Category Archives: Life goes on…

The Curse of Dementia…or is it?

For the past couple of years my family has been watching as my dad slowly slips away from us. He has dementia. This condition has reduced a once strong and independent man to a shadow; a wispy wraith trapped within a failing mind and body. I cannot think of a more insidious jailer than this. It has robbed him, and us, of life and liberty and locked him in a cell that is growing darker and smaller with each passing day.

A Bit about Dementia

For those unfamiliar with this condition, let me share a bit of what I’ve been able to learn. Dementia, according to one source, is not a true ‘disease,’ but rather the symptoms of various kinds of brain disorders. There are several underlying causes for dementia. The one that, I believe, effects dad is a type of Vascular Dementia. I had the opportunity to speak with a neurologist who had done an MRI on dad. He explained that the scans revealed evidence of many small strokes. This, coupled with his coronary disease and other risk factors, had ultimately led to his present condition. However, in our day when medical science can ‘fix’ many things, dementia is not one of them.

Back Story

Without going into a detailed, biographical sketch, I’d like to share a bit about events that have led us to this place. As I stated above, dad was predisposed to this condition. Eventually, it was destined to overtake him. But, I believe, there were life events that occurred which caused the disease to grow and flourish. This process has not been proven clinically. It is simply the fruit of my observations.

My parents were married a long time. 62 years. My mom was dad’s life. He adored her. He was the faithful vassal to his Queen. When she became ill, he doted on her. You could not find a more devoted care giver. Ultimately, though, she became too frail for him. We had to find a place where she could receive the skilled treatment and watchful attendance that she required. While this was a difficult adjustment for dad, he adapted. He spent every available moment with her. He sat at her bedside. When she was able, he would take her for rides in the car. His life and hers developed a kind of symbiosis. Maybe, that’s what the Scripture meant when the writer inscribed the words, “and they shall become one flesh.”

In 2010 mom passed. Her weak body, wracked by many infirmities, simply could not carry the life within her any longer. For dad…he lost his Beloved. Many prayers and hugs and tears were shared in those days. Dad slipped into a deep depression that lasted for months. We took him to counselors. His doctor prescribed anti-depressants. We spent more time with him, trying to console him. No, to distract him. But, the only thing that we witnessed was the dementia driving an ever increasing distance between him and reality.

End Game

Within one year the dementia became problematic. Dad’s memory was failing rapidly. He started to forget to take his meds. He would forget to eat. The fragments of memory that he could retrieve became more disjointed and confused. We were able to get the V.A. to provide some in-home care. My brother and I began to go over daily to see that he ate and took his medication. But, even these efforts could not impede the relentless progress of the dementia. Like a tsunami it pushed further and further, drowning and destroying the person that was our dad.

Ultimately, we had to acquiesce and make arrangements for him to live in a skilled nursing facility. As much as we would like, we simply cannot care for all of his needs. We enlisted a local hospice to oversee his medical needs. We had to face the realization that his sojourn would soon be over.

Blessing in Disguise?

A few days ago I was with dad. In the midst of his semi-coherent ramblings, I noticed he made several references to mom as if she was alive. She was just in another room somewhere. At first I was sad that he was becoming so confused. I was angry that he had been reduced to living in such a broken and fragmented world. One of the hospice nurses had explained to me that people with this condition try to access any pieces of memory, no matter how small or disconnected, in order to make sense of their world. Dad was finding the memories that made his world acceptable. Perhaps, in the small room that is his world, he built a place of solace. His sadness and depression have passed. In this world he has as many experiences available to him as a kaleidoscope has shapes and colors. His broken mind randomly juxtaposes the fragments of his memories to create a world, while unreal to us, is very real to him. In this world he has peace. In this world the pain and loss are whisked away. In this world, his Beloved is just in the next room.

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Welcome to a new Blog Home

I’m a writer. I write about what I think is important at the time. I write about stuff that just needs to get out of my heart and head. (This stuff’ll drive you crazy if you don’t let it out!) I write about topics that interest me. I respond to bloggers in other universes. Mostly, I write cuz I gotta write.

For the past few years I’ve been living over at Blogger. It’s been a really great time! But, I think that it’s time to move to new digs. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs, and a vast majority of them swear by WordPress. So, here I am. As time goes on I’ll add some fun stuff…widgets and images and stuff to make this a tad homey-er.

I’ve imported my posts from Blogger so that they may be readily available for you or me. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. Feel free to scroll through them. They will give you a better idea of who I am.

