Monday, April 28, 2014

First day with New Transportation is Exhausting (for both of us)

Gary arose at 6:00 this morning and hopped in the shower.  He awakened me and seemed to be excited to go to the CLUB.  He got us up so early that we had two hours to spare, so we went to Breakfast.

Right before we left, he changed wallets to a different color.  As we drove to the restaurant, I asked him to pull out the cheat sheet I had made for him that showed his transportation pick up times and the numbers he needed to call if something went wrong.  "What are you talking about?", he responded.  Uh -oh.

When we arrived at the restuarant and were seated, I asked to see his wallet so I could pull out the cheat sheet and "coach him" to relieve MY anxiety.  Of course, it was nowhere to be found and he had left it in the other wallet.  So, I rewrote it and had him fold it and put in his wallet.  (Yep, I thought this was a waste, too.) 

After a delicious breakfast, we headed toward Rancho Cordova.  I had him dial the cell phone on the way attempting to make his reservations for the next two days. This process was a total fiasco and just on the first vendor, we were disconnected three times.  I finally got through to two vendors and made reservations for him to be picked up at the CLUB both remaining days this week and take him to Target in Elk Grove and then another pickup to take him home.  This took 35 minutes and I could have never done it by myself and still drove.  Poor Gary got pretty beat up before we got to Rancho due to not knowing how to use the phone and my poor directions.  Of course, none of the times either day are consistent so no routine is provided for him.  That stresses out ME knowing that every change is a chance for error and confusion for him.

I dropped him off at CLUB and explained what I had arranged for him.  They were not a bit concerned as their clients use Paratransit all the time. I ran through the times again with him in the car and reminded him how to use his tracking device to call me and reminded him that he could also call me on his cell phone.  I was a nervous wreck but gave it up and went to work. 

Since he had on his tracker, I started watching it at 1:45 (when they were supposed to pick him up).  No movement.  2:20, no movement.  He was going to be late picking up the transfer?  No, they gave a half hour window, Ada, 2:30, I still saw no movement so I called his cell phone.  It was turned off.  (FHOI*U&(*&F!!!EIH) Next, the GPS was activated remotely and he answered.  "I'm on the bus".  At that very moment, the satellite linked and my screen showed him moving faster than 35 mph.  I asked him to call me when he got home.  We had a bad connection.

He was supposed to be at the Target for a pick up at 3:30.  I set up a zone around Target which notifies me when he enters the zone.  Bingo, but at 3:45.  My phone rang from a foreign number.  It was Gary INSIDE Target calling me as he did not see the bus. He said Paratransit had just dropped him off.  I told him to hurry back outside because he was going to miss the connnection van.  I told him that I would call E-Van and ask when they could pick him up. Convinced he had missed connection.  The folder with all the phone numbers was in my car in the back parking lot of the school, so I Googled the number.  I found it and went through Interactive Voice Response System Hell.  After 10 minutes, it forced me to leave a voicemail.  One can't imagine the message that I managed to grit through my teeth asking for a call back and explaining the situation. 

After about ten minutes, there was no movement on the GPS so I called on the tracker.  Gary answered and said he was on the bus.  Said he had walked outside and jumped right on the van and the driver had only waited about 3-4 minutes.  Of course, he didn't think to call me.  How could I expect him to remember that I was stressed out-to-the-max?  I released again and waited on the signal that he had entered the "Home Zone".  Bingo.  Relax. 

I called him on my way home several hours later and he was busy watering.  When asked about his day his response was "I'll tell you when you get home as that will give me more time to settle down."  He was overwhelmed.

Upon arrival at home, he was busy bringing in the trash cans.  He seemed very irritated and the mood quickly deteriorated to exhausted and overwhelmed.  I started to fix dinner and he asked if he could take a Relaxation bath first.  OK.  He did not have the energy to run the bath so I did it.  He bathed for 20 minutes or so and I asked if he wanted dinner.  I finished it as he came downstairs.  With dinner on his plate, he looked exhausted, acted exhausted and when I looked at him, for the very first time, he looked like an old man.  The melancholy for me was overwhelming.  He could not eat and said he needed to go to bed.  He went upstairs and within 10 minutes came back down asking if I had any other supplements to calm him.  Valerian, Melatonin and Sedalia down the hatch.  He went to bed. 

