Friday, June 21, 2019

Regret - Useless? Painful

Yesterday I spoke to the Joy Club (Just Older Youths) at the First Baptist Church in Crystal River.

   One of the audience members (Roger) asked what were my regrets.  What would I have done differently while caring for George.  And I froze.  I couldn't think of a thing.

   It is not that I don't have regrets it is that I don't let my mind go there.  The shoulda coulda woulda would eat me alive.  But after I got home I let myself ponder into the depths of this.  And regrets... "I've had a few, too few to mention."  The tears flowed.
  1.  Video tape more! I would video tape my loved ones more.  Video tape them talking, walking, dancing, laughing.  Don't wait until they have a diagnosis or get hit by a truck.  Do it NOW, today and tomorrow.  Who-ever you love and are close to, video tape them.  Precious sounds and movements that are dear will be captured to give you joy after they have faded.
  2. Use soap!  I don't know why it took me so long to learn that soap dissolves poop. But it does.  I went through so many wet wipes trying to get gooey pooh off of George's hairy bottom.  Soap is magical.  Use soap and don't worry about rinsing out the rag in the sink.  But if it bothers you, then rinse it out in the toilet.  
  3. Ask a question and then be quiet.  I have been a fixer, a smoother over of situations, an empathetic personality.  So when I ask a question and I see a person struggling to get the words out I want to step in and make it easier.  I may guess at what they are going to say and fill it in for them, or I might just move the conversation along.  They usually look relieved.  But maybe I needed to let George try more.  Lost in his world of inability to communicate, there were only a couple times when he shared with me his deep sorrow over his losses as he progressed with dementia.  The times were so emotionally heart breaking I couldn't let us stay there too long.  I would lighten the tone, give him a hug, always trying to find a brighter side.  
  4. Do the exercises more often.  We had a set of exercises we were given for George's mobility.  We were supposed to do them three times a day.  Most days I would do them once... in the beginning.  But as time progressed and I got more absorbed in other care, we would go days without doing them.  And then he couldn't do them well enough.  I would exaggerate the move trying to get him to copy it, but he would barely move.  It was so frustrating.  I just stopped doing them.  My regret is not doing them at least twice a day for as long into the illness as he could.
   Ok.  That is enough regret for one day.  The past is in the past.  Enough heart ache... onto other things and life as it is now.
   I want to thank Gabrelle who generously spent the day with me giving advice on lighting and background and taking the great pictures at the event.  She also ended up driving me to the event because as I backed out of the driveway I turned too sharply and scraped a bush.  The bumper pulled off!  Now I gotta go to the body shop.  What would I have done without you Gabrielle Harrison?  I continue to be amazed at the generous people around me.

   Shortly after I published Alzheimer's Trippin' with George I joined AlzAuthors. For this week they are celebrating their anniversary and providing book give-aways. Many of us authors have put our books up for a discounted price for this week. It is also our way of honoring Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. My book appears first on their list of books in their blog post today. Thank you AlzAuthors!
Here is what they say about my book.

Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George: Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles by Susan Straley
What would you do if you learned that your spouse or partner has progressive dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s disease?  This is the brutally honest journal of one spouse and reluctant caregiver that “ran for the hills.” Of course she took her husband George along.
What challenges did Susan encounter?  How can she enjoy the present — a journey across the U.S.A. –  while worrying about the future?  How do she and George deal with his increasing dementia symptoms? And the biggest question of all, after 40 years together, can they remain married and loving through it all?  Travel along with George and Susan.  You will learn, you will laugh and maybe shed a tear as you too go Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George. A portion of the author’s proceeds for each sale (paperback or ebook) will be donated to Caregiver Assistance.  Don’t let the number of pages scare you.  There are LOTS of pictures to help tell the story.  The Kindle version shows the pictures in color on your tablet or phone. Kindle reg. price 7.99/ sale price 2.99; Paperback reg. price 18.87/ sale price 15.00.

Thank you AlzAuthors!

