Overnight at the Lodge

A few days ago the kids and grandkids camped at a nearby state park. Cheryl knew about it.  They had exchanged text messages back and forth while the planning went on. I did not talk seriously to Cheryl about it until the day before. If I give her too much to think about she becomes anxious with the planning activity.

I suggested we could stay overnight in the lodge there and visit the kiddos at the campground. She readily agree. I called the lodge desk and THEY HAD HANDICAPPED ACCESS rooms available. I did not ask about their cancellation policy. I was hopeful that Cheryl would still be interested in visiting the kiddos campsite when she woke up tomorrow.

The next day we went. It was a great day. I got the big bed pad out and packed it on the bottom of the big suitcase with extra incontinence solutions so that Cheryl would not have that anxiety all day long. On top of that she packed clothes for a week. Girls need choices. I packed a change of clothes in the little bit of space left in the suitcase.

We got there about 3:30-ish and found the room. I texted David and found out where their camp sites were and cruised through the campground twice after misreading the signs the first time through. We found them unloading coolers and tables and chairs and other stuff. Everybody was busy with something so I parked in an empty campsite across the little drive through the camping area. Luke was loading a cooler with soft drinks. Anna, Laurencia and Virginia were making quick work of erecting a couple tents.

Good times were soon to be had. Frisbee games were unloaded. Eric and Max tossed a baseball back and forth. Corn hole was set up. It is not camping if there is no corn hole set around.

There was great camp food. Our son, David, with Cheryl’s help, current veggies and sausage packets to place on the fire. Cheryl had a great time participating in the food preparation. For a short while she was Mom again. She was talking and cutting. Dad was hanging out with the grandkids and the other adults.

We had some great conversation around the campfire.  Parkinson disease interlaced with dementia takes most of the spontaneity out of our living activities these days. I had forgotten about that. I am sincerely grateful that Cheryl was feeling good that day and evening. We both miss the spontaneity of retirement.

And grateful that some of our hoped for spontaneity in retirement was there that day. Twenty-five years ago we would spontaneously decide to disappear on the weekend and hike in the woods or explore some little town we had not been to before. Once we stayed overnight in a bed and breakfast in Chilicothe, Ohio and the B & B was being run by others because the owner was going to Columbus overnight for a cancer treatment. So, we stayed overnight with strangers in someone else’s house. It was amusing and fun and spontaneous.

Carpe diem

It is August

Cheryl asked me – When is Thanksgiving? I told her the last week in November.  We moved from there to me explaining it was still four months away. We were on the way to two appointments yesterday. It was earlier than I would typically schedule anything for Cheryl but in a weak moment on the phone with a scheduler who was trying to consolidate trips, I gave in.

Today she is part of a research study. The MOCA assessment is part of the study.  There are many other instruments used. Some of these are poorly designed but in a way that is part of the assessment overall.

Physical assessment involves weak side motion testing. Resting tremors in different positions. The neurologist researcher wanted to test her walking but she was unable to do that unaided. After all of this Cheryl donated a blood sample and a urine sample.

We went from there to a scheduled visit with the nurse practitioner who works with her movement specialist. Maureen says that physically Cheryl assesses the same as when she last saw her in January.

She complained of tiredness afterward so we went home instead of to lunch somewhere. Cheryl thanked me for taking her to all her appointments and making sure she did not miss any.

Carpe stabilized Diem.

She lied to the Therapist

But did she lie on purpose or did she merely confuse real actions with thinking about them? Dementia and memory issues interfere with answering simple questions.

The physical therapist asked her about doing the same exercises at home when she was not seeing the therapist. Oh yes she replied, ” Every day.” This was probably an hour after her meds and she moves pretty well. Talking to her is much like a regular conversation. The mistruth just rolled off her tongue. In her head, she had done the exercises.

For a statement to be a lie it must have the added ingredient of intent. One must intend to mislead. Cheryl has no such intent. Her intent was to please. Eventually with my urging she will practice some of the exercises.

Switching from a siting position to a standing position is a struggle for her. At physical therapy Morgan and Stephanie practice this with her. She struggles to remember the sequence of small moves. We will keep practicing at home. I wonder if she will eventually will forget how to feed herself. I wonder if her body will no longer sense hunger.

Cheryl has lots of stories. Many of these stories are embellished memories. We all have some of these. Many of these stories are explanations of motive. Many of these stories are to please the listener. None of the stories are intentional lies.

Scooch forward in the chair, Heels behind your knees, Lean forward from your waist (nose over toes), push off the chair with your hands, straighten your legs — grab the walker on the way up. Practice.

Carpe Diem.

