Here we go again.  Tim says it is not Belle and the twins who have returned.  It is a new family that has moved in.  Tim’s conclusion is based on two things: One is that they could not have made it back from so far and crossed the Interstate to do it.  The second reason is that his reputation as a trapper extraordinaire would be injured if it were.

As expected, the return of the raccoons and the conversation about it has sparked Mary Ann’s expectations for seeing them in the bedroom at night.  When we arrived at the bed in preparation for lying down, she looked down to the floor along side the bed to see if she could see little feet — raccoon feet.

Assuming that we accomplish the goal, I can only hope that the trapping and relocating of this little raccoon family will remove that hallucination from the library. After we completed the task of trapping and relocating five raccoons a few weeks ago, while the hallucinations didn’t cease, there were fewer including raccoons.

Today continued to be a pretty good day.  Mary Ann did well at her morning Bible study group.  She spent much of the afternoon with a friend while I ran some errands.  They were on the deck for an hour or so on this beautiful day — something Mary Ann rarely does.  This evening another Volunteer/Friend spent a couple of hours with her.  It is especially satisfying to me when Mary Ann has had a good day and time with others.  It is tough for her to be stuck with me for long periods of time without a break.  Of course, I also appreciate the breaks.  Having time apart improves the quality of our time together.

By the way, that infernal Alien from planet Pedometer Prime that is trying to take over my body managed to send me outside to walk three times today!  This is crazy!  The little device he manipulated me into attaching to my belt says I took 17,581 steps today.  On top of that, the walks brought great pleasure since the day was spectacular.  What a devious plot this Alien is perpetrating.

Gratefully, so far I have successfully frustrated his consumption of my flesh.  By eating large quantities of meat and potatoes, chips, and sandwiches and anything else I can lay my hands on, I have reclaimed the a pound or two of the flesh that he had consumed in the last week or two.  Whew!  That was a scare.

The assessment of the condition of my body in preparation for the exercise and weight control program this Alien presence forced me to join was scheduled for tomorrow.  Maybe the power of the Alien is weakening.  The appointment was written down for the wrong day and had to be rescheduled to a day a couple of weeks from now.  Maybe I will be released from this evil possession before then.

I will report the progress on this round of the raccoon relocation project as soon as there is some.

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.

I think not!  We made it through today, but it took much coaxing and insisting and endless activity. She did not sleep very well again last night.  There were about as many trips to the commode, changes in position, drinks of water as have been so for the last few nights.  She was up at 7am, laid back down while I showered and got up for the day immediately thereafter.

I got her hair washed, got her dressed and delivered her to the circle meeting well before it was time to begin.  On the way home after the meeting, I suggested getting a movie or two for the late afternoon or evening to keep her awake.  When we got home she wanted to nap.  Since it was lunch time, I was able to keep her up for that.  Then she wanted me to leave her home while I took the car in for an oil change.  I thought about doing so, but since she was still up we just got in the car and headed to the Honda place.

When we got home after that, the television kept her attention for a while.  We ate supper,  watched one of the movies, and now she has just gone to bed.  My goal has been to keep her up during the day until finally she will sleep soundly through the night (with just a few commode trips) and we can return to a more manageable sleep pattern leaving both of us better rested and reducing the hallucinations.

Colleen commented on last night’s post: “Your comment about sleep reminded me of children.  The more tired they are, the more hyper they get, and the less likely they are to sleep.”  Before I read that comment, I had decided that tomorrow, if she wants to nap, I will not try to keep her up and busy, but just let her sleep.  Colleen’s observation may very well explain what is happening.  Keeping her up may actually be making it harder for her to sleep through the night. It is far too soon to determine if this will be a sleepless night or a sleep-filled night.

By the way, supper tonight was a treat for both of us, even though I did the cooking.  It was a meal simple enough even for me to prepare. When Edie came to stay with Mary Ann on Sunday (providing a meal, as she always does), she mentioned that they had just picked many green tomatoes.  We sent with her Mary Ann’s Mom’s recipe for green tomato relish.  I mentioned that it made the best glaze for a ham known to humankind.

Guess what was delivered to our house last evening while I was at the local Audubon Society presentation?  There were a couple of jars of freshly made green tomato relish and a huge slice of ham about an inch thick, ready to be cooked.  I wrapped a couple of sweet potatoes in foil and baked them until they were soft and moist, ready for the butter and brown sugar, spread the relish on the ham and broiled it (per instructions on the wrapper), opened and heated a can of peas, and the feast began!  The only moment of concern came when the relish under the broiler began to smoke.  I had visions of alarms sounding and fire trucks gathering.  Gratefully, the newly cleaned smoke detector was no longer too sensitive [see earlier post].

The movie we rented was The Soloist.  It was is engaging account of someone who managed against seemingly insurmountable odds to make music.  While our situation is far less dramatic and hardly compares to what the character in this true story encountered and, apparently, still does, the movie encourages the idea of living meaningfully, no matter what.  That is precisely the goal toward which we are drawn.

