Nothing better than milkshakes

Today when I went to see Dorothy she and Martin were in her room. Mom was sitting on the bed and Martin was in the rocking chair. They both had discusted looks on their faces. A cross between mad, sad and fed up. At first glance it almost looked like they were planning their escape.

In a cheerful voice I said “hello, kids”, with a big smile- which was not received by either with any happiness at all. The look from mom got madder and sadder. So, I went right into why don’t we go for a ride and get some Ice Cream. Why don’t we see if Martin can join us. To which mom replied, “You are going to do more than take me for a ride, you are going to take me home”. I did not respond, instead I said we need to check with the folks in charge to be sure we could take Martin out with us.

So I headed to the powers that be and asked if Martin could join mom and I for a ride and some Ice Cream. They of course had to reach out to Martins family who agreed to the outing. And I was sure to ask if Martin had any dietary restrictions.

So, the journey out of the big house begins. I was in the middle holding both of their hands. It was interesting to feel how soft and strong both their hands were. Holding their hands made me feel like a little kid again. They were not clinging on for dear life, but they were holding firm. We made it in the car safe, got settled in- it’s interesting that neither one could fasten their seatbelt. And off were, in search of Ice Cream, with Dorothy in the front and Martin in the back.

It was a beautiful day full of blue skies and clouds. We drove out of the city and into the country. Past the lake and state park, in the distance we could see the mountains. At one point mom said to me ” Cheryl, you will have to go back to the city, country folks do not have ice cream stores.” I was shocked at this because we had only talked about ice cream twice. But, then again when you tell a child you are talking them for ice cream they do not forget either. (-: I laughed at this comment and assured her we would find ice cream.

On the way up, there was small talk about what they saw, mostly Dorothy, Martin was quiet. At one point we talked about cars and I asked him directly what kind of car he like to drive when he was younger. His reply was ” any that ran”. LOLOL Not sure if he grew up with lemons- or if his was his since of humor.

We stopped at a Chick Fil A and settled on milk shakes. I thought this would be the easiest and safest treat for them. When I asked them what flavor they wanted- they knew right away, there was not telling what their options were.

On the ride back they did not say anything. LOLOL They were busy sucking on straws, we were almost back when i heard the famous slurping of the straws, they were both trying to get out the last of the shake. LOLOL, again, just like two little kids. LOL It was perfect!

They were both in a much better mood and had big happy smiles on their faces. When we were getting out of the car mom asked me if Martin lived in the big red house too. Yes, was my reply- hers was okay, good!

When we walked into the Memory Care Unit- most everyone was out – and got to see them walk in. I wondered how many of them were sad that they did not get to go, how many of them know that they were coming back in, how many of them get to go out from time to time with their loved ones.

The best thing about the afternoon- besides being able to get both of them out for an hour or so was that mom did not sing her song- not once. She talked to Martin and me from time to time but not singing. It was a good day?

Add this to the list of facts about Ice Cream making you feel better. I saw it work first had, just the other day.

Peace, Love and Light,

Cheryl Doreen

Upset and mad

Paul and I went to see mom together.  That day when we walked in Dorothy had her finger in Diamond Jim’s face- giving him a what for.    I had been in his shoes hundreds of times when I was younger, so I knew what he was experiencing.  I felt bad for him, so I went straight over to see what the issue was.   Mom was so mad, and Jim was just looking at her – not knowing what to do. 

After I greeted mom with hugs and was able to redirect her to her room where Paul was, she was still upset.  I have seen that look before and it was not a pleasant look.   She kept saying he’s the one that knows what’s going on and he’s not telling any of us.  It’s just not right!  After we got her calmed down- never ask what is going on- only redirect.  I suggested that her and Paul go out for a ride.   Paul took my que and escorted mom out of the room.   He told me later that she was upset for most of the ride.

I went out to say hello to Jim – as I usually do- he is one person that I would love to have the opportunity to talk to and here his story.    He was fine and answered a few of my questions about how he was feeling and if he was having a good day.  He asked me if I had seen his brother and I told him no, not today.   I told him I would see him later and left- just as a normal visit.

