Wednesday, June 28, 2006

81 "senior moments" may equal AD

Great. I'm only 37 and I already GET senior moments. Better break out the Depends.
Senior moment? Maybe it 'is' Alzheimer's Those small lapses could be something more after all, study finds A study found that in a disturbing number of cases, embarrassing "senior moments" such as forgetting a recent conversation or drawing a blank on someone's name may really be a sign of Alzheimer's after all. ....But the scientists found to their surprise that the brains of more than one-third of the participants were riddled with waxy protein clumps and other signs of degeneration that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.....Participants in the study had amounts of brain deterioration similar to those found in Alzheimer's patients who were severely debilitated by the mind-robbing disease before their deaths. The researchers said that raises the question of why some afflicted people but not others can function normally....There's something about these people that allows them to have large amounts of pathology without obvious memory problems....His theory, supported by earlier research, is that high levels of education and feelings of social connectedness can help preserve brain function. Bennett said he believes that helps create a "neural reserve" that enables people to tolerate Alzheimer's-induced brain deterioration without showing signs of dementia. Some researchers believe that mentally stimulating tasks such as doing crossword puzzles, taking classes or reading can help prevent Alzheimer's. But Bennett said his new findings suggest that in some people, these tasks might also enable the brain to compensate for the disease.....the study bolsters the use-it-or-lose-it theory that says "if you don't keep yourself mentally challenged, your brain cells may die off," or be more subject to disease.
This really does apply to my father, because he really got "bad" after he retired from selling calls and started being a crossing guard. He went from being around people all day to standing on a corner with a sign--not exactly mentally stimulating. My mom and I started joking about how he wasn't using his brain so he was losing it. And how right we are.
Yes, I have senior moments. I'm terrible with names (always have been). I am also extremely mentally active--reading, writing, talking, thinking. I can only hope, right?

Friday, June 16, 2006

80 blood everywhere

I am having the day from hell. It's got an hour to go. I just want to crawl under a rock. But then I'd probably get bitten by something venomous.
This morning my new bird wasn't acting right. I called the vet and they said to bring her in. Halfway there she had a seizure and died. It was horrible. I've only had her 3 weeks but I loved her. She was smart and funny and so attached to me. I cried all morning and part of the afternoon. My birdroom seems so empty without her cage. My other birds hadn't become attached to her yet, thank god, but they were calling this afternoon looking for her which of course made me cry again.
So I went to my parents house for the usual Friday night tea and crumpets (diet pepsi and chocolate chips cookies tonight) and to do a puzzle. I played with the cat, played with the dog (in that order). Someone called my cell phone about my party tomorrow and while I was on the phone my dad decided to introduce the dog to the cat again. Next thing I know, the dog's barking, the cat's yowling, my father's yelling and my mother's screaming. They come running out of my old bedroom and blood is spurting from my father's hand all over the place.
I hang up on the lady and go running into the bathroom. My mother is dabbing at the hand, which is pumping blood everywhere. It's filling the sink, it's all over the counter, it's on the floor, all over the carpet in the hallway. She's yelling 'should I call 911' and I said yes because I don't know what the hell's going on. I grabbed the blood-soaked towel from her and applied direct pressure because that's what we learned in first aid class. Of course the 6-8 minutes it took the ambulance to come seemed to take forever and only a minute at the same time. My father was freaking out, oh jesus oh jesus and trying to explain what he had done with the dog and cat. I finally got him to sit on the toilet with his hand in the bloody sink. I went my mother to my car to get my shoes and a book for the hospital and then finally the ambulance came and said I did such a good job with the direct pressure they had nothing left to do. It was 3 punctures on his right hand, one of them right in an artery.
I cleaned up his hand like the paramedics said. My dad said to them "this girl, she helped me. " and he patted my hand. When I left, he followed me out to my car and I asked if he wanted me to come over tomorrow and clean his hand again and re-bandage it. He asked me for my name and phone number.
I wrote it on a dunkin donuts napkin without trying to explain that I'm his daughter. You'd think me calling him "dad" constantly would clue him in. I wrote my home, work, cell and my husband's cell and said "if you need me call all these numbers until you find me." He looked at the napkin and said "oh, yeah, I know you. This is where you work" and he pointed to the cell phone. I said, no, that's this phone and pulled it out of my cleavage where it lives. But he doesn't understand cell phones.
So this night has 1/2 an hour to go. I can't wait.
Oh, one of my fish died today too. Let this day be over.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

