Caretaking the Caretaker During the Covid Calamity

Since the beginning of the Covid Calamity I have carefully avoided humans while living and working. I have cabin fever. And a little anger every once in a while. Being a caretaker myself I realized this would be a marathon that I would win by finishing. Being there at the end was the gold ribbon.

So how would I get there? I tuned to three things; pacing myself, accepting that my life would be different, and pursuing the things I could do. I often have to force myself to begin a task but after five minutes I get caught up and feel better.

Pacing myself is a two-fold operation. There is pace for my mental health and a pace for my physical health. For my mental health I decided that I must accept the situation without fear and anger. I stopped looking for a miracle fix. I wanted movies with happy endings like a Lifetime movie.

For my physical health I decided to take walks outdoors in rain or shine, cold or hot. This was also really good for stress and cabin fever. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are weight bearing, Pilates, or some other physically demanding exercise. Cleaning the house or mowing the lawn gave me a sense of normalcy along with physical exercise.

Acceptance may be the most difficult. I just want to have the freedom of movement I took for granted. I want to hug my daughter whenever she stops by but safety stops me. We have decided on an air hug that I now feel when she wraps around the empty air where I would be.

I have had to have delivery of many items I used to run into the store and grab. I ordered groceries and chose cherry jam for five deliveries. I have gotten all kinds all kinds of jam except cherry. My new acceptance has opened me up many flavors of jelly that I would never have enjoyed.

I committed to spending time thinking about what I can do instead of being angry about what I could no longer do. Dining out was taken away so I cook super meals and bake bread. Projects I would ‘get to’ I finally did. 25 years ago I shot video of the Atlanta Ballet and Georgia Tech putting on a performance. I kept saying I would ‘get to’ it and this year I did.

I hear people say they want to go back to normal. I have been reminded that every day is a new normal with or without a pandemic. Next year’s normal will be very different than this year’s. Life does not sit still nor should you.

Do what you can in today’s normal and leave the old normal alone.

Mental Health and Coping with Stress

5 Ways to Deal With Pandemic-Induced Stress

Pandemic Panic? These 5 Tips Can Help You Regain Your Calm

I Miss My Grand-Children During Covid-19

Masks
Safety Outfit

“Are you going to at least get out of the car?” Jessica, my 32 year old daughter, was sitting in her white SUV with the AC running and the window down. 

“You know I run around with my friends some.” She had a one bedroom apartment right next to her lifelong friend. She had to work and visit customers. Even though she maintained her distance and always wore a mask she was worried. 

“I wish I could give you a hug like we used to. I know this will end but I’m getting tired of it.” My 67 years had not prepared me for this. 

“I would feel really bad if you got it and we hadn’t been careful. I might never forgive myself.” She was voicing what we both knew to be true. 

In this age of Covid-19 virus everything had changed. Many people just ignored it and were spreading it around. We had been warned by the scientists and doctors but many just didn’t care. I was glad Jessica did. 

I sat down on the grass and she stayed in her SUV. We talked about all of the normal things going on in our lives and 15 minutes later we gave each other a Covid hug. A Covid hug was where you each reached your arms out like you were wrapping them around each other… with ten feet of air between you. 

The pandemic had messed up family life. It seems like seniors were found to be dispensable and dying at an alarming rate. I was glad I was not in a nursing or senior home because they were seeing stunning amounts of death. Jessica and her friends were supporting me and my fears. 

So just how do you see your children safely? We all have seen the pictures of seniors locked up in their senior home looking out the windows at their children. That is one way of having a Covid meetup.

The CDC have guidelines they approve. The CDC says if you are outside with a mask on and stay at least six feet away you should be alright. They have also added that you should keep the meetup to under 30 minutes. Strange but definitely something you can do. 

!. Stay outside. 

2. Wear a mask. 

3. Stay at least six feet apart. 

4. Limit the meeting to less than 30 minutes. 

When Can I see My Grand Kids?

Grandparents Struggle to See Their Kids During Pandemic

Holiday Celebrations

Ten Years with Chemo – Five Years Without

Sunset for Joe and Jane

The pandemic was everywhere. Joe, Jane and I had been practicing social distancing but our friendship meant that we would still talk. It would just have to be outside from 20 feet away. This afternoon had Joe sitting in his car with the window down while I lounged on my grass just passing time. I suddenly remembered Jane’s cancer.

