Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Scrambled

The first part of January my mother had a brain bleed.  We really aren't sure if it was caused by a fall, or if it caused the fall.  My intuition tells me that it caused the fall.  She spent 3 days in the hospital, and hated every minute.  She wasn't eating in the hospital, and wasn't cooperating, so finally they decided there was nothing more they could do for her.  The doctor asked if I wanted to send her to a care center, or take her home.  I told him to let me take her home, because maybe she would eat at home.
When I brought my Mom home, I handed her a sandwich and she started eating.  She has gradually improved since then.  She is doing so much better, and I'm sure the doctor would be surprised to see her.
I am, however, getting an education about head injuries.  When my Mom first came home, she became extremely anxious.  She was pacing the floor, ranting and trying to escape.  Having never dealt with a head injury before, I didn't know what to expect.  Her speech was jibberish for quite awhile.  I thought it was her dementia, but have since learned that it is a result of the head injury.  She was saying things like, "We have to go and repentilaty, laty, laty."  And "I want to fissy wissy beddy shoddy."  I really think she thought she was communicating, but I was clueless about what she meant.  She has just recently stopped saying nonsense words, although she still has trouble finding words sometimes.  Here are a few funny things that she has done lately:
--She washed the dishes one night while I was out.  I had my son sitting with her, and he texted me to tell me what she was doing.  I told him to just let her.  The next day I found a lot of dirty dishes in the drainer, and clean dishes put away in weird places.  Like, a loaf pan was in the utensil drawer.
--Last night she asked for some salt to salt her rice.  I handed her the salt shaker.  I looked back just in time to see her taking the lid off of it!  I think she would have ended up with a lot more salt than she intended!
--We went to the thrift store, and she found a couple of small things she liked.  I think the total was $3.  She worried that she couldn't afford it, and didn't have enough money to buy them.  I told her she has plenty of money.  She reached around in her purse.   Suddenly she said, "How much of these do I need to pay for them?"  She was holding a handful of pens.....
--She has different therapists coming to the house:  speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.  She also has an aide to help her shower twice a week.  I have noticed that she has a lot of tricks up her sleeve to get out of doing what they want her to do!  She can find all kinds of distractions to stop doing the exercises, or to get around doing what they want.  For example, the speech therapist will ask her to list certain things (to see what words she remembers).  She asked her to name as many colors as she could.  My mother was struggling to remember the words for colors, so said,"Who cares?!"  And boy does she sass them!
--She told me she wanted to call my sister to ask her to take her to her home and live with her there.  I told her she couldn't go live with her because she has her own family.  Finally I let her call her, and my sister told her for herself.  Then just the other day she said she needed to call her sister.  I finally deduced that she meant daughter.  She said, "No, she is my sister!  First there was her, then me."  I said, "No, you are thinking of your sister Reva."  She said, "Oh yea, that's right."  But then she flipped again and was calling my sister her sister again.  I told her again she has her own family.  My Mom said, "No she doesn't."  I reminded her of my sister's husband's name.  She remembered him, but didn't remember they were married.  I said, "Yes, they got married a long time ago."  She said, "Well why didn't they invite me to their wedding!"  Lol.
--Today it was snowing and my Mom said, "Look at the water coming down!"  All day she had trouble thinking of the word for snow.

I really can't complain though.  It's so much nicer to have her more back to normal.  She isn't ranting or trying to escape any more.  She isn't talking jibberish anymore.  She can feed herself and take care of bathroom needs.  The one thing that I hope will improve is her stamina.  She gets tired much more quickly than before.  But my sister brought a wheel chair, so we could always use that.
The more I deal with my mother, the more I realize how lucky my Dad was that he died quickly.  He had no warning, and just had a couple of chest pains before he died.  He wasn't bed-ridden.  He didn't have to go through cancer treatments.  He didn't have to have someone else bathe or feed him.  He could still communicate.  He could still walk, and was living in his own home with his wife up until his death.  I hope that when my mother dies she has just an easy of a passing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tender Mercies

