January 2010


Maybe it’s Lori’s Chocolate Chip cookies (see yesterday’s post) doing their anti-depressant wonders.  Maybe it is having an almost normal (for us) night’s sleep.  Maybe it is reading yesterday’s post in the morning — late in the evening it is easy to become pensive and full of self-pity.  Maybe it is the dramatic contrast of all that we in our household have compared to the pain and suffering of tens of thousands in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.  Maybe it is just getting tired of hearing myself whine.

Whatever it is, I need clarify for myself and any who follow this blog, that what I am feeling in regard to my change of circumstances from Senior Pastor of a large, thriving congregation to the full time primary Caregiver of my wife Mary Ann is just experiencing to the full the dynamics that come along with any major change in life.  There is a letting go of the past and settling in to a new set of present circumstances.

What I am experiencing in letting go of the past has nothing to do with the congregation from which I retired.  In fact, if anything, the wonderfully nurturing and loving people, the caring and competent Staff that actually served as my primary support group during the very toughest time trying to work full time and care for Mary Ann, the generosity of the Leadership of the congregation, the Volunteers (as many as 65 of them at one time) who stayed with Mary Ann all the time I was working away from the house (sometimes staying with her when I needed time to work at home), the Volunteers who have continued to stay with Mary Ann at times for a year and a half now since I retired from being their Pastor, the huge cadre of people there who threw the most fantastic party imaginable when I retired, all of that kindness just dramatizes the contrast between that part of my life and this part of my life.

Would it have been easier if they had all been mean and ugly to me?  I suppose in one sense it might have made me want to get out of there.  I have often reminded people who were hurting after the loss of a loved one, missing them so much, that their pain is a sign of the depth of their love for the one they have lost.  In that sense, I am grateful for every moment of gut-grieving.  It validates the value of the years of service in the church.  It reveals the depth of love for so many over the decades.  It is one way my gut reminds me that those years were good years.

Then, there is the truth of the matter.  No one asked me to retire.  There was plenty of reason as I struggled to do justice to the ministry and give Mary Ann the care she needed, for the leadership to say to me, “Don’t you think it is time for you to retire?” Instead, they said, “What can we do to help?”  I am the one who chose to retire.  It was without a shred of doubt exactly the right thing to do for me, for Mary Ann, for the Congregation and for the Lord who granted me an easy and certain decision-making process.

My struggles now are just the living out of that decision, the living through of the transition from one career to another, one identity to another.  What the whining in these posts reveals is the ugly underbelly of a very ordinary, flawed, self-absorbed, sinful (the Biblical word for such things) somebody going through that transition.  On the positive side of it, I am convinced that the journey will be completed more quickly and completely by allowing the ugliness to emerge without sugar-coating it — naming it for what it is.  That way it is less likely to sneak up later and cause some unpleasant and unexpected consequences — at least that is the hope.

I have always marveled at the enormous power and generosity of God to be able to and to choose to use people like me to actually do stuff to accomplish God’s goals on this clump of dirt on which we all live.  As those of us in the business know and will (hopefully) admit, most of what God does is not so much done through us as it is in spite of us.

Mind you the recognition of what I have been doing recently in these posts, and my own charge to “get over it” does not carry with it a promise that I will no longer whine and complain.  Why on earth do you think I am writing this blog!  It is so that I will have a place to whine and complain.  What I do hope and pray is that what I am experiencing and my reflections on it, the processing of the feelings will provide some bit of comfort to others who sometimes think they are going crazy, can’t go on any longer, are the only ones feeling that way, aren’t as good and nice as they should be, are failing to meet their own expectations.

What I hope is that other Caregivers who read this will understand that they have a harder job than anyone who hasn’ t done it realizes, that what they are doing has as much value as anything anyone has ever done no matter how important it might seem in the public forum, and that their lives have a depth of meaning they might never have found without the privilege of caring for another human being who needs them and whom they love deeply.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

“My supper is gone!”  Since she had not been eating for a while, I asked her if she was done.  Almost all the leftover Quiche from lunch was still there.  The fruit had not been touched.  She said her food was gone.  I turned the plate, pointed to the Quiche sitting there and asked if she saw it.  She said she did.

