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.
There are some really minute things that change with Parkinson’s disease. Many are really small and when those show up my immediate thought is, when did that become different.
Wash cloths in the shower, for example, have changed in number. In our old house after the kiddos moved out and started their lives and families, after we became empty nesters, we each had our own bathroom that we used. Upstairs is for her. Downstairs is for him and visitors. (How come I had to share my bathroom? — different question.)
There are some funny aspects to this. Cheryl has her mother’s knees and they were starting to give out along life’s way. The doctor told her that if you have a choice of stairs or the elevator pick the elevator or escalator. No kneeling in church either. Cheryl told the doctor, our bedroom is upstairs. He replied when you come down for the day stay down.
Over time I moved the guest bedroom upstairs to what was the boys bedroom. The guest bedroom downstairs I converted into her office and sewing room. I took over her old office area as mine upstairs adjacent to the upstairs bathroom far from the coffee but what the heck I didn’t used to have an office. I was a basement guy. In my male mind all was well. But her bathroom was upstairs. (smiley face) And although she spent a lot of time in her office sewing room she would go upstairs to the bathroom when that need arose. She rarely used the downstairs bathroom.
Cheryl and I have been married for more than fifty years and although I cannot point to the specific date when we started some particular habit, we started it somewhere in our lives. Thinking back we have known each other longer and I have lived with her longer than anyone else in our sphere and that includes her family and mine. A lot of habits and some traditions have been started and rejected along the way. Several years ago we mutually decided that it was time for a smaller flatter place. Between her knees and the parkieness our life was changing. We bought a condominium all on the same level. It has two bathrooms but the one next to the big bedroom has a swell walk-in shower. She hung one washcloth for her and one for me in the shower area. Done. We are moved in.
Why am I stuck on washcloths? I really do not know but there it is this morning while I am taking my shower; there are now three washcloths hanging in the shower. When did that change?
Sometimes I want to become angry. Sometimes I want to laugh. Sometimes I want to cry.
Parkinson’s disease and PD with the added feature of Lewy body dementia is puzzling and it consumes a lot of hours for the care partner.
Last night we sat outside for a bit and watched the International Space Station fly over. She was very excited to see it. She had found an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer a few days before that described upcoming events in the night sky.
We live on top of a hill and have a fairly unobstructed view of the horizon to the west. There are buildings, of course, but all in all not a bad view. After the the ISS disappeared from our view behind our building we went inside and she wrote this note to our children and a few other random family members. She wrote it in Word and printed it out and then asked if I could send it to our kids. This morning I did just that.
Hello, Anna, Scott, David, Janice, Jan, Nancy, Bill Farmer, Iris, Virginia, if I forgot someone, please pass this information along,
During this time of the year, there are often beautiful sights in the night sky. Paul is aware of these because he often researches some of the software that is available. You do not need to have access to special software… although it is helpful. You can see some of the stars and planets without any special equipment; you can watch the International space station as it travels across the evening sky. These sights are magical! Many if you have clear skies at night… some of them are visible in the early evening. When you learn that there is a lovely event that is expected to occur, get the kids ready for bed, explain the event to them… where to look in the sky, etc., they should ask their teachers about the night sky.
We found our information for tonight’s show in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the subtitle is “Crescent moon next to dazzling Venus.”, on page 5A.
Grandma. Aunt Cheryl, and any other relatives who may enjoy this.
The morning started pretty normal. The VERY LOUD ALARM clock awakened me to get her 7AM meds. I helped her to the bathroom and waited on the edge of the bed for the toilet to flush. She took her meds. We laid down again for a while.
Later I got up to find coffee and watched TV for a bit until Cheryl got up. She popped out of the hallway to our bedroom all excited because she could not find any underwear. In my stupidity I pointed out that she had underwear on just no pajama bottoms. (She was confused getting up this morning but I did not understand the extent of her confusion.) She was intending to get dressed for church but I did not realize this at the time. I was pleasantly ensconced in my Saturday morning coffee and newsy programs.
