Friday, June 09, 2017

Okie View

A couple of weeks ago, I took a photo of the front pasture. The sun was setting and making nice long shadows. From the photo I did a pastel earlier this week. I put on a CD, Byrd and Street, which my friends Jo and Gene gave to me a few years back, and painted away. Good music to paint by! It is amazing how I think a painting is finished, until I see it in a photo. This could use a bit more tweaking, but it is close.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Coyote Trouble

Yesterday morning I looked out the window to see my red-heeler, Jack, playing with another dog that looked very similar to him. Wait a minute! That's a coyote! And they were not playing! Jack was right on the coyote's tail chasing him in the front yard. I hollered for Toby and the gun. About that time Max, the Dane, came out to help Jack. The coyote took off into the pasture, but didn't go too far. Max and Jack were smart enough not to chase the coyote back into the woods - lots of times other coyotes are waiting in ambush. By the time Toby came with the gun, the coyote was out of range, but still visible. Then he moved on off and out of site.  It is not unusual to have coyotes come fairly close to the house, but it shook me to see him in the front yard with my dog. I think the coyote was after my lone, free roaming chicken (who thinks she is a dog).  I'm glad Jack, who is in charge of ranch security, was on the job, and his faithful sidekick and deputy, Max, was with him.

Toby teased that we should put the small dogs outside for the day - with a pork-chop tied to their collars.

In the Mom News, I spent the day in WF working along side my SIL packing and cleaning on Mom's old apartment. Most of our day was spent sorting through her closets. Dang! That woman had lots of clothes!  We got lots done, but still have lots to do. This weekend, we need to get the apartment totally cleaned out. We will have a large garage sale later this summer using Jesse's house and garage. That's what she gets for going off to Greece for ten days.

Of course I went by the HOH to see Mom. It was a good visit. Although she was a bit sad and told me over and over that she did not like eating with crazy, old people, she was actually very calm.  She sat up in her chair, dressed nicely, and talked to me without yelling at me or throwing a fit. This is SO much better than our visits for the last year or so. I pray that she becomes content where she is and can live peacefully.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Crazy Fast Weekend

Toby had to work Saturday morning (end of the month stuff). So I went to the empty-nester's breakfast. Toby decided he needed to eat too and went with me before going to work. It was a cool overcast day making the breakfast at Halliburton Park perfect. We were off to WF by 11 AM. We went straight to Mom's new place at the HOH. My brother was already there. Before going in, we stopped to pray. You just never know how it will go with Mom.

We went in to find Mom up and dressed and sitting in a chair. This was such a difference from the past year where we almost always found her still in bed, and most times still in her PJs. In the past, even if she was up and had been to lunch, she would be back in her bed. It was as if she didn't know what to do with herself, so she just went back to bed. But Saturday was much better.  Our visit was quite pleasant. Mom sat and talked with us. She told Toby a  story about how she had been the hind-catcher on her high school softball team. She said in one game the ball hit her in the face. She said she went to the spring dance wearing a white dress and a black eye. It was good to hear my mom being more her old self - witty and charming.

One of the things that the HOH has repeatedly said was that it was important to keep the residents calm - providing a calming atmosphere, taking care of their needs so that they do not fret, etc. Whatever works, I am for it! Being prayed up was good too.

Saturday night we had a birthday party for Jesse. Lindz and Shay came. Bo, Sara, and the kids came. Kat was here too. Toby cooked steaks on the grill. Once again, the overcast day made it great to sit out on the patio and visit. It was a late night, but lots of fun.

Sunday, Jesse and I drove to Clarendon, TX, to a graduation party. My niece graduated from Texas Tech, and her little brother graduated from Amarillo High. My nephew is planning on going to Tech in the fall, while my niece is starting a job teaching first graders in Amarillo. My BIL had cooked pulled pork in his smoker - yummy stuff! His parents have a house on Lake Greenbelt which was a perfect place for a party. 

It was kind of funny that as we got to Clarendon, I read the instructions on getting to the party (typical Texas lake housing, which is haphazard at best) - Turn on FM road ... Drive to the end of the blacktop where there mailboxes are, and then follow the balloons to the house. So I am flying down FM road ...about 70 MPH. We came to a curve which slowed us down an bit. Then suddenly we blew past the mailboxes and hit the gravel road. I slid to a stop. It was an OMG moment! Looking around there were no balloons to follow. About that time Jesse said, "Watch out for that car!" as a car came flying around the curve, blew past the mailboxes and slid up next to us. It was my brother - having an OMG moment too. We guessed at the best way to go and then found a balloon or two to follow to the house.

