Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What do these things have in common?

So Bompa and I are sitting in the waiting room at Dr. DiFranscesca's office (foot Dr) yesterday afternoon for a 4:30 pm appointment.  There was a mix up the last time we were there and we are being seen by the partner today which doesn't really matter but I'm a detail person!  Anyway, while we are waiting Bompa starts talking to me rather loudly because he can't hear well so he figures nobody else can either.     Now the story he starts to tell ends up being about 10 minutes long and after about 30 seconds I can see that there is no need for me to try and remember the details because he won't remember them either.   So here are the people, places, and things that are all mentioned at some point and are apparently, in his mind, still related to one another.    The FBI, the war with Japan, the Willimantic Fire Dept, 500lbs of duck eggs (and he chuckles as he tells me about them), my sister Elizabeth, a fight between to politicians in Hebron CT, the Yankees, Steinbrenner, the Army Navy Game,  my sister-in-laws' inlaws, Dr Kelly the orthopedic surgeon, and lastly 500 baby ducks who hatched before anyone knew what to do with the eggs.  It really doesn't matter what the story was about because just listing the main ideas and people makes me start laughing. 
Oh and add to that the fact that I'm on his shit list because I didn't call the Red Sox on their dayoff yesterday and tell them to play baseball so Bompa could watch them last night.    And people wonder why I dye my hair hot pink??? It's so I look as crazy as I feel at the end of a very long day in the hell that is Alzheimer's!  Laughing really does help!

Friday, August 27, 2010

HUH ?????

"No Bompa, seriously I'm not the Asst Chief at the Eagleville Fire Dept! The president is not throwing me a party to celebrate my promotion.  And the Chief there is not the owner of the Christmas Tree Shop.   And just because she is the owner of the Christmas Tree Shop does not necessarily mean that she is married to Santa Claus."  Yes he was dead serious!  And then sadly he asked me if I knew where the bathroom was in his apartment because he couldn't remember! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Keeping Bompa Busy

Bompa has a new hobby that keeps him busy all throughout the day.  Ice cubes!   He drinks crystal light iced tea all day everyday.  To keep his drinks from getting warm as he dozes he fills up his cup with ice cubes (that we make out of crystal light iced tea also so it won't water down his drink).  But he is obsessed with the ice cube trays.  They can never have any empty chambers.  So he is constantly taking cubes out and adding liquid to the trays.  He has some system that I haven't quite figured out.  He has one large "sippy" cup with a screw on lid and a straw, then some smaller cups.  He fills the small cup with ice cubes, then fills the big cup with cubes.  Then he adds liquid to the trays and puts them in the freezer.  He drinks from the big cup and leaves the cubes in the small cup to melt.  Then the next time he fills the big cup with ice he uses the liquid from the melted cubes in the small cup to fill the tray.  ??? I don't get it!  Then at night he takes both the big cup and the small cup into his room.  He opens the drawer on the bedside table just wide enough to set the two cups into the drawer.  Now, I have never seen him drink from the big no-spill cup during the night, just from the small cup which without fail he tips over into the drawer 5 out of 7 nights a week.  Now I have no problem at all with the mess he makes on the table, the floor, and the fridge as he is making his ice cubes, but my Gramma must be spinnin in her grave every time he dumps iced tea into the drawer of her Ethan Allen side table.  I'm gonna have to find a shallow pan to put in the drawer to contain the spills.   
      I must admit he is pretty inventive when it comes to problem solving.  I love to come around the corner to figure out what the banging noise is that I'm hearing only to find him chopping ice out of the ice cube tray with an 8 inch long butcher knife.  He uses the scissor tool on his swiss army knife to cut his licorice into smaller pieces, and the straw in his big cup doubles as a butter knife to spread peanut butter on crackers.  Gross!  I ask him why he didn't get a knife out of the drawer and he says aww this works just as good!   Okee Dokee Bompa!  I love ya!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Switching Uniforms

One night Bompa told me about how the Yankees and the Arizona team wrre going to switch uniforms and then play the game.  I asked him how they would know who won?  He said the Hebron Fire Department would oversee the game and decide who won. The thing that cracks me up is that he isn't even a Yankees fan, he is a Red Sox fan.

The Yankees and Judge Judy

This is one of the first stories that Bompa told me that made me wonder if something was going on.  I went into his apartment to check on him and I noticed that the Yankees game was on a rain delay.  I told him I would put on something else in the meantime and he started to tell me why the Yankees weren't playing.  Apparently, one of the Yankees players was in trouble and had to go to court. And Judge Judy was presiding over the case.  He went on to tell me that until Judge Judy said it was okay for this player to play, the game would be on hold.  He then went on to tell me how Judge Judy had called him to discuss the case and get his opinion on the matter. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

               Betty “Gramma” Griffin
             July 11, 1924 to 3-21-08

      “When she forgot…
                       We remembered for her !”

