"Do Good" Opportunities, Uncategorized

Giving Back: A True Thanks-giving

Every day I wake up, I silently ask God to place a soul in my path who needs help-animal or human.  It is an absolute blessing to be able to do something good–from the tiniest thing to the magnificent–to help another.

Every holiday, I try to plan an extra special way to help a family, a shelter, a homeless group, vets, dogs, cats, turtles…a project or task much bigger than my every day blessings.  This year, having a very full “plate,” I was feeling a little guilty for not planning something special at Thanksgiving time but I thought that God would understand since I have Someone to care for and many dogs with very special needs to watch over.  God, however, had other plans…

Years ago, when Someone was acting odd and getting sick, I took him to approximately 15-20 doctors, hospitals, therapists, psychiatrists, neurologists and on and on.  No one could figure out exactly what was wrong so I was told to put him into therapy (he tried), leave him, institutionalize him, etc.  I had known him for so long as a cheery, giving, the most thoughtful, kind human being I had ever met that in my gut, I knew something else was wrong.  Then, one nurse practitioner met with Someone many times and confirmed what I was feeling.  Something was very wrong–but it was not psychiatric!

Saving him from a life of being sedated and confined to an institution, this nurse helped arrange visits to advanced healthcare and up the ladder we went until, after five brain scans, a diagnosis was made: Lewy Body Dementia.  I didn’t know what that was–but I certainly do now–with medications and behavior management, Someone can live at home and not be medicated and warehoused into a “corner.” We owed that special nurse our lives really.

The week before Thanksgiving, I received a call that this nurse, who had moved out of state, was going to be in Houston for a visit.  She was staying with a friend but would love to see us–and of course, we would love to see her!  She met us at the big medical center downtown where Someone had an appointment and we spent about four hours together catching up but vowed to see each other again soon on a social visit.

Within days, as I was just sitting in The Rose Chapel at the hospital praying and lighting candles for all of our angels both animal and human, on earth and in heaven–this nurse was the last candle that I lit one for when my phone rang.  The friend she was staying with told me that she was missing for almost an entire day! Her cell phones had been left on her bedside (turned out they needed charging so she left them since she was just going to get a coffee at Starbucks) and there was no way to find out where she was.  Since she was recovering from an accident from the previous year, her friend was worried that she was lost or had been mugged or worse and filed a missing person’s report and was driving the streets of their area to see if she was hurt.

Sitting in the chapel and praying, gave me complete clarity of thought and a calmness that helped so much.  I immediately began calling hospitals and emergency rooms.  This nurse was such a responsible person that there was no way she would just wander off without telling someone.  Something had happened to her.  I called her son who was having great anxiety being so far away and had him work on his laptop and text me the numbers of the area hospitals–as fast as he could send them, I was calling them.  On the third call, we located her!  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief–but the relief would turn into great concern after finding out what had happened.

The nurse had been in an accident and was taken to the ER by ambulance after a bystander called the emergency number.  She wound up fracturing her pelvis, fracturing the long bone of her arm that attaches to the shoulder joint, and so many other bruises and bumps and cuts that I think it will take months to recover in the hospital and then rehab.  She cannot walk, cannot even sit up in bed and just screams out in agony if moved despite lots of pain meds. She cannot even feed herself.

So, this Thanksgiving,  I knew what God had in mind!  I made sure the dogs had an early dinner, got Someone ready and headed for the hospital–with a stop to pick up two turkey dinners for Someone–and his nurse!  (That is all I could get approved–all of the restaurants were out of turkey that week!)  I enjoyed a soda at the hospital and it was as good as any vegetarian holiday dinner that I could have ordered!

We arrived at the hospital with dinner, pumpkin pie (which was included) and brought along whipped cream and jellied cranberry sauce (a special request).  I had to stop myself from gasping when I saw our vibrant nurse–just shattered and more than physically.  I would have hugged her but I didn’t know where to even touch her–it was that serious a situation.

