Friday, February 22, 2008

Some bad, some good. Some really good.

I don't know why I'm not blogging much lately. Things are a happenin'.

I is a student now. It's Scotty Brown's fault. He got this crazy idea in his head that an AA will do me some good. I signed up for Psych 2, Health Science and Word (for work). I've already decided to drop Health Science for this semester. I've still got way too much to do here and it's stuff that can't wait. The bunnies are going bonkers in their small cages so I've got to take some time to build them a big one. We're up to 4 rabbits now. (Heh! At first I typed "rabbis")

Dad has been having some bad days lately. This sundown thing is starting earlier in the day now. He's throwing punches at the staff. He tosses his walker around. I visited him yesterday after they called me and said he was in a foul mood. When I helped him to the bathroom I saw that he has some pretty big bruises all over his body. One of the Sunrise gals asked me if that happened in the hospital. I'm sure it didn't because we were with him the whole time. No, it's happening at Sunrise. I'm sure he gets up and bangs around and falls down a lot. I knew this would happen. When he's in one of his moods he won't stay still. They might think he's down for a rest but he'll get right back up again. They called me a little while ago because he wouldn't eat his dinner and was getting surly with them. I talked to Dad on the phone and got him calmed down a little. We were joking around at the end of the conversation so maybe he's in a better mood now. Drew is going over there in a little while.

They're giving me more hours at work AND I got a raise! It's still not enough to stop the financial bleed but it will make a big difference. It certainly has made a difference in my mood. Got a pep in my step. So, maybe things really will be ok.

Jeff and I went for a nice walk and then did some uke-ing last night. Bill got bogged down and didn't make it. We worked on Hey, Gyp and generally had a pleasant, goofy evening together. Tonight I'm going to Ken's. I'd better get my music book back together!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A visit to the VA on Friday, music and fun on Saturday.

On Friday I took Dad to see his doc at the VA. When I picked him up he was still having lunch so I didn't have time to properly get him together. Plus I was a bit flustered so I wasn't thinking clearly. His wheelchair wasn't in his room and I forgot to get his jacket and extra Depends. I used his walker as a wheelchair and took him out to the car. When we got there I gave him my jacket to wear and covered his legs with the down throw I still had in the car from the hospital stay. I also found a fresh Depends back there.

I dropped him off at the door and asked a security guard to watch him while I parked the car. The security guard took him to Module 3 and checked him in. Nice guy! We got in almost right away but they hadn't told me that he first needed to go up to the lab. We went up and Dad had some blood drawn. We also had to get a urine sample (more great fun for Donita). Then we went back down to see Dr. Griffin. Dr. Giertz joined us. She's the psychiatrist who talks like Edna in The Incredibles. I told them all about Dad's hospital stay and what put him in there in the first place. Dr. Griffin wasn't happy to hear about Sunrise dropping the ball in managing Dad's meals and blood sugar. They both think Dad has a severe case of sundown syndrome which is common in AD patients. They actually discussed admitting him and putting him in the psych ward! If they had seriously considered it I would have said no. Dad does NOT need another hospital stay. He needs regular meals and sleep. They adjusted his meds and ordered a sleeping pill to be given every night plus a second one if the first one doesn't take effect within an hour. YES!

Then we went to the ID office to get him a new VA card. The guy had Dad sit in front of a blue screen so he could take a photo for the new card. Dad kept insisting that I get in the picture with him. We kept trying to explain that it was just for an ID photo. We went round and round with this one. He wouldn't let it go. He wanted to call Drew and get him down there for a picture. He wanted the guy to send him copies so he could mail them out to his kids. AAAIIEEEE!!!! Then we went to the pharmacy. I knew we would have trouble because Dad had no ID and the meds we were picking up were narcotics. I told them to call Dr. Griffin and gave them my drivers license. They told me I wasn't in their records as the person who could act on Dad's behalf. Damn it! I've been taking him there for four years! I'd been picking up meds for him all along. When I first started taking care of him there was a problem with getting me into the system but it had been resolved. They tried asking him questions to verify his ID. I told them Dad wouldn't be able to answer their questions. We finally got the pills but it was a big mess. Next time I need to remember to bring the scans we made of Dad's wallet contents.

