Tuesday, May 30, 2006

77 "this is going to kill her"

(partially cross-posted to my shamanism blog)
A family member died on Sunday night. It's my mom's first cousin. She was also my godmother's sister and my grandmother's godchild. My grandmother is devastated. My mother said she thinks this will kill her.
I don't have any details yet. Just that her and her boyfriend were on a motorcycle in Cheshire and they both died. Which is very sad, right?
So our picnic yesterday was pretty subdued. My grandmother didn't speak at all, just kept getting up to walk (pace). Overnight she appears incredibly fragile. My mom said she called at 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning and she couldn't understand a word my grandma was saying. She had to go and get her. And as usual before we were finished eating she wanted to go home.
My dad was more concerned that the birds couldn't visit their feeder because we were sitting under the tree. He got up a couple of times to move and reposition the feeder infinitesimally. I guess his anti-anxiety anti-OCD pills haven't kicked in yet.
My mom brought out some old pictures after she came back, because she wanted her friend to see the beach at Plymouth (her friend that's going with them this year, as I already mentioned). Janet loved the pictures. Of course she also had to bring out the baby pictures of me, including the obligatory kiddie-p0rn (not a misspelling but I don't want this to get blocked by anti-porn filters) picture of me naked in my toybox. Every kid must have a naked picture of them somewhere. My dad only cared about old pictures of cars. "I wish I kept that car" he said of the old 1978 green Malibu. "That was a good car." I don't remember it as a "good" car--it was just a car to me. But I was a child, what did I know?

Friday, May 26, 2006

76 chocolate boosts brainpower? & new birdie

I just read an article that chocolate boosts brain power.

To study the effects of various chocolate types on brain power, Raudenbush and colleagues had a group of volunteers consume, on four separate occasions, 85 grams of milk chocolate; 85 grams of dark chocolate; 85 grams of carob; and nothing (the control condition). After a 15-minute digestive period, participants completed a variety of computer-based neuropsychological tests designed to assess cognitive performance including memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem solving. "Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions," Raudenbush told Reuters. And consumption of milk and dark chocolate was associated with improved impulse control and reaction time. Previous research has shown that some nutrients in food aid in glucose release and increased blood flow, which may augment cognitive performance. The current findings, said Raudenbush, "provide support for nutrient release via chocolate consumption to enhance cognitive performance."

Maybe I should feed some to my dad?

Yesterday my new (used) Rainbow lorikeet came in. What an adventure.

All morning long, I kept checking the flight info. She's in the air. She's in Texas (I know--Oregon to Connecticut via TEXAS!? But I guess that's where the hub is and the airport said only that flight each day has live animals.) The flight is leaving Texas...the plane has returned to the gate. The plane is broken. The plane is delayed. The plane is still on the ground. My bird has been in a carrier for 24 hours and I want her home!
The flight was orignally coming in at around 3:30 and got delayed until 5, putting me squarely in Hartford traffic coming and going.
My dad came with me. We hit a rock and he totally freaked out. I tried to talk to him about his new anti-anxiety medicine that the head of the Alzheimer's study personally prescribed to him and how it would help for him not to freak out over everything like small rocks and holes in the road but he didn't want to hear it. He doesn't want to take more medicine for any reason.
He was quiet, as usual driving up there, but when we got the bird and he could hold the carrier in his lap and talk to her and feed her oranges, he perked up. He really likes animals. I think because they don't judge him.
On the same flight, there was a coffin (picked up by a hearse), a baby Chow-chow, an adult terrier of some kind I never heard of (looked like a combination between a pit bull and a daschund--cute), a couple of puppies and I also heard a rooster. Plus my girl.
Prism is very quiet for a lory but she's probably very stressed. She's also not clipped but she's going to the vet today.
Now I knew she was 12 years old and not in perfect condition. She's plucked about as much as Zeebo--I don't care about that. I knew she had arthritis in one leg. But she is crippled--this is not the limp the owner described to me. Her foot is a claw, she can't use it, and her other foot is turning into one-one toe is already useless. This is why she doesn't lay eggs. She can't hold onto the perch to be mounted. I'm upset. It's hard to watch her try to climb and slip back down. She is very determined though, and she made it up to her perch. She played a little with her new toys and I gave her a spray bath (she didn't like it). Today she goes to the vet.
It's horrible to think but as I was watching her climb around it occured to me that her crippled foot is only getting in the way. I wonder if it should be amputated? So awful.
The guy who sold her to me said she usually isn't that bad and it might be the stress of shipment and being in a box for over 24 hours.
And I'm going to have to remodel Lance's cage or she won't be able to climb. Her old cage had square bars so there was lots of horizontal bars for her to grab onto. Will suggested getting a bunch of cheap wooden ladders to the water bottle and nesting box and perches.
Dad and I are taking her to the vet today. I haven't gotten her medical records in the mail yet but I have some notes from the previous owner about her medicine.