Hopefully, on this leg of my journey I’ll get the chance to meet you.

Won’t you take a minute to introduce yourself. Join in the conversation and let’s write!

Moods and the Necessity of Keeping On

Again, it’s been awhile since I posted anything here. Honestly, I just haven’t felt like sitting in front of my computer and creating something that I think someone…anyone…would want to read. Now, for someone who enjoys writing, that can present quite a dilemma. What happens when a writer just doesn’t feel like writing? I don’t know. What happens when a doctor doesn’t feeling like ‘doctoring’? Ok, that’s not the same. But, you get what I’m alluding to. I have plenty to write about. That’s not the problem. And, hopefully over the next week I’ll get some of that out here. No. My issue has been that I just haven’t been motivated to do this.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that as I have been praying over the last year and a half about vocation, I keep being impressed by one word. ‘Write.’ My response to this voice has been, ‘Ok! Great! Uh, write what?’ That’s a pretty big question. If God wants someone to write, you’d think that there would be some kind of follow-up. “Ok, now here is the inspiration. I have a project in mind and I want you to get ‘er done! Write this…..”
Well, that’s not how it works, apparently. Recently, however, I have been motivated to move forward. With what, I’m not sure. But, since it’s harder to hit a moving target, I thought I’d better get to locomoting. I’ve set a deadline of May 31st to have a project set. Not sure if it will be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or a ‘project to be named later.’
That’s where I am this morning. Fortunately, I am on vacation for the next 10 days. Who knows what the next week will bring? Already, this A.M. I had a memory return to the front of my brain. A memory of adolescent love. Hmmm…. For those who know me well, this could be a dangerous endeavor. But, one must follow where the muse leads, I guess.
I’ll try to update this blog from time-to-time about this leg of my journey. But, getting the brain and hands to communicate can sometimes prove problematic. We’ll see. After all, it is a journey…not a project.

Arrogance of Medical Doctors Ticks Me Off

I’m sure that many folks in this country have experienced this. You ask a doctor a question and they, condescendingly, ask what your medical background is. Like whatever they may say is so far above your puny comprehension that they cannot be bothered with such things. Or, you tell a doctor that the course of treatment they are taking is not working. They say, ‘Trust me’. They think that they cannot possibly be mistaken. After all, they have gone to medical school and done their residency and now are gods that can pronounce truth and justice to the uneducated minions.
I’ve had this happen to me twice. The first time my mother had just had a very serious surgery. One of the pieces of equipment that was designed to safeguard her failed. Because of that, the doctors gave her too much fluid and almost killed her. During her recovery I went to the attending physician and asked about her condition. He looked at me and asked me what my medical experience was. I looked at him and said that I didn’t have any. I was the concerned family member that he was going to talk to…NOW! That got his attention and he took pains to explain what was happening. As a result, we moved my mother to a facility that was far better equipped to help her.
This past week another doctor tried to impress with her vast medical knowledge and experience. My father has been in a skilled nursing facility for rehab from surgery. During his stay he became restless and, as the staff reported, combative. I can see that. He has dementia and doesn’t understand much of what is going on around him. The staff physician prescribed a medication that was supposed to settle him down. After a couple days, we noticed that he was becoming agitated and unresponsive. We asked to review his meds and found one that could cause the symptoms we observed. When I questioned the doctor, she assured me that the meds were safe. There was nothing about them that could cause what we were observing. The problem was, we KNEW his behavior. We have been attending to him for the last year and are very aware of all of his issues. What we were seeing was something drastically new and dangerous. We continued to question the doctor. She continued to tell us to ‘trust’ her judgement. Finally, after more than a week, the doctor started to take us seriously. We had told her and the nursing staff that Dad’s behavior was abnormal and most likely caused by the meds he was getting. (Now, it helps that I’m married to a Nurse who deals with these meds. She was instrumental in helping us get our message across to the attending staff. But, what about everyone else who does NOT have someone to help?)
Anyway, the doc discontinued the medication that we suspected was causing problems. Gee, after one day Dad’s condition has improved. Whodathunkit?
My point in this rant is that medical professionals, particularly M.D.s, cop an attitude of omniscience that only Yahweh can claim. Family and friends, those who are with the patients day after day, can help when it comes to abrupt and drastic changes in behavior and condition. For these doctors to simply blow off our concerns and observations is simply arrogance. Arrogance that could very well cause harm. Perhaps they should read the Oath again…I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I wish that I could be a Worker-Bee

