Sunday, November 25, 2018

Dementia Stories Part 1- My Mama

When a bad storm is on the horizon but you just don't know it yet.

Many times I have wracked my brain trying to remember the exact moment, that little "inkling" of a hint that something was going wrong with my mama and her way of thinking.  The major moment that opened my families' eyes is fresh in my mind but it drives me crazy trying to remember the very, true beginning.  That major event was a hospitalization in which the discharge papers had the evil word, "Alzheimer's Disease" written across it.  I thought they were nuts.  "What?" My mama doesn't have Alzheimer's disease. What was the hospital's problem?  How dare they negatively taint her medical records with such a blasphemous word. What in the world had made the hospital think she had Alzheimer's.  Mama was perfectly normal in our eyes.  As it turned out, technically, it wasn't Alzheimer's, technically, later on down the road, we heard the words, "Lewy Body Dementia".

You see, to tell this story, I have to tell the story of my mama-(thankfully for you ) in a very shortened form-she has lived a very full, adventurous life and it would fill up pages and pages just to show you who she started off as and how she has progressed to who she is now.  Our precious mama has told us countless times, the most crazy, outlandish, but always believable exploits that led up to her elder years. 

Mama's Beginning
Mama was born in 1937 at her parents home, which at the time, was the normal place to be born in her rural area.  Her parents were hard working people that parented a total of three children, mama being the youngest. She married in the 1950's to my daddy that was fresh out of the U.S Marine Corp.  She gave birth to four children and as a little bit of useless trivia goes, I am the youngest (or the baby, as my siblings say) of the four.

Rena was the name her father called her by, even though that wasn't her real name. I call her Mama, my niece calls her Grandma, her family and friends call her Rose, and my kids call her MeMa.  Although she goes by many names, most times, you hear people call her their "friend".

As my daddy worked many jobs throughout the years, mama "held down the fort" as they say. She raised her kids and did her best to make a little side money along the way.  She has been a housekeeper in a mental institution, a telephone phone operator, but always an elderly care giver.  She took care of loved ones in the family and later precious souls in our community.    Me, being the youngest, was always around her and these special people.  I remember sitting on my grandma's picnic table with mama.  She had one of my old baby dolls and was patiently trying to learn how to give an insulin injection because she was the one person that my late uncle had that could take care of her as he had no children around in his time of need.  We both practiced over and over until the baby doll sloshed with a leg full of insulin!  I got to see first hand how my mama treated people with dignity and respect.  I saw how she exhausted herself being at the beck and call of anyone of these people at any hour of the night.  I saw mama's responsibility, her diligence, unwavering dedication, and love shown for these people.

My daddy passed away some sixteen years ago.  Mama was suddenly out of her current "work". What did she do? She went to take care of three other people in our community and nearby town.  My children were sometimes along for the ride when she needed any extra help care giving.  They got to see her in action. Maybe they didn't see as much as I did but they saw mama's heart for caring for people.  Her last "work" was caring for an Alzheimer's patient.  I frequently heard stories of their day and how mama tried to keep her patient's mind active and busy.  She told of how she went through the cabinets and asked her sweet friend the name of items, what the story behind them was, and where dishes and such are supposed to go.   That was pure patience and love.

Fast Forward 
As I said before, I don't know the exact event or moment that alerted us that mama's mind was changing but it happened slowly.  So slowly that we were tricked.  We adapted our thinking and perception of mama's "normal" as time went by.  Maybe we thought it was normal aging.  Who knows?  Maybe we were already in denial that a storm was on the horizon.  A big- unknown- scary- dark storm, bigger than any we had ever witnessed.

And Dementia Made a Debut
The dogs and the birds benefited greatly from mama's  progression of dementia.  She began feeding and watering the dogs multiple times a day and the birds were fed mountains of bird seed.  Literally, I think there were small hills of birdseed everywhere in the yard and one of the living room windowsills was heavily laden with seed at any given time of the day.  Almost every day mama would tell me that she went to the store to get more animal food.  I was puzzled as to just how many animals she was feeding. She frequently ran out of groceries even though she seemed to drive to the store every day.  I began noticing grocery lists and prices lying around.  Maybe that wasn't weird in itself but she was having trouble keeping up with her money and would run out near the end of the month.  She began frantically scrap booking.  She was not doing the fancy scrap booking with all the cute stickers and papers, this was cutting out newspaper articles of people she knew, obituaries, and special events and taping them into a book.  Sometimes, she wrote stories and family history in notebooks.  She always made a point of telling us random family history so it wouldn't be forgotten, I suppose.  A bank teller helped her write checks to the various companies that she owed but eventually she asked me to help her pay her bills monthly. 

