The Trip Over
Notes on the road to Alzheimer's
The Trip Over

I had to counter this!

I had to respond to older brother's vivid memory of my early days as his sibling.  "Chubby and drooling a lot" really gives us a cute picture of my arrival and Don's clear impression of the hight points of my humanity in those early days.  Don was a great older brother, though I know I taxed his patience mightily from time to time. On second thought, in some almost prophetic sense we do come full circle do we not?  I find myself "chubby" and on certain days "drooling a lot", with the prospect of both chubbiness and the propensity to drool both increasing as I move on into these later years!  Anyway, it was nice for Don to remember my birthday.  Take care 'ol brother, as you gain strength and steadiness.  From Kansas.  Jan

An urgent plea

URGENT PLEA FROM ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION CEO Print E-mail
Friday, 13 February 2009

It is possible that there has never been a moment in America with so much potential to either advance or diminish Alzheimer's research and care. Our nation faces unprecedented times and, with that, comes an unprecedented opportunity to seize this moment and insist our leaders make a greater investment in finding ways to effectively treat, cure, and prevent Alzheimer's disease.


There are an estimated 5 million people who already have Alzheimer's. As many as ten million people care for them. The disease has risen to the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. Millions more will experience the devastating effects if we don't stop Alzheimer's now. Components of the stimulus package and health care reform could benefit them.


From March 23-25, the Alzheimer's Association will take its fight to Capitol Hill for its annual Public Policy Forum.

It is critical to our mission, to the people we serve, and to society at large to make this Public Policy Forum louder than ever. We need advocates from every state and from every congressional district. We need people with the disease, their caregivers, health care professionals, business leaders, and scientists to raise their voices and educate our policy makers so they know that an investment in Alzheimer's is an investment in the economic health of the nation and the personal health of millions.


The volunteers and staff of the Alzheimer’s Association are working hard to make as much noise as possible about key Alzheimer's issues and to make it as easy as possible for people to attend the Forum. Early-bird discounts and group discounts are available.


Please seize this moment and take an extra step this year by attending the Alzheimer's Association Public Policy Forum in Washington, DC, March 23 - 25. Our elected leaders need to hear your voice.


Never before has so much been at stake nor has time to help families and advance science been more precious. We need to demonstrate both in numbers and in facts why Alzheimer's matters. I look forward to seeing you, and all the others you'll recruit, in Washington.


Harry Johns
President and CEO
Alzheimer's Association

Please contact the Alzheimer's Association at info@alz.org This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Labels: Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Disease, capital, capitol hill, change, D.C., Public Policy Forum, Washington

Chopping wood

Recovering from joint replacement is a lot like cutting wood; it's the same thing over and over again. I'm supposed to be exercising every hour while awake but I must admit I'm not getting it done. I suspect the physical therapist says to do it that often in order to assure that I'll, at least, exercise 3 or 4 times a day.

I've had a strange spell of pain in the evening the past two days. That is not that unusual except that I've had virtually no pain since the surgery. This is a moderate pain like a tooth ache. It subsides with a pain tablet. I haven't yet figured out what is causing it.

Jane and Jenni went to the store today and picked up a shower chair and other stuff so I can shower in our extra bathroom. Our big bathroom has a very small shower stall and they were afraid I will slip and fall. (So am I)

Today is my 14th day post-op. It's hard to believe. It seems like 4 or 5 weeks ago. Time flies when you're having fun.

Happy Birthday, Jan

Forgot to tell everyone that Jan's birthday was last Friday. 65 years ago, he was born in Marion, Kansas on the 13th day of February. I was 10 years old and, up to that day, was the 'baby' of the family. I don't recall that I had any big problem with him taking my place.

I do remember he was a cute, chubby little kid that drooled all over himself. Since all of our brothers (5) and one sister were older that us, Jan and I were kinda' a second family to our parents. We got along pretty well, for siblings.

Fortunately he was too small and young to get involved in all the foolishness of my misspent youth. I'm sure my parents were happy about that too. If you'd like to see what I mean by 'misspent' pick up a copy of my novel Moonshine Harvest at Amazon.com.

Great to be home

Well, I'm home. Got here yesterday and doing fine. Had a little incident yesterday. Slipped on the kitchen floor and nearly fell. My hip hurt a bit but that has passed. I reported the incident to my doctor and apparently I didn't do anything bad.

I'm getting around pretty well on a walker. Walk quite a bit every day and the physical therapist comes by 2 times a week. The occupational therapist was here today and gave us a lot of good pointers of avoiding falls and such in the home. I guess I've proven I need that.

