Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Putting it together

I think I might have mentioned this before but Lily has been putting on some weight.  Close to 10 pounds since moving into the Memory Support Center so they have now put her on smaller portions.

A couple of days ago I weighed our two pugs Rudi and Molly.  I was pleasantly surprised to notice they had each lost over 2 pounds but I couldn't help but wonder why as there food source was unchanged.

Suddenly a correlation came to me in regards to Lily gaining weight and the dogs losing weight.  We always knew she would sneek them food whenever possible but I had no clue just how much till now.  It is obvious to me that she is gaining weight because she is now eating all her food and the dogs are losing weight without someone here feeding them table food.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Night

A few nights ago I picked Mom up and brought her back with me to watch "Did you hear about the Morgans?"

Shortly into it, the remarks began.

"Gee God, what kind of movie is that."

"What a stupid movie."

"This is a bunch of crap."

"What time is it? I think it is my bedtime."

Several times I would look over and catch Mom dozing.

Not wanting her to fall asleep so early I would say, "Lily wake up! You are missing the movie." and then the litany would begin again.

Coffee Creek Water System

The water system at Coffee Creek consists of 2 gravity based systems. The indoor water comes from a spring fed hose snaking down from the hill above Aunt Mollie's cabin. The second comes from a ditch that starts at a creek about a mile up the hill and flows down to irrigate Aunt Mollie's garden, grass, and fields.

About every couple of weeks Aunt Mollie must follow the ditch to be sure to clear out any debris that might find its way into the ditch. One day Aunt Mollie's older brother Jack (age 87) came over and he hiked with us to the head of the ditch at the creek about a mile away. Below are pictures of our trip.

Where the ditch separates from the main creek.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Increasing the odds or fooling myself

Have any of you ever searched through your loved ones history wondering what might have led to them developing Alzheimer's disease?   I know I have.

Perhaps I do this hoping I can nail down a reason so that I might be able to say, "See that is what did it.  I won't get this horrible disease."

I think I also do this hoping I can find a reason or a pattern to this disease thereby finding hope for a cure.  Big dreams without much reality to back that up.

Last week a study came out saying people who suffer from depression have a higher risk for the disease.  Ah ha! Lily had to be depressed with losing her husband at such a young age, raising three kids by herself, and then living alone for so many years.  Didn't she?  I really only remember one episode of finding her laying on the couch weeping and depressed.  Thinking back I would say that was in her late 40's.  But like I said she lived alone and like so many young people I was more in tune to what was happening in my life at the time than paying attention to what was going on with my mother.  She could have been depressed quite a bit more for all I knew.

What if the head trauma Lily suffered when she went through the car's windshield in her early 20's started a cycle of inflammation which led to this diagnosis.

Perhaps it was the years prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism when she may have needed to be on medicine.  Or maybe the years following the diagnosis when she refused to take the diagnosis seriously and did not take her medicine on a regular basis.

I remember reading once that detailed people have less risk and Mom was never big on detail.  She did not balance her checkbook.  She didn't care when she wallpapered her entire bedroom and when finished noticed one strip was upside down.  "Nobody is going to be in there but me anyway!"  She was a lousy baker because she was not precise, and for that reason was a good cook.  She didn't care if her kids had holes in their socks which made me all the more determined my kids never did.

Maybe it was her diet.  I know when she no longer had to cook for her children the less care she took with her own nutrition.  A bowl of cereal or ice cream for dinner.  Why not?  So what if she if became a little pudgy in her middle years.  "Nobody looks at me anyway."

Exercise.  Lily thought that was a bunch of crap.  Why would she do something which made her body hurt the next day.

Lily's Irish education consisted of finishing what we would call middle school.  So she wasn't overly educated or as she would say overly intelligent.  "Just average."  Although I would say she was gifted in the area of communication.  She definitely kissed the Blarney Stone and had the gift of gab which is why I feel that has been the last to go.

