Walks on the Beach and other Memories

Our selfie

When the children were small we began a tradition of making a trip to Myrtle Beach about once each year. The company that I worked for at the time used a pair of common vacation weeks which always landed at the end of July and the first week of August.

The company paid us salaried folks every four weeks called a period. The vacation weeks were the middle two weeks of the eighth period of the year. There were thirteen periods in a year and every few years a week was added to the thirteenth period to correct alignment with a normal calendar year. The Roman’s and later on the Pope would have been proud of Cincinnati Milacron.

Every year for 15 years or so our family went on vacation in the hottest part of the Ohio summer. Since my father worked for Milacron the memories of this vacation time goes back to childhood.

Cheryl liked to hike and walk. Not being an especially athletic person she substituted hiking and walking for any other athletic endeavor. At Myrtle Beach we would get up early hike the empty beach. It is where I first saw the green flash that occurs when the sun comes up over the ocean.

On other vacations over the years hiking was a big motivator. In every state park or national park or area that we stopped in walking and hiking was a major part of the experience. Maps were collected upon arrival and put to good use during the stay. In one Kentucky park our hike was about ten miles. It is without a doubt the thing I miss most with the onslaught of Parkinson. Her struggle to walk freely and move easily is disheartening. It was in many ways our main entertainment.

Conversation, discussion, debate, points won, points lost were all accompanied by a satisfyingly long walk. I think I miss those more than I can easily express.

Today my daughter and her husband took a long walk down the beach together. I was envious.

The hat

This time at the beach I am pushing her here and there. There are special wheelchairs for the beach and they are free. There is good ice cream across the road. I pushed her there too.

Carpe Diem.

Tan Shoes with Pink Shoelaces

Cheryl was moving slowly this morning but she said yes when I asked if she wanted to go to exercise class. I asked her if she wanted her blue shoes. She said, no, I want the pink shoes.

An old do-wop song jumped into my head.

It is amazing the crap flying around in your brain. I wonder how that works.

In Cheryl’s case it does not work as well as it once did. Her memories are jumbled up. She remembers that our granddaughter Laurencia is about to be graduated from The Ohio State University but mixes that memory with her mother’s teaching career. I used to correct the story but I no longer do.

Our granddaughter Regan is finishing high school and will move on to attend Ohio University at the end of this month. That idea is jumbled up with our grandson Max who graduated last year and is going to Miami University. When Cheryl tells the story we have three graduates. One of whom has been teaching for a couple years.

She wore her pink shoes with gray shoelaces, a flowered shirt and man oh man…

Carpe Diem

Seated Cardio Classes

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.

Parkinson Community Fitness – check it out if you are in Cincinnati, Ohio.

It was My Own Fault

It was my fault. I thought it would be a good thing to take her shopping. The target was J C Penney. The goal was towels. In retrospect I could have selected a different path through the store. The Men’s clothing aisle also leads to the home part of the store. (An AHA moment.)

She found a purse and looked at wallets but none were satisfactory. Or maybe I was an ache in the posterior. She told me she never gets to go shopping very much anymore. She is right. I probably also help guide her maybe more than I should.

From a male perspective this was worse than looking at a menu in an unfamiliar restaurant. It was overwhelming choices of color and style.

We did find towels and a bathmat. In the home area she told me that she likes bold colors. She selected a sort of hunter green, harvest gold and creamy white. She ignored the fuscia, orange, purple and tomato red. Our bathrooms are light green.

Carpe Diem.

More Things Learned

In my little book – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Parkinson – I have a section where I note things that I have learned along the way as Cheryl and travel this road of Sam Parkinson.

Today it occurs to me that although I want Cheryl to get up and get going to exercise class because it appears to me that she actually likes this exercise class and although she got up late she still has time, suggestion is the only tool I have to motivate her. Any comments beyond – if you still want to go to exercise class you still have time – reminds her that it was her idea and answers her unspoken question of, is there still time? – are useless comments and could make her feel that I am being pushy.

If she senses that I am being pushy she will resist it every time.

Another technique that I use but often forget about is what I call bump and run. I can use the fact of her really poor short term memory to plant an idea.

This morning it occurred to me in addition to using suggestion as a way to get her thinking about getting up, if she did not I should just let go and not worry about it. I understand why it is good for parkies to exercise but she is not always interested. If she perceives it as her idea, she is in, if not, forget about it.

We made it

I realized that I can switch from encouragement to nag-o-ment if I do not pay attention.

Carpe science Diem.

It’s Just Laundry

It used to bug me a little bit if Cheryl leaked out over night. But one day I said to myself what is the big deal. It’s just laundry.

It is now another mantra for me. Much like Carpe Diem (seize the day or seize the moment) after repeatedly saying mottoes like this out loud or not, it changes your mind about whatever is bugging you. Out loud is better.

Psychiatrists and psychologists call this cognitive talk therapy. It works for many situations. The important part is to keep doing it even if you do not think it is working for you. Eventually you will convince yourself.

