01.31.18 Happy Retirement Donna Methvien

Roy and I both worked for Donna Methvien at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Computing department.  She is retiring after 36 years of dedicated and loyal service to Southeastern Louisiana University.  She graduated from Southeastern and within that same year started working there!   I’m so happy I got to spend ten of those years working with her and then five years working for her.

A retirement luncheon was held Wednesday, January 31st  in her honor in McClimans Hall where her office is located.  Some photos from today’s event follow. This photo of Donna and Roy isn’t great but this is my dear friend and my dear honey so, oh well!Donna’s family – Donna’s husband, son, his wife, and their daughter and cousins from MississippiDonna and her husband Chuck in front of a Christmas tree decorated with pictures of Donna through the years!

Donna’s retirement cake could not have been more perfect for her.  Donna is a notorious user of every color of sticky note.  They are usually all around her desk so she doesn’t forget the hundreds of things she was responsible for.  This cake had edible sticky notes of all the great things she’ll get to do in her retirement, especially things she’ll get to enjoy with her grandbaby Kynsea!

Donna has taken care of planning every retirement party, going away party, office party, etc. for years and years.  I got to share with her the shopping for these things and followed her guidance in putting these events together while I worked at Southeastern.  That was always a really fun part of my job.

She has now turned that over to Cindy, Jacquelyn and Hannah who did a fabulous job honoring Donna’s time at Southeastern.   There was that amazing cake, punch, pastalya, Dr. Asoodeh’s famous salad, and dips and chips.  They had learned so much from Donna over the years that they pulled off a wonderful event honoring our dear dear friend and boss.

Here’s these girls with their fearless leader!

These tables were full of wonderful food by the time we ate.  Lots more photos of Donna’s memories were on the wall.

The invitation to her retirement event was framed and on the sign in table. The cards on the table were there for us to write things to Donna on and put in the jar.  The tables were set up in the hallway because this is where we always had our office socials.  There were lots of other places to sit and eat when these tables filled up. They had a roast for Donna with several folks sharing memories.  This is Donna’s pastor who had really interesting things to say about Donna pulling pranks!Tommy Mocsary who works for Donna in the Help Desk sharing his memories and admiration for Donna.Joe Dick who worked for Donna for many years in Network Availability shared some memories.Cindy worked with Donna longer than most of us.  Her sweet memories were wonderful to hear.

I had lots of memories with Donna and chose a few of them to share with everyone. I couldn’t take a photo while rambling on so you’ll just have to know she was very worried about what I’d say and I loved it!

Every one who shared included these three things they admired about Donna; her faith, her strength and her compassionate leadership.  No one told us to do that, it’s just how Donna is!

This is Roy and my girl Sandy whom I worked with forever before she retired from Southeastern.  We plan to live together when her husband and Roy are gone.  We’ve been planning this a while!  That’s Renee’ and Tommy behind them!

Donna and Chuck (her husband) in line to get their food!

  The many people who came to honor Donna.  Employees current and past.      

A wonderful photo show displayed lots of Donna’s work memories.

 

To my very dear close friend Donna Methvien.  Happy Retirement!

 

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02.02.18 Treasured Photos – Trinity Family Picnic and Softball starring Madisyn, Cat, Jeri, Philip, Noel, Sean, Caroline, Chip, Byron B., Byron’s girls and more

In May of 2012 we had our Annual Family Picnic at Trinity.  The picnic included a softball game with our young children and some of our young adults. It was so much fun even for the spectators.  Our granddaughter Madisyn is in most of these photos but they also show lots of Trinity’s finest softball players like Jeri Bankston, Cat Davis, Noel Louviere, Byron Bankston, Chip Chauvin, Philip Bankston and their precious children.  Paw Paw Roy and  Grannie Rosalyn were big supporters and fans along with other family members and friends at the picnic.

Madisyn wanted to play but she needed a little help rounding the bases. Jeri Bankston, Cat Davis and her daddy Chip took Madisyn on their shoulders or carried her from base to base and she had such a good time!

 

I know, Madisyn is everywhere. I am her Grannie!  I would love to see another softball game with all of these young folks and plenty of younger ones that are now old enough to play!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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01.29.18 Treasured Photos – Trinity Softball Women, Men and Youth Teams 2002

Earlier this century Trinity Baptist Church had an amazing Softball program.  These are the three Trinity teams that represented our church at one time.

Jessica Forrest
Gay Sterken
Julie Dufreche
Jaala McGhee
Ashley Brumfield
Megan Landry
Kim Reitz
Sonya Traylor
Stephanie Smith
Shannon Tribble
Gina Jory
Lindsey Nyeki
Leanna Traylor
Deanna Traylor
Jennifer Vicknair
Kristi Hoffecker
Jerri Bankston
Michelle Hill


George Martin
Philip Bankston
Lucas Hill
Matt Traylor
Chip Chauvin
Daniel Davis
Scott Tribble
John Lefleur
Hunt Louviere
Noel Louviere
Bob Beall
Greg Effler
Steve Bourgeois

I couldn’t find the team roster for either of these two years but the youth I recognize in these photos are:

Daniel Davis
Jenni Smith
Lindsey Nyeki
Erica Willie
Chip Chauvin
Mark Whisenhunt
Megan Landry
Danielle Willie
Morgan McGehee
Amelia Brumfield
and I think J J Hill

Here’s young Tim Reitz, one (and sometimes the only) of our church members who umpired then and still umpires around the area!

