Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Praise Him, Praise Him

This is the third week that Dean hasn't felt up to attending his adult day program, which he normally goes to on Tuesdays and Fridays. He's not been sleeping so good at night, but makes up for it during the day. It seems to be related to his high blood pressure readings during the night though, so I have hopes of resolving this issue someday with medication adjustments.

Just to get him out of the house this morning, I suggested that we go to the grocery store that his day program goes to once a month. They have a sit-down cafeteria there and it's nice for the clients, Dean's friends for years now, to associate with some of the regular customers there.

They were all happy to see Dean and see how he's been doing. And they are always happy to see me. Evidently Dean has told them so much what an angel I am, that they have come to actually believe it. I get a lot of good affirmation from that crowd. Even though we have had little interaction over the years, they act like I'm their best friend.

This reminded me that through our praise of Jesus, we can actually make Him feel close to others too. They can come to appreciate Him as much as we do. The nicest praise we receive is that given when we aren't around to hear it. In other words, it's important to praise Him everywhere, not just in church.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Caregiving Etiquette

Finally Dean got to use his Burger King gift card he got for Christmas. We went there for supper today and ate in the BK dining room. Not just drive-thru for this fast-food special occasion. It was a good time to be there, just before the supper rush, and it appeared we were the only customers for awhile at least.

We made our food choices, and Dean was trying to count out the exact change from a handful of coins in his hand. He was starting to get a bit frustrated with the effort it was taking. So I appealed to him to let me get the coins for the cashier, since there were now people behind us waiting in line. He relented and we then proceeded to find a table with our food.

Dean, of course, had his usual large Coke under control, I thought, until he set it down by the tray of food on the table and then knocked it over with his hand, spilling most of the contents, on the table, on the chair, on the floor, and on himself.

With a bit of embarrassment I informed the cashier that we had a rather major mishap, involving Coke spillage at our table. He was so polite and understanding about taking care of it. I hoped it wasn't just an outward showing of customer service etiquette he was forced to adhere to, but that it was evidence of a sincere compassion on two senior citizens, who were just doing the best they could.

I hope I can exemplify this in my life as well. I pray that my patient and loving behavior doesn't become just an outward showing of caregiving etiquette that I'm forced to adhere to, but that it stems from an overflow of loving patience that my heavenly Father has exhibited toward me, and continues to show each and every day of my life.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sleeping the Day Away

I want so much to report on Dean's health condition and say that the puzzle has been solved, but I'm afraid that might be a bit premature. He's still sleeping an enormous portion of his days away, but is awake several hours during the night. There is just nothing I can do to make him stay awake during the day or to make him go back to bed at night.

We went to the doctor's Thursday, and after urine and blood tests, we still don't have a clue as to what's going on with Dean and why he's showing such magnified symptoms. The symptoms aren't new, but they certainly are increased in just the last couple of weeks. We're adjusting the dosage of a couple of medicines that might help.

I stayed home from church because I don't feel comfortable leaving him for even a little while any more. He is so disoriented and confused when he is awake. Especially when he first gets up.

Another picture puzzle is being worked out on my dining room table. But the biggest puzzle of all is once again napping his day away in his recliner. Our daughter and the two granddaughters came over, but even they could not keep him awake more than a few minutes.

I'm sure God must be puzzled over a lot of His beloved children too. He tries for years to wake them up from their spiritual lethargy. We Christians sleep our way into spiritual lukewarmness. I pray God will not only wake me up, but that I can stay awake as long as time allows me on this earth and that I can serve Him to the fullest right up to my dying breath.

One of the few times he's been awake!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Our Puzzling Lives

The last few days I've been working on a 750-pc. puzzle on my kitchen table and I must say I forgot how therapeutic it can be to work on such a project. Life has slowed down a lot since Dean's been sleeping so much, and we've been staying home more. So I came across this puzzle when I was cleaning a closet last week, and today I finished it. Or as Dean says, WE finished it. I gave him the last piece to put in.

As I worked on the puzzle, several thoughts came to mind. First of all, our lives are like a puzzle. Two qualities that make puzzle solving possible are patience and perseverance, also necessary for solving life's problems. As I worked on the puzzle, I also noticed how necessary it was to look at things from all angles and perspectives.

Sometimes a piece looks like it will fit, but it doesn't, and you just can't force it in the spot it wasn't designed for. We can try to fit ourselves into spots that God's will hasn't ordained for us, and the picture we end up with is marred, just like my puzzle would be if I tried to fit in pieces that were wrong.

When I was done, I felt like congratulating myself on a such a fine piece of art, even though I wasn't the artist. And likewise God, the Master Artist and Creator, deserves all the praise when our lives end up attractive in any way. But you know, if we lose a piece or two from the puzzle, people will still be able to make out the picture. We shouldn't worry over lost opportunities or mistakes in life. They just happen. God can still use us to reveal His perfect will in the end.

Dean, with his brain injury from the accident, has pieces missing from his brain, but that won't affect his final picture on Resurrection Morning at the Second Coming. I know I'll be able to recognize fully the whole picture of Dean. He's been an interesting puzzle to work with these 37 years we've been married. And God has taught me a lot of lessons along the way.