“How is Jane doing with chemo?”

Joe paused for a little too long and composed himself.

“Not good.” Was all he could get out as his jaw tightened up and he looked away, hiding his face.

“What do you mean? Is she still getting chemo?”

“She has been but the doctor just had a conversation with me today. Not good.” He repeated.

“They told me that she could have ten years if she does chemo but it would be bad. If she doesn’t do chemo she gets five years.” I could see the strain on his face.

“They want me to decide because she can’t. She still can’t remember what she ate for lunch. I have to tell them what I want to do.”

“I’m glad I’m not you except that Jane is awesome even if she can’t remember things. You were lucky with her. I don’t know what I would do. How bad is it going to get?” Boy did that sound stupid. One side of me was jealous of their 58 year marriage. How amazing would it be to have been that in love and committed to each other?

“Bad either way. The chemo makes her lose her hair and really sick.  Without chemo it will get worse and she will hurt but not be as sick. With her forgetting everything and asking me stuff over and over again what are five extra years?” I think he had decided already.

I watched as a mother bird flew towards the nest she had built under my garage overhang. I knew he had to talk to someone. I also knew that with the Covid-19 stuff we hadn’t spoken much lately. I wish we could, but the reality that I am over 65 and so are they meant it was really important for neither of us to get sick. Getting sick with Covid-19 might be an immediate death sentence. The robin landed and began dropping a worm into one of her newborns. Life goes on one way or another.

“I wish I could help but I’m really being careful with the quarantine.  I hope you two are too.” I saw that he didn’t care about living.  He didn’t see any good future now that Jane’s mind was leaving her body. She looked as good as ever to Joe but slowly her companionship was disappearing. Joe would not last long once she was gone. He would not want to live one day more than she did. I knew his plans and hoped to be able to prevent them.

“Do you want to come for dinner this week?” Joe was really dismissing the reality Covid-19 had brought on us. Or maybe he just didn’t care one way or the other. I did care and wanted every day I could get.

“I’ll see if my daughter will let me but I don’t think she is going to let me out.” My daughter had been staying with me and holding me accountable. She was a good excuse and I was not going to take any chances.

“Alright.” Joe started the car. “Maybe we can do your next door neighbor’s roof. She has a big leak.” Joe wanted everything to go back to yesterday. No one can turn back the clock no matter how much Joe wanted to pretend everything wasn’t happening.

“See you later.” I had to let him go without my help. Covid-19 had messed up a lot of friendships. And changed all of our lives. I could tell that Joe knew he and Jane’s lives were already written and nothing was going to change that. His acceptance was painful to me and left me wondering what I would do when it was my turn.

Does End-of-Life Chemo Make Quality of Life Worse?

The Role of Chemotherapy at the End of Life

What is the Purpose of Life After Losing Spouse?

