Alzheimer's Part One

A co-worker's father passed away this week due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. I decided to write some of my thoughts on the subject. This is really difficult for me to think about, let along talk about, so please bear with me.

My grandparents (both maternal & paternal) played a huge role in my life. Both sets lived nearby, so I saw them often. I never had babysitters as I was growing up - I always stayed with one set of grandparents or the other.

My maternal grandparents came down with it first. One day, as my senior year of high school was coming to a close, my grandmother called us in a panic. "He's talking out of his head, and he thinks he's lost and I can't get him to come in the house." As she spoke, she got more and more hysterical until we could barely understand her. We immediately went over there.

My strong and dependable "Papaw" was lost in the past. He spoke of going home and his parents. Some of what he said made no sense at all. The doctor at the emergency room told us he had probably had a stroke at some point during that day.

In the days that followed, he continued to go downhill - more rapidly each day.

The same man that would pick up a piece of fuzz on the floor as he walked down a hallway or wash his car if he saw a smudge - forgot to comb his hair. Soon he forgot to eat and lost the ability to control his bladder. The episodes of disassociation and disillusionment grew more frequent.

Soon after our family doctor diagnosed with Dimentia - a form of Alzheimer's disease.

"And I think your grandmother may be in the early stages too."

Honestly, we hadn't noticed. She spent so much time taking care of my grandfather, that we didn't notice she was slipping too. She would do things that were completely absent-minded - like put the cereal in the fridge - but we accepted that as stress.

As the weeks went by, the signs continued to be more apparent in my grandmother. She let things go that used to be tremendously important to her. We figured out that she stopped cooking. My mother began to bring every meal to them.

After time, the situation became more than we could handle. We had to opt to put my beloved grandparents into a nursing home. My grandfather had to have a feeding tube because his body had forgotten how to do something as simple as swallowing his food. Six months after entering the nursing home, my grandfather died.

My grandmother's mind had become so distorted that she could not process his death. One minute she would be looking for him, and then have to remember (or be told) that he died all over again.

The costs of the nursing home took everything that my grandparents worked so hard to have. They were so frugal during their lifetime, but every penny they earned ended up paying for their long-term care. That was a hard lesson for not planning for something like this to happen in the future. They had always thought that they would pass everything to my mother.

My grandmother's condition rapidly declined even more after my grandfather's death. Within a couple of weeks, she lost all sense of her surroundings, and she remains in that state today. She has no idea who I, her only grandchild, am. She has no idea who my mother, her only child, is.

Most days she seems happy. She mumbles happily. She enjoys singing. She may not remember who she is, but she remembers words to hymns like "Amazing Grace."

Other days she gets very agitated and angry. Language comes out of her mouth that she would have never used.

Alzheimer's disease is a terrible, horrible disease that revokes dignity and takes away the identity of the sufferer. The disease seeps into their family and loved ones. As a family member, the person you once knew is gone, but still alive.

When I visit my grandmother, I know that she is not the person she was. I had to say goodbye to that person a long time ago. I hope that the person that she is now has no idea of the horrible effects the disease has had on her. That is the only peace that I find about the situation - that maybe she doesn't know.


Things that Go Bump in the Night...or Don't

Last night, Monkey T spent the night with us for the first time. She has been asking to do this for months now, but this weekend was the first time we could arrange it.

We had a great time playing video games and hanging out.

In case you didn't know, Katamari rules. It's a game series available on XBox360 or Playstation 2. You are a prince from a very strange (probably drug induced) planet. Your father hands you a ball and instructs you to roll things up. The more you roll up, the bigger you get. In turn, the bigger you get, the bigger the objects are that you can roll up. In premise, it's really silly. But, it is absolutely FUN. Pretty addictive as well.

After this, it was time for bed. T settled down in the guest room, which is on the other end of the house from our bedroom. Sure enough, as soon as my eyes started to close, there was a quiet peck at the door.

She heard footsteps outside.

Where we live - out in the middle of the woods - there are no people walking around.

After checking outside and convincing her how wonderful our security system is, she settled back down and finally fell asleep.

I'm sure that all the violence of rolling up people and animals had finally gotten to her, and just caused troubling hallucinations. By the next morning - she was totally over it.


Ode to Dr. Pepper

Oh, how I love Dr. Pepper.