Brian

Heath was our Scorekeeper

I can’t tell you how the awesome the Softball Ministry was in our life.  Such a wonderful  ministry.  Every church member player was required to attend their church a certain amount of weeks during each month.  Each team was allowed to have couple of players who were not church members.   These non church members got to see Christians having a great time in a clean and wholesome environment.   And we did have A L O T of fun! Church members from the softball teams got to know other church’s members and life long friendships were formed.

The concession stand was a flurry of activity selling burgers, hot dogs, candy and drinks.  All Trinity players gave some of their time throughout the season to work in the concession stand.

Men, women and youth and family members from other area churches all piled in to see the games played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening.  Three games a night!

We also had Friday and Saturday tournaments that were also so much fun!

I can no longer offer to participate in operating it but I would love to give guidance on how we did it if this ministry was ever resurrected again!  We had a web page on the church’s web site for softball.  I have numerous graphics that I’d love to share with someone when the time comes.  Please, hint, hint!

I have scaboodles of photos of Trinity children who are now adults, some with their own children.  I’m going to work on those photos soon.

If you know the names of some of the folks in the photos that I didn’t include please let me know!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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01.26.18 Dora and the Explorers – STILAD – Learning about their youth and Knowing their Passions to help them cope – originally published 12.26.14

Friday, January 26, 2018 – I know I say about a lot of these dementia blog posts that they are important. These two  projects  covered below are something I’m working on while I still can, so they are very important to me right now.

More important than these two are my Living Will, Power of Attorney, and Medical Power of Attorney which Roy and I have had in place for years.  When we took care of preparing and having my mom’s documents signed we did our own also.  Everyone should have those three documents and your actual will prepared and signed. I just tried to look up the law on these three documents but it was more than I could do right now.

The first thing I share below is “Learning about your loved one’s younger lives before it’s too late.”  I have really taken this project seriously.  A couple of years ago I started writing about my life.  If I can remember it now then it’s probably a good thing for loved ones to talk to me about in the future because I have a better chance of remembering them when only long term memory is left. In addition to me writing down what I can remember, I asked friends and family to share memories they have of times with me.  If I remember their memories it goes in my document.  The document is now eleven pages long.  About half of it is just bullet points of memories but half is complete.  I’ve given the file to my youngest son to add memories of he and I, or his family and I .  I wrote some of it but he’s filling in the details.  I’ll send it to my oldest son soon.

If any of my friends or family have memories about our relationship, please send them to me!  Several friends did this when I first started putting this together and it was wonderful.

I’ve read a lot about when visitors bring up old memories with a patient it brings the patient out possibly being able to communicate when they seem to have lost that capability.  I really want to stay as communication able as long as I can.  The file is on my computer and I add a little bit to it each week. This document will be available for anyone who visits me in an effort to help me and them be able to communicate.

In addition, if you have this information, you’ll be prepared to know if they are having hallucinations or real memories.

The second topic below is “How to use their passions from when life was good, to bring some joy into their current lives.”

Reading books and my Bible are important in my life.  We’ve purchased two Wonder Bibles in the King James Version of the Bible.  Most of the Bible scripture I learned was in my younger days was in the King James Version. When I can no longer read my Bible (I’m not there yet!!) I will be able to have it read to me and am hopeful I’ll make a connection with the verses I’ve learned and be able to continue to have God’s Word communicated to me!

Listening to music and singing with them is something that makes me very happy and stirs my heart as I remember the words.  We have recorded a huge library of music from several genres.  Our church’s choir and solo specials, Christian gospel, Christian contemporary, Christian hymns, rock and roll of the 60s and 70s, acapella singing, Christmas songs and hymns, Patriotic, R & B, movie themes, and more!  I am moving these songs to one place on my computer so that it can be turned on and played for hours on end if need be. I know I’ve shared articles about how important music is to reaching down deep in a dementia patients mind.

Old TV shows like Bonanza, Andy Griffith, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, old cartoons, Moonlighting, Little House on the Prairie and lots of other movies or TV shows are shows I hope to collect and keep for watching at a time that would help me.

I’ve learned to paint and hide rocks this past year and I hope that is something I’ll still be able to do at some point.  I love sharing them with people so as silly as it may sound if I paint a rock for you it means I love you a lot! I just finished making personal rocks for four of my grandchildren and I certainly love them a lot!

When the time comes that none of these brings me to a communication place, you’ll know that if it is at all getting in it is making my soul and heart happy.

