Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Ghost Busters" revisited. I have turned into a monster.

Gary and I have been at my Dad's house in Virginia for 7.5 days.  I love being around this side of the family since we are not together often.  Since being off work and having "downtime" I have learned a few things.

In the few days prior to the flight here, I had worked up an incredible anxiety over being able to manage (or not) Gary during the flight.  Even though he has only had a few accidents, I worried about him and had him wear a diaper. We had no issues.   I was concerned about the 40 minute scramble in Atlanta.  No issues as the attendant was right there to wheel him to the bathroom and get us to the next gate....which was right across the aisle from our arrival gate. All the planning paid off.  I'm too hard on myself sometimes. And at the same time, had I not planned so well it may have ended differently.

As we picked up the rental car and I had to leave him for two minutes while I walked seventy stalls down the airport garage, I worried he would leave. The attendant said she would watch him.....but would she.  It all turned out well until I pulled up the curb, had him get in the front seat and while I moved to the back of the vehicle to unload the luggage, he locked me out.  It was 28 degrees outside and I was pounding on the window for him to unlock the door.  He just stared at me.  After screaming at him enough, he unlocked the door.  The poor man working at Budget saw my dilemma and held the back door open long enough for me to get in before he locked it again.  I told him that I wished the disease of Dementia on no one he knows.  He said, "Merry Christmas." 

On a side-note, no one here says "Happy Holidays".  There is no such thing as political correctness and I
have found myself delving into gossip and unnecessary caring about others' business.  It seems so silly to be caught up in such minor issues....but it is natural here. 

On the two hour drive, Gary must have clicked the door lock and window at least 400 times.  I could not get him to stop no matter what I tried.  Eventually, I was a wreck.  His anxiety level was not helped even with my magic trick Sedalia.  We arrived safely at my Dad's house and the vacation began.

It has been a quiet week.  We have barely left the house except to run errands, go to eat and some visits.  It is restful except for Gary being confused.  I find that my highs and lows of patient (my patience) behavior are more radical.  When things are calm, I am better able to cope with his constant needs.  However, in a small bathroom, with no air vent and a leaky toilet (new one on the way), I find my patience with Gary's needs non-existent.   The best of me as a caregiver is good.  The worst of me as a caregiver feels evil.  

I watched "Ghost Busters" recently.  When the the evil ghost takes over the body of Sigourney Weaver and floats above the bed, one could substitute my face for hers.  At least, that is how it feels when the rage takes over my emotions.  I can't imagine ever hurting him, but the imagination can run wild.  

I am exhausted.  I sleep well here except for having to take Gary to the bathroom each times he needs to go.  He can't find the right room, nor the light switch (2 feet higher on the wall than at home), nor the raise the toilet seat, nor hit it squarely.  I have cleaned the floor here waaaayyy tooo many times in one week.  Then, I have to wait for him to go back to bed.  Now keep in the mind that our bedroom is three feet from the bathroom.  He just can't find his way.

So, in my spare time, I have thought of the twelve days of Dementia Christmas and would like to share with you all.  Please feel free to sing along. I'll start at the your way backwards. 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my husband said to me...
"Where is my comb? (11)
When do we go home? (10)
My socks don't match. (9)
I can't find the toilet. (8)
Can I have more coffee? (7)
Where is the dog? (6)
Hey, Ada Mae....(5)
What is his name? (4)
When do we leave? (3)
Gee, I'm very hungry. (2)
and a Loving wife who's gonna go nuts! 

We have two more days here and a early morning foggy drive over the mountain to the airport.  Please continue to pray for miracles.  We get them everyday.  

For all the other caregivers reading this.....there is a New Year coming.  Hoping for changes is scary because so far the changes have all been for the worse.  But FAITH can take you through it all.  Just enjoy the good moments.  

Merry Christmas everybody. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I know people mean well, but frankly, I am very tired of hearing how strong I am. I don't want to be strong.  I don't want to be tested anymore. 

Don't misunderstand.  I am thankful that God has given me the strength to endure what we are going through as a family.  I am eternally grateful.  But, I am still human and I am sad, tired, grieving and still expected to rise each morning and perform at peak levels in life and work.  That is very hard to after day.

I do believe in self-fulfilling prophecy, so it messes with me that I just said that I don't want to be strong.  That means that if I keep saying it....then I will lose that strength.  I certainly can't do that to myself.  Dammit. 

So, here I am.  52 years old with a 67 year old husband with Dementia.  Why?  I know the reasons.....there is nothing I can do about it. That pisses me off.  If my language offends, well, I am sorry.  Sometimes, I just have to be honest about it all.  I hate it. 

Yep, hate is a strong word.  I love Gary.  I hate the situation.  But, everyday I have to dig deep, move forward and draw on every ounce of faith that I have. God has put me in this situation for a reason.  He either has a huge purpose for me or an intense sense of humor.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...."  Yes, Ada.  Keep telling yourself that quote.....just keep saying it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I am pooping....

Gary and I awoke this morning with smiles on our faces.  He seemed to be a little clearer than normal....while we were still in bed.  It didn't last long.

I went down to the kitchen to make some fresh ground Starbucks Christmas blend and decided to make a breakfast casserole.  We enjoyed our breakfast and headed to get showers and start our day.

Most days now, we shower together so I can shave Gary and assist with hurrying him along.  He has always liked long, hot showers.  Now, though, he would shower until the Flash Heater burned before he would get out of the shower.  So, I help....

We had gotten out of the shower and I had dressed.  Gary was standing at MY sink, using MY toothbrush.  One tidbit that the reader should know is that Gary talks incessantly most of the time so it is easy to start tuning him out.  It is unfortunate but it is form of sanity preservation.  Anyway, I tuned in when he was brushing his teeth, in his underwear, and stated "I am pooping".  What?????

Sure enough, he went right in his underwear less than two feet from the toilet.  I will spare the details....the yelling, the scolding, the smell, the extra shower and the laundry. 

Now, several hours later he is taking a nap.  No more issues.  Thank you, Lord. 

I am not cut out for this type of servitude.  Pray for my strength and his constipation (just kidding).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Case of the Haunted Jacuzzi

My cell phone rang late in the day.  I saw Heather's picture and knew something was wrong as she only calls me in an emergency....or something REALLY strange.  I'll give you one guess which case this was....right, REALLY strange.

