Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Boo asked to help with this post today. He's more talkative and coherent than he has been all week. Even minor infections seem to cause his dementia to be more pronounced. Today is a very good day.


These are my older granddaughters. Aren't they supposed to be smaller? They're beautiful and smart and very funny.


These are two of my younger granddaughters. They're beautiful and smart like their mother. Sorry Boo isn't giving their father any credit today. He's really a wonderful father.


Here are my son's children. Aren't they cute? I like that red hair! Boo has trouble seeing lots of things, but his grandson's red hair is definitely not one of those things. They're smart too. 
This is my four legged son, Boudreaux. He's my ring tail tiger cat. I don't think he really likes fish. I ran out of cat food one night this week and opened a can of sardines in oil for Boudreaux. Cats are supposed to like fish, right? Evidently not Boudreaux. He was most disturbed by that smelly stuff in his dish.
Boudreaux attacked the bush last night and knocked off all the flowers. Well, some of them anyway. We have no idea why he suddenly attacked the bush, but he really gave it quite a fight.
This was taken last night while Boo was watching Boudreaux outside.
This past week I had a time trying to figure out what cous cous and {ki yeah} was. I have no idea how to spell it yet. Boo was not feeling well and that's what he wanted to eat. In fact, that's all he wanted to eat. He couldn't tell me what it was. So, I had to investigate. I called a friend of ours who'd lived in Louisiana for years. He didn't know. I looked up Cajun recipes on the internet and found nothing that I thought might be what he wanted. I even called a restaurant with a chef from New Orleans. He was on vacation. One of Boo's sisters had heard of it, but didn't really know what it was. Another knew what cous cous was, but didn't think the boxed cous cous was what he really had in mind. She remembered their mother baking cornbread in a cast iron skillet, crumbling it, adding onions, peppers and leftover meat. That was it! At least that's the cous cous part. The {ki yeah} is thick buttermilk. Once I made the cous cous for Boo, he was able to explain the rest. Cajun comfort food!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Makes Me Happy?

What makes me happy?
       My husband...
          waking up next to him.
          listening to his crazy Cajun memories.
          taking walks in the cool evenings.
          praying together.
          watching him play with Boudreaux.
Life is precious and all too short.
I'm grabbing the good times
     with both hands
          and holding on.

Thankful Thursdays, Share the Joy Thursdays, Little Bits of Happiness

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ten Helpful Eldercare Items

These ten items are listed in no particular order.  These are items that we've found to be very helpful for our particular situation. 

1.  Heat Sensitive Thinking Putty

       This is an amazing fidget.  When Boo begins to get anxious, he rubs his leg or arm to help calm himself.  Once he actually rubbed a sore on his leg---in one night at the hospital.  Now, I know to hand him something to keep his hands occupied.  He really likes this Thinking Putty.  It's just the right size and texture to keep him happy for quite a while.  Boo's favorite, when he can see it, is the Heat Sensitive Sunburst Thinking Putty.  I like that it comes in reusable individual tins.  I keep one in my purse, one in our emergency bag and one in a basket on our dresser.  Timberdoodle has a large selection of Thinking Putties in a rainbow of colors to suit everyone.

2,  Medline Ultralight Rollator

Boo's rolling walker is an absolute must when he's walking outside or when we're away from home.  He has a more natural gait when he uses a rolling walker and is less likely to fall.  Immediately after his last two strokes, he simply couldn't manage a traditional walker and fell several times attempting to use one.  His rolling walker enabled him to get up and move with ease.  Another major benefit is that he has a seat when he tires of walking which happens frequently.

3.  Uniden Walkie Talkie

This is the particular model that we have, but there are others that are simpler to use.  These are just the first ones I tried and they still work.  I put a bright sticker on the TALK button for Boo and that's the only button he touches...hopefully.  With these little wonders, Boo can talk to me whenever he needs reassurance and I can check the mail, weed the flower bed, cook dinner, etc.  Technically, we could use a cell phone to accomplish the same goal.  Boo can't figure out how to use a cell phone on his own anymore, even with a voice activated dialing system. 

4.  Stainless Steel Travel Mug

These can be obtained in any department or discount store.  So, I didn't provide a link for this.  These travel mugs are ideal for anyone who's shaky.  Boo uses a cane to walk inside our home and likes to carry his drink with him.  Lidded travel mugs prevent spills.  They are appropriate for hot or cold drinks and aren't "babyish"---a plus when dealing with an independent adult.

5.  Elastic Waist Pants
Many times Boo cannot remember how to button, snap and zip.  On those days, elastic waist pants enable him to be more independent.  We've found good quality fleece pants with an elastic waist and hemmed cuffs at Old Navy and Kohl's.  Jeans are problematic.  We've tried several mail order jeans designed for those with disabilities and haven't found any that fit properly.  A few were so poorly made that even had they fit I would have returned them.

