My experiences while living with my mother and her Alzheimer's Disease.(her birthdate = January 2, 1925)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Dear All
Well, I signed us up for Hospice care. I really like the lady that came out to explain everything. I asked her about giving Mama fluids through an IV, and she said they do not like to do that because it often goes into the lungs. That would not be good!

If anything happens to Mama, we will call the Hospice people instead of 911. They will help us make decisions about how to treat Mama. They will even talk with the doctor if we request it. I feel like a great big load has been removed from our shoulders.

We asked about Mama's tummy--it was rounded and hard. We told her the other nurse had tried an enema, but that had not taken care of the problem. She felt of Mama's tummy and immediately thought it was accumulated urine. (Sorry, but several have asked for details!!) She said I had to decide if we wanted to go with hospice or stay with Angels in order for her to know who could put the catheter in. I told her I was comfortable with her. She had a catheter with her; she put it in;urine started pouring out. She stopped it after about a liter had filled the bag worried that Mama might get cramps. When she started it again, another liter filled the bag in just minutes. Well, no wonder Mama was not feeling well!!!! By this morning, Michelle and I had dumped out 500 cc and 900 cc. Makes me want to go to the potty myself just thinking about it! Her tummy is once again flat-I asked the nurse if she could make my tummy flat, too. She laughed and said it does not work that way.

Penny and I sat Mama in the chair around 7:30 for a change of pace. By 9:30 she had scrunched down to a position that did not look too comfy. Penny had left to put her daughter to bed, so everything was up to me. A AAHHHHH!!! I patted the bed and asked Mama if she wanted to move there. She smiled, pointed to the bed, and said, "You want me there?" I almost fell over. She had not spoken that much since she came home. I managed to scoot-shuffle her from the chair to the bed without too much trouble-the catheter made the journey a bit more interesting, but we managed.

This morning Michelle said Mama had slept some, but was awake by 4:00. When I left a bit after 7:00, Mama was snoozing so deeply that my kiss on her cheek did not even phase her. Michelle called a bit ago, and Mama seems to be doing okay. I guess she just needs to give us a scare every now and again, so we can really appreciate her.

thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming.

I found some email updates that I don't think got published here so will copy and paste them for anyone who is interested.

Sept. 3, 2004
Dear All,

Well, my Labor Day weekend has begun on an unusual note. Beverly's mom is not feeling well today so I have Mama for the entire evening and night. I don't think Mama is feeling too well either as she came in when Penny brought her home, ate once, went to bed, and didn't show back up to eat again until after 8:30. She is back in bed right now. Am not sure if we will get any sleep, but guess I had better go try to get in a few winks before she decides to get up for the night.

more later,

Sept. 5, 2004

Dear All,

Mama did pretty well on Friday night. She did get up about 12:30. I thought she was going to eat so I wasn't too concerned until I heard the front door open. By the time I got to the front door, she was halfway to her car. She decided she wanted to go riding. I could not persuade her to come back in the house so I searched for my glasses and her car keys, and we took a ride around our block. She came back in, ate her two bites, and went to bed. She slept the rest of the night and pretty late yesterday morning.

Penny worked the day shift. I took the thankfully uneventful evening shift, and Michelle came last night at 10. She kept Mama until around 9 this morning. Mama ate her two bites of food and went to bed. She slept until around 11:30 so we didn't make it to church today. I decided that since she hasn't been feeling well, maybe it would be better just to stay home and let her rest.

While she was asleep, I tried to put up flags to mark where my wireless fence for the puppies starts beeping and zapping. I tried a few days ago, but the little demons went behind me and pulled them up to play with. Today, I put them in the real fence, but they whined so much I was afraid they would wake up Mama. They did let me leave a few of the flags up this time. We had our first training session where I put the collars on them and treat them for coming back into the "safe" section of the yard. Am supposed to do this several times a day for a couple of weeks. I am hoping they are smart enough to learn faster than that. I decided to order this when Huzza Huzza and Blackberry started getting braver and straying farther from home. They have also discovered the road. I would be very upset if either of them got run over so I am trying this option out.

