Ten meter walk – How fast does it take to go 10 meters? (36 sec) The metric system is everywhere except in American society.
This U-Step is a great walker. Why don’t you use it inside? It is a great question from the physical therapist. When I first brought it into the condo it merely sat next to the dining room table until we went somewhere but in Cheryl’s defense there are a lot of close by things, chairs, tables, half walls, door handles and grab bars that she ignores the walkers during the day unless she is feeling very unsteady. We have had a standard looking walker for quite some time. She worries about bumping into things.
We do use it when we go anywhere away from home. The wheels track in what ever they got pushed through elsewhere. I do not care about that. It is old carpet on the floor. It cleans up good when the carpet cleaner folks show up. It is just another maintenance item for the budget. I can encourage her but usually it sits by the dining room table. – This goal is use the walker more for safety.
Sit to stand – scooch forward, lean forward… like a rocket ship… push up off the arms of the chair. Stand to sit – lean forward and reach back, hold the chair and sit. The PT person provided this as a recipe for standing up. I have helped her with this at home but when we start it from a sitting position I can she her become anxious about making a mistake and “getting up wrong.” I am unsure about how to help her past this feeling.
Balance 7/56 — I took this note but I am unsure of its meaning now. I think it is intended to mean that of several tests for balance (56) Cheryl has a poopy score for balance. She has to think about balance. In most of us it is an autonomous function.
Difficulties with balance and walking are linked to the brain changes that take place with PD. For people who don’t have PD, balance is automatic, a reflex. But Parkinson’s affects the basal ganglia (a part of the brain essential to balance). To compensate, the brain assigns another brain area — an area used for thinking — to take over. The thinking part of the brain, mainly the frontal cortex, can’t control balance automatically. The result: for many people with PD, balance becomes less automatic.
In my never ending battle to keep us safe and healthy and because Cheryl kept pressing me to do it, I scheduled us for a second booster shoot for the covid virus yesterday.
I got some chicken out of the freezer for dinner and helped her get moving in the morning. The morning was busy for me because it was my last care partner class. From that I have a mountain of valuable information about various service providers for the future. We are not there yet but in a few years we will be.
Linda appeared a little early and we chatted for a bit and then I was off to class. When I returned Cheryl had gotten cleaned up and dressed herself. I think the big new bed is giving us better rest overnight.
Our appointments at Walgreens were scheduled for 4 PM and 4:10 PM. We got to the store with plenty of time to fill out forms and prove who we are. Except for me. I had forgotten my wallet and ID. (Alas and drat!) As Cheryl came down the aisle pushing her U-Step walker I explained that I had forgotten my wallet. I asked her to sit down near the pharmacy desk and I would return in a few minutes. This Walgreens is about 5 minutes from our house. I zipped home and back to the store. When I returned she was sitting in the chair filling out a form on the clip board that the pharmacy assistant had given to her. Ordinarily this small task would have been confusing and incomprehensible to her. She had even found her ID and previous covid info in the purse of many pockets. I am beginning to understand that much of her confusion and mental fog of late may merely be poor sleeping patterns.
It is hard to overemphasize how important good sleep and rest is. The big new bed seems to help. One less Carbdopa/Levadopa CR seems to be beneficial also. She seems brighter during the day and not so inclined to pund around in her office at night. She is sitting in her recliner with me to watch a show or read a magazine article more during the past couple weeks.
She had plenty to eat at dinner. She even complained that I had not made gravy to go with the chicken. It was a normal (mostly) conversation during dinner between two people who had been married for 53 years. (Smiley face here) Later in the evening she felt a little chilled. I went to recover her sweater from the backseat of the car where it had been warming in the 90 degree heat for several days. We sat for a bit longer and then she got ready for bed. She returned and we watched the PBS show NOVA for an hour and we went to bed at 11 PM.
We were up again at 1 AM until about 3 AM. I am going to blame the booster shot. I was having difficulty also.
Today we slept until after 9 am. She seems rested. I know I am. It is off to the doctor today for our semi-annual wellness check. I feel well. She seems well.
The ups and downs of this Parkinson thing do not seem to allow for planning, comfort and looking-forward-to-ishness. I imagine it is the biggest headache we care partners have to deal with day to day.
In addition to the fact that Cheryl can be great one moment and in the next she can be off in the weeds punding or hunting around for something that does not exist or merely worrying about something that is days into the future, she sleeps fine several days in a row and then one night is up. If one does not have Parkinson one can still have sleepless nights occasionally. Parkinson merely makes it more annoying. But, holy cow, it can be really annoying and not only for the Parkinson person.
The previous night was miserable. She did not sleep until about 3 am. Last night she laid down at 11 pm and did not move from that position until 7 am when the LOUD AND ANNOYING alarm clock went off to signal TIME FOR MEDICINE. That is what it displays in two inch high bright green letters after it raises its brightness level so that it is visible on the moon.
