Saturday, April 30, 2016

More Food Options

Today I added 2 more foods to my list of things I am eating. For those wondering, yes, that is real ice cream. Yes, I know I said earlier that I am lactose intolerant. I have discovered several things about lactose intolerance. One is, even though I am lactose intolerant, if I eat only small amounts of lactose-containing foods the friendly bacteria in my GI tract can break it down adequately. Specific to ice cream I have found the higher the fat content, the less problems I have. I think it's a matter of less lactose in a given volume of product; it's rough having to only eat premium ice cream.
Homemade applesauce and Three Twins Ice Cream

Feeling much livelier today so I spent some time on the Internet trying to identify the bees in the birdhouse from memory. Found a really great on-line identification guide, Bumble Bees of the Western United States. Unfortunately, I did not spot a color pattern similar to what I remember. I shall have to get photos of them to better help with identification. I think I shall try that later this evening when it is cooler and they slow down. I might even go out when they are asleep and see if I can coax a couple of them to come out so I can photograph them.

Mom has been doing very good giving Momo his thryroid pill twice a day. Since he likes to sleep on the chair under the dining room table she knows where to find him. But it is difficult for her to get up after squatting down to take his pill to him. So I have been working with Mom to have her train Momo to come to her in the kitchen, then reaching down with the pill in her hand while she is sitting on the stool. It is just as much about training Mom as it is training Momo. (Xander has her trained to open the door for him so he can come in and go out to the cat run when he knows perfectly well how to do use the cat door.)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Back to 8

The attempt to reduce the ibuprofen from 600 mg every 6 hours to every 8 hours didn't work. I think it is because I prefer to sleep on my left side and the swelling is quite pronounced so the pillow presses against it. I was awakened this morning by lots of dull throbbing pain about 7 hours after the last dose so I am going back to 600 mg every 6 hours. New plan: After the visible swelling goes down I will reduce it to every 8 hours. I guess that's why Dr. Gold gave me 35 pills.

For dinner yesterday I had the portobello soup. It looked somewhat gray and unappetizing but tasted great, the teaspoon of butter I added to increase my caloric intake didn't hurt it. I supplemented the soup with a slice of Dave's Killer Bread White Bread Done Right. While it was less substantive than the other Dave's Killer Breads, it was still a lot better than the standard white bread found in regular supermarkets. I dipped the bread in the soup, then chewed it on the right side, mixing well with saliva. Then I held it in my mouth while the amylase worked on breaking down the starches in the bread. How did I know the amylase was doing its job? The bread becomes very liquid as the starches are broken down so I don't need to chew! (It takes 10-15 seconds to feel this happening.)

Soup du jour was organic French onion with chunk of butter and a slice of bread.

Since I am lactose-intolerant, I use faux milk products made from plant sources. I try to vary them since they all seem to have some good quality and some not-as-good quality. I randomly choose what to buy based on what's on sale. This week it was unsweetened flax milk. The good thing about unsweetened flax milk is 1200 mg omega-3 fats per 1 cup serving, the not-as-good thing is it has just a little more taste than a glass of water. Ten drops of stevia extract helped sweeten it up, the chocolate raspberry flavor of the extract helped improve the taste immensely!

To aid in eating the bread, I cut it into quarters so I keep all crumbs away from the left side of my mouth. Even something soft like white bread getting stuck in the areas that have been cut open would not be good. (Unlike other white breads, Dave's Killer Bread's white bread has wheat berries in it.) All total, I am getting about 160 calories from this meal, which the app on my phone says is 13% of what I should be getting for the day. Now I just have to eat this meal 7 more times today!

I'm glad I'm having 2 quadrants done before I have to take care of Mom and Dad. I can figure out all the logistics and know how I will be reacting so I can still manage to take care of them. And I will only have to do it 2 times when I am with them.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Is It Blue or Green?

Mom was very upset when I called this morning to remind her to take her alendronate. Apparently last night she asked Dad to take out the bin for pick-up this morning. Then this morning she heard the truck coming to pick up the bin and looked out to see that there was no bin out by their curb! She said it was too late for her to run out and put it out, which is what made her mad at Dad. She said she had neatly tied up the garbage bag to go out and Dad did not take it out, so it was now too late to put it out. I tried to calm her down by saying it was not gray bin pick up day, but that only made her more upset. When I asked if it was blue or green day she said she did not know because she was too disgusted to go out and look.

The way garbage and recycle pick-up works in Honolulu is that you have 3 color coded bins. The gray garbage bin is picked up every Monday. The blue recycle and green green waste bins are picked up on alternating Thursdays. Since this is Thursday it would be either the blue or the green bin being picked up. If it is green it is most likely empty, which would be why Dad did not put it out. If it is blue it is usually mainly empty, which would also be why Dad did not put it out. (It wastes the time of the driver and slows down pick up along the route if bins are put out when they are mainly empty. Mom saves so much recyclable stuff for other potential uses usually their bin is mainly empty. Until I come along and throw things out!)

Unfortunately, Mom is not able to follow the logic path to determine what color bin is being picked up today (I wrote it on the calendar at the beginning of the year), reason that if it is empty or mainly empty it should not go out, and let it go that Dad did not put a bin out last night.