Need to go check on Mama and the puppies.

Hugs to one and all,

Sept. 8

Penny has taken Mama to the Emergency Room saying she has a temp of 102. I will head that way right after bus duty. more fun and games.

Sept. 8
Dear All,

I decided to come home and check on the puppies and get some rest. I checked on Mama before I left the hospital, and the nurse said her blood pressure and oxygen level were both better--more stable. She had just given her a sponge bath and change her gown and bedclothes because they were all sweaty. I woke Mama up to tell her I was coming home for a bit, and to tell her I loved her. She smiled and gave me a kiss--after I pulled the oxygen mask off so she could get to me. I left David, Beverly, and Michelle watching out for Mama. I will head back up there early tomorrow morning.

Thank all of you for your visits, calls, and prayers. She is a tough lady, and may just be ready to stay around for a while longer.

Hugs from a tired,


Dear All,
Mama is better (Martha Ratliff for those of you who have no clue who I am), but she has a lot of problems. They have her on Dolcomine(sp?) to keep her blood pressure up. Every time they try to reduce the dosage, her pressure drops so they have to put it back up. Her white blood count is way up which is not good. Her oxygen level is better, and her kidneys are doing better, but not great.
We are going to keep everything as is for tonight and reevaluate in the morning.
thanks for all your support. I am really not ready to let Mama go, yet.
I thought I would send this to everyone since I just snuck away from the hospital for a few minutes to check on my classroom.
hugs to all,

Dear All,

Mama looks so much better tonight. David took some time to rest this evening and let me come home tonight. He has been so wonderful; am really glad he is here. It is comforting to know a family member is there---just in case.

They are still trying to take Mama off the blood pressure medicine. If they can get it down to 4 or 5 whatever measurement they use, then she can be moved to a room. They kept trying to lower it during the day, but every time they had to up the dosage when her pressure started dropping again. We decided to check on Mama's progress in the morning and see what we think is best for her. Evidently the Dopamine (sp?) for the blood pressure can only be used for a couple of days before it starts cutting of the blood supply to the fingers and toes. So please pray that Mama is strong enough to keep that blood pressure up on her own by morning.

She started having diarrhea this evening. They had changed her four or five times and were having to change her again as I was leaving to come home. The nurse called the doctor and got approval to give her some medicine for this so hope that will take effect soon.

Mama was feeling well enough tonight to tell us to "Come Here!" and "Come to me!" when we went in to check on her. She gave out kisses and tried to hand us imaginary cookies. When I asked her what she had been doing, she smiled and closed her eyes. I think she was telling me that she had been sleeping since that is what she does at home to communicate that idea. Or maybe she wanted me to leave her alone so she could sleep.

Michelle checked on her a little after 10 and discovered that Mama had pulled out the IV. This is a sure sign she is getting back to her regular self. I don't want to get my hopes up, but her recovery sure looks a lot more promising than it did last night--I think the doctor was very surprised that Mama made it through the night!

Need to go get some rest after I hug my stinky little puppies.

Hugs and thanks for all the notes, calls, hugs, thoughts, and prayers,

Dear All,

Mama should be in a room by 5 this evening. They were going to have her there by noon, but since no one else was in ICU they asked if it would be okay to keep her there a bit longer to make sure all was well. I said that would be fine as long as she is in a regular room by this evening.

David is with Mama right now so I can catch a nap. I will go back later so he can head home. Since Mama is so much better, I think he can ease on out. He has really been wonderful to try to sleep in that waiting room so I could come home to my nice bed.

