This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Some days the well is dry...

Its hotter than hell outside, and the thunder is rumbling. July through September is monsoon season in Nevada. Flash floods and pouring rain can come out of no where.

Frustration is swirling about me. Each day I find myself doting on Mom. She would probably do better if I allowed her to figure it out herself. I hate being so far from my family.

Mom is so worried Medi-Cal will not approve Dad. The financial status of the State of California is so bleak, Mom cannot shake her fear of no coverage and having to bring Dad home. Some times we just have to have faith that it will work out. If it doesn't, then we deal with what is left and go from there.

I feel empty. I hope I did not make any mistakes in placing Dad where he is. I feel I am not doing anything worth while. It felt good being busy and making calls and researching for Dad. I felt I was doing something important.

When I feel like this, I want to sell the house and move closer... But where would we move? The only attraction for California is, to live closer to the family. Otherwise, it has very little draw for me.

Some days, the well is dry.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I think I slept 15 hours yesterday...

I averaged 4-6 hours a night of sleep while in California, 9 hours on Saturday night and around 15 yesterday. My dreams jump from Dad to Michael Jackson. Such a tragic death of such a young man with so much more to accomplish. Leaving behind such a legacy, not to mention his three children, who are now Fatherless and basically Motherless. Thankfully, their Nanny is with them and no doubt they are clinging to her.

The contrast between the famous and the unknown...I'm relieved Dad is only famous to us. It would be so much more difficult having strangers pontificate and speculate on his life while we are all suffering through this horrible disease with Dad.

Mom and my sister visited Dad yesterday. Mom is still reluctant to read Caregiver tips on Alzheimer victims. I know it would help her. She needs to read and learn new tools in helping her cope as she navigates herself along side Dad.

I had my sister call me toward the end of their visit with Dad to allow me to talk with Dad. He was enjoying looking at the clouds and wanted to discuss the Lord. I can't help wonder and hope, that his Faith is still strong and he is getting comfort and strength instead of being fearful.

I want to put in a call to Dad's Psychiatrist. I want him to keep me in the loop about Dad's meds and what he anticipates with Dad. I don't want to be clueless as to increases in his dosages. We need to have an idea of what we can anticipate, to see if there is any way we can help Dad...

I need to check with his nurse as well. Mom said Dad has been putting his dirty clothes in the trash can. He also thinks he is in the wrong room, when his meals come with his room number on it, he tells her, "This is NOT what I ordered", therefore, he is in the wrong room. He took down the family picture we put up along with the calendar he HAD to have. Mom found them in his drawer.

Dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer's is like walking down a steep, twisting, gravel path mountain with hidden traps and pit falls. One must adopt the philosophy, "Hope for the best, but expect the worst". I know from experience, even hoping for the best can be devastating, even if I realize, the worst is more realistic.

Alzheimer's has a way of sucking one in, causing one to doubt one's own sanity. It is so easy to feel emotionally and physically drained. Because when you love someone with this disease it is so difficult to not take it personally. It is that precise reason it drains the life out of Caregivers.

I almost feel we have to look upon Dad as this new person who has this disease. We have to "start over" in learning how our new Dad will be. We have to attempt to be objective and observant. We have to fight allowing our emotions to sweep us away. Dad is slowing being consumed by this disease and that is a fact we instinctively do not want to think about, but is imperative that we do.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The road to love...

I am home in Nevada now. Made the trip in a little under 4 hours with two pee stops. Whether I am driving to California to visit family and friends, or back home to Nevada to return to my husband, it is the road to love...

I actually enjoy the drive. I can enjoy my music, think about creative pursuits, make plans and just think happy thoughts of anticipation upon my arrival. Before I lived in Nevada, I would always get so anxious about the drive because the road to and from Vegas always has these tales of horrific car accidents or people falling asleep. Then there was always the "traffic"...

Interestingly enough, I have not seen any horrific accidents and I rarely (knock on wood) have any traffic.

On the way home I chatted on my headset with my sister who was helping her daughter move into a fabulous condo in Long Beach. My youngest brother was yard sailing. My oldest daughter is on the last day of their family vacation. Today, they go to the beach and dig up the Pirate's "booty" Treasure Chest I had made for the boys. My youngest daughter is working and Mom is attending a Memorial of a dear friend of Mom and Dads, who just lost his Mother. I spoke with my second and third oldest brothers last night reminding me to "take it easy". My brother from Ohio called yesterday while Mom and I were on our home from our second visit to see Dad.

I had a great conversation with my best friend. Just a week ago we spent the day together and she helped me pick out clothes for Dad for Father's Day. My husband and I have our "check points" where we always call one another when traveling alone.

