Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Advice for 2019

My teeny tiny advice for 2019...
~be kind
~be brave
~be good
~be noble
~be humble
~be smart
~be honest
~be helpful 
~be yourself

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Candy Dish

When I was in High School, my best friend lived around the corner. I loved going to her house.  She was an only child, and that itself was fascinating to me. She didn't have to share a room, clothes, stuff... She had privacy, but yet she also always had her parents watching over her. Her parents were wonderful.

Our neighborhood, kind of had this unwritten rule, where all of the parents helped raising us... and discipline us. We were just as scared of them catching us be naughty as our own parents. I feel that I was very blessed in that we did have that kind of a neighborhood. I always felt that every one of the adults looked out for us, contributed to our growth and gave us an extra bit of love. I felt that if I needed something, rather it be a glass of water, or a bit of advice I got it from a number of these dear neighbors.

I guess, in a lot of ways, my parents were the cool parents. They were always the delightful parents.  From being headquarters of the neighborhood water fight, to just a fun place to hang out.  They also allowed kids to smoke at there house (my sister smoked & my parents rather her do it at home than in the streets sneaking..)so that also contributed to some hanging out there. My parents always had food to share with the neighborhood kids.  And always welcomed everyone.  My parents were there to listen and lend a helping hand.

Some of the neighbor kids, had the parents that were never home, and that was often a "fun" place to hand out. Some always had something to teach us.  And some were there to give us their valued opinions and advice.  Some were just there for us, and we felt safe.

When I think back, my best friend, she had the strict parents. Few were allowed to be there when a parent wasn't home (I did earn that trust with them).  Her parents, always had to know who, when, where, and why. It always annoyed my friend.  Especially, because I was chatty and often told too much to the parents. Her Dad was about the kindest and most handsome of the parents. While her Mom, I always thought she was Liz Taylor beauty mixed with just the smartest of all our parents... but also not here to be our friend rather than a parent. In which I later found myself following suit as I raised my daughters. Her Mom... definitely gets the blue ribbon in being a great Mom!

One of my favorite memories about going over to my best friends house, is that they had a candy dish.  Her Mom ALWAYS had a little something in it. ALWAYS. Not once do I remember it being empty. Also... I was always welcomed to have a piece or two.  There was something about that Candy Dish and it always having a little something for sharing that stuck to me.  I carried the memories into my own home and have always had a Candy Dish available for anyone to have a piece of heaven to devour. My girls grew up not necessarily craving candy as it was something always available.

Candy Dishes.  They say WELCOME! ENJOY! & FEEL COMFORT.  I rarely see them anymore.  Except at my house... and my dear best friends Mom's house♥

I hope to carry this tradition as long as I have a home and a Candy Dish to fill.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Navigating New Chapters

My journey as Dad's Caregiver has been an emotional one.  This man, my Father, has had my heart all my life. He has been handicapped since I was nine months old, so I don't remember him "before the accident". Too me, growing up with a Father that walked stiff, lost his balance often, and had depression issues, was my normal. He still was kind, funny and enjoyed life. Mostly thanks to my Mom, who kept everything together & gave her all so we were a happy family.

His diagnosis of Dementia came back in 2010. Mom was concerned as we were noticing some struggles.  Both Dad's Mom and Sister had Alzheimer and it made sense to have some testing so we could prepare and learn how to best approach it and make things better for Dad's quality of life. 

Dad managed very well. He surprised us with his independent living skills following Mom's death in 2012, and managed to be productive in a semi-assisted living facility for a couple years. Eventually, he needed more care and we moved him into an Assisted Living that had nurses to handle his medical needs as well as a more careful eye on him as he continued to have independent living in a nice efficiency apartment.  We started to see more and more trouble and confusion in 2017. Then in the early morning of  December 29th, 2017, with temperatures below zero, he was found wearing only a pair of shorts, t-shirt and his tennis shoes,  wheeling his wheelchair through the parking lot frantically searching for a green Ford he said he needed to get moved. It is thought he had been outside for approximately an hour. He remained in the hospital for two weeks treating pneumonia, then was transferred to a Rehabilitation facility before his landing in a current Memory Care Home. It was determined the exposure to the extreme temperatures accelerated his memory loss as well. Once the brain cells "die" there isn't any recovery for them. There are different levels of dementia and Alzheimers. Dad is in the most functioning unit at Harrison Terrace. He is in what is called The Augusta Cottages of American Senior Communities.They offer programs specializing in the different needs of residents that are going through memory loss. Depending on how fast this disease takes over him, will determine which plan is best for him.  He currently is living in a co-ed floor.  He has a dear roommate (actually Roommate number 5 in just a years time).. this place can be a revolving door and unfortunately many people with memory loss stop "thriving" and move to another unit where they pretty much keep them as comfortable as possible as death is inevitable. Some will become aggressive, agitated or violent.  Some will be forgetful but functioning.  My Dad is this way. He has good days and bad. He can no longer remember many simple things yet he can tell you in great detail something mechanical or something that happened once upon a time. The worst is the days seeing him forget that Mom has died. He will ask where is she, or why did she "leave" him. He doesn't always remember what city we are in, where he is or lives, will worry he is "homeless" and frets about having bus fare to get home after work. He also mixes up facts with things that didn't happen. Or will grasp onto a memory thinking that time is now. For instance, the green Ford he wanted to have moved the night they found him outside... we connected that with his memories from the 80's working for a company that had car rentals. He often gets "stuck" in his memories from the past mixing with current time.Seeing someone you love, struggling with simple things we take for granted is heart-breaking. He will grasp onto something familiar, and while the details are incorrect.. to him it is correct. I notice with Dad, his biggest hurdles are dates, time, anything involving numbers.  I wasn't sure he could read any more, but sometimes... it's still there, and he will read something, anything in front of him.  But his love of "reading", his interest in magazines, history, fun facts... it's gone. 

