Thursday, June 18, 2009

Your Weeble is Showing

Friday is approaching. Friday is another trip to the Mahket. Yeah, I can hear you all tittering with glee. As usual, I'm not looking forward to it. Besides hating the expedition, I'm worried. The last two times we went to the Mahket all the little scooters were in use. Ma had to use her walker. Pushing her trolley took a lot out of her. I barely was able to get her up the stairs into the house.
I'm also nervous about a repeat performance that happened to me last time we went shopping.

We were in the produce department. A display of personal watermelons caught Ma's eye.

"Get me one of those."

Personal watermelons. I looked at the sign. Looked at the produce and looked at Ma. She had shuffled off to the about to rot markdowns.

Personal watermelons. Look like little watermelons except they are round. They are about the size of a 10 pin sized bowling ball. I need to make that distinction because here in New England, we play candle pin bowling. The bowling ball is the size of a grapefruit.

Get the picture? Bowling balls piled in a pyramid. I went to take one from the top and the whole pyramid began to slide and one watermelon jumped and hit the floor with a sickening splat. It looked up at me with a wide, red, watermelon grin.

Ma turned around from looking at the display.

"I don't want that one."

No duh! I felt horrible. I had murdered a watermelon. Me! I looked around and there was no one around so I moved the watermelon under the counter with my foot. I grabbed another candidate and turned to put it in the carriage I was pushing. Another woman near the rotting produce had seen my interaction. She gave me a cold look. Her mouth in a taut line. J'accuse.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ah Ha

Three Stooges fans, Himself and I had enjoyed the clip from The Three Little Pirates. Himself was passing through the kitchen on his way to the bathroom.

"Ma ha?"

"Ah ha."

We continued with the routine and burst into a gale of laughter. At this time, The Young One happened by.

She gave me a side-long look. "Scary," she said.

"I'm scary? You don't know scary. Wait until I'm 90. I've seen my future."

Himself's voice floated out from the bathroom. "It's not pretty."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Theater of the Absurd

After much nudging and the fact Ma had some sort of a spell on Sunday, Dad finally called the doctor to tell him about Ma's visions. The doctor requested Dad make an appointment for Ma and I was to come along too.

The only thing I could think of was the doctor would talk about long-term care facilities. Why else would he want me to attend this meeting? After all, I've been driving Miss Daisy for three years and he's never asked to see me before.

The appointment was for Tuesday at noon. When I arrived, Ma was just eating breakfast and then she had to spend the time cleaning up the kitchen. Cleaning is a classic OPD delay technique. Obviously, she was nervous as she was crabbing at Dad and me.

"We can't leave if the house is dirty," Ma grumped as she scrubbed the table.

It's one of Ma's classic mantra's. Ranks up there with having to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.

Course, it didn't help Dad kept hissing at her not to tell the doctor about the men in the yard or the fact that she had the God-given gift of being able to see through walls.

"They'll put you away!"

I wasn't sure whether Dad was giving her a warning or wishful thinking.

We were late for the appointment though the doctor as usual was running behind. After a 15 minute wait, he called us into the exam room.

He looked at me and asked if Ma was taking the thyroid pills.

"No," I said while in the same space of time Ma said, "Yes."

"Which is it?"

"I'm taking my pills," Ma said emphatically.

I touched the tip of my nose and pulled my hand forward. Pinnochio's nose is growing. After a brief interrogation Ma admitted she had been taking the pills since Sunday.

The doctor made the uhhum, I see kind of doctor noise and then pulled a scratch pad of paper and began a diagram and medical school lecture about the function of the thyroid. How the pituitary gland in the brain, sends a signal to the butterfly shaped thyroid at the base of the Adam's apple to produce TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone.

Boiled down, the thyroid and hormones control other body systems, like the heart. Without sufficient amounts of TSH in the system, functions begin to deteriorate and the patient may experience auditory and visual hallucinations.

"It's called Myxedema Madness." The doctor beamed with his diagnosis.

I was sitting there smiling politely, nodding in all the right places and wondering what the f...heck I was doing there. The doctor's next statement gave me a clue as to my function.

"You must make your mother take the thyroid pills."

"I don't live with them, and I don't live close by."

"I know, but you must make her understand."