It would save me all kinds of time & effort if I could just inject it directly in my veins.

Okay, apparently I have developed a habit.

I guess it could be worse things, but I find myself craving Dr. Pepper every time I go into a restaurant.

I've been burned by always ordering water. I used to be so good at that. But then, I found that periodically restaurant water can taste just like dirt.

Since I am sure that dirt is much more nutritious than Dr. Pepper, I completely mean to order "water". I even do a little mantra in my head as the waitress comes over to take my order. Water. Water. WATER.

Then when she asks me "What would you like to drink?"

I look directly into her eyes.

"Dr. Pepper"


The Color of Roses

The plants plants in my yard have become needy and spoiled. I'm forced to water them twice a day. Otherwise, they repay me by pretending to be dead and withered until I water them again.

When we first began work on our yard, I came across a great deal on not-yet-mature roses. I carefully went through each one at the stand, with special attention to which color would co-ordinate with which area of the yard.

I purchased five bushes - two white-colored, one peach-colored, one bright red-colored with large blooms and one climbing red-colored.

Faithfully, I watered my roses each day.

After a few weeks, the one which would have had large, bright red-colored blooms died thanks to the dogs down the road peeing on it faithfully every day.

One of the white bushes did nothing (still hasn't). It's not dead, but has rebelled against getting any larger.

The other white bush grew immediately. Finally, one day it began to flower. Large beautiful pink blooms.

Pink? Really?!? You may notice from my list above that I did not buy a pink. I'm not even sure I like the color pink.

The climbing, red-colored bush began to flower next. It has beautiful white blooms with peach tips. And it doesn't climb.

The fifth bush began to bloom last. We monitored it in the evenings for several days as the bulb began to open. Then, just before the petals were completely visible, it died. (Probably the dogs again.)

Last week, I finished the landscaping. I replaced the roses that died with other flowers. And now in my desperate attempt to keep everything alive and well, I have resorted to the grueling two-time-a-day watering schedule. (I only say grueling because I have to get up early because of it.)

It's all worth it when I step back and look at my beautiful yard. Pink roses and all.


Eating at the Table

Farmer C came over yesterday afternoon and spent time with us. Sometimes it's pretty difficult to get him to hold still long enough to eat dinner.

"What if I grew teeth really big and then I would eat you guys and eat your house? Then would I have to sit at the table?"

Um...no, probably not C.


iPod Blues

I spent the entire evening yesterday organizing music files from my music library to pull over to the new iPod. I created a bunch of playlists, and excitedly set it to sync.

Ah, how naive I am! Absurd as it seems now, I expected to just copy music over, pick up the device and enjoy my 1032 hours of music.

Of course, after several completely failed attempts, only about 30% of the mp3's actually copied during the "sync".

I guess I'll be spending my evening with the Apple Support representative.


Letrozole, Schmetrozole

Today I began the Letrozole. So far, no side effects.


How a 30 Year Old Spends Her Birthday

  1. Awaking to husband singing "Happy Birthday". Nice.
  2. Going out to eat Japanese food at lunch. Good. (I adore Hibachi Steak.)
  3. Having parents come down for the day to visit. Also good.
  4. Going to Best Buy with husband to pick out birthday gift. Spectacular.
  5. Charging new iPod that will hold 80 GB of music. Tremendously exciting.
  6. Receiving visits from various sibling-in-laws, nieces and nephews. Wonderful.
  7. Visiting niece of same birthdate to wish each other mutual happiness. Fun.
  8. Seeing said niece's new pet rats in their fancy cage. Um...unavoidable.
  9. Spending the rest of a nice and quiet evening at home. Perfect.

Dear Nurse Judy

Dear Nurse Judy,

Thank you for being so sweet to me today as I broke to you that yet another month has gone by without any fertility luck even though everything seemed to be going so well.

You told me "I am so sorry, darlin'," in such a quiet, concerned way that I know you really meant that.

You relayed the message that after discussing my case with Dr. F, he decided that I should try Letrozole. I looked this up later and found it is a drug primarily used for breast cancer, but it has been known to help fertility issues and also treat endometriosis. I was so upset and trying not to show it, that when we talked, I didn't even bother to ask you what the new drug would do differently and all that kind of stuff. I looked it up tonight.

