You and Me Together

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love, Honor one another above yourselves.

Today was a stay at home day. I fixed Mike’s meals and worked around the house. I have been making my own extracts with a variety of different things: vanilla beans, orange peels, chocolate, and coffee are my 1st tries at this new adventure. I will be expanding to other food items in a bit, but this is enough for now.

I’ve noticed that Mike has a difficult time understanding me when I talk to him, and I have to be in front of him and talk slowly. I am sure some of this is due to his hearing problems, but it’s never been this bad in the past. There are times he cannot comprehend what I am saying to him when I am speaking slowly and I am standing in front of him. It does become frustrating after 3 or 4 times for him to still not ‘get it’; but if I go to walk away he gets very upset and that doesn’t help the situation at all! Patience is going to have to become a very real item for me to work on.

We had another upset this evening. As I was working on the room that is going to be my office, Mike came in and asked what I was planning to do with the room. I reminded him I was preparing for Saturday, there are a couple of people coming to help put together some furniture I had gotten through the mail so I could set up my office. He got really upset, asked me if I thought he wasn’t capable of doing this! and I reminded him we had discussed this before I made the arrangements for the help. He said he misunderstood me and he thought there were people coming, from the company I ordered from, to put the furniture together. He was confused why I would want help, hurt that I asked for help from an outside party. It took me quite a bit to convince him I wasn’t trying to undermine him, I wasn’t sidelining him, and I wasn’t ignoring him. I ended up in tears and he didn’t like that and walked away. Finally, we got things settled and all is fine as I prepare to close for this evening. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

A Basket of Goodies

This is a snack basket for Mike. He paces the house looking for food, and constantly opens the pantry and refrigerator. He seems to become agitated if there isn’t something readily available and it was recommended to me to have a basket of snacks and goodies for him. I wanted to have more nutritious things for him, but this is what he chose, so this is what he gets!

Yesterday, after I spoke to the doctor, a new medication was prescribed and today seemed to be a bit more calm. In fact, Mike was more involved than in the past few weeks. He even decided to re-arrange the furniture in the living room. He got tired before things were finished, but there’s been great progress.

As I walk through the day, I am reminded “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I am trusting God, knowing that He has full knowledge of what I am facing, and knowing He has full control over all things. I pray for strength and for continued peace in all I am dealing with. I know this is just the beginning, I know the road can be long and lonely. I also know I have the prayers of many. Today things are calm, and I am feeling positive; that may not be the case tomorrow, or next week. But I will take what I am blessed with right now.

At 9:20pm, Mike is asleep on the sofa next to me. The tv is on, and I will be shutting down soon. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

Faith

I will walk by faith, and I will trust in the Lord. I have made this my mantra for years, and I will continue with it. I will always give all over to the Lord.

Today I went over to the doctor’s office to ask what to do, or how to handle the situation if Mike becomes very agitated and aggressive again. I had a short interview with one of the nurses and I was told someone would call me back. Within 20 minutes of leaving the office, the doctor called me and talked with me for about 15 minutes, asking questions and making sure he understood the exact nature of my concern! What a total blessing and an answer to prayer…..Mike is going to begin a new medication, it may take a few days to get a therapeutic amount going, but it should help him significantly.

Mike also begged me to not work at the election polls on November 3rd. He was so concerned about my being there, and being gone from the house, for 12-14 hours. I told him I would withdraw from working. He was happy with that, and so it is. He is my number 1 priority.

My office cleaning is progressing, my husband is content, and I am sleepy. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

Let me be Singing

I pray I am singing when the evening comes

Today has been a grand day. Praise and worship help renew my spirit and lift me out of the sorrow. Mike has had a good day today, he’s been engaging and more articulate than recent days past. All together, it helps make the journey easier to bear when there are respites from all the turmoil. I am still going to go to the doctor’s office tomorrow and see if there is anything I can do when he gets so belligerent!

