Dougie

I have agonized over whether to blog about this or not. I love my husband, deeply. We have been married for 47 years. But I can see that I am going to need an outlet – just for me! Since I believe only 2-3 people follow my blog, I’m not that concerned about his privacy. I will need to vent, on occasion. I have some truly wonderful friends, but, let’s face it. I can not, in good conscience, burden them with this. So – here goes.

My sweet, handsome, loyal, loving husband (who, just this month turned 67 years old) has early on-set Dementia. He has probably had it for about 3 years now. But he is also a diabetic and his sugar has been through the roof, so different things have presented themselves over this time period. It is only recently that we got a firm diagnosis.

He is seeing a neurologist who, on the first appointment, ordered a cat scan to rule out tumors, small strokes, etc. None of that was the case, but Doug didn’t do well on the verbal test. He got the date wrong. Didn’t know the President’s name (Doug can’t stand him and didn’t vote for him, so, no surprise to me that he forgot his name!)

He is on medication that lets him sleep well and helps control his paranoia. Oh, the stories I could tell about that!  Think, Robin Williams. I have read a lot about his particular type of dementia and see similarities to Doug’s. I pray my husband will not end up as Robin did. I will do my very best to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Stay tuned;  if you want. This will be quite the journey!

 

Not Friday Night

Here’s a lesson for you. DO NOT, go out on Thursday night and act like it is Friday night. I repeat – Do Not!

So, Doug and I go out for Happy Hour (the prices, not the attitude) Thursday after work. I get off at 4:30, so this is 4:45 maybe. He orders beer; I can get a whole bottle of wine on Happy Hour for the cost of a regular glass later in the evening. So, let’s do that. A couple of glasses later, we order food. He gets chicken tenders; I order warm spinach artichoke dip.  Had a nice time. Leave for home. Get home, it’s still early. Have another glass of wine.  Okay, getting tired. Let the dogs out one last time. Lock up – set the alarm. Start for bed. WAIT! Where’s the little black dog? Where’s Max? Look Everywhere. Did we leave him outside? (We’ve done that before). Throw open the door – the alarm starts whaling! Run to shut off alarm. Not worried about my neighbors. This happens, a lot. Plus the people next door? Please. Stay at home Mom. Two little girls. School is out. Plus – you have an I ground pool. So – shut it!

Still looking for black dog. Find him – in the bed – under the covers, oblivious. Get into bed ourselves. My cell phone rings. It’s the alarm company. “Who am I speaking to?” She asks Me. What?? You called my cell phone! (Do robbers, rapists, kidnappers generally answer someone’s cell phone after breaking into their house?) Told her my name, so then she asks me my code for the alarm. Huh? Lady, it’s late. I’m tipsy, I don’t know! So she says, “Are you okay?” Yes, yes I am. She hangs up.

I finally go to sleep only to wake up and realize – THIS is Friday! I have to go to work! Yuck!

(And I add this part, only as a disclaimer – if you eat the warm spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer, the next day, your poop will be dark green. Just sayin’) Stay tuned.

 

So, Monday…

So last Monday morning it was 28 degrees outside and frosty when I got ready to leave for work. My car, that I call “Big Blackie” is a big Mecury Mountaineer that is used and has problems, but I love it. So, in order to “warm” the car up enough to drive it, takes about 15-20 minutes (and I don’t even guess how much gas!) So I go out, drivers’ door is a little frozen, but eventually opens. I start the car, turn on the heater, defrost, everything. Got out, tried to close the car door. It would not shut. I went back in the house to wait.

Long, 30 minutes later, after several (12) tries, I could not get the driver’s side door closed!!! I tried and tried, but to no avail! So, I get in the car, put my seat belt on, and Held my door closed . All the way to Work!

I arrived okay; worried that if the door wouldn’t close, my interior light would stay on all day. By the time I got off work at 4:30, I would have to deal with a dead battery. That was a problem for later. For now, I turned the car off, threw my keys into my purse, got out of the car and tried, again, to close the door. It Closed!  AND LOCKED!!!  My purse, my lunch is now Locked in the car!  Great!

