Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Eve and Day

Since I "opted out" of Christmas cards (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was lack of energy!), I put together the card below for distribution by email.  It was a whole lot more enjoyable than doing cards and tells the story of our holiday...decorating the front porch, baking, etc  The short sleeve shirts attest to the mildness of our weather and the hat is a running gag, which we both enjoyed.  Mama would wear it when she took Smokey out for a walk and I wore it for my walks, which gave the neighborhood a giggle based on the toots and waves I got!  It reminded me of the Christmas Day Run back in Abqaiq.....the fun and silliness we had!!  Those were the days.
Click to play this Smilebox collage
As mentioned in the last post, we did drive around to see the Christmas lights in the community, and I was surprised at what my mother couldn't see......the Christmas tree in Bluffton town square, etc. I thought the lights in contrast to the darkness might be something she could enjoy, but not so. Very sad! I think she does a wonderful job of "compensating".....and I want to believe. So it works for both of us in a sad kind of way. In any case, we made the most of it. Any of the musical events that we used to attend each year begin too late in the evening, so that has left a hole in the activities of the season. Not a lot is happening during the day!

Ready for the Christmas Eve Service.
Christmas Eve was a fairly relaxing day, with a little cooking in preparation for Christmas Day. In the morning, we made Mama's Potato Salad and I made a vegetable Wellington, which always surprises me that it turns out so well! We then showered and dressed for the 4PM Christmas Eve Service at the. Lowcountry Presbyterian Church. It was nicely done and a good time to hear and participate in the traditional Christmas music. Mama enjoyed it, though it wore her out.

Christmas Day started with trepidation.  I had gotten up at my usual time to tend the kitties and have a quiet coffee.  Allan called to wish us a Merry Christmas and as we were talking I noticed that Mama had gotten up.  By the time the conversation was over, she was back in bed......and I was left wondering if that was an omen for the day!!  About 30-40 minutes later she was up and came down the hall saying, "Yo-ho-ho!" she was in the Christmas spirit!  She opened her gifts over breakfast.....a crystal bracelet (which you can barely see in the photo) and a talking watch.  She liked them both, but the watch was the big surprise as she didn't know they existed.  She seems to really like it and I keep asking her what time it is, so it's been a lot of fun.

Before Christmas she asked me to take some money from her account to get something for myself for Christmas.  At that time, I really didn't need or want anything......then, I dropped my camera on the tile floor and jammed the lens.  I could get the photos off, but I couldn't take photos.  So, she said to apply the money to a new camera, which I did.  Wow, how cameras have changed since my last one!  I spent the same as on my old camera, but this one has 14.5 mega pixels rather than 6 and 18X zoom.  But that's just the is "fool proof" has WiFi and can move photos to my computer wirelessly.  I can also email them straight from the camera, as well as apply all kind of affects, scenes, filters, frames, picture in picture, you name it.  The picture below was composed by the camera......the photo I took is of the Merry Christmas cross-stitch scene on my mantel.  The rest of the scene was done by the camera!!  It's amazing.....and has provided hours of entertainment already. 

It's a Samsung......not what I expected to buy.  But, as I checked them out, it seemed the best for the price AND I know they are the major competitor to the iPhone, so  the technology is good.  So far, I've very impressed.

Back to Christmas Day....after a late breakfast, we finished lunch preparation.  Not the traditional fare, but something that pleased us both.  My mother is a meat (if I insist!) and two veg person, and the vegetables are 2 out of 5 that she will eat.  I had the vegetable Wellington, which is easier that one would think, looks wonderful......and slices perfectly. The one tradition we upheld is that we had more than we could eat!

The remainder of the day was quiet. We called a few relatives and received calls from a few.  All in all, it was a good day, for which I am grateful.  I think Mama really likes her watch and it has made life a little more normal for her.....and that pleases me. 

It was a Meowy Christmas for everyone!
And we hope it was a Merry Christmas for you, too!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a few days away and the month - the year - is speeding to an end.  I'm not sure where the time has gone, but I feel like the little mouse on the wheel, in constant movement but not getting anywhere fast!  Weeks after putting up the tree, we finally got around to putting up a few additional decorations and the house does look Christmasy.  This week we spent two days baking and have distributed the goodies to deserving friends and neighbors. So, if we can decided what we want to prepare for Christmas lunch (not as easy as one would think!), we might have the holiday under control.....Inshallah!

Friday was the first cold day of winter, so I've made good use of the nicer weather, trying to get back into a reasonable walking routine.  We also worked on the area in front of the house where we had planted azaleas....months ago.  It looked very incomplete so I used "eco-border" and rubber chips (both made of recycled tires) to fill the area, and it looks very nice....or at least finished!!  My gardening skills are such that I hope this will  be a lifetime fix!!  I'm thinking of using a less expensive border and the rubber chips for the beds in back of the house but will tackle that when the temperature rises again.

