Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Great Escape and Other Things....

The last few days have been relaxed and pleasant, something that's been far too rare around here lately.  My mother seems to have turned a corner, or she's lulling me into a false sense of security!  She's spent less time in her room brooding and more time being active and involved.....and very amiable.  I'm not sure what accounts for it and it isn't likely to last forever, so I'm enjoying it while I can.

She got a good report from her doctor and my advance call paid off.  The subject of her living alone did come up and he handled it well......and made both some very valid points, as well as some funny ones.  As he was discussing her being on her own, he asked if other family lived nearby, and she said ALL of her family was there (with the exception of her wayward daughter!).  Then he asked why she didn't call them when she was sick and needed help?  He also asked if she had a Lifeline, which she has had for some time.  But, I explained that when she fell and fractured her pelvis in four places, she wouldn't push the button even after I asked her to over the phone (as you remember, I found out about it all as I'm on my way to work.  Since she wouldn't push the Lifeline button, I had to call 911 here to find out how to contact 911 there!!).  That info tilted the balance for him and he said, "With your medical problems and 'history', you shouldn't be living on your own.  If you were 90 years old and in good health, it would be one thing; but, you have heart and lung problems and you're diabetic.  If you were my mother, I would not want you to be on your own."  She thanked him....but the next day said that she and her kitties needed to go home!

The funny thing was about her aching arm, shoulder and neck.  She has a pain medication she can take every 12 hours.  She cuts them in half and takes half of one.....to which I kept saying she was getting 1/2 the effect by not taking it properly.  The doctor questioned her as to why she wasn't taking it as directed.....was it making her groggy, sleepy, etc.  After a series of questions he concluded that she wasn't taking it as directed because she didn't want to......to which he said, "Well, if you aren't doing to take the medication as directed, don't complaint to her about your aches."  I almost laughed out loud.  She has begun taking it more as directed, or at least when needed.

Well, the "Great Escape" was more of a mini-escape.  Both Pamela and I had allotted most of the afternoon for our get-away.  As it turned out, my mother's cat (who is seriously ill with Irritable Bowel Syndrome) was not bouncing back after his routine shot the week before.  He is going downhill quickly and I'm not sure there is much that can be done to prevent it.  In any case, my mother wanted to take him to the vet, so that was schedule for the morning of our escape.  The vet wanted to keep him for tests, which meant that Pamela and I had to cut our plans short in order to pick him up before the vet's office closed.  Even so, we had a leisurely lunch out on the deck of the Beach Club in Sea Pines, overlooking the Atlantic and soaking in the sun.  We had hoped to have a walk on the beach or browse the shops in Harbourtown, but we settled for a quick shop at Sam's.......I had mentioned that being my last stop before coming home.  Pamela's card had expired so she asked if she could come with me and pick up a few things.  So, while it may not have been the "great escape" we had hoped for, it was good company, beautiful weather and an opportunity to relax......no complaints.

The weekend before held some good times for me, too.  On Saturday (4/21/12) I completed the dog handling class and especially enjoyed the Saturday session, when we finally got to work with the dogs.  PAL is training all who will work with the dogs in a method taught by our local "dog whisperer".  While it is more austere than I'm used to, it really does seem to be effective, especially for a place like PAL where you have so many animals with varied backgrounds.  In the time that I've been here, I can tell that the dogs are calmer and more disciplined......and there is no more real "discipline" involved than a correction with a starmark collar.  If I had a dog, "discipline" wouldn't enter the picture; but, I can see that this training really does benefit the dog and makes them more adoptable, which is the object of the center. With the training,  I hope to be able to go out and walk them from time to time or help with adoption fairs. 

On Sunday (4/22/12) I met Cheryl at the Subway shop at the corner of Hwy 278 and I-95.  You know you're good friends if you can meet at a truck stop and have a good time!!  It was non-stop chatter from the minute we spotted each other.  She was traveling from her sister's and still had a 5 hour drive back home, so our time was too short......but it was so good to get together and catch up (as best we could)....the time passed much too quickly.

So, it's been a good week and, as stated some time ago, I've become much better at seizing the day, or even the moment.  My mother has been very mellow this week and I've been able to relax and enjoy it.  Long may it last.

I hope things are good where you are.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day by Day....

I'm not sure where the time has gone or how we've spent it.  I'm still doing the "one day at a time" thing,  and on some days it's been "half-day to half-day".  My mother seems to do okay as long as she's occupied; however, I don't have the energy or creativity to do that 24/7.  If I occupy myself with my own tasks/activities (such as this), she will just go into her "zone' - head down, eyes fixed and lost in thoughts that do not seem to bring much joy.  Or, better yet, if I do something like go have my hair cut, she'll just retire to her room, with more of the same for hours and hours!!  It's hard to feel good if that's what you're doing.  Anyway, I do what I can and the photos below are of the flowers we planted in the space in the back yard that we cleared a week or so ago.  Anyone who has visited knows that this isn't my thing......it was done strictly for her benefit and enjoyment; but, I too enjoyed it and am very chuffed with the results.  We've established a routine of sitting out on the patio several times a day so Smokey, her kitty, can roam free.....the little flower garden is a nice touch.