A Second Update

As promised, I did talk to the 'ol Doc yesterday, late afternoon, CA time.  He sounded strong and is looking forward to going home soon.  His rehab is going well.  Jane was able to connect with him by phone.  She is still working on the bronchitis thing, but must be making some progress.  I told Don I would post this brief update for all of you.  Spring is here today in Kansas.  Upper sixties.  Snow is coming in another 48 hours!  Such is Kansas weather.  I know you all notice I talk about the weather - much!  It is a "Kansas Thing".  We have such unusual variety at such short notice.  Some of you cynics would say, "what else is there to talk about when it comes to Kansas?"  Maybe so.  I'm sure I'll keep giving you regular weather updates, whatever the truth of the reason may be!  From Kansas.  Jan

update on Don

I'm sorry I haven't given you an earlier progress report on Don.  I talked with Jane today, Monday.  She is sick as heck with bronchitis, and hasn't been able to see Don for a couple of days.  He is now in rehab where he will be for a bit as he gets his legs back and then is ready to go home.  I tried to call him this Monday morning, California time, he didn't pick up the phone.  I'm guessing he was in a rehab session, most likely.  I'll catch up with him today sometime and get the whole scoop from the patient himself.  Keep thinking about Jane and Don as they get through their respective ailments.
From Kansas.  Jan

Into the Breach

Brother Don's "Final Hours" entry reminded me I need to drop something into this discussion as he will be out of commission for a while.  I hear from other's who have had a hip replaced, that it is not as bad as a knee.  So we will hear from the old Doctor if that is true.  Just do your PT faithfully, brother!

Apprehension before surgery is normal for us I think.  Don's last entry title struck me as a reminder of how honest Don is with his feelings.  He truly may be feeling some sense of "final" in this.  My guess is that with the joint disease we both possess, he may have a few more "final" replacements before it is all said and done.  His larger than expected apprehension level may just be a product of too many surgeries in too short a time span.  Or it could be a side affect of this AD business.  Or it could be just how we Hayen boys are put together.  Every time I have a colonoscopy (every 2 years or so) I freak out thinking about this "final" moment I'm about to experience.  And the worst is always the "prep".  It should be a course in Med School that every doc in training would have to drink a gallon of "Go Lightly".  If you don't know what that is count yourself lucky.

Kansas is beautiful here in late winter/early spring - we never know for sure until May which it is here.  Lot's of sun today and warmer (70's) by the weekend.  Keep Don and Jane in your prayers on this day, and in the time ahead.  From Kansas.  jan


The final hours

I'm sitting here with a list of do's and don't's I'm supposed to follow for the next 18 hours before surgery. You know... what not to eat, when not to eat, how to prep the skin at the site of surgery, etc.

I have to admit, I'm a bit apprehensive. I don't know why. I went through this exactly one year ago. I guess it's just the thought of being out of control and vulnerable. It wasn't even very painful. The rehab was a drag but only because it was like work...boring and unpleasant.

Anyway, at this time tomorrow, I'll be awakening from anesthesia and probably completely out of it. I'm not likely to get another blog entry in this week and maybe even next. I'll do my best.

Surgery over the horizon

We returned from San Diego for the last time, this afternoon. We went back for the last day and to see 'Boomers', a musical review celebrating the baby boomers born in the 50's and early 60's. We are certainly not of that generation but we loved the music. It was fun.

After that we went to see the movie 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona.' I wasn't too impressed but Jane liked it.

I'm on the countdown for my right hip surgery on Wednesday. I'm a bit apprehensive but I know it will go well. One nice thing is I won't have any obligations or chores for 3 or 4 weeks. Aren't I lazy?

Update

We're busy getting ready to dash home for 24 hours. We have choir practice tonight. We'll come back to the time share tomorrow morning.

Saw a stage production of 'Doubt' last night. It was good  The theater was just a block away so we walked there and back.

We've had a nice week down here. It's a great way to "vacation" without all the hassle of travel.

I'm watching the news on tv while I write this. What terrible weather they are having in the mid-west and east. Just to rub it in, it is sunny and 72 degrees here. We just had a cold snap. 49 degrees at night time.

Hitting the big time

Just got an e-mail from one of my contacts at the Alzheimer's Association National Headquarters in Chicago. She had received notice that one of the actresses who attended our panel last week had a note about us on her blog. Her name is Diana Lansleen and her blog address is http://www.dianalansleen.com/blog/.

It is no big deal but she did sound kinda' positive about our message. I hope it helped.

Still in San Diego. Tonight we are going to the live theater to see a production of 'Doubt' which is out on film now. We've heard it is very good.

Life in paradise

Tried to make this entry this morning and the web site choked and my entry got lost in cyberspace. Oh well.

