An Odd Conversation

It is an odd conversation for two people who have spent the greater portion of their lives together but these days it is less so. Last evening Cheryl was lucid in her confusion. She was unsure of where she was and she was unsure of who I am. We calmly discussed those things. She seemed to know that I am Paul and that her husband is Paul but was unable to associate the two concepts in her mind. We talked around those concepts for some time. She expressed the fact that it was sometimes a little worrisome that we were staying here for long periods of time.

The conversation changed to; if you could take me home then I could get some rest. I think I am very tired. A friend and work colleague had told me a story recently about a similar experience with his mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. He got her to put on her coat and rolled her around in her wheelchair and announced, “We’re home!” I tried a similar tactic.

I got her to bring whatever she needed with her and we got in the car and drove around about a four mile long rectangle. On the last leg we turned right onto our street in the same way we might have come from other short trips to take a walk or visit the kids, she said when we get home to the condo, I am going to get ready for bed. She had recognized the approach to our home from the west. Her mind said to her – we are home – I guess. She was okay when we walked in the door.

As I went back out to the garage to turn off the lights and lock up she said to me,”You’ll call me when you get back home?” This is something her mother always wanted the kids to do. Cheryl always called her mom when we arrived home after we left her house to say we arrived safely. I do not know if the other kids did this or not.

I told here that I would stay with her until she was settled in. I did not ask her – who am I? I have done this in the past and although it sometimes bumps her into current reality it was not working tonight.

Earlier she had told me; you are Paul but a different Paul. It seemed as though she was offering an answer that she thought I wanted to hear much like a child trying to please a parent would do. After “taking her home” I did not want to disturb that. I told her again that I would stay with her that night and she seemed satisfied with that.

Sometime you have to drive around the block to get to the start and when you care deeply about a person you love you can easily go the extra four miles.

Carpe Diem.

This Morning a small Success

I got up at about half after eight. We had been up at 7AM for meds and she went back to bed. I knew she had not slept well overnight. As I got up and she headed toward the bathroom, I talked about what the days events would bring. We have nothing on the calendar except for the exercise class, I told her. There is no church today. Today is Thursday. Yes, she replied.

I went to the kitchen to make coffee. As the beans were grinding I went out to fetch the newspapers. When I returned I set the coffee maker to making coffee and turned on the CBS This Morning show while waiting impatiently for the coffee maker to complete its task. Finally after an arduous four or five minutes where the succulent aroma wafted through our small living area the coffee genie made its happy gurgle and later a tiny beep. I poured a cup. Heaven is fresh bread straight from the oven and fresh coffee made from beans ground only moments before.

I carried my mug to my chair purchased during the waning days of the Trump administration with stimulus funds. I restarted the DVR recording so that I would not miss any of the covid, border, weather or political disasters. I nestled in for the first sip and looked at the WSJ front page. I few minutes later I checked and she was getting ready for church. I was in time to head that off with a minimum of anger from her that “no one tells me what’s going on”.

As I headed that off I reiterated that she did have exercise class today and she should dress for that.

After enjoying much more of my mug of joe I returned to check on her. She reported numb fingers and she was angry about it because it was causing her to drop things – her watch – and making it hard for her to put in her earrings. She thought she had broken her watch so she selected a different one.

The watch she was trying to put on was one which she rarely wore. It has a clasp that is hard to visualize even with the new reading glasses I got recently.

Cereal for breakfast this morning and a new thing – checking blood pressure – because of the numb fingers were at the top of her list once she came out of the bedroom dressed and ready for exercise. We left for PCF right on time. And then as we approached the parking area, zip, unzip, zip again, unzip again, different zip, the same zip as previous over again — I asked what are you missing? My little pill bottle. I want to find a Hall’s she told me. I helped her search to no avail.

Damn! We are out of Hall’s.  It is the only,  absolutely the only thing,  that can relieve a Cheryl scratchy throat.  (I am whining a bit. I have tried to push other solutions.  All have been rejected, alas.)  The fact that we are out was interpreted by me over time after a discussion about the Hall’s being kept in the upstairs bathroom cabinet so that the hallucinatory kids would not find them. (Smiley face) But we are out. I did not register the out part.

Later at PCF we searched the purple multiple zippered perfect purse but, alas again, no Hall’s in the little pill bottle. It fact there was no pill bottle. Where is that? It is not in the many zippered bag.

I left Cheryl to start her exercises and I went to Walgreens down the street to stand in line behind three people grocery shopping at Walgreens while I hold a bag of Hall’s that eventually cost me thirty-nine cents. I should not be a curmudgeon about it. I own Walgreens-Boots stock.

Carpe Diem

No Church Yet

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.

Love,

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.

