Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pensacola Obituary: Marcel Dolence

Marcel Dolence, Miniature Poodle, 14 hers old in Human years, passed away today, 22 April 2017, In Pensacola Florida.  He was a long time resident of Virginia Beach Virginia.  He was born in the finger Lakes Region of New York.

I lost my best friend today.  He was my Velcro puppy, always by my side, always loving, and always forgiving of my foibles.  Marcel and I fell in love when I first met him.  He was a small puppy my Son and Daughter in Law had just adopted and he and I were made for each other.  I loved him!!  From the first time I saw Him, I wanted him tone my puppy and he wanted to be my friend!  I will always love him.

As he aged, he had some serious health issues.  A seizure about 5 years ago that lead to the discovery of Hypothyroidism.  Later, a heart murmur that required medication and continued to get worse.  He lost most of his hair due to the Hypothyroidism in the last year and he had many bumps, boils, and hot spots.  Yet, he was always gentle, loving, and calm.

Marcel could not stand to be away from me.  Last year, we took a trip without him and he nearly died! He looked like he was on his last legs when we got home.  We went to the Vet, nursed him back to health, and had a good last year together.

Marcel even let a homeless, elderly, miniature poodle invade his home.  Cherie was sickly and neglected but he befriended her, shared me with her, and she had three years of relatively good health before we needed to have her put down at 15 ½ .  Marcel missed her and grieved for Cherie until the day he died, today.

I love Marcel and He will always be in my heart.  When I die, his cremains will be placed in my coffin.  I will always miss him.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Caring for a Dementia patient.

I have read extensively on the topic of caring for a dementia patient.  Most of what I read is directed at the drugs available for the patient to slow down the progression of the disease and calm the patient.  There are also extensive writings on what drugs NOT to give to those of us with LBD.

All of this research is very valuable and worthwhile.  But, none of it addresses the patients need, hunger, and desperation to be intimately touched by the ones he or she loves.  Hugging, kissing, sitting close holding hands, cuddling in bed help calm the dementia patient and make him or her feel loved, important, and wanted.  Even listening to a story told many times by thee patient give that person self worth.

Putting it personally, there is little I can do to show my usefulness to how worthwhile I am.  I cannot work, drive, even perform sexually anymore.  As kiss, hug, closeness in bed or on the sofa bring back times of intimate relationships.  Times of love and vibrancy,

Instead, we are left alone in our lift chair, or taking a nap alone, while the spouse continues his or her active, normal life.  The patient is an after thought or worse, a burden.  Who is going to sit wit Him while I go out to play?  Kenny Rodger's song "Ruby, don't take your love to town"  illustrates the emotions and frustrations of the handicapped individual.

Please don't replace us with activities that you could do after we pass!  I have seen this happen to many times.  Now, when the Dementia has progressed to the point where the patient is only a shell of his or herself, shorter visits, less in-depth conversations, and fewer memory exercises may be warranted  But that Dementia patient, no matter war stage their Dementia is in, needs, requires, and searches out that intimate connection from humans and predominately from the Human they love!

Do care givers need a break?  Certainly.  Is respite care valuable and necessary?  Yes.  But doing your thing while the patient wastes away in the chair is not care giving,  It is torture, for the patient.  I know I have little or no value.  But, telling me by you actions and interest that do not relate to me only make me feel more worthless and tell me you really do not care anymore.  When we realize that is the case, Dementia patients tend to sit down and retract into their cocoon.  They sleep more, eat less, participate less in any activities, and refuse to do things they once enjoyed,  Why, because they were told they are now useless, unwanted, and even repulsive.

As  progress I see these things occurring in my life and impacting me more and more.  There truly is nothing I enjoy to do.   My worth is that of a little child.  Sit there, don't tough anything, be quite, and don't embarrass me.

PS:  One more important point.  Dementia, no matter what type is a death sentence.  We are dieing because our brain is failing,  We may mentally die before our body quite.  But we are going quick. Drugs slow the progression of the cognitive decking, sometimes!  But, death is just around the corner just the same.  That kiss, hug, special whisper in the ear may be the last one your Dementia patient hears.

I encourage you to think about your relationship with your special Dementia patient.  How do you treat and interact with him or her.  Put yourself mentally, in their position, an then see if you would like the treatment.  It could be an eye opener.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

This HAS been a great life!

I realize the nature of LBD causes me to complain.  I am sorry, but there are plenty of issues that give me a reason to complain.  Just the same, I have had a very good run the first half my LBD journey.  Thanks to a great Neurologist, Dr. Mary Alliston Bowles, in Norfolk Virginia, I have been on Razadyne and Namenda and depression meds that have slowed the progress of this "always advancing" disease.