By the time we left we had been there for four hours. Dad was starting to get surly. When I wheeled him out the door there was no one out there. Like, NO one. I've never seen it like that. Usually there are people milling about and there's always at least one security guard. It was cold and windy. The courtesy shuttle came up but Dad would have had to climb up some pretty big steps to get up into it. He couldn't even lift his foot up enough to get up a small curb. I told the driver no thanks and turned to go back into the building. Dad started griping about how he would have no problem getting into the shuttle and about how stupid I am and blah, blah, fuckin' blah. After dealing with his bullshit and piss and spending four hours of my day off where I had actually had plans to work on building a much-needed rabbit cage I was in no mood to put up with any of his crap. I told him the only words that should come out of his mouth were "thank you". I took him back inside to the emergency desk and asked the woman there if she could keep an eye on him while I went to get the car. I ran to my car and drove back up the entrance as fast as I could. Sure enough Dad was standing up and shuffling around dragging the blanket and the walker looking like he could keel over any minute. The woman at the emergency desk had just jumped up to help him. He was pointing his bony finger in her face. I got him back into the walker and pulled him backwards to the car, him bitching the whole way. We were both silent on the drive home.

When we got back to Sunrise his mood had changed and he knew I was mad at him. He said he was sorry and asked for a hug. I told him I loved him and said goodbye. Then I went to the Wellness Office and gave them his new meds. I was so glad to get out of there and go home.

Later I went to Ken's and played music with him and John. Gawd, it was fun. I really needed that. Last night Jeff, Bill and I went to the Folk Center to see Janet Klein and Hobo Jazz. It was an evening of Tin Pan Alley type music. We met up with Jeff's friend, Tim. Janet Klein does cutsey, naughty songs from the 20s and 30s. She's completely adorable. Like, really adorable. She had a fiddle player and an amazing guitarist with her. His style was very Django Reinhardt. His grandmother was ZaSu Pitts!

Before the show we had dinner at this Mediterranean/Indian/Afghani restaurant. Major yum. I had the best salmon fillet ever with some kind of creamy sauce and peach chutney. The boys were happy with their meals. After the show we were going to have drinks with Janet (Tim was her dad's best friend) but they wanted to go to this jazz place that had a $5 cover and played loud, noodly music I just can't relate to. We left and came back to Riverside. Bill called Virginia and she and Sue met us for drinks at El Torito. It was the perfect way to end a very enjoyable evening.

On Friday morning I stopped by an estate sale and bought myself a couple of matching dressers. They were a bit dirty but after some cleaning and waxing they look really good. Yay! My room is coming together. Now I just have to cut my bed down to fit my new mattress and assemble it. And then I'll take it all apart so I can paint!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Catching up again

It's been over a week since my last post. What a week.

On Tuesday Sunrise called Drew and told him they thought Dad had had a TIA or maybe another stroke. They were concerned because he was barely functioning. He wasn't eating and he barely responded when they talked to him. Drew called me and he and I went to Sunrise. It was as they said. Dad was weak, droopy-eyed and non-responsive. He hadn't eaten any of his dinner. Mindy showed up a little later. She and I tried to get him to eat a little bit of bread and cheese from his sandwich but he didn't get much down. He did drink a small glass of juice. After discussing it for a while we decided to take him to the hospital.

We were in the ER for a long time. They did some tests but we weren't hearing anything back about the results. While we were there Dad seemed to brighten up a little. That was a bit of a clue right there. He'd had that juice and it seemed to help. Drew and I think that what was really happening was Dad stays up all night trashing his room and then he's exhausted during the day and can't eat like he should. Turns out we were right. Since he wasn't getting enough to eat his diabetes meds caused his blood sugar to plunge. Ahem. Do you think that maybe the staff at Sunrise could have caught that one?

