Friday, December 31, 2010

FTD Friday

Just wanted to share some kind words I received recently:

"This is going to sound odd, so I hope I can express this okay. Your blog gives me hope. Your Dad has a difficult health situation, and you're okay. My husband and I have a 14-year-old son, so reading your blog, which isn't written by an adult child in their 50's caring for their parent, or a spouse caring for their spouse, is very encouraging because caregiving isn't the only thing in your blog. Gosh, I hope that makes more sense than it seems! It's meant to be a compliment! :)"

These words really touched me and I responded with, among other things, this...

"And thank you for the compliment. I had my blog a long time before my dad was diagnosed and I really only blogged about FTD for that blog party. It's not something I really indulge myself in, though maybe I should ... The blog party has really inspired me though to be a better caretaker for my dad and to also write about it a bit more. I'm sure you understand when I say it's hard to write about ... it's hard to be so honest and raw, but there's no other way to write about caretaking without being that way. Does that make sense?"

2011 is just around the corner and this blog will be experiencing some changes. I'm going to at least have weekly posts which will include a mix of:
- Tea Tuesday
- Dogs On Thursday
- Fridays will be about Frontotemporal Dementia OR it'll be "Farm Friday" to keep things interesting
- Caturday ... prepare yourselves, readers! I'm going to introduce you to the cats in my life one by one and occasionally throw in a cat in need as well ;)

See you on the other side, friends!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Website Want Wednesday

I was loving this chemise, but it wasn't in my size when I came across it on Frederick's :(

Well, I got an email about an incredible sale they were having right before Christmas and guess what?! It was on sale ... and in my size - whoo!! Oh yes, I ordered it!! I mean, I couldn't pass up that fate, right? In my size and on sale?! Merry Christmas to me!

I'm thinking of putting a cute tank top under it and wearing it out for New Years Eve. I'm going out to a house party with my boyfriend. I met this couple once, but I'm not really going to know anyone aside from that and being that this is a house party my boyfriend has gone to for a couple years now apparently, I'm guessing he's going to know people. I don't really want to be out with people I don't know after how last year went, but I'm going to make a really sound attempt at being social.

I was joking with my friend Meghan that my boyfriend is probably going to find me drunk in some corner talking to the couple's cats lol Oh well, hopefully it'll end up better than that ... and, if not, Meghan will be getting some interesting photos.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tea Tuesday



So begins the time of year of paying back all the credit cards for the gifts you just spent and the money you'll be spending for however you're celebrating the new year. Good luck, my friends.

10-12-10_Tea (6)ed
Tea Tuesday - all the good we do won't get done if we're not around. So, take a minute to relax with me at some point. :)

Rules for Tea Tuesday are quite simple - there is a cute tea picture, a question you can answer (like I will be doing) and a quote from my current read. Participate at whatever level you wish to from reading a post, commenting on several posts or adding your own link.

Monday, December 27, 2010

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How handsome is he?!

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Much to my mom's distress, spending the money to buy a snow blower did NOT ensure there would be no snow this winter. In preparation for all the snow we're expecting, we decided to learn how to use this new snow blower and thankfully Aunt Sally knew exactly how to use it. Here's Shelly practicing (I didn't have to since I already learned during my unfortunate stalker experience). Beware, snow! We're ready for you...


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Website Want Wednesday

Prepare yourself...


Future Husband, this is not far off from what I have in mind that my dream house will look like around this time of year LOL

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tea Tuesday



snug as a ... mug?

Here's hoping I get to be that snuggly at some point today. There's a lot of last minute rushing to do right now ... so much so that I still haven't started a new book yet to even add a quote this week. Disappointing, right? I'm sorry

I hope this post finds you warm and cheerful during this time of year :)

10-12-10_Tea (6)ed
Tea Tuesday is reminder to you too, my friends and wanderers that found your way here. Remember that all the good you do won't get done if you're not around. So, take a minute to relax with me at some point today.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

5QF - late!

Ugh, late again. Yesterday was that kinda day though. I had sooo many things I wanted to do and was rushing around.