There are times when I wish that I could just be a worker bee. Give me a task and let me do it. No thought. No reflection. Just action. I’d be happy just to do my job and fulfill everyone’s expectations. But, I’m not. I require reasons and some kind of purpose to do things. I expect some sort of fulfillment in the work that I do. I cannot simply do what I am told. I don’t respect authority that cannot prove that it has a right to exist. Titles, (like pastor, elder, senator, president), mean nothing to me. Rank, be it class, race, or gender is a useless designation. For me, respect matters. Servant leadership by peers matters. Goals matter. Money, prestige and power will automatically turn me against the source. No, I’m no worker bee. I’m an adversary.
There are some folks can simply choose to follow the rules and live a “godly” life. They go to work every day and live quietly and, I guess, contentedly. Then, there are those like me. We are agitated. And, we agitate. We do not have peace. We are driven to excess. We are not satisfied. (Please, don’t come to me with any kind of status quo argument. You won’t even get a hearing.) But, for many like me, there is no clear direction. There is no place for our energy to go. Consequently, we are the frustrated ones. We are depressed. We are the ones that folks talk about when they say ‘melancholy.’ And, all too often we let that paralyze us. With no clear direction, we sit…and, not very patiently. What I do know is that as I sit here with no outlet for the passion that God has built into me. A passion that roils and churns like magma looking for a weak spot to vent. If I can’t find such a place, I am in danger of exploding with catastrophic results.
Those like me drive fast and live hard. We read the scripture and see God’s passion and relentless love on the pages. We do not ‘get’ the forensic crap that many of our fellow travelers take for granted. We certainly DO NOT view the scripture as some kind of “users’ manual.” To reduce the Word of God to such a utilitarian ‘to do’ list is quite simply bull-oney. We see Jesus willing to heal. Jesus, the One who accepted women and lepers and pharisees and tax collectors. We can see ourselves in the Good Samaritan. Now, there was a person who disregarded the conventions of the day and did what was right. We get ‘pissed off’ at people who want to quote some kind of dogmatic position that makes someone…anyone…seem less than human. We don’t buy into ANY legalistic position that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that we are dust and, somehow, Yahweh still loves us.
I don’t know why God has made me, as a fellow traveler described, a Poet & a Lunatic. Someone who sees faces in the clouds and who takes a sideways glance at the supposed solid things in the cosmos. Someone who enjoys a good problem to solve and a taste of good Irish triple distilled. But, one thing I am quite sure of…I am not a worker bee.

Be Still and Know that I Am God

Be still and know that I am God.
I get up in the morning and rush to eat and get my coffee
Be still and know that I am God.
Hurriedly, I take 1 hour, no more, no less for prayer and meditation
Be still and know that I am God.
Throw food in a bag a run off to the salt mine
Be still and know that I am God.
Put out imaginary fires and ping-ping like a Balley ball
Be still and know that I am God.
70 MPH home to workout, feed Bill, eat, crash…crash…crash
Be still and know that I am God.
Sleep, dream, toss, awaken…………….
I get up in the morning and rush to eat and get my coffee
Be still and know that I am God.

International Women’s Day

I was going to wait until tomorrow to get into this topic. But, I found out that today is International Women’s Day. So, I thought better of it and am going to share this now. One of the things that I’ve been trying work through for the past few years is the idea of egalitarianism. It’s more than abundantly clear that the Biblical witness testifies to the equality of gender. There is no longer any male or female in the body of Christ. We are all Yahweh’s children. As such, we are compelled to love and respect one another as equal beneficiaries of God’s grace and mercy. That’s why it breaks my heart to read reports such as this:
http://news.yahoo.com/half-girls-south-sudan-forced-marry-140334618.html
We talk about equality in this country. Yet, we are mostly ignorant of what happens in other parts of the world. It seems inconceivable, (yes, I like The Princess Bride), that this kind of activity can still happen in the 21st century. It should be! Yet, in many parts of the world women and girls are considered property for the benefit of the male population, bought and sold like cattle. As Christ followers, we are under a mandate to express God’s love to ALL creation. Hey, folks…that includes women. Yet, we in the West tend to gravitate to hot button issues like abortion and education and 2nd amendment crap, while real, human, flesh and blood females are being treated worse than many of us would treat our pets. I don’t know about y’all, but I cannot sit idly by and do/say nothing. This must end!