Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Mind Lost

Howdy, everyone!

Boy, did we just have the mother lode of storms, so to speak! Rain, hail, thunder...it made me think I was in Michigan again!!  I loved it.  It went on for about 30 minutes and now it's down to a little sprinkle.  I'll bet the cacti in the desert are really sucking the water in!!!

I went to the doctor yesterday because my right foot is absolutely killing me with that "fire" sensation all the time.  I'm already on 800mg of Neurontin and now she has upped that to I still take the 800mg pill, but I add a 100mg pill with it three times a day.  I have to admit, I haven't had that "fire" sensation too much since the medication change!  Thank goodness!  I'm still falling, though. I did it again this morning. I was on the computer and must have fallen asleep and leaned too far back in the chair and I toppled backwards to the floor, chair and all.  I am so damn sore from all these little mishaps!  I wish they would stop!  I got rid of the fire feeling, but added thigh and leg pain because of the fall.  ARGH!

You may wonder why I titled this post "A Mind Lost."  Today I'm going to share with you my grandpa, who had Alzheimers and lost his battle to it (that and pneumonia) in July of 1993.  He was a wonderful, kind-hearted man who deserved a much better way to leave this Earth than how he did.  He went from doing complicated math problems to not being able to tie his shoes.  He gave my grandma a very hard time.  He would think she was a man (probably because of the short hair) and wouldn't let her sleep in the bed with him.  She spent many nights out on the couch. Sometimes he would even throw her out of the house, so she would go to the car. She had to cover up all the mirrors in the house because it would upset him to see his own vision. THAT wasn't him...he saw himself as how he was back in the war days. So he kept thinking that an old man was following him.  He'd forget that he already ate and would eat again. So many things happen with Alzheimer's and I hate it.  It makes you do things and say things that are mean and hurtful.  I remember when we were going back to Michigan with him to take him to a VA hospital, at the motel we had a second floor room with lots of mirrors, of course.  Motels love 'em!  He went into the room, saw the old man following him again, and out the door he went.  My mom went to stop him and he got up to her face and said, "If you don't move, I'll throw you right off this balcony."  My mom said, "I love you, Dad. We are staying here for the night.  It's OK."  And he said, "Well, I DON'T love YOU!" and pushed past her and went downstairs.  Grandma flew down the steps after him and somehow, Grandpa found this huge rock and he began chasing Grandma with it around the yard of the motel.  I was in such shock, I had no idea what to do.  Mom was in the bathroom, because when she gets stressed she always has to take a crap and she kept telling me, "call the police!"  Well, the police were already called by a church group who saw the whole show as they there raking leaves next door.

The cops were really nice and talked with us and with Grandpa.  He wouldn't go anywhere else with us and he definitely needed some sort of evaluation at the hospital.  So the cops took him and we followed behind.  At the hospital, he totally flipped out and was never the same again.  I think he had a stroke. He couldn't walk anymore, his speech was garbled and he refused to eat, so they placed a feeding tube until Grandma signed a paper stating not to restart his heart if it should stop. And to remove the tube feeding.  He wouldn't have wanted that.  They transferred him back to Yuma, where he died four days later of bad pneumonia.  We learned that according to the MRI he had at the VA in Phoenix, he only had a quarter left of his brain that still functioned.  The Alzheimer's ate up everything else.  It is a challenging disease, none I'd wish on anybody.  My grandma went through hell, but so did my grandpa.  I'll bet he was extremely scared not knowing who the people are around him.  Or not knowing where you are and how you got there.  We need a cure for this.  I'm happy, though, that medications are being released to help it.  It's too late for MY grandpa, but maybe not too late for someone else's grandpa or dad or mom or friend......