We had ended up at McFarland’s Restaurant for lunch because of the awkward fit of the retired pastor in the life of the parish from which he retired.  We attended the funeral of one of the people I respected most over the years.  Ann was 93.  Just imagine what she had seen in those 93 years.  In our tradition we do not canonize saints.  If we did, Ann would be one!  She and husband Maury, who died about ten years ago, had helped found the congregation in the late nineteen forties.  I remember a few visits with both of them at their home after I first arrived in the parish in 1996.  Ann was doing with Maury what I am now doing with Mary Ann.  She was doing it with much more grace and humble acceptance than I have demonstrated.  While wishing to spend time talking with the family and close friends, I was not comfortable inviting myself and Mary Ann to the meal provided for them.  With a little more of that gut grieving going on, we headed to McFarland’s for lunch.  I keep wondering how much of this sort of grieving the Pastor I followed suffered in silence without my ever knowing it.  Thinking about that helps me put into perspective what is just part of this step in the journey.  It also surfaces some guilt that I was not more sensitive to his place in life at that time.

The most exciting event that wound some joy and anticipation into that same gut was the gift of the most effective anti-depressant of which I am aware, Lori’s home made chocolate chip cookies — a huge container of dozens of them.  Lori’s thoughtfulness will provide some pleasure for days to come — actually longer if I get some into the freezer before we devour them all.

At McFarland’s Mary Ann worked on the Quiche she had ordered for a full hour after the food arrived at the table.  I offered to help in one way or another at various times, trying not to make her feel as if I was rushing her.  She would not accept any help.  She struggled to get pieces on the fork that were secure enough not to fall off on the way to her mouth.  Toward the end of the meal she did allow me to cut a large piece of watermelon that accompanied the Quiche into smaller pieces.

After that hour, she had eaten about 30% (at the most) of the Quiche and one small piece of the melon, none of the rest of the fruit on the plate.  Of course people had come and gone all around us.  The folks who sometimes come, eat, and play bridge were starting to play at the table next to us.

I left the tip, got Mary Ann into the wheel chair, gathered the take home container and her purse together so that we could pay the bill and head to the car.  When I put the check and the twenty dollar bill on the  counter in front of Walt McFarland, the Owner, he just wished us a Happy New Year and did not pick up the twenty.  He said it was on him.  It is surprising how powerful kind gestures can be when a person is stressed and struggling.  He carried our containers out to the car and opened the doors for us on the way there.  Mary Ann just can’t negotiate styrofoam containers without crushing them or losing them off her lap (understandably) as the chair moves.  As a result, I have the challenge of holding the styrofoam containers (leftover meal and left over Coke in a takeout cup), pushing and steering the wheel chair, getting the doors open and holding them open so that we can get out.  Walt is a good guy!

Mary Ann started trying to get up this morning at 4am.  Between then and about 8:30am there were the usual snacks, little plastic containers of applesauce and tapioca pudding, some commode trips, some arguing about my need for her to stay in bed so that I could accumulate enough sleep between tasks to function during the day.  When we got up, she was determined to make sure we got ready in time to attend the funeral.  She was alert about many things at that point, except that there were things she could not do by herself.  After getting her usual yogurt and cereal to eat with her pills, I wanted her to sit securely in her chair while I showered and dressed. She could not sit.  She was too determined to get ready to go.  She said I could take my shower while she got dressed.  She hasn’t been able to get dressed by herself in a number of years.  I got her completely ready to go, and finally she was willing to stay seated long enough for me to get ready.  We had plenty of time.  We were ready almost an hour before we needed to leave.  By the time we left, she had sort of shut down mentally and physically.  We were able to get to the funeral, but not without much difficulty.