We did have a day (almost everything takes the major part of a day) at Sam's in Savannah, with our favorite soup and salad stop at Ruby Tuesday's. This afternoon we hit the local Thrift Shop, which is one of the best around.  These are usually things my mother would really enjoy (and I think she did), but she just tires so quickly, and when it's over, it's over.

Though it's difficult to plan things and I'm likely to come back to find my mother in the zone, I have managed to get away for lunch with my friend Chris, as well as attend a dog handling class at Palmetto Animal League.

 Upcoming events include:
  • The second and final part of the dog handling class this Saturday, when we actually work with the dogs....so, I hope all goes well with that as I really enjoyed being there again after such a long time.
  • Sunday I've offered to take my mother to church again; and, shortly thereafter, I'm hoping to meet Cheryl as she travels from Camden to Florida.  We will just get together over lunch, but it will be good to catch up.
  •  Pamela, who is here from California to get her 90 year old mother's apartment ready to sell, is experiencing many of the same things I've described. So, she and I are planning a "great escape" on Tuesday.....no idea at this point what we will do, but my guess is that it will involve a glass or two of vino. 
 The remainder of my time has been and will be filled with doctor's appointments and the everyday things of life, some of which get done and others don't.  My house is out of control but, somehow, that seems way down on the list.
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After a day of being depressed, last night my mother again became active during the night.  She has  recently begun talking a lot in her sleep, almost nightly.  Sometimes her hands are going as though she's doing something.  Last night, in addition to that, she turned on her light around 11:45.  When I went in she was putting her shoes in the closet.  When I asked what she was doing, she said she was cleaning her room.  I told her the time and suggested she do it tomorrow.  Later, she knocked her water container off the bedside table......again probably doing something with her hands and arms of which she wasn't aware. I asked what she was thinking/worried about......and we "talked" about her wanting to but not being able to be on her own at home.  Not what she wanted to hear.  So, I spent most of the night on high alert!!

Later today she is to see her doctor, so I called his office before she got up this morning and asked that he inquire about her sleeping, etc.  The last time she was there she told him she wanted to go home and he said that was between us, but he didn't see how she could manage on her own (and, of course, since then she has been home and lasted a week, which he doesn't yet know).  I asked that if she said anything like that again, that he counsel her as best/positively as he could (sometimes I think they know as much about that as they do nutrition!).  So, we shall see how that goes.  I have learned that in many cases it is better for me to pull strings behind the scenes rather than dealing with it directly myself.  In that vein, I've been in touch with Indigo Pines and they are going to send her an invitation to spend several nights there, to get a feel for it.  Needless to say, I'm going to push that as much as I can without getting a backlash.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Love It When That Happens...


This was just one of those serendipitous “good feeling” kind of things that happened on my walk this past Wednesday (3/11/12).  I was doing my old route, which passes a private drive to “Oak Forest Island”.  Neighborhood scuttlebutt has it that this is where the families live who sold the land to Centex for our development.  I’ve walked by the entrance many times and am always curious as to what lies down that narrow, private drive through the forest.   So, Wednesday I’m on my way back home and the drive is completely blocked by two trucks.  A younger man has gotten out of his truck and is talking to an older man in a green truck.  As I approach, the man in the truck says, “Are you going to join our meeting”?

I say, “It looks like you guys have it under control…..and (judging from the dog in the front seat and the arrow in the hand of the younger man) I think you’re talkin’ huntin’ and I’m not sure I’d have a lot to offer…..  but, my guess is that you’re going turkey hunting with bow and arrow!”

As it turns out, they were talking about hunting and the younger man had made the arrow he was holding.  In hindsight, I wish I’d paid more attention as it was an interesting piece of kit, with a real arrowhead at the tip and turkey feathers at the end.  I’ve only seen manufactured arrows, with plastic being the primary component, so I really wish I had given a better look at this one.  The older man said that he hunted with arrows, to which I said it made things a bit fairer (though I was thinking bow and arrow, not crossbow!).  Anyway….

He said, “Where do you live?”

I said, “Waterford Drive.” 

He said, “You’re a good ways from home”, which gave me a chance to tell him about my daily walk and all of the wildlife I’ve spotted (with the most recent being turkeys…thus the turkey hunting remark.)  He asked if I’d spotted any coyotes, which I hadn’t…but he had.