My wonderful husband had a sandwich all made for me when I got home. So now that I have a full tummy, I will unpack and maybe take a nap. Later, we'll go out to dinner and catch a show and enjoy one another.

I'm going to take the rest of the weekend and just relax...

Friday, June 26, 2009

I've done all I can do...

I guess I have done everything I can do for the time being. I return to Nevada for sure tomorrow. Dad is settled in and seems happy there. He has everything he needs. Any thing else will only crowd him out of his space. We'll have to remind him from time to time, to "travel light".

I have no doubt we will have ups and downs and good days and bad, but at least we know he is safe and protected and well cared for.

I have concerns about Mom. I know how overwhelming this is. She will have her "adjustment" period, but with all our help, I know she will rise to the tasks at hand.

I appreciate the concern of my siblings. I respect and honor their advice for me to pass the lead baton to them and to trust they will continue on. They will make sure Dad is not lonesome and keep me in the loop, until I return next time.

May God continue to Bless you Daddy. Stay well and safe until I see you again...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Soaking in all I can....

When I sat with Dad on the patio of the nursing home, I looked into his face and felt nothing but love. As I watched him walking laps around the patio, I held back warning him to slow down and to come and rest. He wants to walk and exercise.

He held up his arm and showed me the "wander guard" telling me it was for his safety. A few days before I had asked the nurse about getting him one and she was telling me Dad refused it telling her, "I'm too alert. I don't need one of those. I will just stay in my room. I know my patient rights." I knew how much Dad loves to be out of doors, so it would be just a matter of days when he would relent, and would decide to wear one. I was happy when he showed me. I told him most of the patients were in wheel chairs, but he was walking so well, they just wanted to keep him safe. He smiled back at me.

His smiles and the sound of his laughter are so very precious to me. I can't help remember those horrendous days at the Psych ward. It is so good to see him sitting across from me, on a beautiful, sunny day, with a gentle breeze dancing over our faces. Just watching him and listening to him talk...I drink him in. Gathering and remembering these bittersweet memories, storing them away in my mind.

Things he chose to talk about with me today, were tainted with paranoia. I know there will be days like this. I understand there will be times when we don't understand what he says. We can't change it. Confronting him and telling him what he thinks or feels isn't true, will not do him any good at all.

I love Dad so much. I will take him any way he presents himself. Despite me hating the disease that steals pieces of his brain every day, it is not his fault. He can't help it. I admire the way he tries to see beauty and positive things.

He wanted an In and Out burger, french fries and a strawberry shake. Mom and my sister in law went to get it for him. I have been trying to return to my husband in Nevada since Tuesday. I just keep following my gut as when I should leave. It's so difficult. I have to know he is in good hands and he will not be lonely.

As Dad and I sat there, I took a picture of him with my cell phone. It was too dark, he was too shaded. Just as I was about to take another in the sun, his dear friend from Church walked up to join us. I smiled as they hugged. Dad had told me yesterday he wanted to see his friend. I had called his friend last night and true to his word, he came to see Dad. Soon after, the ladies returned with Dad's In and Out feast. Dad offered to share with his friend, but he had just finished his lunch. Dad was relishing every bite and that was how I left him...Enjoying a good meal with a dear friend.

After we had lunch and my sister in law dropped us off, I learned Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson had died. My heart goes out to their families. I went to Walmart to buy Dad more lounge pants.

I told Dad I was driving home tomorrow... But I think I will go Saturday morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A day from hell...

Today I was on the phone from 7 am to 6 pm. Eleven hours straight. Never got dressed. Calls coming in on the house line (with no call waiting), Mom's cell and mine. All financial calls stemming from questions we had on the Admission paper work.

Dad called three times with "emergency lists" of things he needed plus a request for In and Out hamburger and a strawberry shake. Sorry Dad...I got my hands full and so does everyone else.

The Finance Manager was on vacation so no one could give us a "for sure" answer. I bounced back between Medicare, the Facility and Dad's insurance company. Never could reach Medi-Cal. That will be my mission tomorrow.

I thought I would be driving back home to Nevada tomorrow... But that ain't happenin'.

Thank God I have the most understanding and compassionate husband on the planet.

Too tired to write another word.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

Today was a busy day for Dad and for us. Mom and I were visiting and putting away more new clothes for Dad. We took him outside in the court yard of the nursing home and he did about 5 laps walking around the courtyard, then announced he needed a nap.

Dad only got an hour's rest before my two youngest brothers came to visit. One brought a CD player with CD's for Dad and the other with a new pair of shoes. Dad LOVED everything.

By the time my sister, Mom and I came by at 6 pm, Dad was slurring his words he was so tired.

Mom and I are absolutely exhausted and all we want to do is fall into our beds and sleep.

Tomorrow is another busy day...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh my achin' bones...

