Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I was hoping this wasn't a trend...  Now, I'm not so sure.  This past Friday I saw that I had missed two calls on my iPhone...from the "Med Team".  Of course, my heart sank.  My kids were off of school last Friday.  I had run my daughter up for a salon appointment and realized I forgot my phone.  We let my kids know to call my daughter's phone if they needed us.  We ended up being gone about 45 minutes because my daughter started browsing at some clothes.
     I rarely forget my phone...  The two messages said my mom had fallen in her apartment near her chair.  She had about a 2 inch cut on her head.  They were transporting her to the hospital.  My heart sank again.  (Remember it was only about two weeks before that I was sent to the Emergency Room for another fall....)  They did not indicate which hospital so I had to track down the Med Team to get the information.  When I spoke to the Supervisor, she indicated that my mom had pressed her medical alert bracelet and also eluded to the puddle of blood that had formed when they found her...  By the time I found the message on my phone, it was a good hour and a half since they had initially tried to reach me.

     My husband had just walked in the door from a business trip.  I grabbed Jacob to come with me and we headed for the Emergency Room.  I also contacted my brother to let him know what was going on.  By the time I arrived it was about 5 pm, so a good two hours had gone by.  My mom was laying in an exam room with Muffin.  She was a bit of a bloody mess, her clothes, her hair.  I saw that she had seven staples on the top left side of her head.  She seemed relatively calm.  She was glad to see me and Jacob.  It wasn't long before a doctor came in and told me her CT scan looked okay, but to follow up with my mom's neurologist as there was some indication of NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus).  She indicated my mom would be discharged shortly.

     I asked if she could be cleaned up a bit more before I took her home.  I had tried to wipe her face with water and paper towel, but soon after a nurse came in and did the best he could to rinse her hair with a damp washcloth.  The way she was looking, it was possible I would be accused of a crime if I got pulled over on the way home!!??  
     My brother was not getting off of work until 6pm so I knew the earliest he could meet me at the hospital would be 6:20pm or so.  Very quickly, a nurse or assistant came in with my mom's discharge paperwork.  She was very short with me and rude as I indicated I was trying to reach my brother to take my mom back home.  She basically asked me how I got there and if I had a car (in other words, no lady you're going to take her home 'cause we are kicking her out of here now!)  When she handed me the discharge paperwork I started to look into the envelope it was in to review it and she immediately said I didn't need to look at it and to just give it to her care facility.  She grabbed a wheelchair and suggested my son Jacob wheel her out.  I asked if we could have assistance getting my mom in the car and she said someone should be out there to help (nobody was).  

     So, by 5:50 pm we were being kicked out of the ER.  I am assuming 6pm was time for a shift change and this lady was determined to be long gone by then.  Who knows.  I wasn't happy with her people skills.  
     On a brighter note, it appears if you are bleeding you do get faster service at the ER!!!??
     We drove my mom back after I stopped and grabbed her a sandwich and some lemonade. The Med Team again was fairly helpful in helping us get her situated back in her apartment.  I was surprised when I went into my mom's apartment to see two carpet cleaners there who were just finishing up steam cleaning the area where she fell.  That's when I knew it must have really been a mess!  I grabbed her walker and went back down to the lobby while the carpet cleaners finished up.  I shared the discharge instructions with the Med Team staff.  They filled me in a bit on her fall.  We are assuming she hit the corner of the wall.  Also, she may have been trying to pick something up off the floor -- but God only knows!

     I asked my brother to come by after 8pm and sit with her for awhile..  The Med Team indicated they would check on her through the night every two hours.  We left her sitting comfortably in her chair knowing my brother would be there soon.  Of course, I hated to leave and my biggest fear is another fall, particularly before this one heals.  Yet I worry about these things on a daily basis and aside from confining her to a bed or wheelchair I am not sure how to handle this.  Not sure at all...
     When my brother arrived he found my mom was in bed so he sat with her for a bit.  I am assuming the Med Team got her into bed, which is a good thing.  The next morning I updated Sheri, my mom's private aide, and I knew she would take good care of her  It's sweet, she calls her "my Mary" and says how she doesn't want anything to happen to "her Mary".
      The following night me and my husband stopped in about 9pm to see how my mom was doing and I brought her a few things.  She was in bed but probably not sleeping.  Being the light sleeper she is, she heard us come in the door immediately and said "who's there"??  So, we came and told her we just were in the area and wanted to see how she was.  I was glad to see she was in bed, although it was relatively early and I'm not sure if she slept.  My brother went again yesterday to check on her and visit.  She seems okay and does not really talk about her head or the fall which I guess is a good thing.  Tomorrow Sheri will be able to wash her hair which will be a good thing!