I have always wondered about those tragic, very short news pieces where one spouse stabs or shoots the other spouse after 50+ years of marriage. They never say whether one or both suffered from dementia (or were dementia-free), but it would seem like a reasonable explanation for the behavior. I recall sometimes reading that the surviving spouse says something like, "I got tired of him/her nagging all the time." Which could mean the other spouse had dementia and kept repeating the request because they could not remember saying it. Or the surviving spouse had dementia and kept forgetting to do something that the other spouse was trying to have them do to allow them some responsibility. And if both of them had dementia it could go on indefinitely!

Mom now says she wants to move to Kohala so she can have a vacation. She says she is tired of all the work that she has to do cleaning and cooking and laundry, etc. But when I offer to have Safe Harbor come in and have Erica do it, she refuses saying she doesn't want anyone coming to the house. She even says she does not need anyone to drive her places. Mom says in Kohala the people from the grocery store and butcher used to deliver supplies to Grandma and there was a service where someone would come and take her to the post office to pick up the mail and take her to doctor's appointments. (There is no mail delivery in this very rural part of the island.) Mom says they no longer do this, but I don't think she really knows for sure. She doesn't realize that even if they had these services available she really can't be left alone by herself. Or more correctly, she hasn't accepted that she needs help from other people when I am not there. When I am there she is fine with me doing the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, everything. Even though she insists that she can do it all herself. And trying to reason with her doesn't help.

When I called a little later to remind her to take her pills for the morning, she thought that she had taken them but it was the alendronate that she had taken. She had forgotten about the bins and was on another task that was frustrating her. She said she was working on the phone book and started to tell me who was in it and why I needed to remember these people. When I asked her to write the information down next to each person's name, she then said it was actually Dad's phone book and she wanted him to write it down. Which is probably going to start an argument because he will have no reason to write it down but its important to her since she is forgetting who these people are and wants him to add the information so she knows who they are. This is the type of things that he has to put up with every day, which is why I don't want Aunty Daisy moving in with them; it would mean demands from another person that he does not see a reason to fulfill.

I'm still swollen but those 600 mg ibuprofen are keeping the pain manageable. I will be taking one every 6 hours until this afternoon, when I will switch to one every 8 hours. That's what I did the last time and I was able to handle the pain. I think I also took them for only 4 days and not the whole 7 days. We shall see how it goes this time. I've been spending a lot of time sleeping, getting up only to take my pills and call Mom to remind her to take her pills. Whenever I have to go downstairs to go to the bathroom, I stop and eat a little almond-based yogurt-style stuff that I don't have to chew; this system works well for me. (The pills and water are by my bed so I only need to wake up long enough to take them, then I go back to sleep.) Posting early so I can go back to sleep; don't think anything noteworthy will happen but if it does I will post it tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Kektadose, Cynthia, and Andrea!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oral Surgery

BLOOD & GORE ALERT!!! At the very end of this entry there will be a photo of my mouth; there is a little bit of blood. Before it there will be another photo with a little bit of blood. So if you can't stand the sight of blood, close this page before you get there.

Last year I started on some much needed oral surgery due to erosion of the bone in my jaw. I had the lower right quadrant done last  year. The lower left was done today so that at least half my mouth is okay before I move. Dr. Gold and her staff are great! They started with 600 mg ibuprofen to keep swelling down. Then Adela gave me a local anesthetic in my gums and cheek (to numb the nerve that supplies the area) and it felt pretty numb, but Dr. Gold came along and probed a couple places even deeper and I could feel a dull sensation so she added more. Everything was going fine until about 3/4 of the way through when I was able to feel some dull pain again, so they gave me more; they said my metabolism must be fast because it usually takes an hour before people start feeling pain again.

Apparently I have very deep pockets in 3 places but the rest was okay. Dr. Gold says usually its evenly eroded to a lesser degree all along the area. She first worked on removing calculus that had built up under the gum in the deep pockets, which took a while because there was one very stubborn spot where she had to use a laser drill to get the calculus off. Once that was done she started packing the area with bone graft material that will provide a substrate for my own bone to grow in to. Dr. Gold stitched me up and Susie put on a surgical dressing, which looks sort of like Silly Putty. I will be going to sleep after I post this; my plans for the next 24 hours are to sleep, getting up only to take pills. (The pain sets off my fibromyalgia which makes me fatigued. And for me more pain = more fatigue.)

I am taking an anti-inflammatory (600 mg ibuprofen) every 6 to 8 hours for the first 4 days. The last time I was able to handle the pain with only ibuprofen so I never used the prescription for the vicodin; I hope to do the same this time. I also have an antibiotic (100 mg doxycycline hyclate) for the next week. Here's what I get to eat for the next few days. Then I can slowly introduce chewier foods but have to stay away from nuts and popcorn and similar things for at least a month.

When I called Mom this morning, after she took her alendronate and gave Momo his pill, I helped her call Aunty Daisy. I had her get her cell phone,  gave her the number to enter, then had her press send. As soon as it started ringing I said good bye and hung up. Later when I called to remind her to take her next set of pills, I asked about her call with Aunty Daisy. She said she had a good conversation, but could not remember what they talked about!