It's 9:35 pm and we can barely keep our eyes open. I am soooooooo tired. Mom and I have been waiting all day to watch The Bachelorette. Mom is asleep and I can't keep my eyes open.

My day started at 6:30 am when Dad's doctor called and told me he would be discharged today. I asked to ride in the ambulance and he gave his "OK". Mom and I rushed around the house gathering what we thought Dad would need, marking everything with permanent marker, getting ready, and packing the car.

Mom was paying the hospital co-pay in Admissions while I walked into the Psych Ward at 9:30 am. A big man in a wheel chair, had stood, pulling himself up by the nurse station and was hanging over the counter yelling into the face of the social worker. Two good sized orderlies had to muscle this cursing patient back into his wheel chair and then, pull him backwards into the "lock room". Another elderly woman was clearly very agitated and pacing the halls shouting and screaming at everyone. Most of the nurses seemed very on edge. The social worker told me the ambulance was here and ready to take Dad.

As the nurses ushered me into Dad's room, I was so relieved to see Dad was still mentally in good spirits. He had no issues getting on board the gurney. I sat in the jump seat behind Dad in the ambulance. He reached over his head for me and I leaned forward and took his hand. He would not let go the entire ride.

As soon as Dad was settled in his bed he was smiling and telling me how familiar it seemed and he felt at home. From where he has spent the past six days, it is no wonder he said he thought he was in Heaven!

I went to Admissions and completed most of the paperwork while Mom chatted with Dad and his room mate. I had to make some phone calls to his health insurance and to make sure the medical doctor who followed Dad in the snake pit, would NOT follow him here! Dad's regular primary care doctor does not do hospital visits, so I gave Dad's criteria for a "good doctor" to his nurse and she came up with a very nice young man and Dad seems to like him. Then I stayed with Dad while Mom paid the first month of private pay while waiting for Medi-Cal to kick in.

After Dad was inspected, photographed, creamed, massaged, pampered, given new compression stockings and fed, we had inventoried and put away all his things. Dad gave Mom and I each a list of what he still wanted. His game was NOT on the list!

Mom and I were starving especially after we watched Dad wolf down his delicious lunch. We left to eat around 2:15 pm but Mom took a wrong turn, despite me telling her she was going in the wrong direction. After driving all the way to the 605 freeway, she finally listened and turned around headed east.

We ended up at Islands and then went back to the house to search for Dad's medicare card. I worked my list and Mom worked hers. We turned the house upside down and could not find his Medicare card anywhere. Mom had to go online and request paper work for a replacement card. After marking most everything on our list we headed toward Walmart to get the rest of his requests. On our way, my cell rang and it was the Administrator calling us out of concern. Dad was afraid something had happened to us and was refusing to allow his new doctor to take his vitals. I had to reassure Dad that we were fine, just busy gathering all his stuff.

We postponed the Walmart trip until tomorrow and drove straight to the nursing home. We stagger in with our bags full of Dads stuff to see his room mate with his pants half down, sitting in his wheelchair and it looked like he was either using a urinal or playing with himself! He chatted with us as if his actions were perfectly normal... Meanwhile, Dad is reaching for us like long lost souls as if we had been lost for 20 years. I know when he is sitting in a hospital bed waiting in a new place, it must have felt very frightening, but there was not a lot of options we had.

After we did another inventory and put everything away, Dad asked where some of the things he had asked us to get. We told him we were on our way to get them when he called and was so worried, so we'd get them tomorrow. He beckoned me over and secretly gave me a folded yellow piece of paper, whispering to me to "lock it up in the safe". I told him I would. He had t finished his dinner an hour earlier but he was still hungary. I went to get him a wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk. At 7:15 pm, we had a bag with his dirty laundry and another list to fill for Dad. Dad insisted we call him when we were safely home...

I'm starting to feel like I have a four inch thick choke chain around my neck with a short leash. It's been a loooong 20 days.

Dad just called. His room mate lent him his cell phone....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It just does not get any better than this!!!

What a great Father's Day we had today with DAD!!! Have to admit, I know I was very apprehensive, I knew my sister was, and Mom was too. None of us said to much on our way there, I think we were all "gearing up" and preparing "for anything". In that place one never knows...

We walked in with our gifts (knowing we could not leave them with Dad, and would have to take them back home) basically holding our breath. We were relieved when the nurse told us Dad was doing well, he had a shower, ate breakfast and took his medication.

When we walked into the lunchroom, he was just finishing up his lunch. He was dressed in his own tan pants, his blue sweatshirt and blue shirt. Blue is Dad's favorite color. He looked so smooth shaven, happy and bright! He was alert and over joyed to see us.

