9/12/2021 — Sunflower Day

Today was the day to walk or run or ride to raise money for the Sunflower Rev it up for Parkinson. Team SMILE made a good showing. The pictures say it all.

It is a magnificent day on the riverfront in Cincinnati, Ohio. And a large contingent of our family appeared to help Mom, Grandma, Aunt Cheryl and Cheryl raise money for sunflowerrev.org. The fund benefits Parkinson’s disease research here in Cincinnati. It also is a social event that promotes understanding of Parkinson’s and how it affects patients and their families.

Special thanks to Texas for helping out today.

Carpe Diem.

Emotion is often Close to the Surface

Cheryl carries her emotions close to the surface. It seems more so lately. When we received this thank you card today from a great-niece, she was very excited to hear from her. Ally thank you for being so considerate of your great Aunt Cheryl. I responded to her.


Dear Ally,

Thank you so much for the thank you note and response to our graduation gift. We wish you well in your new career. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What took you to Austin?

As for your questions, the Covid crisis (I prefer pandemonium) in many ways has passed us by. We were vaccinated in January and February at U. C. Health here in Cincinnati. They made it very easy by creating a drive through clinic in the garage of the building that houses Cheryl’s neurologist. In Cheryl’s case they sent her an email notifying her her upcoming appointment with her neurology group and she should make an appointment to get the vaccine by July – and oh by the way here’s a button to click on to set that up. 🙂 She was fully inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine before the end of January. It took me a few weeks longer because I had to set up being a patient at U. C. Health first and then had to wait for a slot to open up but I got both doses by mid-February.

Parkinson’s disease is great practice for staying isolated. Often Cheryl really does not want to do anything. Sometimes I have to push her to get going. She has an exercise class on both Tuesday and Thursday that is oriented towards Parkinson’s patients.

I do not know how much you know about Parkinson’s but it is more than just the jiggly motion with which you may be familiar. Michael J. Fox and his foundation provides a great deal of information and a great deal of money for research. Unfortunately there is no cure (yet) and the disease itself is degenerative. It affects everyone differently. Cheryl’s mobility is generally good with medication but in her case the disease is affecting her cognition and memory. She used to be a whiz at computer databases but now struggles with opening email. 😦

With your graduation card, I suspect she sent it to your grand mother. Cheryl often mistakes who is living with whom and who belongs to which family. I often have found myself correcting that information but it is a never ending task. It is tricky to keep track of your own stuff and someone else’s stuff too. 🙂

If you are interested I whine a bit and muse about things as they are in my life on my little WordPress blog [ www.adjunctwizard.com]. I have discovered over time that your grandfather and I think a lot alike. I did not realize that until a few months before he passed away. I am glad I was able to visit him before that happened. Sometimes I wish that we had been closer when he was alive.

Cheryl’s sister Janice who also lived in Florida passed away from Covid in August of last year. So, the pandemonium has touched our family closely.

We wish you well in your new life. Keep in touch and stay safe.

Best Regards and Godspeed,


Stay safe and be well Ally. May the road always rise up to meet your feet, May the wind always be at your back. Godspeed, young one.

Carpe Diem.

A Severe Bout of Hallucinations

I started this commentary about ten days ago but it is a recurring theme. It has made night time sleeping a bit tenuous. But as I think back about the problems she was suffering through I am heartened by the fact that this was before her visit with the neurology folks. And comparing then to now I see a bit of change with her new medication.

Looking back — Cheryl sees little girls in our house. She associates them with various nieces and grandchildren when they were younger. Perhaps these apparitions are in the four, five and six year old range. Janel as a small child she has reported to me is in her office. Sometimes she is with Virginia and Laurencia as young children if there is a group of kids.

Sometimes the kiddos have a woman who keeps track of them. Over the past few days I have come to realize that the woman who keeps track of them is Cheryl. Listening to how she talks about the woman made me understand that she is talking about herself as though she was standing outside of herself and looking back.

