Monday, March 31, 2008

A quick visit with Dad

I went there this morning before work. He was in the dining room strapped into his wheelchair. He was pretty well zonked out. I sat with him for a while and got him to wake up a little. I helped him drink some juice. I misjudged a little and spilled some on him. While I was cleaning it up I said, "Sorry about that Dad. I didn't mean to spill juice on you." He said, "Yes you did." and smiled. It made me laugh. I said, "Ah ha! I knew you were still in there." Even through the AD/stroke/medication fog he can still crack a joke. He started falling asleep again so I left.

Yesterday I hung some... well, they're not really curtains. Kind of like bead curtains except there are no beads, just little straw rings linked together. I hung them over the living room windows. They look pretty cool and you can still see through them into the family room and out the windows. It's nice to get a little decorating done. Today I spent a bit of money and bought a metal pergola at K-Mart (on sale). It should fit nicely in the driveway right in front of the garage. I'm making that area into a patio. I hope I can put it together.

Scooped poop this afternoon. Three dogs can manufacture a lot of doo-doo.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blogging from work

It's so quiet around here it makes me wonder if everyone's napping at their desks. I'm about ready to pass out. An hour and a half to go.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

A good day at work

I was busy almost the whole time. I finished up the arts and crafts project. Dr. Monica is giving a presentation at a big RCC meeting tomorrow. The whole meeting is themed. All the presentations will have something to do with growing things. Monica's presentation is called Tilling the Soil. She has a little gardening bag with assorted implements to use as props. Yesterday I made the labels for them. I did the graphics on Word, printed them out, cut them up and mounted them on card stock. Today I affixed them to the implements. Sounds kinda cheesy but they looked really cute. Five of them are attached to the implements and the sixth one is on a glove. I cut a hand out of cardboard and slipped it inside the glove and stapled the label on the outside.

Now, if I had done all this at home I would have used all my wonderful supplies and tools. At work I have almost nothing that functions well for doing an art project. I think that's what made this so fun to do. I had to improvise and it all turned out looking just as good as if I had done it at home.

I also made business cards. She wanted to have something that was specific to the counseling department that she could hand out at the meeting. I downloaded a very simple template and designed the card. The cutter they had in the office caused the card stock to shift so I ended up cutting them all by hand using a metal ruler and a box cutter. They weren't perfect but they were pretty damn close. Monica was pleased and she was reeeally happy with the gardening bag.

Then in the afternoon I redid a bunch of Tanya's notebooks. Not a lot of creativity involved there but now her notebooks are organized and freshly labeled. With the garden bag project and organizing the notebooks AND working on my Psych essay I'm really getting to know my way around Word. So, even if all this stuff sounds boring I'm learning a lot. Plus, I'm pleasing the people I work for.

Ugh! My psych essay. It's supposed to be at least five pages. I've got four full pages and I've said all I want to say. Now I just need to find some extra stuff to fluff it out. I don't want to fluff it out because I like it the way it is. But fluff I must. I still have almost a month before it's due. So, why am I whining?

I'm going to gather up some art supplies to take to work.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

...and going

I think we all need to keep hospital kits in our cars. Blankets, pillows, a comfortable chair and a packet of Dad's papers so we have all his information at the ready. Yep, he fell again. This time some Einstein at Airforce Village had sent him to COUNTY hospital. This is the first time I've ever been out there. It's out in the middle of Shitsville, USA.

I was at school this evening and I had forgotten my cell phone. When I got home Paige told me that Dad had fallen and I should call Drew. I couldn't get ahold of him so I called Mindy. She was pretty mad about the whole county hospital thing. We couldn't reach Drew so I decided to drive out there. Dad was still in the emergency room, Drew was with him. Dad was all hands, trying to pull out his IV and take off his stickers and stuff. I stepped in and took ahold of one of his hands. Drew said he'd been a little combative and agitated. Pretty soon after I got there they gave him some Atavan. It calmed him a little but Dad is so good at fighting through sedatives it didn't do that much. We still had to hold onto his hands. After talking about it a while we decided that I should go home and relieve Drew at 5 tomorrow morning. So here I am. I'm going to bed soon.