Someone took out the Christmas lights that we brought for the occasion and strung them along her bed.  (We were told that they couldn’t stay past this one visit.)  I cleaned up the room, made room for both of their dinners and hand-fed our angel nurse her dinner little by little.  (Someone brought a cool bag to put any left-overs on ice so she could have lunch or dinner the next day which was very thoughtful and needed.)

After dinner, I turned out the lights and by Christmas lights only, I gave her a bath by hand, brushed out her hair from the accident, changed her linens…well, tried to help however I could. It was slow going because of her fractures and pain level but I thanked God the entire time I was there that I/we could be of service on this day of thanks.  This was a true Thanks-giving.  (Many more hospital visits to come…)

We got home after 3 AM, and thanked God again for the gift cards that our angels send because we ordered eggs and ham to mix into the dogs kibble when we got home.  We also thanked God for all of the angels who pray for help, send things for the dogs and just care in general.  Without you, we could not do so much to help so many.

Days later, we are still helping our precious nurse and will continue to do so as long as need be.  Yes, it is a big job–but with God’s help and lots of prayers, she will recover enough to walk again.  Her life is literally on the line right now so without the help of her friend who she was staying with and us, she would not make it (her family has not come down yet) so thank you for your patience, for your prayers and your help with the dogs.

God is so much bigger than us. While we are used to saying HE, God is beyond words–God is really all LOVE–the source of it, the power behind it, all of it.  God is conscious though–while He is the source of the love we have for each other or for our animals, He is much more than that.  HE hears our prayers–and apparently He not only knew that I was feeling bad about not having planned to help anyone this Thanksgiving more than I already do but HE also heard the nurse’s prayers–or she would not have even made it to the hospital to eat Thanksgiving Dinner!

Cherish every minute of your lives–and of the time you have with your loved ones. You never know when things will change or when God will call…too many times to count now, I have seen this with my own eyes both with animals and with people so please, don’t rush through your day unconsciously but thoughtfully–and always try to do good, to show love in anyway possible.  It matters.  Even the tiniest thing matters.

Sending all of our love and best wishes to everyone–I will write a dog story soon. I have the pictures formatted and ready to post with the different surprises you have been sending in to help the Rescue Ranch dogs!  (firststop-laststop.com)  There is a wish list on the website or you can just send gift cards for anywhere–especially needed are Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, generic Visa cards, Petsmart, Petco, or any others that you are not using, we will find a way to use them to help the special needs dogs at the RR!

If you would like to send an e-card (amazon credits are very much needed right now) or to send a credit to use for their medicines via paypal, please use: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

If you would like to mail a card or gift card, please send to:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Unit 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

 

 

Thank you so very much for caring.

We are extremely grateful and extremely blessed that you are in our lives.

 

Love and Hugs from the Herd Always-

Jane

 

To see the special pic I took one day sitting in The Rose Chapel, if you receive this post via email, please click on the link at the bottom of your email text.  The featured pics on my blog do not go to the email subscribers for some unknown reason!

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Uncategorized

Four Day Dementia “Bender” Started With A Shower Head

My next story will be a RR dog story!

There are funny things that happen along the way but it seems like they are happening less and less frequently.  Like what happened to this weekend’s chicken bar-b-que pizza (aka a piece of rock-hard cardboard–see pic above or click the link at the bottom of your email post) that I decided to make instead of ordering in!

I always set the cook timer so the oven would shut off after the designated baking time because I never know what is to come but with everything going on, it took me another forty minutes to actually take the pizza out of the oven!  Dinner ruined, it’s soup and crackers–again! Oops! It was too late to call for pizza delivery.

I never thought I’d be writing about dementia–never mind living through what is simply a mind-bending experience–especially at my age (not retirement age).

I always thought that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and the rest were “elderly” diseases which came on gently and progressed until the afflicted passed on at a much advanced age.  I never knew that there were “early-onset” versions of these diseases which progress faster–and come on and continue fast and furious–until the afflicted person passes on at a much younger age (in their forties, fifty or sixties).

