Another Cause Close to My Heart

#grandparents#alzheimers#memories#snhusmm

I decided NOT to talk about Multiple Sclerosis or Breast Cancer today. Although those are two main causes that hit very close to me, another is Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia. How very convenient for me that November happens to be Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Yes, I have had grandparents diagnosed with this disease, and have watched as they slowly mentally slipped away from the family during the course of this disease. It has been said so many times that Alzheimer’s is a disease that is harder on the loved ones than the afflicted person, and I can tell you that I know that is a fact.

My maternal grandmother had already mentally slipped quite a bit when my grandfather passed away in 1989. Like so many other married couples who have been together for an extended period of time, my grandfather hid the fact that Mam-ma was not as mentally sharp as she used to be from the family by reminding her of appointments, answering the same questions over and over, and even helping her to get dressed and look nice before leaving their home. I don’t think my grandfather knew he was having to do more and more for my grandmother, he just did it out of love for his wife who may not be remembering things as clearly as she used to. None of the family had noticed any drastic change in behavior in either one of them.

Then the day came that my grandfather had a stroke at home. Mam-maw sat at his side, wiping his brow and attempting to get him to respond to her, not realizing that he was in a medical emergency. My mother happened to call their home after they failed to show up for my grandmother’s weekly hair appointment. When she asked my grandmother why they weren’t at the appointment, my grandmother simply mentioned that Harry was still in bed and was resting. My mother immediately knew that something was wrong, called 911, and then raced to my grandparent’s house.

To make a long story short, my grandfather was transferred to a large hospital in our state’s capitol. After being in Cardiac Intensive Care for a week, his body succumbed to several more strokes before passing away. I was devastated. My grandparents had lived only two miles from my childhood home, and I was used to seeing each of them on a regular basis. After his death, it became apparent to the family that my grandmother was losing her mental capabilities at an alarming rate. She was constantly asking anyone and everyone where Harry was, and insisting that someone take her home. Of course, home to her was her childhood home, not the home she had shared with my grandfather for years, and raised her children.

My grandmother was healthy in other ways—except for her mental condition, which was good news and bad news for the family, meaning that she would live several more years with her health in good form. Unfortunately, her mental condition continued to deteriorate at an extremely rapid pace. She became suspicious of everyone, accusing visitors of taking things from her home, belligerent in her attitudes, and childlike in her behaviors. I recall going to visit her at my aunt and uncle’s house on my wedding day in 1991. She didn’t know who I was, and questioned why I brought her a corsage. She was suspicious as to my intentions, and the tears cascaded down my cheeks as I told her goodbye. When I left her that day to get ready for my evening ceremony, I hugged her tightly, not only saying goodbye to my grandmother for the day, but also silently saying goodbye to the once vibrant, energetic, fun-loving grandmother of my past.

As I write these memories, tears are once again cascading down my face. The tears are for the grandmother I once knew, the grandmother my children never got a chance to know, and all the grandparents and families facing the hardship of Alzheimer’s right now.

Below I have included a link to the Alzheimer’s Association with some early warning signs of the disease. Today, there are disease modifying drugs which show promise of reducing the symptoms of this awful disease. I have experienced first-hand how emotionally draining this disease can be for family members of the person afflicted with it. I urge each of you to read the attached link, and be aware of the early symptoms in yourself as well as family members.

If any of you has experienced a loved one or acquaintance with Alzheimer’s, please leave a comment stating your experiences, I know that I am not alone with these memories. Bless you and yours.

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers

 

Here is what has been on my mind lately,

#breastcancer,#mastectomy,#decisions

And not surprisingly, it has been breast cancer! I had an appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Peacock, yesterday and he seemed surprised that I was open to a double mastectomy. He told us that my cancer was a recurrence of my initial breast cancer of 2014, and also that this type of cancer showed a high likelihood of returning, just based on the type of cancer it is. Not really surprised, but he immediately told me that having a double mastectomy would be a sure way to remove the chance of recurrence of breast cancer! He also told me that because my MS, or rather having had it for so long, that my doctors will not want to treat it as aggressively as they would if I didn’t have MS. Now I need to make an appointment with my breast surgeon to discuss if I want immediate reconstruction or what? I need to ask if I will still need radiation, or not? Do I want the skin saving operation, or not? Aauugghh! Please, just take my breasts away, and I don’t care how my clothes fit my post-mastectomy body!! My breasts have served their purposes. They fed my two daughters for almost two years each, which was supposedly supposed to help me NOT to get breast cancer!

