Monday, December 26, 2016

Just for Fun

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was moving, not even my Yorkie, Minnie Mouse.
The stockings were given to those with cold feet,
In hopes of more car repairs my son-in-law can complete.

The grandchildren were nestled, all snug in their new bath robes,
While visions of their mom's fudge, swam by their eyes and earlobes.
Daughter in her new thermal underwear top, and my hubby in his new winter cap,
Have settled down warmly for many more winter naps.

When right through my window, there arose some warm sunshine,
A sharp weather contrast to yesterday's rainstormy kind.
I ran to the window, where granddaughters had drawn
Many beautiful pictures with their new window crayons.

Adults have been coloring in their new coloring books,
While two little hermit crabs might be on the loose.
These crabs are good pets, the pet stores have assured us,
But of course, there are many accessories that allured us.

For now, we will put on our new lotions and creams,
And hope that the New Year will have many sunbeams.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Worth the Wait!

 I wasn't trying to hide from my caregiving duties, but the respite I just received by spending twelve days with my sister in Florida, has proven just the medicine I needed to face the unpredictability of overseeing Dean's care now that I've returned.

Keeping my Thanksgiving visit a secret from my sister was difficult, but I'm glad we did. She was as awestruck and happy as I was, when I walked in the house one day, totally unexpected. It was her Christmas present from her husband, and who could ask for a better one?!

Her tearful, happy response reminded me of how the righteous will react when Jesus gloriously comes again to reunite us with our loved ones and take us all together to heaven to be with Him there.

I've often wondered why the timing of Jesus' Second Coming is unknown to all but God Himself. But perhaps He wants to keep it a secret for the same reason we wanted to surprise my sister. What a thoughtful, loving God we have to give us the wonderful gift of His Return.

My sister, making our family's homemade noodles for Thanksgiving...very yum!

Two days after my return, we had a birthday party for Dean at the house. He had 3 ice cream bars, but also has 3 teeth left. His birthday smiles were worth waiting for. Many friends stopped by the house that afternoon to see him.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Friends to the Rescue

It's time I update my readers on Dean's new living arrangement. He was in a far-away town, much too far for me to feel comfortable driving in the winter, so after a week I was able to have him transferred to a closer town, only eight quick miles up the road.

The real bonus is that I am much more comfortable with this latest move. Everyone has given me good feedback on the care someone they know received at the Waverly Care Center. They really seem to be conscientious and caring there. I am quite relieved knowing that he's in such capable hands.

His blood sugars seem to be climbing, even on the diabetic diet they have him on, and I guess that's my greatest stress factor right now. Just where this will lead, I have no idea, but it doesn't sound promising.

I do know God is overseeing it all though. The first weekend I couldn't be with Dean in that town farther away, some church friends unexpectedly took it upon themselves to drive clear out of town to visit Dean and we both appreciated their gesture of love so much. Yes, God, I know you are watching out for Dean--wherever he is, even when we're not together.

...enjoying the breakfast Paul brought him the next morning--thank you guys, for taking care of my man!
Notice the little cell phone, hanging around his neck, I got him so he can call me whenever he wants. It does help, almost like prayer (our link to God, now that we are separated from Him on this earth)...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Our "Riches to Rags" Story

It's with a heavy heart that I report our sad story about Dean's new level of care this past week. In our minds we could see it coming a couple of months ago, but when his move finally became a reality, the emotional impact has hit me like a ton of bricks.

Dean's anger outbursts, although not different from what they were at home--just brief verbal profanity, followed by remorse and apologies--were not accepted or understood in the upscale assisted living environment he's enjoyed for the last three months.

This was not the fault of anyone; the staff there did their utmost to make it work. This particular setting was just not a good fit for Dean, which none of us could foresee. Dean appears so independent, mobility-wise, that we thought assisted living was worth a try for him. But most of the residents there were elderly women, and they and their families were understandably concerned about this lionly man, who proved capable of some very loud roaring at times.

(Even with the lack of socialization he eventually encountered there, I'm grateful for the three months of quality care this assisted living center provided for Dean during this difficult transition.)

Our search for another living arrangement was made even more challenging due to his being on Medicaid (there are only so many Medicaid beds available). His diabetes, still showing very high blood sugar levels, has made skilled nursing seem all the more appropriate for him.

In addition, I'm sure his anger issues resulted in many places also deciding against his placement, as he would have to be a good fit for a roommate. Medicaid does not pay for a private room.

We eventually found a facility that accepted him though. Unfortunately it's in a neighboring town, thirty miles from our home, which will prove quite a barrier for me to be able to see him as often as I'd like. Especially when winter hits, with Nebraska's notorious driving conditions on the smaller highways.

