Sunday, October 26, 2014

Old, alone, and unwanted!

You may know that one of my lifelines is a Seniors Ministry I have at a local Assisted Living Facility (ALF).  These people are sweet, salt of the earth, lonely people.  The are forgotten for the most part.  If their families visit at all, it is once a month or even less.  The visits are short, the conversations are stilted, and those who visit are glad to get our of the ALF as soon as they can.  It is as if they think they will catch whatever their relative has!

When the opportunity came to us for this Ministry, I was happy and frightened at the same time.  When I was younger, we had m\Linda's Father in a Nursing Home because his Alzheimer's had become combative.   It was difficult to visit him, especially in his last year or so, because he did not recognize us.  On the other hand, if I went out of the room to check with the nursing staff, when I came back in, I was a new visitor!  It made him happy, so who was I to argue.

Now that I am older, and dealing with LBD myself, I identify with those who I minister too.  They are very attentive during our weekly studies and they ask good questions.  After our study, they love to discuss the news of the day or any other topic!  They are lonely for outside contact and Linda and I provide a small dose of that needed medicine.

We have been blessed to conduct two Baptisms for this group.  The most recent was last Wednesday.  The gentleman I Baptized has advanced MS.  So he is very rigid and has difficulty moving.  Yet, he climbed the 20 steps to the Baptismal on his own.  His second issue is that he is afraid of water.  So, stepping into the Baptismal waters, which were about 3 feet deep, was a monumental act of courage for him. But, he did all he needed to and we Baptised him!  Praise the Lord!!

When he came out of the water, the smile on his face lit up Heaven!!!

Now, think of this.  The Activities Director of the ALF loaded up 11 moderate to severely handicapped individuals over the age of 70, onto a bus, delivered them to First Baptist Church of Gulf Breeze, Florida, and unloaded them into the Sanctuary for a Church Service!

The Pastor at First Baptist is 40 and has little idea how to minster to Seniors, especially those that are handicapped either physically or mentally.  He has approached me about starting a Seniors Ministry at First Baptist and I agreed.  Why?  There are many more individuals in ALF's all over Gulf Breeze that need and hunger for spiritual ministry!

They are not monetarily wealthy people but they are wealthy in experiences and love.  And every once in a while, there is one person, ready to accept emus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  They only need an Ambassador of God to help them close the deal.

Working for God with these precious people keeps me wanting to keep going!  I love them and they give me back more love and friendship than I could ever hope for.  Why don't YOU stop by an ALF close ego your home and open up a relationship with just one of the forgotten people.  I guarantee you will receive blessing that far exceed anything you invest!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Activity blanket

My wife noticed I have difficulty controlling my hands when I am sitting.  She noticed this today at our son's home.  I am constantly ringing my hands, rubbing my arms, rubbing my pants, or other hand activities.  She recommend we get an activity blanket.  The idea actually excites me since I am always doing something with my hands.

I am either picking my fingers, or rubbing my hands, my arms, or using the computer to search endless subjects my mind comes up with.  So, maybe a blanket with different textures and maybe some mechanical activities might help me control this busy hand issue.

This is an admission on my part that my LBD is progressing and I am OK with that.  In fact, I am more and more giving up fighting this disease.  I actually feel better relaxing and not fighting this disease.  For instance, I do not drive anymore.  Yes, I still have my driver's license and I could still drive.  But, why should I?  Driving is difficult and stressful for me now.   Then there is the liability issue if I were involved in an auto accident as the driver.  So, why stress?

On the same point, if an activity blanket, or as it is sometimes called a fidget or busy hand blanket, helps me deal with my hands always searching for something to touch, then I want one!!

This is truly an interesting change in my mental approach.

No one like to read or talk about the tough times!

I notice many of the posts I write about the tough, emotional, issues that I suffer caused by LBD are the least read.  Yes, I can and do check statistics.  Why, I am interested in what interests you.  No!  I do not change what I write about.  Why?  Because MUCH of what I write is unfiltered, emotional, feelings and actually problems that are happening at the time I write about them!  This is a real time log of my life.