I’ve never been one to take pride in my appearance excessively. I don’t think I would mind not having a bosom, but who knows? Maybe I would miss my future grandchildren laying their heads down against my cushion-ey breasts to sleep, or maybe I wouldn’t! I just know that removing my breasts entirely would give me peace of mind that breast cancer will not be my downfall!! I think that I have already made the decision for myself, it’s just hard for me to say the actual words! I need my husband, daughters, and family even more than I’ve needed them before, but I know that God will be with me, no matter what!

Etiquette for Dealing with the Disabled

http://ability360.org/disability-etiquettetips

#wheelchair#multiplesclerosis#beawareofyoursurroundings#watchyourwords#snhusmm#etiquette#talktothepersonnotthedisability

One day several years ago, when my husband and I took our children to a local amusement park, we witnessed an example of extremely rude behavior. At the time, it shocked me into dumbfounded silence, now I would like to recount the experience here so that hopefully nobody has to experience the same thing as I did. I’m sharing an essay from my as book, Living with Multiple Sclerosis:  The Ripple Effect.

It happened one summer when our children were about 8 and 4 and we had taken them to a small amusement park about an hour from our home to spend the day. It just so happened that this family theme park doesn’t charge admission for persons in wheelchairs. Steve and the kids went in the gates, showing their season passes, while I stood back for a park employee to open the gate for me. It just so happened that a large group was behind me. Judging from their matching t-shirts, it was a family reunion. The eldest gentleman in the group loudly remarked,

            “Boy, I wish I was in a wheelchair so I could get in for free!”

The words alone didn’t disturb me, but the fact that he was surrounded by his adult children and young grandchildren did. I was shocked that he would say something so blatantly prejudiced against all handicapped visitors to the park. He voiced his statement rather loudly, so that his entire family of about 20 people could hear. If I had my wits about me, I would have said something along the lines of,

            “I will gladly trade my wheelchair for your legs any time.”

But unfortunately I didn’t think of saying that until much later, when the man was not around. A few of his adult children acted embarrassed by his words, and offered me a shrug of their shoulders and a sympathetic smile. I would have felt much better about the entire incident had one of his adult children taken the time to point out to the eight or nine children that were with the group the fact that their grandfather was wrong for saying what he did. That was a teachable moment that was lost. I vowed to myself not to let moments such as this to slip by without making a comment. Not necessarily a rude comment, but something to say so that other people will know not to say those types of things.

I think back now to that day, and I realize the gentleman didn’t mean to sound prejudiced toward the handicapped community. At least I hope he didn’t mean to announce publicly his ignorance of the situation. I realize now that he was probably simply making an off-hand remark in an attempt at humor. The truth is that all of us should be aware of what we are saying, and who could be listening. Yes, I’m disappointed that one of the adults in the group didn’t take the time to point out the rudeness of the comment to the children in the group. Maybe they did, just out my hearing.

In closing remarks, I simply want to say that not all handicapped individuals need assistance, but if they ask for it, please offer assistance in the kindest way possible, and with graciousness. We are not the sum of our disabilities, but rather our disabilities make up a small part of who we are!

If you have ever encountered someone with no regard for another person’s handicaps, please leave a comment below and tell me how it was handled.

I’m baaack!

Well just like the little girl in the horror movie Poltergeist says, I’m back! Today is only Thursday, but when I left my home Monday morning for a “simple out patient surgical procedure” I had no idea it would become another two days in the hospital for me. My original kidney stent replacement lead to my blood pressure and oxygen levels going on a roller coaster ride along with my temperatures, so the doctors wouldn’t release me to come home until I had been pumped full of two different antibiotics and was able to keep food down. My blood pressure had to be convinced to remain  at an above-normal reading for me which is basically most people’s normal reading. For example, my BP on Monday prior to surgery was 120/70 which is several points higher than normal.