What was most depressing for Dean and me, however, was the fact that this particular skilled nursing center seems to be the final placement for many of the most severely disabled. I had visited many places in our hometown, so I wasn't expecting anything close to the luxuriant accommodations we were coming from, but nothing prepared me for the run-down conditions I witnessed where he's at now. It's a far cry from the environment Dean just came from.

Often this week my mind's gone to the Bible story of Joseph. Poor Joseph repeatedly fell from riches to rags, the opposite of a "rags to riches" story. First, as Jacob's favorite son, he found himself being dragged as a slave down to Egypt. Then after enjoying years as Potiphar's chief steward, he was sent to a filthy dungeon to suffer for a crime he didn't commit.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending for Joseph. And I'm sure God has a happy ending in mind for Dean and me too. He's preparing mansions for us in heaven. And they will be assisted living at its finest.

Thank you, Jesus, for offering to leave your beautiful surroundings in heaven and come down to this severely disabled planet. Your resurrection proved that our stories always end in riches, when we come to you for placement there.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Heels Dug In

The hardest part about taking care of Dean is convincing him that he needs to take care of himself. You'd think at seventy years of age he'd have this down pat. But our asking him to control his eating, wear his oxygen enough, and C-pap every night seems to be falling on deaf ears. I can't even convince him to change his socks every day!

My latest worry is that the pulmonologist has now determined he has COPD, not just sleep apnea, as we supposed. His pulmonary function test and chest X-ray revealed that his years of smoking are finally catching up with him and resulting in this shortness of breath he's been having. This, of course, makes it all the more critical that he wears the C-pap and oxygen as the doctors have told him.

Our frustration in getting Dean to cooperate must mirror the same response from our heavenly Father when we refuse to take care of our spiritual bodies as He's warned us. No wonder Jesus got so emotional with the scribes and Pharisees. They should have been at the forefront of the reforms Jesus was recommending. Instead those who listened at all were digging their heels in and refusing to budge.

Yep, that's the image I have of Dean at this point in his dementia care. Heels dug in, like a stubborn mule. Lord, give us patience with this cowboy. You must have a lot of patience somewhere out there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another Tumble

It's been quite awhile since Dean took a tumble, but this past weekend he chose to live up to his "fall risk" reputation. I thought he was safe to walk to the car by himself when I picked him up for church (no snow or ice yet, right?). He had forgotten to "sign out", so I quickly walked back into his new assisted living home to sign the notebook for that purpose.

Unfortunately, he kept walking on his own and plowed right into the curb by our car (at least that's what I think happened). Fortunately, there were a couple of men nearby to help him get up when I got there and he didn't appear to be injured very much. No blood and he assured me he hadn't hit his head. My, but that man falls gracefully. The hardest part is getting back up though.

Funny thing is, I've found it's always easier to fall than it is to get back up, isn't it? It didn't help that he has lost his eyeglasses somewhere that week, further hampering his already impaired vision. (He only sees with one eye.)

We need to keep our spiritual eyeglasses on and watch out for those curbs in life! Any of us could end up on the pavement, needing assistance from strangers. You'd think we'd learn from past experience, or better yet, from other people's experience.

Dean has fallen a great number of times. But haven't we all?

Monday, September 5, 2016


Dean seems to be enjoying the bounties of the assisted living home we found for him. As a matter of fact, he's enjoying them a bit too much this first month he's been there, we've been told. His weight has increased, and his blood sugar levels are not very satisfactory either. If they get much higher he'll be going back to the hospital.

Just as I knew it would be hard for me to do at home, getting Dean to take control of his own diet is proving to be a monumental task. And there's just no way it's going to get done without his cooperation and approval. He has to quit asking for seconds and sometimes third helpings, and even turn down some of the desserts.

This all sounds simple enough for us, but for someone with limited cognitive function and will-power, it can be very challenging. I have faith that it can be done though, and after a serious talk from the nurse there, I'm hoping Dean will be on board for the needed dietary changes he's not going to avoid with his new diagnosis of diabetes.

I'm glad they've waited this long to let him get adjusted to the staff and program. Now he can see the evidence of his wrong eating, by the medical record they've been keeping on him.

Dean's assisted living arrangement is a great spiritual illustration for me. Just like with any lifestyle or behavior choice, it belongs to no one but the person making it. God is always available for us though, just like the "call-button" Dean wears around his neck, in case he needs the nurses to come help.

God must be in the assisted living business too. He never bypasses our choices, allowing us to make bad choices just long enough to see the error of our ways. I hope I listen to His Holy Spirit and make any necessary life changes I might need to keep spiritually healthy and alert. We may fail to use it, but God's assistance never fails.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Home, Never Here

The other day when I dropped Dean off at his assisted living center after a doctor's appointment, I inadvertently referred to The Waterford as his "home". He reminded me that it was not his home, and I had no choice but to agree with him. At best, it's just the place where he's staying right now.