Today was hard on us both....much of mine was as a result of caring about my husband and being a control freak. (Or, it could be said that I take my role as caregiver seriously :))  His overwhelm had to be related to the stress of a completely new process of transportation.  It was just too much for one day. 

I feel sorry for him.  Our evening prayer consisted of him thanking the Lord for helping him now and in the future to get through the changes.  He was thankful for having care and people who love him.  Thank you Lord for keeping him safe everyday.  For that matter, thanks for what you do for me, too.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Repetitive conversations can be very irritating!

Gary needs two pairs of glasses; one for reading and close up and a different pair for distance vision.  At one time, he had three pairs; one close up, one far away and prescription, far away sunglasses.  He lost the far away glasses several months ago and like everything else we have misplaced or lost, my view is to wait and they will turn up. Meanwhile, he has been using a neck band glass holder to hang the sunglasses around his neck when he is not using them.  (Yes, it is time to break down and order a new pair).

The glasses-holder he has been using is tan fabric and came from our old sailing club OCSC.  We noticed a few days ago that it is getting tattered and Gary decided he wants a new one. I put this on our errand list for the weekend and yesterday, we ventured out to replace the neck band.  We went to Sports Authority and found about 20 different styles of bands to secure glasses. There were leather, corded and fabric.  He said that he wanted fabric again and there were three color choices:  bright blue, money green and black.  He chose black and we were on our way.  We put the holder in his pocket to put on his sunglasses later and we were off.  I didn't think of it anymore until preparing for church this morning.

As we traveled to breakfast, I noticed Gary had two pair of glasses hanging around his neck. He had opened the new neck band and put it on his close up glasses and still had the old neck band on his sunglasses.  I told him to take off the sunglasses and leave them in the car for the day since it was cloudy and he would not need them.  He laid the old neck band/glasses down and noticed the tattered part and said that he needs to buy a new neck band.  I pointed out that we had purchased a new one yesterday and he was wearing it.  He took off his glasses and said, "I don't like black, I want tan."  He said this simple request with the intonation and brattiness of a five year old. 

I mentioned that we had bought the black one because it was the best color they had and that if he didn't like the black, he should not have bought them.  He seemed to agree.  About three minutes later, it was quiet in the car as I was trying to lower my agitation with his childish attifude.  He again mentioned that the glass holder was frayed and that he really wanted a new one.  We went back through the whole story, only this time a little louder. He again said that he really did not like the black and demanded that we go back to the store and buy tan.  I again explained the whole situation.  At this point, I was angry.  Angry with his lack of memory.  Angry with his neediness.  Angry with his attitude. 

We went through this two more times before we reached McDonalds. Literally, he used the exact same language and did not realize we had already discussed. I fumed for a while and spent some introspective time while I cooled off.  I told him that I promised we would find a new glass holder as soon as we could find one. I understand that it is important to him that his neck band match his clothes most of the time and that he wears tan and neutral colors a great deal of the time. 

We went to church. 

It is such a hard thing to be so upset and be in church.  I hate that I lose patience and get angry.  I guess I am still hoping for the old days when memory loss was not an issue.  I only had to take care of me on a daily basis and support him as his wife.  Now, I am just responsible.  He still has hours of clarity and functions well.  Other times, not so much. 

We had a special event after church. From 1:00 to 6:20, we sat in a very interactive class called "Walk Through the Old Testament." He checked out about 3:00.  Chances are excellent, he doesn't remember a lot if he even took in the information.  It was a wonderful curriculum but a very long day!

We stopped by the store and bought a chicken for dinner.  I cut greens and prepared them while Gary took out the weekly trash.  I put chicken, greens and garlic bread on plates and then on our TV trays and sat down to watch television.   He immediately complained that the chicken was cold and asked me to heat it up.  I instantly got angry the same level as this morning.  My brain gives me no logical reason why this angered me so badly.  He did not get up from his chair and fully expected me to heat it.  I told him to take his nightly pills that I had put on his tray while I heated up the plate.  He said that he could not reach his drink to take his pills. Please understand that during moments like this, yelling is a common occurence.  