I had to work the next day so I left at around 11:30. They finally admitted Dad and Drew spent the night with him. He said things got a little rough in the early morning when Dad's mellowing meds wore off. Mindy relived Drew in the afternoon. I went over there at 5 prepared to spend the night. Stacey showed up at around 7. She was just going to visit for a couple hours because she had to get up very early to go to work.

About an hour before she got there Dad started to get agitated. He was asking lots of questions and was fidgeting with his hospital gown. He kept trying to remove his IV and he pulled at the sensor stickers that were on his chest. He wanted to know what part of the room was "his house". He was angry that he had to share his room and he didn't like having strangers come and go. He was crazy concerned about edges and boundries. He'd run his hands along the hem of his gown and along the edge of the bed. He'd say, "Your place is there and mine is here. Right here. This is yours and this is mine." He was trying hard to get it figured out and he got angrier and angrier as time went on. Then he wanted to know who was paying for everything and what we should do. I kept telling him everything was paid for and there was nothing for him to do but rest. He kept saying, "Let's go. Let's go talk to the people. Let's go." He kept getting up. Finally I decided to let him go out to the hall. Sometimes letting him walk wears him out. Stacey showed up just as we were walking out of the room. Dad tried talking to a nurse for a little while and then he turned and noticed Stacey. That was enough of an interruption to break his fretful stream and we were able to get him to go back to the room.

But things didn't get any better. I kept hoping the evening meds would show up because I knew there'd be a sedative in there. They finally brought them. Dad didn't want to take the pills and we had to talk circles for a long time before he gave in. Then he had a hard time because he'd open his lips but clench his teeth. He finally got them all down.

He had to pee every five minutes, no exaggeration. We'd get him into bed and get him all covered and cozy and almost immediately he'd sit up and say he had to piss. Sometimes he could make it to the bathroom but we also had to help him use the urinal bottle. That was when we had to let go of any squeemishness we had about seeing our father's nakedness. This went on all night.

We kept waiting for the sedative to take effect. We could tell that it was but Dad fought it. He fought it like mad. It was like trying to get an overly tired toddler to let go of the day and go to sleep. Dad was like a toddler on steroids. He'd get up and stand next to the bed, lips and eyelids drooping, legs wobbly and shaking. We kept telling him to sit down and we'd push him down on the bed. He started throwing punches. At one point he picked up a wooden chair and tossed it on the bed. Stacey said, "This is what he must be doing every night in his room." We called some nurses to help get him into bed. Stacey and I waited out in the hall and listened to them getting him into his bed. We knew that as soon as they were done he'd be right up again. He did stay down for about 15 minutes but soon he said he needed to pee and jumped right up again. We helped him walk to the bathroom but he stopped at the door and leaned against the frame. His legs just wouldn't carry him any further. At that point I got pretty angry. I said, "That's it Dad. You're going back to bed and you're going to stay there. Stacey has to go home. We're done. Let's go. Pick up your feet. Pick up your feet." I kept talking as we dragged him back to bed. He fell asleep quickly and Stacey went home. She was pretty upset.

Dad slept for about an hour and a half but then the whole thing started up again. He'd sleep for a bit longer in between but he still got up several times during the night. I tried sleeping on the floor for a while. Then one of the nurses brought me a more comfortable chair and I slept in that. Sometimes Dad could make it to the bathroom but most of the time he couldn't and he'd pull his Depends down and pee would go everywhere, including on me. At 4 am he started to get combative again. More yelling, more throwing punches for 2 1/2 hours. He finally fell asleep. When he woke up at around 8 he was fine. Drew showed up at lunch time and I went home. They released him soon after.

I went home and crashed. That night Jeff and Bill came over and we had a nice, wonderful evening of playing ukes and drinking wine. A lot of wine for me. Thanks, guys. It was exactly what I needed.