CareTaking in a Time of Coronavirus

A message from your Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
We are addressing this to all the family members and friends who provide care for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and similar illnesses. The care you provide is always vital to the quality of life and well-being of that person. The Novel coronavirus (i.e. COVID-19) pandemic places extra burdens on you in providing that care. We want to provide you with information you can use to strengthen the effectiveness of your caregiving and assist with your own peace of mind during this time.
Some Basic Facts. The information below represents what we currently know about COVID-19. We present these facts starkly because this is a serious situation. Having good information should help you to protect yourself and your person with dementia.
Something New. Novel coronavirus – or COVID-19– is a new strain of a virus that attacks the respiratory system, but other organs as well. Because it is a new strain, very few people can resist it, no matter how hardy they may be. Our bodies haven’t seen this strain before, so our immune systems haven’t developed ways to fight it off. Also, there is, as yet, no vaccine, so no medical measures can yet be taken to protect us against it.
Serious. It is difficult at this time to have a very accurate picture, but COVID-19 appears to be a serious disease threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include, in their range of possible futures for the illness, a prediction that more than half of the US population could be infected. The illness appears to have more serious outcomes than the flu, and death rate predictions are higher.
Risk Factors. COVID-19 requires the body’s immune system to mount a response to fight it off. According to the World Health Organization, anyone who has a weak immune system is at risk not only for acquiring the illness but is vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. Two factors are associated with weakened immune response: age and underlying chronic conditions. Those over 60, and especially those over 80 (even those who seem fit), are at higher risk for acquiring the illness. Also, smokers and individuals with chronic conditions like cancer, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are at increased risk for COVID-19.
Points of Entry. The illness enters the body through the nose, eyes, or mouth and then proceeds to the lungs. This is why we are advised to avoid touching our face. It may also enter through particles in the air. This is why social distancing and avoiding crowded situations are recommended.
Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. The person for whom you provide care is in a high-risk situation. Most persons living with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65 (one risk factor), and most persons over 65 have at least one, and typically more than one, chronic illness (the other risk factor).
The CDC website is an excellent source of reliable information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Guidance for Caregiving. We recognize that we are relatively early in this outbreak and that information and guidance is coming out in an ongoing way, so the guidance we are providing is guidance for now. Follow these general rules to protect you, the person you care for, and your family.
General Rules – Please follow these rules even if you or your person has not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or neither of you is showing signs of it.
Self-Care. The best protection for you and those you care for is for you not to acquire the virus. Do your best to stay healthy. Take your medications as prescribed and follow your exercise and rest programs.
Handwashing and Sanitizing. If you leave the home, always wash your hands when you return and frequently during the course of the day. Cleanse hands for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice). Use hand sanitizer often. Use hand lotion to prevent drying and cracking of skin.
Do not Shake Hands. Avoid direct skin-to-skin physical contact. Wave; nod; bow; give the peace sign. But don’t touch. Do an elbow bump, if you’re both in sleeves. And fist bumps? That’s skin-to-skin, too. So don’t.
In Your Home. Clean surfaces in your home using the CDC’s recommended solution of 4 teaspoons bleach per quart (4 cups) of water. Clean door knobs, sink handles, refrigerator and oven doors, steering wheels, and other high-use surfaces daily. Change hand and kitchen towels daily. Open windows (if possible) to increase ventilation. Do not share dishes and utensils.
Manage Underlying Chronic Conditions. Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and COPD tax the immune system. Adhere to management regimens to prevent the condition from worsening. Ask providers to call in refill orders and see if the pharmacy can deliver – or has a drive through pickup window. Do this for the medications that both you and your care-recipient take.
Monitoring. Watch yourself and your person for symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat). Take your temperature occasionally.
Social Distancing. Remove yourself and your person from close contact with groups of people. This is admittedly very difficult, so here are some thoughts:
  • If you are working outside the home, see if it is possible to work at a distance through telecommuting means (phone and videocall contact, etc.)
  • Examine patterns of social interactions.
  • If you regularly attend worship services, see if your place of worship offers streamed services, or consider using the regular time of attendance as a time of home worship.
  • If you take your person shopping or to malls, reconsider. If you must, perhaps use smaller shops at off-hours, and avoid very crowded places. Call friends, family, or neighbors to see if they are going to the store and can pick up items you might need.
