Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can't stop laughing...

My son and his family are here from Birmingham for a few days and joined us with my daughter and her partner for the early church service on Sunday led by Rabbi Deborah Schloss (what can I say...we are Unitarians/Universalists) who led us in some wonderful Hebrew songs and liturgy.  I am sure this was all a new experience for my grandchildren but a good one.
After the service we all gathered in the Fellowship Hall for coffee and visiting.  A couple who are members were making a real effort to welcome my son and his family.  We don't know this couple well but appreciated their warm greetings.  My husband was eager to introduce our son to the man and said, "This is my brother.  We are twins but he is 5 minutes older than me which is just great.  It made my path much easier."  The man looked at Ken and my son who just turned 50 with a strange look on his face and said. "Must have been paternal."  My son is still cracking up over this.  I don't know if the man ever realized what was going on.  Maybe he is still pondering the birth of twins 30 years apart.
This happens frequently with Alzheimer's.  The patient can get the category (in this case, a relative) but can't find the right word.  But using the wrong word can bring up a whole other set of memories and they are off and running on another track and it is up to the listener to figure out where they went.  I like to call it a game of sorts.  Any suggestions for a game title?  Hearing is believing?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

Well, the Christmas tree is up, thanks to my daughter's good help but hubby hasn't participated in any of the Christmas doings.  You know when you live with someone with Alzheimer's the changes become so gradual that it is difficult at times to evaluate what is the big picture and how the disease is progressing or not progressing.  Throw in some days when the patient seems clear as a bell and it can get a little fuzzy.
     Last week held a series of doc appointments including our primary physician and the geriatric team at UTMB/Galveston.  The primary nodded as I gave a run down and refilled some prescriptions.  But the new resident, Dr. Chala, at UTMB ran him through a battery of memory tests and he pretty much blew it.  It took him a very long time to say what year it is but somehow he knew the day.  As far as remembering the 3 objects she asked him to repeat in five minutes, he had even a hard time repeating them right after she said them.  Wow, 4 months ago he answered nearly all of the questions.  So here we are.  There is no other medication, no increase in meds they said they can offer.  The doc's only suggestion was to give him coconut milk and turmeric which I'm doing.  So I guess we are just in a wait and see and watch.
     Sometimes life with Alz gets hilariously funny.  The other day he got out of bed at a decent time, got showered and dressed and then ran in to me in the kitchen just frantic.  He said he had lost his hearing aids. OMG...I got more than a little discombobulated as those suckers cost thousands and we had finally got them paid off.  I raced into the bedroom thinking he may have gone to bed with them on or laid them on the night stand.  I tore the bed apart.  Nope, nada.  On to the bathroom where he usually keeps them in a covered container.  I went over it with a fine tooth comb.  No results.  I called my daughter in tears and she offered to come look.  Just then my girlfriend who wears them phoned and went over a list of where she thought he might have left them.  Phone in hand I looked.  Nothing.  Then she said, "See if he is wearing them."  I couldn't find him anywhere in the house.  My daughter arrived and found him in the driveway going through the garbage can looking for them.  She took one look at him and said, "Now really, Dad."  The missing hearing aids were in his ears.  I wonder if he showered with them.  Who knows but oh my, I was relieved.
     He continues to read diligently the Wall St. Journal highlighting it and cut out articles.  He wants to go with me on errands but ends up sitting in the car waiting listening to NPR or reading his paper.  Sunday he went back to bed saying he didn't feel well right after we got home from church and I left him there while I went to a meeting.  He didn't answer the phone when I called to check on him so I left the meeting and came home.  He was up and in the backyard cutting the heck out of the crepe myrtles and had not eaten any of the food I had left for him in the fridge.  He complains of being tired frequently.  It has been explained to me that patients are tired, that it takes a tremendous amount of energy just trying to keep their world together in something they understand.  I can accept that.
    The next day he seemed confused when I woke him at 11 am.  He wanted to go with me to the post office and the bank but stayed in the car.  As we were driving, I watched him staring blankly out of the window with that kinda glazed look that I have seen on too many nursing home occupants.  It felt to me like he was "going down the rabbit hole" and it made me really sad.  Sad and thinking we are closer to needing some help and sooner than I anticipated.
   But today he was great.  He woke up, got dressed and wanted to know when we were going to go for batteries for his hearing aids and he has been fine nearly all day...hallelujah.  The rabbit was out of the hole, for today anyway.  And his mate is going to bed now.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Another day in paradise

I managed to seen this amazing sunset the other afternoon on one of my mini-escapes to have a cup of peppermint tea at my friend's house.  Geez...what a treat!  Things are getting a bit tense around here with the holidays approaching and granddaughter staying with us for a while.  I am finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit and then get mad at myself for being such a humbug.  Part of me wants to do it up gloriously as this may be the last Christmas in this house and the other part of me is just trying to keep up with doc appointments and getting meals on the table and the laundry done.