Recently, those drugs have started to loose their battle with the progression of my LBD and I have experienced more issues, as I have reported.  My Neurologist here in Pensacola, Dr. James King, and his Nurse Practitioner, Lacy Hilton, have increased my dosage of Clonizipan and that has calmed me down at night.  So, I am now more relaxed and calm at night and I can go to sleep easily and sat asleep.   I am sure this will require continuous increases to continue the positive effect.  I accept that.

I have become very reflective, and I realize my life has been pretty good.  It started out in poverty, as a throw away unwanted child.  But, because of the love of two wonderful people, Addison and Evelyn Mills, I was raised well and given great moral values.  School was not my style but the United States Navy fit me to a "T"!   That "Dream Career" lasted 40 years!  MY other Dream has been my wife, Linda.  An intelligent person who shows Christ's Love in everything she does.  God used Her to guide me to Jesus Christ and then to make me usable to God in Children's Ministry and as an Associate Pastor.

Now, we live at Azalea Trace, my third career, truthfully.  I have the opportunity to help the Staff Chaplain and we have established a Memory Support Group to help other Dementia patients.   This group keeps me in a positive state of mind.

So, as my mind diminishes and my physical capabilities decrease, I still find happiness helping others and in turn, being helped by them.  I try to present a Positive Attitude to everyone I meet in the hallways or in the dinning room.  Because, I know each of them have their own physical and cognitive issues.  We are a family here at Azalea Trace.

So, I apologize for being so negative and complaining.  There are reasons and excuses, but they are not as important as me making every effort to be thankful to God for the wonderful life I have had.   I have NO FEAR of death and I am sure it is closer than ever before.  Even closer than it was when I was a Navy Gunner's Mate.  And I am totally at ease and comfortable with God's next planned step in my life.  As a matter of fact, I look forward to it and embrace it!  Life has been very good.  Praise God!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Walking on EMOTIONAL eggs as a caregiver

I grew up with older parents.  I was about 3,  4 , or 5 when Mom went through Menopause.   I did not understand her emotional distress and in 1954, there were no medicines to help.   Additionally, they had no money to go to the Doctor for help.  So, I got yelled at a lot, saw her cry a lot, and learned that things I said, and the manner or way I said them, often caused GIGANTIC issues, for me!   My Dad, worked extra hours and player pool!  He found distance was a good defense.  Me, I had none.

Then, as a Husband, I went through Menopause with my Wife.  I had more experience and more education that my Dad did.  Just the same, many times, no matter how hard I tried, I failed and came out as the villain, no matter what I did.   It seemed, no matter what I did, how well I planned, how well I did, what accomplishments I achieved, I was a dirty no good!!!  I was defenseless again!

It seems, some of my Wife's Menopause issues have resurfaced in recent years, most likely from the stress of being my caregiver and the worry of facing my early death.  I am sure, she always thought I would be her, healthy, capable of anything, bullet proof, do it all man like I was when I was 30!   So, I can assign little fault to Her for her emotional explosions that seem to come from no where and have no rational basis.

But those emotional explosions from my Wife cut me to the quick, when I am trying my best to be helpful around the home, friendly to people, and do my best to Serve God here at Azalea Trace.   I make every effort to hold my emotions in, so that I do not upset her,  Again, I know she has a full plate.  But, I need some consideration too.  Or, maybe that is just too much to expect.   In any case, It has been a difficult day for me from 30 minutes after we got up until now, when I go to bed.

This goes back to post I wrote a while ago.  Maybe the Patient and the Caregiver should NOT live together.  Maybe the patient living in Assisted Living makes sense.  What I do know is, I am tired of doing everything and having none of it meet the satisfaction of my wife.

Obviously, more night time drugs are needed!  

Friday, April 7, 2017

My thanks to Azalea Trace and Lacy Hilton of Sacred Heart Neurological

Six months ago, we started a "Dementia Patients Support Group" here at Azalea Trace.   We meet every week for an hour and help each other deal with our individual Dementia Journeys.  Tonight, the Nurse Practitioner at my Neurologist's Office, Lacy Hilton, had dinner with those of us in the Dementia Patent's Support Group.  We had all the members of the group, their spouses, and the Nurse Practitioner from Azalea Trace, Missy Clements, in attendance.

It was a wonderful meal and time of fellowship.  But the information Lacy provided was the best part of the evening.  After she gave us an update on the latest research in Dementia care, Lacy answered questions and interacted, personally, with each member of the group.  Her factual approach and reassuring nature helped each member of our group feel at ease and open.

Having The Sacred Heart Neurological Group ready to interact with Dementia patients and their care givers is a blessing to all of us.  Future meetings are planned and more outreach is needed here at Azalea Trace and through the country.  People need to understand Dementia, not run from it.

Again, I thank the medical team and Administration here at Azalea Trace for setting the stage for this type of personal education program and Lacy Hilton for starting what will become the model for other retirement communities to follow!

It was a Great night!!