The newsy programs I have found to be not so newsy. The pattern is repetitive and to me boring — Covid we’re all gonna die; the latest political kerfuffle; desperate folks swimming the Rio Grande trying to get to Texas; some weather activity. Lately there seem few MASS SHOOTING events that make the news. Are they becoming commonplace? Or is it merely that most do not rise past some low bar of heinousness that is defined somewhere.
Nevertheless She was looking for underwear so I went back with her and found some undergarments which she pronounced good. I asked if she needed more help and she said no. I resist being a helicopter care person because it seems to anger her when I give unsolicited help. I went back to the coffee and pressed play on the DVR. This is a handy way to watch a two hour news show which is actually fifty-seven minutes long with a lot of breaks for commercial messages about Prevagen, Progressive insurance, the Good Feet Store, Kroger’s and the local weather. With a pre-recorded program you are able to fast forward through the windows direct USA.com and the rest of the crap that comes with commercial television. Cable TV is much better with no commercials and the inability to speed through the ads. (Facebook has this same model.)
After a suitable period of time, it takes concentration to speed up the saved file and catch the actual stories from the Saturday news show, I returned to the bedroom and realized my error. She was all dressed up for church and fidgeting with her earrings in front of the bathroom mirror. I apologized to her and told her that church was not for seven more hours. It is not time to go to church yet. But she was dressed and ready to go.
She blew up at me a little. “No one tells me. Neither of you told me anything!” I was two people. One in the mirror and one behind her. I admit I did not think of it. Almost everyday this week when she woke up she would ask, “What time is mass again?”
This seems to be turning into a constant in this life. For the past few weeks she awakens thinking it is time to go to church. I usually tell her – no this is (mon, tues,wednes,thurs,fri)day. Church is on Saturday afternoon. If she does not ask I do not tell. It worked for Bill Clinton, alas, not for me.
I find in myself an anxiety about getting something fixed before she spirals off into the weeds. By this I mean some task with which I have decided to help her. Her interests are not always my interests. Cheryl has taken on the task of sending thank you notes to those who have participated with or donated to the Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinsons walk/run/ride last weekend. In this new world of no white pages phone books and no landlines it is harder to discover the addresses of those who have disconnected from the 48VDC copper transmission lines. For a parkie with no sense of how else to search that information it is impossible.
There is some confused repetition to her actions and to our life. I will tell her I will do something for her and find that a few minutes later she is doing whatever that may be instead of waiting for me to complete that task. I admit to not being johnny-on-the-spot about it. Her needs are not mine. Her interests are not mine. And I might have to gracefully let go of whatever mundane task I have given myself to do.
It stresses me a bit. I worry about letting her wander off into the weeds of Parkinson confusion, delusion, hallucination and altered reality. But it does provide some relief to me as long as it is not harmful to her. At least, that is my selfish view. Even now as I pour my inner thoughts into this commentary she is reading and re-reading a two year old story she wrote about the beginnings of whoopadiddee as though it is new.
I suppose the idea that nothing and no one cannot fix her confusion is most troubling to me. As long as she does not seem to be lost completely to me I let it flow around me. It is disturbing to my soul. Occasionally I am two people, the one who lives with her and that guy who brings the pills in the morning. Once in awhile I am Paul.
A few minutes ago I went in to check to see how she was doing. She told me that Tari picked out some really cute birthday cards this time around. (Tari was not with us shopping for cards yesterday but that is not important.) She is working on the August birthday cards. She had just put on her favorite Rod Stewart CD on the player in her little office. This song came on. It happens to be one of my favorites. This disease of Parkinson is slowly taking her from me and I long for the old days.
