Friday 25 March 2022

Birds in Focus, and That's Not All

Already my mom's improved vision is enriching her life and improving mine.

This morning when I visited to do her eye drops, she was excited to talk about how much better she could see. We stood looking out her window for a good fifteen minutes watching a large flock of starlings as they pecked their way across the lawn and splashed in a rain puddle. She recalled that she used to see them bathing in the puddle but "hadn't seen it in years". It's been happening, she just couldn't see it

Ordinarily during that fifteen minutes, in spite of my best efforts at making other conversation, she would have spent it telling me the same stories from the past, over and over. She often prefaced a story with the words, "I've probably told you this before, but . . ." and told it again anyway. I wondered more than once if part of this was simply a desire to talk, and she had nothing new to say because of being isolated during the pandemic. All along, she has also been incorporating into conversation stories from the more recent past, so this seems plausible. It seems to me that with more severe dementia she would not be able to recall those recent events at all.

I guess the disease is a continuum and there is no clear answer. But I find it interesting to observe and think about.

I do wonder what the testing at her next geriatric appointment will show. Will there be an actual reversal of what was previously noted as deterioration? 

It's not just the birds she is seeing better. She has realized there is a worn, holey section in a blouse she wears a lot. It has been like that for months but now she can see it. When we went for groceries yesterday, she lingered over items she has never shown any interest in during the time I've been taking her. She recognized mushrooms as something she used to eat. She noticed the many kinds of cold cereal and we had a discussion about what kinds she might want to try, now that she's not cooking. She was easily able to see that the coffee she chose was the right kind (decaf). 

I'm a bit teary just remembering it. And I think she's all in for surgery on the other eye.

So am I.








(You might have to enlarge the photo to see the pet in the second green circle.)







Donkey says: I do this. Repeatedly.


























Apologies if I've repeated any of these memes. 

Hope you're having a good day, or, for those on t'other side of the world, a good evening/night :)


Thursday 24 March 2022

Nine Days Post-Surgery and Back to School

I'm very happy to report that my mother's doing well after her cataract surgery and there don't appear to be any issues with healing. We have the critical first week behind us. We are finished with the antibiotic eye drops and will be using the steroid drop for the remainder of the month post-op. It's still four times a day, but without the additional 20-minute wait between the two kinds of drops. I contacted the doctor's office to explain my concern about my mother rubbing her eyes, and was told by the receptionist that the eye should be well healed after the first week (because she had the foldable lens implant which requires a smaller incision with no stitches), and so Mom's patch can come off permanently.

She has finally noticed the improvement and is thinking she would like to have her other eye done after all. It will mean a repeat of the drops and patch but it will be worth it. She seems much more cheerful and can see things she hasn't seen in a long time. For example, she used to forget to water her plants because she couldn't see they were in trouble. I'm looking forward to seeing what other improvements the surgery brings to her.

Her memory is not any better, but then I didn't expect it to be. But I'm so glad she's had this done.

There was a bit of a bump one day when I arrived to do her eye drops and found her chopping away with her snow shovel at a semi-frozen pile of old snow in her yard. She was not supposed to be doing anything to put pressure on her eye, such as lifting or heavy housework, and we had talked about that a number of times. She probably forgot those conversations but when I reminded her that what she was doing could be harmful to her eye, she became very huffy and wanted to know where I got that information. When I said it was in the instructions she had been given after surgery, she switched arguments and said she didn't see how it could hurt, and what did I suggest she do, stay inside all day forever? 

Have I mentioned how feisty my mother is? Perhaps contrary is the word I have used. They both apply.

Anyhow, after a couple of uncomfortably icy visits which I had to make due to the eye drop schedule, she forgot about it and things are fine again.

Once again, I learned something.