Back in 1993 we moved to BeiJing, China where we lived for two years.  We were able to attend church there with other foreigners.  One of them was a man I had known about 10 years earlier when I served as a missionary.  He was part of the branch presidency in the missionary training center.  When we got to China, he was preparing to leave China.  He was trying to get a business going there (never did have any success with that) and had a college student he was working with.  She lived out in the country with her younger sister on the back porch of a farmer.  They had no running water, and just an outhouse to use.  She had no phone, and this was not a permanent address.  This man wanted to keep in touch with her, so introduced her and her sister to me, so that he could contact them through me.
These girls began to come to my house a couple of times a week.  They would spend all day with me!   At first this was a little irritating to me because I couldn't get anything else done on those days.  But as the months went on, we became friends and had a lot of fun together.  Some of my most cherished memories of my time in BeiJing involve the time I spent with them.
After the second year in China, I went home to the U.S. for vacation.  I also had to have gall bladder surgery.  After my surgery, my husband called me from China and said, "I don't want us to go back to China.  I think we need to move home."  So I never said goodbye to those girls, and I had no way of contacting them.  Over the years I have thought about them, and it has been a point of sadness to know that I had lost contact.  Recently I got thinking about it and even prayed that some day I could make contact with them again, somehow.
Yesterday my husband told me he needed to drive the car because he had some work done on it, and the repairman said he should drive it 60 miles before getting the smog inspection done.  I suggested that we drive to Sandy, about 45 minutes away, and go to a Chinese grocery store there.  We needed some supplies, so we jumped in the car and went.
As we were getting out of the car, I noticed an American man coming out of the store wearing a Chinese army issue winter hat.  As he passed me, I saw his profile and realized I knew him.  I said out loud, "I think I know him."  He heard me and turned around.  When I got a better look, I realized who he was.  He was the man who had been in the branch presidency in the MTC.  I mentioned that to him.  Then the memory of him introducing the girls to me came back.  I reminded him that he had introduced me to them.  He said, "Well, Li Jia Na will be coming out of the store in a minute."  I was so surprised!  Come to find out, the two of them were married!  They have a 17 year old son together!
This was really a blessing of God to me, because I never thought I would see her again.  And I have to admit that when I saw her, I teared up.  And so did she, and so did her husband.  :)
Here is the thing:  he is 30 years her senior.  Some people might wonder how in the world they could marry each other, but I understand.  She always used to tell me that she didn't think she would ever marry.  She is a very humble person.  She was always the "mother" in her family.  Because her parents were farmers, they were allowed to have more children.  They had 9 children in their family.  Jia Na was the one who did all of the laundry....by hand!  She always put effort in to helping her younger sister dress well so that she could some day get married.  But she never expected it for herself.  I think she felt that this was her only chance, and took it.  And she has been able to be a mother in the process!  Her younger sister?  She is still single.
I really feel it was a tender mercy from God that I was given the chance to meet up with my old friend again.  As it turns out, she lives about 15 minutes away from me.  Sometimes God does give us second chances.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mama Bear

I raised three sons and a daughter, so had to deal with a lot of scrabbles between them.  One thing I won't tolerate is fighting.  If my kids started fighting, I would get between them and order them to their rooms.  If they argued with me, I would carefully pinch right on their side, under their arm, and make them leave the room.  I have always felt an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and always tried to nip fights in the bud.  Tonight was no exception.

We have one special needs boy who comes to our activities who has some behavorial problems.  You can't blame him too much, because he is only about 12, but does not live with his parents, but in a care center.  He had one caregiver who really gave him a lot of attention, but she moved on to another facility recently.  So he has been acting up at our activities.

Tonight I noticed him "head butting" his buddy.  I've seen him do this before with a different buddy.  That young man just ignored it and tried to redirect his focus.  He really put up with a lot from this special needs kid.  But it seemed he was being particularly aggressive with this new buddy.  I went up and sternly said, "We don't hit or kick here."  He rared back like a bull and came charging at me head first.  I moved to the side, and the buddy grabbed him and stopped him just in time.

A little while later I saw him trying once again to head butt his buddy.  Suddenly I saw him take a punch, and then kick him.  That was all I needed for my mama bear to come out.  My husband works with the boys, so I asked him to go reprimand this kid.  He went over and talked to him, but I couldn't help butting in.  Just then, the directors of the program came along and I said, "Maybe if he hits or kicks people, he will have to sit on a chair or something."  He was sitting on the floor right then.  The leader said, "Well, he can sit right there on the floor."  I said, "That's true, he can sit there for awhile."  When he heard that, he jumped up and ran off!  Someone else corralled him and talked to him.  He was good, but kind of sulky the rest of the time.