Land's End Jersey Knit Pants

These are great summer weight pants.  I bought one pair for Boo two years ago and cringed at the price.  After two years and LOTS of use, they look brand new.  It's definitely time to buy more.  They're well worth the price.  They're a little dressier than most athletic pants which we like.

6.  Folding Exercise Peddler
Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Exercise Peddler with Electronic Display
One of Boo's physical therapists brought a similar item to our home when it was too wet for Boo to walk outside.  Boo enjoyed using it and it can be used for upper body exercise as well.  Put it on a sturdy table, place your hands in the pedals and away you go.  Boo uses this about four times a week.  This peddler is a lightweight model and it folds.  I'm not sure how it would hold up with heavy use.

7.  Standard Gait Belt
Gait Belt Standard White 60"L 2"W  1/EA

This isn't an item we use every day.  In fact, we don't use it often, BUT it is an essential item.  When Boo is unsteady, we use his gait belt as a precaution.  It is easier to steady him and much easier to lower him safely to a chair or bed with a gait belt.  The soft sturdy cotton twill doesn't cut into Boo's skin like a regular belt does.  I keep one in a basket on the dresser, one in the bathroom and one in my purse.  At one point I bought a cheap gait belt online that was so flimsy I was afraid to use it.  This one is sturdy and I suspect would hold up to daily use well.

8.  Dr Bonner's Castile Soaps

OK, I've been a fan of Dr. Bonner's soaps for over thirty years.  Once Boo was taking seventeen different prescription drugs daily and his skin became sensitive to everything.  The bar soap he'd used for years suddenly turned his skin bright red.  I grabbed my lavender Dr. Bonner's liquid soap...and success!  If Boo is sick and staying in bed more than usual, I bathe him with Dr. Bonner's peppermint soap to gently stimulate his skin.  Usually, Boo uses the lavender soap.  I keep a 2 oz container of lavender soap in my purse in a Ziploc bag to use away from home.  I usually buy the 32 oz bottle for us and it lasts just over six months.  A little goes a long way.

9.  Dr. Scholl's Diabetic Socks

We've tried several different brands of diabetic socks and found that, for Boo at least, the brand definitely made a difference,  Dr. Scholl's fit him much better and lasted significantly longer than any other brand we tried.  The last four pair of these socks I bought at Wal-Mart.  They had nonslip soles.  I wasn't impressed at first, but have come to like them.  Boo can easily put these on himself because he can feel the nonslip dots. 

10.  Aylio Resistance Bands

These resistance bands have been very durable for two and a half years.  Boo uses them four to five times a week usually.  I like the door attachment because it increases the number of exercises he can do.  The light band is indeed light and offers little resistance.  The moderate band is the one that Boo uses most often.

Teach Me Tuesday, Working It Mondays, Titus 2sdays.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Snippets: Under Our Lady's Shadow

My blessings are hemmed in by frustration. I just noticed that. Am I so busy that I simply don't notice the blessings surrounding me until frustration stops me? I strongly suspect that's the case. Lately, in my eagerness to get things done, I easily lose sight of the truly important. Those things that aren't things at all. And in all my rushing around I accomplish less. That's an important lesson and one that I'm learning all too slowly.

Case in point: This morning I pulled up the daily Mass on EWTN's website, settled Boo and myself on the comfortable sofa to participate through the internet. I mean, if we can't attend a local Mass because of Boo's health problems, then we can at least participate this way. We have many times before and have been richly blessed by it.

Not today. Today life intervened and Boo needed attention and comfort. He couldn't concentrate on the Mass because his mind was too restless and wandering. He was filled with anxiety about the strange paths his mind was taking and unable to differentiate the past from the present and reality from fantasy. A very scary place to be indeed.

Then...a “commercial” (maybe a short meditation?) came on. I'm pretty sure I bumped the laptop and hit a button. I don't think it was scheduled in the middle of the Mass. An image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on the screen. Boo quieted and watched and listened.

Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my little son; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?”

In awe, Boo looked at me. “She's talking to me. She understands and she's taking care of us.”

I wish I could say that Boo relaxed and that his mind quit it's mad racing. But that's not what happened. He's still confused and uneasy. Today is still a struggle. However, in the midst of this day's struggle, we have been given a message of motherly comfort just when we most needed it.

Sunday Snippets, Catholic Bloggers Network, Sabbath Moments


This has been a week of searching for us.  Searching for an old recipe that Boo remembers from childhood, searching for solutions to medical issues for Boo and a relative, searching for lost items, searching for things to calm Boo's restless mind... 

It's good to remember that at the end of all our searching we will find our God.  Our God who is constantly drawing us to Him.  Our ultimate treasure.

Scripture and a Snapshot, The Sunday Community, Fresh Brewed Sundays, Spiritual Sundays

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Risk


I've never thought of myself as a risk taker. I've always been content to sit on the sidelines and watch others take a leap of faith into the unknown. I was always scared of falling flat on my face in front of the whole world.