Alas, Carpe Diem.

One Positive Thing

Edie posted this on Facebook. Her husband Tommy and she are further along in their Parkinson journey. She also has a much stronger faith in the Almighty than I do. But like Parkinson’s disease everyone’s faith is different.

From: The Kynard House
Posts, Notes and Parkinson’s

Tommy is with us still.
He rallied for a few days.
He is alert at times.
Family and friends have been stopping by.
Hospice is a blessing.
It does not seem real.

I know the sentences above seem devoid of emotion, but at this point, I’m like a tire that’s “out of round”.
It wobbles.

I’m on auto pilot.
I slip into the guest room to regroup.
I’ve vented when necessary…cried in bursts and then I get up and do what’s necessary.

God is with me and if there’s any sentence that says it all…I’ll say it again. God is with me.

In the very beginning when I joined this group, I asked the question,
“What is the one thing positive that Parkinson’s has caused in your lives?”

No one answered positively. All were negative responses. I couldn’t grasp that! Positive CAN balance the negative. I refuse to let the negative
outweigh the positive.

Because I’m an encourager, and empathic, I will add to my original post, because personal growth is always necessary.

This is what I have learned.
God is still with me. He is my rock even though I don’t take enough time to sit with Him.

As Tommy (my earthly rock and solid foundation) prepares to leave this world…I am addressing my soul, asking God to open my eyes to anything that I have closed them to…to open my eyes so that I can see my way through the maze of emotions.

Yes, Tommy is still with us and God is within me, all around me and beside me.

The positive?
I now fully grasp, “Fill me up, Lord!”

Edie Kynard
My reply

I think that “the one single positive thing” for me is finding the love in our relationship and making me aware of it. Our love for each other has always been there, after 51 years it must be, but this debilitating disease makes it hard to remember what life once was and what it can be. I have learned to do things I never imagined that I would or could. This damnable disease has caused me to find an inner strength I didn’t know was there. It also has shown me that it’s okay to show emotion and not be embarrassed. Godspeed to you both on this phase of the journey. May the road rise to meet each step along the way. God’s love be with you, Edie.


Edie, like me, writes a lot about her journey. Tommy seems to be getting worse as time has gone on and although I do not know them personally, it seems that he is not resisting PD as he once was.

Nor is Cheryl. Last evening her hallucinational behavior was particularly disturbing for me. The hallucination is one that she often has. She sees two little girls. Last night she was very concerned that no one was coming to pick them up. she began to become frantic about that. She was going to go out and look for the parents.

I reached out to my daughter and my sister-in-law. If I could get one of them to call and bump Cheryl out of her virtual world our evening would be better and she would sleep. It was my hope. Anna called her mom.

Later we took a walk and talked about Anna’s phone call. She was very animated about the discussion with our daughter on the phone. Taking her evening meds gave her a little indigestion as often happens. The girls were gone. Indigestion and hallucination seem to be mutually exclusive.

Oh. About love. Sometimes you will go to great lengths to relieve pain or anxiety in someone that you care dearly for. Sometimes adding mild pain (indigestion) relieves other dilemmas. It was unintentional on my part but her gastric distress relieved her other stress.

A couple years ago Cheryl started a support group at our church. She noticed that in addition to herself several other members of our parish had PD this included the pastor. We (I am the Uber) met several time in the small parish chapel. Covid chased everything onto Zoom for awhile. As we all peeked out from behind our masks we started meeting again in person at Parkinson Community Fitness in the evening. Cheryl always has a meeting to organize the meeting the Saturday before. Today she asked me to organize that meeting for her. Slowly, ever so slowly, she is letting go of things that keep her interested in going on.

I did not push back. I think of this as her project. I merely did what she asked because I love her.

Carpe Diem but seize anything that helps.

Once in a While but more Often Lately

She becomes anxious about not knowing where she is or who I am. Two days ago that happened as I was listening to the 9/11 broadcast on network television. In New York they had a solemn reading of all 3000+ names by various relatives and occasional commentary like – I never knew you Dad but I miss you. Incredibly sad and moving.

Cheryl became anxious and her world collapsed for a few minutes. Perhaps I should have turned the program off or at least turned down the sadness and remembrance of that day.

On the following day we participated in the Sunflower Walk Run to raise money for Parkinson’s Research. It was a wonderful day with the kids and family. Cheryl at the end of the day said, “Thank you for the nice day.” It was a nice day. But slowly, as often happens as the day wears on, she became confused about things. She was worried that she could not figure out how to get a list of participants so that she could invoice them for their donations. (her words) I gently pointed out that the U.C. Foundation had already taken care of that and it was not necessary for her to concern herself with collecting money.

