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Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Best Days

 My best days, by far are the days that my kids and grandkids come to visit. It is so hard to get out of the house, taking care of Dad. When they come to visit it is like a dark cloud gets shot out of the sky with a super shooter 2000 water sprayer.
 Days become about smiles, bubbles and laughter. Running and giggling fill the air. Life feels like life again. Sunshine pours over me even if it is storming outside.

 There is nothing like watching the wonder in the eyes of a toddler and a preschooler with bubbles! The pure and utter joy! Bubbles are so magical and friendly. Kids just know that a bubble isn't going to hurt them. That the only reason for a bubble to exist is to make them laugh. 
And water, running water, bubbling running water. If it isn't there to stick toes in, what the heck is it for? 

 Ok, I guess for washing rocks of course. And toes, and puppies, oh, and baby brothers too. 
 Paxton decided that Grandpa had become a little lax in mowing. He obviously needed to assist him. It is a very rare thing to get a picture of this kid when he's not moving. Most pictures of him are a blur of color topped with blond streaks in the wind.
 More rocks, more water. Grandpa has moved the little water feature since she was here last. I wonder if she will approve?
 Let's face it, the kid is cute and he knows it! I still need to work on making him a Rams fan though. 
 Noah, he got Daddy's hat, and just what are you going to do about it? 
 He can be very angelic when necessary, look out Mommy. 
 He's pulling himself up to a stand now a days. He has just started crawling, too. When he's in a hurry though he still does the army crawl, especially on our hard wood floors. It's just faster. 
 "Not this again!" He's not a fan of sunglasses. 
 Grandpa set him up his own royal chariot. Grandpa can be a little over protective. He hates it when one of his grandkids gets a boo boo. It breaks Grandpa's heart when they cry!
In case you can't tell, Noah loves his Grandpa.

 The chariot was enjoyed by Mommy and Daddy, too. 
 The fish tank is also a big hit with all of the grandkids. Grandpa loves letting them feed the fish. He will sit in front of the fish tank with a grandchild on his knee all day if they want to. 
 Exercise is important for a growing boy. 
 More bubbles. 
And some pure silliness to brighten a day.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

You Will NOT Win

Living with someone with profound dementia can cause a full range of emotions. Everything from frustration, loneliness, and sadness to laughter, surprise and bewilderment. You never know what the person affected is going to say or do next. It reminds me of a line from the movie Apollo 13. I don't remember it word for word, but it was something like, hours of pure boredom punctuated with a few minutes of sheer terror.

While I have only had a few of those moments of sheer terror so far, I have had the long hours of pure boredom. Once in a while though, Dad surprises me with moments of his old self. The other day I brought down one of his old photo albums.
 He spent about an hour looking through it. Telling me stories about the people in the photos. Showing me some very old Japanese money, from World War II.
 He showed me pictures of Billie Jean, his first real love, the one that got away. He still speaks of her more than he does my mother. Mom wasn't always nice to him though, that may be why.
He smiled and laughed and enjoyed looking at the old photos. It made his day to spend time in the past. The past is where he feels the most comfortable. It is what he still remembers best. 

There are a lot of rules when dealing with people with dementia. Join them in their world, where ever, or whenever,  that world is at the moment. Don't try to bring them back to your world. It just causes frustration and torment for both of you. 

The other day Dad was telling me something he "heard." It was something from his world. It was something of dire consequences. "They had to close the Big Island of Hawaii." He told me with the seriousness of an anchor man talking about the devastation left by a tornado. 

"Really?" I asked. Expecting to hear something about a volcano about to erupt. 

"Oh, yes!" He continued, "they have to keep everyone off of it." His eyebrows were raised in an all knowing way that I have seen repeatedly since childhood. 

"Why," I asked again. 

"It broke loose, and is heading for Alaska!" He told me, believing every word he was saying. 

Now, I realized I was in his world, and trying very hard not to laugh, and look as if I believed every word, "What? Really?"

"Oh yes! It is going to crash into Alaska. When it does," he was squinting, and looked dead serious, "the volcano is going to explode, and take out half the island!" 

"Seriously?" I stayed in his world with him.

"We don't have to worry about it though." He said. 

"How come," I had no idea what to expect next. 

"It isn't going to happen for a hundred years," he finished. 

I don't say this to make fun of him. I say it because it is one of those moments that make the boredom of so many other moments all worth while. It may not be reality as we know it, but it is him still communicating, still talking about things, still with us. 

And then there is the number one rule of taking care of people with dementia. The most important rule of all:

 DO NOT argue with them.  Why? For one simple reason, YOU WILL NOT WIN!

You could be 100% right. You could be sitting and watching the news and it is proving you right. You could have ten books and fifty people proving you right, YOU WILL NOT WIN!

I forgot this most important rule today. I blame myself. I was trying to make a cake from scratch for Willie's birthday, it didn't go well. It took FOREVER to make. I followed the recipe exactly, it did not taste good. It was dry, and not very chocolaty. It had five star reviews on the Food Network app. I thought for sure it would be good. I tell you what, those reviews must have been by people who think grocery store cakes are good. You know the ones, they sit there in the bakery coolers, for days and days, waiting for some fool with PMS craving chocolate to buy. It wasn't even that good. I was pissed! 

I went out to the living room and they were talking about the Belmont Stakes. I said something about forgetting that it was on. I like to watch horse racing. Seeing those beautiful beings gracefully running, I just enjoy it. I was sad I missed it and still pissed about the cake. 

"They are trying to move that to Iowa," Dad said. 

"What? The Belmont Stakes?" I asked, bewildered. 

"Yeah, they want to run it at that big car track," he said. 

"Dad, they are not going to move the Belmont Stakes to Iowa."

"Oh, yes they are, they offered to pay $75,000 dollars to move it to that big track." He insisted. (Yeah, you read that right, it only took $75,000 to move one of the most elite horse races in the world, to Iowa. What a deal!) 

"Dad, they aren't going to bring the Belmont Stakes to Iowa, and they are certainly aren't going to run horses on a car track," I continued, my frustration showing.

"The guy that bought the big track, said he is going to try to get that big horse race there," he was determined. 

"Dad, they can't run horses on a car track and they can't run cars on a horse track. The horses hooves would be ruined if they tried to run on a car track. And they aren't going to move the Belmont Stakes there" I tried to get him to understand. 

"That's not what they said," (you should know that everything is something "they said") "The guy who bought that track said he is going to bring big horse races there."

"OK," I gave in, remembering the number one rule, don't argue with someone with dementia. I walked away, I did NOT win. 

In case you are wondering, the track he is talking about is a NASCAR track in Newton, Iowa. It has had Nationwide and Camping World races there, and I think they are hoping to have a Sprint Cup race there someday. I'm pretty darn sure The Belmont Stakes will never be moved to Newton, Iowa. Except in Dad's world. I will never doubt him again.