When did that fear start? When did I begin feeling the need to hide away in the shadows? Is my need to be right a cover for my fear? If I can't be the best, the brightest, the most knowledgeable, I won't even try. I remember very carefully choosing activities in high school. Activities that I knew I could accomplish with aplomb. Activities that were challenging, I wouldn't consider.

That is, except the time my father made me enter a speech contest. Did I mention made? I liked planning and writing speeches, but I hated speaking to a large group. I failed and failed miserably. The speech was great. The presentation was horrible. I was one of only three entrants. Definitely more visibility than I wanted. And yet...what I remember about that contest isn't my fear and embarrassment. It's the grace the two other contestants showed me. I learned a lot from two young men that I didn't know very well, that I sure didn't think would understand. After all their speeches were wonderful. Their support was an unexpected and very needed gift.

A few years ago, God laughed at my fear. He gifted me with a wonderful husband and less than two months later made me choose. I could send Boo to a nursing home and continue my relatively comfortable life. Or I could venture into the unknown and learn to care for him at home. Not even a choice. I knew I'd learn to care for Boo at home! The doctors and social workers tried to convince me that although Boo could be cared for at home, that I'd be throwing my life away. I was too young to be stuck at home. I'd resent my restricted lifestyle, etc,, etc. They all assured me that Boo could live at home, but that the concessions it would require of me were too great. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Maybe we, as a society have become too used to taking the easy way out. Maybe we don't want the challenge. I think, as a whole, we've become less interested in taking risks and more interested in maintaining the status quo. In my grandparents generation, taking care of your spouse, your parents or other relatives was expected. Not optional. When did that change?

Now I take risks---in limited doses. Nothing too far out of my comfort zone, but I do challenge myself. And I've discovered that I like challenges. (I still don't give speeches!)

Seven Quick Takes


We've been watching “endless” Leave It to Beaver episodes. Evidently this channel started a Leave It to Beaver marathon last night and Boo watched most of it. I tried to turn the TV off at 5:00am and learned that even with his eyes closed and snoring, Boo is still watching his show. Confession time: Last night I just couldn't continue to actively listen to Boo and respond appropriately. So, I used TV as a babysitter. I closed the bedroom door, found this marathon, settled Boo into his easy chair near the bed with a quart of ice water in a sipper bottle and tucked myself into bed. Admittedly, I didn't sleep soundly. I woke frequently, checked on Boo and went right back to sleep. Nevertheless I feel rested and refreshed this morning. Boo is tired. Guess so, watching TV all night!


I washed Boudreaux again last night. This time I added 2 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of rosemary oil to 16 ounces of baby shampoo to help kill fleas. (He's only got a few, but I definitely don't want this to get out of hand!) I'm not sure how effective this will be. Maybe his special shampoo every two weeks combined with daily flea combing and brewer's yeast tablets will do the trick. Of course, I'll be treating the house as well. Any semi-natural flea remedies anyone would care to share?


Boo had homemade chicken soup for breakfast. He refused it last night and begged for it for breakfast. So, even though it's unusual, he got chicken soup. He ate a large bowlful and a half a grilled cheese on wheat sandwich. The other half he fed to Boudreaux---who loved it. Strange cat!


Recently I listened to an editorial online (which I can't find now) about racial attitudes in the fifties and sixties in the rural south. While there was most definitely gross inequality, I remember watching and learning from my grandparents who had third grade and sixth grade educations. Both of them worked in a mill and farmed along side many other poor neighbors, blacks and whites. I remember my grandmother crocheting on the front porch with two neighbors---one black, one white, both poor---talking about everything from recipes, their favorite “stories”/ soap operas and religion. My grandfather and several of his neighbors, again black and white, had gardens and shared gardening tools, seeds and produce. One summer while I was visiting, Grandmother and a black neighbor canned all day. Half of what was canned went to each woman. I know, I helped Papa carry the jars to the neighbor's house and put them in her pantry. I learned more about living as part of a community and loving my neighbor in practical ways from watching my grandparents than I ever did in Sunday School.


You know, thinking back, I never realized my grandparents were poor when I was growing up. I remember being fascinated by all the things they made. Both of my grandmothers taught me to crochet. One couldn't read the written instructions. She taught me how to look at something and figure out how to crochet it. The other grandmother taught me to follow a written pattern. I wish I'd tried harder to learn to tat, to weave pine needle baskets and I definitely wish Grandma Mamie had taught me to sew. She could look at a dress in a magazine or newspaper, draw the pattern on sheets of newspaper taped together, cut it out and sew a dress that looked just like the picture. And she did it on a treadle sewing machine! They made what they needed. I need to do more of that.


