It was a Good Breakfast, Dear.

It is important to try making it into a nice day. A few weeks ago another Cheryl wrote on her blog – just let it go – or words to that effect. As we move further down this road of Parkinson I find ways to simply make life more enjoyable.

Cheryl likes egg bread. It is a memory from her childhood. My mother always called it french toast. I do not know what the French call it which sent me on a quest for knowledge from the internet of all knowledge. They call it pain perdu and that translates into lost bread. French toast (pain perdu) is always better if it is made with stale bread. It is better in my opinion if it is made from stale sourdough bread.

This morning I coaxed her awake with the thought of french toast with blue berries and a little whipped cream. This is a picture of mine. She was already eating hers when I decided to take this picture. She had slept late today but it is a good day.

French toast (aka eggbread)

“It was a good breakfast, dear”, she said to me as I was loading my plate into the dishwasher. We have no real plans for today. Perhaps I will take her for ice cream later in the afternoon. Perhaps not. We will just go with the flow today.

Carpe Diem

A Never Ending Search

Breakfast

In my never ending search for a good day for Cheryl, this morning I went to a little donut shop near us and bought a dozen from Maggie. I had not purchased donuts from Maggie for some time.

Linda was coming over today to sit with Cheryl. I was intending to ride my bike around Lunken and the Ohio river trail. I asked Linda what kind of donuts she liked last night. The chocolate iced ones are hers. I sent this picture to her in a text this morning. She appeared early.

The donuts were only hours old. Ron makes them overnight.

Donuts used to be $11 a dozen with coffee. Today they were $14 a dozen without coffee. That is twenty-seven per cent more for you math weenies out there. It might be more considering the coffee. Inflationary pressure has finally come to donuts. Gasoline prices are down. Donuts are up. Darn.

I went to ride my bike. When I had returned Natalie was almost finished cleaning our little condo.

I made chicken Parmesan for dinner. We went to a little ice cream shop for dessert.

It was another good day.

Carpe Diem.

Dressing the Bed

When I make the bed in the morning, lots thoughts run through my mind.  I imagine that everyone does this or at least everyone who makes the bed consistently. I recognize that not everyone dresses the bed in the morning before work or other chores. These days it is often a necessity.

I once remarked to my sister-in-law as we traveled to our pizza Tuesday destination or some other dinner destination and she asked Cheryl, “Is this a good day?” that it is a good day. There is no extra laundry. As this disease moves on occasionally there is extra laundry.  That there is none does not equate to a good day so it was just a stupid comment. Uncalled for as I looked back on it this morning while getting the extra laundry in the mixed load started.

Laundry is one of those chores I never did before this disease. It crept into my life four or five years ago. Now I am defensive about my methods and organization of it.

But what started me down this meditative road this morning was not laundry, it was the thought of a good day.

A week or so ago on the family chat text session, Ken remarked that he could get pizza delivered to his slip where he docked his pontoon boat at the lake he lives near. I texted him late in the evening to ask if he was up for pizza Tuesday and early in the morning he said he was. Her face lit up when I told her that Ken was coming for pizza Tuesday.

A few days ago I asked her brothers and sisters to spend more time with Cheryl or simply call on the phone to chat. It is something she really enjoys. It is also something that is difficult for her to do on her own with her current diminished cognitive ability. Tonight her brother is coming to share pizza.

She probably will not remember he is coming until she sees him.

And Ken being Ken was already there when we got to the restaurant from the occupational therapy session this afternoon. Her face lit up again. He slipped into the back of the booth we selected across from Cheryl. They talked about family. Cheryl occasionally struggled to find a word or a name. Ken waited. They talked more about old times that had occurred in this very restaurant when it had a different name.

It was a great visit. Cheryl thanked me for the great evening. I thank Ken for his patience and gracious support and understanding of his sister’s struggles.

It was a good day.

Carpe Diem.

Happy Anniversary (52)

I woke up this morning and there on my Facebook feed
Was this beautiful expression of love on our anniversary

It was made by my friend Edie down south
God spoke to her, we never talk by mouth

She has this exquisite talent she is sharing
she posted this on the day of our pairing

Edie, you did not know
that fifty two years ago

Cheryl and I were wed. Thanks for your art.
This day is special, thanks for the great start.
August 29, 1970

It was a seriously hot day. We were dressed to the nines. We were skinny. Life was in front of us.

Happy anniversary to us!

Carpe Diem. (I do not know why I wrote 53) 🙂

Order, Routine and Chaos

I have heard said that a police officer’s career is days of pure boredom punctuated with fifteen minutes of shear terror. As a caregiver to one with a chronic disease that tends toward dementia, the experience is similar.

This is a long story and I am not a hero to Cheryl. I let her down.

I lost it

It is August 26, 2022. Yesterday was a good day. At least it began that way. Cheryl slept a little later. I helped her get up at about 8:30 am.