We're on 'vacation' in San Diego. Real nice timeshare in the Gaslamp section. Saw 'Benjamin Button' last night. What a wonderful movie!

Tonight we went to the opera, Tosca. It was my first and I must say it won't be my last. Jane's been trying to get me to go but I've been resistant. I guess it's a hold over from my childhood. My father used to listen to opera every Sunday afternoon on the radio. I couldn't stand it.

We're here another 4 nights and have plans for every one. Even the daytime is busy. We took a ferry over to Coronado today and had lunch. Really great.

Counting down to surgery

Well, despite what the song says it's raining, again, in Southern California. That means that, for you living in the east, you'll be seeing ice and snow in about 5 days.

I was out with Frank today; my friend who has advanced Alzheimer's. He's getting worse by the week. He can hardly tell me his old stories anymore. He gets so mixed up he just stops. I try to jump-start him with a question or two but it doesn't help much.

Since it was raining we went down and dragged the mall. To him, it was all new and he had a great time. We ate a Philly cheese steak sandwich for lunch.

This was my last Friday with him for a while. We will be gone next week to our time share in San Diego and the next week (on the 4th) I have my hip surgery.

I spent an hour this morning before going over to pick up Frank at the hospital, signing paper work and getting instructions. A year ago next week, I was in the hospital getting new knees. Won't be long that I'll be totally bionic.

Spreading the word...

Jane and I were taken by limousine to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon for our panel presentation before members of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artist. The other two panelist were a neurologist specializing in dementia from UC Irvine and David Hyde Pierce, the actor who played Frazier's younger brother on TV.

We spent two hours discussing the unique signs of Alzheimer's and how they might be portrayed in screen plays or on stage. It was a lively discussion and I enjoyed it. I had many opportunities to tell jokes and to pitch the need to display the early signs of dementia to take the mystery and fear out of the word Alzheimer's.

By the way, David Hyde Pierce was very friendly and down-to-earth. Celebrity has not seemed to affect him. He even hugged Jane and I on departing. I was  very impressed with him.

A death in the Hayen clan

We Hayen's began our sojourn in Kansas on a 160 acre patch of ground purchased by our Great grandfather from the Santa Fe Railroad sometime in the late 1880's or early '90's.  It is still owned by family members, sons and daughters of Don's and Jan's Uncle Walt Hayen. 

Until Tuesday morning, January 20, the Keeper of the Land for the family was an older bachelor cousin of ours, son of Walt, John Hayen.  That morning, he was killed in a truck accident, while helping a neighbor move some stuff on a farm a mile or so south of the Home Place. 

John was a bit of an eccentric character all of his life.  He never married, stayed on the farm, and for most of his adult life took care of his mother, our Aunt Dorothy, Walt's widow.  He was a character who could have walked out of some book or other, a perfect stereotype of what many of you non-Kansans would picture a Kansas farmer to be.  Kind of wooly, more than a bit opinionated, with a not-so-large world view informing some of those opinions. 

I'm going to miss 'ol John when the larger family gathers in those increasingly infrequent reunion times.  Mostly we gather at funerals these days.  At those times, John always had some goofy theory going for some issue or other, which always got me going.  We'd debate, drink coffee, laugh a little, and agree we'd never agree. 

The Family will gather on Saturday, January 24, at the family church in our home town of Marion to pay respects, tell stories, remember John's life, and bury him out at Grant Cemetary, just a couple of miles from the farm, right next to Walt, Dorothy, and all the rest.  From Kansas. 

A historic event

With all the craziness in this world, we must stop and reflect on the need for sanity and tranquility during the inauguration tomorrow. Let's pray that some radical doesn't see it as an opportunity to get their 15 minutes of fame.

I saw on TV news that they will put up a glass shield to protect President Obama. But with the variety of weapons available today, it is still a bit scary.

Isn't it sad that we have to consider the a possibility of an attempted assassination, particularly with a black president. We've come a long way but we're dragging a big load.

Life is like a box of chocolates

Jane and I are going to start a new diet... Nutrisystem. We've tried Weight Watchers and several other brands over the years. This time we got to make it work. I'll keep you posted.

My hip surgery is just 2 weeks away; on Wednesday, Feb. 4th. But first, next week we go to LA to talk to the writers and actors of Hollywood. Then the following week we go for a week in a time share in old town San Diego. We get back on Saturday and the following Wednesday I get operated.

Like Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. One might be chewy inside and the next nutty and crunchy."

