Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things Change.....Thank Goodness!

I just re-read the last post and realized how depressing it sounded and thought I'd better let you know that all is not lost.  I have had a few more senior moments and my biorhythms finally flat lined - there was one day when I hit bottom, physically, mentally and emotionally.  I could hardly get off the sofa and went to bed (to vegetate) at 7:30.  After a couple of nights of good sleep, I am feeling much better in every way. Thank goodness!

In addition to our nice weather, and probably because of it, we had a nice afternoon of potting pansies for the front porch. It was great to be outside and share the task.....and they look great, giving us hope that Spring is not far away. It was one of those activities design to keep my mother busy and, hopefully, give her a little pleasure. The bonus was that we both enjoyed it.

In the midst of it all, I've even managed to get some reading done, if you can call it that - a Robert Parker/Jesse Stone mystery - no chapter over two and a half pages, no word over six letters, pablum for the flighty mind!  I'm now moving on to David Baldacci just to see if I can follow a slightly more complex plot!

Mother Nature may be playing a cruel joke as there is still plenty of time for nasty weather, but at the moment we are getting all the signals that Spring IS around the corner - Bradford Pears and Red Buds are budding, everything is greening up and we've had days in the 70s.  It's been great!  It was so nice that we went to a quilt show this afternoon.  It was the perfect thing for my mother - informal, short, interesting.  She won't let me drop her at the door (because she might have to talk to someone she doesn't know), but that's okay because it gets her walking more than she does around the house.  Afterward we went to pick up "a car load of kitty grub" at Pet Smart and she suggested looking around Ross', which we did.  So, we wound up killing most of an afternoon, but it did us both good to be out and about.

The theme of the quilt show was codes used by the Underground Railroad to direct runaway slaves to freedom, usually to Canada.  There were 15 quilts (actually large quilted wall hangings) and all had been done my a single member of the church that held the event. The detail of both the piecing and the machine quilting was impressive, and the color combinations were beautiful (the photos do not do them justice). Each quilt was accompanied by a brief explanation of what the pattern/code meant.  The quilts would be hung on a fence or cabin door to "air out" while discreetly communicating a specific message directing slaves to either get ready for escape or that it was safe to move on to the next "station".  Very clever!  I thought I had taken photos of all of them, but it appears I missed one, and another was too blurred to include.  I've identified as many patterns as I could remember (never thought to note the names!) and you can get a brief rundown of what some of them mean HERE.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simultaneous Senior Moments.....

Runs In Family Pictures
INSANITY
Sometimes I scare myself!  And this aging, always being "scattered", business is driving me crazy!!  The latest episode happened last week.  Mama has a followup appointment with her doctor this week and it had been a while since I'd checked her medicine box and updated the medication spreadsheet, which we always take with us to appointments to make it easy to determine changes.  So, I printed the spreadsheet, got the box out and began to check it.  There was immediate panic when one of her heart medications was completely missing from the box.......how long had it been missing?  Why was there none in the storage box either?  What had happened?  We began to analyze her last appointment with the cardiologist in December, with very little success.....neither of us could remember s#*t!!  Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, it seemed like I very vaguely remembered him taking her off a medication - or more accurately, I vaguely remembered either saying or thinking to myself that "she thinks she's taking too much medicine, so that will be one less". However, the recollection was so dim that there was no certainty at all.  Finally, I looked in the third medicine box, the discarded medications.  There we found two bottles of the medication - one opened bottle from her "active" medicine box, and one unopened bottle, from the storage box.  Surely I would not have removed it from both boxes had she not been taken off the medication......but who knows?  So with embarrassment and apologies, I called the doctor's office to ask the nurse if she could check the notes of her last visit and let us know whether or not she had been taken off the medication.  Later in the day we were put out of our misery when she called to confirm that she had been taken off it. What a day!

We also thought we had my mother's esophagus/stomach problem resolved, but there has been a setback.  On the first visit to the gastroenterologist, he gave her some Dexilant samples to use for a few weeks between visits.  Neither of us realized that he wanted her to discontinue the 2 Omeprazoles per/day (another medication for the same problem, prescribed previously by her internist).  In any case, it seemed to be working so he prescribed the Dexilant when she went for her second visit.  As we were leaving, I asked about the Omeprazole and he said it should be discontinued.  Well, when she did that, the Dexilant alone made no improvement.  In the previous weeks, we've tried 1) Dexilant with one Omeparzole a day....no change.  2) Dexilant, Omeprazole, and Pepcid before bed.....no improvement.  So now, my mother is back where she started and we're waiting for Dexilant and Omeprazole to arrive.  It seems like a lot of medication (it IS a lot of medication!), but if something doesn't help with this problem, she will not be able to eat.......her throat and esophagus "burns" and she burps up her food as soon as it goes down  With this going on for a long time, eating becomes very difficult. She is to the point now of eating whatever she can get down, most of which works against her diabetes (starches and sugars).  So, one thing seems to work against the other and it's all too much for an 89 year old to cope with......and it's difficult for me to see and to know what to do.  Please keep us in your thoughts....we need it.