What good are words I say to you? They can’t convey to you what’s in my heart If you could hear instead The things I’ve left unsaid
Time after time I tell myself that I’m So lucky to be loving you
So lucky to be The one you run to see In the evening, when the day is through
I only know what I know The passing years will show You’ve kept my love so young, so new
And time after time You’ll hear me say that I’m So lucky to be loving you
I only know what I know The passing years will show You’ve kept my love so young, so new
And time after time You’ll hear me say that I’m So lucky to be loving you Lucky to be loving you
It is a lament of times passed and an optimism for the future. I often struggle with that last part when this disease of Parkinson appears in the middle of the night or I am researching incontinence products on various websites. On melancholy days I think about the preParkinson times. It helps to not look back with longing for those experiences. Time only moves forward. I am grateful to have had those experiences with her. I am grateful for the times we have yet to experience.
Do I wish she did not have Parkinson’s disease? You betcha.. Cyndi Lauper has a song that might be more familiar with a similar sentiment. Once in a while I get very nostalgic for our previous life. I let it roll over me in waves. It is helpful.
Tonight’s menu is Salisbury steak, rice, green beans and corn. I am baking a small cinnamon crumble cake for dessert. These are some of her favorite foods. I am following the Dinner for Two cookbook by Betty Crocker which is her favorite cookbook. She will compare her version before our kiddos came along to my version this evening.
Hopefully the hallucinatory little girls that often populate our home in the evening will not appear and we can rest later.
She is looking for earrings after she awoke from her nap.
Several years ago we began going to a favorite local pizza store one night a week. We tried different days and over time we landed on Tuesday as the day we went out for pizza. It developed into a tradition as my youngest son would say. It became known as “Pizza Tuesday”. Sometimes in conversation a friend might say, “Can we get together tomorrow?” I might reply, “No. That’s Pizza Tuesday.” It became sacred. We did, however, invite others to our favorite pizza store to share. Occasionally one could see local celebrities such as one of the local colleges’ basketball coach there snarfing pizza like the rest of us fans.
When we sold our old house and moved to our condominium we invited our neighbor and friend Jane to our Tuesday dining adventure. It became a time to chat and catch up. Pizza Tuesday as a tradition became even more ingrained in our routine.
The pandemic pandemonium stopped much of that activity. At first we carried out (took away) our pizza from our favorite pizza store and moved our tradition home to our dinning room table. That worked well for a bit. Over a period of approximately fifteen months we experimented with pizza that was not only pepperoni. We added vegetables and fungus. We tried other sauces from the menu. We tried other pizza stores. We tried take away from other food emporiums. We expanded our flavors.
As the pandemonium eased Cheryl and I slowly began to visit restaurants with few or no utensils or menus. I learned how to use the square bar code thingy that restaurants pasted to their tables, walls and doors. A restaurant with paper menus became a favorite when previously it was not a favorite. Victoria, a young waitress at the favorite-not favorite, began to recognize us by sight. We came when she was working often. We began to look for her and tease her a bit about her constantly changing hairstyle. There was a reason to go there beyond pizza.
Socialization is a strong motivator. I worried a bit for Cheryl’s safety and health but I recognized that for her it was important to simply get out and see people other than me. Even in a pandemonium, one must live. Neighbor Jane who is immune-compromised remained isolated.
This past Tuesday evening we went back to Pizza Tuesday. The three of us went to yet a different pizza store. Perhaps, for us, THE PANDEMONIUM IS OVER! Prior to this event we made a list of various foods both home cooked and restaurant dishes that we would like to have. Jane aimed this discussion specifically at Cheryl. We will read the list and tick them off one by one. And I hope make a new list at the end of this list.
We are all three vaccinated. Not one of us has bought into the disinformation distribution on social media. Eating out and conversation provides all of Maslow’s hierarchy in one way or another. This chart is similar to one I saw many years ago.