This must be my day for reminiscing. I remember sitting around the dinner table at my mother's parents and listening to the adult conversations going on around me. For some reason my father announced that he had been valedictorian of his graduating class in high school. (Why would that come up at the dinner table?) Granny evidently decided to take him down a peg or two. So, she announced that she'd been the valedictorian of her graduating class in high school too. All heads swiveled to stare at Granny. Indeed she had been. There were two students in her class. The valedictorian had to make a speech and the other student, her cousin, didn't want to make a speech. So Granny was the valedictorian and her cousin was the salutatorian. You just could not out do Granny!


Well, it's back to reality for me. I need to start a loaf of crock pot yeast bread to go with lentil stew and a salad for supper, wash a load of clothes, mail a few letters to my friends without internet and check on Boo. He's been quiet far too long. I think he's still napping, but really I never can be sure... Have a blessed week end.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Still Present

You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.”
Psalm 21:6b NAS

Today is one of those days. Boo is having trouble staying oriented. He has a minor infection which causes him to be more confused than usual. I've spent much of the day reorienting Boo to time and place, checking his blood pressure and blood glucose readings, helping him to the bathroom, feeding him small snacks, talking calmly to him...and repeating the process. I've washed dishes and one load of clothes. That's all I've accomplished today. And I had such plans for the day until reality took me by the hand and led me down a different path.

In the midst of my frustration, I thought of all the times I've wandered off the path and God has listened to my litany of complaints. He's held me gently and waited for me to calm enough to listen to Him and allow Him to lead me. And then had to repeat the process many, many times. (I'm a slow learner.) The patience and love He has shown me, I've not deserved.

After one of Boo's mini naps today, he grabbed my hand and joyfully announced to an empty room, “She's still here!” Well, of course. Then again, don't I react the same way with God? I still find myself thrilled that God is continually there for Boo and me. Right in the middle of our messy, chaotic lives, God is present, loving us, caring for us and gently leading us closer to Him. Today I'm most thankful for Emmanuel---God present with us---for in His presence we have all we really need.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten Things I've Learned (in the last three years)

  1. I've learned to ASK QUESTIONS.
    OK, I did ask questions before, but now I've taken it to a different level. A couple of years ago, one of Boo's doctors called me the Question Lady. If I don't know something, I ask. If I don't understand, I ask...and I continue asking until I understand. If I simply don't understand one person's explanation, then I ask if there's anyone else who can explain it right then. Sometimes a different explanation can make a tremendous difference. However, I have an absolute rule: Until I understand, I do not leave and I keep asking!
  2. I've learned that I am Boo's best ADVOCATE.
    Boo cannot adequately communicate in the hurried environment of a doctor's office and doesn't clearly understand his limitations. As his wife and caregiver, it is my responsibility to ensure that the doctor, nurse, therapist, etc. has a clear understanding of Boo's needs and to ensure that those needs are being met. I've learned to speak up early and often and to be insistently polite.
  3. I've learned to SYSTEMATICALLY RECORD medical information.
    I've come to depend heavily on Boo's home health notebook. In an emergency, I cannot accurately remember his blood pressure readings every fifteen minutes. So, I write them down. Emergency personnel can more easily determine the best course of action if they know what has recently taken place. Boo's primary care physician can more readily spot “hidden” issues and adjust his care accordingly when s/he reviews Boo's daily and weekly records.
  4. I've learned the importance of CONSISTENT PHYSICAL AND COGNATIVE THERAPY.
    Since Boo's strokes, he seems to lose his abilities more rapidly when he doesn't use them often. So, we have an ongoing daily therapy routine at home. Improvements come slowly. It's been over two years since his last stroke and he's just beginning to follow and participate in thirty minute conversations consistently.
    This is an ongoing process for me! One of Boo's walkers had a flaw and needed to be replaced. Contacting the medical supply center from which we purchased it was not enough. I also had to prove that this brand of walker had a particular flaw. Another way I try to be a good consumer is by investigating all forms of treatment. Just because one form of treatment may be in vogue at the moment, doesn't mean that it is the most appropriate treatment for Boo. One doctor insisted that a certain drug was the drug of choice to treat type 2 diabetes. With further questioning, he admitted that even though Boo was having some nasty side effects he wasn't familiar enough with other drugs to prescribe them. We found another doctor that day.
  6. I've learned to expect and insist on POLITENESS AND RESPECT from anyone in contact with Boo.
    Very sadly we've had too many experiences where Boo is ignored or marginalized. Even worse are the few times when he's actually been mistreated. We went to one dentist that yelled at Boo. I expect medical personnel to be respectful and polite and will promptly intervene when that isn't the case. In a public place, sometimes a little polite education is needed.
  7. I've learned to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.
    So many of Boo's little quirks since his strokes are due to his inability to adequately communicate that I've learned to think outside the norm. When he resisted a particular cognitive exercise, I had to examine it from all angles. Finally, I realized that it wasn't the type of exercise, but the silly, inane readings that he was supposed to remember for several hours. As soon as we substituted readings that were meaningful to him, he actively participated.
  8. I've learned to let him DO AS MUCH AS HE CAN.
    Instead of rushing through dressing, eating, etc., I've learned to let Boo take things at his own pace. If it takes him forty minutes to dress himself, then that's what it takes. If he needs external prompts to remember how to perform daily activities, then I make sure they're in place. As independent as Boo is, nothing compensates for that feeling of accomplishment.
  9. I've learned to be more PATIENT with myself and with Boo.
    This is definitely the time to let go of our perfectionist tendencies. Our home will never be as clean and decorated as I'd like. (OK, it wasn't before either.) There are so many things that I feel I should do, but simply can't right now. I can breathe. I can calm myself, do what I am able to do and leave the rest for later. Besides Boo is able to do far more when he doesn't feel pressured or rushed.
  10. I've learned to PRAY more consistently.
    Absolutely nothing accomplishes more than prayer. It is our mainstay and support. When I don't know what to do, I pray. When I've got too much to do, I pray. Even when everything is going well, I pray. I really think I accomplish far more and with greater effectiveness when my day is under girded with prayer. My focus is on what is most important instead of on minor things.
Top Ten Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, Titus 2sdays, Working It Mondays, Living Well Wednesday