My wife is very resistant to read about LBD.  I have given her articles from LBDA.Org and she never reads them.  My son is the same way.  Why?  My guess is they have their heads in the sand!  As long as I am doing relatively OK they believe I am "normal" and they can relax.  If I mention a new or increasing symptom, my wife calmly changes the subject.  Now, in her defense, she says she mentally catalogs those symptoms and changes.  But, she does not read about this disease.

I on the other hand, have done tons of research because I want to know what is and will happen to me.   That is the technician in me.  ow does it work, why does it work, what was the last thing it did before it failed, and is there a way to fix it.

For instance, recently I have begun hand shaking.  This is new.  I have great difficulty getting my fingers on a button or even on the correct key wen typing.  The other day, I was trying to grab something with my thumb and it would NOT go where i wanted it too!  Annoying issue for me.

LBD is an emotional disease for the person with it.  As things go wrong, or as the Lewy Bodies settle in a new portion of the brain and screw that function up, it lets the sufferer know he is NOT in charge of what is happening.  For instance, blood pressure fluctuations.  I am experiencing more dizziness when I get up or move quickly.  This is something I MUST pay attention to, because I could pass out and fall!

Back to my point.  I do try to write about the good times and issues.  But, LBD is NOT a good thing to have and I find myself getting more angry about having it!  I guess that is normal!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don't compare me to someone else!

When I was a little boy, and even into my teenage ears, my birth Mother, Betty Kampf, always used to hold me up in a negative way, against Henry Barry, the son of her friend and hair dresser, Cammile Barry.  I ALWAYS fell short of the excellent example that Henry set!  Right!  He turned out to be a draft dodger, he went to Canada to avoid service to my country.  Notice I said; "My Country".  Henry deserted My Country so it is no longer his, even though President Ford gave the Viet Nam draft doggers, this chickens and cowards, amnesty.

Henry grew up in the two parent home.  Yes, his parents did not sleep together and his mother had boy friends, but, he did not know that then.  He was a child of privilege!   His family was well off, if not rich.  His uncle owned a string of Buick dealerships, up and down the East Coast.  I don't remember what his father did, but they were well off.   I did not like Henry.  And I did not like being compared to him and always coming out in third place.

I never did that to my son or my grandsons. I have seen wives try to do this to their husbands!   "Why aren't you like so and so!  He coaches soccer, is president of the PTA, and is this and that."   I actually had a woman try to compare her husband to me, in front of both of us!  I drew her up short! Quickly!!

Two people are not the same.  We are all different!  We all have different experiences, skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and habits.  

In any case, I have always hated being compared to others.  But, some neurologists and other doctors have tried this with me.  I treat them the same!  I let them know that my experiences with LBD are exactly that, MINE!!   What I am experiencing is most likely different than the next person.  Yes, we have some similar experiences.  But even those may be experienced differently or at different times or frequency.

My point is, lost, I suppose.  I was sitting here, alone, living in the past.  I had an urge to call my mother on the telephone, just to talk, be noise, and see how she was.  Then, Henry and how my mother treated me came to mind and I got angry and upset and decided not to call her.  Which is good, because she died in 1991.  But, that fact escaped me for a while.

Now, I am sure some of my fellow LBD sufferers experience the same sort of mental confusion.  But, their's is probably different than mine.  But we all are on this confusing journey, thing to make sense of where we are and where we are going.  Of course, we will never figure that out.  Maybe I should not be left alone at home!  Or, maybe it is good to deal with the emotions of the past.  The founding Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Six, Dick Marcinko, a fellow Slovak, used to say: "Pain is God's way of letting you know you are still alive!"  I wonder if that applies to emotional pain?  If so, my brain is still alive!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stress of selling our home

As I wrote earlier, yesterday was great!  Today has been more difficult.  I was called by our realtor at 0800!  That's 8 AM!!  Is this woman nuts?  She said we had a showing at 2:30PM.  Then, an hour later she called and said we had another showing at noon.

