Monday, December 21, 2009

A memorable day

Wow. That pretty much describes today. Gramma woke up crying this am, said she missed her husband and had a hard time sleeping last night. I don't wonder why, she wouldn't get up yesterday. So....We made a plan to make sure she was up and active. At 9 am I got her up for breakfast, which she had with just me. We chatted, things were normal as normal goes, then off to her room she went, asking to be woken up within an hour. I went in to see her and opened her window up for natural light and started to unpack some of her belonging. Tessa joined me and before long Ashley joined too and all 4 of us were laughing, remembering, having a great time. We must have spent an hour together with Gramma telling us all about where she acquired the item we were looking at. It was a total history of where my mom has travelled in the last 20 years. She rested then for a bit, I took Ashley out to her lessons. At 2 pm, Gramma came out again for lunch, we chatted, she was/is very clear today, asking very deep questions, wondering about who she is , why she is here, etc. She called me in later to ask about where my dad was buried, she remembered the area, we talked about the area and the headstone and things. We talked about Mike, my brother. And then Gramma came out, looking for Ashley wanting Ashley to look something up on the Internet. She wanted to know about DEMENTIA. And she wanted to know about Alzheimer's, so Ashley read to her. Oh, the various things she talked about amazes me. She being so here today, alert, alive. She asked to learn how to be transported around town by herself, not sure I'll let her go that far yet. She wants to go and meet people. She said yes to bingo and to the exercise class at the senior center,things she has said no to. Oh boy this is different. Ashley asked if she thought she would be as clear tomorrow or back to just wanting to be in bed. Who knows.We found a worry stone today and she likes that bronze piece of stone, mentioning just how great it works for her. I'm thinking more worry rocks!

The biggest thing she said is, "I can't just sit her all day in bed watching TV. I need to be out doing things!!" Yes, gramma is homeschooling with us, coming to her own ideas of what is best for her. Trusting that even with dementia, she knows what she needs.

Later tonight at dinner she was asking to be reminded about the twin towers, she wanted to know the state of our country and safety about terrorism. She was remembering, asking, Great to experience her so alert and interested in interacting. Tomorrow we go buy her a new TV, something she asked for and is looking forward to, plus she asked for new lipstick. Davis, Marie Gehlen is now Here!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Has living with Gramma changed our homeschooling lives

I wanted to explore the changes that have come with living with my mom and how our homeschooling has for the most part only been enriched by having Gramma live here. Especially for my youngest child, Tessa. Tessa is our third child, just turned 10. This year she had her Gramma here at home with her on her birthday and that was a special thing for Tessa. We were not able to really celebrate until late at night and Tessa made sure Gramma was included, waited to open presents until she made it from her room. Tessa had commented that Gramma never came to her birthday before, which for the most part is true and those early birthhdays that Gramma came to Tessa does not remember. But beyond the excitemenet of having a grandparent present in our lives, Tessa is being an incredible, humorous, kind, helpful pal to my mom. Tessa attends every out of the house activity that my mom goes on, she holds her door, takes her walker, gets her seatbelt ready, holds her coat, walks slowly with her, and basically is at Gramma's side the entire time. Yesterday Gramma had a doctor's appointment and she made it clear she was not thrilled to be going, so Tessa grabbed Gramma's favorite teddy bear to be with us while we drove to the doctors. I know I am very grateful to have my children home, living life in the world day in and day out with out being removed from our daily living for large chunks of the day each and every day. There is a continuity that is present from waking up each day, together, to sharing meals, doing household activities, running errands together, that flows smoothly as it always has since the children were little. So for Tessa, my mom living with us has given her opportunity to practice deep loving kindness on a day to day basis, to learn how to cook healthy foods for older people, to do hair, to care and care for another human being. Wow.

For my son, Riley, having Gramma live with us had taken some getting use too, as he is very senstive to sounds, smells, noises. Some of the day to day noises, like my mom's teeth clicking when she eats, grates on his nerves, but at almost 13 years old, he simply removes himself from the area so as to not be bothered. He is aware of my mom's eating habits, which are not very healthy and that bothers him, but it also opens up the door for meaningful conversations about nutrition, about being older, about joy and health and all of the complex things that goes into deciding what we eat. Recently, my mom was over salting her food and it bothered Riley. Turns out too much salt is causng my mom some swelling and we have now cut back her salt intake. What a huge thing to learn so very young in life. I feel I have been busy with taking care of my mom, the appointments we have to go on, plus all the costume work I recently did for the girls at theater, so I know I have not been as present for my son as he may need. I am making sure to make room in my life to keep the connection with him strong so there is no regret ever for taking my mom in to live with us. I find myself reqesting to play games with him often when I know I ahave an hour, I can dedicate that hour right now to being with you.