I went over to the nurse and asked her what had happened- why Dorothy was so mad at Jim.

She told me that mom had been going around to each person individually and letting them know that the bus was coming to take them out.  Dorothy thought that Jim was in charge, when she asked him what time the bus was coming, he did not answer.  Of course, he had no idea what she was asking.  And that point she got upset because she thought he was the one in charge and was keeping secrets.   This of course ticked her totally off which led to her finger in his face.    Did I mention it was the full moon?  {-:

Wow- workplace drama in Memory Care. I’m sure it is a daily occurrence. I can’t imagine what everyone goes through on a daily basis-both individually and as a collective click.

I do know that I appreciate those who have the gift to assist the demented.  God Bless them!

When we left mom, she was redirected and not in Jim face- I can’t tell you if she was in his face 45 seconds after we left or not- but when we left -she was at peace.

Love and Light,

Cheryl Doreen

A Good Day

I took mom out for the day on Sunday- over the Labor Day Weekend. (Jimmy Buffett- “Come Monday”- always comes to mind over Labor Day).  It was a beautiful day; I took her to my house where we ate lunch outside and enjoyed the afternoon. 

  She had no idea where she was- my place used to be her place. And the back of the house sets at the edge of the woods- it’s a peaceful, shaded area.  It is always 10+ degrees cooler back there – quiet, with the birds and nature.

Just a few years ago this back yard used to be Dorothy’s back yard- where she would spend hours and hours either relaxing on the swing reading or working in the small yard.  

She could not connect the memory-she had no idea where she was.  She also could not wrap her thoughts around the fact that the house was connected to the porch. She thought I lived in the woods.  She kept saying “Cheryl, I can’t believe you live out here in the woods.” 

 I can’t help but think her soul knew where she was because she was so calm and relaxed.   She sat on the swing- which was her favorite thing to do when she lived here.  She talked to Paul and I the entire afternoon about the same thing- but it was ok, it wasn’t her normal song- it was more relaxed and she was at peace.

  She asked questions about her sister and her granny.  She asked about Jessica and the “boys”. She asked how work was for Paul and me.  She asked these questions over and over.  

 At one point I asked her why she only asked about these people- and she looked at me in the eyes and said, “because those are the people, I love the most”.  

I had plans for the evening- but I called and cancelled them.  You never know what you are going to get with a demented person, and it was such a good day- I wanted to extend the visit for as long as I could.  

This is a good memory, and I will cherish for years to come.

Peace & Love,

Chery Doreen

The Great Escape

My brother called me today. He got a call from the Memory Care facility.   They called him to let him know that mom had escaped.  Yes, it seems that the lawn company had left the gate open.  Mom was out in the courtyard and decided to keep walking.  Someone saw her, got her back to her “home” without any incident.

Good for her was the first thing that came to my mind.  Yay, mom!   Freedom and independence, if only for 15 minutes.  I wondered how she felt and what was going through her mind.  Was she excited?  Did she understand that she was escaping? Did she have a plan?   Was she more confused the more she walked?  Or was she more in control?  Did she get scared because she had no idea where she was going? Or was she so excited to be walking that she did not care where she was going?  Either way, her self-determination of “getting out of here” finally paid off.  

I know that something “bad” could have happened- but it didn’t.  All was good, except for the paperwork that the facility had to do and the extra measures that will have to be put in place to be sure the gates are closed going forward. I hope they continue to let her go outside and walk the courtyard. I hope they don’t “punish” her for getting a few minutes of freedom. 

So, yay for Dorothy!  I was so happy for mom that she got to experience a little bit of “her choice” and walk out the door.  I wonder what will happen next.  (-:

Love and Light,

Cheryl Doreen

Think Fast

Dorothy is fine, she is in a safe place, she has friends, she has a routine, she gets hugs from the nurses and caregivers, her friends and me too.  She gets to play games, listen to music, walk, do daily exercises, build puzzles, do art, go to ice cream socials, and read or watch TV.   On paper this sounds like a wonderful life- you don’t have cook or do dishes- you don’t do laundry- someone helps you with your housework and your shower.  Someone makes sure you get your medicine on time and you are where the action is when the action is taking place.  The brochures show everyone smiling and having a fun time.   Most of the time, I am convinced mom’s daily life is as happy as “they say” it will be. 

