Saturday, December 30, 2017

Living With Alzheimer's

As I mentioned not too long ago, Oma (The Queen's Mum) is afflicted with what appears to be Alzheimer's Disease. I say "appears to be" as Oma has never been formally evaluated or diagnosed because she and Opa have a serious case of avoiding the medical community. Said avoidance is partially rooted in their religious beliefs that God is the source of all healing, and their faith that God will heal them in His time (which may or may not be in their physical lifetime). Some of said avoidance comes from Opa's  pathological, and nearly obsessive/compulsive, germaphobia (which is a story in and of itself for another time). The remaining reasons for their avoidance is a mix of distrust of  medical doctors, too much internet, major procrastination and a few other things to boot.

Having said that, Oma exhibits many telltale Alzheimer's symptoms. So, some may quibble and say she has dementia instead of Alzheimer's. To them, I say "po-tay-to" / "po-tah-to". The end result is the same: Oma is nuttier than the backyard squirrels.

So, what's it like to live with an Alzheimer's person?

Strange is probably the best description. Frequently illogical and frustrating. Occasionally terrifying or amusing. Always sad, and generally unpredictable.

In a way, it is like living with a young child. You are constantly watchful for dangerous behavior, correcting, guiding, etc. The unfortunate part is that, unlike a small child who is constantly learning and developing, the Alzheimer's afflictee is incapable of remembering new information and begins to loose their grasp on long established behaviors.

Case on point: hygiene. You, me and pretty much 99% of the population older than the age of 3 or 4 has a pretty solid grasp on what's involved with going to the bathroom. Take care of business, wipe, tidy/clean up as necessary, flush the toilet, wash your hands with soap, dry your hands and go about your day. For the Alzheimer's person, each step in the process is an opportunity for disaster. We pretty much have to be eternally vigilant to insure that each step is properly taken care of in the proper order. We frequently have to remind Oma of one or more steps in the process. It goes something like this:

Us: Oma, you need to wash your hands.

Oma: I just did.

Us: No, you didn't.

Oma: Yes, I did.

Us: Oma, we were standing right here. You haven't washed your hands yet.

Oma: What do you mean?

Us: Oma, please just wash your hands again.

Oma: Okay, but this is crazy.

Us: Use soap Oma.

Oma: What's soap?

Us: [praying silently for patience]

She can, and has, forgotten one or more steps in the process on multiple occasions, and it's akin to Russian Roulette as to which step will be the odd man out on any given day.

Getting her to shower is a challenge. She can sit there smelling riper than a summertime outhouse and adamantly insist that she just took a shower when you suggest it's time to bathe. Ditto for brushing her teeth.

I mentioned in a previous post about Sundowner Syndrome which is a joyful aspect of Alzheimer's. That's still hanging around. Her anxiety really increases an hour or two after sunset for some reason. Tonight was especially bad. We were out for dinner at a crowded restaurant, and she kept wanting to get up from the table to go looking for Opa (who was at home). Unfortunately, her anxiety was so overwhelming, she couldn't even form a coherent sentence to communicate what she wanted. She just kept pointing towards the door and saying "Can there....him..." or similar things.

One rather annoying trait that has manifested itself is an apparent compulsion to whistle constantly. Everyday. It's the same few songs. Over and over and over again. It's like she has a very short playlist stuck in her head, and feels the need to whistle the Blue Danube Waltz, Take Me Out To The Ballgame, or a handful of other songs at any given moment.  The mood usually strikes when she gets bored (which is often) or when anyone else in the house happens to whistle for any reason (it's like speaking the devil's name and he will come). We try to distract her with reading magazines (which she chooses to read out loud for some reason) or old TV shows. The Andy Griffith Show has been on nightly reruns here at the house for the last 3 months or so ever since Opa discovered the complete series on Netflix.

There is a set of related behaviors that I find really odd and particularly frustrating. She will get into anything and everything, move things around or take them, and then hide things. There was almost a knockdown fight between The Queen and Oma over her raiding M&M's piggy bank. The Queen discovered the situation just in time to see Oma stuffing M&M's stash of small bills into her pants. Oma steadfastly denied taking anything even when confronted with the evidence. We have to keep an eye on Oma's every move because she is constantly taking things and putting them where they don't belong or stashing them. M&M's stuffed animals are frequently moved around the house. If Oma doesn't finish her dinner, she will stash her leftovers in the cubbyhole of the headboard on her side of  the bed (which, interestingly, is also her chosen place to stash dirty underwear) or in the oven.