Again the overcast day was cool and nice - a bit humid, but pleasant. Jesse and I arrived at the party about 1 PM and left around 5 PM. We got home around 9:30 last night. If you think that was a crazy, fast trip, Jesse leaves this evening for a trip to Greece! I will just stay home and recover and clean house and do laundry and maybe do some art.

Tomorrow, I will work on cleaning out Mom's apt. Remember, that we had recently changed her apartment. I don't look forward to going through her stuff again, but maybe it won't be so much since we just did it a few months ago.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Truth of the Matter

Yesterday my siblings and I received lots of phone calls from Mom. I answered most of the calls she made to me. Her calls were less demanding and her language less colorful. In fact, they were a bit pitiful early in the morning. She started off by saying she was sick and needed a doctor. I told her that there was a nurse right outside the door. She hung up on me :) And so it went. Most of the later calls, she told me that she wanted out of this place and to go back to the old place. Of course, she has been telling me for two years that she wanted out of the old place. Each time she called, I encouraged her to get up and get out and enjoy the activities - that she needed to get well and get stronger.  She would answer that they were not doing anything, and then hang up on me. The last call was about 7PM when she told me that she needed her phone charger, because her phone was going to die and she wouldn't be able to call us. I had to laugh. Why would I take her the charger if she is just going to yell at me? Maybe I will take it when she settles down more.

Now the truth of the matter:
My brother went by the HOH (House of Hope) to check on Mom, but she was not in her room. She was down listening to music on another wing. The nurse said that Mom had also gone to get her hair done at the beauty shop. So Pete stopped by to talk to the hairdresser, who happens to have been one of Mom's old students. She said Mom had been great - really sweet - and all went well. Then the administrator for the HOH came by and told Pete that he had visited with Mom too. He said she was very nice and all seemed to be going well. Pete talked to the nurse on the B wing (where Mom lives). She said Mom had done well through the night and was having a good day. But, that when patients see their family, sometimes it triggers their memory and they remember that they are suppose to be angry. Pete asked if he should see Mom. The nurse told him that he could, but that she would probably get angry and upset, but that was okay, and she (the nurse) would deal with it. So Pete saw Mom as she was coming out of the music concert. He said she was talking and laughing and saying the food was really much better there. When they got to her room, all hell broke loose again. The memory was triggered. And so Pete left and let the nurse deal with it.

It is all going to be okay. Mom was angry before she moved in, she is still angry, but she is engaged in activities and well taken care of. I can live with that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hard Days Work

Another post on my Mom saga - if you find these posts depressing, you may want to skip today. I post these things in order to put my thoughts together and to look back and see how things happened and my thoughts at the time. Maybe these posts could be helpful to anyone who goes through dementia with a parent. But maybe some people might find them difficult to read.

Yesterday was the big day. I took Mom to the new facility. The day started off great. Mom seemed to be at her best. She was actually up and at 'em  - having breakfast - when I arrived at Royal Estates  around 8:30. She has rarely gotten up and had breakfast since moving to her RE. Saying NEVER has she gotten up for breakfast since being there would not be an exaggeration. Of course, she had not packed her suitcase, which I had left out for her. That was no surprise. She was dressed in a cute little T-shirt and her hip-hugger skinny jeans and shoes that were way too inappropriate for an 85 year old lady with balance issues.

Things went well upon arriving at the House of Hope, although Mom recognized it as a place she had visited a friend years ago - "a place for crazy people" is how she put it. My brother and I got her settled into her room where a barrage of folks came by to introduce themselves and check Mom in. When they weighed her, she was down another ten pounds since March (another sign that she was not doing well on her own). Things were going so well with the admissions, that my brother left me to have lunch with Mom and see to things by myself.

It was when they seated us for lunch that things went to hell in a hand basket (I don't know where that saying comes from, but it seems appropriate). I should say that before that, she was getting a bit ugly with me, but I put her off and did not let her pick a fight. At lunch, she did not need anyone to fight with; she just threw several big fits in her room. I had to leave her room and the wing, since I seemed to be the focus of her anger, and she was demanding to be taken home. I didn't want to leave her, but it was for the best. I did stay around the rest of the day, but not where she could see me. The really bad part was that she had her phone and was calling my brothers and sister. At first she was angry and yelling and wanting them to come get her. Toward the end of the day she had turned pitiful. All of which were manipulative and hard on my siblings.