Hallucinations are more common than one would think as this old article points out. I have expended a great deal of time researching auditory and visual hallucinations. Brain chemistry is fascinating and a seriously deep rabbit hole to fall into. Hallucination is merely altered chemistry of which we know surprisingly much and little.

Carpe Diem.

Do You Have Sons?

It was an totally off the wall question from her as we finished up the waffles I made for breakfast.  (I have finally succeeded at chocolate chip waffles without screwing up the waffle iron.)  She looked at me sincerely with a forkful of waffle and asked me, do you have sons?  I replied, yes we have two sons.  We have two sons?, she repeated.  Do you know who I am?, I asked her.  No I am not sure, she said.

This morning she is not sure who I am.  She accepts the fact that I am here with her.  She does not question why.  I am at a loss for words and ideas as to how to return her to now.

This morning she is not sure where she is either.  This inability to understand where she lives usually aligns with her inability to know who I am.  It seems to present after a night of poor sleep.  Early this morning she awakened at 1:30 AM or so and became anxious about having something to eat and taking her pills.  She was certain I was keeping her medication from her no matter how many times I explained that it was too early.

Where are we going to church?  After a few minutes of conversation about sons  and their ages, she asked me this question.  I replied that we would be going to Nativity at about 4PM this afternoon which led to a discussion about what day this is and what is going on tomorrow.   I thought she was back.

And then she asked me, is your wife going?  I did not immediately respond and she asked will you introduce me?  This group does not talk much about family.  I would like to know more about this family.  (smiley face)  I thought to myself, this could be a long day of confusion.

As I write this I am listening to her talk to my brother-in-law in Florida.  Cheryl inadvertently dialed him while looking at other stuff on her phone.  She stopped the call but Bill called back to ask if something was wrong.  There was but he was not able to tell from his far away position in Florida.  They chatted for awhile and I thought she was slowly coming back to reality.  Alas, she was not.  After she terminated the connection she asked me where was this place we had spent the day.  This is where we live, I told her.  This is our home.

Confusion about going to church and time to be up seems a common theme of the overnight early morning discussions.  This morning after the discussion about medication schedule and when the next dose was due she reported that she had a queasy stomach.  She wanted something to eat. I got her some cereal and orange juice.  As she spied the pills for 7AM the conversation returned to – I should be taking medicine now. She can be remarkably confrontational and difficult in her early morning confusion. I moved the meds to my office. She ate a little cereal and juice. She eventually announced that she could eat no more cereal.

We sat down in living room for a while and I coaxed her back to bed. Queasy stomach was still part of the conversation. She gobbled a couple Tums. She was unable to sleep without her bucket. She curled up with her bucket angry with me and eventually fell asleep. So did I. I have no doubt that her stomach was queasy although that was a new description.

On our visit to the neurology group did produce a new prescription to help with memory issues which relates to cognition and a whole host of other issues that tumble down from that. The new thing is Rivastigmine which is supposed to help. So far after half dozen doses, the jury is still out. I have been meticulous at making sure that she eats food when she takes this medicine. It can cause nausea.

She is anxious about fund raising for the Sunflower Revolution. She very much wants to raise more money than last year. Even as I explain that she does not have to provide the money, she worries that the word will not get out. My daughter and I have taken over the marketing of this for her.

Carpe Diem this has been a long day.

Sweet, Fruity and Well Balanced

That is written on the front of my often bought bag of Eight O’clock coffee. I thought a good life philosophy.

Overnight was a hard one. Cheryl has been having a rough time sleeping at night. She has the normal seventeen trips to the bathroom overnight that occurs with any older person. Her Parkinsonism intensifies this experience.

The past few nights I have trained myself to get up with her. I have tried to get my system on her schedule. We started this because a few nights ago she awoke in a panic. She worries about incontinence. In her dreamy wake up at one o’clock in the morning, she was certain it had happened. She awakened me and I helped her to get cleaned up and new pajamas and other anti-leak equipment. (The pajamas she wore to bed were fine as were the other things but in the early morning dreamy state it is not important to argue.)

