Friday, February 28, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Choose

Today is a special day - my son's birthday.  Funny how with mom around we have to refrain from mentioning it too much - it upsets her and she scolds us for not telling her he had a birthday coming up.  It's part of our reality, so we are actually pretty good at the charade.  It's a new birthday tradition.

The newest tradition - that I am keeping to myself - is the choosing that goes into any special celebration.  Choosing that is necessary because I no longer work and bring home a paycheck.  I have chosen to stay home and care for my mom and my family as this Alzheimer's eats her memory and makes it impossible for her to care for herself.

This week's choosing was between meat for dinner a couple of evenings and taking my son out for a special birthday lunch.  Between a gift for him and keeping the lights on in both living areas so mom would be comfortable regardless of where she decided to sit.  Let's be honest - we can all do with a little less animal protein in our meals and I have legs that still work, so I can run from room to room turning things off and on.

It's just the burden of the HAVING to choose.  We are used to a bit of surplus in our lives.  Never excess, but always a little bit more than enough.  That is no longer where we live.

I have become an expert at juggling.  Planning.  Budgeting.  Price matching.  Couponing.  Going without quietly.  Being grateful for all that we do have.  Stretching.  Using everything!

I know all the way down to my shoes that I have made the right choice.  I know that this caring-for is far more impactful and important than a pedicure or a Sonic drink, but it is also exhausting.

This caring-for is soul sucking on some days when the vibe is off or the weather is cloudy or there's a new pain somewhere or a cushion is out of place and on those days a Sonic drink or a pedicure would be a wonderful option to choose...sadly, I have looked through the pockets and found all the stray ones and I will choose to take a walk or play a computer game or look through the pictures I have taken during this year WITH my family and know that I have been blessed by this choice.

This post is part of Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, in response to the prompt “choose” I wrote for 5 minutes and published without editing, in 5 minute Friday tradition.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You can live with it, but you'll never really get it...

Today mom had a doctor's appointment.  Just a check-up.  Just something we do each and every month.  A 20 minute appointment that takes up 2 hours start to finish.

One of the ways mom deals with things that are different (even though we all know she professes to love a change of pace!) is to stall.  She will start and stop getting up to put a little lipstick on 6 or 7 times to ask a question, search for a tissue, plump a throw pillow or brush off the front of her sweater to delay the start of whatever it is we have to do that is different.  She doesn't remember where we are going or why, but she can challenge the most patient of souls with the stalling.

I know exactly what time we have to leave to make the drive, park the car, walk to the building, get to the office, fill out the paperwork and still be on time to her doctor.  I start the process of getting her in the car 35 minutes ahead of time - THAT'S how bad the stalling has gotten.  Today was no different.
It is a process.  It requires planning and all the right words.  I have to make sure and say aloud the answers to all of the questions I know she has as we put her coat on, as we leave the house, as we get into the car and especially as soon as we leave our neighborhood.

I want to understand her anxiety so I can better empathize with her.  But it is impossible.  I have been in lots of cars, headed lots of places, with lots of different people having no idea the route we need to take or the time it will take to get there ... and I never care.  I don't care what street we are on.  I don't care if I've been there before.  I only care how long it will take if I fear we are going to be late (and if there's a time limit - I prefer to drive!) or if I need to stop and use a restroom.  I don't agonize over anything.  I enjoy the ride.  Or the music.  Or the conversation.  I adore the concept of being in a vehicle that I don't have to feed or clean or help with it's homework.  I love a road trip - they rarely talk back.

From the moment we turn out of our neighborhood, mom starts mumbling about having no idea where we are.  She wonders aloud, although quietly, if she's been here before.  What she will do, is say things that make no sense at all - she will see a guy on a bike and say "I see him on that bike every time we come this way." or "There's that guy - what's his name?"  I have no idea who the bicycle rider is and I've never seen him before - or the truck or the lady walking her dog or the kids playing at the playground.  I want to understand these questions.  I want to know how those dots connect.  I know I never will, but I want to. 

It would make sense for her to ask about the school we pass that her granddaughter attends or even the playground with it's bright colors or the line of trees we pass that are sometimes covered in twinkly lights and sometimes covered in leaves and right now covered in thousands of tiny white buds.  Those things we see every time we drive anywhere - because I always go the same way - just in case it helps her feel more comfortable.  But the truck that is passing by or the bike rider or the dog walker - these are 'one and done' things.  What makes her ALZ brain fake recognize these people and then get her to say something out loud about remembering them?