Original Blog published December 26, 2014 – Merry Christmas to everybody from my husband Roy and I! relxmas1We really hope everyone had a blessed Christmas day! Continue reading

01.23.18 Dora and the Explorers – Wacky Wonderful Tuesday

BEAUTIFUL PLACES AROUND GOD’S AMAZING WORLD IN LOUISIANA

West Bay Plaquemines Parish

Tchefuncte River Lighthouse in Madisonville

Tchefuncte River Lighthouse in Madisonville  Salt Bayou in SlidellNew Orleans

 

 

Roy and I love to sing along with songs while we are driving. Rarely do we know the exact words and most of the fun is coming up with whatever we can to sing it! This couple singing just hit me as soo cute. I even like the lady’s part that says “Hot Damn”!! When my brain really fades this is a song I’m sure will put a smile on my face. Has to be these two folks okay??

 

THIS WEEK’S FIVE FAVORITE PHOTOS

01.22.18 Dora and the Explorers – STILAD – How I Stopped My Mother (who has Dementia) from being Mean to me, by Bob DeMarco

Monday, January 22, 2018 – When caring for someone with dementia it is important to get into their crazy little world.  Living in your normal world while they’ve gone over to a wild and wooly world doesn’t help either of you.  Caregivers have to see things from a different angle than with most patients.  When I read this article I thought that this is a wonderful description and example of ow a caregiver was able to figure out what was going on in the patients little world.  Both patient and caregiver benefit from searching for what works with your specific patient.  One of the biggest things to always remember with a person with dementia is “It’s not the person, it’s the disease”.  The patient absolutely does not mean to be mean  and they do not know how to communicate with the caregiver what they really need. I thought this article was something that would help all caregivers so please read this and if you want more information like this go to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room by the link below!
I think we were blessed that mama was never really mean to us.  She was always loving and thankful for every little thing we did, even when she didn’t know who it was that was doing it for her.  The only times she even said anything negative was when she told us “the food here is not fit for a dog” and “those people upstairs keep the air so cold in here”.  Not at all mean, right!  I am so thankful that was not the case for us!
Alzheimer’s caregivers often feel enormous stress when their loved one is mean to them; or, engages in difficult behaviors that are hard to understand and accept.

You are reading original content from the Alzheimer’s Reading Room which contains more than 5,000 articles since July, 2009

the Founder of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room (ARR).

Does this person look mean to you?

The list of difficult behaviors that Alzheimer’s patients express in the mid stage of the disease are long, and sometimes never ending.

It took me 3 years to figure out how to stop my mother from being mean to me. If you read this article and follow the links that explain how I did it, you can do the same thing in a couple of hours.

I couldn’t possibly list all of the mean and nutty behaviors my mother, Dotty, engaged in in those first few years of our life together with Alzheimer’s. The list is just to long.

For this article I am going to focus in on one mean behavior: when my mother repeatedly told me to get out, she didn’t need me, and she could take care of herself.

I’ll start with a few words of advice to caregivers

Many of you can probably imagine what it feels like when a person living with dementia tells you – “I don’t need you, get out”.

Or, says something even worse than that.

So there I was. I had dropped out of the world to care for my mother, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 3,112 days. Could she have said anything meaner, “I don’t need you, get out.”

It hurt.

These mean spirited episodes with my mother went on for years before they stopped. However, I was never deterred by her mean spirited behavior because I made a decision from the very beginning – I am going to put a stop to this.

So I tried everything in the book. I tried being overly nice – didn’t work. I tried being overly positive – didn’t work. I tried explaining why she needed my help – didn’t work.

I told her if she didn’t start accepting my help she would end up in a “home”that did not work. In fact, it made things much worse.

I tried everything I could think of doing – it did not work.

Finally, I threw the book away and started thinking. And then it happened.

I realized something had to change, and that something was me.

Pretty simple huh? Dotty wasn’t going to change so it was up to me to change. To change the entire dynamic of our relationship.

Shortly after my realization that I had to change, I invented a new place I first called Dotty’s World.

I started asking myself – why? Why does Dotty get so upset? What is happening that is making her upset? Is it me?

Yes, it was me. Okay, we had that out of the way. It was me.

Eventually I changed the name of our new world to Alzheimer’s World.

Alzheimer’s World was the place I would go to to better understand Dotty, and to better understand me.

At first, I found that it was difficult to change gears and get into Alzheimer’s World. So, I actually started

taking a giant step to the left when I needed to enter Alzheimer’s World.

To be honest, I couldn’t get there without the step to the left. Just couldn’t.

Next, I started taking notes in a spiral notebook. Every time Dotty would get mean I would write down what was happening before these episodes.

One thing stood out. Every time I left Dotty alone, shortly thereafter, she would get mean.

“Get out, I don’t need you, I can take care of myself”.