In case you are wondering,  Doug and I had had  “words” earlier, so he was unaware of the trouble I was having. And, for the record, I DO have a hide-a-key thing with an extra key in it. But I had not gotten around to putting it on my car yet.

So, I go into work, tell my pitiful story, and try to call Doug to bring me an extra key. He hasn’t turned his phone on. My friend, Megan, asked me if I have AAA. I tell her, yes, but my card is in my purse, In The Car! She says she will call them and tell them it is her car. Sweet girl. She does. They come and unlock my door.

End of story?  Uh, no!  It’s Monday!  I get off work, drive thru the cleaners to drop off Doug’s winter coat to be cleaned. I also brought along a couple of his jackets that needed new zippers. I hand the lady the coat thru my window, then go to hand her the jackets. What I have, however, are two pairs of slacks;  not jackets!  Geeze.

Since I’m out, I call Doug to see if I can bring him supper. (He still knows Nothing about my day). He says yes, so I pull thru Fazzoli’s drive thru, place my order, get my total, and pull up to the window. Went into my purse to grab my wallet. Nothing, Nada, not there. Dump my purse into the car seat – Nope!  Ask the little girl if they take checks. Of course, she said, No.  So,  I told her,  “Never Mind”.

Drove home.  Opened a bottle of wine and prayed for Tuesday!  Stay tuned.

 

 

Sarah’s Gone

Sarah was my 90 year old Mother, who passed away last week from a stroke. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. In a way, it was a blessing that she passed on to a better place. This blog entry is not so much about my Mother as it is about what happens After someone dies. I am infamous for my Gallows humor, so if you think this entry might offend you, you need to skip it.

My Mother is certainly not the first person that I have lost. Two sets of grandparents, my father and, early in life, my brother. However, as the oldest, this was my first experience of “handling” someone’s death. My father had purchased 4 cemetery plots years ago, in Tennessee. My father, my brother, and my grandmother were already there. Great! I know where she is going to be. Her only sister lives in Nashville, so that works. My sister, who lives with me, and was Mother’s favorite, has always been sheltered, when possible. And especially now that she is handicapped, I try to completely handle everything for her. However, I also wanted to include her in being involved in Mother’s burial. We knew, per Sarah’s request, that she had wanted to be cremated. So, we know how, and we know where. Easy-peesy- right? HA!

My sister, my husband and I went to the local funeral home to start the process. It might be of interest to know that my Mother had nothing, owned nothing, no will, no life insurance. She had lived in the nursing home for almost five years. She chose cremation thinking it was cheap; plus she often talked about not wanting people to “gawk” at her in a casket.

So we meet with “Dwayne”, who is trying to be friendly and helpful. I told him this was my “first time” and I would need his help to get through this. I had to bring a photo ID of Sarah, which he immediately scans into the computer. Her picture is projected onto a large screen on the wall, along with about 20 questions that we have to answer. I never knew there would be a Quiz! Where was your mother born? I’m sure, at some point, that I knew the answer to this question, but, I’m 64 years old now. I’ve forgotten. I looked at my sister. “I don’t know”. Great! So we try quessing (There is no one to ask – Did I mention that Sarah’s only sister Also has Alzheimer’s? Yeah.) I knew the state was Tennessee; maybe Smryna, LaVergne? My sister suggested Murfreesboro. Dwayne was getting a little impatient, so he typed in Tennessee native and moved on. Next question – what high school did she graduate from? She was 90! Is this important? We skipped that one.

After we struggled through the obituary (do we name the grandchildren or no? Can you think of all the great-grandchildren’s names?) it was on to the “arrangements” and oh yes, the all important , Pricing. So much for “cheap”. Cremation is $3000.00! To run her obituary in our podunk newspaper is $94. Add tax. Did I mention- there are no easy payment plans. Check or credit card – NOW. I wrote a check for $3,100.00 on a Monday morning, that I didn’t have FYI. Okay, assuming the check clears, you can pick up your mother’s remains on Wednesday. She’ll be in a nice box and we will provide a pretty white plastic bag to transport her in. You will receive 2 copies of her death certificate. Hand shakes, all around. Nice of you folks to stop by.