I also want to understand how this woman who constantly wants to be entertained or doing something different from the ordinary can complain so loudly about having to wait 2 or 3 or 5 minutes in a doctor's waiting area?  There are plenty of people to watch and everyone is so friendly - seems like it would be a nice change of pace.

I want to know why she demands to know the name of every street we are on and why the exchange has to be "I don't have any idea where we are.  Do YOU?" and she turns up her nose at me.  What does that mean?  Does she think I am kidnapping her?  Does she think I might take her somewhere and drop her off?  Does she even know who I am?  And what difference would it make if she did know the name of the street?

And after all the anxiety of the trip - even with the play by play provided by me to keep her entertained and informed without having to ask the questions.  Even with a treat from Sonic.  Even with a great report from the doctor.  Even with all that - how can she 100%, totally forget that we went?  We walked in the door.  I helped her take off her coat.  I hung it up as she sat down.  And the trip was gone.  Vanished.  Done.  Poof!

I have been able to process the fact that she can't remember what day it is or if it's lunch or dinner.  But forgetting something that took us out of the house and into the presence of other people just can't break through the barrier of understanding that my brain has set up.

It's Twilight Zone.  It's unbelievable.  Not that I don't believe her - I do....but it's unbelievable to my brain.  It's so difficult to process that kind of memory loss.  I have happily forgotten every single thing I learned in Algebra, but I still have memories of being in class.  I struggle to remember if I've worn a certain favorite sweatshirt too recently to wear it again to the Pointe, but I could probably nail the info down if I HAD to.  But to forget something completely out of the norm in less than 2 minutes - it's so hard for me to get my arms around it.

So I live with it and probably should just accept it and stop wondering about things like this.  But I can't.  Maybe I think with better understanding will come more patience or the right words.  I'm beginning to think there are no right words.  There are only kind words and patient words and understanding words.  Words that help confirm whatever she is thinking and feeling.  Who cares if they aren't true?  Does it help to remind her that she's been to the doctor?  Nope.  It just frustrates her because it's clear she has no memory of it.  So that makes her forgetful or me a liar.  Sadly, she is quick to jump to the "me a liar" rationale since it is easier for her to process than her forgetting. 

Alzheimer's is always referred to a cruel - I always thought it was because you forgot the people you loved.  I think it's also because it makes you afraid and confused and frustrated all the time.  And even though I live with it every day, I can assure you that I still can't figure it out.  It's just too unbelievable to believe.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pioneering in the Suburbs

Part of the new normal - one of my least fave parts, I must admit, is this setting of the alarm on Saturday in order to get up and keep mom on her schedule.

I had a total throw-back Friday night last night (to 1996ish)- escaped upstairs by myself (Patrick was home, so I left the fam to fend for themselves after 9:00) and watched the Olympics without apology.  Big ole Diet Dr. Pepper over ice.  Food Network magazine for the commercials.  Phone charged with a few games going with my faceless Gems with Friends and Ruzzle pals.  And 2 Jimmy Fallons on DVR.  Pure heaven.  I didn't speak a dozen words between 9pm and midnight.  I actually sent my son a text to bring me up a cold bottle of water...pitiful, but somehow a satisfying guilty pleasure!  Anyway, I got to sleep after 1:00, so the alarm was not my friend this morning.

One of the ways I treat myself on Saturdays is to make cereal instead of a hot meal.  No pans to wash!  YAY! and I put the Pioneer Woman on TV.  Mom doesn't understand Food Network - she likes news shows and talk shows and not surprisingly - kid shows.  The simple physical humor makes her laugh.  But HEY!  I had to set my alarm on a Saturday, so I get my Ree and Lad and wide open Oklahoma vistas.

The outcome of having two 30-minutes blocks of Pioneer Woman on in the mornings means nearly every Saturday evening or Sunday lunch we end up with a Pioneer meal on the table.  Tonight it's the Cowboy Tex Mex Fajitas that were on the first episode this morning.

I shopped, I marinated, I chopped and chopped and chopped, I QC'd more of the pico than was necessary (Melissa D'Arabian's easy pico, by the way - it's my new love! and the house smells divine.

The problem with all-day prep is it puts mom in flux.  That kind of activity usually means we will be eating within the hour.  And bless her heart - she can't remember what I have told her. She can sit with a digital clock right in front of her and can no longer tell you what time it is.  So she is antsy!  And she is trying to be "sly".  I want to be respectful and let her get her questions out before I answer them, but she is trying to hint and manipulate - 2 things that just aren't possible with ALZ - to see if it's nearly time for supper.  She still enjoys meals - the social part, the routine, feeling like she is participating just like everyone else.  So we've been dancing this weird when-is-dinner dance for the better part of 2 hours.