I will be starting that tomorrow.

Then, after we hung up, you immediately called me back.

"I just noticed that today's your birthday and I wanted to wish you a happy birthday!"

It's little things like that, when you go above and beyond, that I really appreciate.

Until the next time I call you with a question,

The Big Three-Oh

Well, it's finally here.

The end of my twenties came despite my best efforts.

And, I feel totally and completely...the same.


Okay, They Got Me

I admit it. With this one - they got me.

After yesterday's party, I was actually surprised today as I walked into my mother-in-law's house to a world of streamers and 3's and 0's galore.

Farmer C immediately accosted me. "Tomorrow's your birfday," he sweetly smiled up at me in the way that only adorable 4-year-olds can.

After everyone sang to Monkey T (whose birthday is also tomorrow, but still got to be in on the surprise) & I, we had hot dogs, cake and banana splits.

I have a great family.

The Test

This morning, I awoke to the immediate pressure of taking the pregnancy test. I couldn't bear to look at the results, so after the three minutes, J walked into the bathroom alone. The look on his face when he returned told me everything I needed to know.

"I love you" was all he could say.

And I cried.

We really thought this month was the one we had been waiting almost 7 years for. But yet again, we were disappointed.

I wish I could report to you that I'm optimistic for next month, or at least some little nugget of hope to bring out the warm fuzzies. But I can't. My reserve is completely empty.



Well, dear Internet, it looks like I was right!

This afternoon, my husband & my parents threw me a surprise birthday party!

I tried to drop lots of "feelers" this morning to test their secret-keeping abilities. To my shock, no one broke down to tell me anything.

I still had fun with it though. Since J didn't let on that we need to be anywhere at a certain time, I was very slow in getting ready.

I told my Dad on the phone that J & I had decided to go to the beach. (Insert crickets here - apparently that little tidbit caused a tiny bit of panic.)

The party took place at the fellowship hall of my parent's church. As I rounded the corner, I heard "Ssshhh!" , "Hide!!!!", etc.

When I opened the door, the lights came on and everyone yelled "Surprise!!!!"

It was all pretty awesome. My parents really put a lot of effort. They even had M&M's printed with "A's 30!"

Okay, so I totally knew. But I still got pretty shaky seeing a big portion of the people that I love gathered together with great big smiles plastered on their faces all staring back at me and waiting for my reaction.

I gave them my best shocked and awed look. "I can't believe you guys did this!"


Multiplying Turkeys

Today our discovered that our group of wild turkeys have babies! There is at least 7 of them (babies). As they crossed the driveway in front of me, I could not believe what I was seeing.

Now, I have to think of at least seven more turkey names to save their little lives (see my master plan in the next to last paragraph - here) from being someone's Thanksgiving dinner.

Maybe the Seven Dwarfs? That sounds pretty convenient to me!


Suspicious Mind

I decided to go on the record today with some suspicious acts around my family lately. Then later on, I can point back and say - "HA! I knew it all along!"

Oh, wait. I don't want them to read this blog, so I will not be pointing them in this direction. Nevermind. Internet, YOU, will get to share in the knowledge that I was right. Or wrong. You know, whichever.

I have been keeping the upcoming weekend free of appointments, errands and social activities. You see, Monday is my birthday, and I would like to spend the weekend with my family somehow. It's a major milestone for me - the big 3-0.

I asked J what he plans to do Saturday. "Oh, nothing."

I asked my parents. "Oh, nothing."

Back to J. "Why don't we take off and go somewhere for the weekend?" A brief silence followed by a nonchalant change of subject.

Last week, I saw a mysterious receipt at my parent's house for something seemingly party-related they ordered off the internet. Off the internet. My parents. Who only get on the computer for email or Solitaire.

Every year my parents ask me what I have planned for my birthday. They want to see if there is anything that they could participate in. Typically we go out to eat or something like that. This year? Not a word.

Normally when I talk to my family & friends, we always say things about what plans we have coming up on the weekend. This week? Nothing.

So now I'm all suspicious. Something's going on.

When I first began to suspect something, I decided to play it cool and not ask any questions. Let them fool me, or at least think they are.


Ruby Strikes Again

This morning, as I stood in our yard for 30 minutes trying to get my dogs to cooperate so I could get ready for work, my husband appeared at the door.