Recycled tires are the answer!
My mother has not had another episode since the packing day, although I think we averted one last night.  She had gone to bed at her usual time and within and hour and a half she was up three times....once to ask about the rain she was hearing (without her hearing aids she can't hear it thunder!), the second time she was amazed that there were so many more Christmas lights this year than in the past, and finally to have some milk.  As she was getting back into bed, I asked if she needed a sleeping pill to help her go to sleep and she agreed.  So, I gave her a second Seroquel as the doctor suggested.  She was able to go to sleep and seemed fine this morning.  The trick is seeing the signs early and being able to adjust the meds.  In this case she had already taken her evening meds and had I approached her the wrong way she would have refused to take anything.  This time I was just lucky!

We also had a tough-love talk several weekends ago. I asked her not to take it the wrong way, knowing full well she would (and she did), but I knew there would not be a right time or an easy way to say it.  She is so unhappy here and appears miserable 24/7, which is not easy to be around, and I said that she might want to consider the nursing home in Wadesboro as an option.  She knows people who reside there.  She would know many people who visit, etc.  She avoids human contact here, but it would be less threatening there....and she needs to be around more people than just me!  She took it in the most negative way possible (no surprise!) and had little to say, except that she knew the nursing home (she had been there for rehab when she fractured her pelvis) and she didn't want to be there.  And I said, "Well, maybe it will make being here seem like a better option!"  She didn't respond and was quiet for a while, but she has been more involved and less dreary.  It probably won't last long, but I'm enjoying it while I can!

I'm still concerned about Gabby and am trying to be consistent with the injections.  Over the past two weeks he has spent two whole days at the vet as they try to regulate the insulin.  It looks like 3 units twice a day is the dosage.  When I do it right, it's a breeze.  When I do it wrong, Gabby bolts, I jump and it's a disaster.  I hope it will become more consistent (and right!) as time goes on.  It breaks my heart to see him.....he's still boney, he has spots of missing hair on his head and shoulders (allergies I guess), and he still isn't himself.  He is such a loving, sweet kitty and I hate to see him looking this way.....and I hope he feels better than he looks.  As long as he's okay, I can deal with his looks.

In my sketchy notes of topics I want to include in this blog, I had intended to rant a little about the shallow, superficial and just disgusting events of Black Friday.  I think I'm going to stop watching the news on the day after to avoid seeing the savagery of people trying to get a good deal on a TV!  But, that insanity was so overshadowed by the events of Newtown, CT.  that it is just so hard to grasp.....and to imagine the devastation of a community of that size (or any size).  I really feel that this is a turning point in our cultural relationship with guns and violence....and it will have been brought about by both the savagery and innocence of this event. It was heartbreaking to hear the families describe the innocence and joy of their children, and you didn't doubt it because they were too young to be jaded by life.  The community has been an example of grace under extreme stress, but I can't help but think of what the holidays will be like in the quiet of each home....just heartbreaking and so senseless. You know me....I've already written/emailed the President and Lindsey Graham and am willing to do more.  I can't imagine why anyone needs an assault weapon and rapid-fire clips. I think that if you are so afraid that you think those things will help, you need to learn to deal with your fear in a  more constructive way.  The NRAs answer is more guns.....the only thing that will stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun!  Those people have been watching too much TV!  They are living in a parallel universe.  I hope this will be just like the election.....they can rant and rave, be as obnoxious as they like; but, in the end the majority of sane people will say "enough is enough". 

We're getting ready to go look at Christmas lights in the Bluffton area, so I'll take this time to wish you and yours all the sentiments of the season....

peace on earth

goodwill to all 

joy to the world

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thanksgiving and Beyond....

It's been a long time since I've written, mostly because I simply haven't had the heart.....and there's been little good news to report.  The picture looks like a happy Thanksgiving, but looks can be deceiving.  Actually, Thanksgiving day was good, but my mother had "an episode", for lack of better words, the three days leading up to it.  Tuesday night she was up and down all night until about 1:30 AM when I finally turned on all the lights in the house and asked her if she wanted to come to the kitchen for some milk.  She came down the hall looking at everything as though for the first time and said, "This place is just like your other place."  She walked through every room and looked at everything on the wall....and seemed to approve!  She had milk and we sat a while until she said she was tired and thought she would go to bed.  After the events earlier in the evening, my first thought was "sure!", but she went to bed, to sleep and slept until 9AM on Wednesday morning.  Of course by the time she decided to do that, I had sweet potatoes baking in the oven, the dishwasher going, etc.  I finally made it to bed around 3:30!  She spent most of that morning in her room, finally coming out around 3PM to help with the cooking....probably after the increased dosage of morning meds had time to kick in.  She was rational after that and Thanksgiving Day was quiet.....and quiet is good.