We all gathered in his room, and ironically, his roommate was watching TV in the day room, so we had all the privacy we hoped for. Dad told us he had a shower and how awesome it was. He even got a massage afterward! It was so good to see him so animated and excited. We took turns taking pictures with Dad. My sister had her Flip video recorder going as Dad opened my sister's card and read it. Just as Dad finished, our two youngest brothers walked in. More pictures with Dad and more video. Then in came two of Mom and Dad's friends from church!

As we all circled ourselves around Dad and he thanked everyone for coming. He then asked each of us to share our happiest childhood memory. He asked us to remember those precious moments where we laughed so hard we cried. We each took a turn relating our cherished memories, laughing and bringing up some great times. We all marveled at how well Dad held a conversation and shared thoughts and memories with us. We were all captivated as he shared dramatic memories of World War II, and the Battle of Tarawa.

One particular memory brought tears to our eyes, when Dad's friend from church shared a story Dad had told him the day before. He told us how Dad had described the day he met Mom. Dad and his buddy were on a weekend liberty and they met two girls on a hill in downtown Seattle. Dad told him one of the girls had the most beautiful face he had ever seen, and that was Mom. He still could repeat the phone number she gave him, Grant 4404, sixty-three and a half years ago.

It was also Mom's 82nd birthday. She and I had discussed what a challenge it would be to enjoy her day, but after our visit, we all felt uplifted and so very relieved. As our brothers waved good-bye to Mom, my sister and I, we all remarked on how good we all felt. We had a great lunch and then enjoyed the movie, The Proposal.

Tomorrow, God willing, Dad will be discharged and transfered to the new place. My plan is to ride with Dad, if they will allow it. Everyone please pray it goes well and the move will not be too stressful for him.

We went baring gifts, but the greatest gift of all, was what Dad gave to all of us. What a memorable, glorious day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Took a day for me...

Last night was so fun, despite being so tired. My youngest grandson graduated from pre-Kindergarten. He is so proud to go to school with his big brother. Hugging those boys and seeing their bright faces allowed me to take my first deep breath in several weeks. I wish I could have spent more time with them.

After checking with the nursing station this morning, and making sure Dad was OK; I double checked if the medical doctor has submitted his orders for Dad's compression stockings. Thankfully, he did.

There's nothing more I can do except make sure Dad is OK and to make sure he DOES get transferred to his new place on Monday. It makes me sick to my stomach that he has to be in that awful place for Father's Day. We can't even leave our Father's Day cards with him because they will disappear.

I took the rest of the day for myself. I met one of my dearest friends for a late breakfast at IHOP. She listened and I talked about Dad and what has been going on. We decided to not see a show and just "wing it" and spend the rest of the day just doing what we felt like doing. She asked me if I needed to do anything and I remembered I wanted a pouch for my new cell phone and get Dad some clothes.

I bought Dad some V-neck colored tee-shirts, he doesn't like the round necked ones. Got him a pair of shorts and some lounging pants. We went to the Thrift Store to get him some sweat pants and a cozy zipper jacket. No sense getting him anything too fancy for that place, but I am sick of seeing him in other patients clothes. I just finished washing and folding them.

It was a nice day, sunny, not too hot, nice breeze and just the perfect company. We've been friends for 23 years and we never had to do anything fancy, just be together and enjoy one anothers company. We were single moms together, so we've been through a lot together.
She's another Angel in my life.

Came back to my eldest daughter's home. She and her family are on vacation, so her sister and I are giving Lila, their diabetic cat her medicine while they are away. The solitude is good for me. I am soaking in the silence. Just me and the cat.

This year will go down as the worst year for birthdays, holidays and special occasions. I hope and I pray, that when Dad gets transferred to his new place, he will be happy. It's the next best thing to home. He will have a calmer, easier life with a lot less stress. He'll get his medical needs met, have social gatherings, Christian fellowship, we can visit more often... I hope it is better for him. I hope he does not refuse his meds and go back into the black hole...

Seems breakfast is the only meal I can hold down. Everything else goes right through me.
This was not the way I had planned on losing weight.

I feel like I am hanging over the edge of the Grand Canyon by a thread of hair. I can feel the tension in my neck and shoulders. I ache inside for Dad. I just want him out of there!

Friday, June 19, 2009

There seems to be a pattern here...

Seems to be an alternating pattern of good days and bad days...At least that is what I was praying for after talking to our newest Angel again. Just her voice is enough to calm anyone down. I pretty much snapped yesterday... Had a total melt down, so who better to talk with but our Psychiatric Angel. Despite our emotional knee-jerk reaction to get Dad out of the "snake pit" ASAP, she explained how that would not be best for Dad.

Basically we had three choices: A. Talk with Dad's doctor and try to get an earlier release, B. Bring him home against medical advice, and C. Stay the course and wait for discharge on Monday.