A good read

An acquaintance of mine, Lisa Genova, wrote a novel; 'Still Alice' and self-published it a couple of years ago. The story is about a fictional character, Alice, and her experience with early onset Alzheimer's. The book has been popular in the dementia community but now has been picked up by a major publisher; Simon and Schuster. It's available in all major book stores and other major retailers such as Target and CostCo.

This story catches the nuances of early Alzheimer's from the patient's point of view. It's a wonderful human story of love, regret and loss.

Weather... a constant subject

Dashed off to see Dr. Berkowitz (Neruopsychiatrist specializing in Alzheimer's) this afternoon and got lost and arrived 10 minutes late. Ugh! I have a terrible time remembering which exit to take to reach his office. I've had this happen before ... you'd think I'd learn.

We are having the best weather this week; sunny, clear and 75 degrees. It's supposed to stay that way for the rest of the week. The problem is, we really need rain.

The storm track is way north of us. Snow and rain keeps pounding the northern states but we get nothing.

Old age, surgery, football

As Don prepares for surgery, we Kansans are freezing our cabooses (below 0 tonight, they say), and football in KC is more down than it ever could be in San Diego, I write these words of encouragement to the 'ol bro.  Eventually you'll have all your primary joints replaced.  That's a happy thought.  For me as well.  I've just done one knee (12 years ago), and can "feel" a right hip getting ready, I suspect.  Lot's of aches and pains, I can report.  Time marches on, does it not.  I'll be 65 in one month.  It looks like retirement is near.  Like July, '09.  I'm going to have to work a part-time gig somewhere, not doing church stuff, but maybe stocking shelves or other mindless work while I re-charge the creative batteries.  It is time to move on, so I'm sure I'll know more about my physical limitations really soon if I really do stock shelves in some store or other.  Interesting isn't it, that my mind still believes I can pick up the 100# box like I did when I was 30.   So plans may change when reality comes up against what I'm trying to do!  Stay cool out there.  We'll stay warm here if we can.  From Kansas.

Age has it's downside...

The last half of January is going to be kinda' hectic for me. Beside the appearance on the panel for AFTRA in LA on the 21st, we're going to take a time share in the Gaslamp quarter of San Diego the last week of the month. Then I have my surgery on the 4th of February. I've got 4 doctor visits between now and then.

Meanwhile, my hip is getting worse. I've been taking Vicodin and, though it takes the edge off the pain, it makes me feel spacey. I don't like it.

Getting old is not for sissies.

Football; it's ugly.

I'm addicted to football. Of course that means I'm a Charger fan. I spent the afternoon watching them in a futile effort to beat the Pittsburg Steelers. Never going to happen.

Whoops! San Diego just made another touch down. Maybe I should hold off on making predictions. They are still 11 points behind with 9 minutes to go but, who knows, maybe they can still pull it off. 

Oh-Oh. Pittsburg just made another touch down with 4 minutes to play. Ugh! Time to give it up.

A wonderful story

Mark Donham gave a link to a 'You Tube' piece in his comment to my entry yesterday; Break a leg. I urge you to take 2 minutes of you time and click on the link. It's better than any movie you'll ever see.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=m-Wte7TQ0kw

Break a leg

I've received a call from the national office of the Alzheimer's Association. They want Jane and I to be on a panel to help educate the members of AFTRA, I think that stands for the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors. They want some realistic images of how Alzheimer's affects a person.

It ought to be kinda' fun. David Hyde Pierce, from the TV show Frasier, will be on the panel. Should be some other celebrates as well.

It's on the 21st of January. I'll keep you posted on events.

Settling in for 2009

I've survived the holidays but not without catching a miserable cold. Now I've given it to Jane and she's miserable too. Life's little speed bumps.......

After a series of rain storms, California weather has returned. Still a bit cool but it's sunny. Nice start for the New Year.

A year ago this month I had both of my knees replaced. Now, I'm scheduled to have my right hip done the 4th of February. After a year of hobbling around I'm ready.

I have no other planned commitments for 2009. I suppose I'll have to wait until I know how well I can function.  I've discovered that my short term memory is slipping badly. I find notes with phone numbers and names on my desk and I do not know the context in which they got there. Very disturbing. 

Replay of an old entry

 I found this entry from over 2 years ago. Still makes sense to me.
====================================================

I'm going to paraphrase from an article I read today out of the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Eric Tangalos, an Alzheimer's specialist was interviewed. 

When I tell people I have Alzheimer's but still drive and write and function normally, they tell me they didn't think AD could be diagnosed until autopsy. Dr. Tangalos affirms my belief that diagnosis can and should be made in early stages with examinations and other test. Despite the time and effort, there is no better investment in order to make an early diagnosis. Brief test in your primary care doctors can screen for the need for more thorough testing. 