And just now she asked if I noticed that someone is placing Jack-o-Lanterns in the bushes and woods behind our house. The sun is lower in the sky and as its light filters through the leaves it projects patterns much like a Jack-o-Lantern on the forest floor below. It is fascinating to look at the woods out back with another’s eyes. She shows me new things each day.

At the left is a view of the woods. At the right is a zoomed in view of the light patterns through the screen on the back patio. The one on the bottom right, even I can see how she interprets as a Jack-o-Lantern.

Sometimes Carpe Diem means to stand in her shoes and see through her eyes.

Carpe Diem again.

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.

Are They Going Today?

Sometimes Nancy and Virginia come with us to exercise class. Are the coming today?

Those are not the names Cheryl meant to use. They are a couple random names that jumped into her head when we were getting ready to head out to the exercise class in the morning. We did go to exercise class today. In the afternoon we had a bonus activity.

On any day when we are on our way to a restaurant, exercise class, today a movie matinee, this question generally comes up. Is (insert name here) coming with us? Whoever she may be thinking about becomes real to her.


Today as a random afternoon activity, after all we are retired from working careers, we chose to go see a movie. We saw “Swan Song”. It is about a gay drag-queen hairdresser at the end of his life. Sounds like a “I dunno about that idea” but it was poignant and touching. Worth the money to me because I got to hold hands with my special person. Cheryl seemed to understand the nuance in some scenes which does not always work with her confusion.

She did tell me as the theater got dark that she really was tired of that Paul guy telling me what to do and telling me he is her husband. “You are my husband. Does he think I don’t know that?” She went on to say that Paul really was helpful but he gets angry when I don’t do the right thing.

Yes I do but I think I have two choices; get angry or just cry. I am never angry at her, rather, with her disease and what it has taken from her. In the middle of the night it is very similar to reasoning with a child who sees the world very differently than an adult.

We had a good conversation on the way home. I am thinking we should try this more often. Monday is “Boomer day” which means matinee prices are just 6 bucks. Much like Arby’s.

We could do both! She likes Arby’s.

Carpe Diem.

Poignant

My cousin called my writing poignant.  It is a word of which I do not have a clear meaning.  He called to wish me a happy birthday a few days ago.  Instead he caused me to think about my list of childhood memories some more. The list is something that I work on occasionally as the mood suits me.

Poignant to me means personal, important and a little bit sad. So, I suppose this little blog of mine is poignant. It does come from my heart.

But more to the point why do I find anger in myself when I am attempting to be phlegmatic and calm and loving? Cheryl is often unable to help herself and unable to ask for help with certain things. It is not her that finds this behavior satisfying. It is simply her disease. I tell my inner self this over and over but it does not always last.

Let’s try earrings, for example. She loses them. She cannot get the little clip on that holds them to her earlobes. She loses the little keeper. I bought a box of assorted earring backs on Amazon. A thousand of them for $6. Often I find myself searching for something that requires the sight of a twenty year old person. Can you detect the creeping anger? (smiley face here)

Cheryl did not have her ears pierced until after we were married. Whoever pierced them was perhaps nervous about causing pain in another human being. Whether or not that is the truth, she flinched when poking the hole in her right ear at least. This has made it hazardous to get that earring inserted properly throughout her life. Her Parkinson’s wiggly motion makes inserting the post worse. Her occasional numbness in her fingers makes it virtually impossible and for some reason this drives me crazy. (smiley – sad face). Part of that might be because I want to find the beautician who did this originally and get her money back.

I know not why I focus on earrings for my anger. I was stuck there for a bit last evening when we went to church.

The opening hymn : Healing River of the Spirit

Healing river of the Spirit, bathe the wounds that living brings.
Plunge our pain, our sin, our sadness deep beneath your sacred springs.
Weary from the restless searching that has lured us from your side.
We discover in Your presence peace the world cannot provide.

Wellspring of the healing Spirit, stream the the flows to bring release.
As we gain ourselves, our senses may our lives reflect your peace.
Grateful for the flood that heals us, may your church enact your grace.
As we meet both friend and stranger, may we see our Savior's face.

Living stream that heals the nations, make us channels of your power.
All the world is torn by conflict; wars are raging at this hour.
Saving Spirit move among us, guide our winding human course.
Until we find our way together, flowing homeward to our Source.

I take Cheryl to church as long as she is feeling up to it. I have little interest in church and religion but she does. I do however sing hymns that I know and am comfortable singing. (It is one of the things on my list that I referred to above.) Sometimes hymns touch me in an inexplicable way. This is one. My inner anger melted away.