Today is the day after St. Patty’s day. So what? Nothing what except we are now three days into the asinine idea of Spring forward. In another week or so we will be adjusted to the new med schedule but not yet. I could spend several paragraphs discussing the odd arguments pro and con to the whole idea of time change but it seems to boil down to a cover-up for a scheme to get more golf daylight without having to negotiate with each individual employer to do so. Who started this idiocy?
What a mess with a parkie! For those of you who are not taking care of a Parkinson’s patient on a daily basis, it is a crisis in disguise. The medication schedule is off by an hour all day long. I know from previous experience she will be miserable for about thirty minutes before each dose and then about thirty minutes after each dose as the meds kick in and the chemicals stabilize.
Assorted confusions appear in her mind. Early this morning when I got up and brought her her first dose of everything all seemed normal. I sat on the edge of the bed and waited as she did everything she needed to in the bathroom and then took the collection of pills I had set on the bathroom counter. When she was done I took the little glass bowl we use and the water glass back to the kitchen. Usually when I return from that we have a little discussion about what is happening that day as she is deciding to lay down a bit more or stay up. Today, she was still standing at the bathroom counter waiting. I asked her if she needed something else and she responded with she was waiting for that guy to bring more pills. I convinced her that there were no more pills for a few hours. And we had to go nowhere until noonish when her exercise class began. She seemed satisfied with that and we napped for a while more.
I awakened about an hour later and realized she was in the bathroom again so I got up. In the daylight savings time darkness I could see she had laid out some clothes that she might wear if she was going to church. I gently pointed out that we are not going to church. We were going to exercise class later. Anger and confusion appeared so I went to the living area to prepare for the miny tirade with some coffee.
In the kitchen I helped her get some cereal and dried fruit for breakfast. Life cereal with dried cherries is her favorite combination for breakfast with some orange juice. She ate that and I had some scrambled eggs with toast.
Afterward she started. One minute we are going to church, the next minute you say we are going to a funeral, and now you tell me it is an exercise class. Which is it! I do not understand why it keeps changing. Pointing out that she was dreaming and when she awakened she continued on in the dream, although appearing to be the case, was not the explanation she wanted. She was certain someone (me) was trying to purposely confuse her and she was tired of it.
Last night was very tiring she told me. You mean the business with the address list? Yes she said. I thought there would be more so I took my coffee to the chair I often sit in. On the previous evening she was organizing her birthday and anniversary card list. I had hoped to help her and simplify this activity last year with a new planner from Staples. All of the information I have installed in a spreadsheet that Avery can read so that I can print labels for each card. I printed labels and last year she carefully pasted the label information on the proper page in the new planner. Each month she gets out two or three old hand written address books left over from her mother and from her office before we moved to the condo minimum. I asked where the new planner book was and she responded that she uses that but it was going to take a year or longer to get the correct information in it. I incorrectly pointed out that she had put the information in there last year which caused an angry response so I quit talking about it. Eventually she became tired, took her night time meds and went to bed. So did I. It was early for me too.
And then she became calm. She got her sewing project and sat down to watch the early morning news with me for a bit. And I might be understanding the confusion. The old address books are crammed with a lot of info in a small space. The planner — being a planner like a teacher might use — is organized by month and day. We labelled it with the correct info on the correct day but her cognition no longer allows for that recognition. To her, it is a big black book with almost no information in it. I may have to create a cross reference by name and family.
On the way to class she suggested that we go somewhere for lunch. It started goofy but it may turn out to be a good day.
We went to our old favorite diner for lunch after the exercise class. We had not been there for more than a year. Her conversation was about the diner and old remembrances. The diner had been painted and the ceiling had been replaced. It was much brighter inside. Often something on the menu in one of these places will spark a memory of part of her family. This time an old friend that we had not seen for awhile strolled in to have lunch with her friend.
The pandemonium seems to slowly ever so slowly to be breaking free. “Hallelujah” is on the music loop at the exercise class.
Sadly the daylight will be saved whether it needs to be saved or not. Personally, I think not. The system is idiotic. Keep in mind China has only one time zone. Geographically that country is as wide as the U.S.