Early signs to lead you to the doctor to start with can be summed up simply: Change in behavior! Apply that to the following list:

  1. Memory
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  3. Problems with language
  4. Disorientation to time and place
  5. Poor or decreased judgment
  6. Problems with abstract thinking
  7. Misplacing things
  8. Changes in mood or behavior
  9. Changes in personality
  10. Loss of initiative

There are three stages in AD; cognitive decline, functional decline and behavioral decline. Most people are diagnosed in the second stage because they do not want to anticipate being told they have AD. Worst yet, doctors avoid the word as well. But that is going to change.

Early diagnosis allows the drugs now available to be most effective and gives time for the patient to prepare, socially and economically for what is to come. Dr. Tangalos points out the value of improving the home environment, perhaps downsizing to make the space more manageable or installing inexpensive devices like motion detector lights and big-button phones. Maintaining a routine is essential. If you are going to move or make a major change in your environment, do it in the early stage when the patient can adjust or in the late stage their function is already extremely impaired. 

Dr. Tangalos ended the interview with this: "(People are coming in for diagnosis) much too late. That's easy to understand because Alzheimer's is such a devastating disease. But we'd like patients and families to run toward the diagnosis, rather than away from it." 

From one who is living that reality, I say Amen!

 

A new product for Alzheimer's

I got  comment yesterday about a naturally occurring substance found in red grapes, soy beans, pomegranates, red wine, peanuts and other foods. It's called resveratrol. If you haven't heard about it, look it up on the internet. It's interesting.

I guess there is a company putting out a concentrated form of this product. It apparently has no side effects. If you hear anything about it, post it here.

Happy Holidays

I hope you all have had a great Christmas. We had Jenni and John (her significant other) and grandson Travis over on Christmas day.for dinner and to open gifts. Jenni is struggling with pain in her knees but otherwise is doing well.

It's been rainy and cold here ... well, kind'a cold for California -- down in the 40's or 50's. When we have storms like this all of you in the midwest and east are sure to get hit with snow. It serves as our winter weather so, at least, we have changes in seasons.

I'm trying to watch a football game while I write this... the Emerald bowl... Cal vs. Miami. I'm going to have to stop and get this published. by.

A Pastoral Word from Little Brother

This Older Brother, the one who created this blog for all of us to read and respond, opens the door for his Little Brother to say a pastoral word to him and all of us in this time of great celebration in the Judeo-Christian world.  So here goes.

A grim horizon?  My guess is if any of us over 60 years of age look out there, we can honestly say we have lived the large portion of our so-called best days.  The horizon holds much which has to do with declining something or other, too much of too many things which aren't so good for anyone aspiring to live indefinitely.  It could be called grim.  So I fall back on the plaque which I have on my office wall.  A familiar saying which any of us who suffer with compulsions attached to obsessive-compulsive disorders will recognize: "to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and to know the difference."  Which says to me in this or any time, enjoy the day, it is what we have, and don't give too much power to those "grim horizons" out there because we can't do much about them anyway. 

So, 'ol Bro, embrace the day, this day.  We have it, and not tomorrow.  None of us can claim tomorrow.  We only know that in whatever tomorrow brings, we don't have to face it alone.  I can say that now with confidence.  I'm well, relatively healthy, I think, and encouraged by what may lie ahead of me.  I think, though, as my life's view inevitably changes, as health declines, and change out of my control occurs,  what I have said above, will hold me in good stead.   At least I think so.  For all of you of any faith persuasion, or even those of you with no particular persuasion in that direction, have the best of this season.  From Kansas.


I see a grim horizon

I finished my annual psychometric exam yesterday. It involves 3, one-hour sessions with a psychologist quizzing me with various test and examinations. In one way or another they involve testing my ability to remember things... a story, pairs of words, figures on paper, etc.

I've taken 4 or 5 of these things over the past 3 years and, though exhausting, I've always felt pretty good about the results. Yesterday something happened that really shook me up. Late in the test period the psychologist showed me a page with three figures on it; a triangle, a rectangle and a circle. She showed it for 10 seconds and then closed the book and waited 10 seconds. Then I was to draw these figures on a piece of paper. As the test proceeded, the images became more complicated; divided in two, or had lines sticking off the side. The last three, I became unable to reproduce them. I could not remember the details and was at lose.

I think this is the first time I've truly experience an Alzheimer's moment. The psychologist tried to reassure me but I came home pretty depressed. I'm better today. I guess it was inevitable that this day would come. I think I've been living under the delusion it never would.

The Christmas Conundrum

The holidays are rushing up on me again and I'm stuck. It happens every year. I think about gift buying but I can't make myself to go out in that craziness. Even if I did venture out, I have no clue of what to look for.

