Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ride on the Manitowish Waters Trail and a peek into George's sorrow.

Saturday, September 23rd 2017

We decided to go over to Boulder Junction, WI to ride the trail.  Mary was out walking the dog already by the time we had our coffee and breakfast.  George and I took our own short walk.  George hovers close.

 I create some space for myself.  Like my new hat??  I got it at the Pecatonica, IL Flea Market when we were visiting Jodie.

We passed these plants.  Mary calls them Cup Plants.  The plants cup water at the base of their leaves.

 We got to the park and discovered the local farmer's market.  Lovely apples, brussel sprouts, and much more.  I had left my money at home.

We drove about 45 minutes to get to a trail parking area West of Boulder Junction.  The trail we were riding connects with the Boulder Trail.  It is called the Manitowish Trail.  Paved and curvey with hills.

The two trails together go for 44 miles.

We just rode 11 or 12 to a park in Manitowish.

It is unreal to have an 86 degree afternoon again and again this late in September in northern Wisconsin.

We had made a picnic lunch and we dined at the park in Manitowish.

The restaurant across the street was busy serving bicyclists. 

 The trail was busy.  We couldn't ride side by side because of the bicycle traffic and the curves.

 I only had to stop and push George up the steep hills twice.  He did pretty good.

 When we pulled back into the parking lot this is what I saw...

 I had left the door open on our van!  Fortunately nothing was missing.  Wow!

I told George to sit in his trike and relax while I unpacked my trike and put my shoes on.  He didn't say anything to that, but his face said he wasn't happy about it.  He can't get out of the trike without my help.  He scooted his trike up so I couldn't get my trike in the van.  I asked him to scoot back and he either ignored me or didn't want to comply.

Mary intervened and told him she was moving his trike back and would help him put on his shoes, which she did while I loaded up my trike.

I helped George get up and he went and sat in the front seat without trying to help me put his trike into the car.

When I got in I saw that he wasn't smiling at me and he had looked less happy today.  So I asked how he was doing.  He looked sad and teary and shook his head. 

I kissed his shoulder and told him I loved him.  I told him he is doing good for what he is working with.  I told him he rode well today.

We could make the day better with ice cream.   We stopped in Boulder and got Chocolate Factory ice cream.

On the way back to Mary's I searched for a park with flush toilets to clean George, but didn't find any.  When we arrived back at Mary's she greeted us with a cheery greeting.   I directed George right into the bathroom without stopping to chat.

Then we all sat out on the deck for a while before dinner.   Such a beautiful and relaxing view.

After dinner Mary had the fire pit all set up with citronella candles, chairs and the fire stared.  An enjoyable evening to top off our visit with Mary and Dave.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hanging out with my sister

September 21 and 22, 2017

When I don't get enough sleep my attitude as a caregiver stumbles and rumbles and grumbles.

George and I exercised to videos in the back yard.  First with Chris Power and his squats, lunges and pushups, and then with Rachael Scott doing 50 minutes of yoga.

I made us lunch and did laundry (George's depends leaked again last night.)

When Mary returned from work, we all sat on the back deck.  I set George up with his DVD.  The first one he didn't seem to want to watch so I put a different one in.

I was tired and aching.  "Had I worked out too hard?" I wondered? 

We were sitting on the back deck.  A beautiful spot.  Autumn colors touching the leaves, the breeze flapping through the sheets on the line.  I decided to lay on the deck and nap.

I was there two minutes at most when CRASH!  I jumped.  George had stood up and dropped the video player and it fell into two pieces.

I grabbed the pieces from him, "Why can't you just settle down and give me some time to rest!??"  I growled.  At the same time I was saying it I was silently scolding myself for acting like a spoiled child.  Of course he isn't being bothersome on purpose.  He is doing the best he can with what he has.  And of course life is good and I am being a bit to grumpy for the situation.

Mary jumped into action and convinced George to follow her to walk Spirit their dog.  Thank you Mary!  She is always thinking of ways to make it easier for others.