Monday, June 18, 2012

Keep the Joy

       "Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet, especially your family.  Be holy.  Let us pray."
                                                                                              Mother Teresa

       For a very special granddaughter before surgery tomorrow:  "This is the quote that always makes me think of you.  You share God's love in so many ways.  Get well soon!"     Papa Boo

Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday


In the process of preparing Boo's strawberry oatmeal this morning, I got a little side tracked. Before it was done, he'd decided he wanted chocolate oatmeal. I've never heard of chocolate oatmeal. Instead, he had sugar free strawberry carob soy protein oatmeal. In fact, he had SIX servings! It just didn't sound appealing to me, but he evidently liked it.

While working on his oatmeal, I missed two important photos that he wanted included in the previous post. So, here are a couple of grandchildren photos from a while back that Boo enjoyed looking at this week end.

About a year ago.
About 2007?

For Today...


Outside our window...

it's overcast and muggy, even the birds and squirrels are quiet.

I am thinking...

of the difference between Boo's morning exuberance yesterday and his quiet, gentle disposition this morning. Both mornings he has been enthusiastic, but in different ways.

We are thankful...

for the calls Boo received yesterday and the package he received for Father's Day. He had a wonderfully loud, happy day yesterday. (And he was the one being loud much to Boudreaux's dismay!)

In the kitchen...

are plenty of leftovers from last night---steak, shrimp, salmon, cheese biscuits, baked potatoes, spinach rice dressing, black eyed peas and the makings of an awesome tossed salad. OK, there's half a baked potato, but enough for something.

We am wearing...

black plaid capris, a black polo shirt and black clogs. Boo has on summer weight blue jeans with an elastic waist and an olive green tee with a thin white stripe. So far he's wearing bedroom slippers, but the day is young yet.

I am going...

to our storage unit today to find a few summer things that I evidently didn't label as summer. I must remember labels and a Sharpie pen just in case I find other mislabeled boxes.

I am wondering...

if I can figure out how to reorganized this blog. I have some ideas, but can I implement them? I'm not as computer savvy as I'd like to be.

I just finished reading...

The French Gardner by Santa Montefiore. A friend chose it at a thrift store and I read it first. It's about love, marriage, commitment and gardening. I didn't expect to really find anything noteworthy in the book, but it surprised me. For a quick read, it did have some thoughts to savor.

We are hoping...

to take a walk this afternoon and sit on the deck for a while. Maybe the weather will cooperate...

We are looking forward to...

a quiet, productive week.

A favorite quote for today...

“Magic is love. If you love someone, they grow in beauty and confidence. They flower before your eyes. The garden is the same. With love, it will grow brighter and more abundant. There's no secret to love or magic, just the limits of our own courage and self-belief.” from The French Gardner

One of Boo's favorite things...

is Boudreaux's beautiful red leash. He can see the leash and know that his cat is near. Another favorite thing is taking Boudreaux for a walk. (Boudreaux would rather go his own way staying close to Boo. Boo would rather have him ride on the seat of his rolling walker. Boo generally wins.)

A few plans for the rest of the week...

include washing Boudreaux, attempting to reorganize this blog, taking daily walks, and ensuring that all Boo's medical records are transferred to his new primary care clinic.

A peek into our day...

(We've been looking at old photos this past week and remembering.)

Boo's father, about 2005

Dave, after just telling a tall tale.

Do you expect me to believe that>

Jan, just watching Dave and Boo interact.

What group of photos would be complete without Boudreaux?

Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, June 17, 2012


My daughter, 1987
     Today has been a noisy day for Boo.  He has yelled, sung and banged things.  Fortunately, he's in a good mood---just a little loud.  Who knows what's going on in his head?  Boudreaux's giving him a wide berth today.  The poor cat's not used to so much noise from Boo. 
Scripture and a Snapshot, Scripture Sundays,,The Sunday Community, Fresh Brewed Sundays

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ashes Into Beauty

...He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted comfort all who mourn bestow on them
a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
Parts of Isaiah 61:1-3

Shortly after Boo's second stroke I read that passage...and laughed. Right! Like I should wait for that in this lifetime. I read the same passage last night and remembered...and was humbled by God's faithfulness even when I didn't believe. We have been so blessed.

From the ashes of isolation and fear when Boo had his second stroke, we were given the beauty of wonderful, supportive friends and family.
From the ashes of Boo's diminished abilities, we were given a beautiful team of medical professionals who taught us to enhance those abilities Boo still had and to cope with those he no longer had.

From mourning the life we anticipated having together, we learned the joy of the life that we actually had.

From despair and disillusionment at our dashed dreams, we've been given the immense joy of a life lived together in God's grace.

Today we thank God for Boo's strokes. Yep, you read that right. We thank Him. We are constantly amazed and blessed by our God who routinely turns ashes into beauty.

Call Me BlessedThankful Thursdays, Hearts 4 Home Thursday, Catholic Bloggers Network

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gone Fishing

 This photo was taken of Boo and his father in 2007 at a nursing home in Lake Charles, Louisiana.       
         We're in an interesting phase right now.  Boo's days and nights are mixed up.  While we are working on correcting the situation, we have had some intriguing conversations in the middle of the night.  Last night Boo talked about his father.
       One of the stories he related occurred during his high school years.  Boo and his father went fishing in Rayne, Louisiana where they lived.  Boo caught a cricket to use as bait and caught a large bass. 
         "What did your father catch?"  Boo just gave me an incredulous look.
         "Who cares?  I caught a bass!  And it was this big!"
      As enthusiastic as he was, I was afraid I was going to have to clean this bass that grew larger the longer he thought about it.  I'm glad he doesn't fish now.   I don't know how to clean or fillet a fish and I'm not sure I'm interested in learning, especially when there are fresh, cleaned and filleted fish at the local fish market.

Black and White Wednesday

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Health Notebook in Ten Parts

One of the things that I learned early in caring for Boo was the importance of having a home health notebook. In an emergency, having everything written down and at your finger tips eliminates unnecessary panic. Besides, Boo's notebook helps me be more organized and accountable---very important since I am his sole caregiver.

Determining just what was really necessary in Boo's notebook I learned by trial and error. Several of his doctors' suggested things that I should include and one of his home health nurses made invaluable suggestions. The layout of this particular notebook seems to be most appropriate for relatives caring for their parents or spouse. Of course, it can be adapted to other situations.

Much personal information is contained in this notebook. Please use discretion when sharing this information. It is not meant to be on display to everyone who comes into your home.

Part One: Basic Personal Information

In this section, I list Boo's full name, address ,phone number, religion, primary care physician and allergies. I also include a notarized copy of his medical power of attorney and a pocket with copies of his Medicare and insurance cards. This is typically information needed when registering at a hospital.

Part Two: Medical History

I include two medical histories in this section. The first is one page and lists height, weight, allergies, primary care physician, current prescription medications including dosage and concise list of health problems and date diagnosed. This one page medical history is generally exactly what rescue personnel need. They seldom have time for a detailed history. This one provides the essentials and is easily read.

The second medical history that I include is far more detailed. I include all the information given on the one page history, although I elaborate on some of the items. With his prescription drugs, I include when they were begun and any changes in the past two years---whether it be dosage changes or discontinued drugs. In the listing of health problems, I include where the diagnosis was made and briefly how it has affected him. I also include all immunizations, types of questions he finds easiest to answer, types of behavior that are typical of him in hospital situations and ways to make it easier for him. This medical history is the one that I refer to when giving information to hospital doctors, new doctors and when filling out medical history forms.

Part Three: Contact Information for Medical Professionals

Here I include all physicians that Boo is currently seeing, his preferred pharmacy and a second choice, his preferred home health agency, his preferred hospital and a second choice, insurance agents and social workers. For each entry, I include the name of the practice, mailing address, email, website, phone number, fax number and driving directions. I usually include the name of a contact person at each office as well. When filling out new patient forms at doctor's offices and detailed information at the hospital, this information is typically needed.

Part Four: Prescription Drugs

I list all Boo's prescription drugs, dosages and times I usually give them. I also include the prescription number and the date the prescription expires. The prescription number is useful when calling prescriptions into the pharmacy. The expiration date is really useful when visiting the doctor. Just remind the doctor and get refills either called in or given to you to eliminate another call or visit. All nonprescription medication should be listed as well. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements, stool softeners, fever reducers, etc.