It's been this way all our married life. One time I bought Jane a floor polisher for Christmas. She nearly divorced me and I don't blame her. But I was just staggering around in Sears and saw it. I thought it looked like a practical and useful gadget. No matter; it was a disaster.

There have been many more; perfume she didn't like, clothes she couldn't or wouldn't wear; make-up that wasn't her color; etc. Memories of failed efforts at gift buying have left me with profound uncertainty. Should I just chuck it in and live with the guilt of not trying or go out on a futile quest again.

Every year I mull that question and procrastinate from Thanksgiving until December 24th. No wonder I buy such lousy gifts.  

Car Shopping ... ugh!

Jane and I have spent the last 2 days looking at Toyota's.  It is never easy. While we want to check this and asked that question, the salesman wants to jump to the bottom line.

We've settled on the idea of buying two cars; a full size Camry for Jane and something small, compact and used for me. Our present cars are gas guzzlers and cost a fortune to service.

Anyway, we've began to make some decisions and we're trying to avoid being hurried.

A whole new issue

Jenni has continued to have severe pain in her knee despite the fact that the fracture in the knee cap is now healed, according to the x-rays. She was diagnosed this week as having Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.

I'd never heard of it before but, as it turns out, it is not uncommon. I looked it up on the internet. The outlook is rather bleak. It is described as a potentially disabling, chronic neurologic syndrome. It's signs and symptoms are persistent disabling pain after an injury or surgery to an extremity with persistent swelling, discoloration, heat and tenderness.

I read that they liken the syndrome to the prolonged pain patients with shingles (herpes zoster) often experience. I am very familiar with that syndrome because I used to see zoster patients in my practice. The theory was that the nerves at the sight of infection became chronically inflamed and reactive, leading to long-term pain and tenderness.

Anyway, she has good medical care (work comp. because she fell and broke her knee cap at work). Poor  girl, she's been through a lot. Chronic Lupus Erythematosis, osteoporosis from predisone given for the lupus, retinal damage from antimalarial medication used to treat the lupus and now this.

A muddled mind

We slept in our own beds last night and it was, indeed, wonderful. It's strange to wake up in a cold, bleak, snow covered landscape one day and a warm, sunny place the next.

My mind is a muddle. I cannot put two thoughts together and make any sense of them. I may have an important meeting today and not even know it. I had to study my calendar to understand it, failing to recognize that it is now December rather than November and then trying to work out the date and day of the week.

Then, I discovered I have duplicated an entry for a doctor's appointment next week and listed it on Monday and again on Thursday. Then I found I had entered our trip to Michigan that we took in November was entered in December.

Does anyone think I don't have Alzheimer's?

There is no place like home...

We've witnessed another 2 inches of snow and that's enough. We're ready to go home. They're going to get more but we're not going to see it.  We are leaving at 6 AM tomorrow.

We've had a wonderful time with our grandchildren. They are the best! But, it's time to go home and rest up a bit.

We drove down into town tonight to see the Christmas lights. Rochester does a special thing at Christmas and it is spectacular. Store fronts are draped in colored lights of every shade. We oohed and aaahed then came home, bundled the kids off to bed and are going to hit the sack ourselves. Early morning tomorrow.

Thanksgiving in Michigan

Jan's entry about Thanksgiving was special. He's right about the memories. I cherise each and every one.

We've come to sample winter in Michigan. There was three inches of snow on the ground when we arrived last Tuesday and it is supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow.

We had a nice Thanksgiving... turkey with all the trimmings. Still eating it and it is still good. I suspect there will be some protest if it is heated up tomorrow.

While Don's out of Town

While Don and Jane are traveling to a family holiday, I decided to write a bit on this eve of Thanksgiving.  The original course and continued focus of this blog is to relate our occasional musings to this struggle with AD and all that can mean, especially at holiday times and other special days.  I know from my own life losses and my experiences as a care-giver, these days like Thanksgiving can be bitter sweet for folks dealing with the ongoing grief and struggles with a chronic disease. 

Such invasions of our rhythm of living by these catastrophic diseases changes everything for families as the joy of gathering for special days and holidays sometimes become great challenges of will and worry.  As I reflect on all of this for some of you reading this, I believe it is important to make the effort. 

I remember when our mother was in her last days.  Cancer had sapped her strength.  She was still at home, but was in constant pain and needed almost constant care.  I was still at home in high school, my brother Warren and his family were staying with us for a while between jobs.  Sister Carolyn lived just down the road.  The other four brothers had to make a special effort to come from all over the country to be together one more time before Mom was gone from us. 

