Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dreaming Big

I know it's time I was letting my readers know how Dean is doing. To be honest, there's not much to report. He eats, he sleeps, he eats, he sleeps. Much like a newborn, I suppose. Nothing eventful I can sink my teeth into.

I could give details about some of the vivid dreams he's been having though. He can't seem to shake them when he wakes up. They are so real to him. They even affect his mood throughout the day I've noticed. One day he was very tired all day, because he'd been doing hard labor with a crew. He still says there's a pile of lumber in our backyard for evidence. Then one day he was very depressed. This dream involved a race car driver who was killed, and Dean felt responsible for it. Today, he's been a bit on the grumpy side, and I'm sure it has something to do with whatever he dreamed last night.

Dementia has so many different sides to it. The first year they said it was dementia, there was more memory loss, then falling a lot, this year seems to be the year of dreams and sleep disturbances. What next? Something tells me it will involve wandering. Not looking forward to that one.

Is this not how all of us tend to fall away from God? We forget how much He loves and provides for us, we start falling into sin, we sleep through sermons and dream big dreams for ourselves, and finally we wander away completely from God's side. A very telling story indeed.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Long and the Short of It

This evening Dean asked what we were doing tomorrow. Which is a frequent question of his all during the day, wanting to know what's next on our "busy" agenda. There's usually not much to report, outside doctor's appointments, weekly trips to the library, and home health visits a few times a week.

Tonight though I went beyond my typical answer of "nothing", and changed it to this: "Oh, I take that back, honey. I'm opening curtains, turning off lights, uncovering the bird cage, changing the 'day of the week' display, letting the dog out (multiple times), filling a pill box, taking a shower, doing dishes (possibly twice), washing and folding two loads of clothes, stirring Willy-Nilly (my starter for breadbaking), making some phone calls, paying some bills, giving the dog a bath, putting your shoes and socks on, taking you to the library, cooking supper, taking out some trash, working on a blog, and riding my recumbent bike. And what do you think you'll be doing, dear?"

"Well," he thought ponderously, "I'll be getting in my morning nap most of the morning. Eating. And then I'll be harassing you the rest of the day." He seemed content with his brief, but accurate, list.

And I'm sure God is content with our lists too. The long and the short ones. If we are doing all we can do, God doesn't complain. And neither should I.

Doing "his thing" in the morning

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ready for Travel

This morning Dean woke up with the distinct feeling that he was going somewhere. He insisted on getting totally dressed, which included jeans over his pajama bottoms, two T-shirts, street shoes, and even two hats and eyeglasses. With  a snowstorm approaching today, I was totally alarmed at his determination to venture out on his own.

It was obvious it was one of those vivid dreams he'd been having, so I did all I could to forestall and talk him out of his plans. We had an omelet, I read something for worship and then put on some religious music he requested, all the while trying to reason with him gently about the nature of his longing to leave. By mid-morning, he seemed to settle down and it felt like he was not venturing out, at least for now.

I tried to convince him that getting ready to leave was just as important as leaving. And that we needed to stay together. It wouldn't be right for him to leave without me. Any argument I could think of. But all day he has kept his cowboy hat and two Bibles on the kitchen table, right by the front door.

At least I am comforted by the Bibles that his destination is heavenly and not worldly. Unfortunately, many of us think we're headed in a heavenly direction too, but in actuality we are headed right out for the traps of the world.

Oh, Lord, help me to be ready to follow you in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake. We all need to be ready, but may our journey be in the right direction, away from Satan's traps.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Peace and Quiet

Don't know why I've been in such a dark mood. Yesterday's stop at a rehab center with Dean, which included visiting someone we know in the dementia unit, was rather unnerving to me. That was probably part of it. Just couldn't explain why I was feeling so out-of-sorts lately.

Today Dean had to go get more blood drawn to check his platelets, which were low the last time. And then on to visit his podiatrist for a regular nail clipping. I asked Dean to go into the doctor's office by himself, so I could brood for awhile by myself in the car. I even told him that's what I was going to do.

Just those few moments alone helped. All I did was sit in the peace and quiet. When I felt somewhat recharged I went in to the waiting room till he was done with the doctor. I'm not sure it totally did the trick, but it did feel good to be alone for just a bit. A caregiver has to get respite anyway she can.

I thank God for opportunities of refreshment and renewal. God knows we all need them. I'm sure that's why He gave us the Sabbath. You don't have to be a caregiver to experience Sabbath Rest. It's built right into our week. And it's ours for the taking.

Friday, February 15, 2013

About to Scream

This has to be almost the first time I have titled my post before writing it, but I just had to get "about to scream" off my chest. The feeling is overwhelmingly accurate, but I'm sure it will pass here soon.

I was just called into the living room for the second time this morning. The first time it was Dean announcing that he had spilled a whole plate of scrambled eggs on the floor next to his brand new lift recliner. I reminded him once again as I cleaned it up that is why I ask him to sit at the table to eat. (Keep in mind that he spilled a cup of root beer INTO the chair just yesterday.)

I turn my back and he goes into the kitchen and scrambles another egg, and I find him once again in the recliner to eat it. This on the back of his refusal to go to his adult day program again, even though he is awake and dressed and could conceivably go this time.