In my Someone’s situation, he was in his 50’s when it hit. It didn’t help that I had never heard of something called Lewy Body Dementia which is a combination of the symptoms of about seven of these illnesses combined–not for the faint of heart or mind to deal with.  (It took nearly ten months and almost fifteen doctors and five different brain scans to get a diagnosis.) I am really strong but this is testing even my resolve.

I woke up this Friday morning–after about an hour and a half nap–to find a shiny metal shower head on the bed–it looked just like the one on the shower I use! My first thoughts were was the house being flooded and where was the water shut-off valve to the house!  I sprang into action.  (There is just never rest for the weary in these situations–every time I fall asleep, I wake up gasping, with my heart racing, wondering what I am going to find next–even if nothing is going on.)

Turned out that overnight Someone had “flipped” into what would become a four day active dementia “bender.”  (He doesn’t drink alcohol but I am at a loss for what to call these episodes. I need to ask his LBD specialist.)

He remembered that I had mentioned that I was having trouble with the water pressure in the shower and decided that he was going to surprise me and fix it–or at least investigate it’s cause. Thankfully, he fell asleep before he took out the main water valve in the shower thus avoiding the water catastrophe that I immediately jumped to in my mind when I saw the shower head on the bed.

For four days, I’ve had to be an almost 24/7 safety monitor, nanny, diplomat and stern mother to a very much grown-up man.  Thankfully as I write, he has snapped out of it and is now “himself” again which I pray will last for a few days–at least long enough for me to recover and regroup.  During those active dementia days, I can do nothing more than focus on what is before me second by second.  It feels like a million issues coming at you in fast motion that you have to evaluate, respond, prevent, intercede in and even deal with consequences or “oops-es.”

When in active dementia, which is particularly unpleasant in Lewy Body, everything has to be said over and over again–rarely are particular directives heard or understood until the intensity and volume increases as does the emphasis.  (In other words, talking softly, which is my nature, and calmly explaining things doesn’t work–between their brains not processing words/sounds and they are not wanting to be told “No.” You just have to “insist” sometimes!)  You have to take things away like from you would from a toddler who doesn’t know better, you have to prevent things from happening–always trying to anticipate one step ahead but sometimes never being able to do so.

Yes, there are institutions for people with this illness. Unfortunately, insurance nor Medicare covers them.  They are all private pay–at $8-12,000 per month depending on geography–the little bit of equity we still have in our house won’t go very far at all. A diagnosis of LBD means being held in a locked memory care facility (the most expensive level of care not by choice)–one that requires leg bands that track the patients like prisoners and prevents them from wandering away plus it requires a high staff to patient ratio.  Most people in these units however are of advanced age. The early-onset LBD people are few and far between.  The activities in these locked units involve looking out of the window, playing checkers and wheelchair gymnastics. My Someone is still able to walk and function when he has continued periods of sustained consciousness so it would be absolutely devastating to “snap to” and find out that your day consisted of bird watching–with a group of 80-90 year olds (no offense meant)–some in a continued state of “awake unconsciousness.”

Some caregivers and doctors have said that I could just “quit”–just leave Someone at his doctor’s office and say that he no longer has home care or just “resign.”  (How do you “resign” from caring from someone you love?) He would then become a ward of the state which would be worse than the private pay institutions.  I have been inside a state-run facility, many years ago as a volunteer Christmas caroler, and quite frankly, it was horrifying.  Everyone was naked, they had no blankets or anything that they could hurt themselves with in any way, the unit was locked down with heavy doors and gates and people were heavily sedated to keep the staff-to-patient ratio low. Even to my own detriment, I will not allow this to happen to Someone.  There has to be another solution.