So what about your family member?  What do you see in their background that sounds like Lily?  Any triggers that you can identify?  Or is is all in the genes.

On one hand it is hard to think that something one might do could lead to Alzheimer's but on the other hand it would also be a relief to say if I don't do this I won't get that.   Kind of like with lung cancer.  If I don't smoke I won't have to worry about that and we all know that is not true, but we do it anyway.  However, there is truth in the fact that smoking does increase your odds.  So could some of these behaviors increase the odds of Alzheimer's?  Or am I just hoping to escape the loaded gun.

I do know if I do get this Mom has provided an awesome example of courage, stubbornness, optimism, and humor in fighting to keep Lily in the race.  No chance I will remember though.  My fight will be own.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Family Pictures at Coffee Creek

Sipping wine and checking out the horses at a local winery.

 cousin John and his wife Sue.

cousin Ron and his girlfriend Mary

Aunt Mollie and her brother Jack

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy 22nd Birthday Emily

Moments at Coffee Creek

While at Coffee Creek Dan, Ryan, John, and Ron all worked diligently all day long to build my Aunt an equipment enclosure for her new generator.

This is the finished product.  We were very proud of Ryan who had a great attitude all day, worked hard, and actually seemed to enjoy himself.

Aunt Mollie and Ryan clearing the hill of debris.

An old doll belong to my Aunt Mollie when she was a little girl.


The group having dinner and Okie (Mary's dog) resting under the table.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conversation in car

Tonight as we were driving home from a restaurant a conversation ensued based on a recent remark from Ryan about no more 2 week family trips for him.

Kerry:   Dan what do you think if we went to New Zealand and Australia next year? 

Dan:     That would be nice.

Kerry:   Don't you think that we might be gone 2 or 3 weeks?

Dan:     Probably.

Kerry:   Emily and Ryan,  what do you think of that?

Ryan:   I'm not biting.  No more 2 week family trips for me.

Dan:     Well, this one you might be sailing to New Zealand.

Emily:   And Lily could be the Captain.

Lily:     No because I will end up in the water after about 2 minutes.

Dan:    Good.  We are counting on that. (laughing)

Lily:    Did you hear that? What he said about me.  (as she hit him on his shoulder)

Emily:  Well, you know what I would tell him.

Lily:    Yeah, UP YOURS.   (Giving her famous 2 finger sign)
           and more....... 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coffee Creek

My Aunt Mollie grew up in Trinity Center. Her father who acquired this cabin from his half brother's wife gave this property to Mollie and Dan so they would have a private place to stay when visiting.  I personally think he was a very smart man and knew this would be a ideal way to be sure to see his only daughter every summer.  Dan & Mollie lived in San Francisco during the school year as he was a work shop teacher and she was a school secretary.  Every summer they spent up at Coffee Creek at their cabin.  Talk about the best of both worlds!

My Uncle Dan was my fathers only brother and he was several years older than my Dad.  After serving in the military he settled down in San Francisco where his mother's brother lived and went to college where he met Mollie McDonald.  They married and had two sons John who is 6 months younger than I and Ron who is about 3 years younger than us.  

When we lived in Seattle my Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins came up to visit us and we all went to the World's Fair and up the Space Needle in 1962.  In 1964 my Father took my brother and myself down to Coffee Creek by car to visit them.  That was my first visit to Coffee Creek.  Lily refused to go as my sister Traci was only 6 months old and there was not any electricity in the cabin.  That might have been a little tough trying to wash all those diapers!  Lily definitely was not into adventure or being out in the country.  As she said she had enough of that growing up on a farm in Ireland.

My next trip to Coffee Creek was not until 1980 the year I graduated from college.  On the way to Arizona my friend Terry and I spent 3 weeks traveling out west and one of our stops was Coffee Creek.  Since we did not have a set itiniary I could not give my Aunt and Uncle a definite date.  We arrived the night before they had planned to head back to SF after giving up on us. Fortunately they were kind enough to wait one more day before leaving so we could enjoy being there at the cabin.