Remember all the drug information sheets you're given each time you have a prescription filled? This is the perfect place to store one copy of each of them. The ones Boo receives monthly are on 8 ½ x 11 inch pages. I just punch holes and insert one set of pages in this section.

Part Five: Daily Record Pages

This will likely be the largest section of your notebook and the one you refer to most often. Because each person's needs are different, this section will vary greatly from person to person. We asked for input from Boo's home health nurse and his primary care doctor in determining what was necessary to record for him.

On Boo's weekly page, I record his blood pressure and blood glucose levels. I only have room for one recording of each because that's all that usually needs to be recorded for him. With his blood pressure, I include the time taken, which arm I used, whether he was sitting or lying and his pulse. With his blood glucose, I include the time taken and when he last ate. If I need to record more than one of each reading, I place a star beside that day and highlight it. I record further information on his daily pages.

On Boo's daily pages, I record briefly the type and amount of exercise he does and anything unusual---confused episodes, lack of appetite, etc. I also include additional blood pressure and glucose readings if he is sick or if they are higher or lower than normal.

Other people may need to record more frequent blood pressure and glucose readings or other things altogether. This is one area that you will need to consult your doctor and use common sense.

Part Six: Home Protocol Pages

This section has really been useful when Boo has minor problems and in determining when to call about more serious problems. If your physician does not provide protocol pages, make your own based on his or her advice. When Boo has a fever, I can refer to this section to determine which over the counter medications to give him that won't interfere with his prescription medications. I also have information about when the doctor wants to be notified about his fever.

In Boo's notebook, I have protocol pages for fevers, colds, flu, high blood pressure, high and low blood glucose levels and possible stroke and heart attack. For each of these I include when to call the physician or take him to the hospital, what he should have to eat or drink, what over the counter medications he can have and other pertinent information.

Part Seven: Useful Websites and Books

I list topics and the websites I've found helpful. Of course this is useful at home. Surprisingly, I've also found this useful when Boo was hospitalized. It's hard to ask intelligent questions about a new medical issue if I don't understand the basics about it. Many hospitalists here can and will recommend websites when asked. I don't think there's such a thing as too much information.

Part Eight: Warranties and Information Booklets

I punched holes in large envelopes and put the warranty and information booklets that came with Boo's walker, blood pressure cuff, glucometer and other medical equipment. This section has been useful when others cared for Boo and needed further information on how to use the blood pressure cuff. It has also been useful when our thermometer died. I did get another immediately, but I contacted the company and was sent a coupon to get another free. Another time, Boo's cardiologist asked what brand blood pressure cuff we used. Because I had that information right there, he was able to find that the particular cuff we used had been recalled and he arranged for the company to send another one.

Part Nine: Caregiver Information

Even if you stay with your spouse or parent, there will be times that you can't be there. At times like that, this section will be invaluable. I list where medications and first aid supplies are located, types of behavior that normal for Boo, ways to communicate with him when he's stressed, how to set up his meals, where his clothes are located, etc. I also list my phone number, where I will be and the phone number there. In case of emergency, include directions to your home from the major intersections nearby and a neighbor's phone number.


This section and an ink pen will be invaluable when you visit the doctor. Day by day, list all the questions that come to mind about your parent or spouse's care. I realized after Boo's second stroke that I had to ask questions. That is a major part of my responsibility as his caregiver. He can't ask pertinent questions about his care, especially when he feels stressed. So, that's my job. I simply won't remember everything I need to ask if I depend solely on my mind. I have to write my questions down...and I have to write the answers down. No question is too trivial or silly to ask. Most doctors are thrilled that someone is interested enough to ask questions. If you find that your doctor shies away from answering questions or routinely doesn't have time to answer them, consider finding a different doctor. You are your spouse or parent's advocate. Speak up. Ask questions.

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What is the longest book you've ever read?  How long did it take you to read it?

       Kari:  The longest book I've ever read is probably the Bible.  As a teen-ager I once read the whole Bible in a week.  (It was a dare and I doubt I learned anything from the experience except speed reading skills.)  I have read the Bible straight through one other time.  That time it took a few months.  Boo and I read or listen to the lectionary readings daily.  I think we'll hear or read most of the Bible over a three year cycle.
               The second longest book I've ever read is War and Peace.  It took three years and I read it to help me sleep.  Do I remember anything about that book?  Nope, not a thing.  I still get sleepy when I think about it though.  I probably should reread it as it's a classic.

       Boo:  The longest book I've ever read is the Bible or a dictionary.  I didn't finish the dictionary though.  I got to the Z's and couldn't read it anymore.  He had a stroke that rendered him legally blind. 