After the service we walked through the parking area which was covered up with booths getting ready for the last day of the festival at our church. We ran into some friends and Cheryl began talking to Kay. I rudely interrupted to ask my wife if she knew to whom she was talking. She told me her name was Kay. I was rude. I suppose I was worried she did not know Kay’s name. I was wrong about that. It was not necessary to be rude. I apologized and explained to Kay.

I suppose church had gotten Cheryl out of her previous couple of days where she did not know who I am and where she lives. I was unaware and over protective.

Every day is a winding road. Reread the last two lines of the hymn. (smiley face)

Carpe Diem.

Lots of Little Things have Gone Away – a Lament

MINTS– For years and years and years Cheryl’s favorite candy was peppermint.  She liked it in most any form but we always and still do have a glass candy jar with peppermint lozenges (losengers is how she says it). She no longer eats these.  We used to buy big bags of them at Sam’s Club and later we found that we could buy them in bulk at another store. We do not buy them any more because she no longer eats these.

After eating at Skyline Chili restaurant we still get York peppermint patties. We used to also get these at Sam’s Club but Sam’s is closed near us. I buy the stuff we used to get at Sam’s Club from Boxed Up online now. I have not looked for peppermint or York patties online at Boxed because she does not eat them anymore. I am not fond of peppermint.

pancakes – I am a big fan of pancakes. Blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, fruit pancakes, it does not matter, all pancakes are good things. Pancakes are better when you do not have to make them. It is better to show up and eat.

For awhile I made pancakes for breakfast two or three times a week. Perhaps I overwhelmed Cheryl with pancakes for breakfast. For a long time when I suggested pancakes she responded that she would rather have cereal.

I am not fond of cereal except hot cereal. I am a big fan of grits and oatmeal if the oatmeal has been helped out with dried fruit and cinnamon. Grits are good anyway they come but cheddar cheese really enhances the experience. Shrimp and grits is just heaven in a bowl.

Lately we have been having pancakes again. Today we had scrambled eggs and toast.

calendar – The calendar seems to have lost its meaningfulness. All though our married life we have had a family calendar to record events. With great ceremony the new calendar is lain on the dining room table in the week between The Christmas and New Year holiday. Known events such as birthdays and anniversaries are individually recorded. Regular meetings are noted as well. Any doctor appointments and such are added. When January first comes around the new calendar replaces the old one on the bulletin board of important stuff and restaurant take out menus.

In the past year or so Cheryl has developed a kind of date dyslexia. The calendar has little meaning for her. Not only is she unsure of the day week but she is unsure of the week itself and how long a month is. I noticed this when she wanted to send birthday cards out for the following month earlier and earlier. One month she sent them out so early that she forgot she had sent them. People towards the end of the month got two and in one case three. I started helping with her birthday card scheme. It sometimes works. She is not very accepting of any method that I create to help. It has to be her scheme. We develop a new scheme each month which is not a satisfactory solution.

HOME – When do you think we will go home? I point out that we are home. Yes, I know we are home but when will we go home? – she says. I have always thought to myself that my sense of home is merely being with her. This thought occurred to me many years ago. These days, since she is on and off unsure of where home is, I think that I am a bit unsure of that myself. I detect her slipping away and that causes caregiver anxiety. Where will home be later?

DECISION – “trying to decide” is a phrase she uses when looking for earrings. Unfortunately in her current state it is a very hard task. This has been true of most of our married life. These days with Parkinson adding a factor of confusion, the deciding is measurably harder.

Overall maybe none of these actually matters but it is very hard as a giver of care. I knew Cheryl during her robust working years. For a couple decades or so after the kids where grown and on their own we focused on career, social life, travel. For several years she supported me while I worked to complete my M. Ed. and find a teaching job. We enjoyed it. Those years were for us. We have no regrets.

These years are ours to enjoy or not. It is our choice.

Carpe Diem. Godspeed to us.

51 Years Today

Today is our 51st wedding anniversary. I took as many of the kids and grand kids as could make it out to dinner yesterday evening to celebrate. It was a very nice meal. Cheryl told me she was grateful to everyone who was able to come and she had a great time. Later when it was time to go to bed she wished me a happy birthday. She said in all the confusion and celebration she had forgotten to do that. I thanked her.

Several weeks ago in early July she gave me this note. She was listing cards to buy at the time and she realized from her notes that our wedding anniversary was coming up in August. I remember on that evening a few weeks back that she was very proud of herself. Her math was still working. I just smiled and agreed with her and kept this note. I think I will always keep it.

We met 55 years ago on a blind date tomorrow. We were married 51 years ago today. It was as HOT day. It was August in Ohio.

Although life could be better if Cheryl did not have Parkinson’s disease, I would not have missed one day of our life together. Happy Anniversary to us!

Carpe Diem.

Every day is a winding road, enjoy the ride.