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The Juggling Caregiver

px3Announcer’s Voice: Ladies and gentlemen! Today we bring you one of the most daring feats known to mankind.  We have with us a woman, measuring in at 5’ 1 1/2” who is going to try to dazzle you with her juggling, and not just any juggling! She is going to try to juggle two men! Yes, you heard that right! Previously, she has attempted juggling two men and a boy with less than impressive results, but today, she’s willing to put her skills to the test once again right here on this stage before you! We bring you, the talented, and hopefully amazing, G-J!!!! (Cue applause.)

Steve is once again trying the 13.3mg Exelon patch. He tried it earlier this year and, you may recall, suffered pain and GI side effects. He really wanted to try it again because he felt he functioned better cognitively. His neurologist was in agreement, and suggested I prepare Steve ginger tea to help combat the GI problems.

About a week ago I purchased fresh ginger for the first time, having always used powdered ginger from a jar. Frankly, I still didn’t know what to do with it, despite the doctor’s minimal instructions and doing some internet research. Fortunately, I happened to mention it to my pharmacist, who told me that she is Indian and in Indian households they use fresh ginger a lot. Have I told you how much I love my pharmacist? Interestingly, she said she also recommends ginger tea for patients suffering from congestion.

Sunday was Day 1 of the new patch. Sunday through Thursday seemed to go fine. I made the tea and put it in a pitcher so Steve could drink it iced or heat it. I have made the tea a few times this week, most recently on Thursday. When I made it that time, I was wondering if the ginger was still good and how long it lasted. I have checked in with Steve throughout the week, asking how he is feeling.

Friday started out fine. We took it easy that day. Steve had tea with his lunch. In the afternoon, about 5:00, we all walked to the community center to pick up our packets for our city’s 5K walk and run on Saturday. Steve went with us but wasn’t participating in the 5K. When we got home, Steve looked through a vacation brochure throwing out vacation options for 2014. Steve went upstairs and started watching a TV show on the computer. Dinner was ready about an hour later.

When Steve came down, I asked him how he was feeling on a GI basis. He said he was fine, and then said his stomach was bothering him. Our son explained that was a GI issue. Steve barely ate dinner, but stayed with us while we ate, and just said he didn’t feel right. Since he got more talkative during that time, I thought he might be improving. He wasn’t.

We all sat down to watch a couple of Star Trek episodes after dinner. Steve continued to drink a glass of ginger tea. A few times he doubled over, trying to relieve the pain. After the first episode, he took my suggestion and decided to go to bed saying, “I hope it’s not the patch.”

There was some initial juggling as I split my time between watching Star Trek with our son and checking on Steve. (Announcer’s Voice: Pay close attention everyone! G-J is just warming up!) He had fallen asleep and seemed fine. Our son went to bed and I went to bed and tried not to worry about Steve or plans for Saturday. Well, I could skip the walk and just head to the finish line to cheer on our son. (We live extremely close to our city’s annual festival, 5K, and pancake breakfast, so we easily walk there.) I drifted off to sleep and was dreaming when shortly after midnight there was a sound that made me jump straight out of bed.

Steve had fallen and was on the bathroom floor!  Fortunately, he had left the door open, because despite reading a post from @Kathy a couple of years ago, we had not addressed the issue of a bathroom door opening inward on the tiny room that holds the toilet and shower. I ran to Steve who was soaked, shaking, and moaning. I asked if he was okay, and received moans in return. I stepped away for a few seconds, and when I returned, he was more coherent, but didn’t know what had happened. He decided to take off the patch and throw it away in case that was the cause.

Steve was able to get up, and decided to sleep on the part of the bathroom floor just outside the room where he was. I went back to sleep, well to bed actually, and tried to watch and see if he was breathing. What if I had to call 911? I’d have to awaken our son. He’s 16. Would I need to let someone else know? Would I be a responsible parent if I left him home alone after such an upsetting event? What would I do about working bingo for cross country on Sunday when I was the only person with the contact information for everyone else? Who could I call? What would I tell them? (Announcer’s Voice: She’s getting ready for the first throw! She’s balancing her husband and her son in her two hands! Can she do this? Will she drop someone?) Somehow, I dozed a bit until Steve came to bed (whew!) after 1:30, when I was finally able to fall asleep.

I woke up about 4:45 and decided to get up before the alarm so I wouldn’t bother Steve. My mind was racing with thoughts of coffee, the day ahead, and needing a lot of coffee. I was using the bathroom downstairs, thinking I had a minute when I heard Steve get out of bed and move around upstairs! YIKES! (Announcers Voice: Did you see that, folks, she had to adjust her balance to keep from dropping anyone!)

Steve was up, and feeling much better. He was now able to tell me that he had gotten extremely dizzy in the bathroom which was why he had fallen. He told me to go ahead and do the walk, and he’d stay home and sleep.

Our son got up, got ready and headed out to warm up for the 5K. I went on-line and read about how to tell if ginger has gone bad. I don’t believe ours had, but if it has, it can make you sick. I left 30 minutes later, after leaving Steve a note that I would come home before the pancake breakfast.

Our son completed his run and waited for me at the end of the walk so we could go to the breakfast. I asked if he wanted to go with friends instead, knowing I had left Steve a note that I’d come home first, but our son wanted to go to the breakfast with me, so I went. (Announcer’s Voice: Did you see that folks? She dropped her husband! Will she be able to catch him before he hits the ground?) Of course, when I went home, I told Steve I had already gone to the pancake breakfast despite what I wrote on my note, and he didn’t mind. I’m not sure he’d even read the note. (Announcer’s Voice: Whew! She recovered once again!)

Our son showered and went back to the festival to meet friends. Steve wanted to go to the car show, but was unsure of how he felt, so I suggested that I go back to the festival alone to look around, and we could go together later and go to the car show. In the end, this is what we did, and it worked out for all of us. (Announcer’s Voice: A short, but successful juggling act! Please join us next time to see what else G-J add to the performance!)

About G-J

Avatar of G-J
I am a caregiver for my 59-year-old husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009. His employer put him on disability and he had to retire one year later when he couldn't return to work. I am also the mother to our son who is now a high school senior. We have a cat, Sagwa, who rounds out our family. In addition to blogging here, I volunteer at my son's high school in the scholarship office, teach a class I created called, "Keep Your Brain Buff" at our city's Senior Center, lead a writing group at the Alzheimer's Association, and advocate for people with all types of dementia. In November, I will be participating in my third Walk to End Alzheimer's.

One comment

  1. Avatar of EllysGdaughter

    Congratulations! You are an excellent Juggling Master! Wow, it’s just so hard to know what to expect – I too have made Ginger Tea and my recipe adds Club Soda so it’s a little bubbly :) We love it around here! My Grandma takes candied Ginger to settle her stomach,,, often!

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