And Parkinson’s will still suck. Just more so while we stand still and the time zone shifts left or right.
As I find things that Cheryl will eat I try to add them to my repertoire of recipes. If I was a better planner and shopper my larder wouldn’t get stocked with random stuff. As it is random stuff is what I have, although, I have become better at shopping the freezer and the pantry and then looking for a nifty recipe. Thank the Lord for Pocket, Kitchen, Cooks Country and Betty Crocker.
Lately I have tried a meal subscription service called Hello Fresh. The first three meal kits – set up for two people – were Shepherd’s Pie, Buffalo Chicken and Flautas. The shepherd’s pie uses common ingredients put together in an entertaining way. The flautas do also. They could be paired with rice and beans which would make them appear as they would in a Mexican restaurant. The buffalo chicken breast was a more normal dish with mashed potatoes and roast broccoli as sides.
Over time dealing with PD we have settled into a weekly routine. Tuesday night is pizza night. Pre-pandemic we would go to a specific small locally owned pizza restaurant. During the pandemonium we carried out from the same place. Often Wednesday night is cafe night. We have a couple local restaurants – diners actually – that we spread our business amongst. We have added several over the years and are always on the hunt for new local restaurants. Sunday if we are not with family is a toss up. The other days not mentioned, I typically cook something.
It is not a rigid schedule. Remember the motto “Carpe Diem” or in a parkie’s case carpe momentum — I try to seize any good time that Cheryl is feeling and we might take a walk in a park somewhere and find lunch. Or we might just go find ice cream at a dairy whip soft serve. In either case the mid day calories will kill off any formal dinner idea I might have had. Sometimes we have breakfast for dinner.
Life is an experiment in many ways. It is also short and one can find that when you get to the end of it, all that crap you were so passionate about really was not that important. Be kind and try new things. Parkinson’s disease is what it is. It does not have to be debilitating. With a little bit of spice here and there it is actually edible. It doesn’t have to suck, sometimes it is chewy.
It is an odd conversation. Made more odd because it was quarter after six and I was in the middle emptying my old bladder for the second time that morning. Standing over the commode about halfway there, the door pops open and Cheryl looks at me for a moment then backs away and closes the door most of the way. I finished up and flushed the toilet.
As I came out of the bathroom, she asked me – you will have to show me how that works sometime. I replied – do you mean the toilet? No, she said. That elevator thing that you came out of. You will have to show me how to work it. Where does it go?
It just comes up from the pill area, I replied. Good! Can you get my pills for me? I’ll take them but I have to go first. She passed me and closed the door to the bathroom.
I got the morning meds from the kitchen. It was not too early. This was the day after the “fall back” idiosy that we have perpetrated on ourselves to get more golf daylight after work. Parkies have a problem with the shift. It is easier in the Autumn but it is still there.
The next day
It had been our usual (for these days) night. She headed to bed at 10PM after taking her night time meds. She laid for a while with an icepack on her head and eventually gave me the icepack to return to the freezer after several trips to the bathroom.
Over night she got up to go once or twice but returned to bed with out any confusing conversation until about 5AM. — some of this is fuzzy to me — She went into the bathroom for a bit and seemed to be having a conversation with someone. (Not unusual – she talks to the spiders before executing them.) She came back out and told me there was a woman in a pink bathrobe that needed to use the bathroom first. I got up and went into the bathroom and removed her pink bathrobe from the door where it was hanging into the closet and closed the door to the closet. I returned to the bathroom and said – she is done now. It is all yours.
She used the toilet, brushed her teeth and returned to bed. I asked about the teeth brushing and she said her mouth did not taste very good. Now her breath was minty fresh. I told her so and she replied with – I love you.