Since that experience I have awakened with her to guide her and help. I have to admit I am cranky pants in the early morning hours. It is sometimes difficult to get her interested in going back to bed. I have taken to hiding her medications occasionally because she has taken them in the middle of the night. I am uncertain that I will wake up with her and I worry that she will over medicate and inadvertently harm herself.

Last night and early morning was particularly bothersome. We got through it. I let her sleep a little later than normal before I gave her the mornings meds. She and I came to bed afterwards and slept a little longer.

Today she is very tired. She told me this earlier after her second dose of meds for the day. I told her I was not surprised at that as she had not slept well the night before. She replied that she did not remember. It seems unimportant to discuss overnight difficulties with someone who has no memory of events. I dressed the bed and helped her to lay down for a late morning nap.

Maintaining sweetness, a fruitful and well balanced life as a caregiver to a person with a chronic affliction can be hard. I have no mystical, magic or wise solutions to the stuff that pops up. Meditation does help to calm the caregiver.

Meditations (From Davis Phinney website)

[1] The first one-minute meditation involves counting your breath cycles. You count every exhalation from 1 to 10. Once you reach 10, you can go back down to 1 and continue the cycle as long as you’d like. In the audio recording, with my breath cycle, I only counted from 1 to 10 once in the 1-minute meditation.

[2] The second one-minute meditation is also a breath counting meditation. You count at the beginning of every breath cycle before each inhalation. We count cycles of 10 breaths. Once you complete 10 cycles, you go back to one and continue the cycle.

[3] In the third one-minute meditation, we take a breath before we begin to notice where we feel the breath most acutely. It may be at the tip of the nose, in our chests, in our bellies, or somewhere else. For the entire minute, you focus on the region of the body you feel most throughout each breath cycle.

[4] In the fourth one-minute meditation, we follow the entire breath cycle with our full awareness. We follow the breath from the first area we notice it (for me it is the tip of the nose) until it expands our chest and bellies, we pay attention to the way it feels when our lungs are full of air, and then we follow our full exhalation. We continue to be present with our breath and bring full awareness to the sensations of inhalation and exhalation for the entire minute.

[5] The longest guided meditation is a five-minute body scan. Body scans often range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes; however, similarly to the breathing meditations, I wanted to make this a shorter introduction to the experience to see what feels right for you. We scan from the feet to the top of the head, breathing as we bring awareness to each new area of the body.


This small list of meditations help with calm. They work for me sometimes to help me relax.

Carpe Diem

A Bit of a Crisis

When I was in California Cheryl had a severe bought of nausea that developed into dry heaves and spasms in her diaphragm. This caused my daughter to ring up the neurologist and as it turned out Cheryl’s doctor happened to be on the hook for answering the emergency phone. He instructed her to get Cheryl to the ER for help.

Our daughter called her brother who lives nearby for extra support just in case and took her to the ER near where we live.

A few hours later Cheryl came home after they had run several tests. She had no more bad experiences while I was away. I am very glad Anna was with her that night.

Sometimes the Diem carpe(s) on you.

We Are Back to Stations

PCF classes involved moving from station to station before COVID. Stations are back today.

Godspeed Parkinson Community Fitness.

The stretching begins in a circle.

Start in a circle

And then move to station exercises. It was exhilarating. It was exhausting. Everyone got to get up and move.

PCF is back to almost normal. I had to get up and help.

God bless us all.

Things That Make You Happy

Lately I have been thinking about this topic. It came to me while helping my son build a new shed in his backyard. We had planned to go visit on a Sunday afternoon. He had bought a kit the previous week. He had assembled the floor on Saturday and we used that to assemble the frames for the walls. It is was very satisfying work. It made me feel useful and happy. Dinner was good that evening.

That feeling of being useful made me feel happy. The physical exercise was probably part of it too.

The Covid-19 pandemonium has kept me from seeing my sister for a long time. It is not as though we need to see each other often but of our original family only she and I are left. Somehow that makes it more important to talk and see each other. I have set up a trip out west to visit her. My nephew, Jeffrey, is getting married soon, so she and I will meet in his part of the universe. We will meet up a couple days ahead of time and wear ourselves out eating and chatting. I have spent the money with the airline. The trip is set that makes me happy.