When we got home after the meal, she was not tracking well.  I asked her if she needed to use the bathroom; she said yes.  I was trying to tranfer her from the chair to the toilet stool, and as she was standing up, she began reaching forward and down. I asked her what she was doing.  With a very irritated tone that I could not see what was so obvious to her, she said she was washing her hands.  I don’t remember what I said, but I managed to get her seated and afterward get her to the bed for a long nap.  Just before she awoke, I had opened and shut the front door, leading her to decide that she had missed Zach and Erin coming by with there new baby.  She had been dreaming and, as she admitted at that point, she can’t tell the difference between dreams and reality.  Later this evening she told me that she had just seen me smoking a cigarette.  Other than a few days in college almost fifty years ago, I have never smoked cigarettes.

This has been and continues to be and interesting time in our journey.  There seems to be some transitioning going on for both Mary Ann and me.  I am not sure to where we are transitioning, but I guess we will figure that out as time goes by.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

It was the top line, one letter only, an E.  It was huge.  With her right eye, Mary Ann could not read it.  The Nurse had gone through all the sizes of letters available until finally she had the screen full from top to bottom with that one letter.   She could not read it. 

While Mary Ann seemed unfazed, I was taken aback by the impression that Mary Ann was essentially blind in one eye.  She had been to the Optometrist within the last year and a half.  She had gotten new glasses.  It was hard to imagine what could have caused such a dramatic change so quickly.  Neither she nor I had noticed her losing sight in that eye.  It just did not compute.

The Doctor came in to get more information and do a check of her eyes before the dilating procedure that would follow.  When the Doctor checked her right eye, she was able to read with difficulty letters on the screen that were large, but a size that allowed four somewhat smaller letters to show on the screen instead of only one huge letter.

After the glaucoma check and the dilating procedure had taken effect the doctor returned.  I asked her what might have caused the swelling that appeared yesterday and had disappeared by today.  She said it might have been a  chalazion, a blocked oil gland.  She observed that sometimes they will go away after a time and sometimes they have to be surgically removed. 

Then I asked her about the large quantity of thick, dark mucous that would sometimes gather on the edges of her right eyelid.  She mentioned the possibility that it might just be a flareup of blepharitis, an inflamation of the hair follicles of the eyelashes.   She prescribed a topical antibiotic if that should flair up again.  I will admit, having experienced blepharitis before, I am not convinced by that explanation, but we will use the antibiotic should it happen again to see if it helps.       

Neither the chalazion or the blepharitis are anything of major concern.  Then the Doctor checked the retina in each eye very thoroughly.   Her observations were good news in that Mary Ann’s retinas appear to be in very good condition.  The margins (?retina or eyelids) are in excellent shape, clear and clean.  She has cataracts, but ones that are a long way from needing surgery. 

The bad news is that the vision problems seem pretty clearly to be neurological.  The images from her eyes mechanically are being transmitted appropriately, all the parts working well.  The problem is in the processing of that information by her brain.  The Doctor did not say it, but it seems reasonable to conclude that there is no treatment for that problem. 

While I forgot to mention the stroke Mary Ann had about three years ago, it seems reasonable to consider that a factor in this problem.  The cluster stroke effected her right side.  The problem is with her right eye.  Ever since her stroke she has had problems using utensils to eat.  I mentioned in earlier posts the time she couldn’t see the meatloaf on her plate but could see the baked potato, the time she got up to get her Pepsi when it was right at the top of her plate inches from the food she had been eating. 

When I asked Mary Ann how she felt about the appointment, she asked if she needed new glasses.  I don’t know how much of what was said settled into her awareness.   We will make our routine appointment with the Optometrist since we are due anyway.  Mary Ann very often says she needs new glasses.  She seems to be convinced that any problems seeing are the fault of the glasses.  Since the iris of the eye is run by the neurotransimitter (Acetyl-choline) used by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), her compromised ANS (and the medications that treat it) has been affecting her vision for many years.  More of what the Parkinson’s and the Lewy Body Dementia have brought along with them when they joined us on our journey through life.  