After lunch, I began to clean and organize my office. I have to be prepared for the 31st! I’ve made significant progress, but there’s still a ways to go. However, once that room is completed, I’ll be ready to begin hanging pictures, and decorations, on the walls. We’ve been in the house for over a year now – though we did take 2 full months off last year to go on a trip to Australia and New Zealand for our 50th anniversary.

Mike and I at Sydney Harbor, Australia, on our 50th anniversary trip

As things are slowly progressing in the house, they are also slowly regressing for Mike’s memory. In the meantime, he sits and reads, or watches tv. I need to see if I can find some kind folks who would be willing to come around and engage him in conversation, take him out for lunch, or coffee and just be here occasionally. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

The Best Laid Plans

Wow, today was almost ugly! A couple of months ago, I hired a young woman to help me with some light housekeeping. The practice since she started has been to get her started, then Mike and I leave for breakfast out. It snowed yesterday – there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Then today, as we began to leave to go to breakfast, Mike decided he would be driving! I have refused to ride with him, his driving is so bad. He has a driving mandate and he keeps blaming the OT (Occupational Therapist) who gave Mike his driving test 3 times, before she set parameters. Mike has complained to me, to anyone else who would listen, to the neurologist, who told him the OT is excellent at her job and if she makes a recommendation he, the doctor, will follow it!.

Anyway, we didn’t go to breakfast, Mike was totally PO’d!! He threw a hissy fit, stomped into the house and refused to talk to me the rest of the day. Now, tonight, he approached me very aggressively, and told me he decided the parameters were under stood wrongly and he’s going to begin driving again. What do I do??? How do I deal with this??? How do I keep him safe, others safe?? If he drives it’s frightening. I will not ride with him, and this is going to cause great anxiety for me because I know he will only get more aggressive. We are at a major impasse and on Monday I need to contact the doctor’s office and ask how to handle this. I may have to forego church tomorrow, just so I don’t have to deal with his driving. I am close to tears, I am totally frustrated, and I feel alone.

In years past, when I needed to cry, I would wait until Mike went to sleep, I would quietly go downstairs with a pillow, crawl under the dining room table (it was against the wall on one side) sit in the corner, and bury my face in the pillow so I could let the tears flow. He never knew this, and I have never shared this before; but I feel it needs to be stated now. My life is, almost, crumbling before me, and I am stuck………………………….

I’ve taken a break, fixed dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and now I am sitting in my room. I’m pondering the day, and thankful for the ability to take my problems to my Lord, and Savior, Jesus. Dealing with Mike, and all the turmoil is more than I can do alone. Years ago, I had to learn to trust in Jesus, when our daughters were in the hospital. That trust is still here, still viable, and still giving me peace and strength to continue. I need to focus on the positive, and on the good things that still happen. And with that being said, It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Today was our first real snow day! And it snowed all day, and it’s still snowing tonight. I was up early with anticipation of the beginning flurries to start, even though it wasn’t scheduled to start until 1 pm, but it began at 11 and by 4 pm there was at least 3 inches of snow.

From the dining room window

I was getting ready to leave for training at the election office and Mike decided he wanted to do his mail in ballot and he began to fill it out. We spent a bit of time going over the information form, and we called someone we knew to clarify a few things for us. When Mike got to the end and he was ready to sign his name, he couldn’t remember how to form the letters. I ended up having to write his name out for him to watch, so he could remember how to do it. The ballot ended up being totally messed up, and Mike took the jeep and left to do early voting at the election office. The snow was slick and I was concerned about him going out by himself, but I had to get ready for my training.

The training went 2 1/2 hours, and there is a lot to it, and I feel I could use another 2 1/2 hours minimum to fully understand. The trainer offered to allow us to show up at the election office and be able to do actual work to prepare us for November 3rd. I just may take them up on that offer this coming week.

It was still snowing when I left the training and the roads were very slippery – and it was difficult to see the lines to stay in my lane! But there were vehicles going the wrong way on 1 way roads, there was a vehicle on my left, on a two lane road, to turn left! Fortunately there was hardly any traffic, I’m sure weather related. When I got to the house, I stopped to take a photo of a tree in the front yard.