79 Gain a dog, lose a cat

I've already recounted how once in the house, Ace chased and barked at Jasper. My mom called me yesterday and said that Jasper ran away. I don't LOVE the cat (he really is a mean little bugger) but I'm fond of him, and I paid a lot of money for his sorry ass, and this is the second time we've lost him (the first was the day we got him). She kind of laughed it off "oh well he's gone" like she didn't even care, and that pissed me off even more.
Since I was going over there anyway to pick up my dad and bring him to the bird vet with me, I packed up Prism and headed over early to find the damn cat. As soon as I put the box down with the bird in it, Ace was fascinated. He fell instantly in love with Prism, or maybe he's seen birds in boxes before. I brought Prism into the house and put the box on the kitchen counter and started my room-to-room search for the bratty one. Ace was outside whining and yelping so I let him in and he wanted to get to the bird. Funny that Alf loved the birds too.
I looked everywhere, under furniture, in the cellar ceiling, but I couldn't find the cat. But we did that last time too, and he was in a drawer (he was a lot smaller then). I honestly felt the cat was still in the house.
I went to sit upstairs and read the paper. Ace kept attacking the box with Prism in it. She didn't seem to care, but he was biting the corner of the box where she was, and if she was loose I think he'd kill her (not meaning to; wanting to play).
My mom came inside and sat opposite me and I saw that she had turned a framed picture of Jasper around so it was facing the couch and she looked sad when she turned it back. I don't know why she pretends. She says now she cried for days after she had Alf put to sleep but when it happened she acted like it was no big deal.
Nothing exciting happened with my father on the vet visit. The vet doesn't think Prism has arthritis at all. Her left foot has 1 funky turned in toe which seems to have been broken or badly injured in the past; nothing can be done about it but that doesn't hinder her. The right foot has the two back toes going forward and she walks on her elbow, and the vet played with that foot and said all the toes work and she has strength in that leg, but not as much as the other leg. She also clearly has pain. The vet made her a "shoe"--a flat piece of foam with her toes taped to it in the correct configuration, hoping that her back toes will turn back out again and she'll regain use of that foot. Poor bird HATES the shoe, she can't climb at all, she's miserable, and this is for two weeks. Plus she's getting medicine twice a day which isn't fun for either of us as she won't just drink from the dropper like a good bird.
Late last night my mom called and talked to Will and said they found Jasper in the basement. Five minutes later she called and asked for me and said today she was taking the dog back. After she raved what a great dog he is. She has hardly given the cat and dog a chance to be friends.

Monday, June 12, 2006

78 "that's a nice dog you have"

