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.

A Third of the Way

It is now a third of the way through January. Cheryl and I went out to a small diner on the other side of town to visit with one of her life long friends.

They call themselves the “Clementines”. They attended grade school together and many attended the same high school. They number about a dozen and they used to meet every other month at a local pizza place to chat and reminisce and catch up.

Cheryl was the the original organizer of this group and convinced the others to come and chat. She teased many of them into it at first. She kept the friendships alive. And then Parkinson’s hit and took away her organization and her cognition.

At first she hid it well. It drove her crazy that she might forget something or someone. The computer, something that she had used throughout her working career as a database analyst, something she wrote code for to extract information, became a confusion. I (behind her back) asked one of her friends t take over the organizational task. Kathy stepped up and did it.

Covid struck and they moved to Zoom. I set up the zoomeetings for a bit because I had a corporate account with the community college that I work at part time. Kathy got her own license because she was using Zoom to visit with family.

Today we went to lunch with Marilyn who was unable to zoom a few nights ago. It was a wonderful lunch. Cheryl was able to talk to someone other that me in person.

Tonight for dinner I made oven fried chicken and roasted brussels sprouts with carrots. But for dessert I made Apple Oatmeal delight which is a recipe from BookBakeBlog’s site pages. It was pronounced good! Write that one down!

Apple Delight (not BookBakeBlog’s name)

Life is a journey. Enjoy the apples (and other fruit) were you find them. Carpe 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.

The Bread is Made. The Meatloaf is in The Oven.

Many gather at this time of year. The plan B gathering area for Cheryl’s family is at our house. It was supposed to happen at her brother Ken’s house. Ken’s wife is ill but she is on the mend. The dinner count is down by two. Cheryl’s sister Debbie also cannot attend. Sometimes grand kids sports get in the way as families grow. But all is well. Our table sits eight comfortably and we now only have five. Hopefully there will be leftover cherry pie.

Children visit their parents’ home. Grandparents visit their children’s homes and when they leave the mess stays there. In this grandparents’ home the gifts are all wrapped, sorted and ready for transport. Santa is unsure of the number of stops required this year. He is awaiting further instruction from the other Clauses.

Traditions abound and new traditions are made. Sometimes big brothers help little brothers. Zachary is the smallest one in our bunch. He has only had four orbits around the Sun so far. It looks like he is being mentored on decoration hanging.

Even some as sickness creeps in and some cannot visit. Zoom and Face-time is meant just for this situation. What a wonderful technological world we live in for a short time.

‘Tis the Christmas Season

Carpe Diem.

Not in a Long Time

Sometime ago about two years ago Cheryl struggled with fainting.  The neurologist blamed it on orthostatic hypotension and she does have some of that.  It is  measurable.  Her standing,  sitting and laying blood pressures are all different.  But two years or so she had fainting spells sitting at breakfast table after eating while working the puzzles in the newspaper. I got so used to it that I parked a pillow from the couch one one of kitchen chairs to be handy when I laid her on the floor.

Today we got up later than normal after Cheryl got meds on her 7AM schedule.  She washed her face, brushed her teeth and we had the church funeral discussion.  I made blueberry pancakes.  Her alarm went off for her 10AM Sinemet and Entacapon so she ate them with her vitamins and pancakes.

After eating I got cleaned up myself , sorted the laundry and dressed the bed. It is Friday (laundry and checkbook day). I got the washer started on the first load and staged the rest in the utility room near the washer. As I came back into the living area I noticed Cheryl seemed to be asleep in the chair by the kitchen table. She had fainted midmotion while removing the snap top of a container of crunchy snacks she intended to munch on while doing the puzzles. She was seated stiffly in the chair.

I got a pillow from the couch and laid it on floor and laid Cheryl down. She was stiff. I put her feet up on the chair. In the past she would wake up immediately after I laid her on the floor. She did not today.

This morning she laid there for awhile still out of it. It was unusual from a couple years ago. The stiffness was also unusual. Previously she was very limp. Eventually I was able to get her up off the floor and into a chair again. I got her walking frame but she was unable to pick it up off the floor. Tried to help but she kept pushing down instead of lifting up. It was as though her brain had the directions reversed. I got her to sit again and I got her transfer chair from the garage and with that I moved into the bedroom and got her to lie down.

She had very low blood pressure. We have meds for that. I gave her the 1PM dose of BP medicine at about 11AM and coaxed her to drink more water. I nagged and hounded her to drink more water, orange juice, tea, coke, whatever she wanted. There is a background theme of anxiety about incontinence at work here.

Eventually she came back and realized we had missed the mammogram appointment. We also missed chair yoga. We made it to the finger exercise class. The checkbook balanced and the laundry got done. All was well again. A few more steps down the road were behind us.

Carpe Diem.

Care Partner

Recently I learned a new term. Care Partner. I use the term care giver on this blog as I write little stories about our day to day struggles. I think care partner is a better term for what we actually do. Often I care for her. Just as often she cares for me. It is not a one-sided activity. Interestingly enough I poked “care partner” into Google. I am always interested in what sort of images the great alphabet search engine will find. The very first hit on my list is this link to an article about care partner on Parkinsonsdisease.net.

Last evening we attended a gala fund raising event for PCF which is an exercise and social facility that I take Cheryl to three days a week. They had an awards ceremony and passed out what engineers call attaboys. It is nice to be recognized for work and effort for which there is no expectation of reward or recognition.

I was given a “Care Partner ” award. I thought– absolutely, yes. It is better description of what happens. There is no doubt in my mind that Cheryl cares for me as much as I do for her.

Hmmm.

