Friday, October 16, 2009

A Night at the Theatre

Last Thursday dad and I went to a film screening of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington being shown at the William G. McGowan Theatre at The National Archives. Special guest Robert Osborne Historian and host of Turner Classic Movies was in attendance and gave an introduction to the movie. We had a great time. I had seen the movie before but never like this. It was really neat to see Jimmy Stewart and the beautiful Jean Arthur up on the big screen.It was a free program that I read about a few weeks ago in the paper.
I knew dad would love it, and he really did. I cherish these special moments we spend together, and the sparkle he has in his eye on happy days like this. It's such a blessing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Only 10 Days 'till Memory Walk 2009

Only 10 days until Memory Walk 2009 on the National Mall here in DC. Eeeeek... I still haven't reached my fund raising goal yet. This is a great cause but I need your support. Check out my donation page here. Even a small donation would help out a great deal.

This is a noble cause. We are walking to help make a difference in the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer's and their families.

God is Love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No News is Good News

When ever I check the mail dad always asks if there is anything for him. If I reply "no" he often says "Well no news is good news". Ain't that the truth. I haven't posted in a while which is a good thing. There hasn't been much to report because things have been going a lot smoother lately. Dad's doctor has put him on an anti-depressant called Citalopram and it has really helped A LOT. My dad's mood is much more positive and we are communicating better. It has taken a lot of the strain off of our visits and I am actually enjoying our time together more, and I think he feels the same way. So I am very happy about that.

God Bless

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mineral Oil - Not Cancer

My father and I just came from his doctor's appointment to follow up on the surgery. It has been confirmed that the mass that was removed from his lung was not a cancerous tumor but....

Aspiration Pneumonia Mineral Oil
Mass like
Alveolar features
Kerley lines: Interstitial feature, as it is being transported to lymphatics
Myxoedematous patient, taking mineral oil for constipation.

Caused by my dad's use of mineral oil as a stool softener. This was a most welcome surprise! No chemotherapy, no radiation and he is healing just fine. A physical therapist comes twice a week and they exercise his now significantly smaller left lung, but so far so good.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Very Sad

I just read this article about a 40 year old man who suffers from early onset Alzheimer's that went undiagnosed for four years. This story is so very sad and unfortunately becoming more and more common. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Wasn't Expecting This

I haven't posted in a while and here is why...

Well after spending Father's Day in the ER I received a call from the radiologist that told me that the CT scan showed a spiculated nodule (fancy word for tumor) on my dad's left lung. Fast forward three weeks later and my dad is now in recovery from having a Lobectomy. The tumor was found to be cancerous and the entire lower lobe on his left lung was removed. Thankfully the cancer had not shown signs of spreading to the lymph nodes or anywhere else in the body.

The craziest part is that if my dad had not fallen and broken his ribs we would not have even known about the cancer. Even further affirmation for me that all of our steps are guided by God. He has a plan for us all, we may not understand it at the time but it has a purpose. Given my dad's age and other prevalent health concerns I was worried about complications during the surgery. I finally found peace in the hospitals chapel while waiting for my dad to come out of surgery. In thinking about how we came to discover my dad's cancer I now trust that the Lord is looking over and protecting my dad.

God Bless

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day in the ER

I had been planning this years Father's Day festivities for about two weeks. Nothing crazy just me and my dad enjoying dinner on the terrace of our favorite restaurant the Taberd Inn. Well unfortunately we did not have the Father's Day I was hoping for.

I called my dad yesterday morning to wish him a happy Papa Day and let him know what time I was planning to pick him up. Then I learned that the day before he had a dizzy spell and fell down in the bathroom. His torso landed on the edge of the bathtub, although he was not bathing so it was not a slip. He described it as losing his equilibrium. After learning this I immediately rushed over to his house, packed him up and took him to the ER.

He has three fractured ribs (above x-ray is not actually him) and a spiculated nodul (lump on his lung). The doctor's main concern is that he could get pneumonia if he does not do his breathing exercises and expand his lungs at least 8 times every hour.

On our way back from the ER we ended up having take-out Chinese food. I got his perscription filled and I put him to bed. Thank God he is okay, but it was not how I imagined spending the day with my dad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lipitor and Memory Loss

I attended my monthly elder care support group yesterday and the topic of adverse drug interactions was brought up. Another participant pointed out that there was an observational study written in the Wall Street Journal that suggests that Lipitor may contribute to memory loss. There is no concrete evidence to support this. Although participants in this study who switched from Lipitor to other statins were relieved of their cognitive symptoms.