As always, Mary Ann is just taking it all in stride.  It seems to be something of a blessing that some of the things she is dealing with have just not fully entered her awareness.  That may be by choice, or it may be a function of the Parkinson’s Disease and the Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.  It may all be sinking it, may simply be choosing not to talk about it.  It may be a defense mechanism to keep from dwelling on the problems.  It may be any combination of all of them.

Whatever is so, there seems to be nothing resulting from the appointment with the Eye Doctor that changes our current version of normal.  That is about the best we could have hoped for. 

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

It was an odd night.  Mary Ann struggled with the hallucinations and restlessness again last night.  I was up late working on last night’s blog post. After settling, she slept reasonably well.  I got up this morning to get her ready for Bible Study.  Her need to sleep trumped her will to get to Bible Study.  It was clear that she would not be able to get up.

I had showered and cleaned up in preparation for getting her ready to go.  When it was clear that she would not be going, I laid back down on the bed, since I had accumulated a need for sleep also.  It was not until almost noon that I woke up.  She got up about forty-five minutes later.  As I was getting dressed she asked if we could use the Visine again this morning.  She had not yet opened her eyes, which is not unusual for her — one of the collection of problems that come with the Parkinson’s and the medications used to treat it.

When she lay down for me to put the Visine on her eyes I saw it.  There was a swelling about the size of a small marble, more accurately, the size of a garbanzo bean (how is that for descriptive) in the corner of her right eye next to her nose.  It looked as if a tear duct might be clogged.

Mary Ann has had problems for a long time with her eyes.  She has had the struggle to open them frequently.  They have on occasion started watering profusely.  It has not been unusual for her to ask for the Visine.  In recent weeks sometimes there has been a large quantity of matter at the edge of her eyelids, usually her right eye.

Today’s swelling precipitated the call to the Ophthalmologist (an Eye Doctor with an MD).  At first the call was a little uncomfortable.  The receptionist seemed almost annoyed that I was calling about an appointment.  She tried to get us to go to our Primary Care Physician or Optometrist first.  I made the point that we would just end up back with the Ophthalmologist.  I had explained what was going on with Mary Ann, and finally she said she would try to talk with the Dr.’s nurse.  Gratefully, when she returned, there were a couple of options for tomorrow.  We will see the Doctor at 2pm.  I was puzzled that from the moment the call began the tone of the receptionist seemed to suggest that I had no business calling to get an appointment. I have met the doctor before, years ago when I had a cyst on an eyelid removed.  She seemed very pleasant and very competent.

This afternoon we had another appointment with Stacey about the remodel.  She brought some great options for window coverings for the new sunroom, and a book of samples of cork flooring for that new space.  The look of the cork, its durability, the warm feel of it, its ease of installation and its ability to cushion a fall have all combined to convince me that the cork is the way to go.  One thing drawing me to it also is that it is not one thing pretending to be another.  Ceramic tile would hurt Mary Ann if she fell.  The laminates look great, but still try to look like something they are not.  There is more deciding to do, but we seem to be progressing.

In reflecting in last night’s post on my retirement and the grief work that needs to be done as I let go of a life-long career and identity, I concluded the post this way:  “I now serve here at my house.  The need here is clear.”   The grief work that is going on at this point in my journey involves letting go of what has been.  It also includes making the transition to what my life is about now.  I suspect that transition is not yet complete.  One of the reasons writing these posts is so helpful is that doing so provides me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what is going on in my own heart and mind as we tackle the Parkinson’s and its consequences in our lives.  Sometimes my mind is in one place and my gut in another in acceptance, feelings of fulfillment, and finding meaning in what we are doing her together.

The journey goes on, the processing of each experience is another step in that journey.  Just as is so at this time of the year in the thawing streets of this city in Kansas, there are a lot of potholes to be negotiated.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

She started trying to get up for the day at 3:30am.  It was all I could do to convince her to lie down and stay in bed.  Every time she needed help of any sort after that, she tried to get up and head to the table for breakfast and pills.  Finally, some time before 7am she/we got up.  The usual happened.  By the time the Bath Aide left, she was dozing in her chair.  I got her to the bed and she slept about three hours. 