  • Think about outings that present minimal risks: going to large parks, taking walks
  • Limit going out to restaurants – or stop altogether. If you cannot stop going to restaurants, call ahead (or look online or on the restaurant’s app) to order take out and see if they can deliver curbside
  • Here’s a really hard one: family visits.
  • Keep them small – one or two people at a time
  • Ask everyone who feels unwell, has come into contact with people with the virus, or has any symptoms to stay away. Ask all others to follow the same safety rules you are (wash hands).
  • No grandkid visits
  • Do not Shake Hands. Avoid direct skin-to-skin physical contact. Wave; nod; bow; give the peace sign. But don’t touch. Do an elbow bump, if you’re both in sleeves. And fist bumps? That’s skin-to-skin, too. So don’t.
More Home Engagement Opportunities. If you have relied on outings – like those listed above – as a way to keep your person pleasantly occupied during the day, then removing them from the schedule means you have to fill in those times with other engaging tasks and activities. So, plan for that. Consider the kinds of at-home activities that seem to please and engage your person. Are there ways to repeat such activities over the course of a day? Are there similar kinds of activities you might try (if the person enjoys helping with cooking, might s/he enjoy helping with the laundry)? Try new things out and add those to your toolbox that you see to be working well.
Pay Attention to Your Own Isolation. If following the “rules” means you are finding yourself more homebound, be sure to check to see how this is making you feel. Take some preventive steps before you begin to feel a sense of being isolated. Make arrangements with family, neighbors and friends to have regular contact. Phone and FaceTime calls can be helpful. If you do take walks with your person, invite another person along. If a friend or family member can come in to be with your person for brief periods of time, seek and accept that help, and take yourself for an outing – observing all the rules when you return (and also the advice about having help come in).
Help from Outside the Home. If you have someone coming into the home to help care for your person, then the general rules should apply to them as well. The person should adhere to hand washing rules, be urged to follow good self-care procedures, and monitor him/herself for symptoms of COVID-19. If a home health care worker comes to your home and also visits other homes, ask to review the procedures she or he has in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to their clients.
Medical Care. You are very likely in a position where you have to manage your person’s routine and chronic health care as well as to respond to changes in condition or react in an emergency situation. It’s important to recognize that, with COVID-19, you need to have a plan for how to handle some medical situations that might arise in the course of caregiving.
Primary care providers (nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants) can bill for telehealth with Medicare and Medicaid patients. So, call the office and see if they have put procedures in place for handling – through a phone call or a video call – routine visits and visits related to any concerns you may have. If they don’t, ask for advice about
  • Handling routine and chronic care situations that you’d usually manage by bringing the person to the office.
  • Dealing with possible COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Responding to emergency situations – should you call the office first? Go directly to an Emergency Department?
If you feel you have an emergency, but are not sure, and cannot get through to your primary care provider, call your local Emergency Department. Most have a nurse or physician on duty who can offer advice about the need to come in immediately or wait at home.
If you think you or your person might be showing signs of COVID-19 and think you should be tested, it’s important to call your primary care provider (or the Emergency Department or your Health Department) first. They may be able to provide advice about whether you need to be tested immediately or if it is appropriate to wait. If you do need to be tested immediately, they may also be able to direct you to the appropriate testing location. In many areas of the country, the clinic office or Emergency Department may not be where you can get tested, and testing sites may need a provider’s referral before they will test you.
If you and/or your person are participating in a research study, call your research coordinator for current information. Some studies have been put on hold; others may have moved to enable contact at a distance (e.g., by phone).
If Your Person is Living in an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility:
It is increasingly likely that visitors, even close family, will not be permitted to visit relatives in such facilities.
See if the facility can help you to make contact by a distance. Can they help put a phone call through? If the facility has WiFi and if you have an extra phone or tablet computer (iPad), will they help the person to use it when you call so the person can see your face.
The staff will continue to provide care and comfort, but you will not be able to have in-person time with the person that may be important to you. If you are alone and feeling this as yet another loss, take action. Try to go out for a walk, call family and friends, listen to your favorite music, look at scrapbooks or read a good book. If you belong to a church or synagogue, call and ask to be put on a prayer list. Many religious staff are working from home and can respond to your messages. Have family and friends mail cards and letters to them.
The CDC website is an excellent source of reliable information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Strange Rashes and Other Medical Mysteries