Called The Blessing of Summer, by Thomas Kincaide

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Most Holy Brain

Two days ago after Dean's bath aide and nurse left the house, he questioned his memory by asking me if that was his nurse Carol who just left. I gently corrected him with Carla's name. He has had Carla come to the house every week for over a year now and still has trouble remembering her name before, during, and after her visits.

Imagine my surprise and shock when Dean left the doctor's office yesterday by shaking hands and saying "Good-bye, Cori" to the young man who was shadowing his doctor. They had just been introduced once at the beginning of our session. Was it a "white-coat" syndrome? Or just a fluke? I had to smile.

With Dean's array of symptoms lately, mostly involving sleep, appetite, and memory, he's proving to be quite the medical challenge for his doctors. As a matter of fact, the psychiatrist yesterday said he wants to research the medicines out there for what would be best for Dean.

The doctor did ask if it was possible to manage his diet better. I almost laughed. My full-time occupation is managing his diet. We mostly try to have regular, healthy meals, but Dean is just hungry all the time. I mean literally all the time. And with his memory getting worse, he asks for another meal, almost as soon as he's up from the table. I have been welcoming the end of the month when our cupboards are almost bare. At least then I can honestly say, there's nothing to eat.

And then there's his sleep habits lately. I would have thought that going to his day program yesterday and staying awake all day would have meant a good night's sleep and getting back to a healthy day and night pattern of sleep. But here he is sleeping the day away again. Barely staying awake long enough to eat his meals. One day I tried three times when his Meal on Wheels arrived to get him up to eat at noon. If he's maintaining his weight, we can thank his new sleep habits. Except he's missing out on exercise through inactivity too, so muscle weakness is also a concern.

I'm not sure what the doctors can do, if anything, to fix these medical problems for Dean. Our bodies, as we age, are deteriorating. There's no stopping the natural process of life and death.

But Dean illustrates to me just how important our brain is to our overall health. If our bodies are considered the temple of God, then surely the brain must be the Most Holy Place in that temple. We communicate to God through our thoughts, our brains. He resides there as surely as His glory shone above the ark of the covenant. Today and each day, I must be careful not to defile it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Clean Closets

Since the start of this year I have updated my phone calling list and family budget plan, organized my addresses and contact information, documented all my account passwords, and started posting to a new calendar. I know these are just vague attempts to put some order and security into my life, because living with someone with brain injury, compounded by the effects of senile dementia, is propelling us very fast into a very disorganized and insecure world.

The extra time on my hands, due to staying at home more, has allowed me to clean out closets that hadn't been touched in years, and perform all my housekeeping chores with more ease.

But none of these accomplishments has contributed to the feelings of security and satisfaction that I had hoped they would. Dean's mental status is changing in small incremental ways, and it's disconcerting to both of us to know that it probably won't get any better. How much more can we take before we fall over the abyss and can't get up? It could happen almost any day.

Jesus is the only dependable part of our lives. Only He can bring order to my very insecure life right now. My efforts at organization are feeble compared to the One who organized our whole universe. He knows and remembers all my passwords, manages my finances, cares for all my contacts, and keeps me on His calendar every day. I need to start praying more in those clean closets of mine.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

As Oft...In Remembrance of Me

This week at church we had communion, which is a practice held in common with most Protestant churches. Our denomination holds this special service quarterly, and is a reverent, symbolic portrayal of the last supper of Jesus and His disciples in the upper room, right before His betrayal and death on the cross.

Dean was excited when I told him about it happening today, and said he was looking forward to celebrating it with a pastor or elder this afternoon, as they have started doing for him and other homebound members, since he stopped attending church about a year ago.

As with several church denominations, our communion, or partaking of the bread and "wine", is open to all Christians who may be attending. Since Jesus wanted us all to be as one, we welcome all who choose to share in this celebration of the death of Christ.

We also encourage soul searching prior to receiving the emblems, and this is done in a very demonstrative way in Seventh-day Adventist churches. We offer a footwashing ceremony, or service of humility, as it's been called in other churches of long ago. In this simple practice, we are admonished to put away all past differences among ourselves and to serve each other in the most humble way. The way that Jesus demonstrated for us and even told us to do, in remembrance of Him. With a towel about His waist, our Savior humbly bowed before each of the disciples and washed their feet too.

Just as the un-fermented bread and un-fermented wine, symbolic of being without sin, are done in His remembrance, we humbly bow before another church member, and with basin and towel in hand in a smaller room outside the sanctuary, wash each other's feet, and offer prayer together.

Recalling the service today, I too am excited about getting a "repeat performance" when the pastor or elder arrives this afternoon. "As oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." I Cor. 11:26

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


A friend of mine just lost her elderly father. She and her husband have been caregivers for her parents for some time now, so I'm feeling a special sadness for them today. It reminds me of what the end of my own caregiving will feel like.

I don't know if grief is any easier after caregiving or not. Perhaps there's still guilt over whether your care was good enough. But then again, there's some comfort in knowing that you were there for them and did the best you could.

Friends and loved ones often refer to caregivers as saints. But we are actually no more saintly than any other Christian. As a matter of fact, the Bible indicates in many places that anyone who calls on the name of Jesus and is sanctified in Him is a saint. (I Corinthians 1:2) ) Caregiving doesn't make one a saint. It allows us to be one. It's the Christian, saintly thing to do.

It's an opportunity to give back the care and love that's been given to us. One might call it "lovegiving".