His storytelling... well, Dad was always a kidder and exaggerated facts.  But it's a whole new level  as he tells elaborated stories about residents and staff.  In his mind, he doesn't live in a "nursing home" but works there... And I am lucky that the wonderful staff there goes along with it. He believes he has been promoted to a position that gives comfort & calms others.  He talks to them and assures them. He also will get assistance for residents when they need something.  And when he has time, he will help the staff pass out napkins and silverware.

He loves for me to bring Mocha when I visit. (He never was a coffee drinker previously, but I just go with it.) We will chat, I listen to his newest stories about his "co-workers". Usually ready for me to go as he will say he needs to get back to work.   There have been a few times that it wasn't so easy to leave.  One time he wouldn't let go of me. That is when it breaks your heart the most. He carries a "stack" of cards that have my name and number.  He claims they are his work papers.  It is a bit of a security I guess for him and the staff knows he is allowed to call me whenever he wants.  

His prognosis isn't great. He continues to choke on food and even saliva. He is not swallowing properly, and is on a mechanical soft diet. We are told eventually, he will forget how to swallow  as his body continues to forget to function. It is frightening, but seeing him have his good days, feeling successful with his "job", and making friends... brings joy to my heart.  They guy is a charmer.  Everyone at Harrison Terrace loves him.  Staff and residents. I just want him to be happy and safe. He deserves to be happy. Sometimes I will see that happiness, but usually it is more contentment.  I will take what I can get. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Just PRAY Janis

So much has happened since I last wrote. I will try to review things as I get back to writing here in my Blog.

Over time.

It's hard to jump back in... you think of where do I begin? How do I catch up?

Last night I could not sleep, for the umpteen time.  My brain was on fire. I had so many things I was trying to comprehend.  I lay there having quite the conversation with God. My prayers became just that... a conversation. I was so very consumed with troubling things. Particularly where and why God was becoming vague within so many I loved.  Somehow, over the course of world issues, especially here in the United States, people have become so callus. Not only looking the other way, but accepting the horrible things that have become tolerated and even encouraged by our embarrassing president.

{Yeah... I'm going there. I am not only a Democrat but I am a human that believes we should all be equal regardless to race, religion, gender, marital status, or identity.}

As I laid in my bed, tears slowly falling... I asked God to help me to understand.  To help me to know what I need to do?  How can I help? I also did my share of begging to help some loved ones find there way back to His loving arms.  I can't wrap my head around the thought of not having God lead me & help me to trust His plan for me.  My walk hasn't been horrible, but I certainly had my share of stumbles and a few valleys to cross.  While I had believe at the time, perhaps my path, or rather how I accept & trust my path, would be an example to others that are watching, and maybe inspire them to have better relationships with God.  But then I realized how vain that was & remembered it is not about me. So here I am.

Where do I go from here? My personal life is really very Blessed. I am in a good place. My Hubby and I are better than ever, after 32 years of marriage.  My oldest Daughter is living Happily Ever After with her darling Husband, not far from us.  My youngest is living her dream in sunny California with her Fiance and we are planning a wedding for the coming year.  My Dad is safe and continent living nearby in the most wonderful Memory Care Residence. Hubby is retired & I get to continue a great job working from home. We are healthy  (for the most part).

So why am I distraught? Why the anxiety? Oh Honey... if the News doesn't scare you... you are one of the reasons I am so troubled. I need to figure this out. Once upon a time, when I struggled with depression, self worth and anxiety, I was introduced to this little (at the time) world of Blogs.  It is a different animal these days... the Blogworld I was so affectionate over seems to be hidden under many layers of Blogs today.  However, I know what this outlet can do for me.  And maybe it is really about me... here anyway.  A porthole to finding some relief, some comfort or even some resolution and answers to what I am looking for.

I am coming home to my Blogworld. Like a long lost friend welcoming me back. I am the same person I was when I started Just Breathe Janis so many years ago.... but I have grown, I have gotten stronger, wiser and mindful.

Just Pray Janis... and then you can Breathe again.