1. Do you regift...and if so, do you have a regifting horror story? Sometimes I re-gift - you know, when I get something and it just screams someone else. Yea, then I do. Or for pollyanna type parties. Thankfully, no bad stories (yet!). At my boyfriend's family party this year though, the plan was to re-gift. It was my first time doing this with them, so I took something good: tea light candles, tea and a nice mug. I liked really them, I just hadn't used them. Well, my number was probably the second to last to be called ... and my gift was still up there, so I took it! Good thing I did because if I remember right the other gift left up there ended up being really cheap and awful lol I opened that tea up the next day too :)

2. Do you know what you are getting for Christmas this year? I know what I'm getting from my mom because she's bad at ordering stuff from Amazon.Com. So, this year she picked stuff out, I double checked everything before it was ordered and then she paid. We were making a sound attempt at NOT doing what she did a couple years ago by ordering things double or triple.

3. Who brings the most gifts in your family, you or Santa? Aunt Sally for sure! :)

4. What store do you love to buy jeans from? Charlotte Rosse. I used to love a lot of there stuff, but not so much anymore. Their jeans still fit me well though. Aside from that, Boscov's for good, cheap jeans.

5. Christmas meal: Big, All Out Meal or Snacks and Apps? The big meal is usually breakfast which we have at my aunts'. It's delicious and very filling!

Friday, December 17, 2010

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snow's falling like crazy here (I was already driving with my foot barely on the gas. Why not take a photo, right?)...

And here's Michael (Matt's brother) and Matt working on putting together Matt's new TV while Miles supervises...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Website Want Wednesday

Who do I need to sleep with for any little girl I might have to end up looking like her?!


Ok, just kidding. That's is not exactly what this week's post is suppose to be about, but seriously! That little girl above is adorable.

Who am I kidding though. If I have kids, this is probably what I'm getting...


Do you see that face?! LOL

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tea Tuesday

There was snow yesterday! Actual snow that fell for awhile and started to accumulate a bit. Thank goodness we got a lot of the preparing for winter/holidays done already! (Note: don't you worry, little one (sister), I only hung the lights ... we can "un-decorate" what mom's done and re-do the tree decorations when you're home. I thought you'd be ok not being involved in all the cursing and frustrations of the lights lol)

Today absolutely calls for tea! It's suppose to be about 25 degrees or so ... but it's going to feel more like 10 - bur!!! I have some yummy Earl Gray here and a mug here at the boyfriend's, so that's what I'm settling in with today. Maybe I'll prepare some blog posts and actually get some holiday cards done. Hmm, MAYBE!

I don't really have a book quote to add yet. I actually just finished my last book, Grave Surprise. It was good, though I kinda saw the ending coming, which is always a disappointment. Charlaine Harris either surprises the heck out of me or is a little predictable. Either way, I'm hoping Santa leaves book #3 of the series under the tree for me :)

I hope this Tea Tuesday finds you well.

10-12-10_Tea (6)ed
Tea Tuesday is reminder to you too, my friends and wanderers that found your way here. Remember that all the good you do won't get done if you're not around. So, take a minute to relax with me at some point today.

I highly encourage you all to indulge in (or introduce yourself to) one of my "cure alls" by sharing your tea recipe, your tea of choice for your Tuesday or a thought that came to you while sipping. However, feel free to share what you've done today for a moment of bliss. Oh, and don't forget to add a quote from the page in your current book (reading encourages the expansion of the mind).

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Caregiving.Com Holiday Party Week Pt 2

Friends have been very kind. Everyone, really, seems to be very understanding of my dad’s condition and most have been good about sticking to our rules – no alcohol, trying to control his food intake when he goes out, trying to avoid him spending money (or stealing), etc. He goes anywhere from the food store to out to lunch with people or my dad even went down to the shore over the summer.

My dad’s middle brother’s, my Uncle Jack, family has been the most reliable, I guess. Every Monday (my mom’s longest work day), they have my dad over for dinner and they hang out with him until my mom is done work. Then she picks my dad up and takes him home with her. When I wasn’t working and home with my dad all the time, Monday nights were a blessing! They were a night to watch what I wanted on the TV, play the music I wanted in the living room real loud … a chance to take a bath, nap, read, cook whatever I wanted - all without him standing over me or worried about what he was getting into when I was distracted.

This has definitely been challenging for my Uncle Jack’s family though. They live in the town where my dad grew up and where our family lived for a very long time too, so there’s always the concern that my dad will wander off to see someone. They also take him for dinner, so his compulsive eating is something they deal with on a weekly basis. Aside from trying to limit his portions, there are other things to deal with like my dad sneaking food. One time, my dad went out on their back porch and started walking off ... my uncle followed after him and found my dad was eating the spare ribs they have put in their back porch refrigerator to save for the next day.