Monday, May 22, 2006

75 "deep down inside I don't know anything"

My dad came with me today to take Lance to the vet. (Zeebo bit one of his toes and skin was hanging loose.) I was suggesting that I get him a little whiteboard and we write down everything we tell him (he says we don't tell him anything). He didn't really give me an answer on if he thought it was a good idea. Instead, he said "Deep down inside I don't know anything."

How fucking sad is that?

I hate this disease. I wish I could beat it to death with a baseball bat.

74: "I lost it and now I'm gonna die"

I went over my parents' house on Friday night to do a puzzle as usual. There was a Red Sox game on so my father just wandered in and out of the dining room--he didn't do any of the puzzle with us. I had gone to Red Lobster the night before and gotten one of their giant pieces of cake and eaten only a couple of bites, so I brought the rest of the cake over to have as our snack. My dad ate his whole section and most of mine--he really liked the chocolate chips in the frosting. He called them something funny--dots maybe? But I knew what he meant.
He got upset because someone on the Red Sox hit a ball into the foul ball post and they called it out. I don't know the rules--maybe if it bounces to one side it's out and if goes to the other it's in? But he didn't agree. To distract him, I reminded him that once we went to a game at Fenway Park and we sat right there at the foul ball post, and he remembered that and went away happy.
He went to Yale last week for a cognitive evaluation and he did really badly. But my mother said he was also upset and stressed and he didn't want to go there, and that brings down his score. She talked to the doctors about his obsessions with locks and receipts and they suggested an anti-anxiety medicine. She is going to take my dad to the regular doctor this week and get a prescription for that.
They had taken a walk earlier and went to Dunkin Donuts. I guess the DD in Stop and Shop charges different prices than the ones on Route 5--the Stop and Shop one is $.17 cheaper for whatever it is my dad gets. He brought a S&S DD receipt with him to try to get the same price and my mother wouldn't let him show it to the cashier and he was angry at her, still angry when I got there.
He wanted to show ME the receipt and that's when the problem started.
He used to carry around a thick bundle of business cards and notes with an elastic around them. I jokingly called it his PDA when I saw it on vacation last year. He's since upgraded his PDA to be 3 slim plastic folders (about the size of a plane ticket) which he carries EVERYWHERE. Apparently he had the SS DD receipt in there.
And he couldn't find the folders.
He went on a rampage.
He was calling my mother a fucking bitch and blaming HER because she wouldn't let him show the receipt at DD and he must have left the folders there and they would throw them out and "everything" was in there and he "had to go and get some more" but he didn't "even know what it was now" (don't ask, I never did figure that one out). And without whatever it was that he needed and couldn't get without the folders, he "was gonna die" because he lost it. It was as bad as when he left his wedding ring at his friend's store.
My mother started off saying calmly that he had the folders when they came home. He denied it. He started flinging open drawers, knocking stuff over, all the while swearing continuously. My mother suggested that he dropped them in the yard while walking the cat. He denied it. He was ready to walk back to DD (several miles away-it's past my house) and ask them if they had it. It escalated until my mother was in the living room yelling back at him and I was in the dining room yelling at them both to SHUT UP and STOP YELLING. It was awful.
And then he found his folders. Guess where?
Yeah, the shirt he was WEARING the whole time.
He did apologize to my mother for yelling at her.
I suggested that he bring everything in the folders over my house and I would make copies of them all so if he did ever lose them, he wouldn't lose the information.
My mom was in the other room with him after that trying to calm him down and reassure him that once we had copies of everything he wouldn't have to worry anymore. She was talking to him like he was five, or a puppy. It was very sad.
Saturday morning they were over at 10:00 and my dad VERY RELUCTANTLY turned over the folders to me. He had multiple copies of everything. Cards with his friend's business info and cell phone, years of expired AAA motor club cards, his social security card (which I didn't copy--my mother snagged it to put away), pieces of colored paper "because I like to look at colors", a colored note which simply said "JANET" in big letters (my mom's best friend's name)--not her phone number or anything else about her. Another colored note that just said "ALZHEIMER'S" (My dad only writes all in capitals, he always has). The receipt from the beach parking pass. And some other random things.
I put everything on the scanner, scanned them front and back, and used Photoshop to arrange them on 1 piece of paper for printing.
My father was very antsy about the whole thing. "Who's seeing this?" "Nobody, dad, just us."
"Why are you taking them out?" "So I can see everything. You can put them back in however you like." Each little folder also had...no lie...about 8 large paper clips holding it shut. OCD anyone? I gave him back his empty folders and his paper clips and his pieces of colored paper and all his precious cards. Then he started going through his wallet and decided to have me copy his license, his credit card, his Medicare card, his insurance card, etc. So I did all that too. Then he went to talk to Lance because it amazes him that "it's the same bird" that lived at his house (Zeebo was born there but my dad doesn't remember him--he was only a couple of months old when I moved here).
I printed out two copies of everything and asked my mom to check the scanner to make sure I didn't leave anything in there. She fiddled around with the cover and said no, nothing was in there. My dad was very happy to get the photocopies, patting me repeatedly on the arm and thanking me and then they left.
A few minutes after my husband got home my cell phone rang and by the time I found it my parents had hung up. I called right back and my mother said my father had left, of all things, his credit card there. I looked on my desk and said no, I had nothing, and she had checked the scanner so where could they be? But he didn't have the credit card and he was flipping out. So a good situation had gone bad. I flipped open the cover of the scanner...and there was his credit card. I said, "I told you to check the scanner and you said you did." "I didn't OPEN it." So they had to come back over IMMEDIATELY to get the damn card.
I told my husband to just shoot me if I get diagnosed with AD. I can't see putting him through this.