I'm taking a break. I'll write about Dad's trip the the VA doc later.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Kitchen with built-ins

I love the cabinets but they have quirks. One of these days I'll change the hardware back to something more 50's. I'm not wild about the tile but it isn't bad.
I loooove this built-in unit. You can see some remnants of Gammer's wallpaper. You can imagine how changing the hardware would help these cabinets. Now I'm trying to decide what color I want to paint the kitchen. I want something that will compliment the cabinets and all this green glass I have on display. Have you guessed I have a thing for green glass?

When I was in second grade my dad gave me this big hunk of green glass he found on a job site. It was about the size of a large grapefruit. It was a big solid piece that had been chipped here and there. The chipped parts were shaped like big swirls. It was amazing the way light went through it. It was one of my favorite objects. I lost it when we moved up to the farm. I know it was in a box that also contained my sea shell collection that was stored in the barn. I'm sure it was taken a long time ago.

More photos

The ugly tree. It actually doesn't look that bad in the photo but standing right next to it changes your DNA, I'm sure of it. It leans, the top of the trunk is jagged and the branches stick out at right angles. Nope, I don't like it.

The pokey liquidambar. It's ugly, the roots are invasive, it drops LOTS of leaves and hard, spiky seed pods and it's right in front of the kitchen window. I'm sure they planted it there to shade the window but jeez, there are other ways to do it. Drew wants to see if he can dig it up and plant it at his house. Fine with me as long as it goes.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Ok, photos

MidCentMod, baby!

Hmm, Blogger seems to be having a little trouble uploading my photos. More to come.

Anyway, this is the cool sofa and chair that were being stored in a trailer in my dad's junk yard. The upholstery was completely shot but the frames were in good shape. I had them redone. I've been keeping them covered because I wanted to get an anti-kitty scratching device of some kind. But now that the kitty has been banished (peeing in inappropriate places) I decided to enjoy them uncovered. Dean gave me the lamp by the sofa. I've been collecting lamps from that era for years. I'm a sucker for a good mid-century modern lamp.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My house

I hesitate to say this because it might cause the earth's poles to reverse polarity and maybe even its spin. I actually kind of enjoy cleaning my kitchen.


I haven't had a garbage disposal for ten years. Got one now. Been without a dishwasher for five years. Got one now. The layout is good and there's lots of counter space. The stove is easy to clean. I even think there's an advantage to having the washer and dryer in there. I just multi-task like crazy. Right now the washer and dishwasher are humming away. It's still a disorganized mess because things aren't put away yet. I think it's going to be quite the cheery space when it's all fixed up.

I was out in the front yard just now studying the landscape. Getting familiar with the bushes, as it were. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with the front yard and the entry way. The plants are over-trimmed and spent. They're lush but tired-looking. I wanna rip 'em out.

There's an ugly, rickety railing across the front porch. There's white gravel under the bushes that scatters everywhere and is full of debris. The whole front entry way is crowded and closed-in and not at all welcoming. I'll bet I could take the railing and the gravel out in one afternoon. I haven't made up my mind about the bushes. There are five newer bushes nearest the front that have a nice shape and are kind of cute. I might try digging them up and moving them someplace else.

That big, gnarly tree in front that everyone loves? I've decided I hate it. It's oppressive. It looks like the very soul of Satan resides there. It should have been tended to long ago when it still had a chance to grow into something graceful and zen-like. Instead it looks unloved, tormented, demented and evil. And it has an evil little sidekick. The liquidambar tree in front of the kitchen window is completely bare. It has many, many spiky branches that look like they'd love to poke you and grab you. The bark is oddly ridged and the color is a pale gray. Seriously. Sibs, Smiths and Odiens, next time you come over check 'em out.

I found my camera. I'll take some photos. It's time.

I love this house.