Oma can get downright creepy sometimes. I will occasional banish myself to the couch or M&M's bed (when M&M has jumped into our bed) after The Queen has poked me for the 5TH or 6TH time that evening for the unpardonable sin of snoring and keeping her awake. I have been awakened a couple of times by Oma fumbling her way around the house in the dark on her way to or from the bathroom for a late night potty break. If I'm really lucky, Oma is wearing clothes when this happens.

She has also lost any concept of personal space and tends to be a bit grabby. She's got a pretty firm grip too.

So far, we haven't had to worry about Oma wandering off, but we also don't let her go outside unattended. We also have had to prevent her from just answering a door knock without checking who is there.

Not everything she does is a negative. She remains very thoughtful in some ways. When we bring her a plate of food, she always offers to share it with whoever is nearby. "You want some of this?" We always remind her that that's her food, and that everyone else has their own food. She is still a happy person overall when she's not frustrated with us over asking her to take a shower or wash her hands. On the plus side, she no longer tries to convince complete strangers that they are Jewish or have Jewish ancestry (which was actually pretty funny...especially if the strangers were people of color).

It saddens me that her memory has more holes than Swiss cheese. She does not remember M&M is her granddaughter and doesn't even know her name anymore. She sometimes forgets M&M is a girl and asks where that "little boy" went. Most days she doesn't even remember her own name. She still knows that Opa is her husband, but I don't think she remembers his name either. She doesn't remember who her kids are.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Why Can't I Get Sick in Peace?

I had to go to Las Vegas for business last week. I flew out on Sunday and came back Monday.  I didn't go play in any reindeer games although I was tempted to drop the lone $1 bill in my wallet on a slot machine just so I could say I lost all my money in Vegas.

While I am there in Vegas tending to business, I start to pick up a little bit of  nasal congestion and scratchy throat. Allergies thinks I. I'm not used to a climate involving dry air and show girls on the street corners. Speaking of things I'm not used to, Vegas is probably the only place in the country where you can have a marijuana "dispensary" next door to a gun range next door to a wedding chapel next door to a world class buffet. When they say Sin City, they ain't just whistling Dixie buster. The restaurant proudly displaying a sign that said "over 350 pounds eats free" was just icing on the decadence cake.

So, any post nasal drip, I come home very late Monday night. I get off the plane hungry not having had time to grab food before departure in Lost Wages. Dallas Love Field is borderline ghost town at 11:30. By the time I made it back to my vehicle and out the parking garage, it was past midnight. The Queen didn't help matters by tempting me with Facebook videos of a deep dish, stuffed crust, double three cheese blend with an extra side of cheese pizza dusted in grated Parmesean.

So, naturally, I go looking for pizza. Surely, in Dallas, there would be a pizza place open until at least 1:00 AM. I go Googling. Nothing near the airport claimed to be open. Not that such would have been my first choice. It's a 30 minute drive from the airport back to the house. Cold pizza is not nearly as enticing as hot pizza. What about near the house? Surely my humble suburb had a Domino's open late? According to their website, yes, they had a location just a few miles from my house that was open until 1:00AM.

Huzzah. The tired traveler is saved from starving to death.

Not so fast garlic sauce.

I call the number. It's 12:06 AM. I sit on hold for 8 minutes while a lovely computer recorded female voice tells me about all the wonderful employment opportunities available to me at Domino's and someone will be with me shortly to take my order. How freaking busy can a Domino's be on a Monday night just after midnight? Did the Marijuana Growers Convention come to town and no one told me? I grow a tad impatient and hang up. I tried calling back at 12:14AM. Same lovely recording. I have no moved from impatient to peeved. Perhaps some twit is talking to their significant other or playing Pokémon or whatever it is Domino's employees do when they should be answering the PHONE!!!!

Calm down. It's just the hunger making you rage. Their probably all just midnight...on a Monday.