Now let me say that I had/have a real peace about placing Mom at the HOH. No matter that she was having a good day yesterday, she is not okay on her own. It was and is the right decision. It was and is hard on us, though.

Some of the errands I had to do while out and about in WF was picking up her little dog, Buddy.  Also while I was at her old apt, I picked up five of the designer dresses, which she bought back in March on a wild shopping spree with her boyfriend. The dresses were all very nice, very sexy, and very expensive. I dropped the dresses off at the cleaners since they all had food stains down the front (all have to be dry cleaned).  The cleaners had me sign a waiver in case the color in the dresses "ran" which apparently could happen with Calvin Klein dresses, and because the dresses were so expensive. Great.

I was worn out when I got home, but at peace.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Keep On Keeping On.

Earlier this past week, my siblings and I made a decision to move Mom to a different living facility.  After talking to her physical therapist, it seemed the right decision. The PT told us that he thought Mom was very weak and needed to use a cane or walker, but she refused that.  He said that as weak as she was, it was her mental ability that really worried him. He felt that she needed much more supervision and care. And so, I contacted House of Hope in WF. My brother and I had toured it the week before and decided it would be great for Mom. I initiated the move. The head nurse and their social worker (works with mental illness) came to evaluate Mom on Friday. 

I arrived a little early at Mom's for the evaluation. She was awake (sort of) and got up and got dressed.  She put on one of her floozy dresses and her new shoes. I thought she was doing pretty good through the evaluation. This time, she could note tell what year, month, day, or even what season it was, but she did manage to repeat the three words (chair, table, and apple) with less prompts. Then one minute later when conversation had continued on, she could not repeat any of the words. And so it went. After the nurse, social worker, and administrator conferred on the evaluation, they called me back to say that they could take Mom into their facility/nursing home and wanted her there on Tuesday after Memorial Day.

This nursing home has several wings - three of which are dedicated to dementia patients. They have them ranked: A wing, B wing, and C wing - depending on the level of care needed. Mom made the B wing. I think this was a little upsetting to my brother, and maybe to me a little less. No one wants to think that their mother is not capable of normal activities and thinking. But I do think that these people know what they are doing. They said there would be an observation period of two weeks and they would re-evaluate her. She could move up to the A wing. But they wanted her to settle in, get calmed down, and they felt that the B wing was the place for that.

On Saturday, Pete and I moved my dad's old recliner into her new room. I will place some photos and stuff there so that she feels at home quickly. I spent some time shopping for her some more appropriate clothes for physical therapy and such. My SIL took in Mom's laundry so that we could get Mom all packed and ready for the move.

The move is tomorrow morning. I have ten-jillion things to do beforehand. And yes, it is a bit overwhelming. I am working to stay focused and not emotional. It reminds me of when my dad was first having problems and was then diagnosed with cancer. Toby was off in Italy working for Halliburton. I was home on the ranch, when Mom called and said something was wrong with Dad. I went to WF and took him to the doctor and found out he had a tumor on his brain. Then my MIL called and was also in WF, because Toby's nephew was in the hospital having chemo for cancer - it was the first we knew of that - all of this while Toby was away. I decided to tell my neighbor and good friend (who was also a rancher and happened to be an elder in our church) because I might need help or something since Toby was away. I remember telling him straightforward, no emotion. He took it all in. Then he said, "Don't cry. Now is not the time for crying. Be strong." It was amazing how much that helped me.

There were so many times when I was overwhelmed with my Dad's care and treatments, but John's words would come to me and I would take that emotion and put it on a shelf in my brain. Now then those words are still helping me. I cannot be emotional yet. I need to be strong and get this done.

Later on after reporting in to John, my neighbor and elder, on how my dad was doing and what all was going on, he said, "Now you can cry." I have to say that there were times when I did cry, but for the most part, I remained strong. There is a time for weeping, and there is a time for being strong. It helps me today with my mom. I'll let you know  how the move goes.

On a happier note, we had a birthday party for GBN4 who turned two back on May the 5th. We also celebrated my DIL's birthday along with her dad and Jesse and Bo's birthdays which are coming up shortly. 
I know it is Memorial Weekend. I have been remembering those who gave their lives in service of their country. And I remember how blessed I am.