Fortunately the DVD got put back together and still worked.    While they walked I felt in a rush to get my "chill" on.... to relax my tense body and mind before they returned.

After wandering around a bit wondering what I should do with this precious time, I went and sat on a rock by some lavender and garlic in the back yard and just watched the insects working and the leaves floating on the breeze.

When Mary returned we talked about getting respite care here, but the day care places would require doctors notes and may take days to process my application.  Mary called around and found a woman who does companion services.  She arranged to stop over on Friday at 4:30 to meet us and arrange for some respite time on Saturday.

Mary had made a wonderful veggie lasagna that she put in the oven for dinner.   

After dinner George started packing stuff when ever I got busy with not watching him (like going to the restroom myself).

Thursday night, George only got up once to use the bathroom and I slept well.  Hurray!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cold and rainy with a scream of frustration boiling below the surface

Monday 9/11/2017

There is no coffee pot in our room, no lobby that offers breakfast.  We are staying at a small mom-and-pop kind of place in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.

I text my friend, Debra, and ask if she is ok and what she sees.  We talk on the phone.  She slept through it, no damage to her house that she can tell.  The power is out.

In Bryson City, NC, the sky is gray and the air is cool.  We head to breakfast at the local restaurant and I see a sign for a 9/11 event that reminds me what day this is.  In Inverness they were going to have a display of memories and items from the events of 9/11 at the Valerie Theatre.  Now, with Hurricane Irma still passing in the early morning hours, the streets clogged with debri from trees, and a large area with power out.  I know the event was canceled, so much changes with this kind of storm.

The streets are dark still and the restaurant isn't even open yet.  We walk the streets of Bryson and I chide myself for not bringing warmer clothes.  I KNEW it would be colder up north in September.  The car thermometer says it is 55 degrees.  We have only shorts.  Fortunately I did bring our sweatshirts.

We saw the Friends of the library had a dedicated used book store in downtown Bryson City, NC.


I buy a paper to take into the restaurant.  But I don't get time to read much of it.  George finishes his meal and repeats "Ready to go?"  "Are you ready to go?".

I contact a neighbor and ask her to go check on our place and our neighbor's home to see if the neighbor's tree fell on it.  She texted back.  Our home was ok, the tree did fall and damage our neighbor's home.  I was supposed to be watching over their home while they were away.  I quickly notified them by phone, text and email.  I felt guilty for not being there, though I probably couldn't do much.

Later we stop at the tourist center and get info on thrift shops, the library, and the approach of Irma.  Even here places are closing in preparation.  Deep Creek National Park has closed to protect visitors from falling trees due to the anticipated winds.  Gee wiz!  Can't we get away from this thing!

When the library opens I go and set George up with the dvd payer and earphones.  I was hoping to save our dvd's for later and use the library's dvds,  But they wouldn't let us use them without a library card.  I gave them a sob story (evacuated Florida,  husband with Alzheimer's).  Nope.  Didn't work.  I blogged as best I could.  I had written everything in a word document and the blog site didn't seem to like the copy and paste and was jumping around making it very difficult to edit and see the finished product.  I published it anyway.

We stopped at a grocery store and saw the utility trucks lined up and ready for action in anticipation of the winds expected from Irma.  Even here.

I fed us soup in our room.  While I was preparing lunch I set George in a chair in front of the tv.  He kept standing up.  I would ask several questions, "why did you stand?"  He just laugh his nervous laugh.  "Do you need to go the bathroom?"  No,  "Do you need to change the channel?"  No.   I would get him to sit down and then two seconds later he would pop up again.  I think he was just hungry.  He had a need, but he didn't know what it was.

My neighbor on the other side, Ken C., called to let me know about the big tree mess.  He seemed frustrated.  I tried to tell him it would be a while since there were a LOT of trees down and the tree cutters had to prioritize (Hospital, Utility, Hwys, etc).   While I was talking with him, George picked up the empty suit case and headed out the door.