Dr. Moore operated on me this time because my urologist was out of the country. He said the stent replacement went well, and while he was inside my kidney was able to “suck a lot of infectious stuff out” as well as break up the major stone into much smaller pieces. While I was in post-op, expecting to be able to come home, I began running high temps and vomiting so they held me in recovery for several hours. I was checked into a room around 8:00 that night, and was kept hydrated with IV fluids and plenty of painkillers and slept most of the night and next day. On Wednesday, I had been able to keep a few crackers down as well as pass a few stones out of my system, so they sent me home.

I don’t know what I would do without Sloan staying with me Tuesday afternoon and night. She doesn’t realize how much better it made me feel, just knowing she was only an arm’s reach away. The nurse gave a pain pill and flu shot before Sloan brought me home. I went to bed then and slept off and on until Wednesday afternoon. Now there are some things I need to get started on before my need for another pain pill gets too great. I am thankful for the wonderful doctor’s and nurses at St. Vincent’s in Little Rock for taking such great care of me.

Now Steve is trying to fight off a sinus infection/allergy ailment that he gets every fall, and I am too weak to help him with anything. I feel so helpless right now, but my faith in our Lord will see me through all of this of that much I am sure…

Good news that comes with a warning

Well, Steve and I spent the day yesterday at UAMS in Little Rock. I had 3 separate appointments. At 8:30, I was scheduled for a bone density scan, 9:30 blood work, and 11:00 a follow-up with my oncologist. The first two were fairly quick, In and out in minutes. However, Dr. Makhaoul’s office was slammed, with every seat in the waiting room occupied. Despite this fact, Dr. Makhoul spent several minutes with us answering questions, conversing, etc. and I did not in the least feel rushed.

The first bit of news he gave was the overwhelmingly good news that the results of the further testing of my breast tissue would not require chemotherapy in addition to radiation!! Until I heard the words coming from his mouth, I didn’t realize how heavily this had been weighing on my mind. I had him repeat the news several times to make sure the full effect of the words would sink into my brain. The next thing he told me wasn’t as good: my bone density is -4.78. That is very bad. In fact, he said it was the lowest he had ever seen. This will require daily changes to my routine, such as standing on the lift for longer periods of time and increasing my calcium intake at every chance I get. The other not so good news was that he didn’t want me to start taking the pill that will suppress my estrogen until my bone density is higher. Which means that radiation treatments won’t start for at least 3 weeks. I was hoping to start them sooner rather than later, but medicine doesn’t always take into consideration the patient’s plans!

I am at peace with this decision, as well as drinking lots of milk, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurts! I tried to convince Steve that milk chocolate is also a good source of calcium, but he saw through me =). Oh, well, I prefer dark chocolate anyway! I had better close this for today, I see a big glass of soy milk just waiting for me!

The First Phone Call from Heaven – book review

This is yet another reblog from the same site. An interesting read, especially if you are an Albom fan as I am.

brainsnorts inc.

9781847442260

Just as UFO’s seem to only show themselves in rural areas instead of those with a more dense, and perhaps more intellectual population, so goes The First Phone Call from Heaven, when phones begin to ring in Coldwater, Michigan, population not a whole lot.  On one particular Friday, a day of the week considered rather important among Christians, a half dozen phones ring.  On the other end is a very familiar, if not unmistakable voice of a loved one who had passed away within the past year or two.

A police chief hears from his military son, killed in Afghanistan.  A general contractor hears from a man who died while under his employment.  A woman hears from her sister who battled cancer.  Another woman hears from her deceased mother.  There are a few others who, unbeknownst to each other, are blessed with a minute or two of talk time with…

View original post 2,206 more words

The Next Shooter

I found this blog on another sight and it sounded as though many of us could have written it. Please take the few moments to read for yourself:

brainsnorts inc.

