Monday, December 13, 2010


My job location has been moved an hour away just this month, which of course stinks from the view of cost and time wasted, but does give me plenty of time to call Dad every day and share the day's information. What can we think to talk about every day? Plenty. The dozen wild turkeys I saw on the way to work invoked a discussion of turkeys past and turkeys future and every thought either of us had had on the topic, while the finding of a calf that was missing for a day was a fifteen minute discussion beginning with the wheres and whens and ending with, "I remember when...." most often followed by hearty laughter. Dad is so funny when he tells a story!

One day's topic, however, was that of medication panic. Dad had received a letter from Mom's doctor that Dr. Yuhas would not accept whatever kind of Medicare dad had going on with her. Dad was extremely tense about the whole situation and was upset fretting that now he was going to have to find Mom a new doctor, and he'd want to run all these tests, and the cause of the most anxiety: he couldn't get Mom's prescriptions filled. Long story short, I fixed the problem with one phone call and Dad acted like I had performed a miracle second only to the parting of the Red Sea.

But it did give me a chance to ask, however, "What kind of medication could Mom possibly need?" Thus began the list. He said, "She has a pill for cholesterol" to which I said, "She's weighs around 125 pounds, how high can her cholesterol be?" Then there was "She has thyroid medication" to which I wondered, "What happens if a person's thyroid is messed up?" The kicker was the "She has to have her estrogen pills." I said, "Estrogen pills? Why would she need estrogen pills, for heaven's sake?" And then he said it....."She has to have those estrogen pills or she'll act crazy." I paused to consider if I had heard correctly before I said, "Not meaning to be rude here, Dad, but how much crazier can she act?" He thought for a second and said he guessed I was right. I shook my head and smirked. I talked with him about, "What is the goal of Mom's medication?" If it gives her some comfort or lessens her anxiety, sure, I understand that. But if it just prolongs her that really what we're trying to do here? He guessed not and sighed. The medication issue starts the whole day off on the wrong foot with Dad thinking Mom must have her pills or the sky will fall, and Mom refusing to swallow them, instead spitting them out and hiding them in peculiar places. It ends up being a major daily battle and Dad's nerves are shot at the end of the ordeal. I thought, "Why is he doing this?" I called the nurse. She agreed with me that we should continue to try to get as much calcium in her system as possible, (she does fall on occasion), and suggested we keep her on some sort of nerve pill, that she's been on for quite a while, since she used to get scared when she was hallucinating. Other than that, although she couldn't really say that the other pills were unnecessary, she did state, "I can see why you would want to do this. If it was my parent, I would probably do the same." I took that as an affirmation that was enough to get Dad to calm down about it. Dad is old school, of course. He firmly believes that the doctor is always right and to veer off course of his orders would be certain ruin. I introduced the idea that one could tell a doctor, "I would rather do something else" or "I don't think that's that would be the best idea for me because...." It was a foreign idea. Thankfully for him, he has good doctor and the nurse is fantastic. She spent 20 minutes on the phone with me answering every question and talking about Mom as though she saw her every day. In a world of ineptness, I am happy to say, this nurse is not a participant!

worth 1,000 words

I had to include these two photos of my brother, Allen (Joel), and my mom the last time he came to visit. I think they show exactly the emotions we are having right now. The second photo demonstrates, I think, the feeling of anxiousness. What is she thinking? What is she feeling? What can I do?

The top one speaks of helplessness sometimes, and complete boredom the next. Not that we're bored of Mom, certainly, but we are getting bored with Alzheimer's--the slow regression that it is taking Mom through. We are bored watching the disease take its course, bored with the weight loss, bored with the lack of expression, bored with the continual trying to think what we can do to help her, and bored that the answer is "nothing."
The picture of Mom is just what it is. I think she is bored with it all, too! :) There is no such thing as pointing a camera at her and saying, "Smile." She smiles when she feels like it and she doesn't when she doesn't. Ah, to have that freedom ourselves! :)