Heather:  "Do you have a Jacuzzi tub in your bathroom? How do I turn it off? Dad turned it on somehow and I can't turn it off.  It sounds like a truck idling from downstairs but I came to check on Dad and it is the tub!  In the background I could hear Gary going on about some totally different subject.  While humorous, I had to focus.

I asked several questions, like did you turn off the button?  There was only  a knob sticking up and that didn't work.  She texted me a picture of what looked more like an air duct usually found on the side of the tub.  We have not used the Jacuzzi since we moved in so I was not sure.  I told her to fill the tub with water so the motor would not burn up since she said it had been running for quite some time.

I then suggested she go the breaker box, find the one marked tub or Jacuzzi and turn it off.  Gary was still in the toilet stall so she left him, went down all the stairs, grabbed Xander's toy flashlight (it worked) and headed for the breaker.  Vioila!  She found the right switch and turned it to "off".  Or so we thought.  She went back upstairs to check on Gary (no gym membership required in this house full of stairs!) and found the tub still shooting water to and fro.  I could hear it roar in the background. 

I asked if the water was above the jets.  She replied affirmatively.  She had to leave to get Xander from day care and I was too far away to do anything.  She assured me there would be no flood so I decided it was ok until I got home over an hour away.

When I arrived home, I put on a pair of shorts to get in the tub since the spigots and the drain are on the far end of the tub (pretty stupid design).  I also tried the button which looked nothing like a Jacuzzi button I had ever seen.  Water had started to splash all over that side of the bathroom.  Since she had followed my initial directions and turned the brass button one way and then the other, the air was on full spray and doing its job.

There was no button that looked anything like a switch.  WTF?  If we couldn't find the button to turn it off, how did Gary turn it on?

Then, I remembered a silver switch on the wall behind Gary's bathrobe.  Remember when you were a kid and you went to a hotel that had a heater in the ceiling in the bathroom that had a timer switch.  Yes, one of those.  All this time, I thought it was a heater switch that we never needed.  It was stuck on zero.  Or at least there was a fine line between zero and sixty minutes.  He had turned the knob all the way around, it turned on the Jacuzzi and got stuck in an on position.  I turned it off the a moment of peaceful quiet after the raging waters from moments before!

So, how did it not turn off when Heather cut the power?  So, I too used the toy flashlight (three other flashlights in the emergency area did not work) and headed for the breaker.  It was off.  Again, there is no explanation for how the Jacuzzi continued to run with the power "off" but it did.  Crazy house. 

So, after a day of audits and regular work, I mopped the floor while explaining the answers to all of Xander's questions.  "Why did you open the shower?  What is a sponge?  Why is there water everywhere?  What is that thing in your hand called? Why is it called a mop?  Why did Papa turn on the bathtub? Why are you standing in the bathtub with your clothes on?  Why are you letting the water out?"  And.....etc.

So, as per normal, rather than trust that Gary will remember not to use that knob again when he is trying to turn on the lights...I got out the duct tape and covered the switch so it cannot be used. 

I then remembered that I needed to double check that Gary's CLUB remembered to have him wear his jacket home (that is another topic for another day).  Of course, Heather reported that  he did not wear a jacket home. I was close to blowing a gasket after spending almost a half hour prior to work this morning watching a social worker at day care run around looking for Gary's clothes from when he had an accident and came home in someone's spare clothes. 

Tomorrow morning, when I take him again, I will need to go in, find the social worker and make a real stink.  Why is Gary the only one who comes home without a jacket?  Or is he?  Perhaps I have uncovered a significant problem there? 

I have been known, on occasion, to be very vocal. I should be plenty warmed up by morning....look out world!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Public Embarrasment

Sometimes I feel punished.  I know its a mindset but it is difficult to not get bitter.  Anger is certainly an emotion that enters my heart near daily.  Why do I have to change my patterns, errands and wishes because Gary has dementia?  If I chose to get a "sitter" all the time, or impose on Heather more, I could have more freedom.  He is not so far along that I feel that is right either.  So, I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of this already in-between comparison to Hades.

Last Sunday, I took Gary to church.  It is a loving group where we have worshipped before since moving to Anaheim.  Because of Gary's constant repetition of many words he hears and due to his verbal processing (often loudly) of most thoughts, I am always on edge waiting for what jewel he may drop on humanity next.  Sure enough, a few minutes into the Pastor's sermon, Gary stood up.  I pulled on his jacket to get him to sit as I knew whatever he was processing was paragraphs behind the poor man's sermon.  I managed to get him to sit down without too much noise or shuffle.  Then, he started reading aloud the bulletin which I gave him to hopefully keep him quiet.  I tried to quiet him with the ever-dependable "shhh".  He merely repeated the noise several times growing louder with my frustration.

I could tell the folks in front of us were a little un-nerved.  How to handle? When the Pastor asked for folks to stand up who were ready to commit their life to Christ,  Gary took the opportunity once again to stand.  Well, who am I to keep the man from re-giving his life to Jesus....even though he was probably hearing some other message.

The rest of the service was uncomfortable for me.  Of course, the anger started.  Is it lack of control that invokes the anger?  Is it embarrassment?  Yes.

Then today, he really needed a pedicure.  I can't effectively take care of his feet so I choose to have him professionally soaked, massaged and clipped every so often.  I haven't found the right person who completely understands his behavior, needs and quirks.  Today, we came close.  The lady doing his manicure (I just asked for a pedicure and he decided LOUDLY, that he too needed a manicure) was very sweet and spoke English in a tongue he could clearly understand.  She told him that we were treating him  special because his birthday was this month.  He treated the entire audience within the salon's hearing range with his signature "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" and "That's more better than good."

The other discomfort for me is not knowing how loud he will be or what he might say.  (for example, he told the woman she had nice breasts and asked if he could touch them). I apologized and told him his behavior was inappropriate and that he needed to stop and that certainly he could NOT touch her. She understood, laughed and said she understood.  I watched her body language for several minutes and she really did seem to accept his mental disorder.  There was a woman around my age who was there with her adult daughters.  She sat next to him and talked to him while my procedure was being finished.  She asked how long he had dementia and that she had a friend in my "situation".  All I could say was that I was sorry for her and that I wish the disease on no one.  I gave her the blog address for her to share.  Perhaps it will help someone else.  Perhaps it is a hell that they would better cope with if they don't know what is coming.  I'm not sure that I want to see the future. 