Hubby is not having a good day today.  I want him to have as many successes as possible so I try for little tasks around the house like taking out the garbage and the recycle.  But then this morning we spent half an hour going over the schedule for the pick ups of the above which happen on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The wringer in the schedule is that the recycle must go to the curb on Tuesday night so as not to miss an early pickup on Wednesday morning.  Oh my, even after writing it all down, it was hard for him to get it.  So I guess we will see what happens tonight which is Tuesday.

This morning we went to JSC to renew his badge which went well.  But then he starts in about how is he going to go visit his friends in their offices.  (I'm wondering if at this stage of his illness if they really want him to visit).  I explained and explained the procedure for making it happen but he continues to be very disgruntled. 

He diligently reads the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal and cuts out articles and highlights others.  He came in my office all upset about an article discussing the increasing costs of hospitals and saying that he doesn't want to be taken to a hospital because it will just bankrupt the family....saying that we shouldn't call an ambulance because it will just cost too much and it is a scam, etc.  I tried to assure him that we have excellent coverage through Medicare and our insurance company and that so far hospital visits have not cost us anything.  He would have continued the argument had I let him.  I feel sad that he doesn't have anyone else to argue with about politics, the state of the nation and the world but sometimes he just doesn't make much sense.  The granddog is back and he so enjoys walking her and so far is not lost.  This is great for both of them.

In a few minutes I will go to the library for my volunteer job in the book store.  It is quiet, we are seldom busy and I will continue to read The Book Thief, a great story about Nazi Germany during WWII.  I will come home refreshed and ready to cook dinner for however many folk show up.
And maybe, just maybe there will be another glorious sunset to celebrate another fine day in paradise.  It really is paradise, you know, in spite of tribulations.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A disappointment

Yesterday I was excited about the first meeting of the El Lago Seniors at our community center.  I feel it has a lot of potential for seniors to do all kinds of things.  I got hubby out of bed in plenty of time but could tell he was having a hard time tracking what the plans for the day were...Seniors meeting from 10 to 1 with snacks, exercise and lunch and then off to my doc appointment at 1:30.  

We arrived promptly at 10:00 and others began to arrive until there must have been at least 50 in the room.  Wonderful round tables had been set up and a table of snacks against the wall with coffee.  We got our plates and sat down near one gentleman who began to tell us his story and said his wife was going to join us (she never did and he disappeared).  Other senior women joined our table and hubby got more and more disgruntled.  At last one of his NASA buddies showed up with his wife and hubby went and chatted with them for a while.  He came back and sat down and wouldn't join in anything or conversations and wore a big frown on his face.

A darling young woman introduced herself and said she would be leading us in excercises and had chairs all set up with weights.  Everyone but hubby joined in.  He sat pouting in his chair.  It was fun and an exercise class will be offered for free every Tues and Thurs at 11:00.  Then it was lunch time and I could tell he didn't want to eat.  I asked if he wanted to leave and he angrily said "Yes."  So we left.  On the way home I asked why he didn't want to stay for lunch or exercise.  He said, "Because I am so angry about not being able to get in and out of JSC without someone taking me and picking me up."  Sheeessshhh!  So I told to go ahead and be angry about it but to quit blaming me.  I took him home, fed him lunch and was grateful to leave him there while I went to the doctor.  I think we are entering a new stage of the disease and it ain't gonna be fun.  I had hoped that this might be an enjoyable event for him....evidently not.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anticipation or rather the lack of

I don't know what these crazy azaleas are thinking but they have started blooming.  What are they anticipating?  They are ahead of the game while hubby seems to be running a few steps behind.

A couple of years ago a dear friend whose husband recently died with Alzheimer's talked of her frustration with her husband's inability to anticipate, to think ahead of what current actions might have in the future, even 10 minutes down the road.  Well, she was right on with what happens with Alzheimer's.  And I forget that at times and it drives me crazy.

Yesterday we had a very frustrating morning.  Actually it started the day before when hubby bounced out of bed early around 8:30...unusual for him and walked out of the bedroom fully dressed saying "I'm ready to go."  Go where????  He had his days mixed up and we weren't going anywhere.
Back to yesterday...hubby wanted to go to a presentation at NASA in the auditorium on the JSC campus that began at 10:00.  He requested on Monday that I drive him .  This is good and appropriate planning ahead.  I had committed myself to be at a friend's house at the same time but that was fine,  manageable and I do want to support his continued involvement.  It gives him so much pleasure.