I had to call him back in three times during my short conversation with our neighbor.

George needed to GO DO something  So I decided to drive us to the casino to kill some time.   When we got there, I changed my mind and drove 1/2 mile back then I changed my mind again and went back to the Casino.

As we were entering we were encouraged to sign up for this card that tracks your gambling and gives you rewards.  As a reward for signing up you get $50 worth of gambling credits each.

So we had $100 between us to gamble.  If it was our money that would be way too much to gamble.  But it was their money.  So we gamble it and any time we won I cashed out and saved those.  So we walked out with $30 cash.  If that was our $100 we would have lost $70.  But we came out ahead and went out to supper.

I said I wanted Pizza.  Then I asked George, Mexican or Pizza.  He said Pizza.  Easy date.  I take us to an Italian restaurant.  On the menu is Pizza and also on the menu is lasagna.  "Do you want a Margarita Pizza or the Veggie Lasagna?"  I ask George.

"Veggie Lasagna".

We wait.  It takes a while.  George doesn't speak.  I see other couples talking and I wonder what we look like, sitting there, not speaking.  We don't speak.   We eat bread dipped in vinegar and seasoned oil.  We wait.  We don't speak.  George waits well.  I can be grateful he doesn't make insulting comments in a loud voice like some dementia patients.  I can be grateful he can sit and wait.

The lasagna comes.  He devours his.  He looks stuffed.  The check comes,  we get ready to leave, George says, "We didn't get the pizza yet."

I take him back to our room at the motel.  I get him set up with a movie on the dvd player.  I text my sister.  I am feeling down.  No respite care, no way to get away for vigorous exercise which helps my body and mind.  I am feeling down because I keep eating the things I know I shouldn't.  I am using food as a drug.

I am feeling down as the words of the motel owner sink in.  "I have been caring for my mother for 12 years."

It is kind of like the coming of this Hurricane.  It isn't like a tornado, it comes and it is gone.   Alzheimer's and many other Dementias can last 20 years.  The caring gets more difficult.  How can I continue to care for him forever.  How can I not?

Now I am trying to learn to give instructions in one or two words, not long sentences.

For example, when we stopped to do laundry.  I told him I was going to put X in the car and I would be right back.  He follows me to the car and stands on the passenger side ready to get in.

I repeat, "I am just putting this in the car, George.  We aren't going anywhere."

I unlock the car, he starts to get in.  "No, George.  No go."  I repeat several times.

I put the thing in the car.  I close the car and start to walk away.  He gets out of the car and follows.

In the bathroom when it is time to change him, I tell him one clothing item at a time.

"We are going to clean you up. Take off your shoes."  And if that is too much, I say,  "Shoes off".

"Socks off."

"Outer Pants off."

Sigh.  I sometimes I am energized by what I have learned, the progress.  Sometimes I cheer when we get him cleaned up, when we are able to walk a few miles.   I have learned to listen to his gait and when he starts to scruff too much I stop him and say, "Look at that straight pole.  Chest out.  Heels down on the ground."  And we stand a moment and he gets steady.  We can walk a while further.

Sometimes I am still shocked and surprised by his disability.  His lack of comprehension, his lack of body awareness, the spills on the floor, his shirt and pants.

I am frustrated that I still try to imprint somethings into his memory.

"We are not leaving now.  We are here two more nights."

"George don't use your butt rag to wipe off the sink."

"George, don't sit on the bed with your pants off, you may leave a mark.... see???"


I fight tears.

Today I could only dream of getting away for a long hike in these beautiful mountains.   I dream of spending this cold rainy day with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.

I see the white-water rafting places we pass here and know it would be too scarey for George... it's cold and rainy anyway.

This is just a bump.  Tomorrow will be a better day.  Our house is still standing, our friends are still alive and unhurt. We are blessed.

Madison, Wisconsin, Bicycle Trails Everywhere

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