FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Interesting Yoga session today if only because earlier in the day my psychologist and I did a hypnosis session which was very much like a Yoga Nidra Mindful Meditation Session.
Then this evening, in quick summary, we breathed, stretched, focused, and meditated. A lot of attention to self and growth today!
In quick review, as the sessions have taken place we have moved from:
1) The Physical Body (using yoga movements) to
2) The Energy Body (using breath work) to
3) The Mental-Emotional Body (using the tool of sound/chant) and this evening
4) The Wisdom Body (using the tool of meditation.)
This level of the Panchamaya Kosha deals with personality, character, and our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. We alternated breath work with stretching work with meditation and cycled through these several times before doing the final Yoga Nidra rest.
During the Yoga Nidra meditation, when dealing with beliefs, my "voices" gave me the concept of "Acceptable Grief."
When in deep meditation, most times my mind quiets enough for me to be able to get in touch with deeper thoughts and ideas.
They present themselves in "understandings" or "images" rather than words or text. I refer to these as "my voices."
Then in these BLOG posts, I have to try to interpret what I "felt" into what I "thought."
grief |grēf| noundeep sorrow, esp. that caused by someone's death: she was overcome with grief. To this definition, I would add a great sense of loss.
Obviously my concept of Acceptable Grief applies to the path that Gregory has been traveling with Alzheimer's Disease and on which I have chosen to accompany him. We both have been through so much over the last ten years and such quick change over the last four and a half months.
I find that while I still grieve for the loss of my lover, best friend, soul mate, and life companion, I am at peace with our current situation. He is being well taken care of at Lieberman, I am continuing to revitalize my life, and we both are doing well.
When I am with Gregory I am able to be in the "Here and Now" as he is. Mine by choice, his by circumstances. I try not to think about our past or our future when I am with him.
When I am home I try to be in the "Here and Now" as well and I try not to think about our past or Gregory in is situation.
For the most part, Gregory is comfortable, content, and happy. For the most part, I am filled with joy, happiness, and contentment.
But the Grief is always with me and now and then surfaces. When it does I pay it attention, cry if I need to, and in some ways embrace it. The concept of Grief not only includes the sorrow but also the joy in Gregory's and my situation. We are both in a good place. I would not have chosen it this way, but none-the-less, we are both in a good place. And that is acceptable. Thus, Acceptable Grief.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Monday, May 19, 2014
I am visiting Gregory at The Lieberman on Monday which is also music day at 3:00.
A volunteer comes in each Monday and Thursday and sings American Songbook type songs, accompanied by his guitar, from 3:00-4:00.
FRANK SINATRA LYRICS
"Young At Heart"
Saturday, May 17, 2014
He would comment on how young Gregory was and how good looking. He wondered if I was his father but didn't flinch when I told him I has Gregory's life partner. "How wonderful!" he said at finding out we just celebrated our 39th anniversary. "Babies," he said, "Ours is 75."
Sometimes Betty was in a good mood and the six of us would chat. (Marvin, Betty, Vera, Gregory, Manny, and me.) Other times she was unhappy, complaining, and argumentative with Marvin. But Marvin loved her and would always answer "Pretty well!" when I asked how he was doing.
Vera was Betty's helper but also helped Marvin. She would pick him up at home, bring him to Lieberman, take him back home after his visit, and return to be with Betty, then get back to help Marvin by evening.
The difficult part is that one comes to love these people, this community of Alzheimer's design. One comes to look forward to seeing them every day, to having the same narrow conversation, to feel part of the community.
Then one day a laminated blue Dove is flying on an 81/2 x 11 piece of white cardboard hung on the door of their room. Sometimes you don't get even that much warning. You commiserate, you hold back your emotions, you are supportive. You offer your wishes for the best.
This is the unspoken way of dealing with an imminent death. In a few days the room is empty and the partner no longer comes to Lieberman. The helper is no longer there to smile at. You do not get the chance to say you are sorry, or goodbye, or even it's been nice.