I could not believe that he could not put down his tray since there was no food on it and reach for his drink.  I asked him why he did not put his tray down and he sheepishly said, "I honestly did not think of that."  That was the truth and I instantly lost my anger.

We finished dinner and Gary asked me for the fourth time to assist him with putting together our grandson's car we bought yesterday.  I pointed out for the fourth time, that they are coming to visit on the 5th, not tomorrow.  He is looking forward to her visit.  I will help him finish the car over the weekend.

Tomorrow is Gary's first day using the bus to get home.  Wish him luck and pray for his ability to grasp what he needs to do.  I have faith that he will be fine. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hitching a ride....not as easy as sticking out a thumb...

Since Gary has been going to the C.L.U.B. (Caring, loving, understanding and belonging), I have been taking him to Rancho Cordova Monday through Wednesday.  I take him in the morning and pick him up at 2:30.  All these days he has gone back to the college with me and sits where ever he can and reads motivational/inspirational books.  This is not a perfect situation because he often gets antsy around 5:30 or 6:00 and I am not necessarily ready to end my day.  We are now in budget season and things can get pretty intense.

About eight weeks ago I applied for him to get a ride on the Paratransit bus which picks up other CLUB members and takes them home.  Part of that paperwork had to be taken to Gary's doctor at Kaiser to verify that he is disabled. We had to wait for Kaiser to send the paperwork to Paratransit and for them to process.  Finally, about four weeks ago, the approval came in the mail.  I was so excited until I read the welcome letter.  It said he was unconditionally approved for a ride daily from any location in that region but the bus would not bring him home.  We live in a different city.   We had to apply to a totally different region for a second vehicle, E-Van, to pick him up half way and deliver him home.  Of course, the paperwork started over.....

So, we made another trip to Kaiser to drop off the paperwork and waited on them to mail the application to E-Van.  Two days ago, we received a second letter from a transportation company unconditionally approving Gary for transportation anywhere in the region as long as a reservation is made 24 hours in advance.  Sounds simple.  Sure.

On my lunch break yesterday, I sat down with all the paperwork and called Paratransit to ask a few questions and make Gary's first reservation for a ride home on Monday.  After being put on hold for ten minutes, the voicemail came on and said someone would call me back shortly.  Twenty minutes later the phone rang and it was a very helpful woman who explained how everything would work BUT, I had to call E-Van first since they would pick him up at the drop off point (Target).  I needed to make that reservation first, so Paratransit would know what time to pick up Gary at the CLUB.  REALLY??

OK. I called E-Van and got the same pleasant voicemail telling me they would return my call.  Three hours later, someone called. I explained the situation with the inter-region need and that I was calling to make a first reservation.  They gave me the time and pick up point and said, "This is for tomorrow, correct?"  "No, it is for Monday through Wednesday."  "Sorry, ma'am but we cannot take a reservation closer than 48 hours ahead. You will have to call back on Saturday. Also, make sure you buy a $125 monthly pass or have $7.50 cash on hand for each ride."

I asked if Paratransit was the same way and they replied that was standard practice and they do not take multiple reservations...for every reservation, we need to call 48 hours in advance. 

Find the positive Ada......find the positive in every situation.  So, that would be....I am thankful we live in a country that has special transportation for disabled people.  I am thankful that he has somewhere to go three days per week.  I am thankful for my job.  I am thankful for my husband.  I am thankful that he knows me and loves me. 

We'll see how his first experience goes on Monday.  After all, if one bus drops him off too soon, he will need to wait at the stop until the other bus arrives.  He will remember that, right?  Thank you, God, for resources.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to lose an adult man in a movie theatre

Amber Alert GPS

I've got 90% of my frustration problem figured out.  I think too much and I try too hard to figure out how to counteract what Gary will do next to keep me on edge or scared for his safety.