Tree in the front yard

As I walked into the house, Mike greeted me with a hug and he had a cup of hot tea waiting for me AND he cleaned the kitchen!! WOW. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

Find Your Blessings

I was up about 7:30 this morning and I sat quietly for a few minutes, having a hot cup of Constant Comment tea. My friend Jo Ann and I got a bit of time to talk on the phone before Mike got up. Mike had an appointment with the spine center this morning, a recheck from a spinal ablation he had in July. He finally told this place he had been diagnosed with mild dementia, but it was nothing to worry about!. As we sat there talking to the doctor, he was asked a series of questions, like how long can you walk without pain. He couldn’t remember so I said, “The last few times we walked for about 30 minutes, and close to the end of that time Mike would begin to complain his back hurt, and he would begin to stumble.” Mike then said okay, I could walk up to an hour – “No, Mike 1/2 an hour at the most.” He got upset with me. Then he was asked if he shuffled his feet when he walked? His response, “No, never.” Again I said, “Yes, you do! Most of the time you do.” He almost stood up, turned to me and in an extremely angry voice he almost yelled. “NEVER!” It got quite stressful, but we were with the doctor and I felt safe to contradict where needed. At the end of the appointment, Mike stood up and walked out the door ahead of me, and the doctor looked at me and winked. She totally understood.

After the appointment, I asked Mike if he wanted breakfast or lunch and he said, “yes, let’s go to the closest place.” We went to a place called Chomper’s and had a good meal. While we were there, our son texted to say he had a surprise for us in the garage – hmmm. When we got home we found a nice set of metal shelves from Costco! What a total blessing.

Mike and I got home, and he went to the sofa to read, while I was upstairs working on a project. I’ve been devoting myself to organizing our home. We’ve lived here a year and I am finally knowing where I want things, and how to organize stuff. Mike came upstairs and asked if I wanted help, and I didn’t, but I did ask for a cup of tea. He said okay, went downstairs and turned on the kettle. He sat down, and began reading, the kettle shut off and he continued to read. I didn’t go downstairs to get the tea, I didn’t want to upset him by showing him that he’d forgotten something else. He went to the family room, and I was able to slip to the kitchen and get my tea. It took about another 45 minutes and Mike made his way upstairs and then asked, “did I get your tea for you?” I said, “No, I got it.” He said okay and went downstairs again. About 15 minutes later I began to run the vacuum, and he came back upstairs, and turned it off. He told me he wanted to show me how to do it properly. So I stood back, and watched him, after he was done he asked me if I understood, I said yes, and he responded good, and went back downstairs!

Now dinner is done, Mike wanted beans and hot dogs – (sigh) after I put the beans into the pan I put the spoon into the can and it tipped over, the spoon flew out and I ended up getting bean juice all over my face, dripping down my front, all over the floor, and when I picked the spoon up, it ran into my sleeve. I served Mike his meal, and went upstairs to shower. As I was preparing, I took my earrings off, and I dropped an earring into the toilet, fortunately I had cleaned the toilet just before I fixed dinner, but still………

Now Mike and I are watching the Presidential debate.

It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

Today is another day

I woke up in the middle of the night to pouring rain. It was pounding on the roof and on the skylight. The rat-a-tat-tat was soothing and soon and I drifted back to sleep, warm and cozy under the blankets. About 7 I got up and there was a swirling frost on the skylight.

Frost swirls

The day continued as most, Mike sat, and read for a while, then I fixed breakfast and cleaned the kitchen. Mike needed to work on his chainsaw to get it ready to go into the repair shop, and he came into the house and said, “After we drop this off, let’s get something to eat.” I was okay with that and off we went. Mike doesn’t drive anymore and I am needed to take him to various places. After we got to the hardware store, and Mike talked with the repair people, they were able to fix the saw within 30 minutes. Leaving the store, Mike wanted to go to Taco Bell, not my favorite but it’s what he wanted and so that’s where we went.