A Happy Memory

Lots of my stories are funny but some are very happy.  The last few years that my Gramma could still talk to us she never used our names because she couldn't remember them.  She knew a few words and phrases but couldn't really carry on a conversation. In the evening, I always got my Gramma ready for bed and I tucked her in every night the way she tucked me in when I was a kid.  Every night I would lean over and give her a kiss and say "Good Night Gramma".  She always said "Good Night", back to me.   Every night for about 2 years.  Then one night, out of the blue, her reply was "Good Night Chris."    That was one of the best nights ever.  It was also the last time she ever said my name.  Not long after that she stopped speaking all together.  But it didn't matter because you could tell by the twinkle in her eyes that she knew who we were.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Wake Incident

A man that my grandfather knew had passed away and we went to his wake.  Bompa is a Mason and the man was too so the local lodge did a little ceremony.  It takes about 15 minutes to do so after Gram and I paid our respects we went to sit down and wait for Bompa.  This was when Gram could still fake being ok.  She couldn't carry on a conversation but if someone said "Hi, how are you?", and she would respond "Fine thank you and how are you?".   So we are sitting there quietly waiting for the ceremony to be over.  They are having a moment of silence,  when out of the blue Gram says "Christ how long is this gonna take?"  That was the last wake we took Gram to.   From then on I waited in the car with Gramma and let Bompa go in by himself!  

Keeping Gramma Busy

My Gramma was always busy.  Cleaning, cooking, crafting, golfing, biking, walking, etc.  I was always trying to keep her busy.  One day I asked her to sweep the floor.  I gave her the broom and off she went.  She swept up a great big pile of dust bunnies as she made her way to the laundry room.  When she got to the screen door she didn't know what to do so she literally swept the dirt and dust through the screen.  Surprisingly, it worked!  I kept a basket of towels handy and when she wasn't looking I would dump them in the couch and leave the empty basket.  Without fail she would notice them, go over and fold them and put them in the basket.   A half hour later I would shake them out and leave them on the couch  again.  She'd notice and go right back again and fold them up.  Bompa thought I was nuts, but it kept her busy and happy.

Creative Solutions

I haven't had to get really creative yet with Bompa because he is much happier asleep in his recliner than running all over the place.  But Gramma never stayed still.  She got very upset when she found a door locked and she would try to figure out how to open it and she would pull and tug on it then get mad and say "bullshit" and then go somewhere else.  We set up the house and yard so that every door was keyed the same, even the closets.  And we had keys hanging everywhere but she didn't ever look for a key so it worked out well.  We even had locks on all the gates around the deck and yard.  The deck gates were locked one day so that she couldn't go out into the wet grass.  She didn't like that but if you left her alone she would get over it.  We tried to just let her be but as I watched her from the playroom window I realized I was gonna have to go outside and talk to her.  She was so mad that she started throwing my lawn furniture off the deck.  It was pretty funny to see my 83 yr old Gramma tossing wrought iron chairs over the railing. 
       At night we had baby gates installed in the doorway to the bedroom so she couldn't get into stuff during the night.  She rarely slept more than an hour or two at a time.  Bompa started sleeping on the couch because if he rolled over or got up to pee she would thnk it was time to get up.  Thank God he is deaf as a post!  She would stand at that gate and rattle it and pound on it and swear at it and yell hey hey come here...for hours.  A few times she broke through the gate and Bompa would try to get her to go back to bed.  Now I always locked their apt door at night but one night I must not have shut it the whole way.  She got through the gate and headed out into the laundry room that seperates their apt from the rest of the house.  Jimmy's room is off the laundry room.   I was sound asleep when Jimmy shook me awake and whispered " Mom, MOM, Gramma is in my bed!!!!!"  I said what are you talking about.  He said he woke up when he felt her sit down and he scooted up and off the bed without her even realizing he was there.  I went in and helped her back to her bed and secured the gates and doors again.  
    She got to a point that she would try to sit down and she wouldn't really know where her butt was in relation to the couch or chair and she would fall.  One day after falling 6 times, Bompa and I decided to have her sit in the wheelchair.  We "seatbelted" her in with a gait belt that fastened behind the chair, so she couldn't get up but she could scoot around.  It gave me time to make dinner etc.  Well, she was sooooo busy, that being at that height gave her accesss to cupboards and drawers and she made a mess.  Bompa used "the Club", (you remember the Club that you attached to your steering wheel so nobody could steal your car?)
through the back wheels on the wheelchair so she couldn't go very far except in circles.  This only slowed her down for a few minutes.  She figured out she could slide the wheels instead of turning them and off she went.  I laughed so hard but Bompa wasn't able to see the humor in it.  He was so upset that she was doing these things that it was hard for him.   I had to explain to him a lot that what she was doing was not in her control and if she wasn't hurting herself or others, we had to let her be.