This week we received his Amber Alert GPS.  It hangs around his neck and has some incredible features.  I have set up a zone around our house that if he walks
more than 2000 feet (past the dog park), a text message is sent to me. He can be tracked within 20 feet of anywhere he goes.  He can press a button to call me on my cell phone.  I can call his GPS and talk with him instantly.  Pretty cool.  It will really help when he is at home alone or when we get separated and I need to find him.....or at least that is the idea.  It does not work when we leave the house together to go to church and we figure he doesn't need to wear it.....and then we change plans. The moral of this story is:  Make him wear the GPS.

We saw the movie "Heaven is for Real" yesterday.  Great movie!  Today, we decided to see "Noah".  Same theatre, different section.  Since we had a late lunch, we did not get our normal popcorn and soda.  We got a small soda in case we got a cough or needed liquid. The movie was captivating.  Nearing the climax of the movie, I noticed Gary was getting fidgety and was starting to make noises that indicated discomfort.  Yep, he had to pee really badly.  (I got a little irritated, as he did the same thing during "Son of God" a couple of weeks back and he missed the crucifixion scene.) He wiggled around for about five minutes thinking the end of the movie was coming.  He could wait no more so I told him to go to the bathroom and that since the movie was almost over and he was going to miss the end that I would meet him in the lobby. Sure enough, only five minutes was left in the movie and ended before he returned. 

I left the theatre with the other customers and went to the door of the men's restroom as I did not see him in the concession section.  I waited for about another five minutes and started feeling uneasy that he was not out yet.  My mind immediately started thinking of what could have happened to him.  During these sessions of active imagination, I experience the following negative emotions:  irritation, fear, wonder, anger and disappointment. 

Options considered: 
  • he could have come out of the restroom and somehow I missed him going into the theatre
  • he was still in there
  • he came out of the restroom and went into the theatre from yesterday
  • he came out of the theatre and went outside looking for me there
First, I went back into our theatre and he was not there and it was now empty.  I went back to the lobby and realized he could have come out of the restroom while I had gone back to the theatre and then all the options above could still be true. 

After seeing many men go into the restroom and come back out, I decided to ask security for assistance.  I explained the situation asked a young guard with a funny haircut if he would go to the restroom and see if Gary were there.  He asked about his clothing and proceeded to the restroom.  I told him Gary's name.  He came out and said there were three men in stalls and that I should wait to a while to see if he comes out.  He said if he didn't come out in a few minutes to come back over and ask him again.  He also indicated that if Gary had come out and gone into another theatre that I would have to wait. The guards sense of caring and urgency was fascinating.....the description "dough-head" comes to mind...

It was then I realized that Gary had his cell phone on but I had left my cell in the car.  So, I could go outside to the car and call him, but then I might miss him coming out of the restroom and could get further separated.  So, I paced and waited. I had worked my emotions up to a roar. 

The thoughts went to the this what life is going to be like?  No, I have to either not go to the movies or similar situations anymore; or always go to the door of the restroom with him; or make sure he is wearing his GPS and I always carry my cell so I can call him on the tracker.  I could not bear to think beyond those scenarios.

He came out of the bathroom shortly thereafter acting completely normal.  I told him some of what had happened and told him to "stand right here and don't dare move until I come out of the bathroom."  He did.  When I came out he was standing there looking like a scolded child.  I felt horrible.

He had merely gone to the bathroom and taken quite a while, naturally, to do so.  He had done nothing wrong and had not gone anywhere else.  It was all me.  The problem was mine.  The emotion was mine. 

I was pretty irritated and it took me a while to come down off that ride.  We went to get Tilapia tacos and I sat pretty quietly while we waited on our food.  I had shared the whole emotional scene with him in the car and he was blown away by my mind's concoctions.  He could understand why I thought all those things.

My feelings were of intense melancholy.  That is the only adjective I could conjure.  I wanted to cry but knew it would solve nothing. 

Why can't I just enjoy each moment for what it is?  Why am I such a control freak that I need to pre-think every potential situation?  Because I am responsible for him?  No, Ada, God is in control and you have little faith. This incident was particularly poignant since we had just seen a movie about a human with great faith and doubt.  My job is to love Gary and trust God.  Why is it so hard to let go and trust that we will be ok?  If I could only be more like Gary as he was in the rainforest below....just loving life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lost dreams......sailing around the world.....