We choose A. As soon as I could stop crying, I had to get to a point where I could focus with the migraine I had. I checked with the nursing home we selected to see if it was possible to get in earlier, and being the wonderful, compassionate people they are, the answer was YES, with the condition of having doctor's orders.

I had left a message with the nursing station in Dad's unit for the doctor to call me and also left messages at his office. The Social Worker promised me she would "do everything in her power" to get him transferred before Father's Day.

Today I spoke with Dad's nurse and explained I never got a chance to ask Dad's doctor to discharge him early, because he never called me back. I asked the nurse to call the Social Worker and have her call the doctor on call for his regular doctor who is off this weekend. I explained how we want to celebrate with Dad and his grand kids at the new place on Father's Day. We don't want to celebrate in that snake pit!! We can't bring the grand kids in there!

The nurse just called me and he called the Social Worker and she had called the doctor and has asked him and the answer is no. Discharge will be on Monday. He told me discharges rarely happen on weekends, something about most insurance offices are not available on weekends. I had the nurse leave the Social Worker a message to call me Monday morning so we can "be on the same page" in how to transition Dad to his new home.

I'm so disappointed. I guess we will have to celebrate Father's Day with him after he is moved, settled, and is having a good day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oh my God, oh my precious God....

I can barely write. I can barely think. Today started off so positive. We were so uplifted and so happy. I received a good report from Dad's doctor and he anticipates Dad to be discharged on Monday. We got the Medi-Cal papers finished and filed. Mom and I toured the homiest, cheeriest skilled nursing home for Dad. It is just wonderful. He will get physical therapy, spa treatments, hearing aid, glasses, podiatry, and dental work. All for free!! I just know Dad would love it. We had so much to be grateful for and were so happy Dad was doing better.

Guess it is not wise to allow ourselves to get too hopeful. Tonight when my sister and I went to see Dad in the psych ward, we could tell immediately how his demeanor had changed. Again he was in someone elses clothes. He had refused his heart and blood pressure medication. He seemed so stressed and soon it was apparent why...

Some deranged, woman, fellow-patient was pontificating her greatness and ordering the staff around. She stood beside us and demanded the nurse fire the two new women helping in the dining room. She announced she was the first female black woman President of the United States. Soon she was fixated on us and told us to leave thinking we were "floozies" waiting to steal her man, her doctor away from her. "He's mine, oh YES, he's mine, YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!".

We tried to ignore her and took Dad into his room. She continued to stand in the door way of his room and glare at us. She warned us to leave in 15 minutes or she would "tear our hair out". I went to the nurses station and asked if they were aware of how she was acting. One male told us, "not to worry about her", another female nurse warned us to "keep an eye on her".

Our second oldest brother joined us just in time for this ranting, tormented, lunatic, obviously a paranoid schizophrenic, to come into Dad's room, naked! The hair on my neck stood on end as I prepared myself for battle. Just as she came toward me, the male nurse rushed in, getting between the lunatic and myself, just as she smashed him in the face and knocked him to the floor, sending his glasses in several pieces!

Her voice was loud and commanding. Clearly she was aggressive and she had fixated her delusion upon us. Despite a shot to "knock her out" she continued her parade of nudity. She pranced down the halls and into the lunch room. I asked Dad if he wanted to change rooms and he told us YES! I let the nurses know Dad wanted to move and we were concerned he might be harmed. They finally put her in a room and scotch taped paper over the glass so she could not see out. All she did was scream and yell at the top of her voice. A loud male patient down the hall was cursing "F-You, you rotten B-!!"

Both my sister and I were shaken. My brother stood guard at the door way to Dad's room. Dad's eyes were wild and wide eyed...

When we left, my brother went to his car, and my sister and I held onto one another as we walked to her car. My sister was sobbing.  I offered to drive, but she told me "she had to". We were suppose to celebrate tonight.  Everyone was coming over for spaghetti dinner... My sister dropped me off and drove home, she needed to get home and some how, calm herself down....

Oh my God what a slice of hell that place is! And our precious FATHER is in there!! I have called twice, once at 11:30 pm and once at 12:30 am. He just stands in the hall by his new room but refuses to go in. He won't return to his old room either. He is probably "standing guard" after the day he had!!!

Dad would not even come to the phone to talk with me. I could hear him repeating over and over, "NO, NO, NO". When I tried to talk to him over the phone he SCREAMED," NO!!!!, NO!!!!!!!" and the nurse told me he was too agitated. She said if anyone gets close to him he yells and gets very combative.

I know his legs will swell like balloons by the morning. His right leg was swollen when we were there today, just before that crazy woman barged in. We wanted to check to see how his leg ulcers were healing.