As if that isn't enough, she ran out of Cymbalta, which is for depression and helps hold it all together in spite of the other conditions. I order her meds online and a 3 month supply arrives each time.  How I let her run out of it, I have no idea. (do we see a pattern developing here)?  Whatever pain and discomfort she has been feeling has been amplified, and her ability to deal with it lessened. So, it's been a difficult week for her and I'm hoping we can get things in balance again soon.

Well, if this hasn't just added joy to your day, you must be expecting too much!  I didn't mean to go off on that tangent but, once started, it just kind of snowballed. There has been a bright spot - our beautiful, more typical, weather.  We've had some lovely days in the 70s and it's been fantastic.  On Saturday I met a friend from my Living Liberally group for a nice walk on the beach. She's a younger girl and it's an enjoyable change to spend time with someone who isn't stuck in a rut.  She is a free lance travel writer and has had an interesting year with her travels. So, I really enjoyed our chat/walk. Unfortunately, she, too, is moving soon (husband's job has taken them to NJ), so there goes another interesting friend.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Into February....

Ready for a day in Savannah.
For some unknown reason, I've been letting emails sit unanswered, blog posts go unwritten and lots of other things go undone.  It may be a case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or TPP (Too Pooped to Pop). Whatever it is, it's a sever case!!  It seems there is always something to take my time but, at the end of the day, there isn't a lot to show for it.

Being the news junkie that I am, I've been pretty plugged in to the events in Egypt.  The speed with which it all developed was amazing, and the manner in which they have conducted themselves goes beyond impressive.  Twelve days in and no clear leadership has appeared, but the people have had enough and want to be able to decide for themselves.  Nancy, who worked in Egypt, has been forwarding messages she gets from friends who are still there, and they confirm what news reports have been saying about  people banding together to protect neighborhoods, helping each other in any way needed, and ensuring that things go peacefully......behaving in extraordinary ways.  And, they have returned day after day.  It's hard to imagine how those in Liberation Square must feel.  Having been to several anti-war rallies, I understand the sense of unity and camaraderie, the real sense of mission shared with a totally diverse group of people.  It really is exhilarating.  But my experience happened in a safe setting, without fear for life and limb.  The Egyptian people have much to lose if they aren't successful.  As the world watches, I would imagine that most people are on their side, hoping that their bravery pays off and changes the course of their country for the better.  They certainly have my respect and good wishes.

My travels started with the desire to go to Egypt, to see the Pyramids and the Sphnix.  In exploring the possibility, I found that I could go to Europe for weeks for less than it would cost to go to Egypt for one week.  It was one of those "a country a day" kind of tours, but it was all new to me, so Europe seemed more bang for the buck.  So, many years later I finally traveled to Egypt the year I left Saudi.  It was the one and only DOGs trip I ever took, but I knew that once I left the Middle East, I might never have the opportunity again.  And, it was everything I had hoped for all those years before......magical and incredible. I'm so glad I made that trip.

Another revelation of this exciting news event was my discovery of Al Jazeera Live online (http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/).  Something prompted me to check out their website and suddenly I was watching live events, rather than reporters standing on balconies describing events below.  It was really quite surprising to me.  Our coverage is so much the same regardless of the channel watched (and no real in-depth international coverage) and it was nice to have a more global view.  Reporters were capable and presentation smooth.  So, I think I'm going to check it out more often as a means of balance.  At the moment there is something on with David Frost moderating a discussion about global food and water problems, with Carl Lewis (who is a UN spokesperson - who knew??)  among his guests.......a very good program.  Anyway, those of you with Middle Eastern ties might like to check it out from time to time.

Otherwise, life has been fairly uneventful.....an occasional lunch with friends, a day of shopping in Savannah, and the usual medical appointments for my mother.  On Tuesday, a new neighbor, whom I met on my walks, had us over in the afternoon.  She seems very nice and we both enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, the last part of the week Mama wasn't feeling well at all so we've had a few quiet days at home.  Thankfully, she is feeling a bit better today.  I hope she'll be up to getting out a bit tomorrow as it's supposed to be a very nice day, unlike today which was dark and rainy.

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