About two hours later at 7AM the incredibly loud and annoying alarm clock brightened itself and loudly pronounced – Time For Medicine! I got up to fetch her morning meds. She got up and went to the bathroom after I set her medicine on the bathroom counter and helped her out of bed which is another normal routine these days.
Afterward she did not come back to bed. Often we lay in bed until she starts to gently snore and I get up quietly as possible and let her nap for a bit or she gets up after about thirty minutes to return to the bathroom. This time she stayed up. I asked – are you coming back to bed? She replied – no, I think I will put some clothes on. I did not probe any further but should have done so.
I got up and fetched the paper, made coffee and settled into the chair I cannot decide about keeping. I turned on the TV to catch up with the boring political news of the day. This is election day. The TV news is like the pre-game show from hell. … it is a nice day outside but the lines are long at the polling places… reports the guy standing outside a poll in New York City down the street from a boarded up Macy’s. Cheryl came out of the bedroom dressed up to go to church or some other gathering requiring an upgraded look.
Do you know who is picking me up?, she asked. I replied – no one yet. You should have some cereal for breakfast. (I was hoping that she would wake up.) She ate a bowl of cereal.
Afterward she went back to the bathroom, I thought, for a second time. As she came back out she said again, I don’t know when they are picking me up. I replied that no one was picking her up to go anywhere. This, of course, did not register as she was convinced that someone was picking her up to go somewhere. When I asked for that detail – where she was going – she replied, I don’t know but they will when they pick me up. She remained agitated and got her keys and went out into the front hall. (I thought she was checking for mail at 8AM.)
She returned and said, there’s no one out there. Do you know when they are coming? I coaxed her over to her chair (The Chair) and got her to sit down. I moved the rocker over so I could sit and look straight at her. And then I explained again that she was probably dreaming when she heard someone tell her that she would get picked up soon to go (wherever). I repeated this message and the one that we where going to her exercise class at noon today and, oh by the way, this is pizza Tuesday. Some of that sunk in through the fog of confusion because she asked again. I’m not going anywhere? No, not yet I replied. To your fitness class around noon, I continued. I look pretty good don’t I, she said. Yes you do. You look very nice, I replied.
I brought her some tea. We watched some more of the pre-game election news madness. She remarked that her watch agreed with the clock on the mantle but the news person had reported a different time. I told her that we were watching a recorded program – a benefit of cable – and we were watching it on a delay of about forty minutes. Oh, she replied and I could tell she understood. She was slowly becoming present.
At 9:30 AM she announced she was going to put on jeans and rest for a bit. I took her the ten o’clock meds at ten. She went to the bathroom and returned to bed and slept for about thirty minutes.
… 11:09 AM — she is back! But tired. She ate some yogurt and drank a little 7-Up.
Changing time zones is one of the more moronic ideas of the twentieth century carried into the twenty-first. China has only one time zone. Think about it and look on a map.
Cyptoquips and Word Jumbles and Sudoku
Her favorite games in the newspaper are these. Even though she may have episodes of confusion, she still works these. They require both logical and expanded thinking – references to puns, etc.
It is the Fall of the year. The time to transition to walking from bike riding. Yesterday I started to do just that. It is cloudy and damp and hot for October but I enjoy walking through several neighborhoods near our home. I will still ride. I bought some kit to hopefully extend my riding into late fall and winter months but today I walked.
In the picture above, someone who lives here enjoys decorating for Halloween. I think I will return in December to see if they have the same enthusiasm for Christmas.
Older folks walk looking down for trip hazards. At least I do. This little guy was getting ready to cross the walk I was on when I happened upon it. As you can see this tortoise has decorated itself for Autumn and blends easily with the oak leaves nearby. I almost missed it but it was startled by my passing and turned to go the other way.
And more Halloween decorations.
Neighborhood walking is entertaining. It appears that I walk about a third of the distance that I ride. Hmm.
Keep moving all you caregivers! Find something that appeals to you and keep it up. Your health and the health of the one you care for depends upon your own good health.