Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My helper

Oscar has been going with me to work
so that we can go visit G at rehab
without me having to drive home to get or return Oscar.

He has been very quiet, and sometimes sleeps under my desk.

He has a coffee mug for water.

He likes my boss, and when my boss had to go out the other day,
Oscar barked at him to stop him from going.


The building manager called later to ask if we were harboring dogs,
as someone had turned me in.
When I explained that it was temporary and why,
she was very nice about it and said not to worry.

And today, G is coming home from rehab,
so Oscar will stay home with him and be his helper.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lunch with the CSA

Our first box of produce from our farm subscription
came recently:
Boc choi, bekana, carrots, scallions, mint,
apples, popcorn on the cob.

And eggs.

I've not been taking time to cook at home the last couple of weeks,
but yesterday decided to make something fresh for lunch,
instead of reheating leftovers
or making a peanut butter sandwich.

Bekana & scallion omelet with freshly grated Parmesan,
raw carrot slices,
and a fresh baked ciabatta roll from Trader Joe's.

Oh, happy day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stronger than iron

Last year we learned that G had become anemic because of a nutritional deficiency. This was diagnosed a month after a long stint in institutions: 3 days in the hospital and 4 weeks in rehab because of an unidentified and very unfriendly virus. It took months of iron supplements (and battling the side effects) to get G back to normal. In retrospect, it was likely a result of his not eating well while in rehab. If one ate all the meal offerings, one would probably be fine, but because his appetite was suppressed, G did not eat well.

To prevent a recurrence during G's current stay in rehab, I wanted to them include more good iron sources of the foods that G is likely to eat.

Raisins, for one, which G eats at home with his oatmeal every morning.

Legumes for another, and G loves bean soup. Every time I make the soup, he smiles and tells me how good it is. Lekker.

After discussing this plan with the nutritionist, she agreed to include raisins with G's breakfast oatmeal and to allow me to bring a thermos of heated bean soup when I visit in the morning for them to offer him at lunch.

The raisins were implemented successfully, but getting the staff to serve the soup as part of G's lunch has been a challenge. Sometimes it gets served, and sometimes the thermos is placed in the fridge in the nurses' station, where I find it, still full of soup, but now cold soup, when I arrive at rehab after work .

I added a label that says, "Hot! Do not refrigerate!" That doesn't always work, either.

I think we've got everyone trained now, and I've included a clementine in the lunch offering, as iron is absorbed more efficiently when eaten with foods rich in Vitamin C.

One must be strong when dealing with institutions.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More comfort

G is unhappy about being in rehab;
he doesn't understand why he can't come home
and is somewhat paranoid about what is happening to him.
Very difficult to witness, but he is not strong enough to be home yet.

My parents visited Sunday afternoon, and Gerrit's eyes filled with tears
as he told them how glad he was to see them.

We are also lucky to have compassionate family members
who find ways to reach out from far away.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We have pills

Not the kind one takes by mouth - though we have plenty of these in our household.

These pills are the kind that develop on fabric. G, who wears sweatshirts and sweatpants nearly every day, has one brand (a big, national brand) that unaccountably, started to pill after only a few months' wear.

Can you see all the pills?

I had been so happy with this line when I first found out about it - the clothing is made from an eco-friendly fabric that uses a small percentage of recycled plastic in the fiber content. Yes, yes, I know - it sounds icky, but when new, the sweatshirts and pants felt soft and wonderful. And the name: EcoSmart. How could I not like it?

After a few months of washing and wearing, though, they started to feel rough - all of them. Three sweatshirts, four pairs of sweatpants. G has sweatshirts from other manufacturers that must be 15 years old or more and are still soft and smooth.

This is a different brand, 15 years old at least, washed weekly, and no pills.
We have 3 brands that are fine, and one that is not.

When I took a closer look at the rough-feeling garments, I could see that there were little balls of ... I don't know. Is it the recycled plastic? Is it cotton? Why is this happening?

Different sweatshirt, same problem

I finally got around to calling the manufacturer to tell them about it, and the woman I spoke to was very nice. She is sending me a postage paid sticker so I can send the shirts and pants back for someone to look at. I forgot to ask what the turnaround time is, as G really goes through the clothing. I don't want to stock up on replacements until I know what the resolution is. Guess I'll be doing laundry more frequently for a while.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dutch skies

I'm being very slow about rehanging our artwork now that the remodeling is done. A few pieces are easy - they are going back where they were before. This is one, which G especially loves because it reminds him of Dutch skies. It was painted by my sister Carlie more than 20 years ago.

It's nice to have it back on view again. I just wish G were home to enjoy it.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Friday night, as G lay on his bed at the rehab center and I sat in the chair next to him, he suddenly said, "Your brother is here."

Well - that's unlikely. One lives more than an hour's drive from us, the other in New Orleans. Neither yet knew that G had been transferred from the hospital to the rehab center. But I kept my eye on the doorway, and a few minutes later, a man walked past who actually does resemble my older brother - younger, but remarkably like him. He was the nurse on duty that evening on G's wing.

This evening when he was back on duty, I told him about G's comment, assured him that my brother was the best-looking one in the family, and asked if I could take his picture. He kindly agreed.

Other than the glasses, he's a pretty good match. Thought you might want to see.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


G was transferred from the hospital to the rehab center Friday.
Now the work begins.

One consolation: pets are allowed to visit.
So Oscar is going to be a familiar sight around the place.
And when G is resting on his bed, Oscar joins him there.
Our version of therapy.


Eric Whitacre released his newest Virtual Choir performance.
It is so beautiful - I keep hitting replay.

My friend participated; I wish I had, too.
Downloaded the music and stopped there.

Don't be put off by the length - the last 4 minutes are the credits, listing all 2000 plus singers.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Job description

This name plate is on an office door
next to the slow elevator I wait for
each time I leave the hospital.

Good to know that people who are planning a heart failure
will know where to get it coordinated.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Three steps back

That's how life with dementia goes: one step forward, three steps back. I'm sitting in G's hospital room, glad he's getting the medical care he needs, wondering what will be next.

For dementia patients, a UTI can throw a monkey wrench into the machinery, causing significant loss of cognition and other unlikely symptoms. And most times, that is the only signal given: the more common pain and discomfort that signals the rest of us that a UTI might be developing just doesn't signal the dementia patient.

In G's case, the signs that something was wrong included difficulty (more than usual) in walking and very slow response to my questions and suggestions.

Thank God for 911 and wonderful paramedics. Once here at the hospital, all the usual testing was done, and luckily the only thing found was the UTI. But G is still weak and not as verbal as he normally is. Better than yesterday morning when he was brought to the ER and then admitted to the hospital, but whether he will be well enough to go home tomorrow or not is still a question mark. A rehab facility is a possibility if he hasn't gained enough strength to go home.

I'm praying for a big recovery. G did a 4 week stretch in rehab last year, after some kind of very bad viral infection knocked him for a cognitive and physical loop, and it was a difficult time.

I'd love for him to be able to avoid a repeat of that.