Acceptance of what is removes doubt and anxiety about what might have been. Those concerns that are no longer concerning can make one happy. Look at this little cartoon I tripped over somewhere. Look at all the negatives that one leaves behind by accepting the fact that it is raining. Yup. It is raining. You will get wet today. Plan accordingly.

One cannot change the weather.

Today I frittered away much of the day reading a novel that I began yesterday evening before going to bed. I very much enjoy discovering an author whom I have not read before and becoming immersed in the story being told. The outside world disappears for a time. It makes me happy.

Once in a while little disappointments creep into our lives. We can dwell on those and build them into the mansion that they are not or they can be let go. If one does not dwell on the disappointments in life and focuses on the joys of life, happiness comes in abundance.

Zarchary

Look at this face and tell me that it does not give your heart joy and make you happy. Young children in all their innocence have to be taught life’s disappointments. How would they turn out if they were never taught these things? What if they were only taught life’s joys?


In this world of Parkinsonism that Cheryl and I find ourselves I look for happiness wherever I am able to find it. Most times it is in the very small things where I find happiness. If Zachary comes to visit and does not get upset when Mom leaves for a couple hours we are happy. If Cheryl is having a good day after she has slept well she is happy which makes me happy. If we have lunch out and she is able to find something that she wants she is happy which makes me happy. In a few days we will celebrate Cheryl’s birthday in a park. It may rain. Inclement weather is predicted for that day. But I will be happy. We have had one more year together.


Stay moving and get as much exercise as you can stand. It releases endorphins and makes you happy.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31888602/ – A relationship exists between physical activity and happiness

https://8fit.com/fitness/exercise-and-happiness/ — How exercise affects our mental health

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/25/does-having-children-make-you-happy-yes-if-you-let-them — Children and happiness

Pie makes anyone happy

Carpe Diem

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

This is Parkinson’s Awareness month but for me it is just another month. I have expanded these thoughts and comments specific to Cheryl. In the comments below I have added information that she might say but these days Parkinson’s has robbed her of language. She can speak fine but words can be hard to retrieve and occasionally some severe confusion about what is coming, where she is, or, for that matter, what happened moments ago.

Nevertheless

To the Ones That Love Me…This is what you need to know about me and my Parkinson’s Disease.

This is not a death sentence, PD can be managed. Encourage me to exercise daily, it is MY MEDICINE. – It is remarkable how much a few simple exercises can help Cheryl. Many of the exercises are simply vigorous movements or stretches. At her Parkinson Community Fitness the class exercises are tailored to folks dealing with PD. She cannot do all of the motions that the instructor asks but she tries her best to do them. The exercises can pick her up in a way that acts on her body like an extra dose of meds. Many times afterward we will have a late lunch somewhere because she is feeling good.

Early on she recognized how much exercise helped her to feel good. When her mom was still alive she spent a great deal of time at Bridgeway Pointe helping Elaine with various things. Elaine regularly exercised on a recumbent bicycle-like exercise machine. Cheryl did this as well with her mom and occasionally with me at the YMCA. She sought out an exercise regimen at the Y with one of the trainers there and developed some exercises specific to her particular inabilities. Later when PCF opened we joined. It has been and still is perfect for a non-athletic person such as Cheryl.

Don’t make assumptions about my PD, every case is different. – For many years Parkinson’s symptoms for Cheryl were mainly physical. This is no longer true. Hallucinations, delusions, mental confusion and memory loss have added to the morass of physical symptoms.



A meditation – serenity and peace comes to me when I can see that Cheryl is safe and unafraid. Most things that occur with PD cannot be changed. It is very hard to accept that fact. It is a degenerative disease. In my manliness I can see, or think I can see, ways to mitigate and ease her mind, life, anxiety and worries. And when I have done that I have removed any small bit of independence that she still has. In Cheryl’s mind oft times her disability does not exist. She has yet to capitulate. A confused mind does not recognize its confusion.