There was more discussion how the latest pills he had prescribed were a stronger strength.

The gong sounded. I was here as the interpreter. I almost burst out laughing because I started thinking about the Three Stooges routine.

"Ma ha?"

"Ah ha."

"Rasbany fiddy buddy uchy. This, how you say pickle puss, he asky tasky whats you got?"

The doctor looked at me expectantly.

Now, Ma is as deaf as a haddock. Actually, she's selectively deaf as a haddock, but I took my cue and turned towards her. Ma was looking at me, waiting for me to speak. I bent close to her ear:


Ma nodded. The doctor beamed at me.

More discussion concerning the color of the pills. We all became confused as to whether the old ones were white and the new ones yellow. The doctor charged me with taking the old pills from her so she couldn't take the remaining few.

At the house we argued the white pills were the old ones. The new bottle was empty. Watson come quick I need you. The old ones had a more recent date than the new ones. But the Rx indicated the old ones were of a higher dosage. I took the empty bottle.

"Take these."

The doctor had reassured us that as Ma built up her thryoid levels, the halluncinations would disappear. Like Auntie Rose would disappear, but I hope he's right. With the men in the yard, a woman and now a man and two small girls building a room over the garage, the little Weeble house is getting crowded.

Friday, June 12, 2009

D-TV Day

Today is the day that television stations must stop broadcasting an analog signal and broadcast a digital. A few months ago, Himself hooked up a digital converter box for the Weebles. There were several panic calls about blue screens and several lessons on using both remote controls, one for the television and the other for the converter box. Phone calls stopped and we thought all was well and found that Dad had brought another portable television from the attic to the living room.

The other day, I reminded Dad the spare TV would no longer work on 12. June. I turned to the television with the converter box to see if it would work.

"Where are the remotes?"

He handed me the remote to the television.

"Where's the remote for the converter box?"

"I don't know," he shrugged.

I pushed the power button on the television remote. The screen came to life in a blaze of static and looked like the VHS player was on. I set the remote to chanel 03 and a nice clear picture came through.

"You have to keep the television remote set to channel 3."

"But I want to watch channel 4"

"Right. Keep this," and I waved the remote, "on channel 3. You can change the channel you want by using the up and down arrows on the converter box." I pushed the arrows and the television screen flickered through a few channels."

"Just put it on channel 4. That's all I watch."

I set the channel on the converter to channel 4 and turned the power off on the television remote. Himself had told Dad not to turn the power off on the converter box and the power light was happily gleaming a bright cobalt blue.

So, Dad's ready for the digital television transition, well his television is. I wonder how many hours will pass before we get the dreaded "the screen is blue" call.

Any bets?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alien Thinking

From time to time, I pop into a blog devoted to elder care. I always hope for a magic answer to dealing with elders, but so far, nothing. A month or so ago someone posted a question how do I help my mother stay less stressed while caring for my father? A reverse of my weeble situation so I went to take a look.

Look into ways you can simplify the number of things she's responsible for. Make sure she's using automated payment systems for household bills wherever possible, for example. Arrange for yard care, housecleaning, or online delivery of groceries.

Was this supposed to be a head slapping moment? Why didn't I think of this? Peapod, for gawd's sake, it's so simple! And then I thought what planet does this woman live on? My weebles certainly aren't going to pay for yard care, house cleaning and though I have begged and begged grocery delivery is out of the question.

Consider an elder-care companion, someone who can spend time with your dad a few hours a week to give your mom a chance to get out of the house

The author makes this sound like the service is free. My weebles certainly wouldn't pay to have a stranger come into the house to "rob them blind." As it is, there are men roaming all over the yard, and a man and woman building a room over the garage.

Though the suggestions are reasonable, I think the author hasn't dealt with elder care or is dealing with young elders. Baby boomers who may find these suggestions appealing. She certainly doesn't seem to be dealing with elders from the depression and WWII generation. The author missed the main point of OPD is control. All the suggestions above take control away from someone. She certainly isn't dealing with elders like my weebles who are resistant to change and can become mule stubborn at the drop of a hat.

I'd like to know what planet she's on. Might decide to move there.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Ma was convinced there was a box of animals or bugs in her closet. She took me into her room. The closet door was barricaded with some furniture and chairs.