It became obvious to me that I couldn’t leave Dotty alone. I couldn’t leave her alone for 30 minutes to go to the store. Or, for any other reason. This is pretty common in mid to later stage Alzheimer’s. A person who is deeply forgetful cannot be left alone.

Yes, there were other cataylsts to this mean spirited and often bizarre and crazy behavior.

For example, if I would tell Dotty you can’t do that. Or, if I would correct her and try to explain the errors in her thinking. Or, even if I would stop her from doing something.

Once I made it to Alzheimer’s World

I started looking at the world from Dotty’s point of view.

I looked at the world from her eyes.

Pretty soon I realized that the things that Dotty would do seemed very normal to her. I just looked at her while she did them and pretty much kept my mouth shut.

Pretty quickly, almost overnight in fact, I accepted that the things Dotty did were normal in Alzheimer’s World. So, I stepped to the left to better understand. Amazingly, the amount of stress

 I was feeling diminished – it happened immediately.

In Alzheimer’s World instead of getting all bent out of shape, I found myself marveling at the things Dotty would do. The things that Alzheimer’s patients do are often fascinating. After all, their brain works differently that yours and mine. You have to start understanding the brain on Alzheimer’s.

Now to my first major point. When Dotty said,

“Get out, I don’t need you, I can take care of myself” that is not what she meant. What she did mean is: Don’t leave me alone, I’m scared, please don’t put me away in a home.

Yep, she was scared and, like it or not, I was the one causing the fear when I left her alone.

Simple solution, I stopped leaving her alone.

Once I realized that there was a very different meaning to Dotty’s words in Alzheimer’s World, I was able to develop better and better solutions to problems.

In this case, I didn’t leave Dotty alone. But that is not all that I did. When she said “get out”, instead of getting all bent out of shape and reacting back at her, I did the exact opposite. What did I do?

I smiled, walked over to her, put my arm around her, and calmly said, in a clear, low, confident voice,

I’m not going anywhere, we are here together now, and I am going to take care of you.
It took a while, but yes, it finally sunk into her brain.

Alzheimer’s World is wild, sometimes crazy, a backwards place. I learned that in Alzheimer’s World words from an Alzheimer’s patient are often a cry for help. Many times what an Alzheimer’s patient says is exactly the opposite of what they mean.

So I started meeting meanness with an equal and opposite reaction – kindness. Kindness, compassion, and understanding.

This is how you learn to cope with Alzheimer’s. Understand, cope, communicate.

By the way, Dotty stopped telling me to get out. The few times she did tell me to get out I actually laughed. This helped me to realize how far I had come as a caregiver. Instead of enormous stress, I felt calm and comfortable.

Once your incorporate these ideas into your life you will find that many of the things that are driving you crazy are normal in Alzheimer’s World. The amount of stress you are feeling will be greatly diminished by your new understanding of your loved one.

Here is the best part. Your loved one will begin to cooperate. So instead of feeling like they are the enemy, you will start to become good friends.

The bottom line – it is up to you. Wouldn’t you rather live a more happy life while caring? Wouldn’t you like to bring the highest quality of life possible to your loved one?

Related Articles

10 Things a Person Living with Dementia Would Tell You If They Could

When Dementia Patients Say Mean Things, What Can You Do?

The Effect of Emotional Super Glue in Alzheimer’s Care

How Do You Get an Alzheimer’s Patient to Cooperate

Dementia Patients Can Deceive Others to the Distress of Their Caregiver

Podcasts

How to Listen to an Alzheimer’s Patient (Support Podcast Health)

How to Change Patterns of Behavior in Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

01.19.18 Treasured old photos – Julie, September, Rev. Randels, Bro. Randy

Friday, January 19, 2018 – When Roy and I decided to live in our motor home full time we knew we couldn’t keep all the photos and photo albums we had accumulated over 40 years.  We scanned and saved hundreds of digital photos. Chip and his brother have most of the actual photos we had.

I was looking for a digital photo today that was in that group (the one of Julie below).  I decided to post some of them on Facebook to share with our family and friends because that’s mostly who these photos are of.  This one Julie Turner Riley and me from around 30 years ago.  My mama and her mama, Pat Turner were friends when we all lived in New Orleans.

Here’s my friend September Davidson Hoeler who was my very close friend when we went to Lakeview Baptist Church together in our teens.  This was one of us on one of our bus rides to either Ridgecrest or Glorietta for youth camp! You can tell from the photo we were silly girls back in 1971!! September will be in more photos of my years with Lakeview Baptist youth.

A lot of our blog followers are not on Facebook and the photos may be of interest to them.  So from time to time I’ll post a blog with several of them and I’m hoping you will enjoy them.  If you are in any of them and want to have the photo just right click on it and select Save Image As and save it on your computer.