In 1998, Gary heard about the pending Y2K dilemma.  The belief by millions in those days was that the computers that were not programmed to function well beyond midnight 1999, would actually cause the world to shut down and there would be may chaos, government shutdowns, riots, etc. Of course, since Gary has always leaned toward the dramatic side of life and is a wee bit gullible, we had to prepare!!!
I clearly remember living at the Pittsburg Marina and discussing what would happen when the electricity goes out, food runs out and all the people who left San Francisco and Oakland walked east that they could end up HUNGRY at our house.  What would we do?  Options included: having heavy artillery at the house to protect us; Buying a tractor trailer and having a destination in the mountains where we could hunker down; having enough food to last us two years with significant water storage.  So many solutions but none seemed right. 
Gary looked out our back door and saw the perfect solution.  "What about a sailboat?"  I replied, "Fine, except for two problems:  1) we don't own a boat and 2) we don't know how to sail."  For those of you who know my husband, you know what is coming....sailing lessons started the next weekend.
Now, I don't mean in-the-local-pond Hobie cat kind of sailing lessons.  I mean U.S. Sailing Association Basic Keelboat 1 sailing lessons on San Francisco Bay.  Gary did all the research and came up with a plan.  In his mind, we could finish all 7 levels of the U.S. Sailing certifications before 2000 hit and we would be ready to sail a boat out of the Pittsburg CA harbor and out under the Golden Gate Bridge and go anywhere in the world via sailboat.
The first class was two full weekends on the Bay, learning, drilling, sailing and taking classes.  One must also know that I am deathly afraid of water, so staying in the boat was a real need for me!!!  So, I am afraid of water and he is asking me to learn to pilot a 24 foot sailboat that is right on the water.  The winds on the Bay during our first lesson was about 20 knots......that is where the waves have white caps.  I was terrified.  But, I learned, didn't die and unbelievably, went back the second weekend.  We both passed Basic Keelboat one....right on schedule.  We became die-hard sailors. 
Gary didn't talk to the sailing school before we unfolded this whole plan and found that our plan was aggressive.....way too aggressive.  Anyway, we soon started Basic Keelboat II.  Also, another two full days each weekend for 2 weeks.  Exhausting and very difficult for two people who have never sailed.  We had to do many private charters to get in sailing hours.  We did.  We passed. The clock was ticking away. 
Gary on one of our SF Bay charters....sailing in McCovey Cove outside of Pacific Bell Park in SF.
We bought and stored 2 years worth of food, candles, fuel and all necessary supplies to outfit a boat.  (We didn't have one)
We continued taking all the sailing lessons and next took Bareboat Charter.  We learned more techniques, man overboard drills, and navigation than I can even remember.  We chartered boats every weekend with other certified sailors so we could get in charter hours.  We passed Bareboat and again, were now certified at three levels. We were in almost $10,000 but could both charter boats and handle it in fair weather and heavy storm situations.  I failed Navigation class.  Of course, using a GPS was easy, but if no land systems worked, GPSs would not work, right?  It was a huge setback.  I took Navigation class 3 times and just could not nail it!  We were not going to make the deadline of all classes.  Had to re-work, realistically, the plan.
Ada at the helm of a Sailboat I actually later ran aground on the Berkeley Reef on SF Bay.
Meanwhile, we were not only sailing (exhausting) every weekend, but we were also boat shopping ......I mean seriously.  Gary had the dream to sell the house, quit my job, close our business at the time and sail out the SF bay to parts unknown.  Full-timer cruisers are a special breed.  We were headed that way.
 Gary was passionate about this and nothing else.  We never bought the boat.  It was an Amel 53 foot Super Maramu....went to Southern California and looked at it. We did not have the money and decided that if things got that bad, we could offer up our "stores" to other cruisers and trade our sailing skills for passage.  Or, we could steal a boat and take off. (Steal a boat, really?)
Well, Y2k came and went....the world did not go any crazier than it would have otherwise.  It was rather anti-climatic.  Disappointing actually. 
I lost interest in the dream.  We went through a very hard period over the fact that I did not want to leave my job and be a cruiser.  I could not get my head around it.  He wanted to go cruising and then when we aged, sell the boat and buy a house in the mountains.  I agreed to go if we bought the house in the mountains first so I knew we had a fall back plan.  (Thus, the whole Panamanian experience...that is another blog) We built the house and somehow, slowly, the dream started dying. 
We chartered alot less.  Every single time I ever went sailing, I got sick on the drive to Berkeley from where we sailed.  I mean nauseous.  I never got over it until I got behind the wheel or in front of a tiller.  I was fine on the water.  Gary never understood my fear.  I decided to go out on my own, without him to prove to myself that I was also an accomplished sailor.  I attended two years worth of women's sailing seminars.  On the last one, the boat I was on had the owner (a man) and six other women who had never sailed before that day and were there to see if they liked it. The transmission died in the boat and the owner had to stay down in the hull and manually change the gears to forward and reverse based on my commands from the deck. I had to bring the boat to the dock yelling commands down to him.  I had never done this...... I nailed the landing and did not even bump the boat on the dock.  I was really good.
The following weekend, Gary and I went out with a large group for a refresher course.  I was at the helm and got my hand caught in the traveler (the piece of equipment that moves the large boom from one side of the boat to the other) and was injured pretty badly.   That was in August of 2002.  In February 2003, we moved to Virginia for my career.
We would not sail again for four years since we moved to Virginia and had no access to our type of water.  Somewhere in those four years, the dream died all together.  I somehow think that disappointment is part of the dying of Gary.  He gave up for a long time after that.  He went into Real Estate then and we started new dreams. 
Four + years later, we moved back to California and rejoined the Sailing Club. We took a refresher course and I performed very well and remembered most everything.  Gary forgot many things.  Confidence lost.  Dream dead.  That was a horrible day. Looking back....that day should have been my first clue regarding the memory loss.  How could he forget the basics of what he loved so much?