A few weeks ago there was an article in the paper on the Meriden animal shelter which had a picture of a dachshund, like we used to have. My mom called and of course the dog was gone, but she got it in her head that she wanted another doxie, a "used one". So I explored Petfinder for the past couple of weeks, made lots of phone calls which didn't get returned, ditto with emails. Filled out online applications full of questions which don't pertain to my parents' situation--like what will you do if the dog bites a child who is visiting your home? (No children visit them, ever, for any reason.) Who will care for the dog while you're at work, or how many hours a day will it be left alone while you're at work? (They are both retired.) Or we'd find a dog that was available, confirm its availability and the next day get an email saying it's not available anymore. Very discouraging.
Friday night as usual I went over there to do a puzzle. My mom put out a plate of cookies-chips ahoy or something similar--and my dad started talking about putting "it" on the cookies and how good "it" is on the cookies and do I want some of "it" for my cookies.
"It" is peanut butter. My dad takes a store-bought chocolate chip cookie and smears it with peanut butter. I asked my mother when he started doing that and she said she's never seen him do it before.
I like cookies. I like peanut butter. But not together.
A lady in Massachusetts at the Southbridge Home for Wayward Weenies had a dog available that my mom liked, and we made arrangements to go on Sunday (yesterday) to get it. I called her Friday night and asked her some questions and then we went to the pet store to get dog toys, leashes, etc.
My mom said that in the morning she had been going to buy a tie-out stake for the dog and my father said no because they didn't have a dog. My mother said the dog was coming on Sunday and he said not to buy anything for the dog until we had it.
Then as soon as we left the petstore (and he freaked out over the receipt not being "checked") he wanted to know "are we going to get the dog now?" No, on Sunday. "Where' s the dog?" We didn't get the dog yet. On Sunday we're going. "Are we going to get the dog now?" NO! You get it.
Saturday I went up to Boston and Salem so I went right by Southbridge and figured it was just about an hour's ride. Sunday morning we left around 10:30 and stopped at a Friendly's along the way for lunch. Of course they were still serving breakfast so we had to wait about 15 minutes before we could even place our order. We called the Wayward Weenies lady, said we'd be there soon, had an adventure finding our way back to 84E, and were on our way.
Somewhere around then, my father had a major disconnect. "I don't know where we are."
You don't need to know. "I've never been here before." It's okay we haven't either (lie, but that's easier). "We have no map" Berta has the map, look. I show him the directions, which at the end have a lot of very short streets--go .2 miles, etc. He sees the long list and freaks out "all that? Oh jesus, oh jesus." We're almost there. "Are you going to turn around and go home? Turn around there." No, we have to get the dog first, remember? "oh jesus, oh jesus" then he's freaking over the gas which is down to...gasp...3/4 of a tank. "you better get gas, look at that, we better turn around" We get to exit 1 and start following the directions to the chorus of "oh jesus, oh jesus" and the freaking out dad. "Are we back in Wallingford yet?" No, we're in Southbridge Mass, to get the dog. "Oh jesus."
The woman lives basically in an alley and we had to back up, move forward a foot, back up 14 inches, move forward 13, repeatedly to turn around. She has over a dozen weiner dogs in a very small house, all of them barking and friendly. We got our dog, whose name is Ace, and skeddaddled from the noise. I walked the dog a bit and he peed. I settled in the backseat with him and we headed home, taking only 1 wrong turn. He is a very good dog, he's clearly been in cars before, he wasn't sick or anything. I suggested we stop and let my dad into the back seat so he could bond with the dog, so we found a park-and-ride and walked the dog again (peed twice and was ready to walk for a mile or get back in the car, it was all the same to him). My dad didn't understand why he was in the back seat, and then he wanted to hug the dog, which I had already established Ace doesn't like. He likes being petted, and sitting on or near you, but not hugged. Of course he has to hug the dog, and the dog tries to get away, and my dad's feelings get hurt, because the dog then comes to me and puts his head on my leg and goes to sleep. My dad says, "that's a nice dog you have there." That's YOUR dog. "I thought you were getting a black one." It's not my dog. I wasn't getting any dog. Willy doesn't like dogs. This is YOUR dog. "Oh."
I realized my door wasn't shut so my mom pulled over on the highway so I could shut it. She had to drive over the wake-up strip and my father started shouting thinking the car was exploding and he couldn't understand the wake-up strip or why we had to pull over so I could properly shut my door.
He demanded that my mother stop and get gas a block from their house. Evidently it's just too far to drive up the hill only 2/3 of a tank. I said I would walk the dog up the hill and see how he was. If I'm carrying him, stop and get us. If not, let us walk.
What a good little dog. He was afraid until I got him onto the sidewalk and then he trotted off, tail wagging, stopping to pee and once even poop. He paused to look at every car that went by which makes me think he's looking for his owners to come get him.
The lady said he had tags when he was found wandering but the shelter couldn't find his owners. She promised to find the tags and give them to us. He had on a collar which had cut into his neck (so now he has to wear a harness) and he's scarred on his back and legs. I think he crawled under a chainlink fence and got cut. We'll see what the vet says. He's also got a scar on his right eye--the eyeball itself. It looks like a hair curled on his eye but it's not. His teeth are very clean and well-cared for, and he's got good manners. He was someone's beloved dog. My mom said someone, somewhere, is crying their eyes out over this dog, looking for him. The only thing I can imagine is that the people were moving and the dog got out or got left behind and they didn't realize it. Or maybe they gave the dog away and he tried to find his way home and got lost.
Ace seemed afraid of Jasper when they were outside, but Jasper made tentative friendly overtures. They are about the same size. Ace wanted to come in, so we brought him in. He immediately found the cat toys and destroyed two of them in less than a minute. I took the rest of them and put them on a shelf. He went right to that shelf. I moved them to a higher shelf, behind a plant. He climbed onto the couch and tried to move the plant. My mom took the cat toys and put them in a drawer. He stood on his hind legs and pawed the drawer. This is a smart dog. Then they let Jasper in. Ace started barking and chasing Jasper in a circle from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room to the kitchen. I tried to intercept the parade and catch one or the other but Jasper darted into the bedroom to hide and Ace didn't figure that out. So that's going to be fun until they make friends.
My parents brought Ace to grandma's. He was begging for meatballs at the table. My mother said NO but my grandmother told Ace that next week she'll feed him. My mom went outside to take out the trash and the dog followed her to the door crying. He's already attached to her. I told her he might get separation anxiety because of being moved around so much. He knows me too, though and was ready to get into the car with me and go wherever.
What a good dog. :)