Tuesday, August 31, 2021

For the Good Times

 

Do you ever find yourself longing for the good times? What that means is unique to each person. For some, the good times were when they were a kid. For others it may be college years, or when the shine was bright on the wedding ring.

For some reason “for the good times” was bouncing in my head this morning. I’m not talking about the song, just the phrase. I sometimes go with my gut when writing my blog posts and that was, obviously, what I was supposed to write about today.

 

So the question remains—what are the good times? Strangely enough for all the writing I do about Jim’s and my dementia journey, I am not a person who thinks a lot about times gone by.

 

Some people’s idea of a good time would be parties, bars, and vacations. Parties never were my thing. I’ve enjoyed a few parties in my lifetime, but they wouldn’t make the list of “good times.” As far as bars, I’ve been in a few, but nothing memorable ever happened at one of them.

 

Now, vacations are a mixed bag. I thoroughly enjoyed most of our Colorado vacations. I loved camping in Moraine Park, animal watching, Jim playing his guitar to serenade the chipmunks, hiking the lesser traveled trails, and relaxing around the campfire. Good times.

 

On the other hand, we made an emergency trip home one year, had our tent drip ice water in our faces after a six-inch snow another time, and we had to settle for a different campground one time. All in all, it’s safe to say that the good times far outweighed the bad until the master camper lost his ability to become one with nature.

 

Our trips to Colorado became more challenging when dementia changed the landscape. One year, we almost failed at pitching our tent because Jim kept putting the wrong pieces together. We had to tear it down and start all over.

 

The year my mom and nephew went with us, we stayed in a cabin. We were able to prepare Jim’s meals and had room to relax. It was a good vacation until one morning I was taking a shower, and Jim wandered out the front door. My nephew went after him. He convinced Jim that I wanted to talk to him, and they turned around and came back to the cabin.

 

When I think back, good times were always tainted with a few bad ones, and the bad times were bolstered by the occasional good times. The ups and downs of life flow like a highway through hill country. We navigate hills, valleys, hair-raising curves, long stretches behind slow moving traffic, and dead spots where we cannot communicate with the outside world. Sometimes we pause at a scenic overlook and experience the euphoria of a wondrous view.

 

I’ve found that attitude alone can make or break the good times. I want to be lost in the joy of singing my songs, and not worry about the occasional mistake. I want to experience the sunrise filled with hope in my heart and not despair. I’d rather enjoy the sunset and not fear the dark. I want to watch the electric lightning and rushing clouds without worrying about the brewing storm.

 

Good times are not magic, but they can be magical. Optimism, fortitude, and good luck are all the magic we need. We make the good times, and we should make the most of them.     

 

 Copyright © August 2021 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Balancing Act


During the Olympics, we discovered that no matter how talented a gymnast was, she could tumble from the balance beam. Considering the tricks necessary to get a good score performed on a four-inch wide beam, I can completely understand how easy it would be to miscue and fall.

I am not coordinated enough to walk on a four-inch beam even carrying a pole like a Flying Wallenda would during a highwire act. When you think about it, the balancing act of life is not about highwires or balance beams. When our lives are out of balance, we are setting ourselves up for an awkward, potentially life-changing fall.

 

We have to balance:

 

1. Work with Recreation. A person who never takes a break, a vacation, or relaxes with a hobby, endangers both physical and mental health. Our minds and bodies need some downtime to rejuvenate our spirits. Caregiving is intense and all-consuming and respite is imperative to remain healthy.

 

2. Sadness with Joy. It’s hard to stay upbeat when a loved one has dementia, but being sad all the time is wearing on everyone that has to interact with you. One of the sad realities I noticed was that Jim lost his sense of humor. I read humorous books, watched the funniest sitcoms and late night shows, and spent time with friends and family who shared common interests with me.

 

3. Alone time with Social Interactions. Alone time is the time we need for introspection. It’s too easy for a caregiver to be caught up in the busyness of everyday tasks, and fall into bed at the end of an exhausting day without any personal time. Caregiving can be a lonely time especially when your loved one cannot communicate with you. It is important to have friends and family for support and conversation. Friends are good companions for outings to movies, plays, concerts, or other activities of mutual interest.

 

4. Rest with Physical Activity. It is hard for a caregiver to get enough rest. Jim only slept about four hours a night, which meant I had four hours sleep too. Rest involves more than sleep, and that was in short supply too. My balance of rest and physical activity were not in sync and it showed. Running all day on four hours sleep made me pretty cranky at times. What did help was when the physical activity involved a leisurely walk.