Carpe Diem

Best Descriptors for Insomnia

Ironical

  • Peaceful as a truck driver on amphetamines
  • Restful as an old man with the bladder storage capacity of a peanut
  • Satisfying as a rock star on speed
  • Quiet as Michael Jackson after practice for a concert
  • As restful as an hour after sixty-four ounces of colonoscopy prep
  • Rejuvenating. Much like being chased by a mother bear after you’ve noticed her cub behind you on the Appalachian trail.
  • Adrenalin rush leads to melatonin misfire

Last night was a particularly unsatisfactory overnight experience. It seemed as though Cheryl did not sleep at all nor did I. I tried a new idea out on myself. Instead of becoming angry with her disease, her insomnia and myself for getting angry I laid alongside of her thinking of funny ironical and satirical ways to describe insomnia. It is hard to be creative at 2AM. I kept falling asleep. When I awakened again, perhaps an hour later, feeling a little guilty for falling asleep, I was worried that today would be especially bad.

Yesterday we had dinner with my cousin and his wife visiting from the west coast. It was a pleasant afternoon and evening full of catching up and conversation. Cheryl seemed to enjoy it even though her evening meds attacked her and she sought refuge on a couch in the back office of my cousin-in-law’s condo. I think that embarrassed her even though we assured her that she should not be.

On the way home she expressed how much she enjoyed herself. When we got home she hunted for comfy clothes and we watched a favorite show together. She went to bed at her normal time around 10PM and I sat up to read for awhile. When I went to bed later she was still awake but that is not unusual. She is often awake for a bit after she lays down. Sometimes it is a long bit. Last night it seemed to be all night.

Early this morning she told me that the kids needed breakfast. I think I raised my voice when I told her that there were no kids living with us but she had left the bedroom. I am sticking with that excuse.

Someone said that you can sleep when you are dead. What a morbid thought that is. So, I began my thought experiment. Some of them I remembered this morning.

Haiku: Adrenalin rush; Sleep is disturbingly sad; Melatonin fail. 🙂

Perhaps I will get my sonnet maker out and think about that for awhile. Or I could read a book and nap later today.

Carpe diem or carpe nox. Carpe whatever you want.

Frustration and Anger

Lately I have been experiencing a bit of what I think of as Caregiver Burnout.

We seem to have repetitive conversations about where we are, where we live, who is here, who is not, where we are going today or not, when church is or etc. I admit to raising my voice in a natural inclination to getting the conversation to stick in her head. I can hear myself getting louder and cannot seem to resist. Later when I reflect on it, such as now, I want to remain calm and discover a quiet informative way to convey the same information to her in a way that helps her to remember. I find it to be doubly frustrating. She cannot remember so she will ask again. I repeat the information about dates and times and where. She cannot remember so she will ask again. (Urgh!) When I raise my voice, she thinks I am angry. I know I am frustrated. Maybe I am a little angry. It is hard to not be angry with this annoying disease.

Her inability to remember conversation and detail just an hour later is frustrating to her as well. She makes little notes to herself to help her remember. The next day or two or three days later she will ask me what I wrote her this note for as she holds up a note that she previously wrote to herself as a reminder. She does not recognize her handwritten messages. Parkinson jitters and stiffness has destroyed her calligraphy. She seems to not believe me when I tell her that I did not write whatever note she is holding in her hand.

I kept this particular note. I cherish it. She struggled very hard to remember how long we have been married this year. Along with all the other things our family calendar has become meaningless to her. The other picture is a sample of what her handwriting used to be. I have kept all of our letters we exchanged in high school. I suppose that makes me a romantic. 🙂

An added frustration is her complete inability to remember medication coupled with my occasional failure to also do so. I have set her phone to alarm for each medication time. She sometimes resets the alarm and does not take the meds. Occasionally I miss that. It is a constant battle between her Parkinson and my old agedness.

Over time I have taken over the duties that she used to do in our home.

In this second year of the pandemonium the pull between now and what was before is infuriating. Keeping track of her stuff and mine reminds me of how things used to be. She used to tell me what we were doing and where to go to next. Now the shoe is on the weaker foot. Occasionally that foot hurts.

It’s hard to enjoy the journey if you can’t see the road. It is so intensely unsettling to travel an invisible road in the dark.

At least we are vaccinated and boosted. The road is pretty long even when not visible.

Carpe Diem!

October

Holy Moly it is October.

The beginning of the shiver months is upon us. I do not want to think about it but it happens every year. Because I am the contact person for our little condo HOA, I get a mailing from our landscape folks that it is time to put some money up to get on the schedule for the ice or snow storm clean up(s) for the new winter season. He usually sends he note out in late September. I always respond to him that I do not want to embrace his message but here is a prepayment anyway. It is the first sign of the shiver months to come.

Today it is raining. Strangely it is a warm rain but it is only three days into the month. Perhaps global warming is real.

Our little family has two important events in October. Two of our grand children have October birthdays. Both Maxwell and Audrey have October birthdays. They are child number two and number three in the same family group. This year they are eighteen and sixteen. Where have the years gone? Happy Birthday to you guys. May God give you long lives, good health and keep you safe. Godspeed.

Covid-19 boosters are here. We are old. We went to Walgreens and got a Pfizer third booster shot. The WHO thinks that it would be better to get the rest of the world vaccinated against this Rush Limbaugh killer cold before us old folks get a booster to stave off the infection but I prefer to be assured that my wife who deals with Parkinson’s and creeping dementia on a daily basis remains safe and healthy. To some that might seem selfish. I think it is merely prudent.

Carpe Diem. Happy October.