On that note, the Alien presence from planet Pedometer Prime had its way with me again.  I walked once outside at Cedarcrest and once in the mall while Mary Ann was at her Circle meeting.  Then came a powerful attack by the Alien.  Before it was over, I committed to a five week exercise and weight reduction program at Rebound Physical Therapy.  This lack of sleep must be getting to me also.  My resistance is down.  There is confusion from synapses that have not had time to connect as they do during that deep sleep that is so important to us.  Have I finally simply gone completely mad!!

One last note:  She has already been up for a couple of drinks of water, saltine crackers and a snack-sized container of applesauce.  Is it possible that she can have still another restless night?  The answer to that question will come soon enough.

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.

Danger! Danger!  Alien attacks again.  This Alien presence from planet Pedometer Prime has had his way with me again.  I was out and walking some time before 7:30am.  I had no idea there was a 7am on Monday.  I didn’t think they started measuring time until at least 9am.

The Alien and Mary Ann were in collusion.  As suspected, sleep did not go quite as well last night after a daytime nap yesterday and earlier to bed than usual.  The consequence was that she woke up at 6:45am in need of food and ready to get up.  Do you see how this played into the Alien’s hands?  After eating a single serving snack of apple sauce, she was willing to lie down again while I went out to walk for twenty minutes or so.  It seemed best not to start meds too early, since the two hour increments of medicine would end to early in the afternoon.  I put the Lifeline pendant around her neck, got water for her, the television remote for the bedroom TV and headed out.

Now, of course, I am feeling energized and positive.  You see how this Alien presence weaves his subversive plot?  Here I am writing this post and, again, it is morning — Monday morning!  I guess to be honest for those of us who are retired, there isn’t a Monday.  In fact we bought a clock from Radio Shack that shows the day of the week so that we would know what day we are in.

As I thought about Mary Ann’s increased ability to walk and the better nights, the domino effect popped into my mind.  The better nights have encouraged a change in my pattern of activity.  It seems more possible to do an exercise walk.  I am more rested and, as a result, more willing to get up in the morning to get in the walk. The walk perks up my metabolism, providing the stamina to write the post earlier in the day.

In addition, by getting up earlier, I am more ready and able to get to bed earlier.  Since I am writing the post earlier in the day, I can use the time in the evening after Mary Ann goes to bed for listening to music, or engaging in a Taizé devotion, following a reading by Fr. Ed Hayes.  The latest readings have come from his book, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim.

All of the above has been about me, the Caregiver.  For Mary Ann, the good news is that she has seen little of Grumpy Caregiver and more of the patient and helpful Caregiver.  My confidence in her ability to walk has freed her from my constant presence, in her face, asking her to sit back down.  She has fallen on occasion, but still not often by comparison to the past. My confidence in her ability to walk has given me the feeling of being untethered.  That has felt  remarkably freeing.

It fascinates me just how interrelated all these circumstances are.  One domino falls, touches the next.  That one hits another, that one bumps one more.  Sometimes one small change can grow into something far more substantial.

I have no illusions.  Just as the dominoes can fall for good, they can fall for bad.  The hallucinations have begun to return.  Yesterday morning, there was a Raccoon in her bed.  When we drove into the garage after church last evening, Mary Ann in a matter of fact tone, noted that they hadn’t thrown away the quills.  I asked to what she was referring.  She answered, the Porcupine quills.  She saw them distinctly.  When I got out of the car, turned on the lights in the garage and helped her out of the car, she saw that they were gone.  She was, however sure there were some in the house.  When we got in, she went into the bedroom and looked around.  She didn’t comment further on the matter. Hallucinations, of course, can interfere with her sleep and keep her up for hours.

Since she got up early this morning, she may get tired and need a nap.  A nap might impact her ability to sleep.  The domino effect could take us back to more troublesome times.

To try to avoid that path, we have made a commitment to pick up a friend, head out for lunch and a ride.  My hope is that we can keep active until Oprah.  Once that time comes, she generally stays awake until bedtime.

We live on a very narrow margin of functionality.  We can do very well one hour or day or week, and very badly just as easily.  Right now we are on a side of that margin that has been very enjoyable.  Here is hoping for more time on this side!

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 Alien from Pedometer Prime chooses bribery to seek a permanent home!  Will he succeed?

[If you have not read yesterday’s post, what I just wrote will make no sense.]

This was a very cold and gray morning.  A blustery breeze from the north made it feel even colder when out walking.  Since there was a Volunteer this morning, I was able to go out to the lake where I usually sit in the car, read, listen to music and watch for birds and any other wildlife that may appear.

My regular routine includes moving to the Delaware Marsh below the dam to take a short walk with binoculars handy.  Today, the Alien overpowered my resolve to expend as little energy as possible and set me off at a brisk pace for a long walk around the marsh.

It is an insidious plot.  I started walking feeling as gray as the day, shuddering at every gust of the cold wind and rattle of the leaves on the Cottonwood trees.  The cold kept me walking as fast as I could on the rough ground.  Occasionally I heard or saw evidence of a few birds, but most of them had the sense to stay sheltered from the cold.