Yesterday morning (Sunday) there was a Volunteer with Mary Ann, so that I could have some respite time.  I went to the lake to check out the Eagles again.  There were only a few, and the river was frozen offering them nothing on which to prey.  It was still a spectacularly beautiful day with the snow cover and the bright sunlight. 

When I got home, someone had dropped off the new Pictorial Directory for the congregation from which I retired.  We are still members.  We worship in the Sunday Evening Service, since it is the most easily accessible for Mary Ann due to the lack of a crowd and the time of day.  That service also provides a lower profile for my presence as the former Pastor of the Congregation.  Having followed two long pastorates, I know what a welcome gift it is to a new Pastor to be given the opportunity to settle in without the former Pastor around vying for attention.  I was given that gift by the two pastors I followed earlier in my career. 

I looked through the new Pictorial Directory.  It seems to be well done.  There were folks pictured who have been members for  years and some who were new to me.  There were some who just come for the pictures, but no longer attend church.  There were many whom I have not seen in the year and a half since I retired because they attend the morning services.  I miss them.  Members become extended family to the Pastor, especially since so often the ministry involvement comes at times in their lives when there is a certain level of vulnerability.   

The front section of the Directory was filled with pictures of the Staff, both paid and volunteer.  There were classes and worship events and gatherings of all sorts pictured — group after group.  What was exactly as it should be was that, of course, I was not in any of them.  That fact is evidence that what I sought has happened.  The Congregation is going on without me.  It is being led by a very capable Pastor, who is doing effective ministry.  All is as it should be.

If that is so, why did my insides hurt so much yesterday afternoon?  The answer at one level is obvious.  I was just doing some more grieving.  The visual impact of the new Directory was the verification that I am no longer a factor in the life of the Congregation.  What I sought when I left has happened.  It is a good thing.  The necessary letting go is just hard to do. 

There is another level  of grief that was deeper.   Looking at the pages left me with the sensation that it was as if I had never been there.   Understand, the folks with whom I interact from the parish are always gracious.  My feelings are no different from those of anyone who has left a career to move on to something else.  Yesterday afternoon I thought about the Pastor I followed in this parish after almost thirty years of ministry.   I wonder if or how often John had those feelings of grief. 

What happens when most Pastors retire is that they continue to serve in their profession, just in other venues.  Circumstances have not allowed me to continue in my profession in any way.   As a result, Sunday afternoon was just another time of grieving the loss of a life long career, one that served to define my identity.  This is the sort of grief work that can only be done by the person who has experienced the loss. 

I guess I was surprised at the intensity of the feelings that were triggered on Sunday.  It helped to attend church later that evening and hear the Vision of the new Pastor and the Leadership for the future direction of the congregation.  I resonated with the assessment of the current need and the commitment to tools that can help meet that need.  The grief work I continue to do does not include any perception of losses in the health and quality of ministry at the congregation I no longer serve.   It is just doing the work of accepting that I no longer serve there.  

I now serve here at my house.  The need here is clear. 

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

Have aliens come and stolen my Mary Ann, replacing her with with a look alike imposter???  She ate the whole thing!  Mary Ann ate the chicken salad that I made from scratch with my own culinary-challenged hands. 

On three or four different occasions in the last few days, I put a couple of spoonfuls of that home-made chicken salad on her plate.  It is shredded chicken (from the freezer, prepared by our Daughter Lisa when she was here), grapes, pecans, celery, Miracle Whip, some fresh dill and a little onion powder mixed together.   She ate every bit of it every time I put it on her plate.  Potato chips and Pepsi rounded out the meal each time. 

If that is not enough, when I listed the options for supper tonight, she chose the beef, potatoes and carrots I had cooked in the crock pot the other day — and she ate it!!!  Now do you understand why I have posited the alien imposter theory?