They told me to eat before I went in for the oral surgery, so Kai and I went to Boondocker's for a late lunch. This is a great little restaurant owned by our friends the Balas (who also go to Dr. Gold). I had my favorite, mango curry, but did the regular naan instead of my usual garlic naan since I was going to be sitting there with my mouth open for an hour or so! Kai had the kabob burger with double patties and onion rings with chai tea. Sorry, forgot to take photos. Boondocker's is one of the restaurants we support under The 3/50 Project. The premise is, "If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue." (US Labor Department 02/05/2009) They ask you to think about 3 independently owned businesses in your community that you would miss if they closed and buy something from them each month. We don't like to buy stuff but we like to eat good food, so we have a handful of locally owned places that we try to visit each month. There's even an iPhone app to help you locate local independently owned businesses. (Android app coming soon!)

BLOOD & GORE PHOTOS NEXT!!! You've been warned! Here they come! Here is the tool tray after the surgery.

And here's what the lower left quadrant of my mouth looks like.

I don't think it's that bloody or gory, just wanted the folks who don't like blood and gore to be warned so they could avoid it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Must ... Eat ... Food ...

Was doing well today until early afternoon. Then I got really light-headed, fortunately I was checking in at the reception desk at the doctor's office. Some juice and a couple of fig bars later I was back on my feet and getting adjusted, acupunctured, and BEMERed. I had neglected to eat all day, only had a little juice earlier in the day. Still have not gotten into a routine so that I don't miss meals; I'll have to work harder on that.

Kai had asked about Red Rock Subs when we were running errands after my doctor appointments. So that's where we went for dinner. I had a Reuben and he had a Greek sub. My only complaint is their parking lot had some large metal pieces sticking out of it that I had to drive over to park. (It's a tiny lot & most of the spaces were taken when we got there so there weren't a lot of options.)
L to r: The Reuben, The Grecian

Tomorrow will be a fun day - I get to have oral surgery! My health insurance year starts on April 1st and since I was getting close to that, I delayed my departure so that I could have the left lower quarter of my mouth done by the periodontist that started the work. After the surgery there will be a few weeks of follow-up check-ups to make sure healing is going okay. So I have planned my departure around that. They want me to eat before I arrive so Kai and I will be going to Boondocker's for lunch. After the surgery I will sleep it off and lay low on Thursday as well.

When I talked to Mom tonight, she asked if I wanted to talk to Dad. He had just fallen asleep and she woke him up! I need to remember if he doesn't answer the phone he is probably in bed already and I need to immediately stop her from going to find him. She does not understand that she should not wake him up just to talk to me. Since I am calling every day, several times a day, not talking to him during one of those times is okay. I think she insists that I talk to him because she can't remember that I am calling so often and will be calling again the next day.

Happy Birthday to cousins Karen and Daniel! (Did not know until I started adding all these birthdays to my calendar that they were on the same day!)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another IRS Envelope!

As I was talking to Mom this morning, she mentioned that she just got off the phone from talking with the IRS. I thought that was rather fast for them to tell her she had not gotten her return in on time! But it turned out that wasn't it; she said they sent her someone else's paperwork along with theirs. Now I was really confused; why would the IRS be sending her return and check back? They would just deposit the check and issue a refund if they overpaid.

After 10 minutes or so, what I determined was that she had actually called H&R Block about the big envelope with all the tax papers that they gave her at the end of her session with the tax preparer. And that she had 2 envelopes and the 2nd one was not theirs! I didn't remember Connie giving her 2 but she might have, or Mom might have accidentally picked up the 2nd one when she was paying at the front desk. At any rate, she called them this morning and they were sending someone over to pick it up since neither she nor Dad would be able to take the envelope to the post office to mail it back. (It's one of the 9" x 12" envelopes with a bunch of papers so she couldn't just stick a couple stamps on it and set it out with the rest of the mail.) I hope she did not screw up someone's return.

Spent a bunch of time talking with cousin Scott this evening. I think he and Mark have a much harder situation to deal with; its only the 2 of them and they live here. Aunty Daisy is in Chicago and is adamant that she can do everything by herself, even though she can't. She's not allowed to drive or cook because she is a hazard to herself and others. And she doesn't want anyone to come in to help or even to have the neighbors check up on her daily.

Scott asked about Aunty Daisy coming to live with Mom and Dad. Although Mom would like that, it would drive Dad up the wall. As it is, with just Mom he is frequently at the end of his rope with her because she will incessantly do something that she has already done. And she frequently gets frustrated when she can't do it and either wants him to help but says he is doing it wrong or won't let him help but gets mad at him anyway. It would be twice as bad if Aunty Daisy were there also. It was difficult, but I had to tell Scott no, it would be disastrous for Dad to have her there.

I did send him an e-mail later to warn him that if Aunty Daisy started getting paranoid and calling the police when she thinks someone had eaten her food or moved things or taken things or whatever, that neither he nor Aunty Daisy would have a choice any more. She would need to either have live-in help 24/7 or go in to assisted living or move in with someone; she would not be able to stay by herself.

That's what happened with my brother's in-laws; they started calling their local police department on Maui. After the 3rd call the Maui PD called Curt and Lori and told them they had to do something about them because they could not be constantly responding to false 911 calls. So they moved in with him; they don't miss being in their own home on Maui. I don't think they even have a clue that they will never be going back.