It would be another 12 years before I visited Coffee Creek again.  This time with Dan and the kids.  Emily was about 4 and Ryan about 6 months old.  What I remember most about this visit was Emily walking directly behind a horse that belonged to my Aunt's brother Bud and we were so thankful the horse did not kick her.

So here I am again about 16 years later with my kids who are now grown up.  Only this time my two cousins Ron and John are with me along with John's wife Sue and Ron's girlfriend Mary.  We have not been at the cabin together since we were little.  The sad thing is that my Uncle Dan is no longer with us having died back in 2008.

The bridge crossing the creek over to the cabin.

The water was pretty fast moving with the temperatures being on the cool side lately which has made for a late thaw.
Me looking down on the cabin and the garden from the hill going up to the water irrigation ditch.

The last picture of my Uncle taken in SF just a few months before he died.  I was there to run my first marathon at the Womens Nike event. This was my last visit with my Uncle.

Off with his Own

I was driving Mom to my house after we had lunch with my neighbor Anne and a brief shopping trip at Marshalls.

Lily said,  "What is Ryan doing?"

I replied,  "Well when I left he was mowing the lawn, but I am sure he is done by now."

"Yeah and he probably went off with his own kind now."  said Lily and I chuckled.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rosary Group

I went to Mom's care conference the day after returning from vacation.   The Assessment Nurse, Activities Coordinator, Dietitian, and Social Service were there.  Each gave a run down how Lily was doing.  At the Activities turn the gal turned to me with a smile and proudly said,

"And Lily joined the Rosary group last week."

I believe my mouth fell open and I was thinking did she say what I thought she said,

So I repeated, "The Rosary group?"

After she responded yes,  "I said you know Lily is an athiest."

This time her mouth fell open.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Busy with Activities

I went to see Lily this afternoon and happily found her involved with the activities planned that day.  She did not see me and I made sure she did not or she would have stopped what she was doing.

The elderly group was singing songs led by a young woman from the Activities Department.  I peeped around the corner and Lily was singing and smiling away.  She seemed very happy and content at the time.  I went back to her room visiting with a friend who came with me till the singing stopped.

When she didn't return to her room I peeped again.  This time the group was involved in coloring.  A picture of a flag was in front of mom and she was coloring between the lines.   A short time later a lady arrived with a therapy dog for the elderly to pet and enjoy.

After about an hour and half I decided to leave without Mom seeing me as she seemed to be having a good time with the group.  I knew if I said hello she would immediately want to leave with me and miss out on all the fun!

Lake Almanor

The first part of our trip was spent at Lake Almanor with our friends the Craigers who own a cabin nearby.  The weather while there was beautiful, sunny, warm, and windy.  The lake with Mount Lassen looking on has to be one of the most beautiful lakes I have seen.  The only downside that I could see was the cold water which of course those from that area are used to. Not us Runyeons who are used to the warm waters of Florida.

While there we were wondering if our bad luck was to continue.  While out walking the first day Dan was standing near the shore looking out on the lake and then turned to leave taking one step when a limb large enough to cause a concussion landed where he had just been.  The next day while standing on the road next to the golf course a golf ball went flying right between Dan and our friend Mark just missing them.  The last morning we were there we went out out to breakfast at Carol's Restaurant and  the waitress spilled hot coffee all over her, and the backs of Emily and Ryan.  Fortunately nobody was burnt.  We were beginning to wonder........................
But for the rest of the trip no further unusual events took place.

We had a wonderful visit with our friends Mark, Cheryl, Brandon, and Chloe who did everything to make sure we had a fabulous time.  We are looking forward to their visit to Ohio in a couple of weeks.

                                           Us with the Cheryl & Mark

                                          deer on the golf course

Emily and Chloe tubing with Lake Lassen in the background

                                   Brandon, Cat, Chloe, Emily, and Ryan