As for my oldest, Ashley, there does not seem to be anything different in our lives with my mom moving in, except Ashley gets to share her life, her love of the piano, her love of theater, and her girl friends with my mom. Ashley's life flows easily from activities,to friends, to school work (Ashley's attends an independant study school for highschool)and it all seems to fit in easily with my mom's schedule.

Overall, I feel my mom's presence had given our home more love, more kindness, more caring, beacuse the act of helping someone speads love and joy all around. Other than worrying the other night, I have lost no sleep with my mom here. Life is good, Gramma moving in has so far been a great addition to our lives, and we all love our new house, total bonus to having my mom here!

Friday, December 18, 2009

All went well at the Doctor. A great day all around

Gramma did great at the doctor. She had to walk quite a bit, and even though she stops every 100 feet or so, she just keeps on going. Tessa is always right by her side. While I had wanted to leave by 12:45 for our 1:30 appointment, we did not get out of the house until 1:05. That gave us 25 minutes to get from Davis, to Vacaville, to a medical building we have never been too. AND WE DID IT!!!!only 5 minutes late, which I think is still reasonable. Gramma loved the new doctors office and she loved the doc, so without even interviewing him, we picked him as her primary care doctor for now. So, we go to Kaiser Vacaville instead of Kaiser Davis. No big deal, it took us about 16 minutes to drive there, parking was easy, the offices beautiful and clean, and fresh smelling, and open. Gramma got an ice cream after. And just now an old friend called and Gramma totally remembered her and is having a great conversation with her. Hair done, doctor's appointment went well, mom is liking talking to her friend, and we think she only had sodium induced water retention, assuming her blood work comes back OK. Over all a great day.

Swollen legs have me worried

Wednesday night I noticed my mom's right leg looked a bit puffy, a bit swollen, like some fluid retention. She said nothing bothered her, she could not tell, so on Thursday I took the let's wait and see approach. Her leg was no worse swollen Thursday than the night before. But then...she got up late Thursday night for some tea and wow oh wow, both her legs were swollen, looking very stretched and puffy from above the knee to her mid shin. She didn't feel a thing, but I was uncomfortable with just how swollen they were and wound up calling the advice nurse. I got a super helpful nurse, she called mom's doctor and we made a plan. All her vitals, which I took through the nurses advice were good. No chest pain, no fever, no shortness of breathe, no ash white feet, she could feel me touch her feet and her feet were warm. I sat up for a long time last night wondering, should I sleep down stairs just in case things changes. Boy, I have not had this kind of worry over Gramma before. I did finally sleep and when I woke this am, Gramma was feisty, getting mad at the TV because she can't figure out the remote and all she was hearing was bad guys kill each other. She had gotten the TV on the history channel instead of food network. I was so glad she was so upbeat and her legs look much better today. I AM STILL TAKING HER TO THE DOCTOR. Even though she doesn't want to go, even though she says they can't do anything, even though she says they don't bother her. They bother me and I need to know more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Holiday time for sure

We are really getting into the season this year, more so than we ever have, on the decorating front. We got a huge tree somehow missed priced at $35.00. It should have been over $100.00, it's at least 10 feet tall. It is a mass of white lights, our collection of ornaments and the new ones we had to buy to fill it out. This tree is big. It makes the piano look tiny. Since last season, we now as a family do a simple secret Santa during December, where we pick one name out of a hat, Santa hat of course, and then give a gift at anytime before Christmas. I got Riley this year and was going to give him a new suit before his meet, so that worked out sure well. Gramma, through me, just gave Tim his secret Santa gift. She and Tessa wrapped it together, laughing and joking the entire time. She gave him 2 framed watercolor pictures, one of garlic, one of chili peppers. Tim grew us so much garlic and chili peppers this year, the pictures are perfect. Perfect for him, perfect from Gramma because she loves his harvest, which is still coming out of the pantry, and perfect for our kitchen, which until 5 minutes ago had no art on the walls.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dentist Day Today