My meds have to be taken EXACTLY on time everyday. Spontaneity is no longer, please help me plan ahead. — This is complicated by the fact that what is eaten either before or after greatly affects the usefulness of the medication. The primary treatment of PD is a combination of carbidopa and levodopa often referred to as Sinemet. PD is a result generally of a dopamine deficiency. Absorption of this chemical occurs in the gut and the presence of other proteins inhibits absorption. So, “Hey. I’m hungry let’s go grab a burger somewhere!” spontaneity is gone from our lives and has been for some time. We often forget that and opt for spontaneity anyway.

That being said, Cheryl greatly enjoys the company of others (friends, siblings, past acquaintances) during dinner or lunch and she easily loses track of time and pills, food and drink get out of sequence. Her body’s reaction to this is twofold; she becomes exhausted (but not always) and she may develop severe indigestion (but not always). She may have either, none or both reactions.

My health comes first. I need to put myself before other’s needs and responsibilities. – but Cheryl is unable to do that easily. it is not part of her personality. It never has been. She is the oldest of six children and as they were growing up, her mom gave her more and more things to do and help with. I tell her often that what we do and where we go is really up to how she feels. She knows that she needs to put herself first but she would rather be with family and friends even when she is feeling not so good.

The other aspect of this is that she may feel perfectly fine until we are somewhere for a bit and she will crash. After she recovers she will become apologetic and worry that she has ruined everyone’s experience.

Anxiety is real. Don’t overwhelm or over plan me. – I have over time gone behind Cheryl’s back, so to speak, and have suggested to organizations that Cheryl is involved it that they find another to perform whatever little task she has been doing for them. She was the go-to person for anything computer related. It was her career for many years. These days it is merely a source of anxiety and confusion for her. It has reduced her anxiety level and in some cases has made me the bad guy.

I am okay with being the bad guy if she sleeps better at night.

Sometimes l am exhausted, especially late afternoon and evening. – This happens most often after she has taken her medication. It seems the meds can overwhelm her body but not always. “Always” would be easier to plan for.

How I feel changes by the hour. I can feel good in the morning and terrible an hour later. I am not the old me who can multitask and go-go-go… – It seems that any sort of multitasking activity is gone from Cheryl’s life. I however like to whine about how many new things I take care of in our life now. Cheryl no longer drives. I am her driver (whiny voice).

Be patient and don’t overwhelm me. – two questions in a row overwhelm. If that happens with me nearby, I will answer for her and slow the conversation so that she can keep up. This can include repetition.

Apathy is real! – And sometimes attention deficit is real also. It is easy for her to start one thing and be distracted by some other thing.

Sometimes l just can’t do a task and need your encouragement. – Like puzzles.

Communicate with me on your concerns and help strategize new ways of doing things. – This is a constant activity in our house. It is easy to use up days thinking about and trying new ways of doing things. It has also taken some time to train the care giver (me).

Help me to eat clean foods and drink lots of water. – Cheryl really does not like vegetables of any different variety that was not fed to her as a child. I do not know if this has any truth to it but there are many things she will not eat or even try. Her idea of lots of water is two or three sips. These are my observations from my experimentation with Hello Fresh meal kits.


As a caregiver it is hard for me to explain how frustrating some of these nuances can be. Resistance of personalization of this disease is very hard to do. I mean this two ways – projecting my feelings, what I think she is feeling, onto Cheryl and dismissing what she tells me that she feels. One of the comments above is that every case is different. This is not unique to PD. Scientific medicine would like the mechanism of disease causation and progression to present as a commonality to all humankind but that simply is not so.

There is a lot of discussion of phases of Parkinson’s disease in medical texts and websites. From my narrow view that is mostly crap. Literally everyone is different. It serves no purpose to relate current symptoms to some list and determine were one is in the dance we all have with death. It is best to look for and act on the feeling good times. There will be plenty of time to consider the feeling bad times after one has passed from this life.

Carpe the Diem!