I experienced my siblings, my family singing around the piano, telling stories I had never heard told.  I had never experienced any of this  as the youngest sibling, born really late, too late to remember any of this.  Seeing my mother come alive with all her brood around her was worth all the trouble, planning, and expense.  This was almost 50 years ago, and I have never forgotten the power of that gathering.  So, my pastoral word to you on this beginning time of our great Holiday journey: take the effort, time and expense to gather.  Make memories, even though those will be affected by the changes disease might bring to the circle of family.  It is worth it to keep the flame of these relationships alive.  From Kansas.  Happy Thanksgiving. 

Driving Miss Daisy

Friends of ours took Jane and I out to a local theater last night to see Driving Miss Daisy. We have several small theaters near by and they are each quite good. Anyway, the show was very good and funny.

Its a poignant story about a elderly southern lady who reluctantly takes on a black chauffeur. Through the years they come to respect each other and become close friends in a reserved sort of way. It's set in the south during the time of turmoil over civil rights.  In addition to being a delightful play it's a good reminder of our recent history.

There was two young black people setting in front of us. They stood out, not only because they were black but because they were young; something unusual in a live theater production in California. I think they were there on assignment from a college class. They had notebooks and were writing during the show.

I had to wonder what they thought of the show. Was the black man played too subservient? Could they appreciate the place in history that all this occurred? Is it time yet for all of us, black and white, to see the trace of ridiculous humor that flickers in the face of prejudice? Perhaps humor is the best way to confront it.

November dreaming

Jenni and I drove up to Big Bear to visit Justin on Wednesday. He's living with his father and it's working out well. He's going to school and making good grades. He's grown a great deal this past year, both physically and mature-wise.

We went out to dinner and played pool... which I hadn't done since I was his age. We had fun and it was good to see him.

Jenni is still not working because of her broken knee cap. She's on crutches. She's getting paid disability but she's afraid this may sabotage her job. Life is perilous right now, particularly for woman with no training or skills.

Time, Fires and Weather

Here it is, the middle of November. How can that be? Time flies by at warp speed. It's like I get up on Monday morning and go to bed Friday night.

California is burning down again. It's our usual 'devil winds' out of the east (we call them Santa Annas) driving  brush fires through cities and towns. A bunch of folks lost homes in Santa Barbara this past weekend and others in Orange County. San Diego County has been spared, so far. It is still very hot and dry but the winds have died down, thankfully.

Another month and we'll be out of this weather pattern.

A day to remember

Jan wrote a good entry on Veterans Day and its meaning to our family. We were raised, steeped in the stories of WW I. Our dad and uncles gave us a respect for the sacrifices they made.

So it wasn't surprising when two of my brothers made a career in military service and I spent 11 years on active duty in the Navy Medical Corps. I didn't see any combat, although Viet Nam was going on at that time but it was time well spent. I learned a lot and matured as a doctor and as a person. 

It even trickled down to the third generation. Two of my nephews went to the Army Military Academy and one served in Korea after the Korean War was over.

It is good that we stop to remember, every year, what our young men and women are sacrificing.

A word on Veterans Day

It is out of character for me to post twice in two days.  As I reflected early this Kansas morning on this Veterans Day, I listened to radio interviews of our newest crop of vets out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and interviews of our newest widowed wives and husbands of those who gave the most one can give in service to nation.

I thought of brothers Don, Chuck, Bing, Fritz, Warren, all my male siblings who were/are veterans of military service.  Our sister Carolyn, and myself are the only part of this gang of seven who were not in the military.  Our father Fred G., uncles Charlie and Ed, all served in WWI in the Argonne battle.  Just wanted to think of them today, and say thanks to them, and to all the nephews, cousins, other uncles, and friends who also gave part of their life-time in this kind of service. 

My war was the Vietnam era.  I had blown my knee in college football, so I didn't end up over there.  Later, in this work I have done for almost 30 years, I counseled more that a dozen guys who were there, or in Iraq, or in other troubled areas and times.  I guess that was my share of war. 

A good old parishoner/friend of mine, Harold Pond, was a vet of WWII, part of Patton's push in the later stages of that war.  He was part of the troops who liberated concentration camps, saw much which he tried to forget.  Old Harold, the conservative, old geezer he was said something one day on the golf course, in some forgotten year a couple of decades ago I have never forgotten. 

"There is no glory in war."  I think this is true.  The glory lies in the willingness of our young people who go out there on our behalf to serve.  We can hope us old geezers, who are always the leaders who make the decisions which send these young folks into those places, that we are always sure that where they go is the right thing for the right reasons.  But the glory of these to willingly go, is what we celebrate on this day each year.  I needed to remember and say all this on this day. 