Just a regular day was beginning. She had exercise class at noon. We came home to a leftover pizza lunch as was the plan.

She had been telling me about getting a new hanging plant at Pipkin’s which is a place that neighbor Jane talks about often. She also told me she needed new socks. I proposed we go do a little shopping in the afternoon and she agreed.

A trip to J. C. Penney ensued and we returned home via Pipkin’s garden store on Cooper Rd. As we pulled into the parking lot at home my pocket began sounding the alarm for her 4PM meds. She had been telling me that she was tired and wanted to lay down. I suggested she take her meds and rest for a bit.

There are too many distractions for a parkie in our condo-minimum. Cheryl first needs to check for messages on the phone (routine). These days only Hoxworth blood center leaves messages. Sometimes one of the Scam Likely folks will make a mistake and tell me how to save money with Visa, Discover and MasterCard or how to get better Medicare coverage. I am uninterested but Cheryl is worried someone might need her. The meds are ignored while messages are checked. The phone and message retrieval is an overwhelming puzzle to her. She winds up looking at her computer which is off. This leads her to notice the pile of old birthday and note cards on her desk from times past when she was organizing them. She remembers little of this so they are a new discovery. I reminder of her meds from the other room.

As I look back at this little episode I realize that it occurs often when we are home in the afternoon. She acknowledges the alarm on her phone and ignores the meds as she goes back to whatever distraction she has selected (order). I remind her to take her meds and hang out until I see her do it. She comes into the kitchen in response to my entreaty to take her meds. With that done I retrieved two frozen pork chops from the freezer to thaw for dinner. I explained that I intended to make pork chops, some roasted potatoes and broccoli for dinner. Perhaps I would make some tomato chopped salad also. She agreed that would be good and maybe we could eat on the porch.

I reminded her that she had wanted to lay down for a bit and retreated to the porch to read my book for awhile and let the chops thaw. I told Alexa to set a reminder for 5PM and continued with the adventures of Detective Sergeant McAvoy.

Alexa reminded me at five o’clock to get up out of the chair and prepare dinner. Coming in I heard Cheryl’s phone alarm reminding her to take her 5PM meds which is a blood pressure medication. When I entered the kitchen I saw that she had emptied the silverware drawer onto the counter and had several glasses of water set up on the other end of the counter. I wrongfully admonished her for getting at the silverware out and asked why she had done that. As she launched into her to meaningless explanation I should have calmed down and accepted it but I did not. I lost it which generated some rage in both of us. (chaos). I put the silverware drawer back together and began to prepare dinner.

She asked what she could do to help and I said that she could set the table outside on the porch. I reminded her that she wanted to sit out on the porch. She responded okay and went off to do something else. Since I was chopping potatoes and breading pork chops I quit paying attention to her while I was doing that. I realized eventually that she was going to set the table in the dining area and when I asked about that she told me that she would set both tables. She insisted that we would need more room for the kids. I must have been smoldering in the background because I flared up again.

The kids are not coming. No kids live with us. I said with louder than normal anxiety in my voice. And besides I only cooked enough for you and me. I put out place mats and plates and silverware and asked her to please sit down. The dinner was ready to come out of the oven and did she want water or a coke with dinner.

I busied myself with getting the food out of the oven and onto serving plates and bowls. When I started putting things onto the table she had wandered off to look on the back porch. She said David was here and I replied that he was not with more volume than was needed. We eventually sat down to the inside table. She served herself ½ a pork chop, some potatoes and broccoli. After she had put some gravy on her plate she started to get up holding the gravy boat. I took it from her and asked where she was going again. She was going to take some gravy to the kids. And I insisted that there were no extra people, kids or otherwise.

She became angry with me and left to get help. I sat for a minute or so and listened for the outside door to slam. It did not so I went looking for her. She had gone upstairs in the front hallway and I think became confused when she did not recognize the upstairs of our old house. I coaxed her down without her falling face first down the steps and suggested we go to the ice cream parlor for dessert. We ate dinner and I cleaned up the dishes.

Aglamesis’s for ice cream was a big hit. There were several little people there as always making swift work of their ice cream cones. She had chocolate chip and I had a two-fer dutch chocolate with choclate sauce and nuts and whipped cream. (I know but it was great.)

We went home and TV for a bit. And later as she became tired she was still agitated and worried about David. She kept looking for David. I suggested that we call David on the phone and we did. I did not give David any preamble but I did explain to him with Cheryl sitting there that she was concerned about his well-being. He talked to her for a bit and assured her that all was well.

After we hung up she said, “David is staying with David and Melissa? Well I guess they have plenty of room.”

Today that is all gone past but she did express a slight confusion about David staying with David and Melissa. Somewhere in the back of her mind was a mindfulness of her confusion and to her it was/is scary.