I guess that's why I decided to sit down at the computer.  Gathered all the pieces and parts, bowls and platters, ziploc bags and jars onto the back of the stove, cleaned the counters, turned off the lights in the kitchen (darned open-concept!), grabbed mom a bowl of grapes - her favorite snack that's not ice cream or a cookie and tried to bring some peace to the household.

Peyton is doing her part, by watching Dog with a Blog (NOT a fave - but the dog makes mom smile every time!) and I sense calm replacing anxiety.  I'm going to do most of the cooking outside on the grill, so I think we are safe for the rest of the evening.  Let's hope she likes the fajitas...heck, let's hope we all like them!  I always make a recipe exactly like it says the first time and then make notes on what needs tweaked if it's worth tweaking.   After all this - please let it not be an "I'm so sorry, it looked so good on the show" recipe!

I have faith in my Pioneer Woman - she rarely let's me down (I've chosen to forget about that unfortunate baked chicken spaghetti!)  Fingers crossed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Small

As soon as I saw the prompt, I knew what I needed to write about - and it wasn't for this blog.  It wasn't a mom story.  It was a daughter story - my daughter.  Perhaps it was because for the first time in a lot of days that have somehow added up to weeks, I spent an evening away from my home and from the routine of caring for mom.  My son, who was up to his armpits in homework and had to stay home anyway took the reins and my husband and I went off to see her drama performance at school.

So I wrote, for 5 minutes about a powerful moment with my daughter.  A moment I probably owe to my mom and this new life of caregiving.

So here I am now...back at this blog needing to share something I constantly push away from that may be one of the biggest gifts I have ever been given.


Seven years ago my life changed.  My step-father died and my mom was clearly unable to take care of herself.  So we moved her to Texas since I am her only family.

That's BIG.

The story that changed my life is small.

It happened around a kitchen table in my hometown preparing for mom's husband's funeral.  The minister asked the family to tell stories that he could share at the service.  And no one had anything.

Mom had some things she was trying to say, but she was grieving and forgetting more and more.  But his son of 50 years and his daughter-in-law - both who live about a mile away and their sons had nothing.  There was bitterness about a father who worked too much, was away too much, who played golf with his buddies and spent time at the country club.

There was a laundry list of the things he enjoyed.  But they were things done with others or by himself.  No stories.  No laughter.  No outpouring of the difference he had made or the hole that would be left.

And in that small moment - my entire world changed.  In that small moment - I decided I needed to make stories.  Regardless of whether they would be shared at my funeral or not.  I had to make stories with my family.

So I brought mom back to Texas and I got busy working less and OCD'ing less and started making stories and a full life with my husband and my kids.  And I thank God every day for giving me that blessing.  That small moment that has made my life so much bigger.

This post is part of Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, in response to the prompt “small” I wrote for 5 minutes and published without editing, in 5 minute Friday tradition.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Sounds of Alzheimer's

Every day brings something new - usually not something new and improved, but something new and different or new and more challenging or new followed by a big ole question mark!

New and improved would be seeing any improvement in mom - her ability to do for herself, her attitude, her mood, her enjoyment of life and of course, her memory.  I know it's not possible - but a girl can dream!

New and different isn't different to mom - to her it's the way it's always been and she should know and I should stop arguing.  The other day she decided she was supposed to get dressed before she got cleaned up.  I come from a family where we didn't all get ready in the morning in the same big bathroom.  We didn't have a big bathroom - one at a time, thank you very much.  But I have no idea how "she's always gotten ready". 

BUT - since she has lived with us, she has gotten up and headed straight to the bathroom to wash her face, brush her teeth and put her dentures in.  Every day.  Every day.  Not most days.  Every day.  THEN she makes her bed, gets dressed, puts on some make up, combs her hair and we have breakfast.  I time the toast by the sound of hairspray. 

Timing is important in our family's dance with ALZ.  Mom can't handle it when she comes into the kitchen and breakfast isn't ready.  I don't think she knows that that's how we usually do it, but she sure knows it's not right when it's not that way!  And that sets off a chain of anxiety that she just doesn't need.  So I time the toast to the sound of hairspray.  I get up and get ready in a certain way to ensure that she gets to maintain the all-important timing of her day.  It's the least I can do.