Next, I call the cemetery. First person that answers the phone asks if my mother is deceased. Uh, yeah. That’s why I’m calling! Hold on, I’ll transfer you. Next person – if your mother is deceased, I’ll need to transfer you to the cemetery section.  Do people actually call up cemeteries about Living people? I don’t know. After the third phone call, I got Holly. I explained that my mother, yes, is deceased, was being cremated as we were speaking. Plot is paid for, when can we do this? Easy? Nah!

First, to dig a 4 x 4 hole for my mother is $895. We will take credit card payment over the phone. Next, your mother can Not go into the ground in a box, silly. You have to purchase a vault. Ours start at $750 and must be preordered.  Oh, and someone from the family must come here and verify the site. Yes, she knows which site it is. Yes, it has my family name all over it. Yes, she can see it from her office window. Still. The site must be verified at least 24 hours before the gravesite service. So if you want the service on Friday, ya better get someone over here. Did I mention – I live 80 miles away, in Kentucky, and I’m at work? Okay, called my cousin, in Nashville. Yes, they can go verify the site. Great.

Went to the funeral home on Wednesday to pick up Mother. Tim handed me a cardboard box the size of a personal pan pizza box, only a little deeper. Okay. Told him I needed a vault for burial. Did they have any – cheap? Sold me one for $150 (yay, a sale). Looked like a plastic waste can with a lid. Gunmetal gray. He put the box in the vault, stuffed bubble wrap around it (so she wouldn’t slide during transport), sealed the lid and handed me papers saying she was dead.

Okay – this is Wednesday. Burial is not until Friday. I have tried to keep my sister out of this part, so now what? I’m not going to take her into the house, so. So, I let her ride around in the back of my car for 2 days. It’s not like leaving your dog in a hot car, right? She’s already been there, done that.

Friday finally came. Sarah is resting, at last, where she wanted to be. Please, please, make things easier for the people who will be left behind to deal with all this. It’s not enough to say what you want. Leave some money for your people to deal with things.  Remember the Quiz!  Write things down! Where were you born? What school did you graduate from? What was your mother’s maiden name? Please don’t just assume that your children or relatives automatically know this stuff!  Help them out!

Rest In Peace, Sarah!  You were Loved!  See ya again, someday!❤️

It’s the Same Thing All Over Again

So, this morning was hair day. It’s also Wednesday. Wednesday is my busiest day at work. I mean, I have to Work, all Day, on Wednesdays. I shower every day, but only shampoo my hair twice a week – three times, if I have a wedding to go to. So, I get in the shower, turn the water on, get myself good and wet, and reach for the shampoo. Wait. Where is the shampoo? What? Oh, there it is! No, wait – this says conditioner. Shit! Now, I remember! Last time it was hair day, I took my shampoo to the guest bath, (which is Doug’s) so I wouldn’t wake him (the Master), by using the shower in the Master bath. (Which my sister and I share). So – to recap – my shampoo is in the other shower, I am soaking wet, and everyone else is asleep! Great!

Okay. Let’s make a plan. My sister shampoos the dogs in this tub. Their shampoo is in a basket on the back of the toilet in this room. I can reach that! Pretty sure I have a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in there. Don’t want to get soap in the little doggies’ eyes. Okay, let’s see. Yep. Here it is! Johnson’s Baby Bath Wash. What? That’s not shampoo! What else is in this basket? Flea and Tick Shampoo? I don’t think so.

Looking around the tub itself, we have bar soap (Irish Sping-Love the smell!), Pantene Conditioner and Zest Body Wash. Okay, here goes! Used the Body Wash and the the Conditioner on my hair and the bar soap on my body. I must tell you, the Body Wash smelled amazing, but took a long time to rinse out. Got out, troweled off, dried/ styled my hair. Felted really clean. Went to work.

As it was Wednesday, did not notice my appearance until almost lunch time. Had  several people comment on my hair. Went to ladies room and looked in the mirror. My hair was shinny, full, Beautiful!