The Netherlands Trip

   I have posted pictures here from the trip I took in May to the Netherlands.  I was fortunate to have good friends and lovely people to travel with.  All of them more experienced in Overseas travel than I am.  I mentioned the fat-butt cows they have there.  Well recently I asked on Twitter if anyone knew what kinds of cows they were.  My answer came in Dutch.  I used Google Translator and here is what I learned.  Dikbil is the breed I guess.  They can't give birth normally but have to have surgery to remove the calf because they have been bred to be big. 

 So, there is our lesson for the day.

Travel Lesson

  The day we arrived at the rental home I adjusted the bike I was going to be riding all week.  I then got on it and went for a spin to see how it fit.  I promptly got lost.  The blocks were not rectangular.  I kept riding looking for a land mark.   I got really nervous, I didn't have my phone with me, I didn't have the address of the place we were staying, I didn't have anyone's phone number in my head. 
  As I was riding trying to figure out a solution, I remembered that I knew how to get to the house from the train station.  I stopped and asked a woman on the street for directions to the train station.  Thank goodness people speak English there.  I would have been in a REAL pickle if they didn't understand me. 
  I found the train station and found "home".  When I walked in and told my fellow travelers what had happened, they didn't even know I had gone anywhere.  They thought I was up in my room.
  Lesson learned... always take the cell phone with the maps in it, and always memorize the address or name of the street where you are staying.

Barneveld Stay

   Below are some pictures from our stay in Barneveld.  A small town in central Netherlands know for it's chickens.  Some days the smell of farms was constant.  Mari thought they might be spreading it on the fields.

   They had an egg vending machine in a parking lot, a lovely historical and active downtown (no Walmart or big box stores).  On our last day in Barneveld I went to the Chicken Museum by myself.  I had a delightful time.  This is the Barneveld breed pictured below.  And I was able to witness a mock auction like they used to hold before it was all switched over to electronic/internet sales.

Racks like the one below were in the bathroom.  Hotwater flows through the pipes and keep them warm for drying towels and wet clothes.

 Black licorice takes up a large amount of shelf space in the local grocery store. 
 The train station in Barneveld (a town of about 28,000) had a lot of bikes.  We were surmising that many commuters might have a bike for Barneveld and a bike they keep in their destination town.

 We took a couple train rides to other towns.  Once to a castle.  We biked to an art museum in a forest.  It had the 2nd largest private collection of Van Gough in the world, I think.  Outside in the forest were many peices of art as well.

Friday, June 14, 2019

3-Day Free Kindle Blitz - And more Netherlands

It is Alzheimer's and Brain Health Awareness Month 
Amazon is offering the Kindle with the Sunset Cover for

Only for three days.

Sunday, June 16 through June 18.  

So think of all those friends who you think would benefit or enjoy Trippin' with us and send them this link.  You are giving them the gift of awareness, knowledge, fun, and hours of reading pleasure.

Other than that, it is ho-hum around here.  Nooooo, just kidding.
Just so you know, Publix has a BOGO going on right now on Tillamook Ice Cream.  It is medicine, you know.  Yes it is!  When a person with Alzheimer's gets agitated and panicky, before it accelerates too much, you see if you can change the subject by offering them ice cream.  And this stuff makes caregivers happy too.

At the end of this month I am going on a long weekend up near Cheifland, Florida.  I am meeting up with a group of women from Sisters on the Fly.  Only this time I will be a SOFT.... Sister on the Try.  I hope to kayak and there is going to be music and a bike ride.  I know some of the gals that are going so I won't be a total stranger to everyone.  Totally strange, yes, but not a stranger.

And then on July 8th I am going to start pedalling to Clearwater.  I was going to fly my trike to Wisconsin, but the more I think about the crushed gravel trails they have there, I am thinking I will enjoy my ride more if I take my two wheel crank forward.  So I have to spiff it up with a rack for the back to hold the paniers, get a new tire, and research and prepare for packing it for flight at the airport when I get there.  

And this coming week, June 20th, I am going to be speaking at the Baptist Church in Crystal River.  So I am putting pictures together and figuring out the stories I will tell.  