"It looks like your tire is going flat."


I'm lucky that my jeep ("Ruby") has such big tires. Otherwise, I would have probably been strandard in the middle of nowhere on my way to work.


Do You See It?

Look what I almost hit in my driveway yesterday!

(BTW - My phone doesn't have a lot of control of taking photographs, so the photo isn't great.)

I'm told this is a king snake, and king snakes eat other snakes - including some that are poisonous. In that case, I'm hoping he (or she) stays around our creek, which is where I took the photo.


Progesterone High

Today, I had blood work done. This is the last step in creating a full picture of my cycle.

I had this done at the local hospital. Apparently, it's much faster than having it done at the doctor's office. For the second time within a month, I had blood work done without passing it out!

(To reward myself, I went shopping! J will be so thrilled to help me plant all the plants I bought today.)

Dr F's nurse, called me around lunch time to let me know that the test results looks good! My progesterone levels are high! She said I will need to take a home pregnancy test 6/22.


Father's Day

I have the best Dad in the whole world.

Today he & my Mom came down to meet J & I for lunch. Then we had a great afternoon of just hanging out, talking and laughing.

Before they left, they stopped over at the ice cream party that J's family threw.

My Dad is diabetic.

He had a bunch of ice cream. Homemade. Not sugar-free.

What can you say? He loves it. It makes him happy. So there, Diabetes. Let him have his ice cream. It's his day. He can spend the rest of the week sugar-free.


S the Boss

S the Boss is the hardest to deal with of all my nieces and nephews at the moment. He's 10 years old, and he thinks that he knows absolutely everything. (Hence "the boss".) He will argue with you the entire time you are around him.

No exaggeration.

During the drive to the laser tag place, he informed Monkey T & I of the following:

  1. I should buy a Playstation 3, even though I don't really care for video games.

  2. Playstation 3's will never come down in price from where they are right now.

  3. My husband's 4-wheeler that he has had since high school is not only NOT the model I said it was, but the problems he (my husband) has had with it are not valid.

  4. 10-year-olds ABSOLUTELY should have had a girlfriend/boyfriend by now, and something is wrong with T because she just likes a boy and doesn't have a boyfriend yet.

  5. The worst part of puberty is your skin

  6. Our family can trace it's heritage back to the Queen of England

  7. T should not like PT Cruisers, and if she insists that she does anyway, she should have an actual reason other than "It's cool looking"

  8. Liking school is very uncool.

And the list goes on and on.

Please don't get me wrong. I love S dearly. He is just so, so difficult lately. It's really sad, because he used to be the sweetest little kid.

He & T are the same age - just a month apart. However, the two of them are so completely different. I am convinced that this is completely due to a difference in parenting strategy.

T's parents are extremely hands-on in all her many, many activities (including school, sports, piano, etc.) They spend a lot of time doing family activities. They encourage her to do her best in everything.

In return, she does well in everything she tries. She gets along with others, and listens well when you tell her to/not to do something.

S's parents are pretty unstable. They separate, get back together, separate, get back together. S spends a lot of his time on his own playing video games. He loves all things mechanical, and he has a go cart, a dirt bike, a four wheeler, and you get the point. His father is a Donny Downer. His parents try to bribe him with more toys/video games to do better in school.

In return, he hates school and has a hard time getting along with people.

I really hope this is a phase that he grows out of, but I'm afraid this is just the beginning.

Laser Tag It Is

For her 10th birthday, Monkey T wanted a Laser Tag party. She also wanted a mouse.

Laser Tag it is. Laser tag with a mouse cake.

T's birthday is actually not until 6/23. It's the same day as mine. However, she's going to camp, so today is our day to celebrate.

I volunteered to help with the party because I'm really gullible kind-hearted like that.

Overall, the party was a lot of fun. About 5 parents stayed also, so there was a lot of help.

And I got to meet Alfredo.

No, he's not a dish of pasta. He is T's first real crush.

Oh, to be 10 again.


Another Day, Another Symptom

Of possible pregnancy, that is.

My nose is running like CRAZY.

Between that and the n-a-u-s-e-a, which I still have in full force, it's getting really hard not to be optimistic.


A Lesson About Turkeys

This morning, while driving down our 2/3 mile driveway, a turkey slowly crossed over ahead of me.