     I also just got off the phone with the Med Team.  Home health care is going to pay a couple of visits to my mom and remove the staples next week.  I am glad for that as it gives me a little window to get her healed and follow up with her primary care physician and neurologist.
     I know this post is dragging, but I want to discuss the NPH possibility with her neurologist.  It could be a reason for her falls.  To be honest, I am quite sure I will get the speech that it is a normal course of Alzheimer's for my mom to lose her balance and even her ability to walk.  I am hoping he can give me a reason why he is sure it is not NPH related.  I will be walking a fine line to get him to entertain the possibility that there is more going on than Alzheimer's.  I hope he can give us some guidance on how to deal with these falls or the cause, but honestly I'm not optimistic he will have much to offer.  I know that sounds pessimistic, but past experiences have shown me that there is only so much the doctors or I can do....
     Prayers for my mom are being accepted and appreciated!!



Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Always glad to have a week with only good things to report.  In spite of my mom's recent fall and ER visit, I continue to see positive signs which I attribute to the simple fact that she is finally getting better care.  I am still waiting to hear about trying to get more hours for Sheri and hoping I don't lose her to a better job opportunity.
     My brother and his daughter checked in on my mom on their way to a recent Detroit Pistons basketball game.  He sent me this picture and, as always, I know she appreciates having visitors!!
An Evening Visit from Granddaughter Nicole and Friends
     When I stopped in over the weekend, my mom was in the dining room at lunch.  This gave me a chance to snoop around her apartment and make sure all was well.  Thanks to Sheri, there wasn't much for me to do as far as tidying up.  So, I went to the dining room to visit with my mom.
The Sun Sometimes Shines Now...and Hints of St. Pat's and Easter
      She was still wearing her Mardi Gras beads and had added some St. Patrick's Day beads as they had just had a party the day before.  It looked like she had eaten a decent amount of her lunch.  Did I ever mention my mom's obsession with "pink lemonade".  She loves their pink lemonade and everybody knows that Mary wants her pink lemonade!!  Often, just the mention of it is enough incentive to get her to go to the dining room.  While I was there, the server brought her two pink lemonade cups as a reward for her eating her lunch.  I am always grateful when I see staff who "knows how to play the game".  My mom even offered one of the cups to me!  (Sharing is caring!) 
     One of the residents was asking me some questions, so I went to the next table to hear her better.  Barbara was commenting how good Sheri is with my mom.  It was nice that she has also seen the improvement in my mom.  She is a newer resident and unfortunately came in while my mom was at her worst.  She also "secretly" told me my mom had a "boyfriend".  I laughed and told her I knew about Don and that they had actually been companions for quite awhile.  Just then I looked over and my mom had sneaked over to the lobby area to sit with "the Don" who had been sitting there all along.  (It appeared he may have been "waiting" for my mom -- like the old days.)

Visiting for Lunch
      I chuckled to myself when I saw them and when I told them I wanted to take their picture my mom immediately put her head on his shoulder.  I showed the picture to them on my phone.  Don asked if I could enlarge the picture of "the lovebirds" for him!  It was cute to see them together again, I'm not gonna lie!!  Yet, I know if I ask her she will say "she never sees him anymore"!  Once again, "love has found a way"!!??
     I decided to leave them be.  What could be better than knowing my mom seemed happy, had eaten her lunch, had her pink lemonade, and a companion to talk to!!  