On another matter, last night I asked three questions of the people in the online Caregiver Spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia: 

The first question was about Mary Ann’s hair.  It seemed as if there was more hair than usual coming out on the brush when washing and combing her hair recently.  I asked if others’ Loved Ones had experienced hair loss.  Some Loved Ones have lost their hair, with no explanation from their doctors.  Group members mentioned the dry air at this time of the year, stress, too much washing, thyroid problems, and Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE).  Since the problem seems to have subsided, I suspect it was just a natural occurance with no long term implications.  Needless to say, I will pursue it if there is more evidence warranting it.   Mary Ann’s hair is thick and dark with some gray mixed in.  She routinely gets compliments on how nice it looks. 

The second question had to do with disinfecting items in need of washing.  At the risk of being indelicate (I have been painfully explicit many times before), when there is need for cleaning matter (euphemism) off clothing before putting it in with other wash, I use Clorox in the water in a downstair sink we had put in for such things.  The last time I used the Clorox to disinfect some clothing, it was new red plaid pajama bottoms from LLBean.  I moved very quickly in the task of putting the pj bottoms in the water, swishing them around to get all the matter off, then rinsing and squeezing a number of times to get the Clorox water out of them.  Needless to say, they magically turned from red plaid to pink plaid pajama bottoms.  The suggestions from the group included OxiClean and Vinegar.  After some checking, it appears that OxiClean may and Vinegar certainly does disinfect pretty well.  I will probably substitute a 5% vinegar solution for the Clorox water when this need arises again. 

The third question had to do with disposable underwear.  The latest marketing tool is to replace unisex disposables with disposables specifically for men and for women.  The problem is that the women’s are made to be more comfortable for daytime use by enlarging the leg holes.  The net result is that  while they may be fine when up and walking, they leak badly if there happens to be a daytime nap.  Daytime naps are routine for many who need disposables.  I asked the group for suggestions of disposables that work for them.  I have had no responses to that one yet.  I suspect one reason is that the vast majority of those in the online group are women caring for their husbands.  The needs in this area are gender specific. 

One other note concerns a member of the congregation that I served before retiring.  He has had Parkinson’s longer than Mary Ann, over thirty years.  He fell and ended up in the hospital.  He has a strep infection that is interfereing with the healing of the arm on which the skin was broken when he fell.  In Emailing back and forth with his Daughter, I noted that people in her Dad’s and Mary Ann’s circumstances live in a narrow margin of functionality.  This fall and infection are taking Norm to the Rehab Unit of a local nursing home for a while.  He has been declining for the past few weeks.  Apparently, the treatment for the infection is helping him regain much of what he has lost in the last six months.   

In a sense, we are living on the edge.  In reality, all of us are living on the edge.  Anything can happen at any time.  Those who are in circumstances like Norm’s and Mary Ann’s are just more aware of it.  We can choose to live in terror of what might happen, or we can just choose to live. 

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

The following post was written on Thursday, January 7, 2009, but not published until Friday, January 8, due to Internet problems:

The best laid plans sometimes go astray. Feeling out of sorts yesterday, I went to bed early in hopes of a good night’s sleep providing an ointment to salve my sore spirit. Demon Lewy Body Dementia (doesn’t the word dementia derive from the word demon) had other plans.

Mary Ann simply could not sleep – for the entire night. I was involved with her needs in some way, two to three times an hour. There were the commode trips. There were two snacks, some drinks of water. There were lots of times sitting on the side of the bed, needing to be situated again when lying back down. She usually can’t handle the covers without help.

There was a long interaction in the middle of the night when she wanted to go out into the Living Room to sit and try to read. The problems with that idea are many. First, when she is up, she still needs help often with the same needs she has during the day. Then, the prospect of sitting up at night for a long period of time, then sleeping during the day risks shifting nights and days, making our system almost impossible for both of us. Those of you who have raised little ones have probably experienced the time when the tiny ones seemed to switch nights and days, making your lives pretty tough for a while.