Little did we know that our world, our world that revolved around our mama, was going to change drastically.  She would begin fighting random sicknesses, numerous hospitalizations, and would become disheartened when she couldn't quite wrap her mind around things that were going on. 

Dementia is something that you can't really describe.  It's a process that teaches the ones that care give to think in a way that is the exact opposite of how our minds are wired.  We have to take actions and circumstances that are weird and twisted and make them "normal" in order to process.  Does that make sense?  For example, if your loved one suddenly starts talking about a random person that came in the door just before you did, that ate their lunch, and wanted to buy their land up, you have to bring yourself to an understanding that it's just a story- even though in the back of your mind, you are wondering did somebody really break in and do these things.  That story is real to your loved one.  It really happened.  Sometimes you might be informed that a person you can't see is sitting beside you.  It's unnerving- kind of like a scary movie that never ends. And dreams.... don't get me started on dreams.  My mama dreamed some crazy dreams.  They were and are to this day, real to her.  Those things all "happened" because her brain told her so.

 It's dementia's fault that mama first forgot six months of her life at the beginning of the onset of her illness, it's dementia's fault mama started needing more and more help in every day tasks, it's dementia's fault that she started washing the same load of clothes over and over again.  I could go on for hours ranting about dementia's fault but I learned something along the way of this journey.  We have to take each day as it is.  We have to keep loving, keep respecting, keep care giving just like my mama did.  The example was set for me long before.  My mama was teaching me to be her caregiver- to be just like her.

There is Hope
For anyone reading this, that might be disheartened, please know that you are not alone.  Maybe your mama or daddy is giving you a terribly rough go-around.  Maybe you had to wave the white flag, or maybe you are running away as fast as your legs can carry you.  Remember that your parent cared for you, it's your turn now to repay the favor. 

Hang in there, this is just a season and seasons pass.  Try to laugh.  Laughing, even if it's a result of exhausted, exasperation can make a small moment just an inkling better.  Strive to make the best of this difficult season that you are in.  You can do it, I know you can.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

My Blogging Vacation Is Over

Back in 2008, my blogging hobby began. Mostly because I read that blogging would increase traffic and sales to my Etsy shop and partly because it made me feel useful in the midst of crazy, unpredictable parenthood. My Etsy shop eventually took a back burner along with other things. (Etsy shops take enormous amounts of background legwork!) Not that I haven't been sewing behind the scenes but time constraints have kept me from publicly selling my goods.

You know, parenthood doesn't always leave a mama feeling accomplished because of all of those annoying little tasks that never get done. Those undone, annoying,  little tasks that bury themselves into your psyche and make you feel like a failure, or slacker, or even a slob. The sink full of dirty dishes (even though you have a dishwasher), the overflowing laundry baskets, the garden of crumbs on the kitchen floor, or the toy store that somehow managed to set itself up from one end of the living room to the other, all left this mama feeling unaccomplished.

Those sorts of things pushed me to blog back in the day. Publishing a blog post was an accomplishment! It was something that I could cross off of my to-do list. Blogging got me through some tough times that I'm sure I'll share details about in the future. My Etsy shop benefited from a meager traffic flow as a result of blogging so that's a plus in my book. I wasn't in it for monetary compensation so that was OK too. So you see, taking a break didn't cause the stock market to crash or the interstate to back up so I could afford being slack. It's all good. 

So why did I take so long to come back? A great number of reasons.  Probably the biggest reason was an expansion in our family member department.  (You'll probably hear that crazy story eventually too).  My kids come first over my hobbies so blogging took a serious back seat. I guess it would be fair to say that a broken computer had a big part also but I wasn't in any hurry to remedy my computer situation anytime soon. 

Just what are my plans?  
Well, I've been seriously planning upcoming crafting tutorials,  a few cooking tutorials,  numerous informative posts on things from azalea pests to natural healing.   I expect there will be a lot of sewing, crafting, experimenting, food preservation, and (hopefully) a lot of garden growing going on.  