However - I am not a superhero.  I am not a mind reader, nor do I have a time machine or crystal ball to see into the future.  And if she is going to get ready before she gets cleaned up, I'm going to need a different cue to time the toast and I don't need that!  Anyway - that's a long way to explain that some days bring new and different...and for the sake of this post, let's just say this is also an example of new and challenging (although I meant more of the "I am pretty sure this is my nightgown, but I have no earthly idea how I am supposed to put it on.") when I say new and challenging.

This week has been full of new with a big ole question mark.  Mom has started being really vocal.  Not necessarily words vocal, but words, mumbles and sounds vocal.  There seems to be a fairly loud sound to go with all actions.  Getting dressed, making her bed (let's be honest - I make those sounds on some mornings!!!), getting up, eating - heck, even seeing what's on the table at meals may garner a sound!, seeing someone pass by the window, sounds to express opinion at every comment my daughter makes, the infamous "dee-dee-dee'ing" has reached epic levels and sadly, sounds to accompany everything that happens in the bathroom. 

It's sad and not at all unexpected...but I have 2 kids who are 12 and nearly 15 - bathroom sounds are funny.  They are fodder for faces, comments and their own sounds.  And I can't get mad at them.  I can ask them to be respectful - but they're bathroom sounds and if it was me or their daddy - they would be much worse on us than they are on grandma.  Or it's gross - and I'm ashamed to say that I feel that too.  I love my mom, but EW.  She raised me to be very private and "ladylike" about things like that.  I was never the kid who lit my farts or could belch the alphabet.  I would die.  And I am having the hardest time putting this new bathroom phenomena together with my mom.  And it's only been happening for about 3 days, so it could disappear just as suddenly as it appeared (I really hope so!) and it will just be another story.  But it could get worse.

And one of the things I am re-learning about my mom is that if she thinks she's getting to you - she's going to dial it up a notch.  When she "dee-dee-dee's" and she catches me trying to quite her down - she just sings louder.  I'm trying to warn the kiddos about this - don't make eye contact.  Don't break character.  Don't make a comment on the belching the bathroom announcements will just intensify and nobody wants that.  Nobody!

And you know what?  This would have been one of the stories I would have shared with mom and we would have laughed about in days gone by.  That's why I'm not beating myself up too much for not trying to shine this up and make it less-bathroomy than it is.  I guess I could try and romanticize it and make it like those people who grew up in New York City or Chicago and miss the sounds of gunshots when they move away...but I don't think I will even try! It's just another piece of this adventure we're in with mom and ALZ - I guess it's the soundtrack!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Underwater Understanding

Understanding can come in the strangest of places.  Empathy.  Tolerance.  Peace.  Sympathy.  Love.  All of it was waiting for me underwater this morning.

Just like every Tuesday, the alarm went off a 4:25am and I headed to the pool to get my laps in.  It's MY time.  It's not the most convenient of times or the preferred time, but it is MY time and that makes it worth the early morning wake up.

I look forward to my swim - 35 to 40 minutes of not-very-impressing lap swimming that keeps my knees and feet working, makes my arms and back strong, clears my mind and makes me proud of myself for making this healthy change to my life.  I look forward to the people I see every morning too.  Not that 5am'ers are very chatty.  We are focused...okay, they are focused.  I am thrilled to be in the presence of other adults who don't need anything from me! 

This morning was different.  No other swimmers.  No need to rush to secure my favorite lane.  And no Spencer, my odd little lifeguard friend.  Oh well, everyone else was probably just running late.


I swam for 25 minutes before Long-Tall Swimmer emerged from the locker room to join me.  And it was in this strange solitary swim that I think I may have gotten a better understanding of what mom is going through every day.

I was completely aware that I was the only thing the lifeguard (who I recognized, but didn't know) had to watch.  He's a lifeguard - clearly a more accomplished swimmer than me.  He's a kid, maybe 20, so obviously in much better physical shape than me.  And it was 5am, so he'd probably be thrilled to lay down in the Aquatics office - which he could have done if no one had shown up to swim.

I was underwater where I continue to struggle with breath control.  I'm better than I was, maybe better than I ever dreamed I would be, but swimming requires so much control to be able to swim any distance.

It was dreamlike.  Because even though it was strange to have the entire pool to myself - I always dream of that - especially on days when there are 9 or 10 of us in 3 lanes.