I get up and dressed and finally get him up at 8:30 leaving him to bathe and dress.  He comes out at 9:30 wearing 3 shirts, one on top of the other. He said he was cold.  I said he couldn't show up at JSC dressed like that and went in to pick out his clothes.  So he is finally dressed and starts fussing with his usual papers etc. and then says he needs new batteries for his hearing aids and wants to drive to LaPorte to get them before going to JSC.  ARGGgggh!  Okay.  Finally in the car I inform him of the time and ask whether he wants to be late to the presentation to get the batteries.  "No".  So off we go to JSC where I have to leave him at the gate to walk in as security won't let me drive him in even with his badge.  Whew!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finding meaning with Anne Lamott

Ah, from the front row of the Cathedral...Anne Lamott took my breath away.  Isn't that why we all write?  Paint?  All searching for meaning in our lives?  I think it could be said for all of us in the arts.  It is all about our search for meaning.  For me right now, I write to find some kind of meaning in this life I now have as a Care Partner.  From her book she questioned a friend about the meaning of the Newtown massacre....his answer:  "We don't know yet."  And I don't know yet either about that event, about the Typhoon in the Phillipines, about my small life as a Care Partner, mother, grandmother, great grandmother.
So what do I know?  I am learning patience in a way I never thought I could.  I am learning to find joy in the days when we laugh together, the squirrel eats from my hand, the crazy okra plant hangs on to the longest imaginable stem while putting out sprouts at the bottom, hubby's cheerful greeting every morning saying "I slept so good last night". 
And I can seriously let go of  bins of gorgeous papers.  I delivered them to TAACCL yesterday to use in their fundraiser.  Gone but there is still more and I will get to it one drawer, one bin at a time and watch my life change as I find room for something new and wonderful.  And I will find new meaning in what life brings and will try my best to be present and authentic for it all.  That's all God really wants from any of us I believe and so does Anne Lamott.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Caring for the Care Partner

You are wondering why a picture of this book?  It just happens to be by my favorite author whom I am going to greet up close and personal this Wednesday when she arrives in Houston her usual nervous wreck to sign this wonderful book.  I hope to get more copies to give to everyone I know who struggles with life.  And who doesn't?  It life, right?  It doesn't come in neat, tidy little packages, only in moments, just moments, one at a time...sometimes they are tiny, full of joy, sometimes long hours of grief, sadness but Anne's point is that we must be authentic in all of them to find meaning in our lives.  To find meaning in our lives, we must really live into them.  It is what we have to work with so take it by the horns and wrestle and ride.  Damn, that's a big order and I'm not sure I have a saddle.

For me as a Care Partner (notice the capital letters...I deserve a title) of an spouse with Alzheimer's , it means learning to live into the moments of clarity, hold on to them as part of the life we know together.  And it also means fully accepting the feelings of frustration of my partner AND myself when expectations aren't met, communication breaks down.  It means making new priorities in my life, accepting the losses of time, place, energy and finding new ways to find joy...easier said than done.

One of my joys of retirement is the time to pursue long-held interessts with great abandon, mainly art and writing.  But now I find my time is needed in other ways so much so, that I must take a close look at what is most important.  Alzheimer's disease is sneaky.  It eats away slowly at the hours.  First for this Care Partner it was taking over the finances of the household and discovering I probably do a better job than hubby did.  Then is added instructions on how to turn on the TV or dealing with repairmen and so it goes and the clock is ticking.  Priorities, priorities it says.

And so here we are now facing a move.  It is with such mixed feelings letting go of years and years of art supplies and as a mixed media artist that means not only paint, brushes, paper and glue, the bones of collage but all the other stuff like buttons, tickets, maps, game pieces and a hugh collection of rubber stamps.  However, along with the sadness, comes a sense of relief.  I like to think I'm closing this door so that another may open.

But it is the time thing that gets a bit squeamish here.  How much time do I allow myself to do things just for me?  Go to poetry events? How much for hubby?  How much for church, community?  And what of all of that is the highest priority?  And that gets back to Anne Lamott, my first priority for the week.  I am going with a friend, I will get her to sign my book and I will come home elated having met one of my most favorite authors.  Why a favorite?  Because Anne Lamott addresses the realities of life with disconcerting honesty.  She puts out there for all of us to look at those big questions about life that can only be part of the Great Mystery.
So for all you Care Partners out there trying to find meaning in your life.  Read Stiches.  Even if you don't consider yourself a spiritual person, you can dig this.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sometimes it's the simple things

The simple task of putting on a band-aid led to a real epiphany for me.  Our tuxedo cat, Slick, hates, as in really hates the cat carrier and managed to give me a good scratch on my left wrist on his way in for his trip to the vet to get said claws trimmed.  But what was interesting was the follow-up.  I got out the band-aids and asked for help from hubby in getting it on.  Bless his heart...he just couldn't figure it out and finally I managed to pull it open and get it on the wound.
Later it hit me...that I am alone.  We have had each other's backs for over 50 years  and now he can no longer help.  If I fell or became ill, there would be little that he could do to help.  I have no real back up and it is so sad as I know it is his loss as well.  I can still be there for him but he can't do much for me.  Most of our neighbors work during the day and seldom is there anyone home.
So I better stay damn healthy and upright.  It seemed like such a simple thing but it brought home what expectations I have to let go of.