I call again at 12:21AM. Now, I was expecting at the very least the same cheerful recorded voice saying someone would eventually take my order. The website said they're open until 1:00AM. I expect someone to take orders until 1:00 AM. Or, at least answer the phone and say sorry, last order has to be in by 12:45 or something. So, you can imagine my puzzlement when a new pre-recorded greeting reached my ears proclaiming that Domino's was now closed for the evening.

Oh really. Do tell.

Some smarmy bugger went and flipped a switch rather than take an order. Since this location is on my way home, more or less. I decided to swing by for a little looksee.

You know, it was really tempting, when I arrived at the location at about 12:36 AM, to drive my truck through the front window when I saw no less than 4 Domino's employees standing around doing not much of anything.

A plague of flying monkeys engaging in deviant behavior with footballs upon your store Domino's. I shall never grace your business with my money again.

So, Tuesday dawns. I decided that working from home made perfect sense in light of my late night misadventures. I work in an office where I report to no one directly, and no one reports directly to me. My phone was already forwarded to my work cell phone. As long as I logged in to my computer and answered the phone, no one would know or care where I was.

Wednesday, saw me back at the office. The sniffles and cough had started to settle in for a long winter stay. I kept foolishly thinking it was just allergies. Thursday didn't go any better, and my voice made it known that it was going to make a break for it before the end of the day. By Thursday evening, it was clear something in the viral/bacterial family had gotten a hold of me. It was early to bed after dinner. Unfortunately, it was not a restful night's sleep.

Nausea and a glorious bit of acid reflux woke me up in the wee hours. I spent some quality time in the restroom trying to decide which orifice was going to win the honors of expelling the demons. Since my upper respiratory tract was busy coughing up a lung and waking up The Queen, the traditional exit won the coin toss. I eventually made it back to bed. I assume The Queen did as well. I was beyond caring at that point.

Friday morning dawned with me sleeping through all my alarms and waking at 9:30 AM to a massive headache, more coughing, sneezing and a low grade fever. I texted the boss that work from home was going to be attempted and proceeded to slog through my work day as best as I could manage. I have a vague memory of cooking chili for dinner before collapsing into sleep early again.

Sometime in the night, I relocated to the recliner. I'm not sure that did any good, but it was worth a shot. I could breathe slightly better through one nostril in a semi reclined position as opposed to no nostrils in the fully supine position.

Saturday morning dawned with me back in bed again. The Queen allowed as how she felt like garbage too. Great. Misery loves company. For the last several years, I have been unable to fully enjoy my customary illness remedy: pulling the covers over my head and sleeping for three days. The reason for this is that The Queen has a tendency to get ill at the same time as I. Dreadfully inconvenient since I am her caretaker.

To make matters worse, we were out of drinking water. Yes, we are water snobs. I say "we" referring to the household as a collective whole.  I am more than content to swill tap water when necessary; however, I can easily discern the difference in flavor between filtered water, Fiji water and the taps from several municipalities in our area. So, we buy our water by the 5 gallon refillable bottle. We had 6 of those suckers at one time; but, through attrition and misfortune, we are down to 4.

By the by, water weighs in at about 8 pounds per gallon making one of those bottles, when full, about 40 pounds of  dead weight. Ever try lifting 40 pounds when you have a massive headache? I'm pretty sure that's what a stroke feels like just before it happens.

So, after a slight detour, back to our story. Saturday sees us headed off to the local Whole Foods to refill our water stocks from their carefully filtered sources (don't go there...just don't, there are things I do for love that you will not understand). I suggested to The Queen that a rotisserie chicken and some mac n cheese were ideal options for dinner saving everyone some trouble since I had no bloody intention of cooking. The Queen, in her infinite wisdom, acknowledged that this was a splendid idea.

We returned home at which time I crawled back into bed in a futile attempt to continue with my traditional illness remedy. Dinner was inhaled at some point. The Queen and I watched a couple of movies to distract ourselves. A snack of leftover chili was had. The Queen reported feeling better. I, however, was not.

Which brings us to today. I've been stuck with the same low grade fever. Still coughing and sneezing. Fortunately, the headache has receded from massive to minor inconvenience. The Queen and I have enjoyed a restful day in bed plucking away at our laptops. Until just before 5:00 PM when I received a call from my father in law, Opa.