But, in reality- it’s the last place she wants to be.  Take today for instance, I went to see her for our normal visit, and she was mad as the dickens- she had all her stuff packed up – even her bed stripped and folded up in the chair.   She was mad because I was late- yes late.  It seems that I was supposed to be there to pick her up earlier this morning and take her home.   Yes, home!  She said that I told her yesterday that I would be there first thing and I was late- she was not a happy woman.   “Let’s go” she demanded.  

 I did not think fast enough- I should have just taken her right then for a ride in the car.  I don’t know what I was thinking. Instead, I looked at her and said,” mom- you are not going home today”.   The look of despair mixed with disbelief and sadness in her eyes caught me off guard.  I’m usually better prepared when I walk in- but lately mom has been so happy I have gotten lax and let my guard down.   Mental note to self- when she gets like this take her out for a drive first thing.  Especially when it’s the full moon.  {-: 

It took me about 15 minutes of answering the same questions to get her settled down, I finally convinced her that if she took a shower, she would feel better.  And she did- it took her mind off of the “repeat thought” that she was going home.    We finished the shower and the hunt for all the dirty clothes. We actually where having a wonderful conversation- when out of nowhere she asked me if I was ready to go home.  

 She was ready for me to leave- I had stayed long enough.   It was time for her to go out to her friends and see what she was missing.   She walked me to the door- and a Bingo game was getting started.   I was no sooner out the door, and she was at the table with her friends.

In the moment she was upset because she couldn’t go home.  I’m upset with myself that I did not just say, come on mom- let’s get out of here and go for a ride.   This small act would have saved me the look of despair and the sadness she had. You know the ones-you can never erase out of your memory.  It would also have saved 15 minutes of damage control– that I caused both myself and her.

It really is all about the demented- it is easier for us to adjust then it is for us to get them to adjust.  Because in the end they move on – and we are the ones that have to adapt.

Love and Light

Cheryl Doreen

It’s okay to cry- honest!

I’m going to release on this post a bit of tears and sadness, some for Dorothy and some for me.  I might post when I done and I might not, we will see if the keyboard still works when I’m done with the tears.

“It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to cry, you can cry if you want-if you want me to, I’ll cry with you, it’s okay to cry.”

This is a song I made up to sing to my grandsons when they were little.  I explained to them that it is okay to cry.  It’s an emotion- it’s a gift from God- it really is.  Crying is a great emotional release it’s always there when you need it. By no means should we abuse it- and we don’t want to ignore it- just let it flow like a river. It’s a cleansing of sorts- a release of all our sadness, worries and sometimes anger.  You must let it all out to make room for all the goodness that is waiting to come in.   It’s okay to cry!   I would also add a verse for whatever the reason was for the tears like  “ if you fall off your bike or your trip on a hike- it’s okay to Cry”, “if you mom say no and your dad does too, or If you don’t want to take a nap but you know you have to- it’s okay to cry”.  

When I get mom out of the “storage facility”- get her settled in the car, help her with the seat belt- these days she has forgotten how it works- I need to stop at the back of the car and cry for a few seconds.  I don’t let it last long, but I do let some wetness seep out.  I guess I could stand back there and have a good cry- then get it together and get in the car. She doesn’t know how long she’s been sitting in the car waiting anyway.  But, for some reason I just can’t allow myself to let go at those times. I’m always happy when I’m with her. Besides, I’d probably start crying again when she looked at me and asked me why I was crying. So, I let myself release the river in the middle of a commercial- or a hallmark movie- or while listening to an audio book while I’m walking or driving in my car. Sometimes I let it loose at a stop light or when I’m talking to someone on the phone- I have been known to mute them and them ask me “are you still there”.   You just never know when it’s going to rain.  And it’s okay.  I’m not complaining- I just get tired, frustrated, and sad.

