kleenex-5610_640Today was a zero day for me - I have a head cold, nothing serious, but took some Claritin D to try to dry things up and so I've been on that planet all day.

I did to out to a parent meeting at my son's school this morning, where I did nothing but sneeze, and then hit the grocery store for Mom's staples. I am trying to always provide what she needs so that she won't need to drive anywhere. I try to take her out with me at least a few times a week, too, so she gets out of the house. She is mostly content to stay in her recliner, fortunately. The car situation is still ambiguous. She's ceded all doctor visits to me, but believes that she can still safely drive to the nearby Kroger and Wendy's. She's been out a few times on the days I've gone to work. I worry about her safety but I guess I feel like I don't have grounds to take the keys away. She's never had an accident. The doctors (neurologist, internist) both said they didn't consider it necessary yet. So there we are. I am just trying to manipulate the situation.

We did have a recurrence of the last conversation, when she said, "It's not fair to you to have to drive me everywhere I want to go, and it's not fair to me to have to wait until you have time." She used the same "not fair" argument. And I said something like, "When people love each other and take care of each other, it's not about fairness but about compromise. I'm happy to make time in my schedule to drive you places, and I know you can be willing to wait for me if I can't do something right away." She agreed with that - at the time.

But aside from that worry, she is so easy. I realize I'm very lucky in that respect. She is very sweet and loving, and she always tells me she appreciates the small things I do. I fill up her pill caddy once a week. I usually cook dinner and bring her a plate to her recliner and a glass of ice water. My son made a foam cushion covered in duct tape, so we use that as Mom's tray. She always says, "You're so good to me." She gives me a lot of praise for very little labor!

She's still having some trouble with bladder urgency and incontinence, which has gotten worse since she started the diuretic. But it has definitely lowered her blood pressure, so I guess we have to discuss with the doctor whether or not it's worth it. She manages using the Poise pads and changing her clothes when she needs to - I just have to do the laundry and empty the trash. Today I should have been wearing a diaper with all the sneezing! (No such thing as TMI here, right?) I had to change clothes, too, before the Claritin kicked in. So we sympathize with each other about this.

She got a Christmas tree in the mail today from my cousins in Florida. It's a little live cedar, and it came with a box of tiny ornaments and a string of lights. I cleared a place for it - ALWAYS a challenge! - and she and my son decorated it together.

Her memory is still good for some things, though not all things. I had been having some pretty severe upper back/shoulder pain for awhile - it was keeping me up all night and the pain was worse in the morning. She was very concerned about me and continues to ask, "How is your shoulder now?" (It's much better - the pain is almost gone.) But here is a typical example of how her memory doesn't work: on Sunday, she didn't go to church because even though we talked about going to church, she didn't realize she needed to go get dressed until she felt it was too late. I had gotten involved in a work-related task and forgot to my job of reminding. Anyway, that was a sideline to the story I meant to tell. After church my son and I (oh, husband isn't a churchgoer, but he does exist . . .) stopped by the grocery store, and I got a rotisserie chicken for lunch. I brought it downstairs and added some frozen vegetables from her freezer. We sat at her dining table - a relatively rare event - and ate together and she commented several times what a nice lunch I'd been able to put together so quickly. On Monday, I called her as I left work to she if she wanted anything from the store, and she said, "I want to ask you about something. When I opened the refrigerator, I saw this platter of food, but I don't know what it's doing there." I reminded her about lunch the day before, but I don't think she actually remembered it. She just said, "Oh, maybe I sort of remember that."

Thanksgiving happened and that was fine. We all went to my husband's parents' house. My husband's brother and sister-in-law had come down the night before with food and they did almost all the cooking. I brought two casseroles and loaf of bread and another sister-in-law brought more casseroles! Mom enjoyed talking with my parents-in-law, and I felt free to chat with others. It was a relaxing day. I don't think Mom's cognitive impairment was obvious. She got home exhausted but happy. My MIL is 79 and in great shape for her age, physically and mentally. My FIL, 83, is very slow these days, but doesn't  seem to have cognitive problems. I feel jealous that they get to age better than my mom does - not that they don't deserve it!

I'm starting a low-carb diet to try to get rid of some excess weight. Right now I'm in the early, optimistic stage - day 3. I feel thinner already!

The semester is almost over, and there is always a feeling of exhilaration as the holidays approach. I still have a lot of work in the next couple of weeks  - grading the last set of essays in one class, the last short writing assignment for another, two final exams. But these are sort of lame duck assignments, handed in at the end, when there is no time for revising. So I grade a little more quickly and more holistically, which makes it easier. My students this semester, in one class particularly, have been an absolute blessing to me. I've enjoyed them so much, and they've made so much effort and progress. I feel a lot of love and caring for them - it's a good feeling. Even though I've always been a person who has wanted (too much) to be liked, I've come to appreciate even more the feeling of liking others.

It's really late now - 11:10 - late for me! My class is at 8:15 AM. I should really be in bed now. My best wishes to you all. Your stories stay with me all the time.

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Oh, LM, I giggled about the TMI. :) If ever there's a crowd that understands about the sneezes, this is the one. \r\n\r\nI hope you are feeling better today.\r\n\r\nYou are doing all the right things for and with your mom. These blog posts you write are so important because they capture these moments in time. I'm so glad you share them with us.


Thank you so much!