It seems Opa had taken Oma out for a little drive and his vehicle sprouted a flat tire. Bear in mind, it's 50 degrees outside with the temperature dropping as the sun goes down. I'm the only one in the house capable of changing a flat tire since my father in law has a major hernia issue, Oma wouldn't know the difference between a lug nut and a tire if her life depended on it, M&M hasn't received proper training on vehicle maintenance yet, and The Queen is still on the gimp from injuring her foot a few weeks back.

That leaves me. I get dressed in warm clothing not wanting to make matters worse. Ha. That's funny. I make sure my truck is topped off with fluids (since my truck has all the tools in it and will carry my 3 ton floor jack without a problem). Good thing too. The radiator was a wee bit low as was the oil, and it turns out Opa's vehicle had a jack but no tool to cause the jack to actually do jack about jack.

I prefer my floor jack any way.

I arrive to discover Opa's vehicle parked way, way, way at the back of a new subdivision. They've paved the streets and alleys, but the rest is mud. Somehow, Opa managed to find his way down one of these recently paved alleyways which were not strictly open to the public nor completely finished as the storm water drains had just recently been installed. The Opamobile is parked in an good spot for a tire change thankfully. I get out to inspect the problem and discover that the passenger front tire is completely separated from the rim after getting punctured in the sidewall, and a good bit of the rim has been chewed up and broken off. That's a dead donut right there. No chance of salvaging either rim or tire.

As near as I can tell, Opa didn't see the fact that the recently installed storm drain was sitting neatly inside a formed hole in the concrete paving of the recently paved alley which left just enough room between the pavement and the storm drain for one SUV tire to drop in neatly and off camber enough to get punctured by a wooden stake holding the concrete forms in place. The reason Opa didn't see this is that today's rains had left a muddy pool of water covering the area of the as yet uncompleted storm drain.

Before I had arrived, Opa had managed  to pull the spare tire out of the wheel well. It's a full sized spare for an SUV. Remember Opa? The one with the hernia condition? I appreciate the attempt at helping, but don't kill yourself old man. That's my job.

Anywho, I get what's left of the dead donut off and wisely check the spare before installation. Wouldn't you know it? Not even enough air to register on the tire pressure gauge. Fortunately, I came prepared. My truck is pretty well stocked for a clunker. I grabbed the air pump; and, a few minutes later, we had a properly aired up full size spare.

By now, the sun is down, and I am both chilled and sweating at the same time. Neat trick that. You should try it sometime. I'm out of  breath too. I should really give up this getting sick business since I can't seem to die in peace.

Lug nuts get tightened as much as I'm willing to do without dragging out the torque wrench. Opa gets back in his vehicle and promptly can't find the keys.

[facepalm] You've got to be kidding me.

We search high and low even resorting to frisking poor Oma (you just can't take any chances with those Alzheimer's folks). The keys finally turn up between the center console and the driver's seat where an inadvertent elbow must have knocked them off to (why Opa put them on the center console in the first place is a mystery to me...that man's logic escapes me sometimes).

Now, I'm back home recording this for posterity after consuming some really good Mediterranean food. I'm going to, once again, attempt to pull the covers over my head and sleep.

Good night.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blogger, I Hate You

I just spent the better part of an hour drafting and editing some content. Blogger blinks, and...poof. No more content. An hour of work wasted.

Friggin' programmable's free, but that's no excuse....snarl...a pox of flaming monkeys on your keyboard....

I'm going to take my allergy clogged head to bed. I might get motivated to try again tomorrow. I might now.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It's That Time Of Year Again

I went to Lowe's with Mimi 3 days before Halloween.  There were three or four rows plus the main area at the front of the store full of Christmas decorations. There was a very small area of Thanksgiving decorations on clearance. Something is wrong with this picture. Just saying.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Random Humor

One day you wake up and realize it's been a couple of months since you've done anything with the blog. Friday Funnies kinda went out the window. I've just been too business to do much thinking, surfing or much of anything else beyond work and home. There was our also trip to Alabama...just in time for a hurricane. That was an experience and a story for another time...maybe. In the meantime, I will just go ahead and post stuff I have been collecting for Friday Funnies as a Random Humor post. Friday Funnies is probably going to become more of a random humor thing possibly as a spring board for other posts. Who knows.

You can add a voice box to one that says "Hurt me, hurt me." The other one says "No."

Universal truth #1: Behind every warning sign or label is an idiot with a lawsuit.