Sometimes I let myself slip into the mindset of why?  Why mom?  Sort of like what I do automatically when I hear of a mom or dad with young children- and when one of the parents dies unexpectedly or is diagnosed with cancer and die way before the kids need them too.  Or when a little child dies or something bad happens to them. I wonder why – with all the bad people in the world why not take one of them?  It just doesn’t seem fair.

But then I realize that it is our journey – God has the plan, and we are not supposed to question.  This is a hard life lesson that I still haven’t mastered yet.

So, I’m going to cry for Dorothy, my amazing mom, I’m going to cry for myself, my brothers, my daughter, Cade & Cannon, and all of those who knew mom when she was “normal”.  I’m going to cry for not totally understanding why.  I’m going to cry because I know whenever I go see her, she will not remember that I was there 30 seconds ago.  I’m going to cry because I am not equipped to take care of her.  I’m crying and crying and crying.  I’m singing my song, “It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to cry- 

 “ When your loved one has Demenita and you don’t know what to do, it’s okay to cry, when your worn out from the songs they sing, it’s okay to cry”.

Life is short- Do what you like and like what you do.  Love, live, explore, do, accept, smile, open your hearts, be grateful, be thankful, be honest, be sure that those you love know how you feel- believe me- they can’t hear it enough.  Just be the best that you can be- and give the best that you can give.

            Connie Smith- Run Away Little Tears  (-:

Love & Light

Cheryl Doreen

Surgery went well

Dorothy’s surgery went off without a hitch. Last week I watched them carve off a piece of her face-put it in a sample bottle to be sent off for more tests- interesting how they do that. First, they numb your face- the worst part of the procedure- then the doctor, with skilled precision slices off a slab of your face.  Surprisingly not too much blood- a band aid and directions for tending to the wound. It was to be always kept dry- except for when it was to be cleaned once a day with soap and water- then Vaseline put on it and a clean band aid.  I had to ask the doctor to write it down per the words she had said.  The nurses at the Memory Care will not do anything- even if it’s common sense-unless it is written down as orders by the doctor.   Then we were out the door.  Dorothy had no idea where she was or what had just happened to her.    

  The nurses did a great job of keeping it clean, dry and Vaseline (d) up.  I took her back yesterday -one week after surgery- to have the stitches removed and have some more spots frozen off her face.   She had no idea where we were, but she was in good spirits.  All her reports came back negative. The nurse removed her stitches and when the doctor came in to check her out- the doctor asked mom “so, you liked the sun when you were younger?”  Mom replied yes, “I love the sun and I still do, the doctors will tell you the sun is bad for you but, I’m here to tell you they are wrong- the sun is not bad for you”.   LOLOL, You Go Dorothy!   Like I said -she had no idea where she was or what was going on- but she knew well enough to know she loved the sun and didn’t agree with the doctors.   The look on the doctors’ face was priceless.  I just smiled!  The doctor looked at me and all I could do was continue smiling.  I’m sure while the doctor was looking at me she thought- you’ll be in here in 20 + years getting your face frozen off and cut on if you don’t stay out of the sun.   (-:  I’ll take my chances.  (-:       

 We stopped for Ice Cream after the office visit.  She was so excited!  It’s just the little things. I also took her to the junky store- it had been a while since we’ve been in there and she was telling me everything she saw.  She was feeling normal in the moment.  It was a good day!

I took her back to her place- she had no idea where we were when we pulled up.  I told her “this is where you live mom,” she didn’t say anything- we just walked in.   Martin was the first person we saw when we walked in Memory Care. She knows him and she was happy to see him, she went right over and sat down beside him.

 I was happy to see her happy -and I realize again that she is safe and where she needs to be.  I’m glad her and Martin have each other.  

I’m thankful I was able to be here for mom and help her through this ordeal.   I’m thankful for the nurses who took great care in keeping her wound dry and clean.  I’m thankful for Martin and the other friend’s mom has, I’m thankful for the safe place she is in.  I’m thankful Dorothy.