So, I guess what happened is Dad tried to walk and fell down. They had done a CAT scan on him at the hospital but they were waiting for someone to read it. They don't know if he hit his head when he fell. They suspect yes. I didn't get a look at him but Drew said he has some new bruises.

Man, this sucks. I don't know why I still have this fantasy that the professionals we've hired are actually competent enough to handle this very common Alzheimer's behavior. Silly me.

Ok, update...

Drew just called. They're releasing him. Drew's going to take him back to Airforce and put him to bed. I hope he tells them to give Dad a sleeping pill. Whew! I can sleep in.

Ok, to bed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm weak

Yowza. I went up the Rube this evening. I didn't do the whole walk, just up to the bridge and then back down. Boy, I was slow. I won't have time to exercise tomorrow because it's my long day, but man, I'd better do it on Wednesday. On Thursday we're supposed to uke it, which means Jeff and I will walk beforehand. I gotta get regular exercise. I didn't take very good care of myself last year. I am weak, weak, weak.

On Saturday morning I got my hair cut. Lopped off about 6 inches. It might be a bit shorter than I really wanted but it looks ok. That afternoon I went to Jeff's mom's place with Bill and a couple of his friends. Jeff met us there. We were there to witness the signing of her will. Jeff's been wanting to get that done for months but it was hard to get enough people together to get over there. Fortunately, she was quite lucid so it all went smoothly. Afterward we went to Killarney's for dinner. Mmm, Smithwick's.

Easter was pleasant. The girls were off with their boys so I went to Stacey and Scotty's for the Brown's Easter party. I took Eddie bun in the cat carrier. She was the hit of the party. The kids just loved her and she was so good with them. If you hold Eddie on her back she just zones out. I had all the kids hold her "like a baby" and Eddie just relaxed and was completely still. Even the really little kids could hold her. What a good bunny. When I got home I saw that the neighbors down the street were having an egg hunt in their front yard. I took Eddie down there so the kids could meet the Easter bunny. Two parties in one day. Next year we should advertise.

This morning I took Vesuvius to the vet to get him fixed. Even though Eddie and Walnut are fixed Vesuvius wouldn't leave them alone. Ah, Spring. All the girls at the vet just gushed over Vesuvius. He really is a pretty rabbit. He's black with white around the eyes and inside his ears. His underside is white-ish. His fur is extremely soft, much softer than Eddie's and Walnut's. He looks like a toy.

Kyle had his wisdom teeth out today so he's staying here to recuperate. That means Spiral and Inky are here too. Ink is the kitten we found last summer, the one that was a bag of bones and probably one day away from death. Well, now she's big and healthy and very pretty. Kinda skitty, though.

Man, that walk kicked my butt.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It just keeps going and going

Dad had a bad episode today. I wasn't there to see it. The hospice people called Drew to have him come over and calm Dad down. Drew said he could hear Dad yelling in the background while he was talking to them on the phone.

I went over there after work. When I got there Drew was at the nurses station talking to a nurse. He filled me in on what had happened. They're just too light on Dad's meds there. I think maybe now they get it. They gave him a mellower and put him to bed. He was sleeping when I got there. Drew and I had a nice long talk. When he left I went into Dad's room. Over his bed is a piece of paper that says Call me Mr. Lang and it has all our names written on it. I added, Visitors and Staff, please offer Mr. Lang a drink. He needs more fluids. Thank you.

I think Dad will do better if he has consistent medication and enough to drink. It kind of amazes me that these places seem a little baffled by Dad's sundowners. He can't be the craziest AD mo-fo they've ever seen. I sometimes get this fleeting (thank gawd!) thought that we'd be able to care for him better than anyone I've seen so far. But, of course, that's INSANE.

Jeff and Bill's mom also had an "event" today. These old people are trying to do us in. Are WE (people my age) going to do the same thing to our kids when we're old? Surely... not? Eh? Does everybody do this stuff when they get old? My grandfather was a handfull, my favorite aunt was abusive to her daughter, Deans grandmother made everyone want to kill her. Isn't it enough just to be a little cranky and be done with it? Jeez!

Lindsay and Paige, brace yourselves.