Happy Birthday to April! 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Not Honey Bees

Jan was supposed to come by about 7 tonight to pick up the bees but I called her at 6:30, wondering if we should wait longer since they were still flying around. She said they generally stop flying around 55 degrees F and it was 54 where she was at. She decided to stop for dinner to give them time to all return to the hive. She ended up arriving around 7:45. She got all suited up and bagged up the bird house. As she was getting ready to take the bird house down a few stragglers were returning. She looked at them closely and said they were not honey bees, but striped bumblebees! I had never seen striped bumblebees or if I did I just assumed they were honey bees since the bee identification card did not have any striped bumblebees on it. I told her I thought they were honey bees because I saw honey combs in the bird house, she said bumblebees also make honey combs, though not nearly as much as honey bees. Learn something new every day! In the end we decided to leave the bumblebees here, they're natives that have little habitat in the city and they only make enough honey to keep the hive going through their annual life cycle so there is nothing to harvest. Jan went away empty-handed but at least we got to visit for a little while.
Jan in her bee suit, getting ready to remove the bees

At 8:30 pm the bumblebees were still returning to the nest. It was 52 degrees. I guess the bumblebees are like the mason bees, hardy natives that fly at lower temperatures than the non-native European honey bees. Jan said they are also more industrious workers than the honey bees. I will research them later and find out exactly what kind of bees they are. I hope the next owners of this house appreciate native bees as much as I do. After all, they will be helping the mason bees pollinate the Asian pears, cherries, apples and blueberries; not to mention any vegetable crops they might decide to grow that need pollinators.

This morning when I called Mom to remind her to take her alendronate I got careless. She had been doing so well I forgot to say, "Its the one with the green cap." So she took her morning pills, the one on the "pink side". Which then meant she could not take her alendronate since she is supposed to take it on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before eating or taking any other medication. I will have to remember that for the future.

Happy Birthday to Chuck, Jack, Meira, Donna, Alika, and Amy!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Irises Are Blooming

The purple bicolor tall bearded irises have started to bloom. They are my most consistent and vigorous bloomers. I also have a medium tall pale yellow one, a tall white with purple picotee one, and a tall maroon iris. The calla lilies are also starting to bloom.

I discovered that honey bees have taken over the nesting box outside the kitchen window. Last year a  pair of black-capped chickadees nested in it. I tried to see if I could get the bees out but they have packed the whole box with honeycomb. And they were very angry about my attempts. (I closed the box up at night, they were still angry but also sleepy so they weren't flying around.) Tomorrow evening my friend Jan is coming over to get the box. She will transfer the colony over to one of her empty hives. Yay!

Happy Birthday to Maya and Ryan!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Success! ... I Think ...

I was mistaken yesterday when I said, "At least I know if the mail is there tomorrow when she goes to put out the envelope that she really did pick up the mail today." Yes, she did pick up mail yesterday, however, was it mail from Wednesday that sat there overnight? Or was it really Thursday's mail? Which I won't know since I did not ask Mom to go and check for mail after lunch.

As it happens, when I had Mom put the IRS envelope out in the mail today at 9 am HST, the mail was already there! Today I made the assumption that the mail found was really yesterday's mail that came at 12 noon, but I convinced Mom to leave the IRS envelope in the mailbox even at that early in the day.

Later she checked after lunch and there was no mail but the IRS envelope was gone! I am assuming the mail carrier is the one who picked it up. I hope it doesn't show up again ...

Happy Birthday to Momo and Shiro! The Boys are 15 years old. They were wild little things when we got them. No, really, they were. Their mother was feral and so were they. When they were about 4 months old I had to corner them and throw a towel over them to catch them. Then it took about a month of constantly picking them up and holding them until they were too tired to resist and stay awake before they finally began to trust us. You would not know that to look at them today.
Momo and Shiro, 2010

Shiro and Momo curled up in Chibi's bed, 2011

Shiro and Momo cuddled up together in the top of the cat tree, 2013

Shiro and Momo getting comfortable in their travel carriers a month before their move to Hawai'i, 10/2015.

Happy Birthday also to Bill and Devin!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Still Not In the Mail

When I called Mom about 10:30 am HST to remind her to take her morning pills I also asked her to take the IRS envelope out to the mailbox. She initially argued that it was too early, that the mail came at noon and she did not want it to sit outside that long. I finally convinced her to do it. Guess what! The mail was already there!

At least that's what she said. She says she is sure that she picked the mail up yesterday, but I am not convinced. At any rate, the IRS envelope is back in the house. I will try again tomorrow. At least I know if the mail is there tomorrow when she goes to put out the envelope that she really did pick up the mail today. And I will have to make her put it out earlier on Saturday.

What I really should have done is put the IRS envelope in my backpack on 04/12, brought it back, and mailed it from here. Then I would know for sure that it got sent off in a timely manner. Unfortunately, I thought there was enough time and I did not count on her losing it on 04/14, then having it reappear after 04/18. If it does not get mailed on Saturday, I will have Curt take it home with him and send it from his house.