There seemed to be a sigh of relief when we left.  All employees were tipped very well.  I will have to consider whether I go back to the same salon or find a new one.  Do they want our business?

So, one should be able to see why I am beginning to think that I can't take him anywhere.  I guess I will have to start shelling out additional dollars for a sitter, even for routine errands.

I will have him from Wednesday afternoon until Monday of next week due to the Holiday.  Heather and Xander are escaping for the weekend. Escaping.  Yes, I said "escaping".  Bless them both.  They put up with so much.

Pray for us all.  Sometimes being a part of a family and having committed to a relationship is hard.  I will not let him down. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Words from my mouth on Sunday......

Some utterances from my lips on a Sunday....not necessarily in order and with no context to assist the reader in understanding the insanity of dementia.  I will omit conversations with anyone other than Gary.

12:38 am "She said she was taking Xander to the Emergency room.  He has an ear infection. Go back to sleep."

2:38 am "Honey, you are in the closet.  Come out and go to the toilet.  Gary, go to the toilet.  You are in the closet.

Did you flush?  I didn't hear you wash your hands.  Okay, dry your hands and come back to bed."

7:20 am "Good morning.  I'll be right back.  I'm going downstairs to make coffee and get your pills. Cover up and stay warmy dormy."

The quotes from the rest of the day will remain timeless....

"Finish up your coffee, take off your clothes and get in the shower.  No, take off your pajamas.  Hand them to me, I'll put them in the drawer.  Get in the shower.  If its hot, turn it down a little.  Then, turn it up to warmer. 

Hold still while I shave you.  Don't rinse the conditioner out of your hair.  Rinse after I shave you.   Yes, I will help you wash.  Okay, rinse your hair and get out.  Step on the rug and towel off.  No, you may not use my towel.  You have your own.

Now, brush your teeth and comb your hair.  Your underwear, shirt and pants are on the bed.  Lean against the bed to put on your underwear.  That way you don't fall.

Okay.  Here is the hairspray.  Don't spray your hair and then comb it will make it gooey and you'll look like Alfalfa.  That is a fake drawer, not a real one.  This is the deodorant drawer.  You have already put on your deodorant.

Now, put on your clothes.  Where are your glasses?  No, Gary, not those shoes.  You have to put on your clothes before your shoes and those are your slippers.  Your church shoes are at the end of the bed.  No, lets put them on the correct feet.

Oh Lord, wont you buy me a Mercedes Benz?  Oh right, you did.  Thanks, Lord.

Gary, I already put the granola in your yogurt, stop flipping the top over.  I already did that.  Gary, stop playing with the napkin and eat your food.  I'm taking Diva out to poop.  Stay here and finish your coffee.

Why did you come out here?  Diva is just going poop.  Yes, you may sit down.....lets relax a minute. Ok, lets go so we aren't late for church.  Do you have to pee or poop?  Ok, good.  Lets go. You just said you didn't have to go....ok, go ahead. 

Gary, are you done?  Hurry up, we're late! Did you wash your hands?  Gary, why are you doing that?  Don't wipe your hands on your shirt.  There is a towel here its right there.  Dang it, now go upstairs and dry your shirt with the hairdryer.  NOW!  Oh hell, come on up.  I'll do it.  NOW!

What were you thinking?  Oh right, you weren't.  I'm sorry.  I know you can't help it.  That doesn't make it easy.

Okay, lets go.  Get in the car.  NO, not out the front door.  Gary. Stop.  Stop!  Oh hell.  Get in the passenger side.  No, get in the front seat. Put on your seatbelt.  Stop messing with your jacket and put on your seatbelt, please?

Stop reading signs.  No, we are not turning right.  The church is straight ahead on this road.  Stop stomping your feet.  Why do you do that? Yes, Jesus loves you.  Don't wave to the people in the car. Put the window up.  Stop locking the door.  Stop unlocking the door.

Here we are.  Now, we're late so try to walk fast.  Hi, Ms. Dru, I really have to go to the bathroom.  Can Gary stay with you?   Thanks.

Ok honey, lets slip in the chair over there behind Pastor Jim.  Stand up and sing.   Ok, you can sit down.  Are you tired?  Stop fidgeting.  Shhh.  Shhh, the woman is praying.  Shhhhh!!!

Amen.  Lord, thank you.  Help me.  Help us.

Hey, I have an idea, lets go get something quick to eat and go see the new James Bond movie.  How does Carl's Jr. sound? 

Yes, it is a good burger.  We are going to be late for the movie, so lets go to the store and then home and go to the 2:30 movie.  Its the new James Bond movie that came out this weekend.  Do you like James Bond movies?  Good.

Stop putting your napkin in your mouth, that is disgusting.
Do you have to pee before we go to the store? 

Take off your seatbelt and I'll come around and help you.  Wait, that lady is getting out of her car.  Gary, STOP!  You almost hit that car door!  Stop means DON"T MOVE.  I've told you that a thousand times.

What did you do with my list?  Why did you ball it up?  OH geez, this isn't the list at all.  What did you do with it?  I know, you don't know. Now, I have to remember the list.

Coffee.  No, I want beans not ground.  Because we have a grinder.  No, you can't have alcohol.  Wine is alcohol.  You have had your lifetime allocation.  It mixes with your medicine.  Come on honey.

Walk faster. You are holding up traffic.  Come on this side.  Watch your head.  Put on your seatbelt.  We are not going that way, we are going home. 

Help me carry in the groceries.  No, this way.  To the kitchen.  Go straight into the kitchen.  thanks.

Now, lets go upstairs and get out the clothes that are too big for you.  Because you can't wear them anymore and there was a bad fire at an apartment complex and they need men's clothes.   Try this on.  I know you like this one but your stomach sticks out. You have gained a lot of weight.

Besides, if you lose weight, God will replace them.  Someone else needs them worse.  There was a fire at an apartment complex and they need the clothes worse than you. 

Carry this box downstairs.  Nevermind, I'll do it.

Get your shoes on, its time to go to the movie.  We are seeing the James Bond movie.  Do you have to pee?  I don't want you to have to go in the middle of a chase scene.  The last three movies you did that.  Go pee.

Well, that movie is full.  I should have purchased the tickets online.  I know better.  Ok, we will wait on the next show...its only a half hour. No, we will get a small coke and you can sip it.  I don't want you to have to pee during the movie.  Oh yeah, and Gary, you have to be quiet during the movie.  You repeat everything and you can't do that in the movie.  Understand?