We have seen turkeys on and off since we moved back into the woods. During that time, I have learned from my husband (who grew up in this area) that everything I thought I knew about turkeys is wrong.

I thought turkeys all looked similar to the traditional Thanksgiving mascot - tail feathers with the red "beard", etc.


Apparently, those are characteristics of MALE turkeys. The females just look like big dark colored birds. The feather thing? They only do that when they are strutting. Who knew?

People express interest in hunting on our property when they find out we have turkeys. Personally, I am not a big fan of hunting. I know too many people that just do it for fun. That, and I'm a tree hugger at heart. I am trying to think up names for all our turkeys. If I name them, and proclaim them as my pets, maybe that will discourage hunting them.

BTW, the picture above is one I found online of a female turkey (and no, it didn't have credit to the photographer), so that you can kind of see what I am talking about. The ones we have look even less like turkeys (or what I think of as turkeys). They are pretty difficult to photograph. They refuse to stand in one spot long enough for me to go grab my wide-angle lens. However, if I ever do get a good picture, I will replace the one above.



For the last two days, I have been feeling n-a-u-s-e-a.

I'm spelling it that way because I noticed that the Google ads over on the right column keep advertising links for n-a-u-s-e-a & v-o-m-i-t-i-n-g remedies. I know that keywords on my blog drive the content of those ads. I want them to display something cool, but apparently, I complain too much about my prone-to-s-i-c-k-n-e-s-s.

Anyway, I am really afraid to get my hopes up. I've had a lot of work stress recently, and my s-t-o-m-a-c-h problems could definitely stem from that.


Construction Everywhere

When I moved to the middle of nowhere, I thought I had an advantage with the commute.

My first problem was slow drivers.

The second is road construction.

A paving company is very, very slowly repaving the highway that I must drive on 15 miles to go to work. One lane at a time. This involves a flagman and a lead vehicle.

Before I finish my rant, I will pause to say that I feel sorry for them. I really, really do. Unlike some un-named city/state paving projects, people really are out there at WORK. And, it's hot.

Now back to the rant. Yesterday, I read 15 PAGES of a book that I brought along for the ride as I waited. (Yes, I am the driver, but my car was completely stopped, and I was continuously monitoring my surroundings while reading. I AM an excellent multi-tasker.) That's just ridiculus.

Yesterday morning I stopped for only (ONLY) 15 minutes. I discovered another way to pass my time. I noticed the lady in the car behind me was singing. I scanned through the radio stations three times until I found the song (I think) she was listening to. A fun game. When you are slowly going INSANE, that is.

Further adding to my frustration, the road in front of my work is closed this ENTIRE week for construction. I must drive up to the next TOWN north and then back down ANOTHER highway to get to work.

I will be spending my lunch hour at Google Maps to find some other options.


Great. Now I'm Seeing Ticks Everywhere.

My tick paranoia reached an all-time high yesterday.

During the weekend, while doing yard work, I got a few mosquito bites. (Mosquitoes love me.)Since my subconscious has absolutely no willpower, I clawed at the bites. Now I have a series of small roundish scabs. One in particular, is very dark in color.

Today, during one of my regular brain lapses caused by stress at work, I looked down to see this dark spot. And it itches.

My first thought?

Holy crap!!!!! It's a TICK!!!!! Where's the tweezers?!? Where's the germ-X?!?

Then - Wait, oh yeah. It's a SCAB, genius.


100 Degrees May Be Too Hot To Take Advantage of Your Convertible

Today we took a trip up to my hometown to help my parents unload a monstrosity of a treadmill that they purchased but will never use.

Okay, they may use it three times.

We decided to live dangerously and take my Jeep, which is slowly falling apart. We pulled the top down and set off on our trip. It was such a pretty day outside, and our trip was absolutely lovely. For the first five miles.

Then we realized that it was HOT. The sun shone directly down on us, and there was no solace to be found in the air whipping through the car. The HOT air whipping through the car.

Neither of us would admit that the heat was slowly driving us insane.

45 minutes later, when I stuck my face up against the vent to get a tiny bit of cool-ness from the air condition, J decided we had enough. (He was embarassed that the passing cars might notice that his wife was having a heat stroke.) We pulled over under a bridge on the interstate and put the top back up.

