Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hunger Pangs

So, we cut one of Dean's medications in half, in hopes of it harnessing some of his weight gain. His appetite seems to know no bounds these days, but I have to say it hasn't improved since the change. I'm thinking his raging hunger is also due to his brain injury. If he sees food, he will eat it these days.

I have to be super vigilant with grocery shopping. All junk foods are out. Even if it's a healthy snack food, I can't have it around unless it's something that's low in calories, like fresh grapes or bananas. Those are the kinds of things I push for his snacking.

I also have to watch my leftovers. As soon as I feel we've both had enough supper, I have to whisk the food away to the fridge and hopefully hide it, before he "finishes it off". Yesterday I fixed him some of his favorite foods for supper (to make amends for turning down his pleas to go buy ice cream the last two days).

I got detoured on my computer after eating supper, and he comes in the bedroom and announces that he had finished off the scalloped potatoes. I panicked because I had made a really large casserole of this particular entree that he likes so well.

I raced into the kitchen to see how much was actually left and was relieved to see that he hadn't eaten it all the way down yet. But almost. Rather scary stuff. It immediately got stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator. It seems the top and bottom storage areas are the ones he notices the least, so I reserve them for foods he should stay away from.

Lord, please do that with all my temptations. I know you can't eliminate all of them, but put them where I won't be as apt to see them. You can store my impatience and worry on the top shelf somewhere. And please hide that pride somewhere down in the lower bins, way in the back.

There's actually some potatoes left in this 2 qt. casserole dish. Can't believe the two of us ate this much!

Friday, April 26, 2013


The caregiver retreat I attended the last two days must have been a success. Today Dean is at his adult day program, which he regularly attends on Friday, but I can't believe all the relaxing I've been able to fit into my morning since he's been gone.

Normally I'm in a frenzy, trying to get as much accomplished as possible, but today I took the message they were pointing out to us at the retreat to heart and just did everything at a more leisurely pace, and it has worked. I not only got in my shower time, a nap, and some relaxing on the back deck (finally feels warm enough to do that), but also got some closets worked on, a load of clothes laundered, a phone call made, and now am even writing this blog (forgive me if it's a short one). Who would have thought?

I debated about whether to go to Wal-mart to pick up a couple of items we're about to run out of, but the crowds there didn't sound conducive to my new "me-time" awareness effort, so I've put it off for another time.

I might even have the fortitude stored in me to think of taking Dean with me to the store this week-end. Notice I said "think". *wink*

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dinner with a Friend

Yesterday turned out to be an amazing day, even though I had my doubts when Dean woke up with a hoarse voice and wisely opted out of going to his twice-a-week adult day program. Couldn't help but sigh, because I had so many errands on my agenda while he was safely tucked away in someone else's care.

His disorientation and mental confusion has improved enough though that I decided to just go ahead with my plans and leave him with DVDs to watch and microwaveable food, and stop in quickly or call him during the times I had to be out. He seems to do just fine for an hour or two on his own.

My most enjoyable "errand" was meeting a lady friend, who offered to take me out to eat somewhere for my birthday. Couldn't remember when I'd last done that. It was incredibly sweet to have some adult conversation with a peer, who wasn't my daughter or sister. It really meant a lot to have that womanly-sharing time.

As many with spouses who have dementia, it's easy to reduce your social life to almost nothing. I tried having people over for dinner after church sometimes in the years since Dean's tractor accident. There were a few years this was possible, but it's become increasingly more stressful since his dementia has increased. So, I have virtually stopped trying, except for occasional suppers with close family members. And I love cooking for others, so it's something I really miss.

I am looking forward to a two-day caregiver retreat this month though. But the retreat that I most look forward to is one out of this world. There we will have the most heavenly social life we can imagine. And the party never ends.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why Memorize?

On the way to our monthly brain injury support group, I reminded Dean that it was going to be "talent night", our once-a-year opportunity to share something special with the group, following a nice potluck supper.

Dean started reciting a bawdy poem from his barroom days in his youth, but I stopped him in his tracks and reminded him that there might be children present. He said he could censure it, but I had my doubts about his ability to "clean it up" enough for a mixed audience. There wasn't any more said about it, so I thought he agreed with my assessment.

Imagine my horror at the meeting when they asked him if he had any talent and he started reciting the quite "colorful" rhyme, having to pause and clear his throat at very frequent, vital intervals. We made it through without too much embarrassment, and I had to admire his ability to remember something so well after decades of learning it and filter it fairly well.

It made me marvel also at the brain's ability in general to retrieve memorized information, and was a reminder to me that memorization is not a skill to be taken lightly. I wish I had memorized far more good things when I was young. I've memorized several Bible passages in the last few years, but I know it would have been easier to remember them when I was young and the recall would be more reliable. Even with dementia, Dean's recall was impeccable.

I hope to encourage my granddaughters to memorize Bible verses. Because one verse tells us, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11 It isn't just for show; it will help them all through life to stay away from sin and stay close to God. It's part of our spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:17.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chasing After Dad

We just spent the last two days at a state brain injury conference in Kearney, Nebraska. That would be Dean, our daughter, and I. It was an action-packed time, full of adventures and felt like a big family reunion, since this was the seventh annual one they have had and we've attended.

We three adults shared a motel room this time, but our daughter didn't object too much until she found out how much her dad snores. She knew after last year what her duties were and thought they would actually be simplified by her being in the same room with us. I don't know how many times last year her dad forgot his room-key and they had to borrow one from the desk or come looking for me in the convention center somewhere.

One time last year we found each other in the vendor area. I'm thinking I spotted them first because they were pretty hard to miss. Dean had on his cowboy hat, a towel draped over his shoulder, and, most noticeable, feet that were bare. They were on their way to or from the pool, but had forgotten his roomkey. I came to recognize our daughter's furtive eye-rolling, a carryover from her teens, and would let her lean in to secretly whisper in my ear, "Mom, you're a saint!"

This year started out with a bang too. Or rather a plop. Dean fell full-body on the sidewalk outside her apartment as we were getting ready to leave. He thought he could step down from a foot-high retaining wall like the rest of us, and of course went down like a dishrag. Fortunately, our son-in-law was there to help hoist his 250 plus-lb. body back to an upright position. He wasn't hurt, but we were all certainly placed on red-alert to watch for falls again this time around.

After the first day's busy agenda, we three headed to the pool and spa in the motel for a little relaxation time. Dean was doing alright in the hot tub and then a quick dip in the pool. And then he wanted to go sit on the patio outdoors. It was early evening and getting rather chilly out there, so our daughter and I remained inside, knowing it was no use trying to change his mind. After letting him sit there in our view through the window for a short while, we knew one of us would have to fetch him back inside before he got too chilled.

Our daughter looked longingly at me and said, "Can you do it, Mom? I've been chasing him all day." I started laughing so hard, I could hardly get out my reply. "Well, I've been chasing him EVERY day!" And then we both about split our guts laughing, one of the best coping tools you can bring with you to a full-of-surprises brain injury convention, especially with characters like our "outlaw cowboy" in attendance.

King of the Remote