So I said, “Where?  Down there?  Do you live down there?”, pointing to the private road.  He said that he did and I told him that I’d wanted to walk down there, but it was posted as “private”…….and I didn’t want to be shot with an arrow!!

And he said, “You’d be welcome to walk down there anytime.  In fact, I’ve been thinking of having an open house (am not sure where that came from…but I said it was a good idea!). He then said, “If anyone stops you, just tell them that the old guy in the green truck said it would be okay!”

I thanked him for the offer and assured him I would take him up on it…..and then continued my walk. So, one day soon I’m going to venture down the narrow, private drive through the forest to Oak Forest Island.

I loved that little exchange.  It was friendly, jovial and just a good chat with a total stranger, ending with permission to explore a new area.  I love it when that happens!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Things Are Quieter.....

 It seems so long since I've written; but, suffice it to say  that things have quietened a bit......thank heavens!  My mother is feeling better and we've been getting out a bit, which is good for her and helps build strength.  I've become good at seizing the day, especially if it's going well!!

But, to catch you up, I had lunch with my friend Sharon (from synagogue days).  We have lots to talk about as she has two elderly parents living at Indigo Pines, one is 97 and the other 94!!  We have both recognized that if anyone asks "how's your mom/parents", it's like turning on a faucet....we get going and can't turn it off.  We try to curb it and her standard line has become "status quo".....but, as she says, she's always lowering the bar!!

We found a table outside at the Main Street Cafe where we could convene and commiserate.  As soon as we sat down, she gave me the pocket charms shown here - because she knew I needed a boost. That was so sweet and thoughtful.....I was teary almost before we got seated!  I do okay most of the time but find myself really touched by the kindness of others.....it means so much.  Anyway, we had a long, leisurely lunch and I left feeling better......and I hope Sharon did, too.

At home, we've had a couple of very nice afternoons sitting out on the patio, just enjoying the nice weather.  My mother finds it difficult to relax (NOT one of my problems!) and I think she was surprised to find it relaxing and calming. We have had a few days in the 80s but now we're back in the 70s, which makes us think the heat of summer might be delayed a bit......at least we're hoping, because this weather has been almost perfect!

On Sunday we went to church....not part of my usual routine but, with it being Easter, I thought my mother might like to go.  Much to my surprise (due to her usual fear of meeting new people), she said she'd like it. The service was nice and we both enjoyed it.  After lunch, she rested and I took a nice, long walk.  It was just too beautiful to stay inside, so we took our chairs and went to the Church of the Cross and sat on the bluff overlooking the May River.  We've been there lots of times before, but this was the first time they had the door of the church, which is like a Gothic arch, outlined all around with a wide garland of greenery and white flowers, as well as beautiful window boxes.  It was fantastic.......and I'd forgotten my camera.

Our lovely weather was perfect for our ventures today.  We went to Dempsey Farms to pick strawberries.  I've been over in much hotter weather and, believe me, this was a treat.  The farm had also been closed for Easter weekend and all of the plants were full of berries, so it was easy pickin'.

As we approached the farm, I saw a sign for Hunting Island Lighthouse, which was only 7 miles away.  As we paid for the strawberries, I asked about it and he said it was straight down the road - I've been to the lighthouse before, but from a different direction.  He (Ted) asked if we planned to stay there long and I told him that we would probably just drive through and see what we could see.  He then offered the use of his pass into the park, if we would just drop it off on our way back!  That was such a nice thing to do....for total strangers!  Though we hadn't planned on it, his offer was too good to pass.  We were actually able to drive right to the beach and my mother got out and walked on the beach, savoring the warmth of the sun (as she had been cool sitting under a live oak at the farm).  We also got just as close to the lighthouse.....and spent some time meandering (by car!) through the very tropical vegetation .  It was a nice little adventure that just developed as we went along.  We returned the pass to Ted and told him that he had made our day......which he had!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just a Quick Update

Last night was the first full night of sleep we've had.  My mother coughed - just coughed, no coughing fit - around 6:30 this morning.  Other than that, she was as quiet and peaceful as a mouse all night long.  Today she felt much better and was up and moving more.  It was a lovely day (88 degrees with a nice breeze) and in the afternoon we took her kitty outside for his daily walk. Then we sat on the patio for a couple of hours, watching the golfers go by.  It was very relaxing and just nice to have some genuine down-time. 

I met Pamela, my friend from California, for lunch.  She will be here for 6 months to get her 90 year old mother's place ready to put on the market......so we have a lot in common on that topic.  It was good to see her again and to get out for something enjoyable....and without the feeling that I should be home. 

Thank you so much to those who have been in touch or kept us in your thoughts during this difficult time. It means more than you know.  With it being just the two of us, it can become pretty overwhelming when it all falls to me.  The concern and support you've sent our way has been very comforting and I truly appreciate it.

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