Some of Gramma's Adventures

Gramma was always very active.  She rarely stopped moving all day so when she got Alzheimer's it was challenging to keep her safe because she was always getting into stuff, and she threw a lot of stuff away before we realized what she was doing.   She even "escaped" a few times when Bompa wasn't watching.  I came home from the grocery store one night and found her in my living room.  This was when they lived down the street.  Jim and the boys were in the basement playing video games and she was sitting on the couch like nothing was wrong.  I took her home and asked Bompa if he knew where Gram was. He hadno idea that she had left.  So we put new deadbolts on the doors that needed keys to open from inside or out.  One night she went down in to the basement and she came up the bulk head steps which brought her onto a screen porch.  Fortunately it wasn't cold that night because that's where Bompa found her in the morning.  She tried to come in the back door but it was locked and she couldn't figure out how to get back through the basement.  Bompa decided he had better keep her from going into the basement but the old door lock didn't work so he tied a piece of rope to the door handle from the basement side and then tied the rope to the railing to keep the door shut.  We thought we had solved the problem.  But Gram had other plans.  She was pissed that she couldn't get out so she pulled and tugged on the basement door until she got it open about an inch. She surveyed the situation, found a nice long bread knife and sawed through the rope!  Tne next day Bompa nailed a two by four across the door!  

Did you know I was on tv last night???

Last night around 10 pm I went into Bompa's "apartment", he lives with us if you didn't already know that. He added onto our house a year before Gram passed away.  Prior to that they lived 6 doors up the street so I could run up and down the street between the 2 houses.  Anyway, I went to get him headed to bed.  He had been watching the Yankee game (I record the RedSox for him to watch the next morning).  I told him I was going to bed.  He said you have to wait 5 minutes.  Because Christine Kisling is going to be on tv.  I said oh really.  Yes he says, can you go ahead so I can show you.  Uh no you're watching live tv and I'm not in New York right now, I'm here talking to you.   So he says, if you wait long enough you'll see that you're on tv.  There is, of course, no point in arguing.  Then he says just go to my channel.  I said Bompa you don't have a channel.  He says yeah on the cell phone I have a channel and if you put the picture of you into that thing that does pictures you'll see.  I'm speechless at this point I have no where to go with this story.  He then says, well you probably don't have time to do it tonight we can do it tomorrow.  Ok I say!  Then I'm about to turn and leave when he says...I couldn't sleep last night so I got up and watched the first 2 innings of the Red Sox game and then I fell asleep and when I woke up I watched the last two innings.  I'm thinking, no ya didn't cuz you don't know how to work the dvd, but i don't argue.  He explains that the Red SOx have to play 2 innings over again because the players couldn't agree on the rules before the game.  This explanation continued for 30 minutes and ended with the first selectman from Hebron CT (his hometown) finally settling the Red Sox dispute and allowing the game to be played again!

where to begin...

During the day Bompa is much more lucid and knows how to do most things...but when he first got his rascal scooter, he took it out for a ride around the backyard.  When he got out as far as he could go, I saw him start messing with the levers that keep the steering column straight and the seat straight and I thought what is he doing?   Well, after a few moments, he drove around close to where I was and I asked him how it was going.  He said "how do I drop the blade down?"   Uh, Bompa, it's not a mower it's just for riding around!  He has spent so much of his life on his riding mower that he thought that's what he was driving.   I thought to myself, I really ought to just set him up on the mower.  He'd probably do a great job!

Welcome to the Wacky World of Alzheimer's - Humor is Sanity!

Hey Everybody, 
      I decided to start a blog about my adventure's with Alzheimer's Disease.  As all of my friends know, my Gramma had Alzheimer's for about 10 years before she died peacefully in her sleep holding my hand.  It sucked to watch the woman who made me the person I am today get stolen from us by this ugly, miserable disease.    Between my grandfather, Bompa, and I, we rode the roller coaster together up and down every hill and around every turn, until it finally ended in March of 2008. It made us closer than ever before.  I mean, I have always loved my Bompa, but growing up I did much more girl stuff with Gramma, and shared my secrets and dreams with her.  But caring for her took both of us, and we were a great team.  It wasn't easy.  But I know in my soul that we did everything right.  We would have made her proud!    And although it was a daily struggle, I more so than Bompa, found humor in the odd behaviors.   And being silly and laughing about those things made it bearable.  So I will preface my stories by saying, if you are at all offended by them, stop reading them. The reality is Alzheimer's Disease SUCKS and laughter is my therapy!  And for those of you who don't know yet...a month ago, my Bompa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I'm back on the roller coaster.  Changes in him are happening very fast and I'm gonna need all the laughter I can get.   So if you're interested, jump on for the ride!