You move on but the emotions follow for a few days until the next person occupies that room. And the cycle begins again. For a week, or a month or maybe for years the cycle repeats. But it circles and you continue until your own loved one's room flies its Dove.
Safe travels Betty. In your small way, I'll miss you. Thank you for the reminder that there are happy endings.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
As Gregory and my journey with Alzheimer's continues I am pleased that you sign in now and then (or a lot) and are riding along.
I hope that I have been able to keep you up to date on our journey as well as to support you in similar journeys of your own.
While most are invisible to the eye, we all do have our journeys, don't we?
For me, writing has been such a support in helping me cope with difficult times, processing my emotions, feeling that I am not alone, and has helped give me the strength to carry on.
Love does the same and so many of you have sent so much love Gregory and my way, I am grateful!
I am excited about the release of a second book of poetry, much of it driven by this Alzheimer's Journey. It will be carried by lulu.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnobel.com. I will let you know when it is available.
Monday, May 12, 2014
I have been concerned about you since Gregory has moved into his new home. I know they are taking care of him. That will give you time to make adjustments to your life.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
Sounding like her life was in terrible danger
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
But she only wanted to have you help her
Take her bib like cloth napkin off her neck
Take her back to her room to the bathroom.
Maybe show her, her sugar free juice drink.
But she yelled and yelled like she was all alone
Alone in her mind, in her self, in her world
And maybe with the Alzheimer's confusion
She was alone in her mind, her self, her world
One night at dinner she was at it again.
"HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
I shushed and reached over to hold her hand,
She held back and didn't need to yell anymore.
Evelyn. Quite old. Hair thinning. More wrinkles than not,
She yelled, "HELP ME." "HELP ME." "HELP ME."
This morning, Mother's Day, at 6:00 am, she passed.
Given the last blessing which crying for help can bring.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Here, in case you want to follow is the first session write up. Future ones will be at the new location.
Thanks and Namaste,
After discussing the model and its levels we began our Yoga session. Corinne demonstrated the various stretching and activities in "floor position" and in "chair position." Most of the ones I did were on a chair as I am so out of shape, recently had a bad case of Vertigo, and my back and hips have been bothering me. (This is not a poor me but information by way of your understanding the session.)
As the stretches and exercises progressed I found myself becoming more and more limber and finally ended up moving to floor style. I do not think that I have been as aware of my body in a long time (if ever) then when we were going through the stretches/exercises in this mindful way.
After the stretches/exercises we did a brief Yoga Nidra meditation mainly doing a "body scan" where Corinne led us through a mindful look at our bod, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes, in relation to breathing, the "inside" of it and the "outside" of it.
When I first started meditation classes I would say that many people think Yoga is physical stretching and exercising when it is really a way to calm and quiet the body so as to be better able to meditate.
While that is still true, I am afraid that I discounted Yoga too much. In this one short session, I became so aware of my body and its relation to the space around and the space inside that I now understand better the relationship between the physical and how it supports the mindful meditation.
I have continued to become more aware of how breathing relates to meditation, my study of Buddhism, and my emotions and sure enough here it shows up again in Yoga. I am excited about these sessions and look forward to the next ones to see what they will bring.
I might mention here that I have known for a while that I am very physically out of shape and needed to do something about it. The message hit home when I took myself to the emergency room with the Vertigo attack. It scared me. I thought my blood pressure had gone sky high (when it really was only registering the distress of my body with the Vertigo.) But the scare was enough for me to decide that thinking about doing something does NOT count as DOING something.
I surprised me with my quick actions: 1) Began discussing weight loss and made goals with my Psychologist, 2) Renewed my membership at LA Fitness, 3) Committed to a year of personal training at LA Fitness, 4) Began my weight loss program by weighing in and beginning a log of everything that I ate, 5) Beginning a six week Yoga Kosha session with Corinne.