Mom and Don



Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
      Well, I got another one of "those" calls Monday afternoon (after I had posted).  Shortly after 1pm my cell phone rang with those words "Med Team" on it...  I held my breath and answered. They found my mom on the bathroom floor when they went to pick her up for lunch in the dining room.  They said she is saying she hit her head.  They didn't ask me "what hospital" or if I wanted her sent to the hospital.  They had already called for a transport for her.  Technically, they are supposed to always send the residents out for a fall, particularly if they did not witness it.  She was not bleeding.  I asked a few questions and then thanked them.

     Then... I think I lost another few years off my "young" life!  (I know that sounds dramatic, but I don't think I will ever get used to these calls...)
     There was some good news about this call.  It was daylight, my kids were in school, they took her to a nearby hospital.  I also tried to take a few deep breaths instead of flying out the door.  I took the time to gather a couple magazines (by the way, I don't think reading a magazine in the ER is ever going to happen), and my mom's important papers.  Then, within 15 minutes I left my house with that sense of dread.
      Is my mom seriously injured "this time"?  Is she going to be disoriented and anxious?  Will she be admitted?  How long will it take to find out anything?  Do my kids have any activities after school today?  Why is my husband out of town when the kids might need him?  Did they give "Muffin" to my mom to bring with her?  What will happen if she's injured?
     I arrived to find my mom already in an exam room in the ER.  She had a neck brace on.  That makes it look a little scary, and she didn't like that neck brace.  She was glad to see me and seemed fairly calm and subdued.  The longer I was there, the more grateful I became that she was calm and subdued.  She did not ask what hospital she was at a million times.  She did not ask too many questions.  She DID say, "they haven't even given me nothing to eat the whole time I've been here.  Not even a salad with ranch."  Ha!  At that point she had probably only been there about an hour.  I was glad to hear that was what she was most worried about.  She dozed in and out of sleep.  I made sure the staff knew I was there.  I watched the clock. Eventually they took her for an x-ray of her back, neck and shoulder.  In the end, they said she was ok and had only sprained her back.  By then, I was all about just getting her back to her apartment and settled in before dark.  
     I will say I have also learned from a previous ER experience to make sure my mom can actually walk with her walker before they send her on her way.  The staff walked her to the restroom and she did okay.  On another visit a few years ago, they "wheeled " her to my car, and we could barely get her in the car because she was in pain.  It was around 1am.  When I got her home she could barely walk into my house and I spent the night pushing her in a kitchen chair back and forth to the bathroom. Not fun!  If they are able to walk before they come into the ER, you want to make sure they can still walk before they leave!

     I must say, the staff was very pleasant, buckled her into my car and were just very personable.  Before I even arrived at the hospital -- everyone knew who "Muffin" was!   I got her an Icee drink and some french fries on the way back to her apartment.  I had her settled back in by 6 pm.  I also caught the Med Team staff before the day shift left.  I had two of the staff helping to settle my mom back in when I left.  They gave her meds, brought her some dinner, and I felt comfortable leaving.  As ER visits go, this one was not fun, but it was a much better experience than last time because my mom was not as agitated and things seemed to happen a bit quicker.  (By the way, that last time seems like it was about 3 weeks ago, but it was actually 3 months ago.) Before we left, I asked my mom which "pain" face described how she felt.  She quickly indicated the "happy" no pain face.  I decided that meant we were good to go!

     Megan and I did a follow up visit on Saturday.  She seemed pretty good and was fairly lucid and talkative.  She asked Megan some of the typical questions.  What grade she is in, if she has to use a baseball bat to keep the boys away, who did her hair, and if she likes Justin Bieber.  Megan does not like Justin Bieber. 

 We decided to talk about the boy band One Direction (Megan's favorite) as much as possible in hopes Grandma would learn about them like how she seems to know about Justin Bieber.  Megan showed her their picture and played some of their music for her on her phone.  Megan kept telling her that One Direction was better because they did not do drugs or go to jail!!  My mom seemed to like listening to the music and closed her eyes and sang along for a few minutes.  Megan and I got a big kick out of that!   

We also found my mom wearing Mardi Gras beads when we went to visit, and she also had a name tag that said "Hello My Name is Bourbon Jambalaya".  So funny!  Apparently, they had a Mardi Gras party earlier in the day and I think my mom ended up with one of the funniest names a girl could end up with! 

 We are happy she seems to have bounced back from yet another fall! 