To protect my own sanity and my heart, I need to try not to get lulled into thinking that just because she's been in a good mood for a few days she won't get mad at me if I cross her in any way. Her determination to do whatever she wants and to justify doing it regardless of the impact on herself and others is not new to her dementia. But it's trickier now because I can't just step back from her the way I could before. So I am moving ahead with the intent to take the easy days as they come, to be unsurprised by the bad days, and just keep plodding ahead.

Hah. We'll see how that works out :)


So, my people, I want to ask you a question.

Just like in English class in school, when the teacher would give you a quote and ask you to write what you think about it, I'm going to do the same.

The quote is:

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."

(Quote by Amy Carmichael)
What do you think? I'm interested because I can't seem to figure out if I agree with it or not.
Please Note: Unlike school, your participation is completely optional 😀


Meanwhile, a few funnies to carry us through at least the time it takes to read them, I hope:




Note from Donkey: I have actually done this. More than once. What can I say. I guess I had it coming too.


That's it for today. Hope you're having a good one.

Sunday 20 March 2022

Update on My Mom, and a Blogger Hack

Mom's cataract surgery went very well. The ophthalmology day surgery unit is a well-oiled machine and she was in and out of the operating room in a very short time. She had minimal discomfort afterward and she has allowed me to do her eyedrops and has not complained about keeping the perforated patch over that eye ... yet. It could still happen, but it's gone better than I expected.

There are two kinds of drops: an antibiotic that is administered four times a day for one week, and a steroid four times a day for one month. During the first week, when both drops are being used, you are supposed to wait 20 minutes after the first drop to give the second one, to allow it to be well absorbed and do its work. 

So, along with time to remove and replace Mom's eye patch and clean her eyelid, giving the drops takes a minimum of three-quarters of an hour four times a day, for that first week. I expect the time will drop to about 30 minutes per visit once she is on one drop only. She likes having the visits because she is still very concerned about Covid (as am I) and doesn't go out much. So it is hard to just do the drops and leave, as she is a very determined talker.

All of that to say that I had to take a week off work and the next three weeks won't be a picnic either.

The eye patch is technically only required for the first night after surgery, but my mother has dementia (as most of you know) and habitually rubs her eyes a lot. She also doesn't wash her hands properly anymore, and certainly can't remember to wash them before touching her eye. So I told her a little white lie, which is that she has to wear the patch all the time "for a few days" until her eye heals, and she has accepted that.

All in all, things could have gone off the rails in so many ways, but they didn't, and hopefully she will manage everyday tasks more easily once the patch can come off. 

I am struggling with what feels like a marathon of visits for the rest of the month she needs drops, but at this point I try not to think about the whole month, just one day at a time.

It's basically the same approach I am now taking to my mother's care in general, because I get too upset if I think about how many more years I might be the only one responsible for her care while my own life is put on hold. I try to just think about today and this week, and not much beyond that.

I realize that for quite a few months I was having a hard time with this and it must have seemed to people reading here that I was being selfish for resenting the care of my mother so much. It was just so hard to be dealing with the loss of my husband AND the care of my mother. It was a rocky period of my life. It still feels unfair that I had this particular burden at that particular time, but now I am able to once more remember that an awful lot of people carry even worse burdens.

Still, I am tired, both physically and mentally. Every trip to my mom's is something I dread and have to push myself to do. It's hard listening to the same stories, complaints, and questions every visit, often multiple times in a visit, and not being able to have an actual conversation to ease the stress.



Now for the Blogger hack. I started having trouble leaving comments on numerous blogs a while ago. The only way I could comment was to use a different web browser. I had always used Firefox, but switching to Chrome allowed me to comment without problems again.

However, being the lazy donkey I am, I always start out reading using Firefox, because that's where all my bookmarks are, so then I have to switch to Chrome and search for the blog if I want to comment. Did I mention how lazy I am? Often I'd read the blog posts in Firefox and then not take the time to switch to Chrome to comment.