Here is some popcorn.  Only a sip.  Shhhh.  Be quiet.  Be quiet.  Shhh.  Be quiet.  I don't know what he said, you were talking. Dammit.  You really have to pee?  Can you wait until this action is over?  Ok, go now.  That way, over those people.  I am so sorry.  Go, Gary, Go.

I can't believe you have to pee.  Come on, hurry.  Do you realize that I just can't take you anywhere anymore.  I am 52.  I am too young for this.  This is not the life I want.  No, that is the men's room.  I will wait.

What took you so long?  Did you wash your hands?

We can't go to the same seats... we'll just slip in seats on the the front.  I know this is too close, but we are not crawling back over those people.  SHHHH.  Be quiet.  Sit still.  Stop wiggling your legs.  No, we can't kiss.  Be quiet.

Shhh.  Be quiet.  Oh no, really?  Again?  Get up!  Go.  I can't believe you have to pee again.  We ARE going back and I am GOING to see the end of this movie.  Hurry up.

What took you so long?  Let's go back to the theatre.  Are you enjoying the movie?  Its James Bond.  I'm going to have to start getting a sitter.  I'm missing out on too much life.  God gave me you for a reason.  Look for it, ADA.

That was the end.  Let's go.  Home.  Put your seatbelt back on.  Why did you take it off?  Oh good, Lord. 

This is our home.  We live here now. I'll fix supper.  Chicken.

Why did you put your spinach salad in the mayonnaise.  Now, its wasted.  You better eat it. Stop feeding Diva.  She had her supper.  Gary, stop feeding Diva.  Why did you put your napkin in your drink and suck it?  That is the most disgusting thing I've seen you do in a long time.  Stop it.

Bring your plate in here.  Let's put you in the chair.  Want a blanket?  The heat is on.  Don't touch the remote.  It is set on relax with heat.

No, Diva.  NO more treats.  Diva, stop.  What Gary?  Stop calling Heather, I am right here.  What do you need?  WHAT?  No, we don't need to buy another car.  We have two. 

Its right down the hall.  Turn the chair off.  I'll help you.  Its down the hall.  Turn on the light, close the door behind you. 

Wash your hands.  Did you flush?  No, I'm not going to bed yet.  I'm watching Madam Secretary and writing a blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I miss my Life Mate.....

What a weekend! 

Around the middle of last week, Gary started complaining that his right leg/hip was hurting.  Getting in and out of the cars was painful for him, in fact, often coupled with screams of "ouch"!  By Thursday evening, he was complaining bitterly and it appeared to be more than just a slight pain.  On Friday, I called our new Primary Care Physician's office to make an appointment for him to go in. Since our insurance became valid on 10/1, it was nice to know we are covered. We had just received our cards and I looked at Gary's for the first time.  there was a name of his primary care physician, but no phone number nor address. 

So, I logged on to the Aetna website and attempted to log in.  Of course, it was a log in where I could not use my normal log in and password due to, I had forgotten the log in info.  After going through a series of "forgot login" and "forgot password" agony, I finally accessed the proper log in for Gary.  After retrieving the phone number and address, I called for an appointment.  Upon telling the operator that I was a new patient and that I was calling to make an appointment with Dr. XX, she promptly said, "there must be some mistake.  He is not taking new patients and is retiring. You will need to call your insurance and have a new primary care physician assigned and then we can make an appointment."  I asked for the names of other physicians in the same practice and ensured they were accepting new patients.

I logged back on to the website and changed the physician.  I called back to the practice and was told that there were no appointments available that day and that if we wanted to come to urgent care, they work with no appointment. Bingo!  I wrote down the hours of the Urgent Care and decided I would take Gary on Saturday morning. 

Later that afternoon, I was still at work around 5 when Heather texted me that Gary had gotten worse and he struggled getting into the massage chair and fallen back into the chair but was not injured further.  I made the decision to take him to urgent care that night.

I drove home, picked up Gary and headed to Urgent Care. After filling out mounds of paperwork while Gary sat in the waiting room reading aloud all the signs out the window, he was ready to be seen.  The medical assistant gave me a couple of "you poor things" before we saw the doctor.  Gary is very sweet but very irritating.  Several times during the check in, sitting in the waiting room, going to the bathroom and changing clothes to see the doctor, he yelled out of pain when he moved the wrong way.  The nurse cringed at his volume.

Once the doctor joined us, she realized she was dealing with a patient who repeats everything he hears.  So, every time she said, "Does this hurt?"  He responded with a parrot like phrase.  With my help, she moved his body into 50 different contortions and he did not express pain once.  He lunged, squatted, bent at the knees, etc.  She deduced that he did not have any broken bones and that he had a muscle-skeletal thing.....said to give him ice and heat for 20 minutes each and take anti-inflammatory.

Saturday came and went with several rounds of heat and ice.  It basically did no good.  Every time he needed to get up to pee, poop or move, he needed help.  He yells in pain but I didn't want to take him to emergency to only be referred to a Primary Care Physician, so I decided to call Monday morning and report increased pain and demand an appointment.

I decided not to even try to go to church on Sunday.  We stayed home all day and I assisted him in walking anytime he needed to move.  He forgot everytime that he would be experiencing pain when he moved, so I had to watch his every move.

I know in my heart that this weekend was a precursor and a preview for what is to come.  I get angry and sad within seconds of each other. I rage when I have to repeat myself more than four times...sometimes three.  I am not good at being a caregiver no matter how hard I try.  Gary thanks me frequently and tells me how thankful he is that I am here and tells me how sweet I am. I feel so guilty because me feelings are quite different.  I just want to run away but know that I cannot do that.  I feel so alone.

I want my old life back.  I want to be carefree and go see a movie, get my hair done, go out for dinner and take a vacation.  I want my husband back....I miss our old business conversations. I miss his tender touch.  I miss my lifemate.  The guy that is here is mostly needy.  While I still love him, it is very difficult.

Only God knows the plan. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A "more-better-than-good" Haircut

Getting Gary's haircut was something I was dreading today. Perhaps it was previous trips to the salon where he talked incessantly and the stylist did not understand.  Or the time he told the stylist she had nice boobs because she was leaning over him to cut bangs.  Well, today was different.