Ma carefully slide the door open.

"I have to do this slowly because they fly up into your face," she whispered

Part of me knew there was nothing there. Part of me worried that Ma had seen a mouse or spiders. Part of me remembered she's using the room that was mine when I was little. I thought for a minute. No, I wasn't afraid of anything in the closet. I had an imaginery friend, Zippy (named after a stuffed monkey Himself had) who lived in the closet. Zippy didn't inspire fear even though his mouth looked like rick-rack. There was an alligator that lived under the bed, but I can't recall he ever relocated to the closet.

I cautiously peered over a chair. I knew if I saw a mouse or spider I was going to freak.

"See? In the box." She pointed to a rectangular object on the floor.

There was something on the floor. It could have been a box though it wasn't deep. The lid of a box perhaps. In the dark, I couldn't make out much.

"It's moving! See?"

"There's nothing moving Ma. It looks like a box of junk." I thought I saw a doll's head and maybe a leg or an arm. "Maybe some junk from the girls' dollhouses."

"Can't you see them moving?"

"There's nothing moving. I'll show you."

I reached into the closet to retrieve the box. Please God, don't let there be a dead mouse or a spider in here or I'll freak.

The object on the floor was a magazine. The doll's head was a picture of a woman bathing a dachshund in a sink. An ad for Kohler. I gave a nervous laugh mostly from relief.

"It's just a magazine. See? A Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Ma didn't look like she was convinced, but she dropped the subject.

All her men in the yard, animals in the fireplace and the closet started me down a rabbit hole of "what ifs" What ifs based on the old Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet starring William Shatner. If you don't remember the episode or were too young to ever see it, you can watch the You Tube synopsis.

What if Ma's right and the rest of us just can't see?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bottoms Up

Sometimes dealing with the Weebles, I feel like a new parent. How do you handle first time situations? The first time your toddler says "no", the first time they speak in tongues. Dealing with weebles has a lot of firsts and dealing with weebles can feel like dealing with toddlers especially when elders dig in their heels and become stubborn. Terrible Twos isn't just about toddlers.

The only difference is with toddlers is the wealth of information from other parents with older children. With elders, we just don't seem to talk about certain issues and the issues become dirty little secrets.

Ma has been "seeing" men in the yard. They were sleeping in her bushes or the yard in the dead of winter. This all stems from her fear and worry about being left alone. She's called the police twice for them to investigate prowlers.

So what do you do? You can't really agree with her because that just feeds the fear. Though it is tempting. When Ma was singing no one does anything for her, I almost suggested she gets the men in the yard to do things for her. I wouldn't mind a bit if one of them took her to the Mahket.

The men do provide some amusement. Ma had looked out the window and said one of the men had a bed and had a girl in the bed.

"Ma, why would they have a bed in your yard?"

"Hmm," she said in a knowing way and then looked at me as if I was dolt if I couldn't figure out what would be going on in the bed. It was amusing.

You can't argue with her because that just turns into a whizzing contest. I also was accused I was crazy because I didn't see the men.

She's also convinced there are animals in the fireplace. They frightened her so badly, she lit a roll of paper towels and tossed the lit roll into the fireplace to burn the critters. Scary because she could end up setting the house and herself on fire.

I've told Dad he needs to talk to her doctor. The hallucinations could stem from something as simple as Ma being dehydrated, a common problem among the elderly. She's also refused to take a new thyroid medication the doctor prescribed. The new medication is more expensive than the pill she's been taking for the past 50 years. Ma thinks the doc is swindling her. I almost pointed out Auntie Rose is the swindler. The doc is just concerned about her welfare.

Of course, Dad doesn't want to say anything because he doesn't want Ma to go into a nursing home.

"She doesn't deserve that," he's told me on a number of occasions.

Course I think on days when she's really ragging on him, Dad would send her in a heartbeat just to get some peace and quiet. He's worried that if Ma goes into a nursing home, he will lose the house as a legacy for The Brother and myself.

So what to do? Shy of body slamming Ma to the floor and forcing pills down her throat, I can't make her take them if she doesn't want to. Neither of them has authorized me to talk to the doctor on their behalf so a call to him is just stonewalled with a polite reference to doctor-patient privilege.

Guess it's just the usual bottoms up.