After wanting to get out of bed multiple times throughout the night, when it got to be seven in the morning, she needed to get up. As usual after a bad night, she took her meds, had breakfast, and in an hour or so ended up back in bed sleeping soundly. I am of course wide awake and writing this. It is my understanding that trying to compensate for lack of sleep at night by napping during the day does not actually help, in fact just makes the sleep deprivation problem worse. It is harder to get to sleep then at night. That and my general inability to nap during the day results in my staying up rather than napping while she is napping. The general wisdom is to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day. The general wisdom does not take into account multiple times up during the night in between those two times.

Of course, the lack of sleep is increasing the problem with hallucinations. There were the people in the house again last night. This morning there were a variety of things she saw outside the windows, and in the house things that needed to be picked up, tiny chains in her hands. There was one of those interactions in which she was talking as if it was just an ordinary matter while saying things that made no sense at all. About half way through lunch, she started to get up. I asked what she was going to do. She said she was going to get her Pepsi. The cup of Pepsi was sitting at the top of her plate with the can in back of it, just as it is for every lunch.

On the other hand, she asked if this is the day Stacey would be back to talk about the blinds and painting the interior of the house. She remembered that correctly. Then she suggested that we paint the interior a light blue, just a touch of blue. Because so often the lucid moments come, I try to work hard at tracking when her words are not computing for me. Sometimes a different word will come in place of the one intended. Yesterday when she suggested we adopt the cat she was seeing with her “magic eyes” (her words for the hallucinations when she accepts that they are hallucinations), she said maybe that cat could be “adapted.”  It took a moment for me to catch what she meant.

In spite of the difficult night, at the moment, I am feeling better today than yesterday. Maybe it is that adrenalin is playing a bigger role in sustaining alertness today. I just took a break from writing while Mary Ann is napping to do a bit of shoveling outside so that I can get to the birdseed. I have fed and watered the birds. It is invigorating outside since the wind chill is between twenty and thirty degrees below zero and the new three or four inches of snow is blowing around. The air temperature is predicted to reach a high of five degrees above zero and a low of eight below tonight, follow by a low of twelve below tomorrow night. Needless to say, we will not be going out with Mary Ann in the wheelchair today or tomorrow. The most we could do is head out in the van and have Mary Ann stay in the running van while I run into the store. There are a number of things on the list, but none that we can’t survive without.

The toughest thing today so far is that the telephone land line is out, eliminating out DSL access to the Internet. I certainly do feel disconnected to the outside world. I forgot just how much time I spend connecting with others through email and the Worldwide Web. For being pretty much technologically illiterate, I sure depend on the technology a lot.

Right now, my interaction with the outside world, is enjoying watching the dozens of birds that are enjoying the fare I have provided for them. We did end up going out in this weather. I discovered that we needed to return some videos. We went to the grocery and I ran in to get the items. She decided that she wanted take out Chinese from the grocery in spite of the fact that I had a roast, potatoes, onions and carrots cooking in the crock pot. It frustrates me that Mary Ann so often will not eat what I cook, even when it is something she used to eat and enjoy. I decided it was not worth arguing with her, since my goal is that she have plenty of nourishment. She ate the Chinese and I had the roast and veggies.

The above was written yesterday on a Word Processor since the Internet was not available.  The really bad night was the night before last.  Last night I went to bed even earlier.   Until about 12:30am, Mary Ann was disturbed by vivid hallucinations.  There were the people again.  The little girl was there.  She was confused about the time.  At one point while lying in bed she said our Daughter, Lisa, was on the phone.  She had no phone. 

After she finally went to sleep, she slept the night.  I got up at 7:30am to get ready for the phone line repair person who was due between 8am and 12pm, but came at about 1:30pm.  Mary Ann slept in until after 9am.  After the commode trip, she went right back to bed.  She was barely awake for the commode trip.  She slept until almost noon.  I think it helped some since so far today the hallucinations have not been as many and as vivid. 

The cold continues, so we stayed put today.  It will be even colder tomorrow so I suspect we will do the same. 

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