From the very beginning though, I have made every effort to make it seem comfortable and like home to him there. I've brought him the books and magazines he enjoys, the toiletries he's most fond of, and finally hung some pictures on the wall this week. I even brought him the bedspread and pillows off our queen-size bed so it all feels and looks more familiar to him.

But he's evidently not ready to call it home yet. Then I recalled that he doesn't even consider Nebraska his home, after living here for seventeen years. So maybe he has a point. Montana and the Northwest, his birthplace, will always be his true home.

As men and women of the Lord, we will never feel at home in this old world of sin either. God created us in the beginning and placed us in the Garden of Eden, a paradise home that far exceeds anything this planet has to offer.

We can only recreate a small version of our heavenly home here on earth. That's why the song tells us, "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through." We want to be content with what we have, but never be too content. Because there's so much more waiting for us in that land beyond.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Remember the Nails

It's been one week since Dean moved into an assisted living center here called The Waterford at Williamsburg. I'm still pinching myself to make sure it's really true. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought he would be able to live in such a fine residence.

Having a brain injury made a private room a top priority for him. I knew he would need a space of his own, away from distractions, to give his brain a rest when needed. His new room, one of the few available for Medicaid recipients, is right by the nurses' station and the dining room. Who could ask for a better location and setting for him?

He wears a call button around his neck so he is always near assistance of any kind. Plus a new Jitterbug senior phone I bought for him, so we can be in touch whenever he misses me and wants to talk. Therefore I can finally get a full night's sleep myself, knowing his diabetes and other medical needs will be monitored and treated appropriately.

I give God all the credit for working this out for us. I had all but given up hope, just accepting the fact that perhaps Homestead Rehab would somehow determine his needs warranted him staying in their extended care unit; but it would most likely be with a roommate, as they had few private rooms available.

But then God impressed Myra, a friend of mine who resides at The Waterford, to speak to the director about the possibility of Dean being considered for their still empty Medicaid room. I'm so glad Myra listened to God's voice. The director agreed to send their nurse over to interview us a couple of days later, and by the end of that day, we knew we were "in"!

It's been a very relaxing week for me. No complaints from Dean about being there either (even though he still sees it as a "temporary" fix). This is truly an answer to prayer for me though. I feel so much better physically, and attribute it to getting better sleep and having less stress.

Our case manager came to the house this week and had me sign a new care plan of services for Dean. It felt so freeing to be named only six times, instead of sixteen, as the one responsible for his care. I still handle our finances, will take him on outings (we've already been to church and prayer meeting), and help schedule and attend doctor appointments. It really feels like light duty, compared to what I was responsible for before this assisted living arrangement.

The words of Psalm 23 have frequently come to mind: "My cup runneth over." Surely we have been abundantly blessed with this latest turn of events. It truly feels like my cup of blessings is running over.

P.S. He's still showing up for manicures. He told me he waited patiently till all the ladies were served this week, then got his toenails painted, plus two thumbs. Myra told me that Dean had shown up for breakfast without his shoes and socks on one morning. I didn't think much of it then, till I remembered the toenails. *smiles*

Friday, July 15, 2016

Guideposts, Not Barriers

Three weeks exactly since Dean's blood sugars were shown to be through the roof. And we still don't have a sure "roof" over him. In other words, not sure where he will reside following his stay at a rehab facility.

There has been much relief for me by having medical professionals handle his complex issues. It was challenging, but possible, for me to battle his hypertension, sleep apnea, being a fall risk, and having dementia. But diabetes thrown in the mix? My stress level would have gone through the roof too!

It was not a difficult decision to make. We have to find him placement that will not only reduce my stress, but will help him get and stay on a better path of health. These emergency room visits were becoming a habit with us. As close as we tried to monitor his symptoms here at home, even with a good home health agency called Elite by our side, his emergencies tended to appear suddenly out of nowhere.

After several attempts and disappointments, we are still looking for the right fit for Dean. At first I was seeing these failed inquiries as barriers, but am trying to instead think of them as guideposts. God will guide us safely into harbor and Dean and I will both continue to fit safely under His wings. What better "roof" could you ask for?

"He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge." Psalm 91:4

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

God's Brave Missionary

This has to be one of the most difficult posts I've had to write on this blog. I've begun several times and nothing seems to come out right.

I want, above all, to make it clear that my caregiving is not over for Dean, even though we are exploring his options for care outside our home. Home is where the heart is and our hearts will always be at home with each other.