My dad’s old friend, my Uncle John, and my mom’s long time friend, Aunt Mar, are both very kind and come down to hang out with my dad or take him out to lunch. Our family friends in Florida, which includes one of my dad’s best friend’s from high school, have been good about checking in on us and seeing us when they can. Our friends Jen and Joe are great about coming down, having dinner with us and being very understanding about my dad. Joe has been a real asset with helping around the farm too.

I cannot imagine losing my friends to something like this... I'm glad for the friends my dad has.

Outside of friends, it is very hard to find people who relate to what we are going to because this seems to be more recently known about disorder. Also, because it mainly has to do with the personality and emotions, it seems to come about and be very different in each individual patient.

For example, my mom and I attended a local support group for Alzheimer's/dementia which had two women there whose husband also have FTD – the one woman was several decades older than my mom and the other woman was definitely closer in age, but her husband’s symptoms sounded like the exact opposite: extreme emotions and no real short term memory. I know she was paired up with another wife in NJ who is caring for her husband who has FTD ... but the woman is, again, several decades older than my mom and her husband is still well functioning. The one time my mom had an in-depth conversation with the woman, she said she gets her breaks when her husband goes out driving. My dad hasn’t driven since several months after being diagnosed. Thankfully my dad voluntarily stopped driving and when he brings up driving or buying a car (this happens about once a month), we remind him of his choice.

I am thankful for the friends we have and hope that my mom will be able to find more support the more people find out about this condition. I wonderful how many people have merely been mis-diagnosed and are still feeling lost...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Caregiving.Com Holiday Party Ramblings...

On my private journal. Feel free to email me if you want access.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tea Tuesday



Tea, candle light, a warm bubble bath and time to write - oh to spend all my days like this! I'd be prune-y, but divinely happy!

What is your favorite way to spend the holidays?? A continued tradition is that my family has my great Uncle John come to the house in the morning where we do gifts, then we all head over to my aunts' (who is now just down the road) for a late breakfast and more gift-exchanging there. I think when I have my own family, I'd like to continue something like this ... and add in the things I miss most: driving around right before Christmas to see all the holiday lights people have on display AND picking out our own Christmas tree and bringing it home to decorate. One of my favorite times when younger was running around the pine tree farms with my sister and trying to pick (agree on) the perfect tree for that year. My dad would cut it down, load it on top of our van and we'd head home to decorate it. I loved that!

10-12-10_Tea (6)ed
Tea Tuesday - all the good we do won't get done if we're not around. So, take a minute to relax with me at some point. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Caregiving.Com Holiday Party Week Pt 1

Agh, there is nothing more annoying than a downed internet when you want to be blogging and yet that's what I had to deal with this morning. The internet was still not working at my boyfriend's and I promised to wait around in case his new TV comes while he's at work today ... sadly I couldn't even try to fix whatever might be wrong with the internet either since it's the apartment upstairs that has the router. Don't worry, he's not stealing someone’s internet. It's his sister/the family business’s network which is based out of the apartment above my boyfriend’s place.

My dad became noticeably different several years ago. He has been diagnosed for almost 2 years now, so I’m guessing it has been about 3, going on 4 years now that my dad has been alarming different.

One of the first things we noticed was that my dad began to tell a couple of stories over and over again. Maybe since we were always around him it was just the most annoying and so, the most obvious habit. Anyway, aside from the repetitiveness being annoying, these weren't very appropriate stories either - the two main ones consisted of when my dad’s parents died in a car accident and the other was about some fight my dad got into when bartending. You could try to change the subject, tell him to stop, remind him these stories weren’t, you could try to talk over him, make him walk away, etc. ... but he'd tell that story, whichever one it was, all the way through, sometimes even starting over from the beginning if you had been successful in changing the subject. He could also see a person he had told one of these stories to the next day and my dad would start to tell it all over again, word for word. It got to the point, where my mom, my sister or I could finish the story word for word with him.

For work, my dad took care of the grounds for a school system and he was asked to take some time off due to the fact he was apparently leaving and going to stand in a shop. He’d just stand around and watch people there instead of being at work where he was needed. He also made some inappropriate comments to kids, like asking one overweight girl if she was pregnant and asking a father who had, I believe, a daughter of Asian descent if the girl was adopted. He’d ask about money a lot too, for example how much my friend’s apartment cost her. Although these things could be appropriate in the right time or place (ok, not asking a teen if she’s pregnant...), these were more the ways my dad would start the conversation with them – a very intimate question right out of the blue to (often) strangers.