Here is the link to the article...

Here is another link that I found very useful. It tells you how the drugs you or your loved one may be taking interact with one another.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's the Climb

There is something so spiritually majestic about mountains. I spent part of my life living in the Shenandoah Valley and I really enjoy the beauty of mountain ranges. I draw on many types of symbolic inspiration from mountains, and the one most prominent is the climb. I’ve been hearing this song on the radio a lot recently. When I googled it I was surprised to learn the artist is Miley Cyrus. Her music isn’t just for tweens and teeny boppers anymore. It’s all grown up.

The Climb (Chorus)
There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

I hope this inspires you as much as it inspired me.
God Bless

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On the Move

I decided to participate in the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's on the National Mall. I am putting a team together and our name is Knowing is Half the Battle. Not very original I know. But that is how I felt when I found out that my dad has AD. I said to myself "well at least now I know". My goal is to recruit 10 people onto my team. I hope we raise a lot of money because this is a worthy cause.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Father of the Bride

One of the worst things about this disease is that the suffers unfortunately lose much of who they are. He is still in the fairly early stages of AD, so these personality changes are not really recognized by others. Friends say "well he is old and that is how older people are", and that may be true. But I can see him slipping away.

My father and I were once very close, well we are still close but things have changed between us. There is a tension there that didn't exist before. Like I said I am an only child, daddy's little girl. Now that I am not only his daughter but also caregiver, dietitian, secretary, accountant, therapist, and mother; we don't get along as well any more and it makes me really sad :(

I am getting married next year and I really want my dad to be there. I want him to walk me down the aisle, and kiss me on the forehead. I want to dance with him to "What a Wonderful World" and have the whole room oh and ah. Sure he will be there physically, but I'm not sure about mentally. I wish I could go back 10 years to the way we were back then.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seems the National Spotlight is on Alzheimer's Disease

I was on my way home from work on the subway yesterday and I saw an advertisement that read What's the Cost of Alzheimer's to Today's Workforce?. Constant leave, job loss, poor work performance just to name a few. I was struck by this question and I would like to know statistically what is the cost? I haven't finished digging for facts yet, but there are many examples of the sacrifices caregivers have to make in the HBO series The Alzheimer's Project. During a quite emotional segment entitled The Fence, one daughter gave up her job in the city to move to her mother's farm. She works the land and spins yarn from the live stock just to make ends meat. Her sense of loneliness and desperation was palpable. I just wanted to reach into the TV and give her a big hug. What an amazing job HBO did by the way. In any given installment of the 5 part series I can cry or I can smile, often times both.

I think it's great that the national spotlight is being put on this terrible disease. Only then can we hope to fight it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Dropped the "A" Bomb

I came straight out and told my dad his diagnosis verbatim from the doctor's notes. He pretty much just nodded. I asked him "how do you feel about it?" and he said "I'm frustrated but I guess there is nothing I can do." He didn't seem worried. I think I am more worried then he is. I am more and more confident that he should move into an "Independent Living" facility (as opposed to assisted living). I found a fantastic one and we even dined there a week ago. I asked him when he would be ready to move. He told me that he had to get his books in order first. His house is a mini-library. He doesn't want me to rush him, but he does acknowledge that it is a necessary step (Thank God).

I am anxious to get him in because I also want to find a therapist in the vicinity of the retirement home. I don't think he is depressed, but I think he needs an outlet and it would be very beneficial to him. There are some things he holds back from me, and that is okay as long as he gets them out and shares them with somebody.

With love, God bless

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

All You Need is Love

My name is Cynthia. I am an only child and I am the primary caregiver for my father who suffers from early Alzheimer's disease. My father is 76 years old... I am 24. This is my story, my journal if you will. There will be a lot of tough love on this blog, but it is LOVE. Some people may not agree with my approach, and that is fine. I can accept the fact that I am imperfect, but I know that I am doing the best that I can do with the cards that I have been dealt. I also know that they were dealt to me for a reason, that of which I do not question for a second.

My father was diagnosed on April 14, 2009 with Alzheimer's dementia with component of micro-vascular dementia. An MRI from one year ago showed moderate cortical atrophy as well as changes common with micro-vascular disease. The doctors asked my father after his exam if he wanted to know the diagnosis. He said "No". I have told him that the doctors said he suffers from dementia. He does not know that it is most likely due to AD. I don't know how to tell him.

God help me.