Thanksgiving 2013

     We had a very quiet Thanksgiving this past year, but I still want to remember it here in my little blog scrapbook (at least it's Thursday)...

     My family is very small, just one brother who happens to be a firefighter and was going to be working on Thanksgiving as he does many holidays.  My husband's family all live out of state, except one sister who lives two hours away.  So, without going into detail, what I'm trying to say is this year we were orphans...  Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but everyone seemed to have plans except us so we decided to have our own little Thanksgiving dinner.  Before I get in trouble though, my girlfriend Donna did invite us over for dinner with her family which was very nice of her and definitely would have been fun.
     In the end, I made the whole dinner myself although I did call for last minute plating help so that everything would be hot when served.  On the menu:  Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Shoepeg White Corn, Yeast Rolls, Cranberries (both ways), Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie.  (Okay, I bought the pies...)  I remember the stuffing was really good (and I could go for some about now)!
     Probably the most momentous thing that happened on Thanksgiving Day was that the Detroit Lions actually WON their traditional Thanksgiving Day game -- the game is a tradition, but the winning part has not been.  It had been ten years since they won a Thanksgiving Day game.
     After dinner, we brought the pie over to my mom's and had dessert with her at her apartment.  I blogged about that here.  
     One of the things I love about Thanksgiving is It's not about gifts, or cake, or decorations.  It's simply about being thankful for many things, including our family.

The Prep

The Peeling and Slicing

The Boiling

The Traditions

"The Turkey"

We Went Buffet Style

Casual, But Enough Food for Last Minute Guests

Kristin Has The Appetite of a Three Year Old!?

Hubby Has the Appetite of a Hubby
(and doesn't care if his foods touch each other)


Friends - Finally Fifty!

     So, not that I want to mention this again, but last year I may have turned the big 5-0 !!  Unfortunately, I had to be "first" in my little circle of BFFs,
but it finally caught up to them, too.
      In August, my friend Donna and I planned a surprise overnight at the MGM Grand Casino.  Nancy loves baseball and our beloved Detroit Tigers.  Donna and I tease her about it whenever we get the chance!!  While I do love our Tigers, Donna and I wholeheartedly agree that baseball is the longest game on earth and more often than not we just plain ol' don't "get it".  (I'm thinking maybe 5 innings!???)  Nancy, of course, thinks we are crazy!!  But, I digress.  So Nancy's daughter helped us out by taking her to an afternoon Tiger game and then bringing her to the hotel for some gambling, only to find the two of us waiting for some casino fun!!!  You may say, well how did you get her to the casino?  Or, how did you know she would go to a Tiger game?  Well, 'cause she does both quite a lot and those are two of her true loves!!!  It was not difficult!

      The poor girl walked to the hotel in like 90 degree plus weather that day!!  (Again, this is yet another reason why Donna and I might not be the die hard fans of baseball that we perhaps should be!!)  But don't despair as it wasn't long before we were enjoying some complimentary appetizers on the Concierge level, singing happy birthday and then hitting "the floor" of the casino.  We got a kick out of the Village People slot machine and the Willy Wonka is pretty fun, too.  Sadly for me, I lose money rather quickly...  Like, really it doesn't last very long!!  I will never totally see the fun in that -- but I do see the fun in laughing with my besties, chatting, eating and drinking a few glasses of wine!!
     We also knew that a few days later Nancy's family had planned a surprise birthday party for her.  Donna and I got each of us a "friendship necklace" that we ordered on Etsy.  They're really pretty silver necklaces with each of the three of our initials and birthstones.  We love them and thought it would be a good way to commemorate our milestone birthdays!  Her birthday was in September!!

Cheers - To Fifty Years!