The photo below was my mama and Mr. Vivian Traylor’s wedding ceremony.  These two pastors were the only pastors I ever had, until last year.  Mama wanted both of them to officiate at her wedding and they did! Rev. J. Richard Randels, our pastor at Lakeview Baptist Church in New Orleans, is the gentleman with greyer hair.  Dr. Randy Davis is the young guy who was our pastor at Trinity Baptist Church here in Pumpkin Center (Hammond) Louisiana.  Rev. Randels officiated at Roy and my wedding back in 1972!

I think I’ll put the photos into groups and include all photos that are in a group in one blog post.  We’ll see how it all works out but it is important to me that the people in my life who are in a photo and would like to have the photo will be able to have it.  I’ll figure it out as time goes on.

My grammar is not what it use to be so please excuse me when I end a sentence with “of”, use the wrong version of a word, etc.  I enjoy writing here but being concerned about it being grammatically correct is frustrating to me now.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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01.18.18 Here we go again. Snow, snow, snow in the Deep South!

Thursday, January 18, 2018 –

Louisiana may have snow once a decade, maybe.  And usually it’s just a few snow flakes where nothing sticks and it stops quickly. We’ve had two real snow falls in the last few weeks.  The first snowfall we had between 4 to 6 inches of snow.  The one last evening and overnight left us with about an inch of snow.

The state or specific area in the state closes down and everyone is happy that there is no work, school, etc. until it melts.  We don’t have snow chains for our tires.  We have a lot of raised bridges over all the creeks, streams, lakes, rivers, etc. and they freeze up quickly causing vehicles to slip, slide and smash into each other.

Here are some of our snow photos from our home in Amite, Louisiana.

The steps going out of our motorhome!    Some of the rocks I paint were left on the table and covered with snow!


         Last time it snowed I cooked a major pot of sausage, chicken and okra gumbo.  We had two meals worth left and we’re enjoying them this time.

People like to make fun of how we handle snow here in the deep south and I found several funny or just plain cute photos on Facebook to share.

 

The snow melted during the day a bit and will refreeze with the lows in the teens tonight.

My right knee that needs to be replaced is not doing too well right now.  I tripped over a heater in the kitchen Monday while holding a bowl of hot gumbo.  It went everywhere and I hit several parts of me on the floor, table and who knows where.  After that the right knee feels much more unstable and painful now so we’ll make a stop at our local orthopedic doctor on Friday to get a shot in my knee.  We may be going to Tennessee to see the doctor that replaced Roy’s knee sometime soon to schedule a knee replacement for me.  I see the brain doctor Friday so I’ll be all doctored up for the weekend!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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01.14.18 Dora and the Explorers – STILAD – Dementia End of Life and Mama’s last days from 02.17.15

More Glimpses of Heaven: Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life's Journey by [Harris RN, Trudy]Sunday, January 14, 2018 – This blog from February 2015 is fairly long.  There is a 10 minutes video, an excerpt from a book “More Glimpses of Heaven: Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey” by Trudy Harris, RN (I highly recommend reading the book if the excerpt sounds like something that would help you.) There is a book written by her before that one called Glimpses of Heaven, etc. I have not read that one but you may want to.

In the original blog, there is also an accounting of what all went on with mama in her last few days (very different than the one about her conversation with herself) and an article titled END OF LIFE SIGNS, THE DYING PROCESS.

I’ve added some links here to books about Dementia and also dying with dementia.

Finishing Well for the Glory of God, Strategies from a Christian Physician, by John Dunlop, MD

While I still can by Rick Phelps, a dementia patient and founder of Memory People on Facebook

Still Alice by Lisa Genova, This one is also a movie

The 36 Hour Day, A family guide to caring for people who have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias and Memory Loss, by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins

Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey by Trudy Harris, RN

More Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey by Trudy Harrison, RN

USE END OF LIFE

Original post on 02.27.15 – Today’s post will be about an Alzheimer’s patients end of life. Not the most uplifting subject but knowing as much about it as possible allowed us to make good decisions for Mama and gave us a calmness about the process. Knowing what to look for allowed us to be prepared for when Mama went to live with her Lord and to help walk her out of her earthly home into her Eternal Home.

This is such a huge topic that again I have to remind you I am not an expert. I just know how it went with Mama, the advice we received and what I feel we did well and would recommend to you. Also included are information from other sites that I want to share.

fancydivider1

The Importance of End of Life Care with Dementia

Coming to terms with a loved one nearing the end of their life with dementia is never an easy situation. But it’s important to recognize this stage to make sure our loved ones receive a good quality of life as this time comes near. Making sure there is a strategy is a MUST so individuals can die well with their dementia.

Karen Harrison specializes in end of life care and believes a problems with end of life care is the failure to recognize the signs early. Moreton Hill Care Center practices early end of life care using a NHS approved Golden Framework. Watch and learn about a daughter and her mother living with Alzheimer’s, who have benefited from this care.