Here we go again. I was making one of my visits to see if Joe could help me put in a new toilet when he asked me to do him a favor.

“Would you go in and talk to Janet?” Joe was hunched over giving me a blank stare from his unshaven face. I knew his kidney cancer was cured and I would give him a break from dealing with Janet.

I slid the glass door open. “Hey Janet. How are you?” I gave my regular hello.

Feet Rash and Swelling

“Well, I don’t know. What do you think?” She pointed down to her feet on the floor. They were covered with a rash and really swollen. I almost couldn’t look.

“Wow! They’re really swollen. You should elevate them. Put them up on the couch so I can see them better. ” I was hoping that it was something simple but when I looked they seemed really wrong.

“What did the doctor say?” I asked.

“Well it started two weeks ago with the rash and I went to my regular doctor and she gave me this.” Janet handed me a Prednisone cream.

“It hasn’t helped at all. It’s actually worse now and they really hurt. I can barely walk. ” Janet’s words triggered a flash back to Joe dealing with his own kidney cancer’s side effects along with Janet’s issues. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind.

“I’m going back to her on Monday. ” Janet finished.

“Are you taking any pain medicine? Could it be the chemo?” Two weeks with medicine and getting worse?

“Am I on chemo? I can’t remember what I’m taking. Joe knows. You can ask him. I don’t remember what I had for lunch. I think I had lunch.” And Janet looked at me as she broke out in a giggle. A great side effect of no memory, she forgot to worry.

Joe had followed me into the house. “I’m taking her back to the doctor on Monday. I hope they figure it out.” Joe was moving towards the sink to get a glass of water.

Joe continued, “I think that doctors just see an old person and don’t even try. They just say let them die.” For a split second I imagined he was right.

We chatted for a minute about nothing and then I went home.

About a week later on Tuesday evening I walked over to Joe and Janet’s. “What happened at the doctor? Did she give you something new? Is it from chemo?” There was a pile of medicines on the coffee table next to Janet.

“I’m wondering if it isn’t a side effect of the cancer treatments.” said Joe ignoring everything I just said. It was a week later and Janet’s rash and swelling had gotten much worse. Her foot had a deep crack in it. And the pain was worse.

I said, “I hope they can figure out what it is. I know that as we get older all kinds of strange things happen to our bodies.”

“I’m taking her to a dermatologist Monday. If they don’t help I’m going to go to the hospital.” Joe seemed to shrink as he spoke.

“You know this is my vacation week. I will be gone to the beach so I’ll see you when I get back. If anything bad happens will you call me?” I turned and walked home under a cloudless night sky.

A week and a half later on Friday I walked back over to Joe and Janet’s to check on her and tell them about my week. I hoped Janet was better.

“How was the beach?” Joe asked.

“It was great. The kids came and the weather was perfect. How’s Janet?” I really wanted to know.

“She is doing better. They took her off chemo. They think it was a reaction to chemo. Go on in and say hello.” Joe was fiddling around in his tool room.

I knocked on the sliding door and walked in. “How are you?”

“My feet are still swollen and hurt to walk on. Where did you go? I haven’t seen you in a long time.” Janet could not remember so I retold her “I went to the beach with the kids.”

“Your rash is almost gone and your swelling looks much better. Joe said they took you off chemo.” I noticed her dead skin was peeling off in sheets.

“I don’t know but if Joe says so that’s probably right.” Janet seemed so comfortable with never knowing what was going on. She did always remember me and Joe so that was good.

Janet started picking at her feet and peeling skin off. “I’m going to find Joe.” I headed out the door so I didn’t have to watch.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Janet was happy because she couldn’t remember not to be. It was Joe that needed the help. I should have been asking Joe “How are you?” and worrying about how he was doing. Janet could not even remember if I asked how she was.

Joe, on the other hand, was fully there and saw a woman in his house that looked exactly like the wife he loved. Joe did everything for her because she couldn’t. Janet was still beautiful with the same figure as when they met 60 years ago. But she wasn’t home. And that was tragic.

Skin Conditions in the Elderly

14 Rashes You Need to Know: Common Dermatologic Diagnoses

Find an Old Persons (Geriatrician) Doctor Near You

Joe, Janet, and Memory Loss

There was no mistaking her beauty. At 78 Janet was in college shape and her engaging smile drew you to her. Her figure was enticing and she moved and laughed like a woman who had provoked males her entire life and thoroughly enjoyed the attention. And she could not remember what she had eaten for lunch or who just called or where she went yesterday or if she was on chemo therapy. She was completely free of pain or anxiety concerning her newly elevated cancer markers and the subsequent weekly chemo. She never remembered the ongoing side effects of chemo allowing her to remain emotionally unaffected and free of pain medication.

Janet and Joe have a Beautiful Garden
Janet and Joe Have a Garden

Joe’s cancerous kidney had been removed and he was slowly returning to his new normal. A full recovery with no chemo was his future. Kidney cancer is very often healed by simply removing the infected kidney without any additional treatment.

“I have to do everything for her except washing her.” Joe was sharing his frustration with the woman he had loved for 60 years. I wondered why he didn’t wash her too.

“You know she never said no to me. Never.” He had once privately disclosed. Were his memories of their love manifested as physical intimacy too painful?

“She asks me the same thing over and over again. She just can’t remember. I get mad at her and I know it’s not her fault.”

“I will come by and sit with her later.” I knew he needed a break from his caretaker role to refuel his emotional storage tanks. And I enjoyed talking with Janet.