It can be frustrating but I try to think about the things that Mom can still do and not dwell on the things she has difficulty with. I just try to remember that she can't do them and figure out a way to break it down in to smaller, doable pieces, if possible. Here's another way I keep sane, I look for cool things throughout the day. Like this hummingbird that was outside the bathroom window, getting nectar from the cherry flowers.
Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna)

Happy Birthday to Grant!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oh, No!

Last week I spent much of Thursday trying to make sure Mom mailed their income tax form and check off to the IRS. Tonight, after giving Momo his pill, she says, "I have to remember to mail your letter tomorrow." It turns out it is not my letter, it is the income tax form and check for the IRS! So apparently there was no mail delivery last week. And she must have placed the envelope on the breakfast table, most likely after I got off the phone with her, and it got shuffled off in to some other pile of paper. I will try again tomorrow to have her get it in the mail!

On the positive side, she is doing well with giving Momo his thyroid pill. The first week it was only one pill, which I had her give him when she took her alendronate first thing in the morning. Yesterday it was increased to 2 pills a day; I have her give him the second one when she takes her evening pills. Momo likes the pill pockets and has come to expect his special treats and will go to her when she calls him or he hears her opening the container that the pill pockets are in. I guess it is fortunate that Dad had us keep Momo's pills on the shelf near the wooden bird figure that holds the outgoing mail!

Here is one of the little ways I keep from letting every little thing get me discouraged - weird humor. Does anyone else remember those small black rubber doll heads that were sold as "shrunken heads"? The ones made to look like the lips were sewn shut? Here is our post-Easter version.

Happy Birthday to Carole!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Arrived While I Was Away

Before I went to Hawai'i for Uncle Art's service, technically it was Spring but I wasn't really seeing it in the plants in the yard.

The sweet cherries were just starting to form buds, now the blossoms of the Van (a Bing-type cherry) are done and the Rainier (a Queen Anne-type cherry) are in full bloom.
April 16th
March 24th

The blueberry buds were also just starting, now the Blue Ray is in full bloom. The 3 other varieties are in various stages.
March 28th
April 16th

The leaf buds on the apples were just forming. Now the Gravenstein apple tree is in full bloom and the buds on the Spartan are just starting to form.
March 26th
April 16th

The Solomon's seal was less than a foot high and the bleeding heart leaves were just coming up. Now the Solomon's seal is nearly 3 feet tall and the bleeding hearts are blooming.
March 26th
April 16th

The rhubarb was about a foot across, now it is about 3 feet wide.
March 19th
April 16th

The camas was coming up and now it is about a foot high, though no blossoms yet.
March 19th
April 17th

I am going to miss this part of the changing of the seasons but not the part where the fall and winter air is so damp it is hard to keep warm without my battery-heated vest. Hawai'i does have a change of seasons but it is more subtle than in the more temperate regions. Fruiting trees tend to have distinct months when they blossom though it does vary according to the variety. And a few trees do actually drop their leaves. Some plants, like poinsettias and kalanchoes, set flower buds when the day length starts decreasing but won't bloom vigorously in Hawai'i unless you trick them by making the day length appear even shorter. This can be as simple as moving a potted plant to the north side of the house under the eaves. I will have to get myself reacquainted with the rhythms of the aina. Mom will appreciate it when I get a garden going for her again.

Just spent almost half an hour talking Mom through refilling her pill box; I am very glad my brother usually fills it for her every week when he does their grocery shopping. (He got distracted this week and forgot to do it.) The only pill she did not refill was calcium citrate; she could not find the bottle. I am letting it slide this week, Curt should be able to find it next week. It was very apparent that she can't fill the pill box on her own any longer, she tried to put 2 of her prescriptions in twice.

Up until about 18 months ago she was able to put the pills in by herself and also remember to take them daily. During my trip back home around that time I discovered she was not taking her pills regularly. We decided we needed to help out with that; since he was there it made sense for Curt to fill the pill box when he dropped off their grocery items on Sunday. Since I had less meetings it made sense for me to be the one calling 3 times a day to remind her to take them. (Hooray for cell phones!) I also order the refills; I count her pills when I am there and figure out how many weeks of pills she has left. Then 2 weeks before she runs out of pills, I call the automated pharmacy line when it is convenient for me. Within 5 working days of the order being placed they mail it to her for free. Winner!

Happy Birthday to the Lady in Red!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mission Control to Mom

I spent a lot of time talking to Mom today. At 7:30 am HST I called to remind her to take her alendronate, which has to be taken by itself and at least 30 minutes before any other medication or food. I also asked her to give Momo his pill. While she was doing that she noticed the envelope to be mailed to the IRS with their return and check; she said it was too early to put in the outgoing mail. (She likes to put it out just before the mail carrier comes, around noon. This is why it did not go out on Monday since we left for Punchbowl before she felt it was safe to put out and returned after the mail had come. It also did not go out on Tuesday because it was too early when we left for the airport and too late for me to remind her when my phone was out of airplane mode. Wednesday's focus was spent trying to find Momo's pills, so I totally forgot about the envelope.) She said she was putting it on the table with the breakfast things so that she would remember to put it out after breakfast. Knowing the condition of the table with lots of miscellaneous piles of things, I asked her to put it back and I would call her to remind her. She kept arguing that it would help her remember to have it on the breakfast table. However, from past experience I knew that she ends up piling any paper on the table at one end so it would get mixed in with other papers and forgotten. I told her several times again that I would call to remind her to put it out, she finally relented and put it back where the outgoing mail is kept.