Jan from Kansas. 

A report on the family

I don't know if I've written this before, or not, but I'm too lazy to go back and look. Anyway, Jenni, my daughter, fell and broke her knee cap at work and, to top it off, the bursa above it got infected. She's been on antibiotics for 10 days and finally, last Friday, they tapped the knee and drained it.

She's doing OK but she has to stay off her feet and can't do much. She's such a trooper but I'm sure she must be going nuts. I know I would be.

We are getting ready to go visit my son's family in Michigan for Thanksgiving. We have to do that every now-and-then just to experience winter again. Most of all we get to see our sweet grandchildren and spoil them.

Jenni's boys are doing well, too. Justin is living with his father in Big Bear and he's a sophomore in high school. He loves the school, has lots of friends and is making good grades. Wow! Travis is into his second year a Long Beach State University and just loves it, too.

Despite her broken knee cap, Jenni's life is in a better place than a year ago.

A word after the "last word"

Don's last word not withstanding, his exuberance about the just completed election results, pales compared to relief we all feel that we can have a couple of weeks without political ads before we start the 2012 campaign for President!                               

Seriously, I couldn't help but reflect on an experience my nephew Bern and I had back in 1962, when, as incoming college freshman, we drove South to visit Bern's Dad, and my older brother Bing Hayen in Montgomery, Alabama.  The deep south was just beginning the violence and other throes of turbulent change with all of the marches, protests, which marked the '60's.  Montgomery was a hotbed of all of that.  I remember the KKK had big bill boards openly recruiting members.  I remember that as we drove around the countryside in that part of Alabama, we saw rows of shacks which were remnants of the days of slavery, which still had African-American families living in them in virtually unchanged conditions, share-cropping, or whatever they did working on those big cotton farms trying to make a meager living.  I remember, as a farm kid, looking at those shacks thinking that I stacked hay in better buildings than that back on the farm!  It was two separate worlds living in the same space: "colored" water fountains, rest rooms, right next to "white's only" Men's and Women's facilities.  For two Kansas kids raised in virtually our own "white" world it was a shaking experience I have never forgotten.  To think we have come from that to this time of change in less than 50 years!  I have no idea what it all means, but it means something pretty big.  Regardless of how I voted, or you voted, it has to get our attention, I would think.  Now, that's the last word.  Maybe?  In Kansas. 

The last word

I've got to remember to keep my mouth shut. Jane is always telling me I share to much private information on this blog. Now I'm in hot water for writing about politics.

I should know better. My mother always told me not to talk about politics or religion while with company. She was right.

But I must say, that any red-blooded American who wasn't moved a bit by the election of our first black president need a reality check. We've seen a significant historical moment and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Now, that is the last word about the election, I promise.

Yes, I love Barrack....

Rob took exception to my last entry. He said, "I think NOW we can finally all see the real signs of alzheimers in you..." I guess I really tipped my hand as to who I supported for President. Oh well.

I do have great hope for the future. At least we'll have a president that speaks English and is smarter then me.

The election is over--- ain't it great!!!

I just read an article on the internet reporting the world-wide reaction to our presidential election. From every corner and country, people expressed delight that we had elected a bright new personality with energy and charisma who, hopefully, will carry us into a new era. 

Let us pray that he can rally a following to lead us out of this mess we are in and that all the crazies in this world can be diverted from trying to assassinate him. He faces such a huge task, it seems impossible for one man to handle. I wonder how we could help him?

Halloween II Story

Connie and I live in a nice neighborhood in Western Lenexa, a growing suburb on the west side of the KC Metro.  Our street has kids, old folks like us, and older folks like we hope to be some day.  So it is a nice diversity of people.  The last couple of years, we have stocked up on Halloween candy, turned on all the lights and, like the Bro' and Jane, nobody stopped in.  Maybe 8-10 kids total.  Which left me with the difficult task of eating two-four pounds of Halloween goodies over the next month.  Good!  But not good.  So this year, we decided we were going to be gone on All Hallows Eve.  Didn't get tricked, but in our wanderings around the city, found out many parents take their kids to the various shopping malls, and other gathered shopping areas where the merchants treat them in a safe environment.  Safety and Mom and Dad supervising the candy gathering operation might be the reason for the missing kids in both of our experience.  Mystery solved!  But I DO miss that candy!  From Kansas

Halloween disappointment

Two years ago we moved from a community with lots of children, schools and such to a retirement community restricted to those over 55. The results is that at Halloween, we get no trick or treaters.

It's kinda' disappointing. We buy candy and leave the outside lights on but, no one comes. The only good thing is I get to eat the candy.