Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our Move to Inpatient Therapy

Mom continued to improve at the hospital, and yesterday afternoon we moved her into the Saint Joseph of The Pines Therapy Village.  All went smoothly with the move, and we couldn't be happier with the facility and the care that she'll receive here.

This morning brought a few not-so-welcome changes too.  Since I arrived, she's been telling me about "the house" that she stayed in last night.  When I told her that she looked pretty, she replied that  the kids found her clothes in the street for her.  And she's also been having a conversation with her roommate about visiting with her at her home last night.  She even remembers her sitting on the couch.  These are just a few examples, and it's new for us to see her disease manifesting in this way. 

The good news is that while Mom seems to be more confused today, her spirits are great.  She has a huge smile on her face, and she couldn't be friendlier to everyone she meets.  She received her medication about 30 minutes ago, and I'm hoping that she'll see things more clearly again soon.  Her doctor also mentioned that this new symptom could  be related to yesterday's transition.

While I thought that today would be my day to break away for a bit, instead I'll be staying with her at least until her new routine is established and she's more comfortable with it. 

Thank you again for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Miracles for Mom

For my Mother and our family, the last few days have been nothing short of miraculous.  She continues to improve thanks to stellar care, new medications, and an abundance of prayers.  Her outlook is positive, and she no longer seems to be upset when I leave her side. 

Early this morning when I arrived, Mom was awake in bed.  She recognized me, knew me by name, and said good morning.  Then she asked me how the fundraiser for Alan's cross country team went yesterday.  This encounter, while it would have seemed insignificant a few weeks ago, represents a huge step in the the progress that she's made since arriving here.

While I was helping to get her out of bed this morning, Mom noticed that my shoelace was untied, and she asked me to tie it.  And while eating breakfast, she was adamant that I share  a piece of her blueberry muffin.  Her caring nature is returning, and we couldn't be happier.

Will Mom continue to improve?  We're praying for it.  As planned, she'll proceed to St. Joseph's of The Pines tomorrow.  She'll begin more extensive physical therapy there, and her doctors will continue to monitor her mix of medications and progress.  We'll reassess our future plans in three to four weeks, and I'll continue to update you here with any significant news.

Thank you again for your patience, your prayers, and your love.  You mean the world to us!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mom's Story

It's been a year like no other in my family, and I'm not complaining.  I know that all of this...the ups, the downs, the good, and the bad...are all a part of life.  There is sweetness in even the saddest of moments and there is hope even when we're amidst our darkest days. 

I'm writing today as a way of explaining our most recent challenge.  It's a story that's constantly evolving, even as I write this, and it's one that's hard for me to tell.  I hope that my description will help you to understand where I am and why I've been absent and unreliable in so many ways recently.  

My Mother faced a series of health setbacks this year.  She's fallen numerous times; she's had infections that were diagnosed and treated; and she suffered muscle deterioration that was quickly remedied by a three week stay for inpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation. 

As she walked this path, she seemed to be having a problem with anxiety and depression...an understandable phenomenon considering all that she'd been through.  She was moody, angry, scared, and agitated frequently; and we were working with her doctors to seek a combination of medications that would provide her with relief without sending her into a trance like state.  Nothing seemed to help.  One medicine after another was tried...dosages were increased...and still no relief. In fact, her condition was deteriorating.  Throughout 2012, it was as if we were watching her go through the aging process at an accelerated pace.

Then last Monday at 3:00 in the afternoon, her anxiety reached a fever pitch.  We tried to calm her, and settle her into bed for an early evening; but in the morning the episode continued.  I brought her to the emergency room at 11:00, and she was again admitted to the hospital for testing.

Exhausted from the weekend, Mom slept without waking for at least 12 hours after we arrived.  She had a moderately good afternoon, and I left at 3:00 to retrieve Alan's report card from school.  When I arrived back at the hospital at 4:30, another "anxiety attack" was underway, and this one proved to be her worst yet.  The nurses were hoping that my presence would help to calm Mom; but she didn't recognize me.  It was almost as if she wasn't seeing me or anyone else at all.  For the next eighteen hours, she repetitively cried for help, called the names of those she loves, and indicated that she was in pain.  She was given high doses of pain medications and anti anxiety medications, and nothing helped.  In fact, the intensity of her attack continued to worsen.

After numerous x-rays, EKGs, EEGs, an MRI of the brain, and a full body nuclear bone scan, her doctors could find no physical causes for her symptoms, and they began to share with us their concern that she was actually suffering from dementia.  The next night was another challenging one for her; but with the light of day new information arrived that's provided an odd sort of comfort to our family. 

First thing in the morning, Janet, my sister in Pennsylvania, told me of a website that she'd discovered .  It's http://www.lbda.org/, and it provides an abundance of information on a disease called "Lewy Body Dementia", a name I'd never heard before, and one that was about to play a significant role in our lives.  The website describes, "Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is not a rare disease. It affects an estimated 1.3 million individuals and their families in the United States alone. Because LBD symptoms may closely resemble other more commonly known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is currently widely under-diagnosed."