“Where did you stay on your trip to Savannah? With friends? A Hotel?” I wanted to know how her 60th High School class reunion had gone.

“I know Tom has an extra bedroom so maybe we stayed there. It could have been a hotel. I can’t remember.” And she laughed happily and somewhat mischievously. I was glad she was not in one of her angry moods. Janet could be viciously angry about her inability to cook, drive and do any of the things she used to. She missed her old lifestyle when she could remember it.

“By the end of the year I will need to put Janet in a home. She is getting worse and worse. I can’t take care of her the way she needs it.” His overwhelming sadness at the living loss he was going through brought two different feelings. ? I was very sad for his living loss and incredibly jealous that he had had a 60 year life with a woman he unwaveringly loved.

 A living loss where your wife’s soul left her living body might be worse than sudden death. You could see your beautiful wife looking as great as ever and know that your partner had left the body. The person you had shared your day with for 60 years was no longer there.  Death would be a welcomed event but I wondered if Janet passed would Joe be right behind her.

As we stand talking in the front yard I can’t help noticing that Janet’s incredible garden was in full bloom and weed free. This was the same garden that had gone to waste last year during her cancer recovery.  Now the garden was clearly being cared for.

“I guess Janet is feeling good enough to work on her garden again.” I assumed and hoped she was.

“She loves that garden and worked really hard for it.” Joe seemed reserved and sullen as he spoke.

“Hi Janet.” I welcomed Janet as she joined us.

“You are back to work on the garden again. I thought I had a chance with my garden but I will never catch you.” I was teasing but also somewhat jealous.

“I can’t work on the garden. I don’t know what is going on with it.” Janet balked at her memory being called for. Her head was shaking as it often did when she felt stress.

“Joe, you are doing it aren’t you?” A wave of understanding washed over me as Joe’s love for Janet burst into the limelight. He was working the garden to hold onto that part of Janet and because he knew the joy it had brought her.

Make sure you check the links below. Take the online memory test.

When It’s Time for a Nursing Home

Memory Loss – When to Seek Help

Online Memory Test

A Stressful MRI to Check for Brain Cancer

Hospital Admissions
Hospital Admissions

A month after Janet’s cancer was removed Joe got gangrene. In the process of curing the gangrene it was discovered that he had kidney cancer. I guess the kidney cancer had compromised his immune system and allowed the gangrene.

Possible Complications

Joe had terrible migraine headaches too and it was decided that before the kidney was removed he would have an MRI brain scan to see if the cancer had spread. As my neighbor for 30 years, I had all kinds of feelings and worries about them and what I could do to help.

Joe’s doctor arranged a brain scan two weeks into the future. When Joe asked why he had to wait so long the doctor explained that there was a shortage of machines. Two weeks seemed way too long. Why weren’t there enough machines?

Joe’s brain had him thinking the worst. What would Janet, suffering from severe memory issues, do if he had brain cancer and died? Would it be a horrible death?

Joe opened up to me. “I’ve had a good life. Better then I expected. I was the luckiest man on earth to have gotten Janet.” When he said “I don’t care if I die.” I told him “Yeah, but I do. And what about Janet?”

CBD Oil to The Rescue

His migraines got worse and his doctor told him to go get CBD oil for his head pain and anxiety because the drug store pills weren’t working. I went with him to a ‘vape shop’ and bought some with 1000mg in the bottle. It didn’t do much to help and his pain surged. I looked it up and decided that we needed to get some really strong CBD oil and once again we were back at the vape shop.

This time I asked for the strongest CBD oil he had. The owner reached under the cash register and brought out a bottle with a dark colored liquid that said 5000mg. Joe said it was worth a try and he dumped half a dropper under his tongue. Ten minutes later he had his head back with his eyes closed and was obviously relaxed. Joe said that this made it bearable where none of the prescription pain killers had worked. CBD was it!

First Attempt for MRI

Two weeks and a bottle of CBD oil and finally Joe was at the hospital on the MRI table sliding into the MRI’s tunnel. The waiting and claustrophobia were just too much and Joe had a panic attack. He needed sedation to calm him but on Wednesdays they did not have anyone available so he would have to reschedule his MRI.

