Monday, May 31, 2021

When it Rains, it Pours


I like rain, especially a cooling shower on a hot summer day. I don’t like downpours for days on end in springtime.

Springtime downpours create an entire set of troubles. When rain is combined with a driving wind it leads to double-trouble. The saturated ground caused a leak in the basement that has to be corrected through moving dirt and creating additional slope. We have a contract for the work, but we need nine consecutive dry days. That hasn’t happened for the past two months.


Then there’s the grass. The ground has been too soggy to mow and the rain brings about super-growth. When the ground dried out, Harold’s diesel mower quit. It’s been in the shop for several weeks. My mower won’t mow tall grass, but I managed to etch  out an area in front of the house.  When I decided to mow again, my mower died each  time I engaged the deck. Well, that’s not helpful for mowing.


The gloomy weather is disheartening. It makes me understand why people with dementia “sundown.” Sundowning usually happens in the evening, but with the grey skies and darkness during the day, I would imagine the behaviors are multiplied. Sundowning causes mood swings, anxiety, sadness, restlessness, panic, increased confusion, and other problems. As all caregivers are aware, each person with Alzheimer’s disease is different. Worse yet, each day is different.


The weather makes me moody and depressed. My arthritis acts up during rainy weather. My aching body makes me cranky. I’m not physically able to finish all the work required to maintain a big house and huge yard, especially when things go wrong.


I’ve turned into a handy-woman at times. I fixed my mower, stopped the leak from the heat pump (ok, so I cleaned and changed the filter), stopped the running toilet, and built a dam of old towels to contain the water coming into our basement to contain the mess.


Now, if the rain will stop long enough we can get our dirt work done. Hopefully, it can dry out enough to get the crops in the field.


On the bright side, I haven’t had to water my flower garden for a month. We finally got 90% of the lawn mowed. It isn’t pretty since the grass grew to epic heights. If we get the mower back from the shop, we can make it look better until we can mow it on a regular basis during the drought that’s bound to hit this summer.


In the meantime, we have company coming from Oregon, so the next two weeks will be a different kind of busy. Maybe we can order up some sunshine and an occasional gentle rain shower.


Copyright © May 2021 by L.S. Fisher


Friday, May 28, 2021

Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) Advocacy Forum 2021


The AIM Forum started on a Monday morning with a Zoom meeting with Congresswoman Hartzler’s office. I don’t know why, but it made me nervous to know I would be leading the first meeting that morning, on Zoom, no less.


When we go to Capitol Hill for the AIM Advocacy Forum, I usually get to ease into the meeting with the Congresswoman. First, we have training and role-playing. When we go to the Hill we usually meet with the senators first and their ambassador leads the meeting.


The night before the meeting, I reviewed our federal priorities:

  1. Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer’s Act (CCAA) | H.R.2517 • S.1125
  2. Equity in Neuroscience and Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials (ENACT) Act | H.R.3085 • S.1548
  3. Appropriations - $289 million increase for Alzheimer’s research at NIH, and $20 million to fund BOLD.
  4. Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (ACSA) | H.R.1474 • S.56

I read through the fact sheets and thought about which of my experiences could relate to the different pieces of legislations. When we are in DC, AIM emphasizes the most important aspects of being an Alzheimer’s advocate: (1) Tell your story, (2) Remember to make the ask, and (3) wear comfortable shoes.


Along with the participation of other advocates, the meeting with the legislative aide for Congresswoman Hartzler went smoothly.


The remainder of the Forum included Zoom calls with both of our senators, a Webinar, and a Congressional Hearing on Alzheimer’s.


The week passed by quickly, but I had to be on alert so that I wouldn’t miss anything. For some reason all my invites were an hour early, which I guess is certainly better than being an hour late. I accidentally dropped in on another meeting before I realized the time was incorrect on my invites.


Zoom meetings are good and bad. I didn’t have to spend days trying to decide what to pack. I didn’t have the hassle of planes, taxis, hotels, and transportation to and from the airport. On the down side, I really missed hanging out with my friends, especially Sarah, Kathy, and Jane.  


Advocates know how important it is to advocate for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement has been a game changer for how we communicate with our legislators. They give us the correct tools to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill.


I was pleased to do my part. I was able to tell my story. I remembered the “ask.” Throughout the virtual forum, I always wore my comfortable shoes.


Copyright © May 2021 by L.S. Fisher


Saturday, May 8, 2021

I’m in a Hurry and I Don’t Know Why


My sister-in-law Dinah used to say, “The hurriered I go, the behinder I get.” I often think of this quote. I’m always in a hurry to check off the items on my to-do list. I’m in such a hurry that (as scary as it is) the to-do list doesn’t always make it to paper.


My volunteer life has kicked back in full force. Unfortunately, the yard didn’t get that memo so we’ve been mowing a few days after each shower when the lawn is dry enough. At first, my mower needed a new battery, then Harold’s mower broke down.


After a hot, sweaty time outdoors, I went to check on my flowerbed at the front of the house. I walked around to the garage and both doors were down. I really didn’t think Harold would lock me out on purpose just to prove that I shouldn’t go outside without my cell phone as he constantly nags me to do.


I went around to the front door. The doorbell should get his attention, but the doorbell has been broken for quite some time. I knocked knowing that he couldn’t hear me, but the dog would. Sure enough, she got her “company coming” bark going and eventually Harold came to unlock the door. What nerve. He chewed me out for being locked out without my phone.


After several days of clicking items off my calendar—Thursday happened. First, a Zoom meeting with our Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee. Check. After a half-hour, I had to leave that call for a conference call with my Alzheimer’s advocacy group. During the call, I mentioned the futility of trying to contact my congresswoman for a district meeting before the Advocacy Forum. Jerry told me he had a contact and would try to set up a meeting. Check.


As soon as I ended that call, I drove to town for a visitation for a neighbor. Outside the funeral home several veterans solemnly held American flags. I wasn’t sure I was going to stay for the funeral until I looked at the program and saw the song choices. I knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary funeral when I saw the songs were “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.


Gene was a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He also enjoyed Mountain Man re-enactments and working on a forge. He was dressed in his mountain man clothes and several of his friends showed up in their outfits. A few of his friends shared amusing stories and fond memories of Gene. One recited a Native American prayer. At the end of the service, the veterans filed down the aisle and saluted. It was a touching, unique, and personal send off.


After the funeral, I returned home. My husband told me he couldn’t get hold of anyone at the congresswoman’s office. Foolish me, I thought he was trying to get in touch with her office for me. Instead, he was calling about another matter. While we ate a sandwich, his cell rang and I saw the number of her office. He chatted with Steve about his issue and I motion frantically for him to not hang up. Harold handed the phone to me and I told Steve who I was. “I just talked to Jerry,” he said. I proceeded to go over the Alzheimer’s Association federal priorities with him. Another task finished.


After walking the dog, I headed off to my businesswomen’s club meeting. On the drive home, I breathed a sigh of relief that I had made it through the hectic day.


After a year’s lockdown, I wanted life to return to normal, but maybe just a little more laidback. After all the funerals and memorials I’ve attended lately, it makes me realize how precious life is and how being in a hurry to get things done can interfere with life’s little pleasures.


My mental checklist needs one more item: relax. I need to take time to smell the flowers, pet the dog, play my uke, and visit with family. I need to slow down. Hurrying through life is way too tiresome.


Copyright © May 2021 by L.S. Fisher