Thank God/Goddess/ Fluffy, whatever for support groups.  I brought this loss up in group and realized that there were several women in the support group who live in my neighborhood and are in similar circumstances.  I made the suggestion that maybe we could form a seniors group in El Lago and immediately group members started naming seniors on there blocks that live alone.  The idea that maybe we could put some system in place where seniors could be checked on if they wanted.
The group facilitator volunteered to go to City Hall where I suggested she talk to the City Secretary. 

She called yesterday that she talked with the Secretary who asked her, "Do you believe in Divine Intervention?"  Turns out the city had been talking about this for some time and jumped on the idea.  The city will send out flyers, put it in the local newsletter and follow up with phone calls.  The first meeting is Nov. 21 form 10 to 1 and the city will provide snacks, lunch and entertainment.  Holy moly!  Fabulous! 

The potential is exciting.  I read an article about a small community in NY with an aging population who bonded together with an investment of around $200 to keep a resource group on retainer for plumbing, carpentry needs or rides or meals, etc which gave them a discount rate. 
I can see potlucks, trips to interesting sites around Houston using the Harris Co buses for seniors.

So my loss could turn into a gain for us and the whole community.  We have a lot of seniors who are still living in the homes they built in the early days of the space program so we have a lot of gray hairs around.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thank God for humor

There are some funny things that happen around here with the Alz.  The other day while making our bed, I noticed something near my pillow.  I picked it up to find that it was a dollar bill that had been folded and folded into a tiny square.  I showed it to my husband and said, "Hey, I'm worth more than that!".  He replied, "Yeah, ten dollars."  
I have no idea where the bill came from but there it was.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the road with Alzheimer's

In the works for over a month was a planned visit to our friend, Sandy, in Tyler, TX.  Sandy was ready and wanting company after recovering from a broken hip and losing her husband of nearly 20 years.  The couple had been our neighbors for many years and Sandy and I went to grad school together.  So I began talking it up to hubby the week before and checking to make sure our meds were up to date, laundry done, pets arranged for, car AC fixed, etc.  We were invited to an anniversary celebration in Tyler by a couple we had known through NASA...he worked for hubby years ago and had retired to East Texas.  Hubby remembered his name and was excited about seeing him again.  Those space program threads run deep in his brain and seem to be continually present.
Because we were going to the party I checked his suitcase which he had packed to make sure he had clothes for the planned weekend events.  Oh geez...two pairs of pajamas and two dirty shirts (favorites).  Okay, I started over in the suitcase and had it all packed the night before.  Clothes for the party were on a hanger along with the clothes for him to wear on the drive up.  The departure morning arrives, I load my things in the car and wake him up and point out his clothes.  He heads for the shower and I read the paper and wait and wait and wait.  On checking, he is back fussing over the suitcase again and taking stuff out, then piling more stuff in.  I fold the wadded up shirts back in the suitcase and redirect him back to get his shoes and socks on.  Then he is on to fussing over his piles of papers on the table and making sure he has a highlighter for the newspaper he is bringing.
At last we are on the road an hour later than I had hoped but oh well.  Hubby is grumpy and obviously upset.  I ask why and he said he wanted to pack his suitcase and was confused about it.  I acknowledged his confusion and mentioned the dirty shirts.
We stop for lunch in Lufkin and call Sandy to tell her to go on to her meeting in the afternoon.  We stop at Love Point, a scenic overlook and hubby has lightened up and seems to be enjoying himself.
In Tyler at last Sandy left the door open for us and we had just arrived and unloaded the car when she got home.  She has a young dog who immediately took to Ken and made them both happy.  Sandy fixed a lovely dinner, her son and family joined us and we visited for a while, examined her magnificent garden, and went to bed at a decent hour. 
The next day after a late breakfast we headed to the art community of Edom.  Hubby seemed happy to go but complained of being tired.  We reconnected with some artists I knew from way back in my pottery days and had a great lunch which he ate all.  We drove back to Tyler, full and happy.  Then we toured a magnificent old home near downtown that has been restored and maintained.  Hubby enjoyed the video about the history of the house and thanked Sandy for taking us. 
Then we went to a local coffee house for a cup of java.  And here began the sundowning.  Hubby brightened up and said he remembered that Sandy's husband had brought him to tour the house and then to the same coffee house.  Well, that never happened.  Bob was not able to drive and never saw the house.  But it does make me wonder if there was an occasion somewhere in some town where hubby had had a similar experience.
     The next morning we let hubby sleep as we were planning to attend the party later.  I helped Sandy with some planning of some stuff she needs to take care of and then dressed for the party.  I woke