I wanted to call my brother to go down there but the nurse told me he would not be allowed in, due to the the strict visiting hours. I am telling his doctor we want him out of the psycho ward and transferred to the nice nursing home we picked out, ASAP!!!

I just can't stand it. It's like the Alzheimer's is eating Dad alive from within. Thin slivers one day and big chunks disappear another. The Alzheimer's is the damn enemy!!! Oh my God, oh my precious God, please help us....Please wake us from this horrendous nightmare!!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From the storm from hell to the sun on Angels wings...

I awoke in a sweat early this morning from dreams of my Father. He had escaped the Psych ward by making a pair of skates out of chair rollers and broken wooden drawers fastened to his feet with duct tape. He skated up to the house with precise precision and proudly told us he had successfully escaped and was headed west. Another dream had the police wrestling him to the ground after hunting him down.

I immediately grabbed the phone and called the psych ward to check on Dad. I spoke with the Social Worker and she assured me he was getting excellent care and slept well during the night. She said the Chief Psychiatric Director gave Dad his psych evaluation this morning and adjusted his medications. She invited us to come see her when we came to visit at the noon visiting hours.

Some what relieved, I remembered the text message my sister sent me. She had called me while I was speeding to California yesterday and reminded me to read it and call this fantastic woman, who was my niece's best friend's Mother. I immediately picked up the phone and soon was listening to this sweet, calming, and caring voice. I learned she has been in Elder Care 42 years and was a psychiatric nurse. Once again, my sister's advice had come to my rescue. We talked for over an hour. She explained to me how Dad would benefit from being in the psych ward and getting stabilized on the medication would help his paranoia and delusions. She listened compassionately and patiently as I told her the life story of our Father. She generously offered to meet Mom and I up at the psychiatric unit.

Next, my youngest brother called, telling me how he was going to "play dumb" about the strict visiting hours and "work the room" to get in to see Dad. Due to work, he had not been to see Dad in a few days, and Dad was very concerned "something had happened to him". Dad was convinced it was his truck still in the nursing home parking lot.

Typical of my brother, he succeeded in charming his way in to see Dad. When he called me afterward I could hear the huge smile on his face. He was elated and went on and on how it was their best conversation in weeks! He could not believe the change in Dad! To him, our Dad was back!!

When Mom and I met our "newest Angel" at the Unit, we discovered she knew several of the doctors and nurses there. She greeted one male nurse with a hug and he told her he and a doctor had just been speaking of her. What a small world. Labeled with our "visitor" tags, we were buzzed in through the locked doors and escorted to the lunch room. We walked in to find Dad, dressed in someone elses clothes enjoying his lunch. When the nurse told him he had visitors, he looked up at us with a ready smile on his face, as his eyes glistened and lit him up like a Christmas tree.! I can't begin to express what his smiling face did for me, but suffice it to say... my heart soared!

We helped him take his lunch out on the patio and the three of us joined him. We introduced him to the wonderful, angelic woman in the beautiful blue dress. Dad complimented her on the dress being one of his favorite colors. He was busy telling us about the "awesome" music he enjoyed and impressively described all the various composers he heard. All this, while enthusiastically eating his lunch. We asked questions and he answered them calmly and happily. We actually carried on a stable, normal conversation. He shared that he was glad to not feel so confused.

It was like something out of that Jack Nicholson movie trying to visit and concentrate on Dad all the while various characters were inviting themselves to our conversation. Dad took it all in stride and was as gracious and kind as he always has been. He even mentioned it was "not our place to judge others, that was up to the Lord".

After lunch the Social Worker came to get us and explained Dad's treatment is still early, as they are still observing and monitoring him. She anticipated him to be there a few days to a week. She took my cell number as the doctor's contact and announced he would be calling me early (as in 6 am to 7 am EARLY!!) Hopefully, I will be awake and coherent enough to email the rest of the family. We told her how thrilled we were with Dad's alertness and ability to stay on task. Absolutely "night and day" difference, after the hellish day we had the day before. I told her Dad seemed twenty years younger.

When we discussed his plan after discharge, the Social Worker ironically suggested one of the skilled nursing facilities we were considering. One of the facilities my brother had already checked out. As if we didn't have enough miracles for one day, she received a phone call from the same kind woman I had spoken with two days earlier about Dad who was from this particular facility! When the Social Worker mentioned my name and Dads, I could hear her voice over the phone exclaiming my name in remembrance. She was on her way to the psych unit, so we had the pleasure of meeting her in person.

Where would we be without these "walking Angels"?? These extraordinary people who care for strangers like they are their own loved ones. I am humbled and in awe of their tenderness and concern.