Tomorrow there's a big meeting in the office. All the bigwigs and their assistants are participating. That means everybody in the chancellor's office across the hall will be in the meeting. They're having me go over to answer their phones for two hours. I think I should answer the phones as Ernestine. "A gracious hello!" Snort!

Actually, I'm terrified.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Still here

Poor, stale blog.

Ok. Dad is in the hospice section of an air force retirement community. We're talkin' waaaaay across town, for me anyway. More convenient for Stacey and Drew. It's a pretty nice place. I just hop they'll be able to handle Dad's special needs. He has a bed that can be lowered almost all the way to the floor to minimize falls. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. Last night as they were transferring him he fell and hit his back on the AC unit in his room. They kept an eye on him last night and today he's doing ok.

The first time I visited him there I arrived while he was taking a nap. I sat there and watched him as he was waking up. I didn't speak or let him know I was there. I wanted to observe him to see what he does when he's alone. Man, he looked awful, really like a moving corpse. One of the nurses came in and woke him up. She tried to get him to eat but he only got three bites down. Another nurse came in and changed his Depends and got him into a hospital gown. Stacey and Scotty showed up soon after. We got him to drink some water which brightened him up quite a bit. I'm thinking they're not doing enough to keep him hydrated. That's a problem for obvious reasons but also because his meds can sometimes build up in his system and put him into a stupor. Then the hospice people get concerned and want to reduce his meds. We're trying to get them to understand that he needs his meds or he becomes agitated and combative. When I went there yesterday they told me he's been fighting them. Yeah, duh. Give him his meds and make sure he has enough to drink.

Yesterday he looked much better. I got there just as he was finishing up his lunch. He was in a good mood and the staff commented on his sense of humor. He even laughed at a couple of my jokes. But his aphasia was very bad. He'd start to ask a question and then get stuck halfway through it and start using the wrong words. When he fell last night the staff called Dede to let her know what happened and so she could talk to Dad and calm him down. She said it was pretty amazing. Everything Dad said was gibberish.

After he finished lunch we went back to his room. The nurses wanted to change his Depends so they hoisted him out of his wheelchair and into the bed. Even as weak as he's been he's always been able to stand. When they were lifting him I said, "Stand up, Dad. They need you to help them. Stand up." But he couldn't use his legs at all. It was like he was paralyzed. He's supposed to get some physical therapy at this place but they won't do it if he refuses or if he doesn't make progress. I don't know when they're planning to start. He sure needs it.

Everything else in my life is pretty good. Progress on the house is slow but at least it's progress. Yesterday I planted some Mexican feather bamboo in three wine barrels lined up outside the sunroom windows. I think in a year's time they'll shade those windows really well. They actually look pretty good right now. That was a big job. Three wine barrels hold a LOT of dirt.

We've been missing some uke practice. Jeff and Bill's mom has been having health issues so our practices have been put on hold. Gonna miss this week, too. Jeff and I haven't walked lately. I'm feeling blobby. Yeah, I know. There's no excuse. Well, I'm being kind of good. I get two 15 minute breaks when I work a full day. Instead of sitting around I'll go out and take some laps around the building. It helps wake me up when I start dragging in the afternoon.

I'm really enjoying my job. I really like the people in my office and I'm learning a lot. On slow days I can do my psych homework. I LOVE that.

Ok, gotta go to the store and buy some food for my rotten doggies.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Doing better

Well, at last as far as the bump on his head is concerned. I don't think they've done any tests but yesterday Dede said if the bleed wasn't getting better we'd have known by now. Oh yeah, Dede came down and spent the night with Dad last night. I just got off work and came home for a clothing change. I'm going to take the evening shift.

Dad is still fidgety and is being kept in a drugged-up fog. Otherwise he'd be unmanageable. It's amazing how he can fight through the sedatives. Last night the hospice person came by and talked to Dede about our options. I'm not concerned anymore about having Dad be in a familiar environment. He's goofy no matter where he is.

Yesterday Dede played some Chet Atkins for Dad on her iPod and he seemed to enjoy it. I'm taking the uke with me tonight. He enjoyed that when he was at Community Care. He liked to sing along then but I don't think he can do that now.