hubby to get showered and dressed.  I went back to check on him and there was water all over the floor of the bedroom (?) and he was fussing over his suitcase and had forgotten about the clothes laid out on the bed for him.  He asked over and over again where we were going.  By then it was 11:30 so Sandy suggested we go for brunch before heading for the afternoon event.  Hubby gets terribly confused by menus...bless his heart, he can decide on something but forgets it by the time the waitress asks for his order.  Brunch went well and off we went...again he asks where we are going.
      Our friends were renewing their wedding vows in a small church.  As we sat there, hubby asked over and over again where we were and why were we there.  BUT he did recognize his friend and couldn't wait to greet him after the service.  He seemed a bit confused when the party moved to the couple's home and began to frown and declined any food or drink.  Sandy was so understanding and realizing he had reached his limit, cut the afternoon short to head home.
       The next morning we were to leave and the whole scene was repeated around the suitcase, meds, and so.  On the way home, he commented over and over about what newspapers would be in the front yard waiting...he couldn't wait to read them.
        I know that any change in routine is a challenge for an Alzheimer's patient and he certainly was full of anxiety.  All in all he did well.  I was the frustrated one.  Just trying to get him out the door for most anything is a challenge by the time he compulsively checks and rechecks his stacks of papers on the window sill.  And answering the same questions over and over and over again in a 15 minute time period.  I think there will be a limited number of trips in our future as it is difficult for us both.  We've been home for a day now and he has been angry all day.  He is angry because he can't remember where he put some work he was doing for a book.  I think he thinks I moved it but knows better than to say that.  This disease has to be so, so frustrating for the patient...just imagine if you constantly can't remember where you put anything or can't find the right word to say what you want.   Books lose interest because if you can't read it straight through, you won't remember what you read.  And so it goes on ever turn during the day.  Hopefully one day a successful treatment or prevention will be found.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Living with Alzheimer's is always interesting and full of surprises.  In the process of clearing out and cleaning up, hubby and I came to the conclusion that it was foolish to hang on to a large collections of CDs, most of which we never listened to anymore.   The plan is to let them go and empty the wonderful cabinet they had been occupying for way too many years.  I had not used any of them since I can remember and was content to just see their interesting cases waiting in the cabinet.  So yesterday I assigned my life partner the job of going through the CDs to keep what he wanted in a new basket and put ones to part with in another box...destinations labeled so he couldn't forget.  He did a marvelous job and created a huge stack of CD cases to delete.  
Great!  Then it was my turn to pick out any that I might want to hang on to.  Whoops!  As I checked case after case, they were empty and I tossed them on the floor.  But where did the CDs go that belonged in the cases?  I found a few in the car case but where were the others?  After a diligent search, I found them all stacked in a drawer of another cabinet.  It seems when hubby played a CD, he never put it back in its case.   This must have been going on for years, not that we haven't all done this occasionally but we are talking over a hundred...more evidence that the disease may have been present long before diagnosis.           
Guess what I'll be doing today!                                                        

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another collaged portrait

I'm learning it is very important for the care partner of an Alzheimer's patient to get out into the real world on a regular basis and get together with friends.  Last night The Arts Alliance Center of Clear Lake provided that for me with another fundraiser fun time with some friends from my book club.  An evening of Vino and Van Gogh.  TAACCL provides the canvas and paint and collage material and snacks and wine and wonderful fun artist folk to help.  It was great to just sit back and play with paint...this is the 2nd portrait I've done using images from a napkin for the eyes.  This one has sea shell eyes.and tissue paper hair.  I haven't named her yet.
More good news from last night...
       #1.  I met a friend/former colleague whom I hadn't seen in years and we have a lunch date set up (another recommendation for care partners) .
       #2.  I now know where I can donate all the paper scraps and collage material (think a collection of all kinds of paper stuff for 20 years).  The teacher of these mini-workshops has been donating her stash and can use all this crap I've been saving.  Woohooo!
       #3.  I am sure that wherever we go, I will have to have a place however small to make art....whether it is art journaling or canvases, I must create to keep my sanity and health.
       #4.  Hubby with my help managed to contact a friend who picked him up last night and took him to church for dinner and discussion and he had a wonderful time and even remembers some of what went on.  He is a very happy camper today...me, too.

Today's project:  get off the computer and pack up CDs for the church garage sale.https://www.facebook.com/kay.cox

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Lonely but never alone...the story of an Alzheimer's caretaker