Will probably alternate shampoo and body wash from now on! Just sayin’.

Don’t Tell Me You “Love” Me

I am so ashamed of myself! And I’m ashamed of most of the people I know! At any age, but Especially at my age, I/we need to stop giving “lip service” to the very strong feelings that we share as human beings. It’s all well and good to have people wish you well, or tell you to have a nice day or say they are praying for you. My favorite is when someone tells me they love me. Really? Really. When was the last time you called me? When was the last time you came over to my house to visit? Invited me to lunch? Invited me to the movies or to go shopping? And I am as guilty as any one! We are all so damn Busy! I know. I know we have family, church, other friends, work. Of the people my age, I’m one of the few who still has a 40 hours a week job. Still. Humans need other humans. We need the “good thoughts” from our friends, we need the prayers, we need the well wishes. Hell, we need Friends! But what we most want and Need and Crave is physical presence! We need to See our friends.

I have been trying to be better at this. You really have to make a conscious decision to put a plan together. Will you get to see Everyone that you need to see? Probably not. Like I said, we are Busy. But I am making a list, in order of importance, of people that I Need to see. As I make my rounds, I can only hope that people will follow my lead. Your family and especially your friends, need to see your face. Hold your hand. Receive your hug.

Please don’t tell them that you love them. If there is any physical way for you to do it, go to them. Go SHOW them that you love them, care for them, care About them. There is an old saying, “Don’t come to my funeral and cry and tell me how much you love me. Come to my house and tell me now, while I am still here”.

At my age, life goes by so very fast. I plan to use each day, for as long as I have, to SHOW my family and friends how much I love them. No sense in letting them assume. I want them to absolutely know for a fact!

Stay tuned.

Don’t mind me – I’m not here.

Before this sounds like the ultimate “pity party”, let me just say – that is not at all, my intention. However, something happened to me this week that has totally opened my eyes to my very real present; and, unfortunately, my future. In sharing this, I am realizing that it happens to All of us, as we age. Totally, not fair, but, there you have it. What is “it”, you ask? I have become irrelevant in my life. Let me say that again – Irrelevant. In my own life! How can that be? This week, something happened to me, that showed me, that if I totally disappeared, if the Rapture came and took me immediately (not much chance of that, but stay with me), how life would continue, quite nicely, thank you, without me there! How odd! How very strange to realize, for the very first time, that I am not relevant. Not to my workplace, not in my very few social groups, not in my family (outside my personal house. Because I still cook and do laundry, I think I am still relevant there).

It is like standing behind a clear curtain (think Wizard of Oz, but the curtain is clear, not green). I can see myself standing with people, having a conversation, being part of a group. Then I can (mentally) take one step back, the clear curtain comes down and I don’t exist. I don’t matter! How is it possible?

This is not about ego. It is simply a revelation that I have reached an age where I am not relevant, not included, not sought after, not consulted, not considered. I Hate being looked at, and addressed as, an old woman! And yet, hello! I am!

Can not wrap my mind around Any of this. I have known, for a while now, that Alzheimer’s and a wheelchair are in my future. But I’m thinking, what, 20 years? God willing. But it truly never occurred to me how I (and others my age or older) are viewed and treated! Thankfully, I don’t hear what people say about me after I leave a room. But, good or bad, I believed someone Did talk about me or commented or gave a Thought to the fact that I had Been in the freaking room! Now, I’m thinking, not so much!

I work with women(?) who are young enough to be my daughters and a few could be my grand daughters. I am older that most of my bosses. I always try to be involved and “relevant” where I can. I show interest in their (very small) children, pets, husbands that treat them wrong. I Don’t correct anyone’s grammar, or make fun of anyone but myself. I help others with work if they need it. I show up, everyday, on time and nicely dressed. (For a woman of my age!)

My grown children, for all intents and purposes, are gone; not to return unless there is a medical emergency. My grandchildren are too grown and too busy to fool with me. My friends have a “see ya, maybe” attitude that I get, but still.

