Category V Cursnado


Category V Cursnado

A-Christmas-StoryDear Reader,

It's been a while since I've written to you about what's been going on in my life and I think it's time for me to catch you up on some things that have happened.  While I do this, I'll also address some issues that I share with a Caregiver that is such a kindred spirit to me that I sometimes feel like we are Caregivers for the same woman.

So, Dear Reader, let me start this post with a phrase that all too often follows something bad that's happened, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Two weeks seems like such a long time ago.  We all had high hopes for the holidays and we were wondering if we would get our jingle back, and we were congratulating one another on a first trip out in a new van...those things that Caregivers experience and understand (and appreciate).  Two weeks.  Two weeks ago, things were a bit different.

Yvonne and I were having a discussion about medication and the fact that some of her neurological medications tend to knock her out for a while.  Over the course of my Caregiving Journey, I've been able to weed out the medications that are either improperly prescribed, cause a lowering of Yvonne's seizure threshold or metabolize into MDMA in her kidneys.  She's been successfully reduced from fifteen medications down to seven (including vitamin supplements).  This took a lot of research and scouring medication formulae to determine what was given versus what is actually needed.

Now, before you say to yourself, "Self, John is not a doctor or a pharmacist, what does he think he's doing?", let me assure you that I consulted with her Primary Care Provider and her Neurologist(s).  Over the course of time, I've learned to never blindly accept a new medication or to follow advice of someone that doesn't have verifiable credentials to back up their advice.

I can't take all the credit for this medication inventory and review; I owe a bit of credit to the foresight of Yvonne's Primary Neurologist.  He had the insider information on an attempted 'forced-switch' from 2mg Namenda to 4mg Namenda across the board for all patients due to a typical move by big-pharma, a patent turning out for generic production.  Knowing that this was going to happen, and knowing that Yvonne has nausea due to some of her other medications, he prescribed Exelon transdermally which is the same medicine as Namenda but due to i's transdermal properties, it doesn't fall under the same patent laws (which are being actively fought in court as I write and you read this post).  So, to quote that kindred spirit of mine, Yvonne has enough patches on her that I feel like I'm shipping her FedEx somewhere.  Yvonne complains that she looks like a puzzle, with the outlines of the patch's adhesive residue leaving circles and rectangles all over her body.

Now, let me bring you back in time... further... no, further than that... back to 2012, and the Neurologist that thought he was going to get a paper published in a medical journal.

Back when Yvonne's spine decided to transform itself into a letter C, we were struggling to figure out what was going on, what was causing it (spoiler alert: we still don't know).  Back then, we were getting turfed out to every specialist in Central Texas by her Primary Care Manager at Fort Hood.  We eventually wound up at a division of Metroplex Healthcare System (read as a hospital that will prescribe prayer over treatment).  There, we met with a Neurologist that was sure that Yvonne had "Stiff-Person Syndrome".  He was so sure of his thought that he actually began dictating his paper into a voice-recorder while we were in the room with him and he was so excited, I thought he was going to pee like a little puppy getting his belly rubbed for the first time.

I laced into him, and it was great since he was recording it, and would be able to listen over-and-over about how I referred to him as an opportunistic leech that feeds on the failing health of others in search of a "mystery diagnosis" moment.  How did I know that Yvonne, in fact, did not have "Stiff-Person Syndrome" you ask... well, there's a thing called Google, and it works... in the doctor's office... and they really don't like it when you call them out on their rectally-extracted-diagnosis.

The damage was done however and Yvonne was beyond worried that she had a condition that she doesn't have, and the adventure continued.  At great length and expense, we finally found a Neurologist who was worth the education his family paid for him to have the title.  He has exhausted many of his resources and he found a Movement-Disorder Clinic in Houston that will examine Yvonne's grey matter and try to get the egg unscrambled enough to figure out what's what.  OK, everybody good?  Back to the present, minus two weeks:

The conversation that Yvonne and I had, in reference to her medications vs her circadian rhythm being fouled up due to twenty years of shift-work as a Nurse and later as an NBC NCO, led us to a mutual conclusion.  If some of her medications are making her drowsy during the day-time, let's lower the dosage during the day and give the normal dosage at night.  See, it makes sense even when I type it out...and, if you didn't already know better, you would be saying, "John, that makes a lot of sense, why didn't you do that earlier?"