Sometimes it is very hard for the care partner to remain calm. I am still learning this.

Carpe Diem (even if you do not want to seize it.)

To My Cousin Frank (aka Butch)

Frank, I know you are not with us any more and have not been for awhile but I suspect that like Google and Facebook you can watch us, so here is what I want to say to you.

Thank you ever so much for marrying Linda all those years ago when we were young. These days she is an immense help to me and a good friend. As you are aware, her simple act of kindness to Cheryl and me comes in the form of being with Cheryl while I go do something else. Lately that has been riding my bike around Lunken Airport.

When she first started doing this for us I had signed myself up for a care giving class which put great emphasis on making sure that you take care of yourself as a care partner. I asked if Linda could be with Cheryl during those class times and she agreed. I took the “take care of yourself” message to heart and make an extra effort to find help so that I can be on my own for a couple hours.

Since I am seeing Linda more these days, prior to this as you know we met for pizza Tuesday maybe four or five times a year, I think often about our conversations and ponderings in Aunt Dorothy’s kitchen. Do you remember some the questions we posed? How does one determine if sour cream is bad?, for example. I had not thought about it at the time but it was the same sort of thing that would puzzle my dad and I am guessing his brother, your dad. Sometimes small people would run through and we would wonder who they belonged to. Those are good memories. That entire older generation of our family is gone now. Aunt Bert passed away last year. But you know that. Have you talked to her yet? Does dementia go away when you get to heaven?

So, here is a couple questions for you. How are you doing in heaven these days? Is heaven a no smoking area? Is there a smoking section? Or did you give that up?

Did you know grapes are better when they are frozen? I learned that from Sarah’s Luke.

Ray and Shirley passed through town a few days ago. We gathered at Sarah’s house with as many folks as we could conjure up. Not all of your kids were there but some were. Betty and Herb came from Brooksville. Andy was not there but Kyle and Julie were. It was a great time. Ray took a picture:

the gathering

Good talking to you.

Carpe Diem.

Overnight at the Lodge

A few days ago the kids and grandkids camped at a nearby state park. Cheryl knew about it.  They had exchanged text messages back and forth while the planning went on. I did not talk seriously to Cheryl about it until the day before. If I give her too much to think about she becomes anxious with the planning activity.

I suggested we could stay overnight in the lodge there and visit the kiddos at the campground. She readily agree. I called the lodge desk and THEY HAD HANDICAPPED ACCESS rooms available. I did not ask about their cancellation policy. I was hopeful that Cheryl would still be interested in visiting the kiddos campsite when she woke up tomorrow.

The next day we went. It was a great day. I got the big bed pad out and packed it on the bottom of the big suitcase with extra incontinence solutions so that Cheryl would not have that anxiety all day long. On top of that she packed clothes for a week. Girls need choices. I packed a change of clothes in the little bit of space left in the suitcase.

We got there about 3:30-ish and found the room. I texted David and found out where their camp sites were and cruised through the campground twice after misreading the signs the first time through. We found them unloading coolers and tables and chairs and other stuff. Everybody was busy with something so I parked in an empty campsite across the little drive through the camping area. Luke was loading a cooler with soft drinks. Anna, Laurencia and Virginia were making quick work of erecting a couple tents.

Good times were soon to be had. Frisbee games were unloaded. Eric and Max tossed a baseball back and forth. Corn hole was set up. It is not camping if there is no corn hole set around.

There was great camp food. Our son, David, with Cheryl’s help, current veggies and sausage packets to place on the fire. Cheryl had a great time participating in the food preparation. For a short while she was Mom again. She was talking and cutting. Dad was hanging out with the grandkids and the other adults.

We had some great conversation around the campfire.  Parkinson disease interlaced with dementia takes most of the spontaneity out of our living activities these days. I had forgotten about that. I am sincerely grateful that Cheryl was feeling good that day and evening. We both miss the spontaneity of retirement.

And grateful that some of our hoped for spontaneity in retirement was there that day. Twenty-five years ago we would spontaneously decide to disappear on the weekend and hike in the woods or explore some little town we had not been to before. Once we stayed overnight in a bed and breakfast in Chilicothe, Ohio and the B & B was being run by others because the owner was going to Columbus overnight for a cancer treatment. So, we stayed overnight with strangers in someone else’s house. It was amusing and fun and spontaneous.

Carpe diem

Donut Day

It was going to be doughnut day and I forgot. Alas. Woe is me.

Going down this sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth road of Parkinson, I hunt for ways to make memories. Happy memories. You have to see how Cheryl’s face lights up when there are doughnuts for breakfast. You will know then why getting up early to go find doughnuts is a special memory. Cheerios will not go nearly as far to creation of happiness.