My parents and grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, hell, most grownups over the age of 25, were Revered! Didn’t matter if they were good people, bad people, they were our Elders! We loved and respected them; included them. We checked on them; sought their advice.
What changed? I really thought I had a lot more time to enjoy and contribute to society before my name was followed by “What are we going to do about Mother?”

Sunday in Mexico

Unlike the dismil weather report, Sunday dawned with bright sunlight and very warm temperatures! We were excited to start our day! The breakfast buffet was awesome! We changed into swimsuits and headed to one of the six pools on the property. I applied sunscreen to my very white skin. We settled back on lounges and listened while a Mexican band played poolside. A waiter came by and after taking our drink order, offered us fruit. I said yes to a large toothpick with pineapple, honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe on it. Delicious! Lying back, in the warm sun, enjoying the music, Ah! Vacation!
Wait a minute – What? Ow! What? My lips are swelling! Ow! No, really! Swelling and burning! Like twice the size of Angelina Jolie’s! What is happening?
Within an hour, my hands, arms and face were red and swollen. Basically, everywhere I had put sunscreen was on Fire! Was I allergic to the sunscreen? This was a brand I had never bought before. At any rate, I was hurting and the longer we stayed out there, the worst I felt! I moved to the shade and was still hurting, but bearable. Doug got to lay out and enjoy the sun. We showered(a cool shower for me), and went to dinner. Super Bowl? Forget it! When we went to bed, I slept solid until 12:30 when I awoke with Horrible pain in my arms and hands! This was not like sunburn pain – this was tissue deep pain. I lied awake until sunrise. We dressed, went to breakfast, and then to the store on the property. We bought me a hat, long sleeved shirt, and gel to put on my skin. Monday, we toured the property. The pictures I took and posted to FaceBook where from the 9th floor. Beautiful!
We decided to go back to the pool. If I stayed in the shade, or kept my skin wet, I could stand to be outside. We passed a pleasant day, eating lunch at the outside bar (in the shade) and enjoying drinks. The alcohol actually helped my condition (imagine!). Monday night when I payed down, my face was absolutely on Fire! I was trying not to cry. I payed there, hurting until almost 1:00 in the morning when I finally fell asleep.
Won’t bore you with more of this except to say – Tuesday was no better and by Tuesday night, I was afraid I would have to go to the Hospital. But Wait! I can’t go to a Mexican Hospital! Are you kidding? So I suffered on! I had looked up my symptoms on Web MD and decided that I had sun poisoning. I have been sunburned in my life, but never Anything like this!
Wednesday, when we woke up, it was Raining! Yay! We stayed in the room, all day, watching movies and ordering room service. I did not look any better, but Wednesday was the first day that I was not in horrible pain!
Thursday, we got up and made our way Home! It wasn’t until we were at the airport, in conversation with another passenger, whose husband was a Doctor, that she happened to ask me, was I taking an antibiotic? Light Bulb Moment! Hello! I had been fighting a sinus infection for over two weeks and, yes, I had been taking Major antibiotics! My sinuses were Great! My skin? Not so much!
Today is Friday. We are back home, thank God! I went to my doctor today and got a cortisone shot. Hopefully, I’ll feel better. In the meantime, Doug and I have decided to retire our passports. If we go on vacation again, A. I won’t tell anyone and B. It will be in the United States. Stayed tuned.