About an hour later she called to ask whether she had paid the income tax. I said, Yes, but she needed to mail the envelope that was in the outgoing mail. I told her I would call to remind her to put it out. She said she needed to check if the mail had already come for today and if it had she would need to put it out in tomorrow's mail. She took the cordless phone out to the mailbox and reported that there was no new mail (at 8:30 am). I told her I would call to remind her to put it out.

About a half hour later she called to find out whether she needed to dial "1" before dialing my number on her cell phone. I said, No. (The earlier call was from her cell phone.) She then said she spent so much time getting a wrong number because she was dialing "1" that she forgot what she was calling about. I was pretty sure it was about the income tax but I did not mention it.

Ten minutes later she called to ask about the income tax and whether she had paid it. I said, Yes, but she needed to mail the envelope and that I would call to remind her to put it out in the mail. She was satisfied with that answer. Repetition seems to help to calm her down about forgetting things.

When I called about 10:45 am to remind her to mail the envelope, she said it was gone. She said she must have taken it out to the mailbox already. I asked her to check since I knew it was in the house at 9 am and she did not like to put it out before 11 am. She said it was not in the mailbox and there was no new mail; I am concerned that instead of putting it out in the mail she has put it somewhere else in the house and it will get lost. I asked her to take her morning pills. I planned to call again later in the afternoon, when I was sure mail should have been delivered, and have her check if there is new mail.

Mom called about 1:45 pm to ask about a note she found about looking for Momo's pills, it was notes she made yesterday. She also wrote on the same piece of paper saying she needed to send me more money. After I assured her several times that she had taken care of both of them, I was able to convince her to cross out each note, tear up the paper, and throw it out. I have found that if she just crosses out notes, it still bothers her that it has not been done; the paper has to be torn and thrown out in order for it to register as no longer being important. I asked her to check the mail, there was none; so perhaps the tax return and check did get picked up this morning. She had no recollection of already having gone to the mailbox twice or having mailed the envelope.

When I called about 6:30 pm to remind her to take her evening pills she said she was washing dishes and would be done at 7 so call her back then. She was upset because Dad went outside to sit on the porch. When I called at 7 Dad answered, Mom was wiping the stove down, which concerned me because she should not be cooking without anyone supervising. I got her to take her evening pills then asked her what they had for dinner. It turned out to be leftovers, which were most likely heated in the microwave so I think cleaning the stove is just an old habit.

I wonder if this is what it is like for NASA scientists operating space probes? Mission Control gives a command and an hour later they check to see if the vehicle is responding. I think they have the easier task since the options are to respond to the command or not. The vehicle will not decide on its own to do something else completely different! (And if it did it would only be the limited options that were programmed in to the vehicle.)
Sometimes I feel like I am trying to control a robot arm when I can't see where it is. I have to rely on what Mom tells me, which is sometimes very confusing because she is now having trouble with words; and there is also the use of the ubiquitous pidgin phrase "da kine" thrown in to the mix. (If I was there with her to see the context and and body language it would make more sense.) I also have to become more specific with my words and phrases, detailed enough so she knows what to do but not so detailed as to confuse her. I find myself revising my phrases to get the point across since she keeps coming back to earlier questions. The silver lining is all this should make me better able to communicate with others!

Happy Birthday to Lois, Brenda, and Maia!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Momo's Medication

I spent the night at Aunty Florence's house since she lives near the airport and by the time we got our luggage it was about 10:30 pm. The flight was uneventful, even with all the babies onboard; there was a little fussiness but no non-stop crying. As the plane was loading I noticed a vehicle pull up under the wing, then another, and another; all different vehicles, but none of the drivers did anything. I realized they must be taking a break and found the nearest shady spot!

In the morning, before we left for the airport, Dr. Belcher called to let me know that Momo did indeed have a thyroid problem. He prescribed a pill for him and suggested using pill pockets so Momo would eat it on his own rather than Mom or Dad having to catch him and pop it into his mouth. It sounded like a good plan. Dr. Belcher wants to see Momo in June to check his thyroid levels again; he said if he has had at least 60% of the pills during that period he should be able to see if it is effective.

I called this morning to remind Mom to take her first pill. Then I asked her to give Momo his pill and she said, "What pill?" We then spent an hour unsuccessfully searching for the container with Momo's pills. I think she searched the kitchen, family room, and dining room 4 or 5 times each, always thinking it was the first time she had looked there. I also had her look in the refrigerator and cabinet where some breakfast items are stored. I was very specific in describing where she should look, basing my requests on previous locations of her pill pack when she was unable to find it. She said she would continue looking for them but insisted that Dad ate them! They called me back about an hour later, after Dad woke up. I could hear her in the background saying that he ate them, but it was chocolate candy that he had eaten. But Dad did find the pills, they were on the bookshelf by the garage door. We have decided to keep them there since he would know where they are (and he can see them from his chair in the family room).