As I walked the Alien began to tempt me to let him stay in his new home.  I began to warm as the Alien slowly turned up the thermostat on my body’s furnace.  I walked past the spot my short walks had taken me in the past.  I discovered markers for a path that took me into new areas of trees and fields, marshland and ponds.  The cold air changed from an irritation to be endured to a fresh and inviting Siren.

Even the gray sky ceased to be a depressing presence and became a calming backdrop for trees and weeds and wildflowers.  The Alien was enticing me to embrace his presence rather than send him back to Pedometer Prime.  I made full circle around the Marsh, having had no idea prior to this morning that there was a path all the way around it.  I came around the last turn to an information sign posted on a stand that said I had just walked two miles! That evil and subversive Alien!!!

At the lake I had watched many thousands of gulls resting on the water and flying through the air.  On the drive back across the dam I passed one hawk sitting on a post almost within reach as I went by.   I spotted another hawk and stopped the car on the dam to watch it as it remained absolutely stationary in mid-air, only occasionally moving it wings to reposition itself against the breeze.  I watched that seemingly impossible aerial display for many minutes.  As I left the dam area and traveled a road among the trees to get back to the highway, a couple of deer with very dark coats of hair were standing on either side of the road.

When I arrived back home, there was a hot meal waiting.  As often happens on a Sunday morning (we attend the evening worship service), a Volunteer had come to stay with Mary Ann.  As always, Edie brought with her the fixings for a full, nourishing and tasty meal; she prepared it and set it out on the table for us. There is enough to allow at least one more meal.  No cooking tomorrow!

Now to the title of this post.  I just could not keep Mary Ann awake any longer.  It was tough to keep her up yesterday, but we just kept going, a trip to Sam’s Club at midday, a noon meal (thanks, Lisa, for the pizza muffins), a trip to the regular grocery store, and supper (steak and twice baked potatoes from Omaha Steaks — I hate cleaning the George Foreman grill).

Now with both of us sated after a hot meal, with football on the television, I simply could not convince her to stay out in the living room in her chair.  She is more of a professional football fan than am I.   The Kansas City Chiefs were playing (they just lost in overtime — no surprise they lost, just that they managed to take it to overtime).  The only team that would capture her interest more would be Da Bears.  I cajoled and encouraged, but she was clearly wiped out.  She is still in recuperation mode from the long trip from which we returned a couple of days ago.

The question remains: Will she sleep tonight?  After ten good nights in a row, none following a daytime nap, tonight seems likely to break the string.  There has not been a clear pattern correlating naps and restless nights, but common sense suggests there must be some correlation.  Here is hoping that in this case common sense does not prevail.

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.

There is a vulnerability that Caregivers don’t care to think about.  What happens when they are not well?  The needs remain.

Today was a good news bad news sort of day.  Neither the good nor the bad was very dramatic.  The good news was that while Mary Ann did have fainting episodes today, they seemed less often and less severe than the last few days.  Even after having a fainting episode that normally would result in a long nap, she chose to stay up. She didn’t nap until the afternoon.

I had an errand that would have needed outside help to accomplish on time had she napped in the morning.  She was able to head out in the car with me so that I could do the errand.  We picked up some Long John Silver’s fish and chicken for her while we were out, came back and she ate it at home.

The bad news was the recurrence of the occasional bouts I have with Esophageal Spasms.  They are very painful, come without warning, and last many hours.  They just happen.  There is not really much in the way of treatment for it.  They don’t come very often, a number of times a year, and they are not really dangerous.  As far as I know they don’t do any long term harm.  The just hurt very much.  The pain is in the center upper chest and comes in regular waves with each peristaltic movement.  I think I remember learning that those movements are about eight minutes apart.  I haven’t measured the time between waves of pain.

When the spasms come to spend time with me, it is pretty tough to focus on anything else.  Eating or drinking is not an option.  If I am free to do so, I raise the head of the bed, turn on the television in the bedroom and hope there is something interesting to provide a distraction.  Current circumstances don’t allow that option, at least not for very long.

While there were some painful times today, the spasms were not as painful as they have been in the past.  On a scale of one to ten, they can regularly move to eight or nine and flirt with ten.  Today was close on occasion, but not that intense most of the time.

When those spasms come, the experience reminds me just how vulnerable we are and how fragile our system is.  A Caregiver does not have the option of saying, “I am not feeling well, so don’t need anything for a while.”

Actually, anyone who has served as the primary caretaker of their children knows exactly how this works.  When you have a cold or the flu, after the first wave of the kids wanting to do things for you, there is a return to constant demands from the kids for help, no matter how bad you feel.

I have to say that today went relatively well.  It was more just a reminder of how fragile our system is, how vulnerable we are should my health falter.

At least Mary Ann’s slight improvement today keeps alive the hope that this downturn is not permanent, or at least we may have bottomed out for the moment.  Again, tomorrow is another day.  We will see what it brings.

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.