This is dementia. It's not just a memory problem.
What you read in this blog is purely my own personal experience in dealing with Lewy Body Dementia every day.

This is not meant to offer any medical or legal advise.
I have no professional training in care giving or experiences in formal writing.
I'm just a woman that loves her husband deeply and wants to provide him with the best quality of life he can and chooses to have.
My prayer though this is "Lord, What am I learning from this; how can I use it help someone else and to glorify You?"
If just one person finds comfort in this public blog. I will feel like it was a success.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dr Grumpy

In all of my married life, 31 yrs, Hubby has had maybe 3 ER visits for himself. broken ribs (fast shower half time of a football game), asthma attack and kidney stone (hated seeing him like that but funny as all get out when he got some loopy meds).
But in the last few months, Lewy had sent us to the ER 3 times.
Lewy Body Dementia presents itself with symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
From the lbda.org website Parkinsonism or Parkinson's Disease symptoms, take the form of changes in gait; the person may shuffle or walk stiffly. There may also be frequent falls. Body stiffness in the arms or legs, or tremors may also occur. Parkinson's mask (blank stare, emotionless look on face), stooped posture, drooling and runny nose may be present.
Hubby lives with all of these symptoms and the one that scares me, is the falling.

As a matter of fact, it was the falling that made me decide to seek Home Health Care. The day I was gone from home and returned to evidence Hubby had fallen but even worse, Hubby didn't remember what he had hit. You can read about "That Wash Woman" Here.

Hubby had taken a fall in the bathroom the other night.
He's taken some doozies in the past but always was determined that he didn't need to go to the Dr. Our stubborn heads butted many times about this. He won all the times but 2. This last time he didn't even argue and agreed to a late night visit to the ER. You know it was bad when he said yes.

His complaint was his back, we called the ambulance for transport. I grabbed our Emergency Bag and the Folder I had put together with Hubby's info. See my folder items here.
When the ambulance arrived I gave them the short version of the situation and about Lewy. They loaded Hubby and turned to me for info and I smiled really BIG, handed them the folder and declared, I'm about to make your night! And apparently I did because the look of confusion went to delight when they realized the treasure trove of information they had and it was theirs to keep! They went on and on about it :)
Hmm, now I wonder if I should have been all smiles while they were wheeling my husband off to the ambulance for a trip to the hospital. #visiblyconcernedwifefail

Next stop the ER. I went inside to present Hubby's info as the EMT personnel carried Hubby to the back. I was informed that I would be notified when they had him in a room. I politely took a seat away from as many of the obviously sick wall to wall people in the waiting room. Seriously, the flu has hit our area hard. And a posted sign stated that the wait time for minor cases was going to be 3 hrs. ! People just kept coming as I sat there.

As I waited patiently to be notified what room Hubby was in, I overheard one man I truly believed was not a minor case as he spoke loudly and rudely to his grandmother on the phone. I doubted it wasn't his finger he needed looked at. It was obvious he needed a serious attitude adjustment, and quick! >:|

After a 20 min wait I finally walked back up to the desk and asked about Hubby's room. I was buzzed through and Hubby had already been to and back from X-ray.
Everyone that worked with Hubby or had contact with us was very kind and concerned and attentive. It surprised Hubby to learn that the man that came in and told us who the Dr would be and took Hubby's vitals was his nurse. 

Hubby asked "Who was that?" I explained it was his nurse and Hubby was confused and I laughed when he said "That GUY?" 
Yep Hubby, men are nurses too. LOL!!

Another man marched into the room. The results were in and they showed a very small fracture to Hubby's T12 vertebrae. The man held up his fingers to show the approximate size of the fracture. He gruffly continued, There was no danger of any spinal cord injury to worry about. It's going to hurt like crazy, but if you think he can tolerate the pain take him home and give him meds.  The man quizzed me on meds and I gave him a short lesson on Lewy and pain meds and what Hubby was already taking. At this point I'm deciding this must be the Dr. I didn't see a name tag so I named him Dr Grumpy in my head. Dr Grumpy told me to double Hubby's current meds for his pain, then he turned and marched out. No hello, no goodbye from Dr Grumpy.  

I didn't let Dr Grumpy or the circumstances distress me, I actually saw a positive in the situation. Since we have to live with Lewy Body Dementia I use every opportunity to educate about it. This was Hubby's first trip to the ER in the night. This meant a new group of people to meet and share. I did.
Hubby was discharged for home.

Between Hubby's shot of Demerol at the hosp and his pain meds at home he slept the rest of the night. Good for us both.
The next day Hubby did well, still in pain but he slept most of the day.
Then the night came.
Hubby was calling out every couple of hours, even in his sleep. Neither of us rested well. 
I have a call in to his PCP to see if we can do something else for the pain.
Of course I'm worried about meds and worsening cognition changes but after last night I'll do whatever we need to keep Hubby pain free. I'm praying hard.