I'm sitting at the breakfast table with my first cup of coffee. It's early..around 5:30 am..early for this slug-a-bed.  The house is quiet except for a few furry hungry feline faces wandering around my ankles.  And it is cool enough that I'm wearing a sweater.  I remember my dearest Aunt Katrina wrapped in sweaters as she grew old.  And now it's me vacillating between burning up and feeling chilly.
It's daunting and overwhelming, this task of facing the reality of where I am in life's seasons.  No one tells you early in life to be prepared for losses.  You know at some level that some near and dear to you will fade away, that your parents will transition but the gradual losses can be just as big.  My best friend, spouse, lover, partner of 55 years is no longer the companion I'd grown accustomed to as his memory and reasoning is more and more confused.  There is so much loss with Alzheimer's.
We have both lost some of our independence.  The big one for him is his independent mobility when his car keys were taken away.  My loss is in time...my time is spent fixing his meals, driving him places, finding his missing date book, explaining once again how to use the phone, the remote to the TV.  My independence has shrunk as he wants to go with me on errands, to shop, the postoffice.  At times I feel like I'm drowning in "togetherness".  I'm lonely but never alone.
 And there are household tasks which each of us have had to give up...cleaning chores like mopping, scrubbing a tub, changing a light bulb in the ceiling.  I love the ad on TV as the husband watches his elderly mate climbing a ladder to dust a high shelf.
The thing I miss the most are the long conversations about books, about relationships, government, politics, about all kinds of things.  But a bigger loss is in the works.  We need to sell our house.  It is too big for us to care for anymore and I must plan ahead for what is to come with hubby's illness.  Twenty years of crap to get rid of.  Daunting and overwhelming and very sad.  I will be giving up my studio full of art supplies and the potential of canvases and collages that might have been.  The bedrooms and closets and kitchen are easy but letting go of special inks, brushes, paints, print-making tools, art books, exotic papers, glues, rubber stamps, ribbons, tapes, pencils, pastels and on and on is just so hard.  They all have been such a big part of my life for so long, my best friend and lover.  Of course, I will hang on to a small amount of paint and paper and glue but the rest has to go.
What to do with all those journals I created for the last 40 years...the stories of my life that I was going to use as poetry prompts?What to do with all the art work I've created?  Canvases and drawings in closets and flat files?  Sometimes I think it would be much easier to just walk away with a few clothes in a suitcase.  Fly to San Miguel de Allende, Albuquerque, Asheville and never look back?  Talk about a clean start.  But back to reality, it is all about selling this house ASAP and I'm gonna need some help in finding the joy in this adventure

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Let the battle begin...

Woo hoo!  Let the battle begin.  Hundreds of pro-lifers lined Nasa Parkway with signs this afternoon.  A great indication that Sen. Wendy Davis has them scared shitless.  Fabulous!  I can't wait to get a Wendy Davis sign in my front lawn and on my car.  People, we have just come too far to let this battle continue.  We cannot let a small few take us back to the dark ages.  Women should be given a choice!  That's it!  Plain and simple!  No, I'm not crazy about women having abortions but I'm also not crazy about women getting pregnant when they cannot or should not support the life once born.  Women will continue to get abortions somehow, someway possibly in dangerous situations and we, the taxpayers, will end up paying for their trips to emergency rooms or for their subsequent health issues.  Or we will continue to care for those children they can't support through welfare or other subsidies.  This is crazy!  GIVE WOMEN THE CHOICE THEY DESERVE!  This ain't an issue to be determined by any religious belief.  Believe whatever you want but don't impose it on others.
It is our only reasonable choice!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Support groups and paint?

Support groups are great...thank goodness I have one...just wish it met more often than once a month.  It is so affirming to know I'm not alone in this care taking.  Hubby has been complaining of being really tired and not wanting to do anything, go any where.  He just wanted to sleep all the time.  Since his brother had complained of being tired which turned into a severe heart problem, I was concerned and still am.  But at support group I learned this is typical of the disease.  I will continue to keep a lookout for other symptoms.  But today he seems fine, got up early, has been working on his computer and has a healthy appetite.  He has even been cooperative about cleaning the bathroom which has been a big help as it is hard for me to get down on my knees to do parts of the floor.

Daughter and I are painting the small bedroom...it is a what I hope is a lovely green but until we get the bright pink covered up, it is really hard to tell.  Yikes.  I'm in the mood to paint all the bedrooms and the front bathroom all different colors...to heck with the all neutral cream color all over the house.  Bring on the color.  YES!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alzheimer's and the car keys

More brain changes
Cross section of healthy and Azlheimer's brainThis entry will surely bore many of you but I am blogging all this to document the progress of the disease for both of us in hopes that someday I may put it all together to help someone else who is struggling as a patient or a caregiver.

  Wow, it has been an interesting.  Hubby got very agitated and upset last night.  Accused me of "shang-hai-ing" his car keys.  He is furious once again about it and questioning who said he can't drive, it doesn't say anything on his license that he can't drive and who told me that he couldn't.  He still isn't speaking this morning which is interesting that he remembers to be mad.  Telling him that three docs have said he shouldn't drive and that if anything happened while he was driving, regardless of whose fault it would be, the insurance wouldn't pay because of all the medications he is on for Alz.  He is blaming it all on me, of course. 