Foggy and weak

I visited Dad this afternoon. When I got there they had just taken him out for a walk. He was pretty tired. We talked for a while in the dining room. He kept asking questions about where he was and why he was there. None of my answers stuck. He kept asking me to take him for a ride, to take him out of there. I kept stalling and said it would be his dinner time soon. He got up to go to the restroom. I thought he was going to use the restroom by the dining room but he went all the way back to his own room. He was gone a long time. When I went to check on him one of the Sunrise gals was in there with him.

Many years ago my grandfather had made this kinda cool little chotchke. It's this pretty, gnarly rock on a square base with a ceramic collie figurine glued to the top. It looks like Lassie standing on a cliff. It's something I remember seeing in their house when I was very little. When my grandfather died Dad brought it home where it sat on his mantle for many years. The last time I was at Sunrise it was sitting on top of his tv. Today the rock was sitting on the side table right by his door. The collie figurine is gone. I looked all over for it. A couple more Sunrise gals came in to check on Dad and to test his blood sugar. I asked them about it. One of them said that rock was something he liked to throw around. Yeesh. I wondered if something like that was going to happen. She said he always throws his stuff around and that they're always having to go in and clean up his room. He was still in the bathroom so I put the rock in my music bag and brought it home. They said they'd look for the collie and put it in the office if they find it.

After they left I visited with Dad in his room. He was very tired but I couldn't get him to go to bed and take a nap. He kept asking questions. He wants Drew to stay with him every night. I kept trying to explain that Drew has his own family to take care of. Dad said he understood but still wanted Drew to stay with him. He said he wanted to talk to Jim. I said, "My Jim? Dad, he's gone. Jim died last year." He said, "No, the other Jim. I want to talk to Drew and Jim." I told him I didn't know of another Jim. Then he asked, "How did I get into this sorry state?" His eyes were half closed. I talked to him about his stroke and his Alzheimer's. I finally got him to lay down and he quickly fell asleep. I sneaked out.

Ugh! I felt awful driving home. It's very sad to see him this way. Even though he can't retain anything you tell him he seems to know that he's not going to get any better. It's like on some level he really knows what's happening to him and he's finally accepted defeat. I don't really know this, it's just a feeling. And, oh, it's such a shame that figurine is broken. It always made me think of Pawpaw. I hope they find the collie. If it's not busted into too many pieces I can glue it back on. Stacey had bought Dad a nice lamp with a glass shade. I guess that got broken too. It's a bare bulb lamp now.

His birthday is on Friday. I don't know if it's a good idea to take him out someplace but I think we should. He seems like he's settling in ok so it might not be too disruptive.

Glass of wine, tv, zone out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I didn't get permission...

...and I don't care. I'm going to post this anyway. Nancy has her portfolio online and it's fabulous.

Nancy's portfolio

Well, he's ok now.

I don't know why we think we'll be able to take a break. It hasn't worked so far.

Drew called this morning just before I left for work. It was a quick phone call so I don't have all the details. Dad had a minor health incident yesterday. He was watching the game when he started having chest pains. I guess they were bad enough and persisted long enough for the staff to get worried. They called the paramedics and he was taken to the hospital. Drew spent the night with him there. They did some tests on him but the only thing wrong with Dad is he's anemic. They think maybe he just had some bad heartburn or acid reflux. Drew and MIndy took him back to Sunrise this afternoon. I went over at around 5.

Dad was just finishing dinner. He was a little mad because he didn't like what they were serving. Drew got him a ham sandwich which he liked a bit better. After a while Drew and Mindy went home. I stayed for about an hour. We went back to Dad's room and chatted for a bit. He's spaced out and dull. Dulled, really. It's sad to see. I'd almost rather see him fight. He kept talking about wanting to go someplace, to get out of there. He wants to go to the movies or on a family picnic. He wants to come over to my house and help me move in. There's nothing for him to do there except sit in his room and watch tv or go to the dining room to eat. I'm sure they have activities there but I doubt he'd enjoy that kind of thing. I think he knows that the place he's in now really is the old folks home.