A little while later, a different special needs kid, who was there for the first time, pushed his buddy.  One of the special needs friends who is higher functioning went over and told him not to do that ever again.  The special needs kid punched him.  The other guy grabbed him by both arms and said, "I could kick your butt!"  I quickly ran over to stop a fight from happening.  One of the caretakers of the boy also came over and things got defused quickly.

This is the first time we have had trouble with physical violence.  The sad thing is that if it continues, they won't be allowed to come anymore.  I would hate to see that happen, because these activities are really good for them!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Resolutions

I got a new laptop for Christmas.  I also got a keyboard for my iPad.  So really, I have no excuse for not blogging.  I do have to say that this past year has been very difficult.  I think it's probably one of the hardest years of my life.  There are many factors that played in to that.  But I think God is trying to help me root out some caustic personality traits in favor of better ones.  So this year has also been a year of growth.

I have been thinking about my new year resolutions.  I have a few.  I know that it would probably be better to stick with one, but I have several areas of my life that need improvement.  I remember that for years, my only resolution was to floss every day.  After I had that mastered, I quit making it a resolution.  Then I started forgetting to floss.  Go figure.  So I'm going to just work on these several items and hope I can see some improvement.

Overall, life is good.  We live in a beautiful little city.  We have mountains around us and get to see four seasons.  We came here for several purposes, and we are seeing the fruit of that decision.  It was a leap of faith to sell our home in California and make this move, but I know it was the right thing to do.  I sure did take a lot of faith though.  And now we are looking at changes on the horizon, but we feel that God's hand is in our lives.


Friday, December 04, 2015

The TRC

My husband and I are currently volunteering at the LDS missionary training center in Provo, Utah.  We go once a week to the TRC (Teachering Resource Center) and let the missionaries practice teaching us in Mandarin.  It's invaluable practice for them, and a blast for us!

I have to admit that when we first get a new group to work with, their Chinese is pretty rough.  It's quite the mental exercise trying to figure out what they are trying to say.  But it's amazing how fast they progress!  Even two weeks time makes a huge difference in their language abilities!

It is also great practice for them to learn how to teach.  They must come up with their own lesson, using words and phrases they have been taught, and following a guide they have been given.  They have a subject to teach, and know what should be included.  When I was a missionary back in cave man times, we had a memorized lesson.  Today's method is much better, and truly helps them to become good teachers.  They learn what kinds of questions work best.  They figure out how they should organize certain kessons,

One of the things I like best about volunteering is the spirit we feel while we are there.  These missionaries might be young, and are weak tools, but they teach with the power of God.  It's a great opportunity to feel that each time they teach us.

Our current group leaves on December 30th to go to Taiwan.  The last group had missionaries going to Irvine, California, London England, New York City, Canada, and Singapore.  I have to admit that I'm a little jealous!  But for now, I will content myself with meeting with them every Saturday morning.  It's the best part of my week!

Friday, September 18, 2015

SNAP Activity

We went to our "SNAP" activity last night.  (Special Needs Activity Program)  A visiting congregation planned the activities for the night.  As a thank you to the visiting ward, the special needs friends and youth councillors all sang a song for the visiting ward.  (I am a child of God)  They had prepared four different stations for the evening's activities.

The first station was a dance room.  They had disco lights, and music playing.  The youth from the visiting ward led the special needs friends in several dances like:  the macarena, the hokey pokey, etc.  These special needs people love to dance!

The second station was a puppet show.  This is actually a bummer in a way because I'm in charge of the activity next week, and I have planned for them to do puppet shows.  Oh well, I'm sure they will still enjoy it.  They had children's books and had one person read the story while the others used the puppets to act it out.  Next week I'm going to have them (with the help of the youth councillors) write a script and perform it.

The third station was a human bowling activity.  The youth had set up "lanes" using folding chairs.  They also had two rows of chairs facing each other so they could use it for a "ball return".  Then the visiting youth stood at the end of the lane in bowling pin formation.  The special needs participant would roll a large beach ball.  When it hit one of the human "bowling pins", the pins would fall and topple, much to the delight of the special needs bowler.  :)

The fourth station was a craft.  This was a little messy.  They were to put some rice in a plastic easter egg (rice got everywhere!) and then tape it up.  Then they taped two plastic spoons cupping the egg.  Then they were allowed to use some permanent markers to decorate the "maraca" they had made.  At one point, I asked my husband to turn on some music on his phone so that they could shake the maracas in time with the music.  Then one of the youth councillors said he had some latino music that would be better.  It was a latino sounding arrangement of the "Jungle Book" song, "I Wanna be like you".  The special needs friends LOVED it!  They were moving and grooving to that song!