Click on the picture below to watch this video.

end of lifeWhile this video shows a woman in a private facility, everything they talk about being important at end of life is found in Hospice care and is available to your loved one regardless of your income level. I’ll write more about hospice care and the absolute importance of it next time.

fancydivider1

An excerpt from the book “More Glimpses of Heaven: Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey” by Trudy Harris, RN, where Bonnie Tingley tells about her experience with Jim a 56 year old man dying of colon cancer. I just finished reading this book and was blessed with each chapter I read.

I made a nursing visit early in the week, knowing full well I would need to check on them again as the week progressed. Jim seemed much weaker with each visit. His appetite was lessening and he was sleeping more and USE END OF LIFE 2 more every day. These are common signs that let you know when the body is beginning to shut down and getting ready to transition into a new life, which we call eternity. People who have a very deep and abiding faith in God long to see Him at this moment and want to go on to the heaven they know has been prepared for them since the beginning of time. They are seldom afraid and Jim was getting closer to his phase with each day.

Later that day she received a phone call from his wife Peg saying that although Jim’s breathing and extremely shallow and he was exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of impending death, he seemed unable for some reason to be at peace and to let go….. Peg asked if I would come right away to be with them.

I jumped into my car and sped the distance to their home in record time…….. Sitting at the head of the bed, holding Jim’s hand in hers, was his lovely wife, Peg. All three children were on the bed with their dad.

I quietly prayed for the words to accomplish what the Lord wanted me to do at this time to help both Jim and his family. Words came to directly from the Holy Spirit, I know. I whispered softly to Jim that Peg had his hand in hers, and that Jesus was holding the other one. I reminded him that Jesus loved him and his family dearly, and He would take care of them and provide for all of the. I told him that even though he loved them very much, Jesus loved them even more. Peg and the children would be well cared for by this room full of good people. Now it was time for him to let go and go on to God. I assured him that the time was right. I told him that when he was comfortable and ready, that he could simply let go of Peg’s hand and follow Jesus, who was holding his other hand. He became immediately calm and died in an instant, very peacefully. Husbands often wait until “someone in charge” comes to be with their loved ones. It is as if, until the very end, they want to be sure their family has the loving support and care they need.

I know of no other experience that is filled with greater peace and joy than to walk with someone into heaven. It is a rare and sacred moment and one in which you feel you can reach up and touch the face of God. We are simply vessels through which He makes Himself known to His children. Very humbling indeed.

fancydivider1My notes from Mama’s last days. I started to summarize certain parts regarding her bowels but since this is such an important thing to keep track of at that point, I decided to keep it in. Sorry if that creeps you out but if you’re caring for someone, it will become your reality so best to learn now!

Thursday, December 13, 2007 – six days before she died

Mama ate one pop tart for breakfast today. Mama has started this jerking with her hands and feet that she didn’t do before. After feeding mama this I went to Mannino’s pharmacy to pick up her new medicine and the emergency hospice medicine. There was no charge for it as Hospice paid for it. Went to Scott’s to pick up her Seroquel. It was $100. I put the Fentanyl pain patch on mama around 10 am. She’s having trouble swallowing more lately and was only able to eat a small bit of lunch. One of the medicines they gave mama is morphine for breakthrough pain which means that if the pain patch is not enough at times that we give her the morphine. I gave her morphine when she needed it at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Her Seroquel was doubled and she slept all night Thursday night.

Friday, December 14, 2007 – Noon last nourishment

mama in bed nacho
THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN ONE WEEK BEFORE I BEGAN DOCUMENTING MAMA’S LAST WEEK. I HOPE IT WILL SHOW YOU HOW FAST THEY CAN GO FROM SMILING AND COMMUNICATING A LITTLE TO ABSOLUTE ZERO. ALSO SHE NEVER LET ME HAVE A DOG GROWING UP BUT WHEN SHE WAS GOING THROUGH ALZHEIMER’S SHE DECIDED OUR DOG, NACHO, WAS HERS AND NACHO BECAME HER BEST FRIEND.