While we were eating, Mike was complaining he was extremely hungry at the house. When I asked him why didn’t he tell me, he said, “I did. I said let’s get something to eat after we take the saw in.” I told him he needed to tell me he was hungry at the house, and I could have gotten him something there. He looked at me with a confused look and asked why should he tell me he was hungry, when he’s sitting here eating. That let me know he was ‘gone again’ He didn’t remember the earlier conversation.

After we got back to the house, Mike wanted to watch tv and I wanted to take care of a few things. One of the things I wanted to do prepare some special apple seeds to be able to plant them tomorrow. I got that accomplished, got my shower, and now we’re watching Angel Has Fallen. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

A new day

It’s the 20th of October 2020, This morning was a quiet morning and I was up by 7 am. I sat quietly in the living room enjoying a hot cup of Constant Comment Tea with Bailey’s Irish Cream and a slight chill in the room. I was able to be on the phone, with my friend Jo Ann, for a good 20 minutes. It’s always a pleasure to speak with her.

Snow is predicted for this coming weekend and I am looking forward to the soft quiet that comes when there is snow covering everything. Today I met up with our son, Robert to get a shelving unit from Costco – I need to have it put into the garage, totally set up, before Mike finds out. Mike has gotten to the point where he disassembles everything because he wants to be sure it’s put together properly. However, getting it put together again is a major challenge. Today, Mike chose to rake the pine needles from the driveway and it took a lot out of him. He needed quite a bit of time to recuperate from the work.

Mike raking the driveway

I am planning to put together a basket of snacking goodies for Mike, peanut butter crackers, yogurt covered raisins, protein bars, and the like. Right now I’ve been researching the best things to gather for him and this weekend I will be making my purchases.

Tonight I got together with some friends, for a ladies evening, and 5 of us showed up. We had a lot of discussions, lots of laughter, and lots of encouragements given to those who are in the process of various activities for furthering information. To be in their presence is inspiring and healthy, it gives me a joyful view of all of them, and a lightens my mood significantly. It’s been a great day. Have a good evening.

A Long Introduction

My name is Jenny Lee, and I grew up in a small coal mining town in South Eastern Ohio, not to far from Wheeling, W.VA.  I am the oldest of 6 siblings and I met my husband, Mike in May 1969, and we were married December 1969.  I have been a homemaker, my hobbies are photography, genealogy, scrapbooking, canning, and I am learning to garden. Mike was hired onto the Los Angeles County Fire Department.  He moved up through the ranks from Firefighter, paramedic, engineer, and captain. My husband and I have a strong faith and belief in Jesus, as our Lord and Savior.

Mike and I were the parents of 3 children, a son, Robert, and two daughters, Renee and Rebecca.  Our girls were born with cystic fibrosis.  As we traveled the road, we found our faith and trust in the Lord growing stronger.  There will be times, I will share some of the girl’s writings, stories that allowed us to share Jesus with others, and showing us that through it all Jesus carried us. The trials we were faced with drew us closer together and in the worst of the worst moments we clung to each other, and to our Lord.   We lost Renee 26 May 1995 at the age of 22 ½.  Around April of 2004 we were told Rebecca probably had about 3 months left without a double lung transplant. And a few months prior to that I began to notice Mike was having some memory issues.  Nothing major, or alarming, just an increase of having to help him find, wallet, keys, book, coffee, glasses, etc.  and not the normal ‘where did I place’ whatever object – as we all find ourselves doing at times.  But several times a day, stopping my activities to help him locate the misplaced item/s. 

Mike also began to run into things on our property – we had 47 acres of land SE of Temecula, CA. and that necessitated having a tractor.  Mike ran over a fence line, he hit the side of our sheet metal building on more than one occasion, he ran into a trailer, he misjudged an incline and punctured a hole in the tailgate of our new truck, and on and on it went. 