I chose to go to the same salon as last time since I remembered nothing negative and only some quiet Facebook time while I waited.  We walked in and checked in using Gary's name.  The same woman who cut his hair last time heard us and said, "Welcome back, Gary.  My name is Gloria, do you remember me from last time?"

She remembered us and gave me a "you poor thing" look as she helped him in the chair and asked him if she could give him a more-better-than-good haircut.  He answered with his signature "yeah, yeah, yeah!"  She used his phrases "more-better-than-good" and "yeah, yeah, yeah!"  multiple times throughout the haircut.  She asked him what was most important to him and he answered, "my wife".  She winked at me.

I asked her name again and made sure to implant her face firmly into our life as she is a keeper.

As we checked out, she looked at me and said, "you are doing very well."  I thanked her and we left. 

He looks pretty normal at first glance.  That is what concerns me.  If I don't keep him right beside me when leaving grocery stores, he often trails along behind, holds up traffic and smiles and waves at people as he goes by.  My fear is some day a road-rage driver who doesn't understand will run him over with their vehicle.  Hopefully, I can be vigilant and God will continue to watch over his safety.

Yesterday, his Adult Day care called to say he would be coming home in different clothes as he had a two-way accident.  He stayed the rest of the day but came home in brand new jeans and someone's high school gym shirt.  Apparently, they keep extra clothes around for such events.
However, where are his underwear, jeans and golf shirt from the morning? Hopefully they didn't just hand them to him when he left and didn't tell the driver what it was....if he left them in the van on the last stop of the weekend....and its 100 degrees outside....well, that won't be very pleasant.  Is that a nice way to phrase it?  That could be a very crappy morning for everyone on Monday!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Where are we going?

"Where are we going?" I am not sure what Gary is referencing, so I don't answer.

"Ada, where are we going?" 

"Gary, we just came home from the store and its rainy and cold outside so we aren't going anywhere."

"When are we going home?"

It was a Sunday afternoon and we were experiencing our first real rain of the year and it was chilly in Anaheim....chilly means 65 degrees....Gary and I ran out to the store to buy pasta to add to my chicken soup.  He was reading any sign he saw on the road.  At first it is funny, but it can get pretty irritating.

When we came home, we sat in the living room to watch a movie.  I gave us large glasses of water so we could clean up the innards before eating our soup.  He kept asking, "where are we going?"

"Gary, what do you mean?  We just got home! He replied, "what do you mean, we just got home?" 

"Gary, we live here.  What are you talking about?" 

"I just asked WHERE are we going?  Where ARE we going? Where are WE going?  Where are we GOING?" He got increasingly louder and more irritated with each version.

This line of questioning including pleas to go home continued for about three hours.  We had dinner and then retreated back to the living room where it all started.  As soon as we sat down, he picked up the cup of water and looked at the writing on the cup and read from the text on the disposable cup "Where are we going?"  All that time he had been reading the cup just like he does on the highway.

I felt relieved that he was reading and silly that I had not realized it earlier.  However, he still had issues believing that we live in the house that we do. I told him many times before bed that we lived here.  I pointed out all our furniture, the dog and many personal items around the house.  He finally settled down by bedtime and accepted that we were spending the night. 

These events and many others lead me to think about many things.  Did he really like the old rental house that much?  Is he even talking about the last home we lived in....what is he talking about?  He can't answer those questions.

Will there come a time when he has to live somewhere else and he thinks of this place as home?  If those days come, will he remember me?  Will he call out in the night for me? 

Incredible sadness overcomes me in those thoughts.  I know the depths of that sadness so I try to calm my thoughts and search for the positive.  I remember the 28 good years and all our adventures.  I will remember for him and share those stories with his daughter and grandchildren.  Will they ever want to hear them? 

Today the Governor of California signed a bill to make it legal for a person to chose the die if they are terminally ill.  I think this is against God's law.  I don't know intimately what suffering is like, so maybe I would change my mind.

At least Gary is still happy, for the most part.  He is not suffering as he seems to have accepted that he needs a lot of assistance.  I shave him now, help him shower and get dressed.  If he picked out his own clothes, he would resemble an old tourist in Florida who came down for the winter....dark dress socks, tennis shoes, plaid shorts and a polka dot shirt.  For now, that is ok.  Some days I tire from lack of patience and anger.  Other days I am numb.  It is hard to say which days I prefer....knowing that I am alive since emotion runs so strong or numb since it doesn't hurt.  Neither was a choice I made. 

That is the hard part.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Melancholy revisted....

Today was Tuesday.  My day was to consist of taking Gary to his day care, going to a breakfast meeting with my team and then to a normal day of meetings.  Right before I walked to the garage, I picked up the new cd delivered yesterday and popped it in my car recorder to add to my collection.  John Denver, I'm not sure if it was a blessing or a mistake.

As John's smooth voice accompanied Gary and I down the hill from our house and through Anaheim, Gary sang along to "Rocky Mountain High", "Country Roads" and "Poems, Prayers and Promises".  He never saw the tears running down my face, but just kept singing.  I was experiencing total melancholy.  I knew it and tried to connect with the true emotion coursing through my veins.  I identified it as grief for having lost the man I married, grief for my former life as a College President for Heald, and shock of a new job, team and home. Some of the music I so relate to growing up in the 70s and 80s at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  There is always solace in the valley where I was raised.  I was homesick for Virginia, for Sacramento, for Panama and for what "used to be".

I don't think my melancholy and grief have any correlation to my new life.  I am blessed to have one of the best Executive Director positions on the West Coast.  I have great new team and live in a wonderful place with loving family.  The two situations are just very different and both very real.

Dementia has changed my life.  Politics have changed the professional side of my life.  There is a reason for it all.  I know God has a plan.

As my day unfolded very differently than originally planned, I was shaken from my melancholy by a wonderful opportunity to join an executive meeting with the owner of our company and some other upper level, high thinking executives.  I had to be "on" and I've learned enough over the years to compartmentalize those emotions and perform.

During the meeting and later in the day, I was missing being able to pick up the phone and share my day with Gary.  He just can't understand an in-depth conversation anymore, much less empathize with any complex situation.  I miss him so much.  He is my partner.  Or he was.....the man that is here is very sweet and I am blessed that he is happy.  High maintenance, but happy. 

Melancholy is real but I refuse to let it interfere with my performance. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Verbalizing Signs while on the road....

Driving with Gary in the car can be very interesting.  I listen to Joel Osteen radio a lot when on the move.  It is motivating and inspirational to me. He's also a great source of funny, clean jokes.