Mama sat on the toilet twice in the morning but couldn’t go either time. Her jerking is worse and she’s was in terrible pain when she woke up at 8 and I gave her morphine then. She jerked her hand when she tried to hold her coffee so I tried to help her drink some by me holding it to her mouth but she couldn’t swallow any. She had no breakfast because Elaine (hospice) came shortly after that and mama was in so much pain that it took a long, long time for her bath and all. We gave her another dose of morphine at 9 am. and when that started working Elaine was able to finish mama’s bath. Mama drank about half an Ensure in the middle of the day. Her hospice nurse Kate came around lunch time and said all mama’s vital signs were good, her breathing was fine, blood pressure and pulse were fine. As mama had not had not gone to the bathroom since Sunday, December 9 when she had diarrhea we thought her painful reactions may be due to being constipated. Kate gave her an enema, and before leaving she inserted the catheter into mama at my request because it is so hard to get mama to the bathroom. Kate could see how mama is so out of it and in pain and said she thinks we called in Hospice just in time. Two hours after Kate left mama had not had a bowel movement so I called Hospice and they said to use a glycerin suppository to try to help it along. Roy went to Scott’s Pharmacy and got some for me. I used that and still nothing happened, so Hospice said to give her some Milk of Magnesia to try to help it from the other end. She was in terrible pain, crying but not saying actual words and her voice does not sound like her at all. Her body is so rigid and jerking. It is absolutely horrible watching this sudden change in mama and I have been crying all afternoon at the realization that my mother is now actually dying. I don’t let her see me like this because I want so much for her to be peaceful and not worried. She cannot swallow anything and can not eat anything. I gave her morphine at 1:10 and 2:40. I spoke to Kate in the late afternoon and she said Dr. Williams said it’s okay to give mama 2 xanax 3 times a day to help with her agitation. I asked her if mama’s inability to eat and all these changes mean the end is near. We previously made the decision to not have a feeding tube inserted if she stopped eating so I told her that if stopping feeding her would help mama be able to die without lingering in pain we wanted to do that. She said they would support us in that decision. Still none of the fluid from the enema has come out. Her catheter bag does have urine in it, though not much and it is dark reddish brown. I emailed our son during the day on the phone about Grannie’s condition. I need him to come be with us for me and he needs to be here for Grannie. He and his wife came to see her in the evening and hw read scripture to her which was such an amazing spiritually uplifting thing for me and I know for mama. They stayed and watched a movie with us and went back home. I gave mama 2 xanax, 2 Seroquel at bedtime and she had a terrible time swallowing them.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

mama reindeer ears
I PROBABLY INCLUDED THIS PICTURE BEFORE BUT SINCE IT WAS TAKEN LATE IN NOVEMBER AND SHE DIED IN MID DECEMBER I WANT TO INCLUDE IT AGAIN NOW. SHE DID NOT KNOW WHO EVERYONE IN OUR FAMILY THAT DAY – THANKSGIVING DAY – BUT SHE COULD TALK, SMILE, LAUGH AND INTERACT A BIT.

Mama was asleep when we woke and she woke up around 9:30 so I put Vaseline on her lips and moistened her mouth with the swab. Harriett came around 10 and when mama woke up she was stiff, jerking, terrified looking and not saying anything understandable. She had morphine at 10:15, 11:40, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:27. It was difficult to wait the whole hour before giving her more morphine because she’s in such pain. Roy went to get her some Milk of Magnesia and in the afternoon we gave it to her. She couldn’t swallow it and struggled to get 2 tablespoons full down. She is waking up in such pain and such agitation that I called the nurse around 2:30 to see if I could increase the morphine to 1 cc which the nurse said was okay and mama took at 3:31, 5:15 and 7:00. At 7 I gave her the night time Xanax and Seroquel and she slept through the night.

Her nurse said to grind up her pills to make them easier to swallow. Our son Chip and his fiance Liz came over. Roy and Chip going to buy suits since we know her funeral will be soon and groceries. Liz went to the pharmacy to pick up cream for mama’s itching. I cooked chili for Roy, Chip, Liz and me. Chip was able to have some private time with Grannie. She was so very special to both of our boys that their presence is very special to her.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I woke around 7 and heard on the monitor that mother was snoring so I took a bath and got ready for church. Before leaving I heard her awake and went to her room. Her eyes were open and her arms were held out to the side, stiff as a board. Her hands were cold so I put socks on them to keep them warm. I changed her foot socks and put two pairs on to keep her warm. I put Vaseline on her lips and swabbed her mouth. She was only able to make sounds and was obviously in pain. I ground up her Xanax and Lexapro and put the powder on her tongue, then gave her the morphine which she was able to swallow. When I returned from church Roy said she had slept the whole time. Harriett came over after church and mama slept the whole time, waking just slightly a couple of times. Around 4:30 mama woke a little more so I put Vaseline on her lips and swabbed her mouth again, put some vaginal cream on her so she wouldn’t itch and laid her arms under the covers. I put on some Pan Flute Christmas music for her to listen to and she made gurgling sounds for a while. I put her head up a little higher to try to help with that. In the evening her breathing is a lot more gurgly and irregular. She opened her eyes for a little bit and was in pain so I gave her morphine around 5:30.

Roy came into the room with mama and I and said a prayer for her about what a wonderful mother and grandmother she’s been to us and prayed that God would take her to Heaven so she would not have to suffer. He never ceases to amaze me. He’s been absolutely wonderful to mama while she’s been here and has helped in countless ways. Around 7 mama was trying to reach her arm across her body so I shifted her body to her side and put a pillow between her legs. I removed her teeth to soak and ground up her sleeping medicine and Xanax and gave it to her. She seemed to fall asleep immediately and looked very comfortable which she hasn’t looked recently.

That is the end of my documenting and I wish deeply I had continued to the end. The day she died, we could tell it was near the end because her finger nails started turning blue, when you raised the blanket it smelled bad which is a sign her organs have shut down, she gurgled a lot, and her breathing got more and more irregular until it stopped. Mama died on December 19th at our home with her family holding hands standing and sitting around her.