Here is what my things at Mom and Dad's looks like. When I leave I put everything neatly away. With signs on everything. There is even a sign that says where to put any mail that I receive.

Here is one of the Leahi series of photos, taken from the plane
Leahi #5? from the plane

While waiting for Kai to pick me up, he called. He said, "I don't know where I am but I took the 200th St exit." I said, "From I-5?" and he said, "Yes". I then asked if he was south of the airport and he said yes. I directed him to get on I-5 northbound and take I-405 northbound to the Maple Valley Highway going east and then things would become familiar and he should be here within 15 minutes.

After an hour or so I called again, he didn't answer. When he called back he was at exit 24 on I-405, about 20 miles north of where he needed to be! He completely missed the I-405 interchange and continued to go north instead of turning around. I guess I also need to be more specific in my instructions with him as well.

Happy Birthday to BJ and John! Happy Anniversary to Mary Ellen and Michael!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


We started the day with a visit to Punchbowl, aka the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, for Uncle Art's interment. The ceremony was moving. A pair of soldiers marched to a place in front of Aunty Judy and her family, they unfolded the flag. Taps was played, they refolded the flag, and presented it to her. (Apparently they no longer do 21-gun salutes.) The urn was then placed in the columbarium niche. Throughout the ceremony it was drizzling on and off. There is a Hawaiian story that says that rain is the tears of the gods.  
After we left Punchbowl we went to lunch at Zippy's. Mom, Aunty Florence, and I all had a variation of saimin to help us warm up after the drizzly morning. Then Aunty Florence decided to buy her own birthday "cake" from Napoleon's Bakery since today is her birthday. She got long johns and anpan for all of us. Both of these are desserts Mom and Aunty Florence would get from Holy's Bakery in Kapa'au when they were growing up. They brought back good memories for them.

I took Momo to the vet after lunch. It appeared that he had thrown up 4 times in the first week that I was here, so I made an appointment for him. Then last night I discovered that perhaps he was not responsible for 2 of the instances but I did not know for sure. Dr. Belcher examined him and found he had a slightly enlarged left lobe of the thyroid and small kidneys. He drew some blood, results will be back tomorrow.

We met Curt and Lori for dinner at Big City Diner to celebrate Aunty Florence's birthday. This was Week#4 and one of the specials was the Spicy Ahi and Avocado Poke Bowl with Sriracha Aioli, Aunty Florence and Curt had that. Mom went for the hamburger steak, Lori had the "Not So Big" Bowl of Big City Chili, and I decided to try the Really Loco, Loco Moco with Grandma's Incredible Kimchee Fried Rice. The servings were large and 'ono; we took home a lot of leftovers for Dad.
L to r: Really Loco, Loco Moco with Grandma's Incredible Kimchee Fried Rice, "Not So Big" Bowl of Big City Chili, and Spicy Ahi and Avocado Poke with Sriracha Aioli

It must have been birthday night at Big City Diner. Shortly after we were seated a 5-year old boy at a nearby table was being celebrated. And near the end of our dinner a 1-year old girl at the next table celebrated her 1st birthday. Aunty Florence fit right in with her 17th birthday celebration! The sister of the 1-year old came over and gave each of us a rainbow heart sticker. (Mine is on the back of my phone case.) Mom and Aunty Florence determined that this is the first birthday of hers that they have celebrated together since there is such a large difference in age between them.

Here's a last look at my dry erase board that I have been using to keep organized. Everything in red was the "have to do" things, blue were "really nice to do", and green were the "nice if I can get a round to it" chores.

Momo has now gotten in the act of "watching" Korean soap operas with Mom. Here's Momo and Xander with Mom. One of these days all 4 cats will be watching Korean soap operas with her!

Happy Birthday to Ernie! Happy Anniversary to Bo and Barbara!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

442nd RCT 73rd Anniversary Reunion

Today was the 73rd Anniversary Reunion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. My father served with the K Company of the 442nd. U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard made a presentation of one of the many government proclamations honoring the 442. Curt says she is one of the best representatives the State has.
U. S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

The lunch meal itself was interesting. Mom was the first one at our table to get a meal and was the only one with a meal for about 5 minutes. During that time we wondered why they were serving both rice and mashed potatoes. When the server returned with more meals she said, "The thing that looks like mashed potatoes is fish. They told us we were serving chicken and fish and I said, 'Where's the fish?'" When my sister-in-law came by after the meal, she mentioned that the mashed potatoes had an unusual flavor; we told her it was fish and she said no wonder she found a small fish bone in her mashed potatoes! Unfortunately, I did not take a photo at the beginning of the meal so you can't really appreciate how much the fish looked like mashed potatoes.
Mashed potato fish at 12 o'clock

The dessert was much more normal than the mashed potatoes. And it was delicious, too!

Mom did not eat all of her lunch, she wanted to take it home in a doggie bag. She kept asking if they would give her a doggie bag, I kept telling her no this was not a restaurant. She found a plastic bag in her purse and decided to put her leftovers in that. Fortunately, she started in on her dessert and forgot about putting the leftovers in the bag. I am wondering how much of this is the dementia and how much is the Depression Era frugality at work; or perhaps it is the long-term memories of the Depression Era that are sparking the drive to save everything. (She has a collection of slightly used napkins. If she offers you one, make sure she got it from the roll of paper towels or the napkin holder.)