But I discovered yesterday, purely by chance, that if I have a blog open in one tab in Firefox and I can't comment on it, if I switch to a different open tab (my email, for instance, although it can be any tab) and then back to the blog tab, I am magically able to click on the comment box and see the blinking cursor that allows me to comment. Any action that takes me out of the tab allows me to comment once I click back on the blog tab again. For instance, I can also open a Word document and then switch back to the blog tab and am able to comment.

I have no idea what's happening, but it works. There must be some slight glitch in loading the blog that is cleared by going out of the tab and then returning. All I know is that I'm happy to have a quick workaround for the problem, because I haven't been leaving comments nearly enough on many blogs for some time now. Now I can. Yay!

I don't know if this trick will help anyone else with the problem, and you're probably all less lazy than I am, so maybe you don't need a shortcut or hack, but I'll put it out there anyhow.


Time for some distraction from regular life.






Wishing you all a week where things go unexpectedly well in difficult circumstances and you find life hacks that make you happy. 

Friday 11 March 2022

Bad Timing, Good Timing, and Good News

The situation in Ukraine makes me sick at heart. This isn't going to be a post about that, because I just can't, yet, but it's sort of related, and more a poke at myself than anything else.

As anyone who uses gas or oil knows, the price has been rapidly going up, accelerated by the war in Ukraine.

At the pumps where I live, the price per litre went up by nearly thirty cents in the eleven days between February 27 and March 10. Yesterday it stood at $1.87/litre.

Gas prices in next-door New Brunswick are set one day before those in Nova Scotia, and we can often get an idea of what will happen to NS prices from what happens to NB prices, and take action accordingly.

Two days ago New Brunswick's prices jumped again. I didn't really need gas but I will need it next week as I have to do some distance driving, so I decided to fill up yesterday before our new prices would be set at midnight.

Nova Scotia prices fell by 4.1 cents/litre last night!



 The good news is that the driving I need to do next week is to take my mom for cataract surgery. She has very little sight in one eye now and I am glad she is getting this done. Ophthalmology procedures have been on-again-off-again ever since the pandemic started, and we were both expecting a much longer wait.

I think her poor vision contributes to her confusion; it makes sense that it would, anyhow. She stopped reading and doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku a couple of years ago and I don't know if it was her vision or her dementia that caused that. She also became unable to operate a radio or TV and I wonder how much of that was also vision-related. Even going for a drive was unappealing to her because she couldn't see the scenery.

It will be interesting to see if her world opens up more when her vision is restored in that eye, and if her comprehension and memory will improve at all. Certainly her ability to do little things like zip her jacket should improve, and I hope she will be able to enjoy things like flowers and colours again.

The down side (minor) is that she will require eye drops four times a day for one week and twice a day for a month, and I will likely be needed to supervise that, and she does not like being supervised. But we will muddle through. She will likely be offered surgery in the other eye as well, according to the ophthalmologist. Whether she wants it or not will be a decision she can make after she sees the results of the first surgery.

I had both of my eyes done in 2009, not because my cataract was advanced but because I had such bad astigmatism in that eye and the combination was causing me severe eyestrain. And because my vision was quite poor to start with, fixing one eye and not the other resulted in double vision, so I had the other eye done a week later. To correct the double vision in the meantime, I had to wear an eye patch with little holes in it. Somehow it corrects the problem but of course it's not a long-term solution.

I feel very lucky that I had the surgery when I did. Our long-time local ophthalmologist only considered cataracts ready for removal when they were advanced. But my excellent optometrist got me on the schedule of a locum eye surgeon who was in our town for only three months. I just happened to have an appointment with my optometrist near the end of that locum, trying yet again to determine the reason for my eyestrain. It turned out the cataract was still at such an early stage my optometrist hadn't thought it could be the cause, and it was only after repeated visits that it clicked for him. One week after my second surgery the locum surgeon was gone.


 How about some random funnies? The world is a scary place, and we all need a distraction from time to time. Enjoy.








I wish you all good news AND good timing. We all need a little of both.