Friday, April 11, 2014

Yard work makes all the difference!

We live in a house with an incredible backyard.  The previous owner spent tons of money on the following:

lemon tree
pomegranate tree
persimmon tree
fig tree
nectarine tree
olive tree
3 rose bushes, azaleas
grape arbor with two mature plants
artichoke plant
plentiful mint plants
and this time of year, extremely large flower beds full of weeds!!!

Gary has spent the last two days using a spade, shovel, rake and his hands to clear out only 1/4 of the flower bed.  There are NO weeds left.  He did a magnificant job refining the dirt and making it ready for planting.

Lately, when he does anything, he gets really tired.  I checked on him both days frequently and found that he was staying hydrated, taking his medication on time, eating when hungry and resting.  He not only got all that done but also blew all dirt out of the three car garage and did two loads of laundry.  AMAZING. 

Each night, I fixed dinner, calming teas and a RELAXING soaker bath.  He has been almost normal.  He has slept both nights.

Tomorrow we will plant the garden for the summer.  I look forward to spending the day with him. I hope I will not need incredible patience.....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"I'm just so OVERWHELMED!!!!"

In approximately 1987, I decided that someday I would write a book called, "Go to your Corners and Come Out Fighting".  It was going to be about our life together as a the time, we were fighting bad, new-rich guys with bad personal and business habits.  We were fighting debt, overspending and bankruptcy.  I was 25 years old.  It was loosely based on what the referree says to the boxers in the middle of the ring once he has given them the rules of the fight.  So, now, the title still seemed to be appropriate, just for different reasons.  However, the title to this entire blog could also be

"I'm so overwhelmed."

Gary says that many evenings every few minutes.  It happens when:
  • he has to think through a complex thought/problem
  • he doesn't understand something
  • I push him faster than he can move (mentally)
  • he is tired or sleepy
  • he wants a drink and can't have one
  • he forgets his medicine
  • when he is frustrated
When I say he says it all the time, I mean HE REALLY SAYS IT ALOT.  It grates on my patience like hard parmesan on a cheese grater.  It hurts because other than giving him downer teas or giving him a hot bath, I can't usually fix it. 