Today Gramma went in for a long tooth procedure to ready her tooth for a crown. All she cared about was that it not hurt. She had a shot, which she said wasn't bad. She got numb, they worked on her tooth forever, all the while she was laying down, giving signals when she had to spit, and overall being a very patient patient. The dentist kept giving her compliments and really treats people with great respect. She got a little stir crazy towards the end, when the temp was getting fitted and she would start to sit up right when the assistant came back with her tooth. Overall it was a painless, easy, long appointment without any problems. She's so good about getting in and out of my car. We have our yellow spots where I drop her and Tessa off, the handicap bumps at walkways. We have a good routine and being we are in Davis, everything is easy, parking, walking, traffic. I left our house at 12:52, after a bathroom stop kinda through off our timing, and was at the dentist by 1:03 for our 1pm appointment. Pretty amazing as my mom walks with a walker, we have the get in the car time, the get out of the car time and the walking in time. Gramma was a star patient and I am glad we are almost finished with the tooth saga. One more appointment in January and she should be good to go.

One of the funnier moments, about 2 minutes into the job, mom was already thinking she was done, and she sat up and said, "that's all, right?" It was interesting how much we needed to let her know along the way how much longer. After about 45 minutes, the dentist announced she was half way through. After that, she didn't ask again until the tooth fitting part started. We thought it was just a minute and just a minute lasted about 30 minutes.

She napped all afternoon once we were home and I had to wake her up for dinner about 7:30. She did just get up again because she wasn't able to sleep. I found her at the counter in the kitchen, first time I have seen her there, munching a little leftovers and looking like she really does live here. A little tea, a little sleeping medication and off to bed she went, tucking in her stuffed bunny and giving her bearbear a smooch goodnight.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gramma Update

We have a pretty simple routine around here. Gramma prefers her own room, with little outings out to be with us, eat, have tea, and chat. She is happiest talking with Tessa and the two of them laugh and share stories. It's very sweet, how much Gramma enjoys Tessa's company and how much Tessa loves being with her Gramma. Yesterday Tessa brought all her stuffed toys into Gramma's room and put them all over her. She told stories about each one and let Gramma check them all out. She them added another critter to Gramma's growing critter piles. She is now the proud parent of a bearbear, a bunny, a panda, a kitty and a duck. Gramma really likes her critters and she gives them all attention.

It's super chilly out this week and even though we should be out on walks, it's just too cold to take Gramma out, so we will save our big outing for Friday when we take Gramma to see Thomas.

I haven't found anything lately which I feel really stimulates Gramma's brain activity other than good conversations, keeping her updated on things, and listening to music. I'm planning to get a Christmas music CD as I have noticed Gramma sings along to most music she knows. We will be getting our Tree this week and decorating the house for the holidays. Gramma is interested in participating, I just need to figure out the wheelchair business and I keep putting it off. Tomorrow is most likely a perfect day for me to explore how to get us reissued a correct sized chair.

Thursday Gramma is going in to have her tooth repaired. It's going to be a long day for her sitting in the chair and I hope it goes well for her. It's an expensive repair, but well worth it as it is her front tooth that is cracked in half.

I'm keeping up on the daily cleaning around my mom, which isn't much, but does need to be done daily or it becomes unpleasant. Overall I feel Gramma has moved in and settled into her routine which isn't much doing, but she seems ok with that. Next up, Christmas festivities. Of course we need to close the run of Annie next weekend and I am hosting a cast party here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I get to make the dentist decision!

Gramma's tooth chipped out again the night before Thanksgiving. She was very funny when she came out to tell me and laughed for a good long time about how her tooth chipped off, how she's a jack-o-lantern now. I know she did not like having it chipped for all the guests, but she was gracious about the whole ordeal. It's her front one and it looks really unsightly. At the dentist yesterday, we talked about options. Pull it and place a fake tooth on her partial or build a crown onto the tooth. Cost, time in the chair, pain all factor in and my mom says, what ever you decide, Mary. Yikes, it's up to me. I told the dentist to let us think about it and so that is what I am doing, thinking about it. I am leaning towards having a crown done for her as the cost should not limit us when Gramma has the money for this. I hope she can handle the sitting in the chair part, but I also know the dentist knows her comfort level and he will make sure to let her have some walking around breaks.

Today I can tell my mom is down in spirit. Not sure where that is coming from. She's just not so jolly, not so interested in chatting or being out with us. I do remember from past years the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was always difficult and maybe that's what I am seeing. I'm looking forward to our day out with Thomas on Thursday. Tomorrow I am going to check at Kaiser about changing her wheel chair and getting a local doctor.