Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Never Get Credit

In my last post, I gave you some examples of how things are always my fault.  Well, not only are most things my fault, but I never get credit for the good things I do.  The most recent example: Christmas!  For the past few years, my husband, kids, & I haven't been able to go upstate for the holidays.  My dad's family always has their big get together on Christmas Eve, & my mom & dad never miss it.  I decided that I would invite my parents down for Christmas this year.  Lisa was going to be out of town with her husband's family, my brother was working, & Allison's boys get up way early of course to see what Santa brought, before my mom & dad can get to her house.  I never expected they would come, but to my surprise & everyone else's, they did.

They came down on the 23rd, we had a great day & night.  On the 24th, my parents gave my kids the presents from them so they could enjoy watching them play with them, not to mention it was in the 70's & they had gotten my daughter a bike.  Christmas morning came & I was very excited about the gifts I had gotten my parents this year.  They are very hard to buy for, my dad always has been, & the past few years, my mom has become difficult to buy for.  Even if its something like a new purse, she's use to her old one & puts the new one in the closet.  This year though, I new I had great presents they would love!

A few months ago, my in-laws & I both got web cams & installed Skype so my kids could see them everyday on the computer.  My dad is becoming somewhat more computer literate lately, so I decided they would enjoy this as well.  So, I got them a web cam.  I also made them a photo book from Shutterfly of some pictures my cousin took of our entire family before Christmas.  Something I knew my mom would sit & look at over & over & really enjoy.

Christmas morning came & I was soooo excited!  I let my mom open the photo book first.  She loved it, & so did my dad!  It was great seeing those smiles on their faces.  Christmas Eve night, I had Lisa Skype with us from New York, which my parents thought was the neatest thing in the world!  So, when my dad opened the web cam, I explained that now we could call him on the computer, as well as Lisa, etc, & see them whenever we wanted to.  They were happy about this as well.

So, half an hour later, my mom was looking at her book, & I asked her if she liked it.  She said, "Oh yeah, Lisa always comes up with the neatest gifts!"  HUH?  DO WHAT?  This was the first of many times she  said that to me, several that day, & several since then when she showed it to me when I visited the next 2 times!

Its the same story with the web cam.  As we were talking one night, I said, "Isn't this neat, mom?"  Her response, "It is!  I'm so glad Lisa set this up for us where we can see all of you.  We call her too on here." Lol, is all I can say.  I was the one that gave them the web cam, & installed it the next time I was at their house!

Oh well, at least I know they like my gifts, even if Lisa does get the credit!  I get to watch my mom laugh at my silly almost 4 year old daughter every night, & that makes me happy.  So thanks Lisa!  =)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

It makes me Sad............. :(

Today Mom has been very sad. Its Not been one of her good days. When I got here this morning, she was very Sad. She felt as if she had upset my sister, Jennifer. My sisters, Lisa and Jennifer, try to Skype with mom and dad as much as they can. Mom said last night "her Diagnosis" just had her down and feeling bad. Jennifer and the kids were skyping with Dad, and Mom wanted no part of it. This morning, she felt very upset about how she had acted, she said. I told her I knew Jennifer understood, but she insisted on talking with Jen this morning to explain. When she got off the phone with Jennifer she brightened up a bit. She hasn't, so far, mentioned it again.

She isn't feeling good today, shes fighting a Sinus infection. I called the Doctor and they are calling her something in. So, hopefully by tommorow evening she will be feeling some relief. And will be in better spirits.

Short today, but I'm sure I will have lots more next time.....until then.....keep following!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It was for the BEST!!

Boy, I did NOT know what I was walking into a couple of weeks ago when I got to Mom and Dad's House. What I thought was going to be an ordinary day in Inman, turned out to be the complete opposite. Whew, and it was for the BEST!!!!

I walked into the  house with my 3 year old, Kamdyn, and my Mom clearly looks Awful. She looks like she hasn't slept and her face was very flushed. You could clearly tell she had been crying for a good while. I immediately started to worry to myself, because I did'nt know where this was going to go. I tried talking to my Mom and she just walked away to her room. My Dad soon after left to go get them some breakfast. Mom came back into the den and sat down with me. She looked me in my eyes, tears falling down her face, and says, "Allison, I know whats wrong with me now." Stunned, I of course say, "What do you mean Mom?" Now, I know what your thinking, how in the World was this for the BEST??....... You just have to keep reading and see.

That day Mom, Kamdyn, and I had a lunch date with One of my bestest friends and her NaNa. I was leary about going, and worried about Mama. But, she decided she still wanted to go. So, we went. We met them at Delightful Dishes, {one of mine and moms Favorite Lunch places}, to eat. We all had a nice lunch. I think, well, I know it did her good to get out and breathe for awhile. That day and the Few days to follow were a whirlwind and kind of a blur. They went so fast, and left me mentally and physically exhausted.

I was so THANKFUL that my oldest sister and  her husband, and my middle sister and her kids were able to drop what they were doing and had planned to come home. I literally don't know what I would have done without them here. It just felt better with them here.

So, now that my Mom knows she has this  Diagnosis, as she calls it, it takes a big weight off of us. We can breathe, and not feel like we have to tip toe around. We met extremley wonderful people at the Alz. Association, Jill and Joyce, whom have been lifesavers for our entire family. They have become like family. We can  talk about it, and laugh and cry. Mom is open to talking with people, and she is understanding, as much as she can, more about it. So, it's Been the BEST thing, as I said. A Blessing, actually!! Now, it's off to Delightful Dishes.......Lunch time! Till next time......Keep following :)


Monday, January 16, 2012

It's ALWAYS My Fault

Growing up, I was the quiet shy child who never got in any trouble.  Allison, on the other hand, was the loud mouthed, getting into trouble, always starting stuff child.  I'm not use to getting blamed for things, especially by my mom.  But, for the past 2 years, EVERYTHING (well, everything that she doesn't blame on my dad) is ALWAYS my fault!