Peace & Love,

Cheryl Doreen 

Biopsy results……

The call came in for Dorothy’s biopsy- the left cheek is pre cancer and will have to be “dug” out- another biopsy to make sure they got it all.  The other cheek is good- they will just freeze it like the rest of her face.

I saw mom yesterday and her frozen face look good, which means the nurse is doing a good job of keeping Vaseline on her face.  So, next week we go for round two to the dermatologist.  Hopefully, this will be the last visit.  (-:

Paul went with me yesterday to see mom, and when we walked in and she saw us- it took her a few minutes to realize who we were- I’m sure the masks so, I pulled down my mask so she could see could get a better look. I could tell the moment she recognized me.  She lit up!  She then recognized that Paul was with me and her light got brighter.  Paul walked her back to her room and her song began. (-:  Is today the day I get to go home?  She asked every few minutes.  Why am I here? They don’t do anything for me here but feed me!  Is another line she uses all time.  Where am I is always in the loop along with who’s house is this?  

I let Paul focus on mom and I went about finding her dirty clothes and what few nick knacks are left.  She must think she is going home, and she wraps them for safe keeping in clothes or towels and puts them in her drawers.  I find them, pull them out- ask her if she knows what it is, if she does- I put it back in its place. If she doesn’t know what it is I take it home with me.   I can remember when she moved in, she was adamant about not having a bunch of stuff in her room, I wondered why because her room looked so bare.   Now I get it.  She did not want to be overwhelmed with the clutter- or with packing all of it up.   Today there are only 6 things still out: a photo of her, her sister, and their dad together.  A photo of Granny and Pappy, a photo of Cade & Cannon, a frog statue she has had forever, two blue angels and a stuffed angel on her bed.  She also has a vase of plastic purple flowers – her favorite color, it’s interesting it is never in the drawers.   

I helped mom with a shower and when she walked out of the bathroom, she saw Paul and said “when did you get here? I didn’t hear you come in- I was in the shower”.  Paul just acted like it was the first time he saw her too.   She loves the shower, and she always says she feels so clean afterwards. (-:   At least once a week I know she’s clean.  (-:

We visit awhile longer and it’s time to leave.   Hugs linger a little longer these days and I know when we walk out the door, she will have already forgotten that we were there.  

It’s interesting, there was a period of a few months that I didn’t think I need to express myself, but I find myself again having to write about this journey.   Some days I cry and some days I don’t.  But I am always grateful and thankful for the short time we spend together.  I keep trying to push these current memories to the back of my brain- and try to remember mom when she was unbroken. I think that is the biggest struggle for me, the unbrokenness is foremost and sometimes it refuse to yield.  I know she’s back there and I must keep forcing memories forwards.  (-:

Love and Light!

Cheryl Doreen

Dermatologist Visit

I took Dorothy to the Dermatologist the other day. She has some places on her face that are irritating her, so she picks at them.  One day when I was visiting her- she plainly stated she wanted me to take her to the doctor so they could be removed.  So, I did.   I’m telling you —–this outing would have made a great short comic movie clip. 

We got her checked in at the doctor’s office (facemasks are still required in the office) and we were called back to the room.  She climbed right up on the examining table like it was no big deal.  (All I could see was her sliding off and hitting the floor-thankfully, she did not.)  When she was up on the table, she looked at me and asked for the 5th  time since we had gotten to the office- where are we?  (-:  What are they going to do to me? Her response was always oh, ok good!  Then she would touch her face searching for the spots and once she found them, she would point them out to me.  (-:  

The nurse came in first and it didn’t take her too long to figure out mom was “special” she was very sweet to mom and directed questions to her and looked at me for agreement.   The doctor came in –introduced herself and went right to mom’s face.  Mom backed up and asked her what she was doing and the doctor just kind of looked at her – and then me, and the doctor explained she was just going to look at her face.  LOLOL, (keeps me from crying) I guess it is one of those “you have had to been there” stories.

