The Mom & Me Journals dot Net
The definitive, eccentric journal of an unlikely caregiver, continued.

Apologia for these journals:
    They are not about taking care of a relative with moderate to severe Alzheimer's/senile dementia.
    For an explanation of what these journals are about, click the link above.
    For internet sources that are about caring for relatives with moderate to severe
        Alzheimer's/senile dementia, click through the Honorable Alzheimer's Blogs in my
        links section to the right.

7 minute Audio Introduction to The Mom & Me Journals [a bit dated, at the moment]

Friday, November 13, 2009
This will be my official "More Changes" post.
    I was reminded of yet another change while watching, this afternoon, a TCM movie I'd DVR'ed a while ago, Once Upon A Time in the West. I don't know why I wasn't consciously aware of this change before because it's been going on since the day my mother died, or, well, maybe a few days after her death, since I and none of my family who came to visit that week used the TV or DVR for a couple of days into that week. The change has to do with TV volume. It's no longer necessary for the TV volume to be at "20" or higher. It wasn't uncommon, either, when my mother watched TV, for the volume to be at "35" to "45". For some movies and shows that were recorded at low volume, I can remember taking the volume all the way up to "63", which is the highest of which our TV is capable. Since my mother died the volume sits anywhere between "10" and "15". I think, occasionally, for low volume recordings, I may have taken it up as high as "20", but I can't be sure. I just turned the TV on to The Weather Channel, turned it up to "20" and that seems earsplittingly high, now. I'm grateful that my hearing didn't suffer from the TV volume that suited my mother. As some of you may recall, the police were once called on us here in Prescott because of the TV volume. That incident remains one of my (many) favorite memories of our adventure together.
    I've not completely stopped using closed captioning or movie subtitles, but it's nice not to have to use them, as CC typically cuts into part of the video (not usually true of DVD subtitling, though). However, I'm glad I know how to trigger it, especially when I'm watching something that features someone who mumbles instead of talks.

    One other change. I don't eat nearly as much meat as I did when my mother was alive. She needed it because of her chronic iron deficiency anemia and I don't dislike meat, so I ate it along with her. Previous to living with her, though, I used meat more as a condiment than as a "main event" and was happy with this. Without thinking about it, I've gone back to this way of eating. I can't say I feel "better" than I did when my mother and I ate according to what she needed and we both liked, but I don't feel "worse", either.

    From now on, when I think of a change, I'll look up this post, add the change here and date it within the post. So that it'll be easier for me to get to both, I'll add both this and the original "changes" post to the Mom & Me Journals Special Posts section over there in the Links section to the right.