Today Hubby is still suffering with pain and is extra extra needy. 
I'm afraid to touch him because he hollers out but he needs my help with everything. Like getting up to go to the bathroom, getting in and out of the bed and the wheelchair, covering up and most recently he called me to help him divide a piece of candy evenly for the dogs to share. Really Hubby?! :/ LOL!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kat in a bag

Somebody dropped a young cat off in Sister in law's neighborhood.
It found it's way to her home and to her dogs food and decided to take up residence.
SIL, not being a cat person, needed to get rid of Cat so she called me, Cat Lady, and I agreed to take the cat if it could be caught.
A few days later Brother In Law shows up at the house, bright and early wearing gloves and carrying a pillow case with, 
you guessed it, 
Cat inside.
We decided to put the pillow case down next to the cat food and open it.
Sure enough as soon as that pillow case was opened, Cat jumped out, straight up a wall, across a window screen, off the porch and shot across the yard into the woods.
I think the cat was black.

I called and called for it throughout the day, hoping it would come back or I would see a glimpse of it.
I finally gave up, hoping Cat would come back to the food once it settled down.
A couple of days later it did. Very nervous but hey, if your life started out as a drop off then a pillow case trap and dump, you would be nervous too!
It's been a few weeks since then, it finally settled in to a box I set up for it and food. It's even friendly enough that I can pet it and lately it will run up to me for attention. Every now and then it will try to get inside the house. I think it likes it's new home and we are all adjusting.

You're saying to yourself, “This has NOTHING to do with caregiving, Kathy!”
Ahhh, but read on my dear friend and you will see.

Yesterday Hubby had a Mental Health Dr appointment. The appointment I've been dreading because Hubby had decided he wanted to talk to Dr about placement.
Over the last few weeks Hubby's desire to leave has increased. He even decided to stop taking ALL of his meds. Just like that. So he did.
I can hear some of you gasping, but think for a moment, what is is REALLY going to do that's worse than dementia?
I didn't fuss or insist. The inner struggle to hold on had to loosen it's grip. It is such a very difficult thing to do.

Some of the meds he takes such as Depakote relieved his anxiety and anger issues he experienced as a result of his PTSD. Since stopping I haven't noticed an increase with those issues any more than what he was already experiencing before stopping. I know there is nothing physically he can do to anyone or himself and I can walk away when the hurtful words come.

The Galantamine he was prescribed when he was diagnosed with his Lewy Body did such a wonderful job at the beginning that I wanted to kiss the makers. I saw such a positive change in Hubby's cognition and as time went on, the dosage was increased to it's max and although I was not seeing any positive's from continuing that med, I was afraid to have it stopped because I saw what it did and was worried about where he would be without it. Apparently it was no longer effective because I have not noticed any sudden(?)different declines in cognition.

I said in an earlier post that Hubby and I have had some serious talks and we have cried separately and together over some of the things he is experiencing.
Because of these emotional breakdowns I was able to talk Hubby into taking his antidepressant to help him feel a little more stable. He agreed. Because of the pain he experiences in his back and neck he also agreed to take his pain meds. I said there was no reason for him to suffer with pain.

At the Dr appointment Hubby mentioned that he felt a little more shaky. Part of his LewyBody symptoms is shaking. When asked he said he thought more about death and dying and he had no thoughts about how to make things better. When I was asked how he was I explained about the meds stopping and how Hubby had been angry and sad and how he wanted to leave even if it meant placement. Hubby agreed.
The pillow case was opened,
I think my brain exploded and leaked out of my eyes so I wont be able to tell exactly what all conversation was said.
I was asked if I had spoken to the Social worker. I jumped out of the pillow case, straight up a wall, across the window screen and porch and off into the woods, just like Cat. I shook my head, I can't talk to her.
MH Dr was so supportive. He said the same things I did, Nothing was permanent. If you voluntarily check in you can check out. Lets just get the info we need to make an informed decision. There is no right or wrong with these decisions. We are doing the best we can and it's smart to think ahead.
He said all the things I have said to myself and in support of others. But I wasn't coming out of the woods.

We all agreed that it was okay to have stopped the meds if that is what Hubby wanted but he was keeping them active in case Hubby changed his mind about them.
Side note: I LOVE my team! Always having Hubby's best interests at heart.
MH Dr. offered to have the social worker call us to get the info we would need for placement should we choose to go through with it.

So, right now, there the food sits on the porch and I'm waiting in the woods, just like Cat. Afraid to move and hiding out.

We all think we know exactly what we will do in any given circumstance but until you are actually faced with it, we just do not know how we will react. Right now as long as I don't have to think about it too much all is well. But in those still quiet moments, or when Hubby is having a moment those feelings rush in and overtake my heart. I keep reminding myself that my plans are not God's plans. He has a bigger and better plan for me and for Hubby. I need to trust Him and follow keeping my eyes on Jesus and not on the storm. It looks like a pretty big storm brewin. So I'm in prayer that the Spirit calms my heart and clears my head so I can walk out of the woods, like Cat. 
I know when I do I'll find a warm box and a bowl of food. 
Just not today though.