Mexico – Part 3 – Still Saturday

The rental car driver lets us off in front of the airport and unloads our luggage. My “free” ride to the hotel has long gone. The only other form of transportation was a taxi. The taxi wanted $80 to drive us to the hotel because gas is so high in Mexico. Doug got him down to $40 and I was too tired to argue. We climbed into another van and off we went. By now it’s getting dark and we have been travelling for 12 hours. We drive about ten miles and the driver says he must pull over and get in with “headquarters”. This will only take a minute. He pulls up in a run down establishment that looks part convenient store/warehouse and stops the van. He returns within a couple of minutes and opens our door, saying we need to take the smaller taxi. Once again, me, Doug, and our luggage was swapped to a much smaller car. When the driver opens the back door to let me in, I hesitated for a long time. The interior of the car looked like 20 cats had been locked in there for quite a while. Needless to say, the upholstery was torn to shreds! I finally got in; not seeing any other options! Doug and I are in the backseat and our driver takes off. It is now pitch dark. We drive and drive. Our driver says not a word! We pass out of the city to a very dark 2 lane road that is surrounded by mangroves and dense foliage. We travel for 30 minutes until Doug asks the driver, “Do you know how long it will take to get to our hotel? ” his reply? “Yes”.
That’s it! That’s the only word he spoke to us the entire trip! The longer we rode, the more nervous Doug and I became! I read Stephan King, I listen to the news! I am positive this is Not going to end well! I am picturing this guy pulling over to the side of the rode and robbing/killing us. The is no one around to help us. Doug and I exchange a long look. I know he is thinking the same thing I am. Just as Doug opens his mouth (to scream, question,?), we go around a curve and there it is! Our Hotel! It’s Beautiful! Yay! We can’t believe it!
The driver lets us out. We go into this wonderful place and check in. Our room is on the main floor (there are nine floors – over 450 rooms!) We are shown to our room. It’s 8:00! We are starved and exhausted! We ordered a cheeseburger via room service and inhaled it! Climbing into the big, comfortable King sized bed, I checked the weather report for the rest of the week as Doug was falling asleep. Weather Report? 60% chance of Thunderstorms for the next six days! Well, F_ _k it! And Goodnight!

Mexico – Part 2 – Still Saturday

We landed in Dallas, no problems. Wheelchair escort to the next gate. I generally Hate to be in a wheelchair, but, when traveling – bring it on! Next flight is 2 hours to Cancun. We spent a fair amount of time filling out two pages of personal info in order to enter into the country. It took all I could do, not to mention border crossings and why do we need to fill out this paperwork? We arrived at 4:00 local time. Okay. You need to know when we landed in Cancun, the hotel where we were staying had a Free courtesy shuttle to the hotel. But I had rented a car for the week (very cheap), thinking we would go exploring, etc. We arrived in Cancun, no problems. Problems started as soon as we entered the terminal. Young man helped with our luggage, pushed my wheelchair into the largest throng of people I have ever encountered! All pitching deals, sign here, come with me, free lobster dinner, free ferry cruise, sign here, sign here. Took us thirty minutes to get through this tiny airport to where our shuttle waited. Okay. This is the point in my story, the point in our trip, that is Totally on Me. We get outside and are confronted with two rides. The driver of the hotel shuttle has a large card with my name on it. So does the rental car guy! Okay, now what? My decision (remember; it’s My decision), was to sign off on the Free ride to the hotel and wait for our rental car. Outside the airport, was a Margaritaville Hut. Doug and I got a cold beer while waiting for our rental car.
Beautiful afternoon, cold beer, on Vacation! The van to take us to the rental car place pulled up. (Note to self: If rental car site is not In the airport, ie, Budget, Hertz, etc., use extreme caution!) We load luggage and ourselves into the van, which takes us about two miles down the road to the car rental place – Called, USafe Rental. The rental office was a small trailer. Parked inside of a gated 100 x 200 lot was parked in every direction, about 25-30 small white cars that looked alike. Whatever. We are in Mexico, and this is Not Hertz!
I stayed in the van while Doug went to pick up the rental car. I had paid for it at the same time I booked our trip, so, no problems, right? Do you remember where I said we were?
So, Doug is in the little trailer, our driver is unloading our luggage. I assume that means I need to get out of the van as well. I follow the driver to the trailer, where Doug is coming down the steps (he has NO keys in his hand), followed by a woman. I look at Doug and he says they want an additional $26 a day for insurance on the car. I tell the woman that my personal car insurance wll cover us. She argues that in Mexico, no insurance covers rental cars. We must take out a separate policy for $26 per day. I told her No. Give me my money back that I have already paid. She says the website where I booked has the car rental money. I have to contact them! She has no money! Fine! Can your driver take us on to our hotel? NO! He will take you back to the airport; that’s all! So, we got our luggage and climbed back into the van for the ride Back to the airport! Stay tuned!