I got her the meds. She took them and laid back down for a bit to allow them to work. I put the Kleenex box in front of the message to the lunar astronauts. I felt rested.
I went to turn on the “news” and was shocked to learn that there were sexual hi-jinks going on within the Southern Baptist Convention. Hoping for more news about the Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp and getting instead the fact that Hunter Biden was, as a husband, a stinker as told in a new tell-all memoir by his ex-wife, I turned it off to do the Wordle. Ho hum.
She got up a little later and put the big new bed back together.
We are up at the regular time with no extra laundry today.
Last night was the first dose of donepezil which may help with Cheryl’s confusion and dementia issues. It has two main side benefits (effects) in addition to the myriad of others that seem related to any drug regimen. The side effect I am most concerned with is insomnia. I will be watching for this closely over the next few nights as her body adapts to the medication. The drug literature suggests a two week or so adaptation period. I am hopeful today.
The dose in this series of pills is 5 mg. The intent is to discover the patient’s tolerance for it. The dose will be increased over time. If one eats a little bit of peanut butter each day when one is little, one will not develop an allergic reaction to peanuts. If you eat a little bit of dirt each day as a child you will develop a tolerance for a lot of things later in life but your parents will go through a really annoying diaper period.
Nevertheless last night was peaceful. One trip to the waterproof room and no extra laundry in the morning. Seven AM meds consumed on schedule. Breakfast of yogurt and Pillsbury refrigerator rolls rounded out the morning.
Exiting “news” today from the world’s largest advertising company Meta formerly know as Facebook, new tools are available for Instagram whatever that may be. (I am old.) All the major stock market indexes plunged (not fell) into bear market territory. The Fed is wondering out loud about where to set interest rates. Nervous investors are placing their bets. Bitcoin aficionados are moving their money so quickly the major exchange called a halt. (Think of all those computers mining bitcoin settling into stasis.) Ho hum. And it is going to be hot today on the east coast where all the news comes from. Stay hydrated!
Another day begins. Cheryl seems to be moving well. She can try out our new grab bar that was installed yesterday on the wall near the shower to help with getting in and out of the shower. I have no control over the things that CBS has decided is news today, so, although I am mildly interested, I do not spend much time on it. Cheryl is quietly watching the news after eating her Pillsbury refrigerator rolls and yogurt with OJ.
The Wordle today was easy. I got it on the first guess. Today life is good.
Yesterday we picked up one sister of Cheryl’s and went to visit another sister of Cheryl who lives about forty miles down the road. It was a very pleasant visit sitting on their great front porch perched up a hillside with a nice view of the Ohio river to the north. We had a great conversation while some extra kids and grandkids showed up to drive go-karts and minny bikes over the hills and around the property. Sometimes it seemed like having a conversation on the berm of a nearby highway. Nevertheless it was a good day and this morning Cheryl is sleeping in for a bit.
Which leaves me with my morning coffee and watching the morning news shows. It also leads me to think about what is news to me. The morning news shows, as they always seem, are interspersed with the latest political dilemma, complicated financial maneuvering that makes money less valuable but no less important, some actor/celebrity fall-out from marriage or their manager, the best guacamole recipe or another use for hot dogs, the expected weather for the next week (it is remarkable how this is always bad news), the latest book usually a tell-all memoir – today about growing up as a child of abusive news reporters in California, and other useless, to me, drivel. I suppose a breakthrough therapy for Parkinson would be of much more interest. Sometimes news is merely superfluous information and blather.
I turned it off because I noticed I was using it as background noise for working today’s Wordle and a couple other puzzles I have become fond of working.
I like crosswords. I suppose that is my father in me. He liked crosswords also. It probably sounds odd that I care little for Scrabble since it looks much like a crossword when completed. I think that has mostly to do with competition which I also care little for. I am not competitive except with myself. Crosswords and stroke-play golf fit into those self competition categories and maybe bowling.
Journaling and writing and blogging is also an interest. Today is also wash-the-sheets day and I am starting later because she is sleeping in.
The big new bed was delivered yesterday. I thought that I had paid for the removal of the old mattress, box springs and the bed frame. Apparently there are tiny variations in the language of such agreements that I did not realize and was not privy to. When did furniture or any purchase like that become so complicated. Even though I asked the salesman – Can you guys remove the old bed? – what he checked off and I did not question was – “Removal mattress and box springs – $99.00.” I forgot to ask about something that I knew nothing about. I should have asked, “And the old bed frame, headboard and footboard too?” He would have responded with, “That’s an extra $50” to which I would have said okay. Once I am making the switch lets go for it. It served us well for fifty or so years. It is merely a bed. It has no particular sentimental value. I remember when we bought the whole bedroom set thinking to myself, that is a lot of money ($1600 in 1979). Beyond any of those thoughts it has served us well. It is time for it to go. It does not fit our Parkinson life.