While riding, I often hear from Gary "Cornish and Carey. "
"Parking Garage enter here.
Santa Ana Canyon Road.
Vons. Subway. AM/PM. Carne Asada.
Chicken and Waffles."

He is reading various signs aloud and the driver has no attachment to the sign and may not have seen it.  "Gary, what are you referencing?  Are you reading a sign?"


"Then what are you talking about?"

"The sign back there." 

He also starts conversations in the middle of a thought.  It can be very aggravating. "Honey, why aren't you answering me?"

"You didn't say anything."
"Yes, I did.  Fried chicken." 
"Is that what you want for dinner?"
"I will have to get some at the store."
"Chicken, fried chicken."
"Why are you going to buy Fried Chicken?  That does sound good."

Going to the grocery store can be a similar experience.  Today, we were in line at the check out counter in the store.  While, a nice young man with a name tag "Aaron" was bagging, Gary read his name aloud.  Aaron said, "Yes sir?"  Gary said his name again in a matter of fact way.  Aaron said, "Can I help you sir?" 

"Aaron.  That is your name."

I explained that Gary has dementia and that he often reads things aloud and I am sorry that he was confusing.  Aaron slightly smiled and looked at Gary with complete confusion.  Most people don't realize he has a cognitive disorder because he doesn't fit whatever stereotype they have conjured in their mind of a person with dementia. I guess drool is expected.  Gary said "Aaron, your name is Aaron" two more times.  It was as if Gary was providing proof to Aaron that I was telling the truth.

Aaron snapped out of his weird expression and said, "Have a very nice day."

Another day in the life of Dementia and trying to be normal.  NOT!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Law of Attraction at works even when you don't want it to work!

It was starting to be a long week at work and on Tuesday night we went to bed early, around 9:00 to get some sleep.  We found a great nutritional that helps one get a deeper sleep.  It contains Valerian, Melatonin, etc.

About 10:30, our beagle Diva, decided she needed to go out so I arose, went down the stairs to the first floor, down the stairs to the dining room and hooked her leash and to pee we went.  After going back to bed, Gary started talking.  When Gary talks to me in the middle of our sleep, it sounds more like jabbering.  Nonsense.  I desperately tried to get him to quiet.  "Honey, I need to go to work and you need to go to daycare tomorrow...lets get some sleep."  "But, I'm not sleepy.  Are you sure Diva does not want to go out? Do you want me to let her out?" 

"No, Gary, you cannot just let her out in this house.  You need to put her on the leash and take her out.  I just took her." 

"Why don't you just let her out?"

"Our yard does not have a fence and there are coyotes in the neighborhood, so we have to take her when she goes.  But, I just did so go to sleep."

A few minutes later he started again.  "What time do we get up to get ready?  Should I take a shower now?  Where is the mouthwash?  Did you let Diva out yet?"

Finally, he quieted only to start about an hour later.  Same ritual.  Only, my agitation was growing and of course, Diva feels it, dislikes it and barks to go out (or to get away from us).  I arose, took her through the same process and brought her back to the bedroom. 

"Ada Mae?  Why don't you just prop open the door so you do not need to go with her?"  I again explained why.

"Were you going to take me to the CLUB tomorrow or do I stay with Heather? I really like the CLUB."

"I'm glad you like the CLUB but right now, we need to go to sleep and you just need to be quiet."

"Okay, I promise I will be quiet."

A few minutes later....."Ada Mae?  Don't YOU need to go to the bathroom?"  Well, I really didn't but he had angered me so that I thought I might as well get up so that my bladder would be empty in the event that he became exhausted and decided to quiet down for a long summer's nap.  As I got up and rounded the end of our bed, I swear the carpet covered plywood stairs at the end of our bed (for Diva to climb into our bed) moved six inches and blocked my foot.  HARD.  I hear a crunch and knew instantly that something was broken.  The pain started.  I needed ice but knew that Gary could never follow instructions to get to the kitchen, open the freezer not the refrigerator and find the ice pack.  

So, down the flight of steps I hobbled.  I retrieved the ice pack and went back up the stairs in a painful, pitiful way.  I was really angry now but instantly knew that this was my fault.

I have spent the last few weeks feeling sorry for myself about Gary having dementia.  About not going on a 30th anniversary trip.  About lots of things.  I believe that the Law of Attraction works in conjunction with God to bring us what we attract.  I was attracting negative.  I needed to get positive IN A HURRY.

After returning to bed and explaining to Gary what I had done at least 4 times, I iced my foot and fell asleep.

The following morning took me to the emergency room and sure enough, the fourth toe on my left foot was broken.  I will spend the next two to four weeks with tape and gauze on my foot.   

When the doctor told me that I could have no physical activity for two weeks, I looked at him in shock and confirmed that I would not be able to play soccer.  He validated that I need to not  play soccer.  Its a good thing, I really didn't want to learn anyway.

So, I hobbled to work and home.  We were able to go to bed early and I begged Gary to be quiet all night so I could recover. 

Around 1:30 in the morning, he was standing at the end of the bed tapping me on the leg.  I was in a near coma-peaceful-place.  "Do you need to pee?"  The truth was, I think, is that he needed to pee and couldn't find the bathroom.   I got up, went to the bathroom and as I was exiting (or trying to) the "poop chamber", he was standing there waiting to go to the potty himself, penis in hand and waiting.  I asked him nicely to move aside so he could get to the toilet.  He just stood there.  I couldn't move and he couldn't get to the toilet.  I asked again for him to move, nicely.  Then, with no movement, I pushed him slightly out of the way, aware that I need to protect the broken, taped toe while walking past him.  Due to being off kilter, I tripped and hit my good foot on the step stool next to the bathroom.  Dang sounded a lot like the night before when I had broken my toe.

"No, this is not happening....."  So, I went down and got ice again, let the dog out and decided to just lay there and experience the pain.

I have decided not to baby the second injury and after two days, the toes will at least touch the floor.  I am not going back to emergency unless it gets worse.

At work yesterday, as I walked down the hallway favoring both feet, I'm sure I looked like a wobbly two year old with a full, dirty diaper. 

Dementia has certainly brought lots of changes to our lives. I need to keep laughing and praying.  Laughs and prayers from our friends are certainly appreciated.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Going swimming is off the activity list....