So I'm just trying to figure out what triggered all this.  To begin with, Taylor is staying with us and she drives what was essentially his van sometimes.  He has the idea that she is going to take it and use it for a down payment on a car....(not a bad idea in my book but she has never mentioned it...she is embarassed to drive it to school with all its dents, etc.).  He must believe as long as the van shows up in our driveway, he will still have access to it.
Secondly, the whole scene yesterday at JSC when I asked about driving him in and picking him up as he no longer drives, must have thrown a kink into his works about not being able to drive onto the JSC campus by himself.
Thirdly, we started a class at our church last night that meets on Wednesday nights.  He seemed to enjoy it but at the end of the class, I asked if he wanted to attend next week.  He said "yes" and as I will be unable to attend, I asked a friend in the class who lives in our neighborhood if he would mind picking him up.  George agreed, no problem.  But again, this being unable to do it himself remains a terrible loss to him.  I understand completely and will probably fight it when my keys are taken away.  Right now I'm just grateful that one of us can drive.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back into bureaucracy

Interesting morning.  I can't find the cinnamon rolls that I bought yesterday...they were on the counter.  Whoa, here they are in the freezer.  No problem, beats the recycle bin.

The Alz guy, better known as hubby, lost his NASA Alumnae badge again.  No clue as to where it might have gone but I have looked everywhere.  For all I know he may have dropped it on the JSC campus somewhere.  Of course he has been frantic as the connections to the space program are so important to him, not just for the friendships he has made over the 45+ years on the space program but thoughts around space seem to be the deepest ruts in his brain and holding on better than anything else like where his badge went or where to put things or where the microwave is in the kitchen.

So today's mission was to go to JSC and get another badge.  I have, change that to "had", a  spouse's badge that was given to me years ago when he retired back in one of my "red hair" days but it was losing its laminate.  So into the badge office we go at JSC...Ken hands over his drivers' license and I hand over my badge to get it replaced (big mistake!).  Ken gets a new badge no problem but the nice lady says I'm not supposed to have one...that mine was supposed to be turned in when he retired, that it wasn't valid anymore.  I informed her that I had been getting on site for years with it, that hubby can no longer drive so it is up to me to deliver him when he has a meeting on site and how am I supposed to come back and get him if I don't have a badge?  Answer from the bureaucracy:  Have the employed person that he is visiting order a visitor's badge for me.  And they wouldn't give my badge back.  So now hopefully I can drive him in but I have to stop at the badge center and get a badge to just drive through the gate and pick him up standing in front of a building.  Things have certainly tightened up since 9/11 which is good but this is the first time after 40 + years I've ever had a problem.  Hubby's comment:  "Welcome to government bureaucracy."  My response: "Just don't lose your damn badge again."  Smile, grin, sigh.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Show me the money!

I spent the morning with millions and millions of dollars but this is all I came home with...a capsule of shredded money so don't get your hopes up of borrowing any from me or for that matter, my morning venue.  I went with a group to tour the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Houston, an incredibly beautiful and totally functional building.  Amazing architecture and even more beautiful furnishings and I'm not talking about the $$$ in its 5 story vault.  So tastefully done with an impressive collection of Texas artists.  It was designed by Michael Graves...yep, the same guy who creates household items for Target.  Walls and furniture in beautiful oak from around Austin and hill country limestone on the floor.  The beautiful board room with a wall of windows onto Allen Parkway, inlaid huge conference table with lovely blue leather chairs embossed with the seal of the Federal Reserve.  90 million dollar facility to hold the millions but a beautiful asset to Houston.  So now every plain white 18 wheeler I pass I have to wonder if it is carrying an enormous load of money to very secure gates of the Federal Reserve.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vino and Van Gogh

This is a collage I created at a fundraiser called Vino and Van Gogh for The Arts Alliance Clear Lake Center at Opus restaurant in Clear Lake Shores.  It was a fun evening trying to create something on canvas with limited supplies and a very limited palette.  The 8 x 10 canvases had all been painted with a background and there were lots to choose from.  I had imagined a real getting messy workshop with lots of paint and stuff flying and wore an old T-shirt and jeans...my usual paint attire.  Ha! It was obviously a society event and the attending ladies were decked out to the nines...well, maybe not their "nines" but mine for sure.  And obviously many had never created anything like it in their lives.  The ladies at my table were very nice but kept quizzing me about what I was doing.  I just kept on gluing and tearing and painting but believe me, they had a hard time understanding why I was creating what I was creating.  I think Van Gogh would have loved it...I do and I do want to support TAACCL.  It has been a real loss to our community when they had to close their facility.  We are all hoping that a wonderful venue will be available soon.  But in the meantime these mini-workshops are very well organized with a good instructor and I encourage my friends to go and have fund while giving support.
I love this idea for fundraising and several from my book club are going in Nov. to another Vino and Van Gogh at the Sundance Grill.  Who knows what the next creation will be.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

They're back!