Since I had to be awake most of the past four days–with an occassional nap–I needed to stay busy so I decided to clean out the refrigerator and Someone’s snack corner in the kitchen. (Someone’s snacks were overtaking the majority of kitchen so I had to designate an area with a confined bin and space which translates to limited snacks. He’s always loved to try different things–in sequence–but now, he wants to try them all at once!)

Dementia affects each person differently so I can only speak to Someone’s dementia-based quirks, one of which is saving one bite of anything “for another time.”  That means when I took apart the kitchen’s snack corner and bin and the refrigerator, there was zip-lock bag after zip-lock bag, stuffed in the back of the ‘frig and in Someone’s snack area, full of quart and gallon bags–each with just one single bite of everything he liked but had almost finished.  (I keep up with this task regularly so this wasn’t a surprise. It is just getting worse.)

Normally, I would have just thrown these bags out but with this stage of LBD, Someone can’t lose control over his “things” suddenly lest it trigger a tantrum.  Not wanting to deal with that at all, I had to ditch most of them quietly (Someone has no conception or memory of the inventory of what was there just that there were “bags of bites” there) so I left those that were recent/edible and then gave Someone a twenty four hour time limit to finish them. Without setting boundaries, no matter what they are or how arbitrary they are to me, Someone would just be lost. Setting and maintaining boundaries is no easy feat–they can be modified, and most times are many times over, but they have to exist.

I am extremely grateful to have Someone in my life still, in spite of this beast called Lewy Body Dementia.  I am having a difficult time imagining life otherwise.  I think the knowledge that this is not an illness that will get better but in fact, one that will end in ‘The End,’ is more than a little bit terrifying.  Those days that we can go for a ride in the car and enjoy the sun and the wind–and stop at Dairy Queen and hold hands and enjoy an ice cream–or sit and watch a movie together and have dip and chips or a pizza–or popcorn if we are lucky enough to actually be on time for a movie after four, five or even seven tries–are precious.  I used to take them for granted–like they just always would ‘be.’ Now, I know that they are going to be memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

My intention is not to depress or sadden you by writing about Someone’s illness and the situation around it.  I want you to just appreciate your life and your blessings and to encourage you to live in the present moment.  It is too easy to push through everything just to get through the day but the littlest, sweetest moments get lost.

For instance, I know that when Someone walks by me and tugs lightly on my big toe (if I am laying down resting, always with two ears “open”), that means that he loves me.  He doesn’t let a day go by that I don’t find my big toe being lightly tugged at least once.  While it may wake me up from a much needed nap, I have to appreciate the significance of what is happening.  Those tiny little moments get lost if you don’t slow down to notice them–and stop and thank God for them, too.  (Even a little dog’s lick of my finger after holding her water bowl up to her mouth is the same thing–it is a “thank you” or an “I love you” for taking special care of her.  Slow down, notice them and tuck those things away in your heart.)

Promise my next story will be a dog story–after all, my life is dogs–and dogs are my life!

Thank you for caring.  Especially for caring.

Jane

 

Want to Help?

If you would like to help with the many special needs dogs that I care for, please send a credit for amazon to: a.rescue.volunteer@gmail.com

OR

If you would prefer to mail a card to Someone or something like a gift card (generic Visa to your favorite fast food restaurant or grocery store–all and any will be appreciated) to help the Rescue Ranch dogs, please mail to:

Rescue Ranch

4057 Riley Fuzzel Road

Ste. 500-130

Spring, TX  77386

 

Grateful. Always. Grateful.

 

Ada.Girl.EnjoyingSolLight.March2013A.

Archives: Girl, the Texas Pearl, and Brave Ada–both now our precious angels–enjoy the Sol Light (a light-therapy light) that was sent to the RR to try.  Little Bitty Bits is the one who adopted it as his own–and everyone else had to share!

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Bitty Bits LOVES the Sol Box by Pawsitive Lighting.  I think light therapy is good for people and pets–especially if you or your animals don’t get much time outside for your bodies to make Vitamin D (D3 especially!)-which is critical for all of our immune systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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