Not Sure Who Made This for Nancy's Surprise Party,
But I Don't Think She Looks Like This!?
    Then there was Donna who tends to be in complete denial about "age" and birthdays...  A friend of hers had thrown a surprise party for her and her husband in August (her birthday is actually in November).  It was a very nice summer (remember summer!?) party with great food, a beautiful cake.  Once they finally made it to their surprise party (ahem...) we all sent off Chinese lanterns off into the sky.  It was so pretty and fun!  
Closer to her actual birthday, we had a nice lunch at Black Rock to celebrate Donna's big day.  I made some alterations to a slot machine as part of her gift and we gave her some funds for her next casino visit.  We also were lucky enough to all take a trip to Florida together in November where we bought her a few surprises for her big day, but that trip is another post for another day!!!
So, one casino overnight, one leisurely lunch, two surprise parties and one trip to Florida later -- and my friends are Finally Fifty!!!!

Our Gift to Miss Donna
Her Very Own Sex and the City Slot Machine

Donna Making a Wish and Sending Off Her Chinese Lantern

Donna Says "I Love Being 50!"
(or did I make that up??)


Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, I checked in on my mom after my nice sunny vacation in Florida.  It had been about twelve days since I had seen her.  She was sitting comfortably in her new(ish) chair and Sheri was also there.  I brought her this "Someone Who Loves Me Very Much Brought Me This Tee-Shirt From Florida" t-shirt.  Interestingly, she never seemed to make the connection that it meant I had been in Florida -- and that's just fine because I have learned not to tell her when I will be away for a weekend or a week as it can trigger unnecessary anxiety in her.

Her Florida Souvenir

    By the time I arrived, she had been to exercise class and breakfast.  Sheri faithfully takes her each morning although she says she dozes off in exercise class.  I miss the days a year or so ago when she actively participated and was able to get herself to the class most of the time.  I'm still not sure if she sleeps at night, in a bed, for any length of time.  I think another sleepover is in my near future to see her latest habits (and spy on her caregivers ;).  
     However, overall she is looking better, gained a bit of weight, and mentally seems a bit better than six months ago.  I attribute that to her more reliable care which translates into less anxiety, agitation and confusion.  
     I am still waiting to hear if the Med Team staff can adjust some additional evening hours for Sheri so that I don't lose her to another better paying job with more hours.  I will be calling today and getting back on my squeaky wheel if I must!!!???
     Since things with my mom are relatively quiet, I wanted to take a minute to mention two things related to Alzheimer's Disease that particularly touched me this past week.
     The first was that I read and heard on the news that Seth Rogen, an actor and advocate of Alzheimer's Disease, testified in front of a Senate subcommittee this past week.  Sadly, when it was time for his presentation, only two of the eighteen members of the Subcommittee remained to listen.  How pathetic is that??  I guess it especially touched me perhaps because it is a metaphor for this disease.  Unless you have first hand experience and the responsibility of caring for a loved one with this disease, most people really aren't that interested.
      Among some of the things Seth Rogen said was this about Hollywood and movie making:
"I, as someone who makes movies, understand why it hasn’t been portrayed that much honestly because there’s nothing remotely uplifting about it, there’s no bright side to it, there’s no cure, there’s no treatment. It’s very hard to have an uplifting story about someone who has Alzheimer’s," said Rogen.
You can read more on this in the CNN article here.  I really don't get all "political" -- especially on this blog.  Frankly, I don't see this as politics -- I see it more as a life-threatening, health and awareness issue!
      The second thing that really touched my heart this past week was on Friday when I learned that my good blogger friend, Kim at Millie's Mats, had lost her mother to this disease.  (I had come to know Kim over the past year or so through, Kathy at Whispering Pines, who I think I met through Kerri (love my blogger friends)!)  Kim and I have shared experiences, advice and emails for awhile now and she has been giving such loving relentless care to her mom for years.  Her mom had finally been placed into a long term care facility only a couple of weeks ago, and I know Kim had advocated tirelessly on her mom's behalf throughout the whole process.  When you share such a similar journey, it is hard for me not to be touched by her loss.  What I especially love about Kim is her sense of humor has always remained in tact -- and she's an excellent "hooker" (see blog for details), knows how to have a fun "Girl's Night Out", and has the cutest little dog, Millie, whom she adores!  I'm sure she would appreciate any words of encouragement and prayers for strength at this difficult time.  I know some of you also follow her. 
     So, you see, in my own small feeble way I will keep plugging away and talking about my experiences in hopes of spreading a little compassion along the way!  Thanks for checking in!

A Tired Mom, After a Busy Morning