I am so touched that Dean has shown the resolute, but hesitant, acceptance he has of our proposals to find an assisted living facility for him. We met for a care plan discussion in his room at Homestead Rehab this morning. All his care providers are in agreement that this search will be in Dean's best interest, in light of this new diagnosis of diabetes. (But I know Dean's going along with it just for my sake, which makes me love him all the more.)

Despite the emotional drain on me this past week, I do feel a physical relief from the load of stress that I was carrying these last sixteen years. As I learned last fall when he was in rehab for a couple of months for his broken foot, the respite that comes from having the house all to myself, with others caring for Dean's physical and mental needs, is quite pronounced and rejuvenating.

But with this release of energy for me comes the subtle questions and guilt. I do not like to think of myself getting all the benefit from this decision. Surely, there will be improvements for Dean's health as well.

He will undoubtedly get more walking and exercise there. He loves going to all the social activities, which I can't provide him here at home. And most of all, they can monitor his insulin and diet more, or as much, as I would be able to accomplish.

I'm remembering all the prayers Dean has spoken the last few years, asking God to give him a mission. This might just end up being God's answer to that prayer. It's truly a sacrifice, but this is evidence that God chooses our mission field. We don't have that luxury.

I know he will end up being a blessing wherever God sends him. He's already put many smiles on the faces of residents at Homestead. The ladies must still be talking about how he showed up at their "manicuring" activity and even let the staff paint his fingernails--red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July!

One of our favorite Sabbath missionary activities, when we were both younger, was to visit and sing in nursing homes in the afternoon. Dean seemed to have a special knack for connecting with lonely seniors individually. It was always hard to leave the residents after such a short visit. Now Dean will have the opportunity to minister to them full-time.

For Dean's part, he's making the wise choice to just take this situation "one day at a time." God expects no more than that from His brave missionary.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Not a Piece of Cake

The world can change directions for you on the turn of a dime, when you're a caregiver. Our world had a major collapse a few days ago. Just when I was rejoicing over having a new chore provider to help with some of the tougher household jobs around here, Dean was creating a new work load right under our noses.

Over the past few weeks, I had been pointing out to his home health nurse some gradual symptoms he'd been having. He had even seen his primary care doctor last Monday to see what might be going on.

Dean would report that he didn't feel well, I noticed he wasn't eating as much, was more grouchy, and slightly lethargic, just subtle things. (Thought it might have to do with oxygen, because he was having a harder time keeping his oxygen saturation levels normal. We'd been to his pulmonolgist too and they had doubled his oxygen intake at night.)

As it turned out, after two days of his drinking water almost constantly, I took him to the emergency room (it was a Friday again, of course). His blood sugars were incredibly high--810 as a matter of fact! We're talking a potentially fatal situation. It was a wonder he was able to walk into the hospital by himself.

To make a long story short, he's now in a rehab facility trying to get his blood sugars regulated with insulin shots. I am going back and forth in my fears over what this means for his future, well, our future, because the story hasn't ended.

We're both trying to take it one day at a time. Trusting God to guide me in some heartrending decisions. Not sure I can continue taking care of him at home. If I were healthier myself, and if Dean didn't have the dementia he has, this diabetes would be a piece of cake. Oops, if I let Dean read this post, he'll beg for some cake, probably DEMAND it. You get my drift...

Dean trying to gum an apple a few days before his blood sugars were discovered high--glad it wasn't a piece of cake!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What Do You Expect?

I've never had the luxury of having a dishwasher. I was beginning to feel almost as left out as someone might feel who's never owned a microwave. Dishwashers seem almost standard in houses these days, whether it's a rental or any other house on the market.

The only thing that's kept me from yearning for a dishwasher has been the fact that you have to bend over to load and unload the things. It's hard for me to do that these days, because of my shortness of breath. I can barely manage to do a few loads of laundry every week.

But now, I have something that makes me feel better about being out of the loop for not having a dishwasher.  I have a maid!

Yes, I persuaded my husband's care coordinator that we needed more than a chore provider to help with light housekeeping, which was being nicely provided by our daughter for the last few years.

Now I need someone with time to tackle tougher household duties that I am getting more and more incapable of doing as the years go by.

Fortunately, I had just the right person in mind for the job: a friend who's also a professional housecleaner. We finally got her paperwork completed and she started work today. After several hours, our house is sporting a very clean refrigerator, living room floor, and bathroom, and I have her to thank for this magic of cleanliness.

I am eagerly looking forward to her visit next week and feeling very optimistic about the future cleanliness of our home. God knew just what kind of help we needed and prompted me to ask for it at just the right time.

I never expected God would be able to answer my need for help so completely. But as usual, He has far exceeded my expectations time and again. That's just the kind of God He is. You ask for someone to do some housecleaning, and he sends you a real professional maid!