Rain Drenched Rose

This is one of Boo's favorite nonpeople photos.  I burned a selection of photos to a DVD with music for Boo to watch on TV.  This rain drenched rose is one of those photos and the one that Boo wants isolated most often to view. 

Macro Monday

Sunday, June 10, 2012

...Through a Glass...

       Looking through some photos Boo had taken years ago on a trip to Louisiana, he saw this photo of his father, one of his daughters and a grandaughter.  He kept asking to go back to this particular photo.  This morning (at 4:30---arrgh!) he asked to see "that picture" again.  I knew which one he meant.  So, I turned on the lights, found the photo and he started quoting I Corinthians 13:12.  After a quick online search, I realized that he was quoting from the Douai-Rheims version of the scriptures.  Eventually, I'll have this enlarged and printed for Boo. 

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Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. 5:15 this morning

“Do you know there's a (loud whisper) baby in our house?”

“Really?” First thing in the morning I'm not capable of much conversation and it its 5:15am.

“I heard a baby. Do you suppose someone forgot a baby and left it here?”

“Remember yesterday afternoon when Tasha brought her little girl over? They spent the night and are going home later today.”

“Did she leave her baby?”

“No, she's with her little one.” As if Tasha would leave her little one anywhere! That is one well-loved baby! Besides, I haven't heard a peep out of the child. She's certainly not crying.

“She's hungry. I heard her giggling earlier and Angela used to do that in the morning before she got hungry.” Now that makes sense. He's connecting past events with current ones. And he's doing it logically! We've worked on that since his second stroke with little response.

“Can you make her some pancakes?”

“Well, she's still too little for pancakes. Tasha'll feed her. Do you want pancakes?” I can't say I'm really interested in making them right now, but if that's what he really wants, I will.

“I want oatmeal. Children like pancakes and bacon.”

“When she's older I'll make pancakes and bacon. She's too little right now. Let me fix you oatmeal.”


All week we've been reevaluating our schedule. There are things I want to accomplish and obviously I need to schedule them because it's just not happening otherwise. Also, parts of Boo's daily schedule don't seem to working anymore. He's actually made lots of suggestions in bits and pieces all week.

Boo wants to participate in our home life and will work to be able to do so. He also understands the importance of continuing his physical and occupational therapy exercises even though he no longer needs home health visits. Lately we've had issues getting him to take walks and I need to understand the reason behind that. Is he still too unfamiliar with our yard and neighborhood to feel comfortable? Are there balance or navigation problems that aren't immediately obvious? Does he need new sunglasses? The sun really does bother his eyes. He's also sleeping more. Do his medications need to be reevaluated or adjusted? Does he need more stimulation? Or perhaps different types of stimulation? Is there an underlying physical problem that isn't being addressed? Do we need to start the day later or go to bed earlier? Etc., etc.

By taking all week to talk and not rushing the process, Boo has been more able to communicate his needs and wants---and things that bother him. He just can't do it all at once. Sometimes he had definite opinions about what he wants to do or not do. Other times he feels a general unease and can't pinpoint the specific issue. With suggestions, he'll usually decide what he wants to try first to “fix” the unease.


This past week our local church recommended a website through Facebook. Boo and I looked at it. It provides daily links to the lectionary readings, a reflection for the day and a short video. It also includes reflections on the pope's monthly prayer intentions. Given Boo's difficulty concentrating, these short daily devotional helps seem to be ideal. This past week they've been just right. Here's the link to the Apostleship of Prayer.
“Why lose your temper if by doing so you offend God, annoy other people, upset yourself...and have to find it again in the end? Say what you have just said, but in a different tone, without anger and your argument will grow in strength and, above all, you won't offend God.”
From The Way by Jose Maria Escriva

Tomorrow I'm going to make a black-eyed pea hummus, frozen yogurt and slow cooker bread. I've never made bread in a slow cooker, but it sounds simple and shouldn't heat the kitchen nearly as much as the oven. Today I need to make yogurt (in the slow cooker) in preparation for tomorrow. I'm just not in the mood to spend long in the kitchen these days, but I still like to eat.

This is one of Boo's favorite poems this week. I read poems to him at least one a day and he's asked to have this one reread several times.

I Remember, I Remember
Thomas Hood 1799-1845

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi'lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,--
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!
I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heav'n
Than when I was a boy.


Yesterday Boo's prescription medications were delivered. In the midst of all that we had to do, I neglected to check to ensure that we'd received all his medications. This morning I did check and lo and behold, he was missing one. Now, he doesn't actually run out of this medication until next Friday, but his meds are only delivered once a month. We've used this particular pharmacy because they deliver and have had no problems for just over a year. Anticipating all kinds of problems, after all it is my responsibility to check before the delivery person leaves, I called. I was shocked and surprised when the person I reached not only handled the situation promptly and politely, but also thanked us for using their service. Customer service is alive and well---at least in some places.