I realize people have to look at the house to buy it.  But the stress comes when we have to get the two miniature poodles in the car and disappear for that hour or so.  We did OK for the first showing, except that we had to disrupt our friends from out of town's departure plans.  The sec on showing was not as easy,  We packed up and left well before the showing and we were headed back when my realtor called with the excuse that the showing realtor was running lat and would not be here until 4PM!  At that, I told my wife I needed to be home!

Being out of my familiar surroundings, trying to coral two poodles in the back seat of the Subaru, driving around in neighborhoods I don't want to be in is stressful and makes me angry.  And by the time I got home, I WAS angry.  SO, I went to sleep, after the late realtor took some woman around our home that was obviously not interested in the house and most likely not able to pay for it!

I have sold many homes, and I know it is stressful.  But now I have full blown LBD and I am not of the mind to put up with stupid, mental midget Realtors!!  I pray the house sells soon.

Great therapy!

Yesterday, we had a visit from an old shipmate.  He and his wife and brother and sister in law came to Pensacola to visit and vacation.  Today, is their 43rd wedding anniversary!  We have not seen each other in 31 years, yet it was like we have been together the entire time!

Sea stories, catching up on the last 31 years, and good fellowship.  It was a wonderful day.  Early yesterday morning, Chris, from Azalea Trace, called us to see how we were doing.  He asked if there was anything he could do and I said, I would like our guests to eat dinner in the Azalea Trace dinning room.  Chris said; "No problem"!

Now our friends, might have been a little concerned about eating dinner at a retirement home!  I am sure they pictured pureed food, no sharp kitchen tools, sparks, and bibs!  When we walked into the grad lobby at Azalea, they were awe struck!  Dinner was first class.  Steaks, tilapia fish, dessert, the salad bar, were all delicious. The wait staff went above and beyond.

After dinner, we took a tour of the facility and they were further impressed.  All in all it was a great evening.

Being with my old shipmate as just the therapy I needed.  When we returned home, we sat in the living room for a while, did NOT turn the television on, and when to bed early.  I fell asleep quickly and slept through the night.   Nothing is better for me than being with old shipmates.  Thanks Dave and Reba!  Come again soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Doing what I liked to do, one more time

I am a NASCAR fan.  I watched a race, a few years ago, that Mark Martin won.  In the post race interview, he was in tears.  Mark said,  I know I may never win another race, so this is so emotional to me!

Today, my son and I went shooting at a new indoor range in Pensacola.  It is a "Class A" facility in all aspects.  As good as Camp Allen in Norfolk.  Just James and I.  We had breakfast, went shooting, in a very relaxed atmosphere, and the range personnel were friendly and engaging.  It was a good time and I eve shot pretty well.  Yes, my vision gives me pro blame.  I can no longer see the front and rear sights, and the target.  So, I have to line up my front and rear sights and then look at the blur that should be the target.  But, I know how to compensate.  Maybe I should change to "front sight" shooting.

The Mark Martin story came to mind and I realized this could be the last time I go shooting.  I tired easily and we were only on the range for about 90 minutes.  When I was an active shooter, I could shoot all day and still be fresh.  I remember IDPA matches at Blackwater in North Carolina where I would shoot, moving from one stage to another, all day in the heat.  Yes, I was tired at the end of the day, but I could still shoot the night shoot!  Today, I came home and took a nap.

The reality of all this is, LBD has robbed me of stamina, strength, and vision.  All things necessary to do what I have loved to do, for a long time.  Days like today illuminate the losses I have experienced.  These days bring all the is negative about LBD to the forefront.   Maybe, that is why I seldom do things like this.  When I do, I realize where I am in my journey.

Still, I enjoyed my day,  My son looked out for me all day,  He looks for the signs that am getting tired.   When I was younger, and so was he, he would complain if I wanted to leave the range before dark.  Now, he takes carer of me.  Days like today are important to me.  Bonding time with my son.  I need to make more of these happen.

Sometimes, it is hard to judge where I am in this journey.  On days like today, my position on the map that shows my journey with LBD is very evident.