Even a family friend’s sibling, who we saw so infrequently he was more like acquaintance, asked our friends if everything was okay with my dad because he didn’t seem like himself.

Initially, my dad was diagnosed with depression - get him on antidepressants and exercising. Even an Alzheimer’s doctor in Philadelphia thought this was all it was. We had taken him there because the stories my dad mainly told were from when he was about 20ish and we thought maybe he was having problems with his memory if he was so stuck in that time period.

However, it was quite obvious to anyone that knew him that simply depression was not the case. He and I even went down to Florida to see his long time friend who had known him since high school. We figured, if my dad wanted to talk about that time period (his parents died when he was in the middle of college, which he never graduated from because of it), that maybe it'd be best if he was with someone that could exchange stories more with him like his friend could. A night or two with my dad and even his friend was saying my dad was totally gone ... and he didn't know if we'd see him again.

It was about 6 months after, in February of 2009, that that we finally got an actual diagnosis. After lots of testing, including an MRI, we were told by a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania that my dad had frontotemporal dementia. Although I desperately wanted some answers (and depression certainly wasn’t it since it wasn’t the right one), this was not what I wanted.

He won’t get better? This is going to get worse? My dad’s going to die from this?

Only after the diagnosis and as my dad has progressed with this condition have we been looking back and noticing subtle changes or events which might have been symptoms earlier one:

- Maybe that’s why he used to crank the heat up until we were all pouring sweat in the car and he seemed totally unphased?
- Maybe he really didn’t know what he was doing when he put that thing together and that’s why it keeps falling apart?
- Maybe that’s why he was always so quick to finish dinner?
- Maybe that’s why he seemed so unaffected and unconcerned when my mom had her heart surgery all those years ago?
- Maybe that’s why his driving was so weird – speeding when we were in no rush and going below the speed limit when you needed to get places?
- Maybe that’s why he hadn’t said goodbye or "I love you" when we were leaving anymore?

Here are some sites I have found valuable to find information about this condition:
- http://ftdsupport.com/
- http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=573
- http://www.ftd-picks.org/frontotemporal-dementias/ftd-overview

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Caregiving.Com Holiday Party

I'm participating in Caregiving.Com's holiday blog party!

Although this blog is mostly about my rescue work, it's undoubtedly about my life in general ... which includes my father who is suffering from frontotemporal dementia that was finally diagnosed almost 2 years ago now.

My initial post for the Caregiving.Com Holiday party ended up being very lengthy. It was overwhelming for me to see, so I can only imagine a stranger coming across it. I decided to take that initial post and break it up in order for it to be less intense and more informative. I'm hoping to make my blog very educational this week since, like I say in my post, this condition still seems to be fairly unknown to a lot of people (I had no idea it existed until my dad was diagnosed). I'm hoping this week and blog make that a little less likely.

My dad became noticeably different several years. Initially, he was diagnosed with depression - get him on antidepressants and exercising. However, it was quite obvious to anyone that knew him that this was not the case. For example, after a night or two with my dad’s best friend since high school, even his friend was saying my dad was totally gone ... and he didn't know if we'd see him again. It was about 6 months after that that we got an actual diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia.

It is very hard to find people who relate because this seems to be a fairly newly known about disorder. Also, because it mainly has to do with the personality and emotions, it seems to come about and be very different in each individual patient.

I’ll be honest. I'm not one of those happy, positive, productive caregivers either. I'm not there yet. I'm not sure I will get there, honestly. I want my dad back too bad. I want him back! The fact I'm not getting him back breaks my heart and makes it terribly hard to care for him as well because it's not like I'm caring for my dad due to his disease, which has stripped his personality away, it's like I'm forced to care for a stranger. I see him, he looks fine, but it's just his shell and that makes me start all over again - this isn't fair, this isn't right, this is too much. It's a horrible circle.

He's wandering a lot now. We can't even just lock up the food anymore either. He's been eating brown sugar then sugar then flour by the spoonful. Who would think he'd break into the cooking supplies? That’s not even "food"! The TV no longer distracts him either and he often does not want to do the simple tasks we set aside for him either to try to keep him active and productive around the house ... do the kitty litter, take the dogs for a walk, rake the leaves - these are things he either says he's done (and hasn't) or just flat out refuses to do. It's an adjustment for everyone since this now requires us all to keep a much closer eye on him and he's much more secretive and sneaky too because of it.