With each word that we read about this disease, we began to understand.  We understood the root of all that had transpired this year, and we began to identify the cause of so many of the behavioral changes that we'd seen in Mom over the years.  The diagnosis of LBD is heartbreaking.  The knowledge of what LBD is, its treatments, and its prognosis is empowering.

We learned that the medicines typically used to treat anxiety, pain, and depression...the ones that we'd been using with Mom extensively...can actually worsen the symptoms of an LBD Patient.  Yesterday, Mom's doctors discontinued the use of all of those medications and placed her on an alternative with a better chance of helping her.  And it did.  She slept for about an hour after taking her new medication.  When the nursing staff woke her to test her vital signs, I could already see a difference in her face.  She knew her name again, and she recognized me as "Jean".  We were able to talk, and she seemed to have a sense of peace about her.  In this regard, our prayers were answered.

Mom still has a long road in front of her, and we're approaching it with a new sense of understanding.  She'll remain in the hospital throughout the weekend, and she'll move to St. Joseph of The Pines for at least three or four weeks after that.  We'll use that time to continue to adjust her medications for maximum effectiveness while rebuilding her physical strength. 

I'll continue to update you here as our story unfolds, and I'm hopeful that we'll find our new normal again sometime soon.  Thank you for your thoughts, kindness, patience, and prayers.They mean more to us than words will ever express.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can I make rings?!?!?!?

Can I make rings?!?!?!

I actually love to make rings!  I just find the process of sizing and creating an individual ring to exact specifications to be a bit tedious.  :-)  So, when I receive a request, I'll generally make a series of rings in a variety of sizes and styles.  Then my customer will be able to experience the thrill of the hunt while trying all of my pretty shiny pieces. 

Rings in all shapes and sizes, available at Swank Coffee and Handmade Market.
Baskets full of rings are a perfect complement for my collection in galleries and at shows.  You'll find these pretties at Swank Coffee and Handmade Market in Downtown Southern Pines, NC.  The Swank Girls rock!  And I'll be restocking with them tomorrow.  I highly recommend a visit to their place anytime you're in the area.

As for shows, there'll be rings aplenty when I attend the Historic Norcross Arts Fest in Norcross, GA on October 6th and 7th.  The Norcross show is one of my all time favorites.  It's located in a sweet community.  The people are friendly; the promoters are amazing; and we always spend an extra day or two in town to enjoy all that the area has to offer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pie Heaven

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to

regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven.

It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”

~ Jack Handy

A few of the tasty treats at "Mr. Tod's Pie Factory" today. 


          At an artists' meeting last month, the multi-talented
Penny Arrowood, served a mouth-watering lemon meringue pie that would have made her Granny proud.  Since then,
I can't seem to get "Pie" off of my mind.  I checked our local grocery stores; but their meager offerings were of the premade variety.  I contemplated baking a pie of my own;
but sadly it wasn't in the cards. 
Alas, my craving for pie went unfulfilled... until yesterday.

This week I've had the absolute pleasure of joining Jodi Ohl during her teaching engagement at the "CREATE" mixed media retreat in Somerset, New Jersey.  The experience has been amazing, and I'll share more about it after I return to North Carolina. For now,
let me tempt you with my tantalizing tale of discovery. 

On Jodi's first day of teaching, I was exploring the area when I inexplicably found myself at a small plaza on Easton Avenue. 
It was as if I had been drawn there by an unseen force that could only be described as "The Power of The Pie". 
There, in the middle of the plaza, I discovered 
"Mr. Tod's Pie Factory".  The sights and scents of freshly baked pies almost brought a tear to my eye. 

My biggest challenge from that point forward was in narrowing down my selections.  Yesterday that meant an Apple Pie for me, and a Buttermilk Coconut Pie for Jodi.  Today, we're about to immerse ourselves in Mr. Tod's World Famous Sweet Potato Pie.  (Rumor has it that Oprah loves it too!) 
As for tomorrow...Lemon Chess Pie has caught our eye. 
And the future is bright thanks to Mr. Tod's mail order department.

"Any time is a good time for pie."

~ Pulp Fiction

Finding Our New Normal

In our family, it seems like one thing has rolled into another at the speed of light this year.  I know that life is like that sometimes.  And while I'm not complaining, I'm astounded by how much has transpired in a relatively short amount of time.

Thanks to all of you who have reached out to us with your prayers, kind words, and support.  Your thoughtfulness means more than I can possibly say. 

And if you've been personally affected by any or all of my chaotic circumstances, I'm truly sorry, and I hope that you'll forgive me.  If there's anything that I can do to make it up to you, please let me know. 

The good news is that my family and I finally seem to be coming into a new "normal" in our lives.  Adjustments are being made, and overdue projects are being tackled.  It's all happening one day...no, make that one moment... at a time; and we appreciate your love and patience. 

Hopefully for all of us, the best is yet to come!

*These photos were taken in the last month or two.  Yes, Alan really is taller than both of us now!  And thanks to Mom's stay at the rehabitation center, she's getting stronger by the day.  We're hopeful that she'll be joining us at home again soon.  The final photo is of our beloved Fred. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Little Light of Mine... My Inspiration

Covered in artsy goodness and sentimental treasures, my little light is a constant on the corner of my workbench.  It's a source of inspiration for me, and it's a wonder that any light actually manages to escape at all!