Maybe I should have titled this post "Once Again". How frustrating it must be for God to have His children disobey Him repeatedly. I have to consider the patience of God with all of us, or I would not have an ounce of patience myself to handle these events.

But I also consider the problems my brothers and sisters all over the world are struggling with. They make mine seem like nothing. So, as I put all this in perspective, I guess I don't have it so bad. What's a little scrambled egg on your carpet? Who's more important, my carpet or my husband? I told you the feeling would pass.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Way of Escape

A few years back one of Dean's annoying behaviors was his taking that little sticker that comes on fruit and putting it on the toaster, microwave, or other place around the kitchen when I wasn't looking. By the time I noticed where it was, it usually required scraping to get the offending sticker off. I repeatedly asked him not to do it, but to no avail.

Then one day it hit me that all I had to do was remove and trash the stickers myself, while I was unloading groceries and putting them away. It was so simple. For years, I have been practicing changing Dean's environment, rather than changing Dean himself. This is one of the first lessons for family members of people with brain injury or dementia, but I had failed to apply it in this simplest of problems.

Lately, another problem has presented itself. Dean loves to feed the dog at the table, dropping her choice bits of the food off his own plate. She has put on a few pounds now and I know it's not good for her teeth, but I just can't convince him not to do it. Then I got smart and lately I've been putting the dog in a bedroom by herself while Dean's eating at the table. That will cut down on most of his "sharing" at least.

Both of these examples illustrate good strategies for resisting temptation of any kind. Removing yourself from the temptation or removing the temptation from you would work in most cases, but we fail to think of it in time. That's where prayer comes in. Ask God how to extricate yourself from the tempting situation. He says He will provide a way of escape. And that's exactly how it's done. Simple stuff and effective. But often we go years without thinking of a way to practice it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our Blessed Hope

Some good news and some bad news on the Dean home healthcare front this week. First, we finally landed an appointment with the geriatric psychiatric clinic in Omaha on Valentine's Day. Someone cancelled, so we got their slot. Perhaps they decided to celebrate Valentine's Day instead. In any event, we'll take this opportunity to get another opinion about Dean's slipping health status and what medicines are appropriate for him at this time.

The not-so-good news though is that his platelet count is down. They want to check it again in two weeks. Keeping our fingers crossed on this one. Hoping it doesn't indicate anything too dire.

On a bright note, we had a family outing with Dean and the daughter and granddaughters this past week. It was quite a trip, just fifty miles away, but took us half a day to accomplish. It included a quick run into a lawyer's office for me to sign the tax forms for my parents' final years. Then we met a cousin at Burger King and visited with her for almost an hour. Followed by a quick visit to my parents' graves, where the girls left some "sturdy" plastic flowers. The only kind to survive these cold, wintry Nebraska days.

It seems our entire lives are sprinkled with good and bad news, aren't they? We should never expect this world, so tainted with sin, to be totally without cold, wintry days. But thankfully, the sun doesn't stay away forever. There is an eternal spring to look forward to. And the dimmer our lives become here, the brighter that Blessed Hope becomes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No Respite Needed

Life has slowed down immensely in our household. Dean is requiring more of my presence, which has meant more time at home for both of us.

I've often wondered about other caregivers who seem to be glued to their loved ones and can't seem to relinquish them to the care of others so they can have some respite, needed time for themselves to rejuvenate away from home. But now I am coming to see how this protectiveness could easily happen, especially where dementia is involved.

It feels similar to when a child has recurrent nightmares. As a parent, you feel most qualified to calm the child's fears and make them feel safe again. As Dean's caregiver, I feel the same kind of urgency to be that person he looks to, as he faces some of the altered thoughts and vivid dreams he has experienced lately.

I'm sure my heavenly Father is just as protective of me. He is always standing by, ready to calm my fears, help me feel oriented, stable, and secure. Thank you, Jesus, for always being on the watch. For loving me and keeping me safe. No respite needed for God, our faithful and devoted Caregiver.

Minnie, our faithful and devoted dog, helps keep watch

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Every so often, I am reminded of the skills that people with dementia have lost. Yesterday Dean was unable to open a loaf of bread. Couldn't seem to twist that little bread tie just right to open the wrapper. He had to ask me to do it. And here's the man who used to fix anything that broke, from a broken water pipe to a couch that sagged in the middle. No problem was without a fix when my handyman husband was around.

I got a little taste of what his ineptness feels like though when we both got in the car yesterday after grocery shopping. I had lowered my window visor earlier, but as I rushed to get in the car from the frigid cold outside, the hair on the top of my head got caught on a zipper on my visor.

I was totally trapped in an awkward position, and unable to free my head from that visor without pulling my hair out. Dean mentioned scissors, but of course, I wasn't about to consider chopping off what little granny hair I have left, especially since that would mean losing hair on the top of my head with only an inch left intact. The only grandma with a Butch haircut. No thanks, not on my watch.

Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to think of taking the bun out on the back of my head, and sure enough when I loosened my locks, I could slide the hair right out of the zipper. My next thought though, was of the parking lot video camera, or any curious passerby, who may have been watching this comical scene. Oh, the embarrassment of it all. I was so glad that home was our next destination. I had had enough of public notoriety for one day.

There are so many things in life that we can get snagged on. But there's only one way to free ourselves. Ask God for the answer, and when He guides us with the proper moves, He'll allow us to slide right on through our difficulties.