At about lap 3 I started to compare this to what it must be like to have Alzheimer's.  Recognizing people, but having no idea who they are except to know that your life may depend on them at some point.  Knowing that those around you are more able.  To remember.  To do physical tasks.  To function.  And the feeling that (whether it's remotely true or not) that that same person would be happier if you weren't around because you are making work for them.

The struggle for control is something I think I see in mom all the time.  Not to breathe, but to keep her hands from shaking or find a word that's gone missing.  All the while trying to hide it from us. 

Dreamlike kind of goes without saying.  She is in a dream.  Every day.  The other day she asked me "if anything was going on today?" and I told her I wasn't sure (the answer that seems to work better than other answers right now) and she smiled and told me she knew!  She's probably talked to 20 or 25 people today and couldn't remember if any of them had said what was planned for the day.  And she wasn't lying.  She wasn't trying to be deceitful.  I believe in her mind she did have conversations with those people.  Whoever they are.  Maybe old classmates from high school.  Maybe friends from when her and daddy were young.  Maybe people at the motel or at the country club or at Meadowlakes or the hair dresser.

Then at lap 19, Long Tall Swimmer showed up and I was glad to see him.  Glad to talk about the crazy Iron Man Swimmers, make small talk about the warm weather and get back at it.  Glad to have had the solitary swim experience to make me better at caring for mom, especially being patient with mom, but really glad to be able to get back to reality.  I wish I could find a way for mom to get back...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

This is new...

Mom has started pulling her sweater up around her face - sometimes all the way over her eyes and sometimes for hours at a time.  I have no idea why.  She doesn't seem to be sad or cold or frightened.  Maybe she's hiding?  I can't imagine from what.  Maybe it helps her feel safe.  Maybe it's a comfort.  

I know I will pull the blankets up all around my face (never over, but all the way around) to go to sleep when I am especially happy to be going to bed.  I find comfort in the feeling of a soft "blankie" on my cheeks.  Maybe that's what mom is feeling.

I tried to ask her, but she doesn't even know she's doing least I don't think she knows.  Every moment is such a mystery.  

Tonight at dinner she was saying how she never thought she'd get to where she couldn't just do everything for herself.  She hasn't the slightest idea of how long she has needed help.  I could tell she was more herself - not a child or a teenager - and although I don't think she knows exactly who I am, she knows she knows me.  I was able to look in her eyes and smile.  I love that.  

There are times when looking her directly in the eye makes her uncomfortable or angry or brings out the spit and vinegar.  Tonight it was okay.  Tonight I could tell her that we would always be here to help her with anything she couldn't do.  That she didn't need to worry about anything.  Tonight.

Friday, February 14, 2014

FMF: Garden

I must admit, garden wasn't the word I was hoping for today, and yet it seems just right after my trip to the doctor with mom today.

She has a new-ish habit of singing/humming to prove to the world that she is not invisible.  To participate in conversations she is no longer able to participate in.  To prove she is "Fine".  "Happy".  "Joyful".  "Not a Care in the World".

She sings at the top of her lungs in the waiting rooms of the doctors these days.  She is nervous.  She knows she should KNOW where she is, but she knows she has no idea.  And she is too proud to ask because she doesn't want anyone to know she doesn't know.

I arm myself with topics before our trips anywhere so I can create a diversion at the drop of a hat.  Today she actually started the conversation by mentioning a beautiful green plant in a beautiful clay pot.

My mom used to be able to grow anything inside.  She would stop at friends or a business, see something she fancied, cut a slice off, wrap it in a kleenex, take it home,  put it in a cup of water on the kitchen windowsill and behold - a new plant was born.  She had the touch.  The proverbial green thumb.  She didn't garden outside, but she made so much beauty inside our home.  She always said the containers of plants in the living room window was her special garden.

I think she was always so busy working and trying to prove she wasn't her mother, that she never got down on hands and knees and dug in the dirt outside.  Like lots of other things - she was going to garden HER way!

By my last visit to see my Grandma Bonita, mom's mom, she had taken over half her yard over for her garden.  Talk about the touch.  Veggies, flowers, grasses and the best rhubarb EVER!  I wanted to talk to mom about that today but those memories are gone for her.  I tried to talk about the plants she grew at our home and she smiled, but she was just being polite.

So we talked about the beautiful green plant in the beautiful clay pot at the doctor's office until it was our turn.   I wonder if I could grow a little rhubarb this year in my garden.......?

