Thursday in the News

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Here’s a peek into a story that was in the news lately in my neck of the woods.  This story is from Oregon, not that far from us in Washington state:

Baby buys car while playing on parents’ cellphone is quirky enough to make it to this week’s blog news article.  EBay is certainly a place where adults bid and pay for items they can’t do without, but this 14-month old little girl accelerated her EBay skills the other day.

Austin-Healey Sprite
Austin-Healey Sprite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Through some stroke of luck(?) this little tyke bid on a sports car, won the bidding war, and her parents then found out that they now owned the sports car.   They explained the situation to the person auctioning off the sports car and were given a reprieve – but in the end, they decided to go ahead with the sale.  Looks like this young lady has landed herself a sports car well in advance of her teenage years.  She’ll be the envy of all her friends.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh!

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Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh!.

I think you’ll all agree that humor can be found in almost every situation in which we find ourselves.  Even the distressing disease of dementia has its lighter moments.  The article above, by fellow blogger Don Desonier, provides a moment he had with his wonderful wife Nancy.  I think many of you will be able to visualize the scenario that this writer so adeptly describes.

Here’s a humorous story from my caregiving time with my father who died from Alzheimer’s complications in October 2007.  On one of my visits to his assisted living facility in Oregon, he asked me to help him change his hearing aid batteries.  So happy to have something to do that would benefit my father, I jumped at the opportunity to help him hear better – thereby greatly enhancing our conversational abilities.

Behind the ear aid
Behind the ear aid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He pulled out his hearing aids and I pulled the dead batteries out and placed them on the coffee table.  I turned my back for a couple seconds and upon refocusing my attention, I saw that my father had put a dozen other batteries on the coffee table – MIXED IN with the two that no longer worked.  Had my father not put all the batteries in a pile I might have been able to readily discern the two recently removed batteries.  As it was, it took us forty-five minutes to test the batteries and as luck would have it, the used-up batteries were the last two we tested.

At least I got a laugh out of it – after the initial frustration – and dad seemed to get a kick out of the fact that I was giggling about the process.  And now more than five years later – I can still reflect on that experience with a smile on my face.

Be Nice.

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Be Nice.

The brief article, above, is one of admonishment and encouragement.  Thank you my fellow blogger in Singapore for your extraordinary insight.

I think many of us can dredge up similar instances when someone responsible for the care of our loved ones dropped the ball.  In my case, I flew down from Seattle, Washington to visit my father at a hospital in Oregon where he had been admitted because of a medical condition that had became acute in light of his Alzheimer’s disease.

I entered his room and saw him sitting up in his hospital bed, frantically rubbing his back on the stack of pillows behind him.  “Dad, you look really uncomfortable.  What’s going on?”  “I don’t know,” he said, “but my back feels hot.”  One look at my father’s back was enough to raise my blood pressure, and it takes a lot to do that since my BP is usually around 100/65.  My father’s back was raw with welts.  What he was feeling when he said that his back was hot was extreme itching.

(Photo credit: Ralf Heß)

I summoned a nurse – no small feat since it appeared that an old person with dementia in a hospital room was not as important as the other patients on the hospital floor.  The nurse told me, “Oh, he must be experiencing an allergic reaction to the solution we used for his bath in bed.  It’s the type of cleanser you don’t have to rinse off.”  “Well, evidently, you do have to rinse it off!  Look at the welts on my father’s back.  He’s in misery!  You have to get this dried soapy solution off him in order to relieve the itching!”

The nurse left the room, only to return a couple minutes later with a stack of washcloths.  “Here, use these.”  Then she walked out.

Left to my own devices, I drenched several of the washcloths in cold water, opened the back of my father’s hospital gown and proceeded to clean off, and cool off, his back.  “Dad, this is going to feel real cold but it will make you feel better.”  And it did.  Ministering to my father in this way was a gift.  I still wasn’t happy with the hospital staff, but I began to appreciate what turned out to be one of the final personal acts of caregiving for my father.

A month later I again flew down to Oregon, but this time, the cold washcloths I applied to my father were employed to bring down his temperature as he spent the last hours of his life in his assisted living bedroom dying.  My father’s cancer – inoperable at that stage of his body’s vulnerability – had placed him in a stage of unconsciousness.  As the staff alleviated the discomfort of his cancer with morphine, I lowered the fever brought about by the shutting down of his body’s organs.

A month earlier, what good would have come about if I had read the riot act to the nursing staff at the hospital?  None whatsoever.  Instead, I can be thankful for the gift of hands-on caregiving and comfort that I was able to provide my father while he was still alert and able to express his relief at having a cool,  itch-free body.

I’m sad thinking about these incidents that occurred in the Fall of 2007, but I’m also delighted with having had the opportunity to minister so personally to my extraordinary father during the last weeks of his life.