Please check out my mom's blog too if you can. It's rarely about FTD, but it's about the farm which she loves and uses as a her "stress relief" ... though sometimes with things breaking it certainly doesn't seem relaxing!! :)

For all the caregivers stopping by, thank you for all you are doing. I know how hard it is. Enjoy your holiday and the good moments that come up during it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

5QF

Holy moly, when did it get to be December!? How in the world have I been seeing the same guy for more than 6 months (he sent me flowers a couple weeks ago to mark the occasion)? Where in the world did 2010 go?!! And last but not least: Can I hit the pause button, please? I need a time out, a break, a little breather before the holiday is actually here. That's not asking too much, right?

I didn't get much sleep last night. After a pretty busy day of hanging lights outside, moving money around (I deposited a check for Joa's Arc rescue and paid my aunts' property taxes) and trying to figure out putting a new battery in the hard to reach smoke alarm in the basement stairwell (between the lights and that, ugh, I don't want to see another ladder!), I found myself up late reading over this one site about dementia and caregivers. Then, a good show was on. Then, I needed to check my email. Then, whoa, when did it get to be midnight?! Ah, I didn't do a 5QF post yet!!

Just when I laid down to finally get some sleep: CHIRP!

Ugh... That didn't sound like the basement stairwell.

CHIRP! goes the smoke alarm above my bed. CHIRP! Really?! Butthead, life-saving gadget! If I wasn't so tired my eyes were literally drying out and shutting, I'd have grabbed a chair right then and fixed it. However, I didn't know if we had new batteries anywhere else and I was so tired, like I said, my eyes were objecting.

So, to sleep I finally went and I tackled that smoke alarm in the morning. Oh, did I mention I wasn't all that successful? Yea, a new battery went in, we "tested" it and it wouldn't stop going off ... I'm not sure what that means when none of the others pmes are screeching. Is it broken? Put back together wrong? Ugh. I think this 5QF is going to need to involve a nap at some point... :)


1. What's on the top of your holiday wish list and why?! A good, steady job for obvious reasons ... like paying off all the credit cards I had to use for this holiday. I was thrifty - buying little gifts in bulk, buying from sites that would give me a percentage back on my credit card, buying super good deals, etc. However there were still costs involved. Not to mention, without a job, I've had to pay for other things with my credit card right now, like student loans and my car insurance. :o/

Ok, more realistically, I'd like a Kindle or iPad or some other gadget I could read from. I have piles and piles of books. It'd be nice to cut back on this habit continuing to bury me with something like that.

2. What is your favorite Christmas gift from the past? Out of all my Christmas presents? This is really hard to say. I've gotten really good ones - ones that people put a lot of time or thought into, those are the best. This is also a tough question because my birthday is not long after Christmas, so looking back it's hard to tell what I got when. I can say I got a really nice camera from my aunts' last Christmas. I appreciated that and use it often. My mom also paid for a trip for me one time to go see loved ones, obviously that was a good time and good memories, so I loved that!

3. If you had life to do over, what would you be when you grow up? Well, I don't consider myself grown up quite yet :) I think I might have been a little more reckless though when I was younger. That sounds silly, right? I don't think I was reckless enough in some parts of my life when I was younger and so now I feel like I had a really limited time doing that. Not like dangerous reckless, just you know ... kissed a couple more boys, "run away" to Ali's a time or two (right down the road), stuck up for a few more causes, something. That's not really reckless though. Hmm, I guess essentially I'm saying if I'm getting a second chance, I just want more! I'd also have majored in something a little more exact in college or just applied myself more towards the end and tried to snatch up a steady job before graduating.

4. When do you put up your tree? Typically a couple weeks before Christmas when everyone is home to help.

5. What is your favorite Holiday? I like Christmas, but there's so much pressure nowadays, I think - did you get the right gift for so and so? Could you have found that gift somewhere cheaper? Are you going to get what you really want? Can you make it to all the family parties you have to attend? Is it going to snow? Will the weather make traffic worse, if not dangerous? Is the cat in the damn tree again?! Which card is the best to send to your second cousin's son and what's his wife's name again? I love the gift giving and getting that perfect present that really extends myself and my love, but all the other stuff during the holiday is just pretty overwhelming.

I love most the 4th of July, personally. I think that's a matter of where I grew up though - a parade, everyone who has ever lived in the town comes back, there are parties at almost every house that you can just wander into because you're bound to know someone and in the park, there's fire truck rides and ice pops for the kids and beer in town-themed mugs at the fire hall for adults. Then there's fireworks on what is usually a gorgeous, warm night. How can that get better??