Lastly the visiting ward had refreshments prepared:  nachos, watermelon, grapes, and cookies.  As my husband always says, "Good food for a good mood."  I sure enjoyed it!

There was one bright spot for the night for me.  There is a young man with Aspergers syndrome who comes every week.  He doesn't know he is special needs.  His parents are some of the adult leaders, so he comes with them, and assumes that he is one of the youth councillors.  His parents have asked us to try to have a conversation with him because he is working on socializing.  He volunteers at the zoo, so I asked him about his job.  I was surprised that he talked with me for as long as he did!  It's really good for him to interact with others.  He is highly intelligent, but just doesn't have social skills.

One other special needs friend is autistic.  He loves Disney princesses and Star Wars, and will talk your ear off about those.  Every week he brings some papers with him that are print outs of star wars pictures.  These papers of his were getting wrinkled and worn over the weeks.  Last night I took him a plastic folder with clear plastic sheet holders inside.  I helped him put his pictures in the sheets.  I couldn't tell how he felt about that.  We will see next week if he brings the folder, or if he brings the sheets alone.  :)

Whew!

We made a quick trip to St. George, Utah this week.  My cousin was going through the temple there for the first time, and I really wanted to show my support by attending.  He is a wonderful person with a big heart.  It was so great to be there with him.
We went down the night before and stayed at my in-law's house.  It was a little disconcerting for my mother having to sleep in a new bed in a strange house, but she did okay.  My in-laws were away on a camping trip, but my husband's youngest brother was there, so we got to visit him.  He is mentally ill, and has a lot of health problems, so it was good for him to have us come.
We took him out to eat that night at Panda Express.  I don't know if I ate something bad, or if I caught a virus, but I've been struggling with stomach problems ever since.  I was worried that it might keep me from going to the temple with my cousin, but I prayed a lot, and didn't have any problem going.
We needed to come back home for the "SNAP" program in the evening, so we left right after we got out of the temple.  We did stop for lunch at a diner.  After we had driven about 2 1/2 hours, my mother announced that she was sure she had left her wallet at the diner!  I told her I didn't remember her taking it in, but she insisted that it was on her lap, and was sure it had fallen on the floor when she got up.  I thought I knew the name of the diner, but when I tried to search it on Google, I couldn't find it.  I searched the car over and couldn't find the wallet anywhere.  I decided that I would wait until we got home to search the internet for the phone number of the diner, and call and ask them to send it to us if they had it.
We got home a little earlier than I thought we would, so went ahead and unpacked the car.  As I was picking up my mother's temple bag, I decided to open it, and lo and behold, found her wallet there.  That may not sound unusual, but the weird thing is that I don't know how it got there!  I just can't imagine why she would have put it there.  She is starting to misplace things a lot.  We spend a lot of time trying to find things that she has misplaced.  I'm just thankful that this time she had misplaced it in a convenient place!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fading

I'm not sure if my mother's dementia is progressing very quickly, but we sure have had some odd moments lately.  These kinds of things have been happening all year, so I can't say they are evidence of an increase.
Last night my husband and I went to a church marriage retreat.  I mainly just wanted to get out of the house and soend time with my husband.  The "retreat" aspect of it was less important to me.  But it was a nice evening away.   In preparation, I made some dinner for my mother and boys and put it in the oven.  I made meatloaf and baked potatoes.  I knew it would frazzle my Mom to worry about getting it out of the oven at the right time, so I gave that responsibility to my son.  But I told my Mom what I had planned for dinner, and I also laid out a can of green beans and told her my son would heat them up.
When we got home that night, we discovered that no one had eaten the meal!  My sons weren't thrilled with meatloaf, so ate other things.  My son took it out of the oven at the right time, but my Mom insisted that I had cooked it for some other purpose, and refused to eat it.  She said she ate "other things". I think she ate a piece of bread with peanut butter on it...... I came home to find the meatloaf in the refrigerator on a plate with a dishtowel wrapped around it.
The other day I made tostadas for lunch.  My Mom and husband were still eating when I finished, so I went in to take a shower.  When I came back to the kitchen, this is how I found that my mother had out away the beans and tomatoes: ( I can't get the picture to load from my ipad.  I'll try tomorrow from my laptop.)



Her ability to read is decreasing too.  She has to spell out many of the words and sound them out.  I wonder what the coming year will bring.