Skeptics will report that doughnuts are not good food. Some will even report that doughnuts are bad for you. Others will discuss yogurt and oat bran and report their studied benefits to those I say malarkey, nonsense and bovine feces. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to a lightly textured butter enhanced wheat dough gently lofted by yeast plants straining for full growth finished in deep oil at the proper temperature and upon proper cooling, coated with a just-right glaze of sugary vanilla. (I know you can taste it. That is because I am eating one while writing. Darn, sugar on the keyboard.)

I offer only condolences to those with celiac disease. Gluten free donuts are a sad replacement. I offer condolences to those who are lactose intolerant also for they are doomed to enjoy margarine and vegetable oil.

Nevertheless as we returned home from our dinner at a diner and a walk around the park last night, Cheryl expressed an interest in having doughnuts for breakfast. I agreed but at 8 PM those are hard to find and when you do there is little selection. I said I would get up early and go find some. Alas, this morning that thought had not remained with me overnight.

Cheryl got up a little after 8 with no help from me. I heard her stirring in the bathroom and went to be an annoying helicopter care partner. All was well. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast to which she replied, doughnuts! I was initially crestfallen as I had forgotten our discussion. I put on clothing and went to our local IGA to see what was still available in their Busken Bakery cabinet. Fortunately for me the selection still contained kettle danish which is a favorite of hers. I will eat any combination of sugar and wheat dough. No favorites for me, although, my grandson once brought me a maple iced long john which a strip of bacon on top. Yummy. (When you are in Chicago next time find some “fried dough” — fattening but exquisite.)

The day was saved. The crisis was averted. Dip-able things appeared next to my coffee. Perhaps I will make a new pot.

Carpe Diem.

Ugh… Another sleepless night

She was up and down until about three AM.

And then she fell asleep.

Pretty soon she will awaken. In a few minutes it will be eight hours of uninterrupted slumber for her. The LOUD AND ANNOYING ALARM clock is set for 11:30 AM.

PST — again

I must be getting used to this sleep or lack there of activity. I got up with the first alarm at 7 AM as I always do to get her meds. I reset it to lay down for awhile. Cheryl did not stir.

It is summer time so even though the blinds are closed the bright summer sun brightens the room to, for me, unsleepable conditions. I got up and brought in the trash bins and fetched the paper.

I feel refreshed. My old man’s bladder didn’t disturb me from 3 until 7 AM. Sweet.

Carpe Diem and a new day begins.

Tonight it is Chicken Fried Rice

I did not know that fried rice recipes are intended to use up left over rice from the previous day or two until I looked for recipes for (something) fried rice to make tonight for dinner.

Yesterday when Cheryl was making me nervous in the kitchen that is what she kept talking about, fried rice. So last night after I apologized profusely I told her tonight we would make fried rice together. We did. She did some of the chopping and egg scrambling. I did the frying over the hot part of the stove. It worked and it was pretty darn good.

In preparation last night I cooked some rice and put into the fridge. I took some frozen chicken out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. Tonight we chopped and fried and stirred and cooked.

The general activity:

  • 1 chicken breast – pounded, salt and peppered, chopped into thin strips
  • 3 large eggs – scrambled with a little water
  • 1 C. frozen mixed veggies, pick out the big green beans and chop them smaller. My package has peas, carrots, corn and green beans
  • 1 medium size yellow onion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic pepper. I was out of garlic cloves. I usually have some. Use two if you have some.
  • 2-3 tsp. of sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp of soy sauce (plain old LaChoy)
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying

I don’t own a wok. I used to own a wok. I am more familiar with a 12 inch cast iron skillet that I own. It works fine for this kind of stuff. We have had it for fifty years or so so it is well seasoned.

Fry the eggs after Cheryl turns them into scrambled mix. I add a little water to them like the Frugal Gourmet taught me years ago. (Remember him? Sad. He has some good recipes though. I kept his books.) Fry the eggs with about a tsp. of vegetable oil. remove them to a plate and chop them into pieces you will add them back later. After marinating the chicken chopped into thin strips for a bit in sesame oil and salt and pepper (I also pounded it out into a flat shape as though I was going to make chicken-fried-chicken ala Cracker Barrel) add a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in the skillet and cook the chicken to golden brown. (Gently you can go too far.) Toss in the onion and garlic. Keep frying. Toss in the frozen veggies. (At some point you may feel the need to add more vegetable oil. Be careful.) Keep frying. Dump in the pre-cooked rice. Keep frying. Add a little sesame oil and taste it. Keep frying. when you are ready add the soy sauce. I guessed two tablespoons or so, but I do not measure at this point. I taste. It might need a little salt or more soy sauce. — Probably 30 minutes from beginning to the end and eating.

I should have taken a picture but we ate most of it before I thought to do that. I gotta get more Tik Tok. I rarely think to photograph foods that I am preparing unless I have impressed myself.

Carpe Diem.