 

Bringing life back into balance is a long-term goal that needs to be approached one day at a time. Once we realize that we will fall off the balance beam occasionally, we can pick ourselves up, climb back on, and move forward. We are less likely to fall if we stick to the basics and keep the “tricks” to a minimum.


Copyright © August 2021 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Side by Side

 

It was pancake day at our house—the easiest breakfast to fix. I put the sausage in the skillet and mixed up the batter while I waited for the sausage to brown. I fixed our pancakes, and since I don’t really measure, I was a pancake short.

I had already slid the pancake mix canister back into its slot, so I quickly opened the canister, mixed in a little water, and without missing a beat poured it into the skillet.

 

“This pancake isn’t browning right,” I said.

 

“Well, as old as the stove is, the burner has probably quit,” my husband said.

 

“It’s cooking, but it’s not getting brown.” I put the pancake on a plate and scraped out enough batter for another small pancake. “Something just isn’t right,” I said.

 

I turned around and looked at the canisters sitting side-by-side on the counter… “No wonder it looks weird,” I said. “I grabbed the flour instead of the pancake mix.”

 

“Flour and water makes paste,” my husband commented. “That’s what we used to use to put wallpaper on the walls.”

 

I shouldn’t have made the mistake, but they were sitting side by side and neither one was labeled. We had a good laugh, and I stirred up some real pancake batter.

 

After the flour and water disaster, I couldn’t help but think of a day Jim walked into the kitchen while I made the first pancake. I didn’t have the batter quite right or the pan hot enough, so I had made a funky first pancake, which was not uncommon for me.

 

From Indelible (Memoir in Progress):

 

One day I was cooking pancakes and the pancake stuck and crumbled into a real mess. Jim walked into the kitchen and said, “What is that?”

“It’s a pancake. But you don’t have to eat it,” I assured him. “I’m going to make another one. I’m not much of a cook, but then you never married me for my cooking, did you?”

“I don’t think so!” he replied emphatically. Jim answered with one of the stock phrases he used after aphasia diminished his communication skills.

I laughed and said, “Well, you do remember why you married me, don’t you?”

He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and said, “I have no idea.”

 
It always helped to see the humor in Jim’s reactions. Knowing how dementia affected Jim’s ability to speak, it’s quite possible that he may have known deep down why he married me, but he answered with one of his familiar phrases.

 It’s pretty safe to say that Harold found humor in my flat cake, no-flavor mistake. It hadn’t interfered with his breakfast at all since he had already polished off his pancakes before I messed up.

 Just for fun, I tasted the mock pancake. It was as tasteless and yucky as I imagined. I threw it in the trash and had another cup of coffee. Who knows, maybe if I’d had the second cup of coffee before making pancakes, I might have noticed that although the contents looked the same, the canisters did not.

 

Copyright © August 2021 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ

 

Monday, August 2, 2021

For What Ails You

When I first retired, I had a lofty goal of eating one “super food” each day. I followed that plan for a while, and I admit that I felt better. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution, but it might has well have been for how long I complied with my own rules.

 Several super foods lists exist, but the one I saw had berries, fish, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, and tomatoes. It really isn’t hard to have at least one of those each day if I could just stay away from unhealthy foods.

 

It’s easier to eat healthier in the summertime, but when winter rolls around, it takes a little more planning. One thing I’ve always thought of as a cure-all is green tea. I’ve stopped colds dead in their tracks with green tea. I always add a little bit of honey for a cough or a sore throat.

 

I only know that green tea works for colds because of my own experience. That didn’t even make the list of possible benefits of drinking green tea. The long list of benefits includes that green tea might improve brain function.

 

How could that be? Apparently, tea has enough caffeine to keep you alert, but without coffee jitters. The caffeine is paired with an amino acid L-theanine to cross the blood-brain barrier to increase the firing of neurons. Early studies indicate that green tea can protect your brain as you age and maybe reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

 

According to some studies, green tea can help you lose weight by boosting metabolism. Of course, not all studies found the same outcome. At least it shouldn’t make you gain weight, so that’s a plus.

 

The antioxidants in green tea reduce risk for cancer. Studies have shown a lower risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and other types of cancer as well.

 

I told you I consider it a cure-all. The more I read, the more I believe I might be onto something. I’m impressed with the possibility of improving insulin sensitivity to help diabetes, and protect my heart health by reducing the cardiovascular disease risk factors.

 

Regardless of all the health benefits of green tea, I find it relaxing to drink a cup of tea. Relaxation is good for blood pressure. Sounds like a win-win-win.  

 

Copyright © July 2021 by L.S. Fisher

http://earlyonset.blogspot.com

#ENDALZ