"Hi, honey, I'm home."
They are back and it must mean that some cooler weather is on its way.  I never get tired of watching these tiny beings darting back and forth to the feeders from tree branches and telephone wires.  There are two different kinds this year...the ruby-throated and another metallic green and they seem to get along well together, even sharing feeder time, moving from feeder to feeder and not continuously chasing the other birds away.  Our backyard has become a zoo of sorts...in the early morning hours I am stalked by a squirrel sitting in the shiffelera just outside the living room French door waiting for me to hand her a peanut or place an ear of corn in the feeder.  She sits staring, watching and waiting.  I think she must be nursing a family somewhere. 
Sparrows have discovered the other feeder along with the red-bellied woodpecker and doves and black & white pigeons scout the ground for the corn debris left by the squirrels.  The other day there was an all white pigeon among them and I fantasized it carried some message.  Maybe a message from the Great Mystery telling me to enjoy all this and protect it.  www.facebook.com

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A new woman

A haircut and a pedicure...I'm a new woman.  Sometimes it takes so little to change a day or week around.  A pedicure with dear Jennifer who does an awesome job but whom I can only understand an occasional word or two or three does so much to brighten my week.  I can only afford her cheerful healing touch once a month which is fine as it might lose its specialness if I went more often.  Jennifer continues to babble in Vietnamese to the other employees and she must be really funny as they all laugh a lot. 
Yesterday she gave a big smile and nod of approval on my color choice..."Much better", she said.   "Purple you get in the winter."  And so it is that I once again have bright red toes...now if only I could remember the name of the polish.
I'm trying the new chicken enchilada recipe for dinner tonight but so wish the weather would cool down...almost 100 degrees here on the Bay yesterday.  No sign of winter here or even fall.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wow, it has been a long time but I've been busy...with what?  Life, you know, how it gets in the way of your plans.  My house is a mess and I can't find the broom.  Our granddaughter is coming this afternoon to spend a week while her mother is in Iowa getting married which is a great thing but for the next 10 days I will have the granddog, granddaughter, three cats and my husband with Alzheimer's along with trips to League City to feed the other cat who lives there.

Now about the Alz...I've come to realize that he is getting worse in spite of the new medication and it does make life interesting.  Today I can't find the broom.  The dust pan is in its usual home but the broom is missing.  I've looked everywhere and of course, he doesn't remember anything about it.  Glasses are sitting in the cupboard where the coffee mugs sit and naturally, coffee mugs are showing up in the cupboard with the glasses.  And the "sundowning" has begun....that is where the patient goes more confused and rattled around dinner time.  He complains of being tired but I think at some level he is aware that he isn't as sharp as he now wants to walk the dog in the morning instead of the afternoon.  I'm all for it as the days get shorter and the chance of his getting lost increases.  So far he has been able to find his way in the neighborhood but I insist he carry his cell phone.  Now whether he remembers to use when he is lost is another matter. 

This brilliant man has always been somewhat compulsive.He probably had Alz long before he was diagnosed but has been smart enough to develop coping skills to cover up what he couldn't remember or figure out.  He sits at the breakfast table for hours going over the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal with a yellow high lighter and later goes back and cuts them up with articles he wants to read again.  This is a brilliant man who never developed any hobbies...no woodwork, no sport, no stamp collecting, nothing but the space program. 

Last week he was compulsively watering everything in the yard...hose on full blast over and over every day.  The tomatoes drowned, water was running down the street and God knows what our water bill will be.  I try to redirect him but the first thing I know he is out the door and has the water on.  He isn't interested in television very much anymore...he used to watch MSNBC programs over and over but not so much anymore.

He is still such a sweet and kind man.  The cats adore him, the granddog adores him, little children love him and so do I.  It is just so sad to lose one's life partner this way. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Texas War on Women's Choices

I am just so angry, disappointed and upset with the Texas Legislature and Gov. Big Hair Perry I had to write about it:

Texas War on Women’s Choices
I am lying in the knives thrown at women
by the Republican Legislators
Bless Sen. Wendy Davis in her pink shoes
Standing up for women’s rights to health care

How is it that hand guns are allowed in the chamber
Tampons, sanitary napkins are confiscated
Should they be registered at the local gun shop
Danger that they are

I feel the threat aimed
At the health care of Texas women
Knives aimed at their bellies
Slicing through the right of choice

Knives aimed to remove
Thirty-seven clinics serving women across the State
Only five, in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas
Would remain, none in rural areas or West Texas

Leaving many women of lower income
Without access to mammograms, pap smears, wellness exams
Choices in family planning
Choices in how they will live out their lives

You regressives are sending us back in time
When many women died
Following their desperate attempts
To abort with coat hangers

Are your minds so clouded
Holding on to office and to religious dogma
That you cannot see that we will all pay
For the emergency care of these women without clinics

Or did Rick Perry’s sister, Milla Perry Jones,
Buy your votes, promise reelection
For protecting Ambulatory Surgery Centers
Physician Hospitals

Stop this insanity!
Vote 2014


Kay Cox