This post is part of Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, in response to the prompt “garden” I wrote for 5 minutes and published without editing, in 5 minute Friday tradition.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Another 5-Minute Friday: Write

I find myself looking forward to Fridays these days for the express reason that I HAVE to write on Fridays - I have to!  I made a commitment to myself that I was going to join with a group of women who write powerful, wonderful, wistful things every Friday - 5 minutes at a time.  How wonderful that today's prompt is "Write"!  Here goes....

I was raised to have a 'stiff upper lip'.  No whining.  Not too much emotion (failed).  Suck it up.  and that's what I'm good at.  Evolved as I am - ready to cry at the drop of a hat today, I find myself a bit of a hard case.  I do hide my feelings - behind sarcasm, or laughter, jokes, organizing closets - things like that.  I try to be strong for my kids, my mom, the people who happen to be in whatever room I am in, my co-workers (back in the day when I had co-workers), the people in line at the grocery, at Target, in traffic.  Tough.  Glass half full.

Tough way to live when you are the primary caregiver for your family.  But what good would it do to talk out your frustrations or tell stories that can't be changed or made better.  This ALZ is not something that gets better.  Or less frustrating.  Or has a happy ending.  It is what it is.

So I write.  I started this blog to capture my kiddos lives and to share with their Grandma who is the world's best grandma and, sadly, is the farthest away grandma.  And then mom got sick...

I decided to write about this struggle.  About the things that happened daily so I would remember.  So my kids would have them as reference when my time comes to forget.  That's all it was supposed to be.

As it turns out - writing is praying.  Writing is therapy.  Writing makes me brave and resilient and stronger than I ever thought I could be.  Writing is memories.  Writing, even when no one is reading sharing with the universe.  You never know who may come across something I've written and realize they are not alone.  Maybe this will be my "Notebook" and will help me when my children come to visit and I can't remember who they are.  Writing...there goes the alarm! warm and cozy and hot chocolaty.  Writing is air and water and sustenance.  Writing is sanity!  Man, I love Fridays!

This post is part of Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, in response to the prompt “write” I wrote for 5 minutes and published without editing, in 5 minute Friday tradition.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

ALZ with a head cold...

So, we are experiencing a first in my caregiver world.  A big ole head cold.  Trivial, considering the number of deadly flu cases in the Metroplex, but not so trivial when it feels like some cowboy has parked an F-150 on my sinuses!

Mom doesn't understand head colds unless she has one.  She is very in tune with her immediate symptoms.  Although she can't remember being in the hospital or any illness once she has recovered - but when she is in the throws of pain or discomfort - she knows. 

But when I am sick - she recognizes no symptoms, it would never occur to her to say "Bless You" when I sneeze, she can't remember or empathize or sympathize even when I flat out tell her "I'm sick". She expects (and I expect) breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, the house clean, activities, her appointments, the occasional drive through the neighborhood, conversation and patience.  I can muster most of the above, but the patience is a challenge.

I tend to carry most of my colds in my sinuses for the first few days and then it settles into my throat.  I get croaky and coughy and gravely.  And it hurts.  Vocal rest was always prescribed back in the day before I was a mom and caregiver and actually went to the doctor, but vocal rest is impossible these days.  So, when I have to tell her the day of the week for the 20th time and my voice is raw - I get so frustrated.  Sometimes at her - I mean, I pulled out her atomic clock as a reminder.  I wrote it on a sheet of paper and put it on her walker (along with some other fun facts to help her remember without me answering), I set the white board calendar (with the day circled in purple) in plain sight. 

And sometimes at myself.  She doesn't remember.  It's her favorite point of reference.  I can tell that she thinks if she can only figure out what day it is, all the other missing facts will fall into place.  That's not how it actually works, but I somehow feel in my heart that that is why she asks. It's what sparks this look on her face as she repeats the day back to me that Thursday, or Saturday or Monday should MEAN something.  It doesn't.  And I should be more patient. 

Truthfully, I succeed about 80% of the time being patient with a head cold...down from my 90% on a regular, non-head-cold day.  And just like she doesn't remember that I don't feel well, she doesn't remember if I am short with her.  But in the moment it happens - it makes her mad or breaks her heart.  And she doesn't need that.  She may not know it, but she has enough to deal with every day. 

When I stop and think about how beautifully she is handling not having the vaguest idea where she is or who she is and who I am and why I am and why, why, why without breaking down and crying or hiding under the blankets it increases my patience.

Take a couple more tylenol, blow my nose, wash my hands, grab a mug of hot ginger green tea, say thank you in a prayer or in my journal and caregiver on!