Today (Monday, December 3) is a bit different.  The episode began yesterday but didn't escalate during the night.  This is the first time it has happened during the day....for the whole day.  She is going home and has (literally) packed everything in her room and bathroom.  She has been at it all day and I've just left her alone.  The less I say the better, so I've picked out a gallon bag of pecans, baked cookies and cornmeal muffins. She said she would call her NC neighbor to come get her, then asked if I would call a taxi and see how much that would cost.  Again, I remained quiet.  It's 4:15PM and she just changed into her PJs so maybe she has decided to stay the night. I've called the doctor again and he suggested doubling her nighttime dosage of Seroquel.  That should at least help her sleep....and me,too!  Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.....

A note to Allan and Ann, both of whom left messages on my phone today.  We were here but in absolutely no condition to talk.  My sincere apologies for not picking up but, believe me, I spared you!!

If you haven't guessed, my mother has officially been diagnosed with dementia.....and I think we have both been in denial.  The aides from Amedisys used the word when they were assisting her after her hospital stay in September, but I'm not sure she picked up on it or knows exactly what is happening to her.  But, it has definitely caught my full attention over the last few months.  The word was first used when I had her doctor complete his portion of the application for Aid and Attendance Benefits but, again, I didn't pay too much attention to it, thinking they were just trying to be helpful.  That idea was shot down in no time flat.  Now that I can no longer deny it, I've contacted a few places to see what my options are.....and South Carolina, one of those states that refused the Medicaid expansion required by Obamacare, makes it difficult for someone without major physical problems (unable to dress or feed self, etc.) to receive assistance.  So, it isn't likely to be a quick or easy path.  When she is feeling better, I hope to speak with someone in person in order to get a grasp of things.  I know that her needs are quickly outpacing my abilities. I've emailed the relatives and spoken with friends, giving full details.  Today I returned the Talking Books equipment, which she never seemed able to process or enjoy.....and it's such a wonderful service.  I hope there will be someone who can benefit from it.  That was my acknowledgement of the reality of our situation.

Just home from Vet's clinic.
My lament (in my last post) about my kitties proved prophetic.  The day after Thanksgiving Gabby had scratched three raw places on his head.  I'd taken him the month before for an allergy shot and just figured it was time for another. He had also been eating very well but was becoming boney, so I asked that they do blood work to make sure everything was okay. From the point of the vet visit on, he stopped eating and became more and more lethargic.  By Sunday he was so ill that I was really afraid for him, so I called the vet.  The secretary actually received the message and, since she was passing the office, stopped in and pulled the blood work up on the computer.  Gabby is diabetic and the allergy shot exacerbate it.  The vet called and explained the problem and said I should bring him in on Monday at 8AM...that he would be alright until then.  But, by that time he had also stopped drinking water or moving.  He would just lie wherever he was placed and had a blank stare.  So, I called again around 3:30 and told her I was afraid he wouldn't make it until Monday.  She seemed none too pleased about seeing him on a Sunday, which I called her on....."Oh, no no!  It isn't that"....if anything was wrong, she couldn't leave an unsupervised, unprepped cat in the clinic overnight.  If it was serious, I would have to take him to the clinic in Savannah.  I told her that was okay with me.  What I didn't want was a dead cat in the morning.  So, for a hefty sum she agreed to meet me and see him.  He was very dehydrated, so she gave him fluid and a pain reliever.  Needless to say, I had him at the clinic at 8AM and he was there for two nights and three days. The first two days home he required two insulin shots a day and two pain meds per day.  After that it's the insulin and an appetite stimulant every 2-3 days.  I do want a follow up for him as soon as things settle with my mother..... He is such a sweet kitty and my main source of love and encouragement.  I really don't want to lose him and I hope he is able to fully recover.

Well, Gabby's scare just totally unhinged me.  My emotions have been (and still are) on my sleeve and I've spent a lot of time crying, for both Gabby and all that I've been sublimating about my mother for such a long time.....just a deep well of sadness.  I know that "this too shall pass" and life will not always be this way, but it is very difficult when going through it.

Christmas?  I'm just hoping to get through it and get it over without disturbance.  We put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving but have not been able to get anything else done.  My heart just isn't in it and my energy level is zip.  It can't be over soon enough......

Wish the news from this end was better, but I hope things are going well where you are and that everyone is in the Christmas/Holiday spirit. If so, read this and count your blessings!! Thanks so much for keeping us in your you are in ours.  Lots of love for the holidays!

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