So, Christmas Day arrived.  Yayyy!  An over-weight white man forced himself down my chimney, without a warrant, while his reindeer were tearing up my shingles, and he deposited gifts into some socks that we had drying near the fireplace (cynical much, John?).  Christmas morning... ahh, the smell of chocolate-chip cookies, coffee, ham on the smoker out back... the crackle of the fire warming our chilly toes (remember, we hung our socks up to dry)... the sounds of "you'll shoot your eye out" emanating from the television... and the voice of Yvonne informing me that my parents were never married.

I should mention that I have recently begun to creatively censor myself; from this point forward, all bold text is code for you to decipher as to what she called me, or said about me All regular text is what she actually said following the insulting descriptions.

"Yvonne," I asked, "why did you accuse my parents of not being married when I was born?"

"Because," she screamed at me, "you moved the house onto this street!"

When did I do that... more importantly... how would I have done that?

"Sweety", I began, "don't you think that you might be..."

She cut me off.

"You are an inexpensive person who has sex with your mother!"

"Why are you saying these things, sweety?" I asked, doing my best to keep calm.  I don't respond well to loud voices/noises and this was stretching the boundaries of my patience and the capabilities of my anxiety medication.

"Deity-Water Barrier Wall!" she screamed, "why don't you put the car down and listen to me?"

Was I holding the car?  I double-checked, she really had caught me off-guard with her language.  She's always used colorful language, more so than the majority of sailors that I've known.

"You need to sit your rectal-area down", she hollered, "shut the front-door, and open your Deity-Water Barrier Wall ears!"

I did.

"Do you know what you did?"  She shocked me by speaking calmly.

"Uhmm, no, I don't..." I responded.

"Why the dimly-lit place with heat and brimstone don't you remember?  You remember every Deity-Water Barrier Wall thing like some kind of genius with a memory of a trap-door!"

I dared not inform her that if my memory were a trap-door, then things would fall out.

She started crying... I held her close to me... and she punched me right in the face.

Did I mention that on our fifth anniversary, I bought her a 2-carat diamond ring to replace her missing engagement ring?  That thing is POINTY!

I held Yvonne a little closer, trying to conceal the fact that I was holding her arms at her side as I was "hugging" her close to me, to comfort her.

Before I knew it, she was asleep.  Gentle snoring.

I thought to myself, "Self, what just happened?  This is not typical of my Bride...what's going on here?"

I grabbed my Kindle and began reading Take More Comfort, needing that extra dose of encouragement, while I drank my coffee and pondered the situation.

Later, Yvonne was awake.

"What happened to your face?" she asked.

"Bonz and I were playing, and he got a little rough, I'm fine,"  I lied, which is something I truly detest.

The rest of Christmas morning went as one might expect.  Quiet, relaxing, followed by anxious anxiety coated with just a touch of trauma-based PTSD related issues, with a healthy side of worry about the future and questions about the past.  Then, the sun went down...

Christmas night and the following day were peaceful.  Yvonne was acting like herself.  I considered the evidence of her behavior vs her actions and I concluded that the medication change was the responsible factor in the behavior change.  Things seemed normal now.  Of course, things always seem normal before the shark attacks you...

New Year's Eve arrived.  I was pretty sure the worst was behind us, and we would be able to move forward with the new medication regimen.  Yvonne was sleeping at night, a little better than normal, but not by much.  During the day, she would go through two notebooks writing lists of things to do, or groceries to buy, and television programs that she might want to see.  This is, in fact, very normal for Yvonne - she has done this since Moses was a crossing guard at the parting of the sea.

During the time between Christmas Morning and the 29th of December, we had visited with the Neurologist and our Pain Management Clinic.  Both doctors advised me to stay the course.  I was proud, I had made it through the worst, and things would be better - I would have more day-light time with my Sweety, and I could lay next to her in the evening.  Or so I thought...