The soonest they could get him back was two more weeks. Two more weeks of anxiety from not knowing what was wrong with his brain. It would be four weeks since his diagnoses and four more weeks for the kidney cancer to grow.

Second Time MRI – Success

Another bottle of CBD oil and two weeks with the fear he had brain cancer found Joe back at the MRI hospital. This time I went with him because you have to have someone drive you home if they sedate you. Much to our surprise when Joe went to check in they told him he was not on the schedule. The check-in person graciously called Joe’s doctor and was told by the doctor’s staff that yes they had made an appointment. Check-in then called scheduling to see what could be done and was told that no sedations were performed on Wednesdays and therefore he would have to reschedule. Didn’t anyone know about the Wednesday rule before scheduling Joe?

Joe, to his credit, was trying as hard as he could to control his anger. Joe was given the phone to speak with scheduling. The scheduler decided that Joe could wait two more weeks and Joe replied, “In two more weeks I might be dead.” Everyone in the room was listening when the scheduler decided that she did not like Joe’s comment and hung up.

The check-in people immediately went to work as advocates for Joe. One called the scheduling supervisor to ask why one of their people hung up ‘on their patient’. The other started calling in favors to get personnel to allow Joe to have sedation and to fit him in to the schedule. The hospital workers were incredible and showed tremendous concern for Joe. Joe got his brain scan and now has to wait for the results.

Summary

Even though the administration part of the hospital was a mess the medical personnel were miracle workers. Good with the bad. It is important to remember that there are concerned people to treat you and there are ones who just go to work and do not understand that no one is at the hospital because they wanted to be there. It might not be right but it is really important to hold your temper when things go wrong in the medical industry.

As an update, Joe’s brain scan did not show any cancer so now he is going to have his cancer kidney removed. Make sure you follow the links below for more information on all of this.

Great Video Showing MRI

Chronic Headache as the First Symptom of an Undiagnosed Renal Cell Carcinoma

Neuro Imaging

Cancer Catches the Church Lady

On a cold October night my doorbell rang. Not a usual occurrence. It was Joe, an aged, very hard headed, multi gun owning neighbor. I had known him for the 30 years I had lived in my house but this was the first time he had ever stopped by after 9:00pm.

Married for More Then 50 Years
Married for More Then 50 Years

“I need to talk to you.” He entered the house. I motioned for him to sit but he just paced back and forth.

“It’s Janet. She has cancer and I don’t want to live if she is gone.” Janet was 77 and Joe was 80. They had been married for over 50 years and they still loved each other. John would go after anyone who made noise or cursed within Janet’s hearing distance. I mean he had actually brought out a pistol and threatened a young man who was drunk at a party a few houses from their house.

“Just what type of cancer does Janet have and what did the doctor say about it?” I became worried that this could have a bad ending. I didn’t believe it would happen this week or this month but Joe’s thinking was not good.

“She has female cancer and she needs surgery and then chemo therapy. I have to take her to her doctor next week and then they will schedule surgery.” He kept pacing and I offered him a drink. Not alcohol because Joe does not drink. And Janet had been the administrative assistant at the nearby Catholic Church for almost 30 years.

“What can I do to help?” I asked with what I must admit was sorrow and fear about their situation and mine. This was uncharted territory and while I appreciated that Joe was trusting me with this and felt a strong and trusting bond with me, I did not understand my own feelings. What if she passed away?

I decided to just let him talk and listen to what he was going through. I did not offer any advice because frankly I didn’t have any. I did believe that going to the doctor and doing whatever they asked you to do was a good thing. I needed to go online and see what I could learn about it.

I made up my mind that the next day I would go and visit with Janet and see how she felt. I wanted to help but felt lost. I would just have to ‘show up’ and listen. Thankfully there is nothing to prepare you for this so I guess I would just do the best I could.

I am going to post more as this continues down its path so stay tuned. Don’t forget to check the links below for more helpful information.