Anyway, she had some spots frozen off and the doctor took two biopsies- one off of each cheek.  She put band aids on the biopsies.  By this time the freezing pain had settled in- her face was priceless, and she was complaining that her face hurt- and asked the doctor what she had done to her face. (LOLOLOL, yes I actually chuckled.)  Dorothy could not remember from 45 seconds what was happening.  The doctor looked at me for help-  I told mom what was happening and assured her she was going to be fine.  At this point the doctor praised her for being such a good patient.  (Note to self- ask the front office staff to write DEMENTED on the outside of the folder in big red letters so the doctor will see it.)

We left the examining room with facemasks on- when we left the office and closed the door– she asked where we were going.   Sigh!  Then she asked where we had been.   She read the name on every door on the way out.   It’s interesting to me that her brain can still put letters into words and those words into speech- but she can’t remember what she just did.  When we were outside I told mom she could take her mask off- she said a firm NO- she did not want her face to get infected.  Dementia is weird- how at that moment did she know what she had just done?  

I find myself sometimes doing the same thing- not remembering where I put my phone, my keys, did I lock the door? Why am I in this room? Etc., etc., etc.   And I wonder if when I’m with mom I’m looking at my future.  Then I shake it off and move on- my ex-husband tried to teach me that there was no reason to worry about what might be- it will be what it will be.  I am just now learning that. (-:

It was a good day, we had lunch together, hung out together, laughed together, cried together and even played her song over and over a few times.  It will be a few weeks and we will take the trip back to the doctor’s office to either have the two biopsied cheeks either frozen or another procedure done.  We will not worry about it- we will deal with it when it comes.

Love and Light!

Cheryl Doreen

no end in sight

You would think that watching, loving and knowing someone decline right before your eyes with dementia would get easier. For me it does not, it sucks.  It sucks that I cannot help any more than I am.   I know that I cannot take care of Dorothy, she is just like a toddler- into everything and remembers nothing.  That’s not true, she knows me and Paul and Jessica and the boys.  She thinks her sister, granny and grandpa are still alive. But she does not know what just happened, where she is or how she got there.   It never ends.   Never.  

I am so happy that Covid shutdown is over, and I can go see her and take her outside or out for a drive.   I am so happy that I am able to do her laundry again.  I have even gotten to the point of giving her a shower and washing her hair once a week when I am there- just to know it is being done.   They are scheduled to do the same two other days a week, but I can’t be sure, I’m not there. 

It is sad how “dirty “everyone is.  It’s not like they are dirty-dirty, they are just dirty, everyday life makes you dirty, even if you don’t do anything- and a shower twice a week just doesn’t seem right to me.   But that is the way it is in memory care, I understand, there are just not enough workers to do the job.   And there is no additional money available on our end- so we get what we pay for.   If we could afford 5K a month, I ‘m sure she could get a shower every other day.  Along with more activities and more entertainment more “life”.

Don’t get me wrong- mom is in a good place- I know this- much better than where she was and much better than living with me. I could not take care of her 24/7- I’m not trained, nor do I have the ability -mentally to do it.   At least when you put a toddler down for the night you know they are going to sleep at least 10 hours without waking up in the middle of the night confused and wondering where they are.  And toddlers can pretty much tell you what they want and need. 

I am thankful and I count my blessings. I am thankful that mom is in a good place and I am able to go see her. I am blessed that she is still here with us and she knows who I am.   

I have a girlfriend whose mom is in memory care and her mom is at the stage where she does not remember her anymore.  She knows she has a daughter, but she does not know who she is or even her name. My friend is a very strong woman, and I am learning from her on this next step -that I know mom will be in sooner or later.  My friend goes to see her mom, feeds her and sits and talks to her like a friend- because that is who her mom thinks she is – a friend.   That’s all she can do and she’s doing it.    I love her!

I am also doing what I can do, and I am sure that anyone reading this blog is doing the same thing, what they can do.    I can listen, agree, laugh, love, give hugs and answer the same questions over and over and over again.

You’ve got a friend, James Taylor

Love and Light,

Cheryl Doreen