So, now I guess we wait and watch the Alzheimer's follow its course. He could have another stroke or he could take another fall. Or he could just continue on until he forgets how to do everything, like how to swallow. He still knows who we all are but I think he'll lose that soon. It's so surreal that I'm taking that psych class now. It's Physiological Psychology which is all about brain function. It's almost like I can see Dad's brain.

Ok, Donita, go get something awful for dinner and then get over there.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dad fell

He hit his head this time. It's 1:40am and I just got home from the hospital. Drew is spending the night. They didn't have a room for Dad that was close to the nurses station (he's waaaay down the hall) so his nurse asked if one of us could spend the night. Dad was sleeping when I left but he could pop up at any time. He tries to get out of bed and he's constantly trying to rip out his IV. For his own safety he needed someone there tonight. I didn't feel right about leaving Drew. This has got to stop.

Dad has a bleed on the surface of his brain. When he fell he hit the back of his head kind of off to one side. They're going to keep him in the hospital to see if the bleeding stops on its own. When I left Dad seemed to be doing well. Well, for him, anyway. He was doing his usual behaviors and didn't seem like he was in any additional distress. It doesn't look to me like the fall has done him much harm. We'll see.

So, that's it for now. I'm going to bed. Oh yeah, there's an extra bed in Dad's room for Drew to sleep on. At least he can be comfortable while he's there.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Man, it's been a while since the last post. Have I really been that busy?


Dad is just getting worse and worse. His mind is nothing but chaos. Right now he has an infection in his feet so he's in a lot of pain. Drew has been with him almost every day because Dad won't settle down, can't settle down. He can't walk because his legs are in so much pain from the infection. And then he forgets that he can't walk so he stands up and falls down. It's just a horrible situation.

We have to hire someone who can be with him during the night. One of the staff at Sunrise introduced Drew to a guy who has a company that deals with this stuff. And yes, it's very expensive. Dad has an appointment at the VA on Wednesday with Dr. Griffin and the psychiatrist. Maybe they can come up with a plan. The last time Dad saw them they were talking about admitting him to the psych ward to do a full evaluation. Maybe this time we should let them.

Just a minute...

Ok, I just talked to the three sibs who are in the immediate loop. Everyone pretty much agrees it's time for action. If the VA wants to admit him then we're all for it. We're also going to be thinking about/talking about finding him a different place to live. Sunrise is fine for docile AD patients. That ain't Dad.

Ok, good. I feel a little bit better. We needed to communicate.

School is going ok but I've been frustrated with the Word class. I'm supposed to do 14 hours of lab time but when I've gone in there they didn't have the right book. I told the teacher about it and I think it's all straightened out. But, dang, I'm behind. Psych 2 is really interesting, especially in light of what's been happening with Dad. He's my Psych lab. Today I stopped by Scotty's office for a visit. We discussed my educational goals. He thinks I might have to take...a.....(ulp)...MATH CLASS.

Work is good. I'm settling in now. Scotty sent me a job posting for an opening in the counseling office. It's full-time with higher pay. I might as well go for it. The hours are goofy but it's on campus and it's a busy office. I like busy. And since it's on campus I could ride my bike to work. But, ahem, I don't have it yet.

On Saturday Jeff went with me to San Diego to pick up Jim's keyboards. The guy who was going to sell them for me didn't. I guess it was more than he really wanted to deal with. Anyway, I think it was good for me to have them out of my space for a while. I'll get some eBay sales going. Jeff and I had lunch at Lawrence Welk Village. The meal was good but I think I left there with more gray hairs than I came in with. Jeff showed me this really cool nursery near there that sells California native plants. I'm not ready to do any landscaping yet but when I do I'll want to go back there and get some.

Man, things are weird right now. Talk about a mixed bag. I love my house, but it has issues. I love my job, but I'm still worried about money. I'm not taking care of Dad, but now he needs more attention than ever. I'm going to school. I'm playing music. Good things are happening and bad things are happening. And I'm still kind of reeling from the ordeal of 2007. I think about Jim many times throughout my day. I'm still trying to figure out who the hell I am.

All I really want to do is paint my living room and buy some curtains.