Probably what I'm most excited about: A very special weekly series called, "Dementia Stories".  Writing about the bare bones and sometimes ugly truth of dementia and how it affects my family is something I felt led to share many months ago. I'm finally taking the plunge. Maybe there are some of you wonderful people out there that would benefit from knowing that you aren't alone when care giving.   Maybe you too will learn to laugh at the little things.   Let me warn you, there will be a lot of humor thrown in as I've been taught to laugh my way through the tough times by my precious mother and mother in law, many, many times over the past few years.

Times have changed. I have changed. My circumstances have changed.  I'll do my best to make you happy.  It's all good. I hope you'll enjoy the ride along side me!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Back in Business!

Sometime ago, I posted that something new was coming to Minnie Maes. After a long wait, that something new has made it's debut.

Yes, you read that correctly, Minnie Maes is back in business.  Yes, there is a new product in stock. As a matter of fact, this awesome play mat is currently one of a kind. If it sells, there will be more to come like it. I actually have an under water mat, a cowboy mat, and a super hero mat that are in the process of being duplicated. (The originals are being kept for a little one at my house).

I haven't forgotten about the spiky fellow in the photo. He is anxiously awaiting a new home too.  

Stay tuned for new goodies to be added daily.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kitchen Cabinet Organization...

Above the stove organization

I'm still working on trying to get my kitchen in order. So far I have bought these nifty little containers to store our medicine in. Each little plastic container is labeled with what is inside so it makes it really easy to find what we need, when we need it. I had a three-tiered shelf that I was able to put our vitamins and supplements on. Short little plastic trays made a nice home for random things that I need almost every day like baking powder and salt.

I saw this awesome tutorial on using Dollar Store cookie cooling racks to make spice shelves. It only took a few minutes to make all four of them. They are held in place by plastic, ashesive hooks.  I'm a little leery of trusting those adhesive hooks but so far they are holding fine. Spices don't weigh very much so I think we'll be ok.

The next job that I'm going to tackle, is the school cabinet. I may have to call for reinforcements!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Organization Bug bit me....

This just happened.  Right now.  I mean, sort of....ok, last night, this just happened!

I now have a kitchen command center. I'll have to train myself to check it often but I'm pretty sure it will be a good thing in the future.

I'm slack in the tutorial department.  I'm sorry.   I can tell you that if you take advantage of the back to school sales right now, you can pull this off too.

I had the bottom cork board already (dumpster dive at our storage facility- don't judge, it was just sitting there on top of a box waiting for me at the dumpster).  I bought the two dry erase boards and the calender at a local retail store for around $22.00.  They even came with fancy-smancy markers and erasers. I bought another large magnetic eraser and the magnetic marker holder for somewhere around $6.00.  The picture at the top was on clearance at another local retail store for $4.99. 

Everything didn't start off having black trim.  A can of spray paint fixed that and, voila, matching frames.

So, with some picture hangers, a level, and a hammer, it came together. I'm pretty happy with the end result.   :)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Crafty Fail #??

Vacation Bible school is next week. I had this great idea to make a sensory bottle.  Well, the sensory bottle did not turn out ANYWHERE like those cute ones on Pinterest.   Where did I go wrong?  I put in water, baby oil, and cooking oil.  I added a bag of these cute little butterfly charms and the glitter.   I hot glued the cap and screwed it on.  Easy peasy, right? 

Maybe I should have used fine glitter and not so much red?  I don't know.  Maybe a smaller bottle?  Speaking of the bottle, I bummed it from my son.  Now he doesn't have a water bottle.   I'm feeling guilty now but I'll make sure he gets a new one.  Well, chalk one up for a crafty fail.  Life will go on!  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Just When I Had Given Up on My Seeds...

This here, is a pea in the making.

Its been 2 weeks since we planted our seeds in our square foot garden.  It had previously been pretty cool outside but for the past 3 days or so, we've had some nice, warm, spring weather. 

I guess thats all it took.  I'm so glad because I was worrying that my seeds were too old to come up at all.  They are all heirloom seeds because I feel that it is extremely important to stay away from all of the GMO infused concoctions that are becoming so common.

Maybe we'll have come carrots and cucumbers in the near future.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Still Painting...

The final painting

I've lost count of how many days its taken to accomplish this monumental task but, we are done!  I have to wait one week for the paint to completely "set" and become scratch resistant.  (A necessity concerning play equipment!)

The finally paint count: 4 cans of blue, 4-1/2 cans of green.  Seriously,  it took that much. At least we have some blue left over that can be used to help decorate some props for Vacation Bible School that is coming up soon.  :)     

Once our 1 week "curing" time is up, I'll post a pick of it all put together.  I'm excited!