At the reunion, Ruth and her son Les sat at the K Company table with us. Ruth's husband was in the K Company. Mom says we are related to Ruth through Doris' husband Tom. Ruth gave Mom a small present at the luncheon, now Mom is beside herself trying to figure out what to send her in return. (They live in Hilo and went back this evening.) I offered to send her a smoked salmon. (Bartell's has the best price, which has not changed in a decade or more.) But she was ambivalent about that because it was not from her. Not sure if this is the dementia talking or some old Japanese omiyage-related custom that I am unaware of.

After the reunion, we went to H&R Block for Mom and Dad to finalize their tax return. Since I could not find any evidence of them having made an estimated tax payment, I told Connie to show no payment and they would pay the full amount owing. When we got there Mom wanted to carry the checkbook but I would not let her, she got angry about that saying she could take care of her checkbook. She told Connie she was able to handle her own business but when I gave her the checkbook when it was time to write the check, she gave it back to me and told me to write the check and Dad would sign the check!

I think Momo and Shiro both are sensing that I will be leaving soon. Momo is acting like a dog and sleeping near my feet. And Shiro now waits outside the door to the bathroom or bedroom when I am in either.

I have not been successful in convincing Mom and Dad to use the services provided by the city's Elderly Care office. They don't want meals delivered to them or someone to come in and clean occasionally or even drive them to appointments. I am hoping that once I move here, they will be more open to having some help come in occasionally so I can get a break. Erica said if we needed their help, she would make sure she is the one that would be coming to our house, so that might be a good solution.

Happy Birthday to Anabel! And Happy Anniversary to Susi!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Uncle Art

Today was Uncle Art's service. When the reverend came out to start the service I thought he looked rather young; it turns out Tomioka Sensei is 28 years old! He has been serving in Hawaii 3 years. Unlike a Christian service, he spoke about compassion and the departed always being with us; it was much more positive. During the chanting of the nembutsu it was interesting to hear my brother's in-laws chanting along with Tomioka Sensei; it was one of their old memories that is still intact. The Music and Memory folks use music to reach people with severe dementia.

It is also Aunty Daisy's birthday today. We called her in the morning (about 1 pm her time) but got no answer, so we sang Happy Birthday to her message machine. We have not heard back from her. Hope everything is all right with her.

Before we left for the service I had time to peel a jabon so we could find out if this year's crop was any good. As you can see the rind is rather thick. It helps protect the fruit but it sure is tough to peel.

The jabon tasted good and was also juicy. So Aunty Florence and I picked more fruit this morning; they need to sit for a couple of days to develop the best flavor. Besides having the largest fruit of any type of citrus, I think it also has the largest spines; its almost as long as my index finger.

While up in the tree picking jabon, we found a nest. There were 4 tiny white eggs in it. I guessed from the size it must be a mejiro nest. Mejiro means "white eye" in Japanese. Later in the day, I was able to confirm that it was a mejiro.
Mejiro (Zosterops japonicus)

I finally found the local PBS Hawaii station. Yay! Tonight I watched 2 parts of a series called, "The Story of Women and Art." It was really interesting, I wish I could have listened to all the segments.


DJ from A-1 Budget Plumbing installed the new disposal this morning; he was also here about a month ago to fix a noise in the old disposal. (A-1 was great about having him come back again so Mom will become familiar with him.) From the moment he walked in the door until he said it was finished was about 35 minutes. And that included clearing stuff out from under the sink (which I forgot to do this morning after breakfast). Although I did not install it, I had a very important task regarding the new disposal installation ... the data for the next installation!

I vacuum almost every morning with Mom's Shark Navigator, which is touted as having more suction to get pet hair and dander. It does get a lot more stuff than her old Shark. This morning it was having a problem, it wasn't sucking at all. It turns out it had a similar problem as the cats ... a hairball! A twistie got stuck in the opening and was collecting hair, not sure how long it has been there but it was large enough to seal off the entire opening. Once I cleared that out it was back to business.

Today was also H&R Block day. This time we had almost all the paperwork. The only piece Mom was missing was documentation of the amount of estimated taxes that they paid last year. So I was sent home with the homework assignment to find the papers. Dad's forgetfulness was apparent while we were waiting at H&R Block, he kept asking what we were there for.

While searching for either the estimated 2015 tax form, Mom's old check registers, or Mom's bank statements with cancelled checks, I saw more evidence of Mom's condition. Files that once used to be very organized were now a jumble of different things all in the same folder. One of the bank statements I was looking for was in a folder with recipes, a list of Mom's investments, and old e-mails. I also ran across some of her old notebooks. An entry in one from May 2015 said she was going to move to Kohala with me because she was mad at Dad.

While at H& R Block, I took Leahi #4. At least I think it is #4, I will have to organize all my Leahi photos and see how many I have so I will know how many more I have to do for the 36 view series.
Leahi #4 from H&R Block Kahala Mall

For dessert tonight we baked the frozen passion-orange-guava pear pie that we got from Hawaiian Pie Company. It is a very solid pie and very tasty, lots of butter. Here it is before it went in to the oven.

Happy Birthday to Steve!