I know the next shooter.

man-watching-tv-in-darkHe’s white, between 19 and 25.  He is thin and doesn’t do much with his hair.  It usually looks kind of messed, wavy, but he might have a buzzcut now.  It’s hard to say because he doesn’t leave the house much.  I think he’s an only child, not from a big family.  He is known to be very smart, perhaps brilliant, but socially awkward and withdrawn.

He probably enjoys computers, where a virtual world is more comfortable.  He either has been or is about to begin seeing a therapist, maybe even takes some medications to help him cope.  He either argues with his parents or just seems indifferent to them.  Classmates from high school barely remember him because he did very little to stand out.  He feels ignored, unwanted, and disliked.  Nobody notices him much.  Few remember his name.  He feels insignificant, as if he…

View original post 63 more words

Monday mornings come around every week…

I don’t understand why Mondays have gotten such a negative reputation for oh, so many years. Sure, it marks the definitive end to a weekend, as well as the beginning to another week of working, but it’s also a chance to wipe the slate clean of any negative thoughts and behaviors and begin anew with plans, ideas, promises, and generally good thoughts. Once I began changing my attitude about Mondays, I began seeing the world in a different light.

I’m not saying that changing the way you think about Mondays is going to change your life, but who is it going to harm? I used to drag myself into work each Monday morning, still groggy from hitting the snooze button on my alarm multiple times, not looking forward to the upcoming week, and counting the days until Friday!  This was a time when I was working at a large insurance company, headquartered in Dallas, TX. Most of the employees were friends within the company, as well as out. We spent many weekend together, visiting various festivals all around the state, going to fairs, rafting the rivers, etc. It wasn’t until I was fired from that position that I realized how much I actually missed the camaraderie I had with my fellow employees, at least the ones in my department.

Suddenly, Mondays became much like any other day of the week for me, and I actually missed my alarm waking me, getting dressed, and going to work! I was forced to move back to Arkansas and into my childhood bedroom due to medical reasons. This happened 29 years ago, when  I was first diagnosed with  Multiple Sclerosis. I decided right then that I would not allow depression to overtake my outlook on life, and instead looked at each day as a new beginning. Each morning was a new day to learn more about the disease, a new day to educate someone about MS, and most importantly, a new day to be thankful to God for allowing me to wake up each morning!

I’m NOT saying that it was easy, because I missed my friendships in Dallas, and the work, which was actually giving me a purpose in Life! My purpose had changed drastically. Now instead of waking each morning with a shower, and dressing in business attire, I was often simply waking and dressing in sweat pants. I missed the Dallas traffic, and I never thought I would ever say that! I began once again putting God in my life, front and center, and thanking Him for each little progress I made in my physical therapy, instead of bemoaning the physical abilities MS had taken from me.

I know that it was no coincidence that a very good friend of mine in my hometown, lost her newborn to SIDS about this time. Talk about bringing me down to Earth! Not long after, I received a phone call from a friend in Dallas with news that a former co-worker and friend had passed from this life after battling cancer for several years. With these two losses so close to one another, I forced myself to battle my way out of the darkest hole that I had ever been in. My neurologist prescribed antidepressants  for me at this time, which helped eliminate the dark clouds that kept forming over me, and I tuned to God. I asked Him why? I prayed for understanding. But I never asked Him why me? I will get my answers when I reach the gates of Heaven some day. Until then I try to remain grateful for what bodily functions and capabilities MS has not taken away from me. Even though I am now battling breast cancer, and have no idea where this journey is going to take me, I remain grateful for each day I awaken and am blessed to be one of God’s children. God is Good!

Nancy Wasson Wayland

I’m busier than I thought…

Okay, so I don’t have as much time to sit around and post blogs as I originally thought! It is only my third day to post, but I began this 4 days ago! Where does my time go? I read for my class, blog, watch the news, and the Voice on television, I’ve been finalizing my book project, beginning to tweet with Twitter, spend time with Sloan and Steve, and that’s about it! So I am going to continue with my gratitude journal now.

