go tonight and take the new walker for practice and hopefully greater stability.
She wants to do it herself. We had a tough for me conversation this morning about issues we trip over as travel the annoying twisty road of Parkinson. It started out as, you know I can still do stuff.
This was a response to me speculating about learning to make my own piecrust instead of buying a commercial piecrust. I will take the path of least resistance every time I can. There are enough things to staff, organize and worry about. If someone has already made the piecrust, I am good with that.
I buy salad in a bag too. Dump and go. Chop a tomato and it is salad. Dressing is in the fridge.
She remarked that she could make a pie and that she knew how to make piecrust. Naturally I forgot about what I have been attempting to practice on a daily basis. I started to enumerate the negatives. I caught myself before I got too far into the ditch along side this partially paved macadam thoroughfare.
It is Lenten season. Instead of chasing some carryout fish fry from our parish we had the makings of tuna casserole. An old time favorite from the Dinner for Two Cookbook by Betty Crocker (You can still find one if you poke around.) Remember Betty Crocker? She is my go to for a lot of things. That seemed like an easy thing and she likes it. I said why don’t you make the tuna casserole and we can have the leftover pie for dessert.
We attended a discussion in the afternoon about newer drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease and when they are used and how they worked. When we returned I attended to the laundry and then busied myself with work for my job at our local community college where I teach part time.
She announced she was going to start on the tuna casserole. It was three pm. I spent the next hour listening and worrying and occasionally sneaking a peek into the kitchen twenty feet away. After a few misfires on her part she got started with minor aid from me. She put all the ingredients into a Corning ware bowl and mixed it. She used to know how to start the oven but that knowledge and skill has been lost to Parkinson. I told her which buttons to push and it clicked on.
I went back to work on my project but gave it up for a bit when the oven played its happy tune to announce it was up to temperature and waiting. I went in for the oven placement of the casserole. She put it in but I worried while watching. (Maybe I am a worry wart.)
I suppose there is a good mechanical engineering reason for oven doors to open as they do. I have not seen one built so that door opens any other way but down. A standard range winds up with the door about a foot off the floor so that the person reaches down into the oven from three feet away. It looks to me like a disaster waiting to occur. I hovered nearby as she put the casserole into the oven and then put on oven mits to get something from the fridge.
We ate about an hour ahead of when we usually eat but time and calendar and sunrise and sunset seem to have less meaning for her. It is time for us to start eating dinner at four pm like the rest of the old folks.