Here are some pictures I took of that very first time I set foot on AZ ground.  I took 7 rolls of film (give or take a few rolls!) and most of them were of desert, cacti and palm trees.  So bear with me....they are good pics, I promise!!
Isn't this an awesome, kick butt cactus garden?  My grandma's friends live here and take care of the garden.  I love it, but would hate to fall into it!!
This is my grandma, peeking out through the blooming cactus.  She hates having her picture taken and will go to all lengths to stop it!
Isn't she a fashion plate?  I don't know if you can see it or not, but my mom is wearing my grandpa's fuzzy blue slippers outdoors with her yellow shorts and black shirt.
Grandma, Grandpa and Mom taking what is left of our suitcase up to the trash.  I don't know what TWA did to it, but it was all dented and wouldn't close!  So we got another one while in Yuma.
Mom up in the Yuma Territorial Prison Historical Park Watchtower.  Little did I know that I'd be getting married there in three years!  Anyway, notice how mom is nice and centered in the camera?  Good. Because here is the picture she took of me.....
Isn't that a scream?  I have forever teased her about that and how off centered I am.  :0)
Here is the mystery of all time:  WHO is mom talking to?  I was behind her, taking the picture.  Grandma & Grandpa had to go back home real quick to shut the windows because it looked like a storm was coming in.  My mom and I have forever loved this picture because we just don't know what happened here!  :0)  Some things are never meant to be found out, I guess!!
As you can see, it does look like a storm is brewing.  Look at them dark clouds!  So rare for Yuma.  I think my mom and I fell in love with it the second we got off the plane in Phoenix and went to Yuma.
This picture was taken by me outside a Mexican restaurant we had lunch at.  Grandpa was a little agitated because all the windows there and he kept seeing his reflection and that "old man following him."
Here is a pic of my grandma telling my grandpa to hurry along and quit shuffling his feet.  You can tell by the look on his face he was getting pissed at her constantly griping at him.
Yay! We are almost on our home soil!!  Up ahead is border crossing and you go into a building and form two lines, usually, depending how busy they are. They ask you where you are from and check your license.  If everything pans out, you are free to go.  However, when your spouse has Alzheimers and he can't remember where he is from, that gets tricky so grandma always was on the ball and explained that he had memory problems and was from Yuma, Arizona.
This is the last picture I have of my grandpa.  This was taken the morning we were leaving for Michigan and we were trying to get ready.  I don't know where grandpa's glasses are, but we'll find them in some goofy place like the freezer or something!

We finally made it out of Yuma and got as far as Springerville, AZ which is approx. 14 miles from New Mexico.  Grandpa threw a giant fit in the ER in Springerville and they sedated him and transferred him to Phoenix.  He must have bitten a paramedic, because they asked permission from grandma if they could do an AIDS test on him.  They THEN transferred him to the VA in Tucson without even telling us. We found out from an employee in Phoenix that had worked the previous day and remembered they had transferred him.  When we called Tucson, he was there!
From there, they sent him BACK to Yuma to a nursing home and then he died.  That's the story of my grandpa.  When he was a young man, he was so many wonderful things: a son, a husband, a soldier, a father, a grand & great grand father.  Alzheimer's slowly takes who you were away and replaces it with a shell of the person that once was.  I really feel for everyone having to deal with this devastating disease.  So let's take a moment to think about how lucky we are to still have our mind.  We may not have much else, but we do have our mind!!  :0)

For more information on Alzheimer's Disease, please go to this very informative website. It also helps caregivers cope with the challenges Alzheimer's creates.  Here is the URL:  Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

I wish you all happy and well.
God bless!!
Until next post,
Missy

This post is lovingly dedicated to both my grandparents and to my good friend, Heather, who deals with the ugly reality of Alzheimer's everyday. Keep up the strength!!

PS-Heather's blog "Life and Fibromyalgia" is terrific. You can find the URL to it in my blog roll.  Give her a visit!!  :0)

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Missy! I would have like to have known your Grandpa, he sounds like a character! Mom is better today. She can walk pretty well. I, too, had to cover all the mirrors because she thought someone else was in the house and wanted to talk to them. Fortunately, she is not very combative, that had to so difficult. She can be uncooperative at times though, especially at bedtime! At one point it took 4 hours to go to sleep, now with the medication, it doesn't take that long. She is one her 2nd ensure of the day for a change!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Missy,

    I've given you an Award! Please stop by at my blog for the details!

    http://a-real-upstate-ny-wife.blogspot.com/

    Peace and Blessings,

    Martha

    ReplyDelete

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