Friday, May 19, 2006

73: fun mileage

Today I looked down at my odometer and my mileage was 123456.
That's the kind of thing my dad loves. I forget what the mileage was, but we were all going to North Haven and my dad was hanging over my mother, totally in her way as she was driving on the highway, trying to watch the mileage change. It's always been a big deal with him when the number line up, like mine did, or when they are all the same: 44,444.
So I gave him a call and told him. He completely didn't get it. My mother was in the background saying "her mileage. On her car. It's 1-2-3-4-5-6." Nothing. Oh well.
The question is, do I keep trying? Do I tell him things hoping he'll get them and get a kick out of them? It's just so damn sad.
I answer all kinds of questions on Yahoo Answers about Alzheimer's and some of them make me cry. I am such a softie crybaby wimp sometimes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

72 "that's a nice place you have here"

My cousin finally finished remodeling the kitchen to his grandmother's house and Will and I went over there on Saturday afternoon to work on the yard and watch the Kentucky Derby. (The race took about a minute but it took a good 10 minutes for them to list the winners. Haven't these people ever watched a car race? Those stats are updated every few seconds!) The kitchen looks beautiful. I was skeptical because they weren't going to combine the kitchen and dining room into 1 big room like I would have done and many people advised them to. But the people who did the design know their stuff. The edges of the counters are cropped instead of being at right angles to make it seem less cramped. The stove was moved to a different wall which helps the traffic flow. Everything's black--appliances, floor, counter (black granite). Very classy.
I called my mom and invited her and dad over to see the house. I figured she would say no and at first she did. Dennis was walking by and he yelled "Is that Ann? Tell her to come over." My mom is his godmother. But now that I think about it, I'm not sure my dad is his godfather. That's funny. I'll have to ask.
My mom said maybe but about 45 minutes later her and my father walked up the driveway. Of course we were having a "blue" conversation--something about porno movies, I don't remember, it was off topic and of course that's when they walk up!
My dad was very confused. He knew he was at Aunt Bert's house and he knows Aunt Bert is dead. But he thought Will and I were moving in. He kept complimenting us on what a nice job we'd done and what a nice place we'd have and when were we moving? I kept saying, "No, it's DENNIS'S house, he lives here with Amy. That's Amy. They're getting married in July." But he couldn't wrap his head around it.
My mom loved the kitchen and complimented Dennis profusely. She's always been nice to him. Well, her and I have always been nice to him, unlike his own parents. She even mentioned later that she wanted to buy them some kind of housewarming gift. A wedding gift would be nice too--now she has an excuse not to go since it's in Las Vegas and my dad doesn't fly and can't be left alone.
Sunday my dad asked Will for help with a picture he wants framed. It's a painting he did a long time ago. "When did you paint it, Dad?" "I don't know. 1918 I think." "Dad, you weren't born in 1918. Do you mean in 1958 when you were 18?" "I guess." His MOTHER wasn't even born in 1918--she was only 19 when she had him in 1940. Apparently he wants the picture professionally framed, but it's ripped and old. I said we'd take a look at it.
Monday I went shopping with my friend Joyce and picked up 7 puzzles for $14--4 birds and 3 fantasy, 500-1000 pieces each. So yesterday I stopped by and dropped off the puzzles and looked at the painting. It's a nice scene of a dock with a boat and a boathouse. I've seen it before. It does have a huge rip in it--which can be taped, but there's also a big hole where at some point it was stuck on a thumbtack and there's not much that can be done with that. But I have the measurements and I'll see if I can find a poster frame for it.