Around May, 2004, Mike and I had a local doctor for our GP, he was in the town of Temecula, CA and one day when I was in for a check-up I mentioned to the doctor my concerns for my husbands memory, and his running into things – is there a way to check to see if he’s okay?  The doctor assured me he could do a cognitive test and see if anything showed up.  I told him, PLEASE do not let Mike know I asked about this, it would make him furious and I would suffer the consequences of him not trusting me.  No worries assured the doctor.  I can be discreet!  HA. 

The doctor totally threw me under the bus.  We walked into the office and sat down, and the 1st thing the doctor said – “Your wife is worried about your mental state and if you’re losing your thinking and cognitive abilities.”  Mike’s look at me was disbelief, hurt, and very pissed off!  The doctor ran the cognitive test, said it wasn’t bad and sent us on our way.  Mike and I got into the car, Mike turned to me with tears in his eyes and asked, “What the hell are you thinking? What the hell are you trying to do?  If you ever pull a stunt like that against me again, we’re through!”  (sigh) 

In August 2004 Rebecca got a double lung transplant, and it was a most joyous occasion to think we were going to have her with us a few more years!  At this time, Mike was a captain for a Haz-Mat unit, the largest in the U.S. He was at Station 43 in the City of Industry.  There were times I would have to drive from our home near Temecula to the Fire Station to give Mike his wallet, or his fire department badge, or whatever else he needed. 

As time went on I just watched Mike digress.  This man, who used to do calculus with a slide rule, was having struggles with practical math – I didn’t say anything.  In early 2007 Mike had an injury on his knee that required surgery and he was off work for quite a while, then after going back on the job for a few days, he injured the other knee, which didn’t require surgery, but did require him to be off more.  At this point, Rebecca was going into massive rejection of the lung transplant and was in ICU at USC Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles.  Mike stayed by Rebecca’s bedside as much as possible.  He read the Scriptures to her, and we had a CD player in her room and we kept soft Christian music playing.  It helped calm her ‘terrors’ and allowed Mike to take an occasional break.  On Mike’s 60th birthday, we had to turn off life support for Rebecca.  And 4 days later, it was Mike’s mandatory retirement from the fire department.  The next 18 months were some of the hardest to wade through.  We were raising our son’s 1st born, and he was almost 16, Spencer, and Mike, both went into a major depression!!  As things spiraled down to a dull roar we began to discuss if we should stay in our home or try to sell.  The housing market was beginning to boom and so we listed the house.  Mike turned down EVERY offer!  Then the market crashed and it ended up we gave the house back, moved into a rental and proceeded to make plans for ‘the rest of our lives’.  Mike was doing okay, there were no major happenings and all seemed to be a bit better.  We still had the issue of several times daily having to find wallet, keys, book, etc but there wasn’t much else going on. 

Since Rebecca passed away on Mike’s birthday, I used that time to ‘steal’ him away and focus on him.  We did local trips Palm Springs, San Diego, and in 2012 I planned a cruise to Alaska – But it began with driving from Southern California up through Las Vegas, up through Salt Lake City, and into Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to visit with our son.  The next day we were to be in Seattle, at the cruise lines by 1 pm!  Auto Club routed us so far around it was almost a 12 hour drive! And we didn’t get to enjoy the breakfast at the B&B we had stayed in.  However, we got to the cruise line in time, and enjoyed our journey.  After we got back to the lower 48, Robert called and asked us to move to Idaho to be Grandpa and Grandma to his babies!  We basically had nothing left in California in the way of material items and our son took precedence over our friends. In February 2013 we began to look for a place to live in Idaho, and we made our move in October 2013.  Moving was a terror.  Mike refused to ever let me drive, and he wove all over the lanes, missed exits, fortunately missed other vehicles and got angry each time I got upset.  Night driving was even worse and I began to have to act really tired, and grumpy to force him to stop for an evening.  Driving in the rain was a nightmare to deal with and I ended up having to scream to convince him to stop for the night. 