After I wrote the initial thoughts I had on this topic of changing your attitude to be positive, I tripped over this article by Rachel Feintzeig in the Monday Jan 23 edition of the WSJ. It intrigued me. Naturally there is an app for that. I used to think that it was better to be a pessimist and be surprised by events than to be an optimist and be disappointed by events. This is summed up by the dismissive and sometimes arrogant, we’ll see comment that is spoken by pessimistic personalities.

An added bonus to reading Ms. Feintzeig’s article is that I learned a new albeit made up word: pronoid. A friend of her’s made it up and explained it to be the opposite of paranoid. He believed the world to be conspiring in his favor.

Pronoid – a situation where your surrounding friends and environment join forces to make your existence better than at first perceived. (I like it.)

Overnight urinary incontinence can be really inconsistent and inconvenient but in the end a load of laundry solves it. Cheryl lately is losing interest in her exercise classes that she used to like, I try to bump her into some other physical activity. Take a walk, go shopping which is also a walk, or something. Outside is best but sometimes the weather does not cooperate. Carpe the moment. I try to read her mood and find something that is not in our condo.

It does not always work but activity is best. Sedentary is less than best.

And Carpe the laundry diem.

Physical and Mental

These two aspects of the Parkinson Dilemma are frustrating from a care partner viewpoint. They are the source of laments and weariness. The grind can be debilitating in many subtle and unsubtle ways.

Physical disability is only recognized by Cheryl when she is so physically tired that she cannot stand up. And even then she fights the thought that she physically cannot do something. That something might be as little as getting up out of the chair that I put her in because I was worried about her falling. There must be a balance somewhere. So I help anyway without trying to be a helicopter helper and hovering about her space.

Her mental ignorance of her ability to do something – rare is the occasion that she will ask for help – is simultaneously frustrating and heartwarming. She wants to do it. If she starts it and I complete it she feels like she did it. (Ugh!) Her memory does not allow her to remember that I completed whatever it was. So I help anyway without trying to be a helicopter helper and hovering about her space secure in the fact that she will not remember and assured that it is unimportant for me to correct her when she tells someone – see what I did. (except when she tells the doctor.) Tee Hee!

Seize the day and make something new if things are not going your way. Parkinson is a progressive dilemma and in Cheryl’s case there is an element of creeping apathy. The meah factor appears as she loses interest in doing things – exercise, writing birthday cards, visits with friends, laundry, making cookies, taking down the Christmas tree and decorations and other things. A little push every now and then never hurts. She will not remember that it was not her idea if you are subtle with your pushes.

Today we will visit a cousin of hers who is in the hospital. She is uninterested in exercise class. The hospital will be a long walk so we will switch activities today. And then as we left the little lunch place and headed toward the hospital my son called with a request to pick up our grandson after school. More driving but out in the world today. We will go to the hospital tomorrow.

This is an old picture but it is how I see this woman, the love of my life, the place I am home. I see that smile less and less but sometimes early in the morning it peeks out of her face.

Carpe Diem even if you cannot.

More on Parkie Time

There is lots of discussion about apathy and Parkinson. This morning I decided that Parkinson merely enabled Cheryl’s brain with a different sense of urgency or importance. Perhaps I needed to embrace that.

Last night as I coaxed her to bed her impostor syndrome was strong. We drove around for a few minutes and looked at the Christmas decorations while we “drove home”. It usually works and she thinks she is home. It did not work completely that night but she seemed to accept the fact that she was very tired and needed to rest. She went to bed with pajamas on the bottom and her normal daytime shirt on the top (just in case).

In the morning she slept late. When I woke her and got her going I pointed out that she had about two hours until her exercise class started, so she had to move it along unless she did not want to go. She refused to be speeded up and responded that I have been late before. She thinks exercise is important and wants to do it and enjoys it once she gets started. I know that it helps her too. But my sense of urgency and lateness is much different than hers.

I shifted my schedule to agree with her parkie time. My urgency evaporated along with my stress associated with getting her moving.

Small adjustments reduce stress

Carpe late Diem.

We Got There!

When she is running on parkie time and I manage to get her to her exercise class on time without arguments, mostly none, I get a feeling of pride of accomplishment. Seek accomplishment in the small things of life and bigger things will follow. Or I think that they will.

There are lots of life plans and platitudes similar in sentiment. Keep track of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves- is one from the business world. Manage the little things and big things will come your way. Yadda Yadda Yadda.

She seems to be enjoying class. It consists of a group of boxing like motions while seated. A similar class uses dancing moves. The constant motions raises the heart rate.

Friday is always a bit tricky since the class that she likes is at 11 am. All other classes are at 12 pm and later. Generally her best time of day is 10 am until about 7 pm.

Carpe Diem

Bump and Run

Interestingly to me anyway yesterday’s plan works today.  I suppose that overtime I will come to understand that what I want her to do and the speed I want her to do it are not hers so it can never be.

Today’s class is sitting cardiovascular motions.  I features the Beatles and the Righteous Brothers as accompaniment. Nice.

Spirit in the Sky

Carpe Diem.