But here I am instead, writing to you.  I wanted to show you some pictures from the Netherlands trip in May.  This time I will show pictures from the Bike and Boat.   All the passengers spoke English and were from the USA.  Mari, my friend that arranged that says that is unusual, but it worked out great for us.

The boat, Sailing Home, was roomy and comfortable.  I think it holds 24 passengers (2 per bedroom).

Lois was my roommate.  She is from Gainesville.  We got along great and I look forward to a reunion this summer.

Every day we would bundle up for our ride with our guide.  And when we got back to the boat we would either start moving on the boat or we would have the opportunity to go explore the town on foot.

 A fishing town we visited had a memorial to the fallen pilots during a big battle to free the Netherlands during WWII.  I think this is the battle shown in the movie "A BRIDGE TOO FAR".

A hightlight of this part of the trip was the historical museum in Putten.  And the time we were riding through a forest
and a flock of sheep crossed through us.  What a neat experience we don't have here.

And then the amazing fat bottomed cows!  They look like Holsteins except they have FAT Back ends.

Don't forget to share the FREEBY Kindle.  Honor all you have know and will know with dementia symptoms and share share share.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Trippin' Netherlands, The Journey Continues

June 8, 2019

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

I wear purple in honor of so many who have passed and so many who are living.
  • Grandma
  • Mom
  • Sister-in-law
  • Sweet George
  • Friends Karl, Herb, Bob, Peter
  • And Friends that are living with dementia now.
Alzheimer's Trippin' with George e-book is discounted in June.  $2.99 until July 1.


It really has been a while since I posted.  I have been busy!

The Journey Continues
Book II is now available in Paperback from Amazon.

If you get a copy be sure to post a picture of yourself, or someone, or something with the book!  We are having fun again in the Susan Straley Writes Facebook group, posting and sharing pictures.

Thanks to Diane and Sara, Gary Solomon, and Dan Sheridan for sending in their pictures so far.

Aren't they great?!  Fun!

Reviews so far are good.  One reader said, "I even enjoyed the poopy parts."

The Kindle version won't be out until late fall.


I had my first trip to Europe in May.  I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with seasoned travelers. 

My friends Mari and Jerry invited me to do a Bike and Boat tour with them in Netherlands.  Mari did all the planning and just told me what to book.  It was great!  She had invited several friends so we met up with some in Amsterdam, and the rest a few days later on the boat.  Such fun to share this experience with others.

My good friends David and Jennifer were with us.  You may remember them from the times they watched movies with George so I could get out and kayak and walk.  They are wonderful people.  I was thrilled to have them along.

I was going to put together slide shows of my pictures.  There are SOOO many pictures. 

Do you really want to see that much?  I don't take the most artful pictures, so instead I will give you the two highlights of each part of the trip.


Adjusting to the time change we had a hard time staying awake during our canal ride in the big city on the day we arrived.

The toilet in our motel had a reflective glass door.  I got a kick out of that. 

Ok, so you don't think that was a highlight?  You are probably right.

BIKES, bikes, fast moving bikes.  Crossing roads you had to watch for the light for crossing the bike path, then cross to the island and stand on the island and wait for the light to cross the street with cars, then stand on the next island and wait for the light for the trolley.  We are lucky to survive while we were still learning.  I saw green and was crossing all three types of traffic and wondering why I was experiencing near misses. 

No big cars in the city.  Parking is at a premium, so it is small cars and even smaller cars.

We visited the Anne Frank Museum which I knew would be moving.  Anne and her family were taken away on the last train out to the concentration camps.  She and her family were keeping track of the movement of the Allies and marking their progress on a map.  They must have been so hopeful.    Jennifer and I signed the guestbook, adding our names to history.

We didn't get to the tulip gardens, which was fine.  We saw a wonderful display of tulips in front of the Art Museum.

Ok.  I said only two highlights.  So I have to stop...

Ok.  One more... or maybe two. 

I mean how can I NOT share the surprise in the street market chocolate shop.

Next time I will post about our bike and boat trip. 

In the meantime, if you didn't get an email about this post, you need to give me your email!! Click the Join tab above or click here.

Don't forget.  If you get one of the books, POST A PICTURE!!!
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