For instance, mom was cold one day last summer & went to check the thermostat.  She found that it had been turned down, and this made her very upset.  She immediately got angry, & started going off about how I always come over & turn down the air like its my house.  The reason this is funny, you ask - I had not been there in at least a month or more at this time.  Allison, who was currently at the house & the culprit, was quick to agree with mom & said she didn't know why I always did that either.  Of course, its sad that she didn't put together that I wasn't there, she wasn't cold the day before, or that Allison was there then.  But, you learn to laugh at the absurdity that it was me that turned the air down when I live over 3 hours away, & not to mention the fact that my own sister threw me under the bus, so mom wouldn't be upset with her.  Mom didn't talk to me for the rest of the week!

Starting the middle of last February, mom went about a month without talking to me because she was so mad.  According to her, my daughter was seriously sick, & I was keeping it from her.  My daughter's birthday is the middle of February, & mine is at the end of the month.  She wouldn't come down to celebrate her own granddaughter's birthday over her anger with me.  Of course, I cried a LOT over this, but then had to laugh at the absurdity again.  She still wouldn't talk to me a week & a half later on my own birthday!  By the way, my daughter is completely healthy. There is a lot more to that story, but its for another day!

Last week, I supposedly called my mother fat.  While she has gained a lot of weight lately, due to eating out all the time, I would never tell her or anyone that they are fat.  One of the things we discussed at the Alzheimer's Association was getting out & exercising & eating healthier.  On Tuesday, Allison had the day off & had planned on going to get mom & going to walk.  When I talked to mom that night, I asked if they went & walked to get her exercise in.  Somehow, from that, I called her fat.  She didn't talk to me for 2 days.  Luckily, she got over it pretty fast due to my 2 adorable children calling her on Skype!

I could go on & on with stories that I get blamed for.  But, in hindsight, I don't really mind being the one to get blamed.  I consider it my roll in this journey.  Yes, it is hard sometimes, but I have to remind myself that its the disease, and not my mother.  See, when my mom gets upset, she seems to direct all her anger towards one person.  If that person is my dad, or Allison, who do most of the day to day caregiving, it makes things really hard.  If its me, it doesn't really hurt other than me not getting to talk to her.  It also helps take away some of the guilt I feel for not being closer to help more.  I have my own way of helping - by it ALWAYS BEING MY FAULT!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

3 Important Things to Know When Dealing with Alzheimer's

This is a journey, so we're still learning about Alzheimer's. We'll share more as we go but here's 3 really important things we've learned so far:
  1. It's a family disease - meaning it takes a toll on the person with the diagnosis and on the people closest to that person. So, it's important to take care of the person with the diagnosis AND the caretakers.
  2. Laughter is an amazing medicine! It helps everyone - the person with the diagnosis, family and friends. It's hard to explain unless you experience it but it's okay to laugh about the disease. For instance, if Mom gets "mad" at one of us for something that we didn't do (but she thinks we did), we can talk with each another and laugh about the good news...she'll soon forget about being mad.
  3. The Alzheimer's Association has a ton of helpful information on their website - www.alz.org - including a zip code locator through which you can find local offices. In our opinion, Joyce Finkle and Jill Smith at the Spartanburg, SC Alzheimer's Association office are two of the most knowledgeable, caring and compassionate people we've ever met.
Lisa (also known as "The Jewel" - but that's another story)

Introduction & Background

This is a collection of stories about laughing through our tears.  We're 3 sisters who's mom & stepmom has recently figured out her diagnosis of Alzheimer's, or her "condition" as she refers to it.  Lisa, the oldest sister, lives near Charlotte & became a part of our mom's life when she was 10 years old.  Jennifer, the middle sister, lives near Charleston, which is the farthest away, & is a stay at home mom to 2 young children. Allison is the youngest & lives near Spartanburg, about 30 minutes away from our mom.  She works part-time & has 3 very active boys. 

Our mom just turned 66 this past December. We've known for years that something wasn't right, but it took us awhile to convince her she needed to see a doctor.  We finally got her to the doctor for her "headaches" & started medicine for dementia about 2 & 1/2 years ago.  The doctor tried to discuss the memory issues with mom, but she just shut down.  Last summer, Lisa finally found a doctor who was a much better fit for our mom.  We got an official diagnosis of Moderate Dementia, but once again, mom shut down when the topic of memory issues came up.  She went back to the doctor early in December 2011, & this time we got the official diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

A couple of weeks ago, she seemed to start putting things together.  She started crying a lot & mentioning that she felt like she was going crazy.  Then one day, she connected that it was Alzheimer's.  We don't know how.  Maybe it was from a commercial on tv, or she saw a paper with something on it at the house, but however she came to know, it has definitely been a huge blessing for our family.  First and foremost, it means she has had some clarity.  Secondly, we don't have to tiptoe around & its been a lot easier to get the resources we need in place to help her.  Lisa & Allison met with the local Alzheimer's Association in Spartanburg, which was a huge help.  We then all met up on Friday, & went with our mom & dad to the Association again so they could get questions answered & suggestions for resources & "to do's" that would help our mom, as well as our dad. 

The biggest lesson we have learned is that you have to laugh to get through the tears.  So here are our stories of laughing through our tears.....