We ran the air condition on high for the remainder of the trip.

After helping my parents, we visited my grandparents and my cousin with the new baby.

Other than the heat stroke, it was a good day.


We Have Follicles!

This morning, J & I met Dr. F to have another sonogram to se if the Clomid had any effect. He located several follicles in my right ovary, two of which looked promising! I should be ovulating sometime between today and Monday.

From there, I go to the hospital next week to get a blood test done. This blood test will show my Progesterone levels to see whether ovulation actually took place or not.

All of these tests should give us a pretty good picture of my reproductive health. So far, as I have mentioned before, everything is showing up normal.

If the Clomid doesn't work this time, then I may have to go another round or two before we consider more invasive diagnostic methods.



We really thought we outsmarted Max last night.

We put Max & Molly in our bathroom on the far end of the house and turned on the fan to block out noise. We greeted our company before they hit the doorbell. The visitors did not stay very long, and we thought we were pretty quiet.


As soon as they left, we let the dogs out. Of course, they greeted J & I with their usual enthusiasm. As soon as Max turned the corner down the hallway - BARK, BARK, BARK.

Apparently it's not just seeing or hearing other people that bother him. He can SMELL them.


It's So Hot

Normally at work, we fight for the parking spot closest to the door. Today, the fight is for the one furtherest away - SHADE, glorious SHADE.

A friend sent me a few "It's So Hot" jokes to commiserate our blistering weather.

It was so hot today that:
  • I saw a funeral procession pull into a Dairy Queen.
  • I saw my air conditioner buying an air conditioner.
  • the cows are giving evaporated milk.
  • the trees are whistling for the dogs.
  • hot water is coming out of both taps.
  • my biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
  • I realized that asphalt has a liquid state.
  • I fried an egg on the hood of my car and it really cooked, but I couldn't eat it because it had paint chips in it.
  • Dick Cheney replaced his defibultor with a dehumidifier.
  • Campbell's Soup has changed the directions on its cans to "Just pour and eat."
  • the digital thermometer on your porch displays the words, "Oh, Mama!"


Soaking Up the (Fake) Sun

Today I decided to do something for myself. There are so many things going on in my life right now that are completely out of my control, and fortunately for me, my pale, pale skin is not one of them.

During my childhood years, I spent the summer with a fabulous bronze color. I look at pictures of myself from then, and I cannot believe it is even the same person.

Yes, I know that sun-bathing promotes skin cancer, etc. I can honestly say that the bronze-ness of my past was completely accidental. I have ALWAYS worn sunscreen.

After I turned 17, my skin rebelled against any potential tanning. Instead, it turns a painful, fiery red color. And it's not just the obvious places. The top of my head - where my hair parts - burns so easily that I have to wear a hat to just step outside my door.

So what changed? No clue.

As I get older, the SPF in the sunscreen that I purchase increases to shield my increasingly fair skin. And I'm tired of hiding in long pants when it gets super-hot outside for fear of blinding those around me.

So this year - I will tan! No, I'm not doing a tanning bed or baking out in the sun. I am going for the air-brush method. My first session was today.

When I got home, J inspected me closely. I asked for his honest opinion. "It's a little darker, but I can't tell very much," he said.

Then I let him see my tan line. "Oh." (He just momentarily forgot how super-white I am.)

So, bring it on, Summer. I am ready.



My doctor just called, and my bloodwork was normal. Normal. That's us! Except that we are NOT normal. Everything we have tested is normal, normal, normal. But, SOMETHING must be the cause of our problems.

I am done with the Clomid (and the angels sang). On Saturday morning, I go in for another sonogram to find out if I am ovulating as I should be.


In Bloom

Yesterday I remembered to water the plants outside. This morning - bingo - our gardenia is blooming!

This plant sees lots of abuse. Our house is new, and getting anything to grow has been difficult. To top it off, J's brother's dogs use it for target practice. They love to MARK it - much to my chagrin - so I am completely shocked that it is even alive.



Heaves, Hives, Whatever

Today at church, I overheard Monkey T talking to her friend in the pew behind me about why I lost my voice and can't talk. In the process, she also informed the entire back three rows of the congregation.

"Well, it started because Aunt A had the hives!"

Heaves, Hives, same difference.