Today I am grateful for my husband taking good care of me! All I have to do is mention something that I want and it’s there! He fixes me breakfast in bed most days, anything from eggs, turkey bacon, and toast, to oatmeal, bagel, and a breakfast sandwich! He is too good to me. He takes the time to ask about my schoolwork, take care of the animals, laundry, kitchen, and the vehicles, my medical appointments, and dozens of other things on his never-ending list of chores.

My mother in law and her husband are coming this weekend for 2 or 3 days. It’s always a pleasure when they visit, but it always ends too quickly. The house is a mess as usual, but Steve says his mom doesn’t come here to see our home but she comes to see us! I know that I should relax about it and simply visit, but I can’t!

I know that I should be thankful for the mess our house seems to be continually in, because it means we have too much junk lying around. So we must have had the money for it too, right? The fact that there are piles of clothes to be folded means we have plenty of clothes to wear. The fact that there are dirty dishes means that we have food to eat! The fact that I have an abundance of dust in the house reminds me that we live in the country, where I’ve always wanted to live!

So I will end this blog post now and begin cleaning with a grateful heart. God is Good.

Day 2, beginning a gratitude journal, long overdue…

Thanks for returning! I decided early this morning that I should begin a Gratitude Journal. Oprah Winfrey used to talk about her own Gratitude Journal I think in the last year of broadcasting her show, and before OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Since then, I have thought about keeping one for myself, but always talked myself out of it. I can no longer write with a pen or pencil, I can only type, so what use would a Gratitude Journal be to me, I thought often. As I remained in bed waiting for Steve to get me out of bed, I was following my daily routine of watching the Today Show on television. The were interviewing Joel Osteen, who many of you may know for his evangelical ministry on television. Well, he has written yet another book entitled I Am, and he was talking about how people should begin telling themselves positive things about themselves, rather than negative things, although he said it much more eloquently than I ever could!

We should begin each day with the feeling of gratefulness in our hearts. Even when we are tired, facing struggles at work or home, have no money to pay the bills, or even if you have no home of your own. Be grateful for the opportunities ahead of you each day. Be grateful for the sun shining, or the rain coming down, or be grateful for being able to take a deep breath, be grateful for everything you can see, touch, feel, or hear!

I am beginning today with my first entry in my own Gratitude Journal: I am grateful for the changing seasons where I live. I love the fall of the year, and get excited each year when the temperatures begin to drop ever so slightly. To me, the drop in temperatures is a way of bidding farewell to the sweltering heat of summer, and welcoming the cool climate of fall, complete with scarecrows, fall wreaths on each door, leaves of every color falling to the ground so that they emit a definite crunch when walking through them. Did I say that I love fall? I love football season, tailgating, and cheering on my Alma Mater, no matter how many (or few) games they may win! I reminds me that the holidays are on their way if I’m ready for them or not, and I won’t even begin to start listing the things I love about the holiday season!! I am grateful that I have been blessed to witness another day.

Some people may look at my life and wonder how can I find things to be grateful for? I agree with them. It’s hard some days to be grateful for what I have. I live in a manufactured home about 8.5 miles from the nearest town. I am disabled by Multiple Sclerosis, I now have my second round of Breast Cancer, I am due for another surgery on my kidney to hopefully remove the large kidney stone that has taken up residence there, I am incontinent from my MS and wear adult diapers each day and night, I stay at home each day unless someone comes to get me out of the house. I can’t walk, or even stand without assistance. I go to bed when someone comes to put me in bed, and I stay in bed until someone chooses to get me up. It sure doesn’t sound as though I have a lot to be thankful for, but I do!

I am grateful for the dawning of each and every day. I have a home to live in, and it protects me from the elements, I have food to eat, tea to drink, television to curb my boredom. I guess the things I am most grateful for are the people who love me. I am so blessed to have so many friends all over the world whom I know would drop everything on a moment’s notice to pray for me if I requested it of them. And I am doubly blessed to have my huge, wonderful family! They stretch from Arkansas to the Midwest, to California to our nation’s capital, I am blessed to have family in Colorado, New  Mexico, and beyond. My friends stretch even further, across borders and oceans. Yes, I am blessed.