He NEVER says it when he is happy or playing in some way.

I've never felt the pain of trying to comfort a child that feels poorly or a teenager who has had their heart broken.  Mothers and fathers have that experience to draw from in dealing with their spouse entering this stage of life.  I don't have any experience.  I stink.   We just went through dinner and about an hour of the overwhelm.  I fixed him a hot bath and started the blog. I'm downstairs writing this and watching American Idol.  The surrround sound is on so I thought I heard a faint ADA......I turned off the sound and yelled, "did you call me?"  No response.  I went upstairs and repeated the question.  He said, "I have called you four times, why didn't you answer?" I explained and apologized and asked him what he needed. 

This particular disturbance was my own fault.  When I made his bath tonight, I added a little extra bubble bath.  It makes awesome soap bubble animals.  He wanted to show me the dog/bear/cat figurine he had sculpted on his knee.  BAM!  Overwhelm gone.

The secret is to keep him perfectly unstressed and happy.  Can anyone help me figure out how to make life this simple?  He has always been a cut up who loves to play....that is one reason I love him so much. When he shows me soap bubble animals, I temporarily forget about the overwhelmed man from before....I like it that way.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gary on Mission in Haiti -pre-dementia

In 2010, Gary and I went with a group from our church to Haiti to serve those devastated by the earthquake.  Well, devastated financially and many died...but many of those people are the strongest Christians we have ever met. 

One night, there was a terrible thunderstorm with lighting strikes and torrential rain....which meant more mudslides to a land already ravaged. Other than a hurricane, it was the worst storm I've ever endured.  We could hear the artisans singing hymns and praising God.  Wow!

Gary's job during the trip was to find people who needed tents and tarps and carefully distribute what we had to the most needy and deserving.  Seemed easy?  No way.  Everyone either had a tent that was 5 months old and falling apart from sun destruction or still in good shape but wanted a tent/tarp they could trade for food or supplies.  As a group, we decided that only the neediest would get the 1600 pounds of supplies we carried to Haiti.

destruction everywhere - live poiwer lines down

The first couple of days, Gary scoured the neighborhoods (tent cities).  He did not speak the language....a sitting target.  A few days in, he got an interpreter who knew most everyone and was able to help.

One lady was particularly interesting.  She had a VERY LARGE tent but the tent flap had deteriorated.  She tried to convince Gary that she needed a new tent, half the size of what she had.  We knew she wanted to trade it.  That was not the deal. Through the interpreter, he tried to tell her that he could rig a new pole and make the new tarp work perfectly to give the family protection from rain.  While arguing.....Shelley, a missionary for whom we were there to help, walked by and started talking to the woman.  Gary asked what we should do.  Shelley said to us in English, "Sometimes you have to decide if you want to help a selfish person."

That was a reality check for us.  We told the woman to choose the tarp or nothing.....she thought we were bluffing and refused the tarp.  We walked away.  

The next day, we walked past her tent and she stopped us and decided the tarp was not such a bad idea.  Gary assisted her in rigging the tarp and she had a great tent with weather protection.  She agreed to pose for a picture.  She had learned a was sad she had to learn one.

Gary felt very accomplished and happy.   In the 28 years I've known him, that was probably one of his proudest moments.  That man is still alive and well, he is just in the early stages of dementia.  He still needs to feel accomplished and wants to feel important.  I am having trouble finding what will provide that for him.  He still thinks he can go to a hospital and get a job because he was an ER tech in the army 43 years ago.  We will keep trying to find something to occupy his time, but unfortunately, nothing compares to tarp-giving. 

Today, we looked at a 55+ community.  Seems perfect...for him.  The houses available are SO SMALL.  We need to downsize but that is a bit much for now.
Not sure which direction to go. 

We go to the psychiatrist tomorrow....will see how we are doing.....

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Secret to the Relaxation bath.....

Its official....we now have business cards and hats to advertise this blog!