Apathy and Living

Has she apathy? As we move forward it seems to me that she cares less about day to day activities. She seems to recede into her own thoughts but not as a prevailing occupation. I think of it as apathy-not-quite. When she gets in this mode it’s often temporary.  She is tired from some activity.

Specifically activities like taking a shower,  getting cleaned up,   physical therapy sessions or exercise classes are obviously tiring for a PD sufferer. Something as easy as thinking about what is next seems to tire her out also. It like a temporary apathy.  Procrastination?

It starts with, ” I don’t think I can go to… exercise class, church, physical therapy…” Admittedly it takes a lot for anyone to be motivated to exercise. It was not a big part of our lives when we were younger. Neither of us were sports buffs. My main sport riding my bike. There is a solitude to doing that which I am unwilling to give up or share. As her care partner, it is frustrating for me that she cannot observe how much she is helped by exercise and her PT sessions. She seems to not remember. It seems like she is going merely because I am taking her there.

When Cheryl gets in this mode (mood?), I turn the corner to something else. I am resistant to letting her go on and isolate herself in her little office area thinking, punding and organizing. I take her out. Anywhere works as long as it is out of our condo.

Yesterday I took her one of our local county parks that we have not visited for a long time. Afterward we went for ice cream at a nearby Dairy Queen. I had planned to make dinner at home but she suggested we find barbecue somewhere. This being an odd suggestion because it seems to upset her stomach often and she says never again later in the evening. We did not find the barbecue place to be amenable to folks with mobility issues so we landed at one of our old favorites and ordered something different than we usually get so the newness was preserved. On the way home she thanked me for taking her to Lake Erie and she told me a story about when she was very young.

In the early days of her father running his own gas station which was a life long dream of his, he rarely took any vacation time. It seems one of his friends had a vacation cabin up near Lake Erie and not far from Port Clinton. There is a park nearby called East Harbor State Park. Our walk by the shore of a much smaller lake in the park much closer than Lake Erie must have taken her mentally back to her childhood and a very fond memory. We visited the same area a few years ago and visited East Harbor. She talked at length about the trip with her mom and dad. She thanked me for getting her there and back in the same day.

I started this writing and contemplating apathy, but maybe it’s projective (mine) apathy? Or predictive apathy? Or apathy is the wrong word? (indifference? passivity?) Or is it poor sleeping patterns? This morning she got up at quarter til ten which means that she was in bed for about eleven hours. She awakened this morning from the same position she fell into when she got in bed. On the previous evening she went to bed very late after midnight and slept very little. (As a result I slept little also.)

Is apathy and memory related? I wonder about ideas like this. Perhaps she cannot remember that she seemed to enjoy herself the last time we went there? Wherever there is.

When I finally teased Cheryl awake this morning, she opened her eyes and asked, “Is Mary Pat here?” An amusing opening question about the day. I smiled and told her, ” No Mary Pat is not here. I think you were dreaming about her.” I have no idea where the Mary Pat (a childhood and current) friend thought came from but she has talked to her a couple times over the past few weeks.

I encourage her to talk to her friends when she gets excited about some memory or misconceived thought. Many of them have had strange conversations with her about things. I used to be embarrassed for her and, at first, discouraged these phone calls which she often decides to do later in the evening. But as I thought about it I decided that it was not my place to absorb or accept or become embarrassed for her. Her friends know her state of mind. They are wonderful people and she is blessed to have them as life long friends.

Focus, cognitive abilities, caring, likes and dislikes are all related to memory issues. Staying active no matter how small that activity is helps.

Carpe Diem.

Let’s Clean!

It is easy to tell when Cheryl is feeling good. She will start cleaning.

My go-to cleaning person is my niece, Natalie. She comes over for a couple hours every other week and dusts everything, mops floors, runs the vacuum.

I tease her about touching all my pictures and stuff. I do not watch her every move. I pick up all the towels and throw them in the washer.

But at other times, when Cheryl is feeling good she cleans for awhile. I suppose it makes her feel useful. When we were younger and she was without parkinson she would clean at random intervals. I think it was a calming mindless activity to her then and is a familiar activity now.

Carpe Diem.

PT Goals

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.

https://www.parkinson.org/blog/research/Walking-with-Parkinsons-Freezing-Balance-and-Falls

more exercises

Stretch – lay like a T shape raised knees over to one side back to middle – one side then the other.

Sit on a chair – Reach up open the chest – bring arms to horizontal – twist trunk to one side and then the other with arms outstretched.

Carpe Diem and many trips to the PT experts. Next up – Occupational Therapy.

Boosted against Covid

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.

Carpe Diem

And Last Night was Bliss (Again)

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.

Life is good.

Carpe Diem.

Last Night was Peaceful

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.

Carpe Diem.

Morning “News” Programs

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.

Carpe Diem.