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END OF LIFE SIGNS, THE DYING PROCESS

THE ARTICLE BELOW AND MANY MORE END OF LIFE RESOURCES CAN BE FOUND AT:

http://dying.about.com/od/thedyingprocess/a/process.htm

The dying process usually begins well before death actually occurs.

Death is a personal journey that each individual approaches in their own unique way. Nothing is concrete, nothing is set in stone. There are many paths one can take on this journey but all lead to the same destination.

As one comes close to death, a process begins; a journey from the known life of this world to the unknown of what lies ahead. As that process begins, a person starts on a mental path of discovery, comprehending that death will indeed occur and believing in their own mortality. The journey ultimately leads to the physical departure from the body.

There are milestones along this journey. Because everyone experiences death in their own unique way, not everyone will stop at each milestone. Some may hit only a few while another may stop at each one, taking their time along the way. Some may take months to reach their destination, others will take only days. We will discuss what has been found through research to be the journey most take, always keeping in mind that the journey is subject to the individual traveler.

The Journey Begins: One to Three Months Prior to Death

As one begins to accept their mortality and realizes that death is approaching, they may begin to withdraw from their surroundings. They are beginning the process of separating from the world and those in it. They may decline visits from friends, neighbors, and even family members. When they do accept visitors, they may be difficult to interact with and care for. They are beginning to contemplate their life and revisit old memories. They may be evaluating how they lived their life and sorting through any regrets. They may also undertake the five tasks of dying.

The dying person may experience reduced appetite and weight loss as the body begins to slow down. The body doesn’t need the energy from food that it once did. The dying person may be sleeping more now and not engaging in activities they once enjoyed. They no longer need the nourishment from food they once did. The body does a wonderful thing during this time as altered body chemistry produces a mild sense of euphoria. They are neither hungry nor thirsty and are not suffering in any way by not eating. It is an expected part of the journey they have begun.

One to Two Weeks Prior to Death

Mental Changes

This is the time during the journey that one begins to sleep most of the time. Disorientation is common and altered senses of perception can be expected. One may experience delusions, such as fearing hidden enemies or feeling invincible.

The dying person may also experience hallucinations, sometimes seeing or speaking to people that aren’t there. Often times these are people that have already died. Some may see this as the veil being lifted between this life and the next. The person may pick at their sheets and clothing in a state of agitation. Movements and actions may seem aimless and make no sense to others. They are moving further away from life on this earth.

Physical Changes

The body is having a more difficult time maintaining itself. There are signs that the body may show during this time:

  • The body temperature lowers by a degree or more.
  • The blood pressure lowers.
  • The pulse becomes irregular and may slow down or speed up.
  • There is increased perspiration.
  • Skin color changes as circulation becomes diminished. This is often more noticeable in the lips and nail beds as they become pale and bluish.
  • Breathing changes occur, often becoming more rapid and labored. Congestion may also occur causing a rattling sound and cough.
  • Speaking decreases and eventually stops altogether.

Journey’s End: A Couple of Days to Hours Prior to Death

The person is moving closer towards death. There may be a surge of energy as they get nearer. They may want to get out of bed and talk to loved ones, or ask for food after days of no appetite. This surge of energy may be quite a bit less noticeable but is usually used as a dying person’s final physical expression before moving on.

The surge of energy is usually short, and the previous signs become more pronounced as death approaches. Breathing becomes more irregular and often slower. “Cheyne-Stokes” breathing, rapid breathes followed by periods of no breathing at all, may occur. Congestion in the airway can increase causing loud, rattled breathing.

Hands and feet may become blotchy and purplish (mottled). This mottling may slowly work its way up the arms and legs. Lips and nail beds are bluish or purple. The person usually becomes unresponsive and may have their eyes open or semi-open but not seeing their surroundings. It is widely believed that hearing is the last sense to go so it is recommended that loved ones sit with and talk to the dying during this time.

Eventually, breathing will cease altogether and the heart stops. Death has occurred.

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Please come back next time when I’ll share more topics about end of life care including Hospice, 10919059_10152982586361740_4239672769227388113_nLetting Go and Getting things in order.(Current Note:  I dont know if I actually wrote the one I just referenced, we’ll see.) If you want to get an email whenever I post a blog (I write about other things, not just Alzheimer’s) find the “FOLLOW” box which is usually to the right hand side somewhere, enter your email and respond when the confirmation email is sent to you.

If you are in need of prayer for yourself, in your role as a caregiver, or if you have any specific questions please send me a comment with whatever information you want to share or ask about. I’ll say again that I’m not expert, but I probably experienced with my mom a lot of things you’re going through and will try my best to help. If I don’t know the answer I will tell you I don’t know. I’ll never judge, I’ve been judged enough to last a life time and would never do that to someone else. My email address is rosalyn@selu.edu if that is an easier way to communicate.

Until next time,
matthew 11 28

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