I am airing my laundry here because by talking about it and by processing it, I think I will be able to try harder to succeed with this program of regaining my health. I DO NOT WANT TO BE OR FUNCTION LIKE AN OLD MAN, EVEN THOUGH I AM AN OLD MAN!
Also, as a reminder, this is being posted on my writers BLOG because I need to move on and separate my Alzheimer's Life from my Personal Life. No less love for Gregory but he is now safely ensconced and embraced. I need to do the same for myself.
After dinner the other night; Gregory, Manny, and I were joined by Gerrie and her son and son-in-law Howard and Robert as we sat in a circle in the living room. With music playing softly in the background, those of us who could carry on a conversation did and the others enjoyed being part of the group.
I noticed at Ben and Edward were hanging out around the corner listening in on our discussion. I invited them to join us which they silently did. Ben sits in a baby stroller type PVC pipe construction that enables him to walk around the unit. Edward, formerly a doctor, uses a wheel chair and "kick walks" himself around.
So picture this, here is a group of 8 people sitting around in the "living room" after dinner having a friendly conversation. If you can stay in the moment and see through their eyes, a good time was had by all. What a strong sense of community!
Friday, May 9, 2014
You may remember a number of postings in the past when I was taking her Yoga Nidra classes. Yoga Nidra has helped so much, especially is dealing with Gregory and my journey with Alzheimer's, and I am grateful to Corinne for the great gift she has given to me.
Now that Gregory is lovingly ensconced and embraced by The Lieberman Center, it is time for me to focus on me. Slowly I have been regaining my sense of independence, relationships, emotions, life activities, and life purpose. What I know, however, is that I have let my physical body go to wreck due to lack of sleep, emotional disturbances, stress, lack of exercise, and comfort eating.
While most has calmed down since Gregory moved into Lieberman in January, the "body" is still out of control. Overweight. Huge belly (comparatively.) Achy joints especially knees and hips. Back pain. Little exercise. Little stamina. Loss of muscular strength. Shortness of breath. (How is that for being honest as I wash my laundry in front of the world?)
I decided that it was time to take these "warning signals" to heart (literally) and do something about it. This is where I have started: 1) Focus on weight loss with my therapist, 2) Renewed LA Fitness gym membership, 3) Committed to a year with a personal trainer, 4) Am taking Corinne's Yoga session, 5) Have begun eating better.
My guess is that you will begin to see these themes show up in my writing. P.S. I have also decided to try to revitalize my writer's BLOG so I will be posting this type of personal grown at michael a horvich writes. I will repost this there and then continue it only on that site. So if you are interested in following:
The following provides a brief overview of the Yoga model which I will be working with over the next six weeks. Tomorrow I will write about my experiences with the first session.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Sunday, May 4, 2014
The other day I arrived at Lieberman at 7:00. Manny had left by 5:30 and Gregory was "parked" in Wing A watching TV with the other residents. He was at the far end of the wing and as I approached I realized his arm and hand was up in the air over his head signaling he saw me, or here I am, not sure which. I waved back and he kept his arm in the air until I reached him.
I had crossed the head of the wing a few minutes earlier on my way to drop some stuff off in Gregory's room and I wonder if he saw me come and go then. I guess I am amazed that he was so aware that he saw me approaching. Usually he is distracted or has a fixed focus on something or another.
Either way, it was a nice welcome and reception for me and was a first. I wonder what was going on in his mind. I wonder at what point he noticed me in Wing A. I wonder if he thought I was not going to come find him. I wonder if he misses me when I am not there or if he even knows that I am not there and brightens up when I am. I wonder if he remembers that I was there after I leave.
Sometimes it is important to me to have a "heart to heart" with Gregory and share what I am feeling or thinking. For example, I say, "I really miss you so much and wish we could be together more often. I know that neither of us would have wanted it this way but I know that we both also know that you are being well taken care of and are safe. It seems to me that you are happy and content and that makes me feel good. I love you so so much."
I think Gregory hears and understands me and sometimes we cry together, other times we laugh together. Maybe he just senses my sadness or happiness and that is to what he reacts.