I'm angry.  But, I pretty much stay that way these days.  Its a long weekend as I have Monday off work.  So, I worked like a dog on Saturday to clean the house, unpack dozens of boxes in the garage and collapse after dinner.  I decided that today, Sunday, we would go to church, have lunch (yes, I ate food rather than Medifast food), take a nap, go swimming and have a nice quiet evening at home.

Church went fine.  We visited a church of the Nazarene in Yorba Linda and were welcomed like family.  Gary only spoke out of turn loudly once and that was to proclaim his love of the Lord so it was okay.  (He has been known to add comments to the Pastor's sermon).  We stopped and bought lunch.  After eating I suggested we take a nap and then go swimming.  Gary said that sounded like fun and I started looking forward to swimming around in warm water on a 90 degree day.

After napping, we arrived at the pool to find a young family and another couple deeply engrossed in conversation while playing in the pool.  I went in first and told Gary that it was chilly but ok after moving around.  I swam around about one minute and looked up to see him standing in the edge of the pool on the steps and asking the VERY pregnant woman next to him if there was one more step.  She said yes and he got in.  He quickly and loudly started complaining about how cold it was.  I got him to move around and submerge his body to get accustomed to the cold.  He followed me around the wall of the pool but acted as if he could not swim.  This man was a FISH in every water situation ever encountered.  I was shocked.  He complained loudly and profusely until I agreed, five minutes later to leave. 

He exited the pool at a fast pace and headed straight toward the gate.  I yelled, "Stop! Gary!" but he does not understand that word anymore.  I quickly walked around the pool to get our towels and belongings while he stood on the side of the pool in 90 degree weather, in the sun and shivered like a small child.  We bundled him and got back in the car and drove home.  Total time gone from home:  15 minutes.  I couldn't believe that one more thing has been omitted from our lives.  Something we so enjoyed before is not an activity I remotely try with him again.

I am angry.  I am 52 years old and finding more and more things that I am unable to enjoy.  No social life.  Our 30th anniversary is in three days.  No vacation.  Why even go out for dinner.  Why? 

So, I realized that I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself while Gary lies in the bed watching "I Love Lucy."  His life has been impacted just as much as mine but the difference is....he really doesn't know it or care.  That is the blessing in Dementia if there is one.  Some days he gets very frustrated but most of the time he just floats along and takes what he gets. 

I'm not sure what life will hold for me.  Happy Anniversary, Gary.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Moving to a new home and job.....

Its been several months and thousands of smiles, tears, miles, boxes, tape, goodbyes to dear friends, heartache and celebration since I wrote my last blog.

Its the beginning of September.  Gary, Heather, Xander, Diva Gerl and I all now live in Anaheim, California.  We moved here a month ago and I just finished my fifth week as Executive Director at a local university.  God was very good to us and helped us during every detail of the job search, the offer, the actual job, the home search, the yard sale, the packing, the move and most of all in the unpacking and settling.  His power and control is amazing to me.

One example of how God worked for us is related to our yard sale. Before we knew where we were moving to, we knew we had to eliminate various items from our home inventory due to clutter, aging and downsizing. We planned the yard sale for one particular Saturday and staged all sale items in the garage.  Normally, our gardners came on Saturday.  I forgot about this fact and it would have been disasterous had they shown.  On Friday morning, while at an appointment, Heather called me to ask if I had changed the gardener's schedule as the team was there a day early mowing.  God planned that well, didn't he. 

After an extensive job search which took me to Baltimore and Phoenix and many telephone destinations, I was offered an incredible position (dream job) in California.  We had considered and interviewed for positions in Baton Rouge, 4 in Houston, Louisville, and Portland.  All other jobs would have resulted in pay cuts and many other negatives.  I was thrilled to land the current position.

Meanwhile, Gary has been going in and out of confusion.  Traveling to Disneyland for a brief vacation during a job interview resulted in many mishaps and my realization that traveling with him anymore without significant support is nearly impossible.  During my exhaustion and sleep while on vacation, three nights he escaped the room and ended up in the hallway while looking for the Kitchen or the bathroom. After a security guard brought him back to our hotel room at 3:00am. (Thankfully, I told the front desk at check-in that if they found him wandering by accident to notify me. )   So, now the doors in hotels have guardian angel chimes on the door so I will awaken if he tries to leave the room.  (This worked well during our move when we stayed in a hotel for three nights).

During the same trip, I finally determined that he walks at a snails pace and cannot do things like Disneyland.  He didn't really care about the activities and I spent most of the day literally dragging him from one place to the next.  For some it is the happiest place on earth.  At that time, for me, it was very uncomfortable and frankly, I could not wait to leave.  Ironically, my new office in Anaheim has a commanding view of the Matterhorn, Mickey's Ferris Wheel and the Tower of Terror at the Disney parks.  I have chosen to look at these each day as a rememberance of what Gary's and my vacations used to and full of adventure.  Those are things we will not do together again.  The view is bittersweet.

Moving Gary to a new multi-level home has resulted in trauma related to him not being able to find one of multiple bathrooms; disorientation regarding finding our living room which houses his favorite chair and several bathroom accidents.  He is now settled into going to a local senior day care three times per week.  I can see the roof of his day care from my main college building.  They bring him home in the late afternoon where he takes naps and waits on me to get home.  This is a time for Heather that can be filled with hundreds of questions, incessant talking and boredom for Gary. 

Our little dog Diva Gerl has experienced kennel cough (no walks nor exposure to other dogs) which she contracted from kenneling during our move.  Then, a cyst on her side became infected and had to be removed.  With 10 staples in her side and having to wear a collar for 14 days, the poor thing has not enjoyed our new home at all.  No walks, no exercise and isolation for her.  Gary has not understood the need to leave on her collar for safety and so she did not chew the incision.  So, everyday, multiple times per day, he is scolded for removing her collar.  Tomorrow, the collar is removed and perhaps we can begin walking again. Though slow, he will enjoy that freedom out of the house (Never alone of course).

I sincerely hope that God's plan for us is as grand as I imagine it will be.  He is certainly grooming me for something big!  I have the professional challenge of my career with 200+ employees and almost 1600 students.  My days are full.  I go straight home to be with the family and to relieve Heather.  I still make time for getting hair and nails done but have very little time to myself.  I am adjusting and enjoying what time I do have with Gary.