Amended 11/22/09:
    Yet another change that's dated back to a week after my mother died: This home produces so much less garbage that I typically put the bins on the curb for collection once every two to three weeks. I wait until they are about two thirds full. When Mom was alive both the recycling and the regular bin went out every week without fail and were full to the brim. More than a few times I'd have extra garbage that I would have to save until the following week for collection. Much of the garbage produced was my mother's disposable briefs (which we called her "paper underwear", which went over much better with my mother) and the other paper products which made caring for her much easier and much more sanitary.
    I am astonished, now, when I think about how much garbage caring for an Ancient One produces. A good half or more is not currently recyclable, at least not in this country. Makes me wonder about the fate of landfills when my own Boomer generation reaches The Age of Disposable Product Maintenance. It's also hard not to consider how much less garbage we would have produced if I'd, for instance, used washable briefs and cleaning/catching cloths more. I wondered, too, how much more work would have been added to an already very busy day and how much reusable briefs, especially, would have increased the number of washes I did, thus, the amount of hot water and electricity used. I decided to google "adult diaper services". With "omitted results included" I got 10 listings, so this type of service doesn't seem to be particularly popular. I discovered, though, that reusable adult incontinence products that don't contribute to the waste stream and mimic typical briefs do exist. Here's a sampling of what's available. Wish I'd known about these. Yes, they're expensive, but significantly less so when I consider how many disposable pads and briefs I bought for my mother throughout our years together during which she was incontinent. It's hard to tell from the ads, too, how absorbent they are, thus, how many per day I would have used and how much they would have increased my use of our washing machine and dryer. In the last two years or so of my mother's life I was doubling up the heaviest duty disposable briefs and adding heavy duty disposable pads inside the inner diaper for her "night sleep" and, in varying degrees, for her nap, too. This combination almost never got her through the night without urine reaching the soaker pad. More than half the time, though, this combination got her through naps. Typically, too, because of the "wick away" quality of disposable diaper materials, we were usually able to get away with three to four changes during the day (not including the night briefs) without compromising her skin quality and comfort. From the descriptions of the reusable briefs, I can't help but wonder how effective they would have been for a someone who is completely urine incontinent, as was my mother in her last few years.
    Out of curiosity, I toddled around the internet to see if anyone was addressing, at least, the issue of disposable adult briefs and recycling. I found a series of posts written at the Gilbert Guide by Gary Hirsh, "Incontinence Specialist". Yes, it's a commercial site and it sells products but the series is surprisingly even handed and informative. I learned, for instance, in this article why it is that most waste management systems (in the U.S., at least) allow used disposable briefs and diapers for infants and elders to be disposed of in the normal landfill waste stream: "viruses contained in human feces have not yet shown any danger to waste collection workers based on current collection methods". My local waste management system is one of these. I looked up biohazard guidelines pertaining to soiled incontinence products and discovered that hospitals and medical facilities are not necessarily required to dispose of them using biohazard disposal guidelines; they aren't even necessarily required to treat the products before adding them to the "normal waste stream". It should be noted, though, that a little further research alerted me that there is growing concern that disposable incontinence products should be considered a biohazard. This article rates the biodegradability of all the components in adult disposable incontinence products. It also states staggering statistics about how adult disposable incontinence products have, in the last two decades, significantly overtaken the percentage of landfill space that child disposable diapers and briefs occupy. This article mentions that one of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint that disposable adult briefs are leaving is to use longer lasting diapers. It also mentions that while such products have been available in Europe for a long time, they are not easy to find in the U.S.
    At least we're beginning to address this problem. I can remember, some years ago, conducting much the same research and finding nothing of value about this topic.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Oh, yeah! Forgot to mention the holidays!
    My discomfort with the holidays remains the same as it was when my mother was alive, pre- and post-our-companionship. I know that I'll be spending Thanksgiving with family in Chandler but I haven't decided about Christmas, even though I was invited for that, too. I'm thinking I may simply trip down there post-holiday, while everyone's still off, rather than endure the spate of holiday events that crop up in their lives over Christmas. Last year it was fun, but I was numb and, anyway, I loved that my mother selected and provided the Christmas dinner for that celebration. I know, if she was capable of being aware of it, that she loved that, too. This year I'm not numb and don't have a catered Christmas dinner, courtesy of my mother, to offer. I've been invited for both holidays and I haven't exactly excused myself from the main Christmas celebration but I'll probably gently suggest my idea over Thanksgiving. I want to visit at that time, just to see everyone when they aren't het up in their usual extremely busy lives and, as well, my nephew has promised to take me shooting but, you know, I don't really want to "do" the actual holidays. That's normal for me. Decades normal for me (the second paragraph in the linked article clearly states my congenital attitude toward The Holidays).
    Even though my mother was Mrs. Christmas, I don't miss that, this year. Since I rather enjoyed some of it, in fact, I don't not miss it, either. I'll be putting up one of our small fiber optic trees, the one that my mother and I loved best and had the longest. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to decorating it, too, because we collected some great mini-decorations for it. I'm especially looking forward to gazing at its light display at night in a dark house. I'm sure I'm not going to miss preparing a special dinner for Thanksgiving or Christmas, nor am I going to miss "our" questionable attempts at holiday baking. Since my mom had dispensed with "the bother" of sending out Christmas cards a few years before she died, I'm not concerned about that, either, since I NEVER sent Christmas cards.
    The hospice organization that sponsors my grief support group is holding a holiday workshop next week. As the flyer states, it will provide "specific tools and strategies" that "can help you find ways to cope and to take care of yourself" during the holidays, since this time of year can be fraught with pitfalls for mourners of all stripes. One woman in our support group had an especially hard time over Halloween. Her husband was what could be described as a holiday maniac. For each holiday, no matter how seemingly insignificant, he had a holiday themed way of awakening her in the morning. "He was quite a character," she said, wistfully, after talking about what she missed during this years' Halloween.
    Even though I'm not feeling any more than my normal holiday dread, I'm planning on going to the workshop, primarily because I like getting together with my group mates and look forward to seeing them twice, next week. Secondarily, though, our facilitator mentioned that it's not uncommon for mourners to expect to have no holiday-related challenges and then find themselves unusually overcome with difficulty; or vice versa. Although I'm expecting no new problems (I sailed through my mother's birthday [month, since, at her insistence, we always treated the entire month of August as her month] and mine without a problem), I think it might be a good idea to be prepared, just in case. I know, for instance, that, although every year, except for last year, we made it a point to spend one evening in the car touring the area in which we lived (pre-2004 it was sometimes Mesa) to dazzle ourselves with holiday light and decorative displays, I don't think I'll be interested in doing that this year. Although I love holiday light displays as much as my mother did, my chief delight during these escapades, which always took place fairly late at night when the whim hit us and we knew the traffic would be such that we could stop in front of spectacular displays and study them, was enjoying and sharing her reaction. It was an activity, too, in which I never indulged before I became her companion, so it is exclusive to our companionship. I suspect, and am uncomfortable with the possibility, that I will be prone to feel her absence in the seat next to me much too keenly for my taste. I will, however, be watching my favorite Christmas movies this year, starting with my two top favorites, Love Actually and It's a Wonderful Life. I will probably throw in a few from our collection of bible movies, as well, since my mother considered these "Holy Holiday movies" and the appreciation I developed for them, through her, has not abated nor does it carry with it any unpleasantness since she died. In early summer, in fact, I spent a few days enjoying a bible movie marathon.
    Oh, and "just in case I don't see ya," (a quote from The Truman Show), I hope the holidays are easy on you, this year; especially this year.
Things that Have Changed Since Mom Died
    Some things that haven't changed:    I will probably add, in subsequent posts, other things as they occur to me.
    In the meantime...later.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My 10 Months of Grief-Stricken Thinking
    Wow! Hard to believe it's been so long since I've posted here. Reasons; hmmm...let's see:    I STILL haven't done something that the literature and counselors and well-meaning advisers tout: Consciously redirecting one's life. I don't feel the need. Yes, there's a definitive break in my life between my mother's and my extraordinary adventure and my life now, but my life has been full of "definitive breaks" in circumstance. Assenting to be my mother's companion back in 1993 was one of those breaks. This business of negotiating breaks is nothing new. I continue take this break day by day. That's how I've always lived. It's always worked for me. Can't think of a reason to change, now.
    If you're curious about my personal grief experiences, I've just written a post covering those over at In Sane Grief.

Powered by Blogger