"Dayanu," It would have been enough! Lieberman, being a Jewish organization, makes me end this piece saying, "Dayanu, It would have been enough." I do not really need to know what Gregory is thinking, only to see him smile or laugh or cry with me.
We had dinner on the second floor in a small classroom. It was fun sitting around the table eating together. Gregory enjoyed it very much. His room is too small for such a party and the dining room only allows Kosher food. The only thing were were lacking was a table cloth and a few flowers in a vase.
Alaksh is planning on cooking again next week. I'll provide the table cloth and flowers and a picture of Gregory's and my moms. Happy Mother's Day it will be.
After dinner we sat in the main space of the fifth floor, the music center, and visited with the four of us, Gerrie and her son and son-in-law and a friend of their's visiting from Florida. Later two male residents (there are not many males) joined the conversation. They didn't add much but had been sitting on the periphery listening so we invited them to join us.
Dorothy walked by and "blew" us her greetings as she plowed down the hallway, walker to the wind.
Sad part was greeting Marvin (husband) who told us his wife (resident) Betty wasn't doing too well. She was having trouble breathing and couldn't eat any more so they've started Hospice.
Funny (and sad) how the Lieberman Fifth Floor community continues to grow on us.
After meals, and during the day, all residents are moved from wing to wing for the various on unit activities like exercise, music, movies, etc. Moving is in itself an activity which allows for a brief "ride" providing a different environment in which to spend the next few hours.
The moving is called "Transport." This example will describe moving to Wing A for a movie after lunch. All residents are in dining room at various stages of having finished their noon meal.
Some residents are able to walk, walker, or wheel chair kick themselves around the place safely. These residents are able to do so freely. They are encouraged to join the group at some activities, required to participate in others, but for the most part can be on their own if they choose.
Those who are a "fall risk" or are not mobil get their wheel chair pushed to the next destination. One RCA (Resident Care Aide) starts the transport by pushing a resident to Wing A and then stays there as "Guard." The other RCAs push the residents to Wing A and return to the dining room to get another resident.
Meanwhile yet another RCA has remained in the dining room until the last resident is finished eating and either is out on their own or pushed to Wing A. Should add here that often the nurses, social worker, activities director, and volunteers help as needed with the process of "Transport."
Once everyone is in Wing A watching the movie (or sleeping or staring or mumbling or whatever) another RCA becomes "Guard" for the next 30 minutes while the others are freed up either to change those residents who need it, attend to other needs like helping a resident shower, or they are able to get lunch for themselves and take care of other duties around the unit.
Sometimes, like during music or Oneg Shabbas, all of the RCAs join in and the activity is quite fun, active and reflects the "Community" that the unit is to residents, visitors, and workers as well.
Let me add one variation, if a resident has a private care helper or a visitor, that person can transport and/or decide where to go or what to do. Sometimes when I am there, instead of going to "music," Gregory and I will go to his room to visit or watch his TV. Often visitors take the resident out into the garden or to an all building activity like a concert.
With this picture of "Transport" in your mind, and with your wondering why the title of this post is "Haunting," I will keep you hanging until the next post.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
I called to check on how the visit went and told Gregory's day helper that I would not be coming in because I was not feeling well. The report back from Manny was that Gregory was so happy to see LB, was more alert and responsive and that they had a long animated conversation (all be it truncated and alzheimered) more so then he has ever seen.
I was very pleased to hear this. Manny then asked if I wanted to talk to Gregory on the cell phone. Usually I hesitate to have people talk about me when I am not visiting Gregory assuming he is unaware of my not being there until he sees me next. But I said, "Sure."
It took Gregory just a few seconds to get the hang of talking on the phone with me. I told him I wasn't coming to visit. "Oh, OK." I do not feel well. "Oh no." But I am OK and I will see you tomorrow. "Wonderful. " I love you. "I love you." Bye. "Bye."
It was a short and simple conversation but wonderful for me to have had that experience over the phone. Many lessons learned as well.