I think these pictures very well depict Gary when he is feeling good.  Most of the time, no one can tell he has dementia unless a long conversation ensues. 
He worried about so many things all night and then this morning, about 7:00, he calmed and went to sleep. I slept in the guest room most of the night but he awakened me at 5:00.  He woke up around 9:00 and took a hot "Ultramind Bath" ...which he also did less than twelve hours before that. (BTW:  the ultimate relaxing bath is a tub full of water as hot as you can stand, 2 cups of Epsom Salt, 1 cup of Baking Soda and twelve drops of lavender oil.  We also add a tablespoon of chamomile bubble bath. Soak for 20 minutes). While he soaked, I slept peacefully.
We missed church so we decided to make a late breakfast lunch and then watched the movie "The Bucket List".  I felt it was an appropriate movie after last night's post about our adventures.  I should not feel sorry for myself....we have had a tremendous life and we Still do!
We then went to the theatre and saw "God's not Dead!"  What a fabulous movie about one believer holding fast to his beliefs.  Everyone should see it but I won't be a spoiler here!!! 
We came home to an excited Diva and went for a quick walk to the park.  Gary got stressed again and came home and sat on the sofa, drank some downer tea and is now....guess where?  In the bath again.....hey, whatever it takes.  He didn't even eat dinner (crock pot black eyed peas with potatoes and smoked ham and a side of jalapeno cornbread). The bath sure relaxes him.  I'm watching television.  Its a good down time.
I'm off for two days and have some important things to take care of....paperwork mostly.  Also considering visiting a local retirement development that has some houses in resale. One never knows what I might accomplish in two days..... :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Adventures have been a large part of our lives....we started at Stoney Creek resort in 1985 and have traveled, off and on since.

One thing about Gary is that he was, and still is a thrill seeker. For example, when we discovered that the world did not blow up or shut down after Y2K, he decided we needed to find a retirement destination. We did.  In Panama. We built a 4300 square foot house on the 9th fairway of a beautiful golf course, in a valley, that is just sitting and waiting on us.  Its nicer than the home we live in....Can't afford to quit my job and move there.

We have been there several times. Twice when buying the lot and building and once since it was finished. 

This is us around 2003 on the Los Quetzales trail which is near the house in Panama.  You can hike for hours and not see anyone.  However, every view has clouds and a glimpse or full view of the Volcano.  Beauty is everywhere.
While we were building once we did a tour of Panama City and the Panama Canal via helicopter.  We have a video is Gary outside the chopper.  It was a blast.
Gary and I always like hiking when we go to foreign is hike outside Boquete on the way to a beautiful waterfall.  It stormed that day and we ended up taking refuge in a bus stop (three cement walls) in the woods until the rain stopped.

Then, as always, Gary was ready for a new adventure.
This is a different adventure in the West Indies in the rain forest at St. Lucia.  We stayed there for seven days in two different resorts and in both places, we were the only guests.  It pays to travel off season.  This was a dreadfully humid hike but the photo opportunity was priceless.

Here we are all "cleaned up" after the hike.  The two Pitons in the background were not a hike we took that trip.  Never will. After those seven days, we took a Windjammer Pirate Cruise through the West Indies with a bunch of crazy people.
Here is Gary dressed as Captain Fluke. We lost the sailboat building contest.  We could not use any money and had to gather supplies to build the boat from things we found on an island.  Not too bad a boat for trash.

Oh yes, and then there was the 10 day packing trip in the high Sierras. 
We prepared for five months, hiking everyday.  This is our picture the day we left...l was carrying 75 pounds of gear.  It was a trip for a different blog.
So, why am I posting all this?  I can't imagine doing these adventures now as I would have to plan, execute and manage every detail.  Its different with two doing it.  Gary can't handle it anymore. I think our adventures like these are over.
Perhaps the future adventures will look more like these:
relaxing on a remote beach....
Sitting next to a tree in Monterrey California
Spending time with the kids...
These types of adventures are more do-able....that is ok with me. 
Gary had a very difficult afternoon....high anxiety.  Lots of downer teas and herbs and a hot bath seemed to have done the trick.  We are sitting in bed and he is still exhaling and releasing stress.  I can't stand it much more.  I need something for me.