Starving, we left for lunch. I called my patient brother who was still suffering the traumatizing affects of being with Dad during the transfer yesterday. We had planned to meet him and my two nephews for lunch but our meeting and visiting had gone way longer than planned. My brother had been up most of the night and had not slept much at all. The boys had planned to meet their Mom and were disappointed we were not able to get together, so we'll have to fix that tomorrow.

This might be a good time, to interject, for those who do not know, that Mom and Dad had seven children. 5 boys and 2 girls. I am the eldest and we lost one brother, after me, one week after he was born. Dad discussed that loss today with us, as well as all their grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Nothing like an In-and-Out burger to soothe both hunger and jagged nerves. It was much needed therapy for my dear brother and us, as we encouraged him to go see Dad during the evening visiting. He called us later, exhausted, after a great visit with Dad, telling us how happy and thankful he was. I trust he will sleep tonight. I know I WILL!!!

Mom's head was spinning with all the information and I was as high as a kite, bursting with excitement! What a GREAT day!! THE SUN IS SHINING!!! We returned for the evening visitation and listened to Dad discuss various historic events he had enjoyed in his afternoon group session. We even watched him shave (along with the attendant of course) while Dad shaved with the steady hand of a professional barber.

Mom and I have another big day tomorrow taking the medi-cal papers to get filed and visiting this potential facility for Dad. Lord, please continue to walk with us, guide our path and continue placing all your Angels along our path...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just when you think it can't get any worse...

Miraculously, I slept in today. I awoke at 8:30 am and shortly after waking, the phone rang. It was Dad's doctor. I have grown to greatly respect this compassionate, woman physician who has been treating and caring for our Father. She told me they had tried to give him a psych evaluation but Dad refused to answer any questions...AGAIN. He informed the doctor he knew his rights and he was not speaking to anyone but his doctor. Dad still will not acknowledge any doctor except his primary care doctor, whom Dad argued with constantly.

Dad's doctor told me his paranoia and hallucinations are not normal and it was not safe for him to go home. His state of mind would make it difficult to place him in a nursing home. She felt it best to transfer him to a psych unit for evaluation and to monitor him on some medication to help stabilize him with his paranoia and delusions.

The empire state building could have fallen on me and had less impact that her words! I started losing my voice and couldn't think. I was in shock and horrified to think of my sweet Father being strapped down and taken to a psych unit.

I can't even describe the day. One of my brothers had to rush to the nursing home in hopes of calming Dad down because Dad tried to escape and was yelling and raising hell! I was frantically packing and throwing clothes in the car determined to drive to California to be with our Father.

By the time I arrived, he had already been transferred and both of my brothers were with him. Unspeakable words were spoken by our Father to his sons. Words no child should ever hear or have to endure. All we can think of, is this walking-monster-nightmare he is in and he can't wake up!

When we discussed the days events, we all look at one another and know what everyone is thinking. We want to storm the place and bring Dad home! We want to cling to the remnants of his lucidness and prove to the doctors how wrong they all are. This just can't be happening. Some one PLEASE wake us up!!!!!

Tomorrow I have to seek some professional advise. Someone who knows what to say and to tell me how to say it. How does a child tell their parent they can't come home and they are so paranoid and delusional they can't function?? How do we do that??? It just breaks my heart.

Here I sit in my Father and Mother's home. Mom is here, but Dad is not. It feels totally weird. It does not feel like home without him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

You gotta laugh or you cry all day....

Our family has always been blessed with a fabulous sense of humor. Over the years life has tried to slam us from behind and blindside us, but our humor has always bounced us back up. One of my faults, when I spend a lot of time alone, is to misplace my humor. It's way more fun to laugh with someone else, especially my family and friends.

Today reminded me how to stay "recharged" with energy by receiving phone calls from my siblings. We're an incredible blend of seriousness and warped humor. It can take the edge off a very stressful and emotional situation. I'd be totally lost without my brothers and my sister. Totally lost.

Naturally, "our kind" gravitate toward others who love to laugh and we all are extremely blessed with life long friends. Where would we all be without a friend to call in the wee hours just to cry or share what is disturbing either of us. Friends have a way of saying just the right thing that brings a smile or a sigh of relief. It is impossible to feel alone when a friend is crying with me or saying the one thing that makes me laugh.

I'll never forget one of my friends telling me, "If you can't eat, then I can't swallow". She told me that at one of the lowest points in my life, and made me feel so important and so loved.

Dad will be discharged in two days. We do not have a place for him. We have no idea how we will get the money or get necessary papers filed before Wednesday. We are all emotionally drained, sleep deprived and mentally drained. We all agree, we KNOW he cannot come home. Yet, like a trapeze artist flying through a foggy night, I trust we will all be there for one another and some how, some way, we will make it happen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's a long way home...