The mattress and box springs left yesterday. The headboard, footboard and frame assembly went into the garage. There is a lot of useless crap in the garage, like, I suppose, everyone’s garage. On another day I will rid myself of useless crap so there is more space in the garage. I will probably not paint anything in the condo on my own so why am I keeping old paint brushes? I also have an electric hedge trimmer. We live in a condo complex that although it is small we pay to have mowed and landscaped and trimmed. Useless crap it is.
Alas, we were probably the last delivery of the day. The young men were on the way out when I asked lets see how you left it. I asked them to move the bed about a foot closer to the doorway of the bedroom so that it was basically in the same place as the old bed. they did as asked. The delivery included a sheet set and I had purchased a set of mattress covers from Amazon as well as a quilt and shame set and blanket. The install team left me with a queen size mattress protector which I was not expecting but again, had I realized it was coming, I could have checked that the correct thing was delivered. I did not check that fact. The queen size mattress protector still sets on the dining room table awaiting the delivery truck to bring to correct item (which is probably not on anyone’s delivery list for today.) I am waiting to see how this all works out.
I am not perfect either! I ordered the correct size blanket from Amazon but I incorrectly ordered a queen size quilt. Woe is me. Amazon now uses Wholefoods Market for returns. There is one about two miles from me. It was a painless activity. Perhaps I will return to shop there. It is an alternative to Kroger which was there when the building was first put up and then got mired in some developer default controversy about ten years ago. Kroger moved out. The building was eventually completed. I do not know if the crane operator was ever paid. The crane stood idle along the highway for about a year while everyone traded paper and shouted at each other in court. Now it is where I return my oopsios to Amazon and there is a store that sells stuff to store stuff in. America has a lot of stuff. (Sorry I digressed.)
The first night was wonderful. Cheryl did awaken me to help her in the middle of the night but that was after she had gotten up to go to the toilet. I did not feel her get up.
After I got her up at 7 am for her first meds, she fell asleep deeply until I awakened her at 8:45 am. Bliss.
In a previous post I wrote about finding a little card entitled “The Art of Marriage” in Cheryl’s purse. As I unwrapped and unfolded the little package in her purse I was very aware of the fact that it was none of my business what she kept in her purse nor why she kept those things in there. Nevertheless, faced with various requests for help, like, I can’t find my black comb or I have lost my glasses, I try my best to keep up with how objects and things are pared up, associated together in her newly confused mind.
I am guilty of looking around through her stuff to help her keep track of her stuff. I have no other interest in her stuff. That is my defense when I am caught. So far so good. I have not been caught yet. She thinks I am really good at finding things. If you know who would think to look in the freezer for a comb or used Kleenex for example, then you know someone who is care giver to some person with some variety of dementia.
Punding is a term used by the Norwegians or Swedes to describe the activity of mindlessly sorting or aligning objects, often random objects, in a fashion known only to the person doing this. I believe the term means “blockhead” Swedish.
In Cheryl’s case this behavior manifests as organization of articles and documents in preparation for a meeting or some other activity. She ran the early computer tech program at Nativity School when our children went there. Having no educational background caused her to be constantly looking to others who did, attending meetings and reading articles. She was excellent I am sure simply because she was aware of her weaknesses. She also helped her mother send cards and notes to family and friends to thank or take note of various occasions such as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, graduations or merely an invitation to dinner. To this last Cheryl has kept many thank you notes from her mom for Sunday dinners over the years.
She gets these out and sorts, re-reads, thinks about her mom and shows them to me as though she received it in the mail today. Often she will say, I got this card from Mom. Or I got this Christmas card from (whomever).
She collects these in various clumps and collections. Some are in manila envelops. Some are in small gift bags. Some are collected in stacks with a rubber band around them. Some are in stacks held together by spring clips. Sometimes they may make some sense to me, sometimes they make no sense. No chronology. The collections can be totally random.
As she looks at the cards she reminisces about the old times. I used to point out that she was looking at a five year old Christmas card. I find that unimportant to do now. The activity is totally harmless. Late in the evening she is amenable to “I can help you with that tomorrow. Let’s go to bed and rest so we are more alert to work on that.” And we trundle off to bed tired from another day.
“Know what you want to know.” — Marion Lewenstein There you have it – the distillation of my Stanford education in six little words. Save all that expensive tuition and meditate on this quote instead.. Marion Lewenstein was my journalism instructor at Stanford- I had the pleasure of visiting her during a reunion in 2017. […]
The title of this blog post is the name of the poem posted in a discussion group. Zella wrote earlier this week… “I thought my husbands poem might be suitable for Parkinson’s Awareness Day!” To which LAJ responded… “I thought it was going to be about a caregiver who thought their husband didn’t like them anymore, […]
As Sue thought, I thought this was going to be about the care giver. It is not. It broke my heart. I have watched Cheryl struggle with opening many things. And I heard Parkyboy talking in the background.