And now my journey continues.

 Once we got to Coeur d’Alene we rented for a year, then found a place to purchase.  Mike was doing sculpture in the basement, but he began to be a recluse.  He didn’t want to go out, he didn’t want people to come in.  It took a lot of badgering from me to be able to have any company – and yet, when they arrived he was pleasant and affable.  Mike started talking about getting a place with less land, and single story, maybe a boat dock.  So we tried to put the house on the market – our realtor wouldn’t!!  Finally in September, he listed the house, but wouldn’t do open houses, would only promote in the local area, and by Thanksgiving time we had had only 1 person look at the place.  We asked this person to cancel our listing, and we later found out he just let the listing expire. 

In April 18, 2019 we put the house back on the market, with a different realtor, and the home sold in only 9 days.  I was booked to go on a cruise with some girlfriends from May 1-8 and I thought I’d have to cancel, but Mike assured me all would be well and told me to go and have fun.  That trip was a blast!  When I got back though I was dropped into the middle of the frenzy of packing a 5500 square foot house so we could be out by the beginning of June.  We also had to find another place to live!  Again, the Lord provided.  We looked at a house that had only been on the market 22 hours, we were one of multiple offers and we were the ones chosen to proceed with the purchase.  Though the escrow close date was the middle of June, we agreed to let the sellers have until July 6 to move out. 

While the selling and buying of homes was happening, I was also in the middle of winding up the plans and final payments for Mike and I for our 50th anniversary.  We were flying to Honolulu, Hawaii the middle of September, staying there for 4 nights, catching a cruise ship, Soltice by Celebrity, on September 23, and cruising to Sydney, Australia.  We would get to Sydney on October 11, visit there for 3 nights, then fly to Melbourne and meet up with a tour group from Go Ahead Tours and tour Australia and New Zealand.  At the end of the tour, November 4th, we were then scheduled to go to a friend’s home and stay 10 days with them, fly to Fiji, spend 3 night there and back to Honolulu, before flying home.  The cruise was fabulous! But we had a couple of incidences, the main one being: When our ship docked in Auckland, I went on shore to give an extra suitcase to my girlfriend’s husband.  We were staying with them at the end of our tour.   We were to head to Hobbiton via a cruise ship excursion.  Mike was to go to the theatre to be with our group, and meet me at the bus.  He didn’t remember what to do – he forgot where I went.  He had me paged all over the ship, and several people were looking for me.  We finally connected – long after the excursion bus had left, and he was in a panic and stumbling.  It was cold in Auckland, and he didn’t have a jacket, or a camera, or anything with him.  We went back on board, and he needed to sit down – as he was preparing to sit, he fell forward and hit his head on a table.  I helped to get him upright and seated, and got him a cup of water.  It took almost 15 minutes before he felt he could make it to our cabin.  I told him I didn’t want to go into town, I wanted to rest.  He said good, and laid down on the bed.  He slept for 6 hours.  He woke up, and was hungry, so we went to the buffet and had something small to eat, then back to our cabin.  He laid down and slept more – about 4 more hours.  He woke up and was hungry again, so back to the buffet for dinner and then back to the cabin again for the night.  He slept the night through.

The next day, we docked at the Bay of Islands and went kayaking and the day was perfect! But he refused to go into town, just back to the ship and to lay down and rest.

We toured Australia & New Zealand.  Mike wouldn’t be able to tell which way the group turned and he almost always turned the opposite direction.  I would have to stay near the back of the group to watch him and when I saw him looking around ‘lost’ I would raise my arm and call his name “Mike, I’m right here” 

We ended the tour in Auckland, and my girlfriend picked us up to take us to her home. Each day we had a plan to go somewhere or see something new. We flew to Christchurch, we went to the glow worm caves, and we went to Hobbiton. 2 days it rained, and we stayed in, by the end of day 5 Mike was more tired, more grumpy and finally said, “I want to go home.” so, we cancelled the rest of our trip and flew home 10 days early.