Adjusting to a Spouse with Cancer

Keeping it Together When Your Spouse has Cancer

What to Say to a Friend or Coworker

“Everyone Forgets Things” – Memory Issues and Misguided Phrases

 

Tea on the Screen Porch

Tea on the Screen Porch

How to Give Comfort to a Caretaker

My brother was visiting my mother and I took the opportunity to go out for dinner with a close friend. During cocktails I mentioned that my mother was having more and more difficulty with her memory to which my friend replied “Everyone forgets things. I am always misplacing my car keys.” I felt completely alone as the air rushed out of me. He had just dismissed my observation as an over-reaction that was not something to be concerned with. I felt marginalized. Didn’t he realize that I wasn’t talking about normal memory lapses? If it was normal I wouldn’t have attempted to share what I was going through.

My friend’s reaction was well intended and he meant to provide advice when all I wanted to do was share a very real change in my mother that I was dealing with and have it acknowledged. Think of all the times we have had reflexive responses; ‘You will get another job’, ‘You were lucky. It could have been worse.’, or ‘Time heals all wounds’. In my case I have heard them all and they all made me stop sharing and feel really alone in my caretaking. I wanted someone to say ‘I understand, tell me more’ or ‘that must be very difficult to deal with’ to let me know they were there for me and knew the challenges I was wrestling with.  Remember, when someone is working with a problem and you want to support them, acknowledge and listen without providing unsolicited advice.

Memory and How to Maintain It

Memory loss is a real issue and manifests in many ways. One of the strange things about the aging memory is that the senior might remember events from 40 years ago in great detail and not know what they had for breakfast. This may make you believe that their memory is fine when careful monitoring is called for. Check to make sure that cooking surfaces and garden watering hoses are turned off. Keep your own record of their appointments and any regular medicines they must take. What did they eat for breakfast or dinner? There are many sites that can provide memory tests to help you know if there is anything that needs following.

The more engaged the brain is the healthier it will stay. Crossword and picture puzzles, reading, and stimulating conversation all help. I know a senior woman who follows the news avidly and loves to talk politics. Physical activity promotes blood flow to the brain to keep brain cells healthy so consider a 30 minute walk at least three times a week. Keep them involved in the community with relatives and friends for more mental stimulation. A senior is old but not incapable. Let them help with cleaning and cooking and continue to be a contributor to society. They will thank you for it.

Do This – Not That

9 Brain Boosters to Prevent Memory Loss

What’s Normal, What’s Not, and When to Seek Help

Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer’s Disease?

CBD Oil is Making Seniors Live Happier and Better

CBD Oil Is Helping Seniors Live Better

Anxiety

One of the most disconcerting issues with caring for your aging parent is watching them become filled with anxiety and/or frightened about things that had been routine. I know a woman, we will call her Jane for this article, who broke her wrist from a fall she had while outside watering her plants. She was terrific about doing her physical therapy and her wrist recovered really well.

What didn’t recover was her feeling of freedom to walk outside and water her plants. Jane became filled with anxiety when she walked without someone else helping. She walked with her daughter for two miles at a time so she was definitely physically capable but her anxiety made her unable to walk around her house without aids.

Jane’s anxiety got so bad that she had the doctor give her prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs.  The drugs had some positive effects but she still would become immobilized with fear. The anxiety was creating memory problems and a degree of depression that limited Jane’s independence. She wanted an answer that worked for her.

The Answer

The answer came from a friend’s younger daughter. She thought that since CBD oil was finally legal in her state that maybe it could help and she devised a plan to get her to try it. First she asked for Jane’s daughters to support the attempt. This took some effort because CBD oil comes from Marijuana or Cannabis. Cannabis is not legal in Jane’s state but CBD oil is. Jane’s daughters came onboard after doing some research and went to a local store and purchased some CBD oil and an inexpensive Vape Pen or E-Cigarette.

From the first puff Jane became calmer. She even smiled and laughed. She was not ‘high’ but CBD seemed to work on her nerves and had a calming effect on her anxiety and panic attacks.

Since that day Jane’s life has changed. She has sublingual CDB oil that she places under her tongue before she goes to sleep and a Vape Pen that she carries for when she gets an anxiety attack during the day. She now sleeps through the night and any of the debilitating anxiety attacks are short-lived by taking a couple of puffs on her Vape Pen.

CBD oil is quickly becoming mainstream because it really works with almost no side effects. Read below to see how much the medical industry is now involved and endorsing it.

Marijuana and Cancer – America Cancer Society

Why Is Marijuana Use Among Seniors on the Rise?

Treating Dementia with Marijuana