New Year's Eve arrived.  The day had gone wonderfully.  I made black-eyed peas, collard greens, and ham-hocks (our traditional New Year meal).  We enjoyed our meal, reminiscing the year and what went right, wrong, or otherwise.

After dinner, I cleared the plates, washed the dishes, and put the kitchen in order (I can't stand to leave my kitchen un-prepared for cooking the next meal).

I returned to the sofa.

"Your parents were never married!" Yvonne screamed at me.

The image of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, hacking through the door with an axe came to mind.

"Why don't you go have coitus with yourself!" She yelled at me.

I didn't tell her that if I had that ability, there would be no need for marriage (keep your comedic responses to yourself, Self) I told myself.

"You know what, excrement-head?  I'm leaving you!" She rose from the sofa, and with a surprising amount of dexterity, got herself dressed.  While I was clearly impressed with her renewed mobility, however slowly and impractical as it was, I also knew exactly what to do in this situation.

"Why don't I help you?" I asked.

"Good idea!" She hollered, "I can get away from you that much faster!"

I told her that I was heading up the stairs to grab her car keys and her purse.

Now, Yvonne has not driven herself in over two-and-a-half years.  It's not that her license has been revoked, she just knows (normally) that it's unsafe to drive with her condition (whatever that may be).  On the way to the stairs, I grabbed the car keys off of the key-hook.  I grabbed the back-up set from the basket on the end-table.  Making sure they didn't jingle together as I made my way upstairs, I made my way deep into the farthest reaches of the master bedroom closet.  Kneeling down, I opened up a shoe-box and hid the keys inside an old pair of my boots.  On the way back out of the bed room, I grabbed Yvonne's purse, and I grabbed a set of keys that I have lying around that don't go to anything in particular (every man has a set like this, we are informed to do so at the annual meetings).

Arriving back down to Yvonne, I handed her the purse, making sure to toss the keys into her purse so that she could hear them (but not actually see which keys they were).

She grabbed her cane, and started making her way toward the garage.  If she was attempting to make a dramatic exit in the style of Tim Conway on the set of the Carol Burnett Show, she was succeeding.

I called after her, "Sweety, you forgot something!"

She made her way back to the sofa.

"What did I forget, you unintelligent rectal-sphincter?"

"Sweety, you forgot to tell me what to buy at the grocery store, tomorrow." I said, secretly using her Achilles heel...her lists.

Grabbing her notebooks, she thrust them toward me.

"Sweety, I can't read those, I don't have my glasses, can you read the lists out to me so I can copy them down?"  I knew she had forgotten that I'd had corrective surgery on my eyes three years ago.

"Fine."  She said, blowing air out in exasperation.

She was falling for it.

As she began reading the lists out, she read herself to sleep.  As she slept, I rearranged her medication box, and put the medications back into the original dosages.  She's been fine ever since.  She seems to have no recollection of the experience with the Cursnado and the doctors confirmed that her dementia is quite worse than they originally thought.  So, in the end, although I have been successfully able to reduce the amount of unwarranted medications, I have also found which medications to not meddle with AT ALL.

I've got much more to update you about, and other stories to tell. However, I have to be up early tomorrow (well, actually today) and head off to the VA for my own appointments.  I can't take care of Yvonne if I don't take care of myself, right?

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You are amazing....! to be able to keep a clear head and deal with the situation in such a calming manner....\r\n\r\nYou're a great story teller, good sense of humor. Thanks for sharing..

Lillie Fuller

I knew something was wrong. I've been praying for you both! And thanks for the giggles!


This had me laughing out loud! Water Barrier Wall, you are funny!!! You have a gift with writing, clearly - so glad you're sharing it here. I loved the story too - apart from the humor, I can see how you dealt calmly and effectively with a really upsetting situation. I hope I can rise to the occasion that well when I need to.


Wow.\r\n\r\nI'm just in awe of how well you handle these situations. How can prepare or predict what could happen next? You just can't which is why I'm so impressed that you keep such a clear head and come up with such practical solutions. I love how you asked her to read.\r\n\r\nI\"m hoping your appointments went okay today. I'm thinking of you and Yvonne and wishing you both calm days and nights. Thanks so much for keeping us in the loop.