So much has been going on with Dad's hospitalization and nursing home stay. Seems one day blends right into the other and the hours of the day just fly by. All of us are visiting at every opportunity and staggering around like zombies. All Dad wants and thinks about is to come back home. We all know he wants to return to where he believes he should be, but sadly, we know that would be an emotional disaster of epic proportions.

We have to find him a new home where he will be safe and will not be overwhelmed by the remnants of responsibility that stab his brain like sharp needles causing mindless reactions, motivations and obsessive needs to do things he is no longer capable of doing. He creates and repeatedly pulls mountains of stress down upon himself, all the while blaming it on everyone and everything, oblivious he brings it all on himself. It breaks our hearts to see him continually jump again and again into that emotional and physical quick sand.

He seems to be with us 30% of the time and the rest he is lost in this waking nightmare. All we can do is love him and wonder if he will disappear a little bit more each time he is caught in the chaos of his mental storm.

Please Lord, help us find Dad the right place for him. Help us, direct us, give us the patience and the strength. Introduce us to the people that can help us find him his new home where he will be safe.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What it must be like?

As I sit and listen to Dad fixate on "his reality" and spin his vividly outrageous and  fearful stories, I try to imagine what it might be like inside his head.  When my brother tries to suggest logical reasons for what Dad believes to be the truth, I know it is not that simple.

It's like Dad is in a cloud burst. He walks down the street and it is stormy, with lightning, thunder and pouring rain.  He is confused, demented, paranoid and hallucinating.  Then the clouds part, the sun shines and Dad is lucid and chatting and making sense.  Then, the sky darkens, a crack of lightning pierces the earth and the skies rattle with heart pounding thunder and Dad is back in the storm.

Its like he takes bits of truth, reality, memories, and fantasy and stirs it all into a huge pot of soup and the steam rises up and become his conversation...

It must be so terrifying for him living a nightmare.  As he sits and tells me his fears I can't help notice the machine next to him displaying his heart beat from 60 to 100.  I can visibly SEE his terror and there is nothing I can do but sit there and hold his hand.

This is just the worst thing ever.  I am so glad, we are all glad, Dad is feeling better. The fact he is slowly being sucked into this "black hole" of dementia makes me feel so helpless.  I don't want him to be sucked away.  I want to be able to keep him with my love and devotion.  I want to...but I know I can not. I have no control over it...I can only love him and make sure he is protected and safe.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How a day can change your life...

This morning I awoke at 5am to find my dear Father lying on the living room floor by the front door.  Instinctively, I knew something was horribly wrong.  He was weak, cold and talking nonsense.  He told me he fell.  I called 911 and called my brother.  He followed us to the  hospital, followed by two other brothers and my sister.

We spent the day taking turns being with Dad, supporting one another and loving one another, sharing our fears and worries for our Father's health.  I cannot possibly imagine going through an emotional event such as this alone, without them.

So far, he is dehydrated, the start of pnemonia, dementia and irregular and rapid heart beat.  It is so unnatural to see such a once vibrant and active man, looking so fragile and pale.  The horrible images of the day still haunt me and replay in my mind.

Please, those who may read this blog, please, pray for our beloved Father.  He is so good, kind and spiritual.  Please Lord, watch over him and allow him to feel Your presence, so he KNOWS he is NOT ALONE.

I am so  exhausted, but find it difficult to sleep.  I long for the morning to arrive so I can rush to his side and hold his hand in mine and tell him over and over how much I love him and how much he means to me and my life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blogging my way thru life...

Here I am, trying to post a blog, and ended up deleting my first blog I wrote yesterday!

That's what I get for trying to write when I have "available time" but rushing when I am not "focused".

Very fragmented today. Lots of thoughts and emotions. Feel detached, abstract, preoccupied, frustrated, sad, angry, indecisive and "pushed into a corner". Spending time with my aging, slightly demented Father, causes me to propel into the future and wonder if I will be like him when I age?

I love my Dad. We have always been close, more close than even with my Mother. She has always told me, "You're just like your Father". He is and always has been quirky, neurotic, a little eccentric, obsessive, compulsive, very scientific and mathematical. He always has been more introverted and less social, but always loving, gentle and kind. He was always preoccupied in thought about gardening, gadgets and figuring out how they work, and he loves making something out of nothing. He has always made me feel like I was the most wonderful person and everything I did was just perfect.

He is a very proud man who prides himself with his integrity. To see him becoming less and less or his former self is so sad to witness, yet it must be a horrible waking nightmare to him.

I would not want to be forced into a nursing home, but I would not want to be a burden to my family either. I don't know too many elderly folks who have wanted to go into a nursing home...

Aging is just a conversation that SUCKS. It is certainly not for sissies, that is for certain!