When I left he wanted to walk me out to my car. I was doing my best to try to talk him out of it without actually telling him he couldn't walk out with me. One of the staff overheard and said she'd walk with us. Once we got out to the hall she said, "Ok, goodbye!" and held Dad's arm and got kind of cuddly with him while I punched the code on the key pad and left through the big secure door. Dad must know that he's locked in.

Yesterday was the uke group meeting. Jeff was sick so we were without our leader. It was a good meeting but it wasn't the same without our BABoR. After that I went to a Super Bowl party at Bruce's. Ken, Sherri, Amber and her boyfriend were there. Tim and Jan, too. I had a good time. I got home at around 6:30. I was pretty tired so I went straight to bed. Early to bed, early to rise, dammit. I woke up at 4am. All I could do was either lay there and stare at the ceiling for two hours or get up. I got up and puttered. Bleah.

Work was good today. I did computery stuff. It was kind of dry in the office which gave me a runny nose. I was blowing my nose all day. I was talking to different people and running errands around the building and even met some new people. Tra-la-la. On the way home I scratched my nose and found a piece of dried up booger on my nostril. HOW LONG WAS THAT THERE!?!?! How many people did I talk to with that dried up booger attached to my nose?!?! AAAIIEEEE!!!!!!

I feel like the dorkiest dork in dorkdom.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Prozac patio

There's something about taking a hot bath that just gets the ideas jumpin'. I've been wondering what I can do with my sun room. I wanted to use it as an art studio but there are too many issues. It's not a real room, more like a screened-in patio. The roof is a patio roof and it leaks. The windows are screens covered with plastic sheeting, which is falling apart. The carpet is old and yucky. It's cold at night and gets hot real quick when the sun shines. I've been using it as the animal management/box storage room. The dogs have been sleeping in there. It's where I put Lady when she's barking too much. We put the rabbits in there to let them get some exercise. When I empty a box it gets tossed out there.

So! Last night I took a hot bath and got some ideas. When we moved here I lost my wonderful Prozac porch. I loved my porch with its awesome view and comfy furniture. So, ok, I won't have a view but I can make this room into a really nice hang out space for summer evenings. I'm going to clean it out, rip out the carpet, take down the blinds and the plastic sheeting, set up the rattan sofas, put up some cool lights and add some plants. If the cement slab is ugly I can paint it. All of this will cost almost nothing.

I'm going to shade the windows outside by lining up four half barrels and planting them with bamboo. Oh yeah, the outside. I don't have a proper patio outside so I'm going to use the area if front of the garage as one. Got a lot of ideas for that, too.

All this might not seem like a big deal but it is to me. The house is feeling more and more like it's mine. There's so much that needs to be done. Big stuff that I can't do right away because it either takes a lot of time or costs a lot of money. But I can do something like this and it'll add a LOT of useable space.

But not today. Today I'm going to try to get as many truckloads out of storage as I can.

After breakfast.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hear me roar

Today when I got home from work I got out my brand new electric lawn mower and mowed my front lawn. Then I trimmed the edges and raked up the enormous mound of leaves around the liquidambar tree. I hate that tree. Anyway, then I raked and swept the driveway and sidewalk. The front yard doesn't look squeaky pristine but it oughta keep the neighbors from worrying about me lowering their property values. It didn't take me that long and once these trees stop dropping so many leaves the job should go quicker. Right now my back is squawking "WTF???".

But it's done. I love that mower. I do need to remember to use an orange extension cord instead of the dark green one. I'm sure you can guess why. While I was out there my across the street neighbor came running up to meet me. Lindsay had told me about a chat she had with her and she said she was very enthusiastic and nice. She was. She thinks it's way cool that we share the same last name. Her name is Christine.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to get as much out of storage as possible. I've got to get my expenses down and having two units is costing too much.

Ah, it's the weekend. Now that I'm a working stiff I can say stuff like that. Ahh... Uke group on Sunday. I'm going to try to stop by Bruce's Super Bowl party. Gotta make some artichoke dip.