The highlight of my day is watch him and the other seniors when we walk him into the day care.  They all light up and say "Good morning!"  He quickly signs in and forgets I am there as he goes about breakfast and I leave for work.  I am glad he has found a place he likes and wants to go everyday.

God is looking out for us.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Here come the Life Changes....

To all our readers,

Life has thrown the Gerard family a curve ball.  I will not give a detailed explanation because it is too political....but, after 152 years, the college for which I have served as President for the last 8 years has closed.  Next week, I will no longer have a job.  For many weeks now, I have been very busy....for a million daily, time for writing the blog has been non-existent.

I will not be writing for a while due to job search, relocation and dealing with the stress of Gary not understanding (all the time) and having to be reminded that we have done this many times before.....the only difference is in the past, he would stay behind, pack the house, meet the movers and relocate the cars and dog.  This time.....well, not so much!

Heather and Xander will most likely be joining us.  Our relationship and arrangement is working well....hopefully the new job and new location will allow all that we want from life.

Meanwhile, fear not, God is in control!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Traveling with a person with Dementia

Going on vacation with someone with Dementia is a new experience.  Gary and I went to Yosemite National Park last week for a few days to celebrate my birthday.  It is a place we have visited many times and know locations, attractions, restaurants, etc. very well.

I did all the packing and planning for the adventure which would include renting a cabin, cooking two meals per day (cabin was remote and not near restaurants), hiking, walking and chilling out.  In retrospect, I way over-packed but feel good about it as I never know when Gary will need layers.....too hot, too cold, etc.

For the 3.5 hour drive, he asked a gazillion questions.  Where are we going?
  • When will we get there?
  • Why are you driving so fast?
  • Why are you driving so slowly?
  • Can I drive?  Why not? (I explained at least 10 times that he no longer has a valid drivers license due to the dementia...he hates that answer and still does not accept it)
  • When are we stopping for lunch?
  • Why are we going to Yosemite?
We stopped for lunch in Oakhurst, a small town outside of the park for Pizza buffet.  I could not control his portions and he piled his plate VERY High with salad and stacked his second plate with cinnamon sticks and garlic bread.  He did not get pizza at first as he did not turn around to see the entire buffet behind him.  This lack of awareness of his surroundings is very common.  His tunnel vision is sometimes scary but mostly inconvenient.

We arrived at the cabin and he asked why we were not staying at the Ahwahnee hotel again.  I explained that the rooms there were much more expensive than the $200 per night cabin we had rented.  He dropped the subject as I asked him to assist me in bringing firewood into the cabin.

I unpacked while he familiarized himself with the cabin.  Throughout the stay, he often had to ask the location of the bathroom in the two room cabin.  One night, I awoke to have the cabin totally dark since he turned off all the lights.  He could not find the light switch nor get back to the bed.  I grumbled and complained and found the light to get him back to the bed.  Of course, in that period of time, he had gotten very cold and spent the rest of the night complaining that he could not get warm enough. ARGH!!!!

On my birthday, we went to the Yosemite Valley and walked to the Lower Yosemite Falls.  The drought conditions are horrible!  We have been to this area of the valley so many times when the water was abundant.  I commented on the horrible state of stress and by Gary's comments, I could tell, he did not recognize the change.  He was just enjoying himself and the beauty that was there.

The next day, we hiked a very easy hike to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequioas!  It was an easy .8 mile hike up and .8 back down to the bus.  As always, we were dressed appropriately in hiking pants, layers and with a hiking stick.  Four years ago, Gary and a group of friends hike up the back slope of Half Dome....a very grueling hike.  THis year, I was in the lead and often times had to stop and wait on him.  He seemed fearful of walking on the gravel and was afraid of falling.  I slowed to a crawl and walked with him.  He wanted to stop and talk to everyone on the trail. 

While friendliness on the trail is normal, his version is over the top.  Many of the visitors were not English speaking and he did not seem to recognize foreign accents and the fact that many did not understand his language nor his random, often non-sensical share-outs.  I tried to explain but finally gave up and let him experience people looking at him as if he is crazy.  Moving along seemed to solve the problem.

While hiking, I had to take inventory of my feelings regarding traveling with him in the future.  Planning needs to be extensive or plan to not take him at all.  He enjoys himself except for when something foreign to his brain happens and then he gets confused.  Confusion leads to frustration and that to yelling or uncomfortable situations.  I am not sure what to do for our 30th anniversary later this year......we have always done a spectacular trip on the "big" anniversaries. For example:

5th anniversary:  big trip to Yosemite
10th anniversary:  Windjammer cruise to the Carribean
15th anniversary:  11 day backpacking trip to Yosemite and renewed vows
20th anniversary:  Windjammer Pirate Cruise and 10 days in St. Lucia
25th anniversary:  Visited our home in Panama and toured Costa Rica for a week

30th anniversary???   At this point, who knows? I will keep you all posted as I ponder what might work. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blended family, shared space!

Gary is going through a period where he is again confused about where we live and he thinks we are visiting the home we have lived in for four months.  Our daughter Heather and her three year old son moved in with us a little over a week ago and I think the new energies and shared space has confused him. 

It is not a disturbing confusion for him, but certainly not clarity.  We have separate "living" areas so both families can watch independent television and have separate activities or be together if we wish.  When we are separate, he seems more at ease and I believe he will adjust soon.  The only barrier to clarity sooner is that he and I are going to Yosemite at the end of the week for a few much-needed get away days.  (Well, I need them!) This trip may confuse him more, but Yosemite has such a healing nature!

We all went to church this morning.  I love watching Gary worship and sing.  He is more like his old self then.  I somehow sense that when he is that close to God that the broken brain doesn't matter so much.  He knows he is worshipping and the Lord knows he is loving him.  Its a precious time!

My patience with him has been shorter than normal lately.  Could be the changes at work, changes at home or Heaven forbid, hormones!  When Gary gets on my nerves, I try so hard to stay calm and let the tension go.  While attempting to pack this afternoon, he got very overwhelmed and started asking 40,000 questions.  I could not answer them quick enough nor satisfy his need to know the intricacies of the smallest detail of hiking boots, poles and luggage.  I was in the closet and he was lying on the bed....apparently we were quite loud as I heard Heather come in the bedroom to soothe the situation.  She suggested he go and sit in the massage chair.  It diffused the whole nervous, aggravating situation. 

I believe for so many reasons, this will work out! Thank you, our precious daughter, for changing your life for us.