Better go rest while I can. Beverly will take overnight, but I may take tomorrow since Penny has her daughter.

hugs and many thanks for all the prayers,

Dear All,

Mama is doing so much better today. Dr. Simon stopped in to chat with Beverly just before I arrived this morning. Mama's blood pressure is holding, her white count is down to 18 (it was 28). They are measuring the intake and output of liquid. He said if she keeps improving at this pace, she should be able to come home Monday or Tuesday.

thanks for all the prayers, they are certainly powerful!!
Penny is with Mama right now so I am going to take a nap.

hugs from a tired,

Dear All,
Mama is doing really well. I was with her from 8:30 this morning until about 9:30 tonight. I am beat!

they took her off the Dopamine and her blood pressure has done just fine. Her temp is okay, and everything else seems to be working well, too. She was even reaching for her water glass without waiting for someone to put it to her lips!! She hasn't been up and walking, yet, but Michelle is with her tonight so maybe she will get her up some. We did have her in a chair for a while after her bath, but the nurse came in and said the monitor was showing a problem so we got her back in bed. Come to find out, one of her sensors had come loose during her bath and was showing problems.

Must go get some sleep. I am taking one more day off so I can speak with the doctor and figure out our plans. I am ready to get back to work. Hope the kids will be ready for me to come back, too.

Must go hug my puppies once more before bedtime.

hugs to each of you, and thank you for all the prayers--I know that helped put Mama on the road to recovery!!!


Dear All,

To quote my Aunt Ruby Ruth, "Hallelujah and Praise the Lord!" Mama is home. She is weak, and David Green had to help me get her in the house--she kind of scooted until she got to the steps, but then she stepped up without too much help from us. I am not sure she knows where she is since we didn't take her to her room, but know it will come to her eventually.

Home Health delivered a wheel chair to the hospital, but we haven't used it yet. If it is needed for a long period of time, I guess we will have a ramp built so we can roll on. We had a hospital bed delivered this afternoon. Beverly, bless her heart, came out to the house to let them in. She moved furniture around in the living room to make room for the bed. Of course, we have already re-rearranged all that furniture, and will probably shift a few more things as we decide the best place for everything.

I am tired so will close for now. Once again, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I know each and every one helped her get stronger.

hugs from a relieved, happy, exhausted daughter,


Dear All,
this will need to be short because I am keeping an eye on Mama until Michelle gets here. Penny had car trouble and was unable to work today. Beverly stayed until after 6, but she is moving into a new house, so she needed to go check on things there.

Mama was sitting up in her chair when I got home. She wanted me to help her up. She headed for the door. She wanted to go riding. It took both me and Beverly to get her back to the chair. She still tried to get up and walk to the door.

Dr. Sacco called this afternoon. Mama's infection is not going down. We are doubling the antibiotic, and the home health nurses will come back on Friday to check her again. If she still has too much infection, we may have to put her back in the hospital. I'll keep you posted.

Tommy wanted pictures of Mama in her bed in our living room. I took a few so will send them when I get a chance.

Hugs and keep hold onto your hats if you are in Ivan's path.


Dear All,
I just spoke with Mama's doctor. She said Mama's tests from yesterday show that the infection is not being reduced, and her kidneys are not functioning properly. I have calls into my brothers, David and Tommy, to decide whether to keep on as we are (we have doubled the antibiotic), put her back in the hospital, or get hospice to help us make her comfortable until she dies.
She is trying to get up and move around so all is not lost, but it does not look good. Just thought I would let everyone know why it may look like tears are in my eyes.


Dear All,
Beverly and I met with Jackie from Hospice. She was very nice. We have been concerned about Mama's tummy being rounded and hard. The Angel care person had given her an enema, but that didn't do any good. Jackie thought maybe it was urine built up since Mama's Depends haven't been too wet. She put in a catheter and in just minutes a liter of fluid was in the bag. She stopped the flow so Mama wouldn't get cramps from it going out too quickly. She waited a little while, started it again, and another liter filled the bag. Well, no wonder her tummy was rock hard.

She has been trying to get up since, so think she must feel lighter, at least.

Penny just put Mama in her chair. Mama is trying to head for the door. She wants to go for a ride, I guess.

Gotta go grade some papers.