May 1, 2006

A lady at church gave this as part of a devotion recently at a breakfast that Sharon and I were at. We ask for a copy. It's called "I'm Fine-Thank You!" and is by an anonymous author. I enjoyed it and thought you might too.

There is nothing the matter with me,
I'm as healthy as I can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak and my blood is thin-
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in!

Arch supports I have for my feet
Or I wouldn't be able to be on the street.
Sleep is denied me, night after night,
But every morning I find I'm alright.
My memory is failing, my head's in a spin:
but I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in!

The moral is this, as this tale unfolds,
that for me and you who are growing old
It's better to say "I''m fine" with a grin
than to let folks know the shape we are in.

How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my "get up and go" has got up and went!
But I really don't mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my "get-up" has been!

Old age is golden, I've heard is said,
but sometimes I wonder as I get into bed
With my ears in the drawer, my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on the table until I wake up.
Ere sleep comes o'er me, I say to myself:
"Is there anything else I should lay oh the shelf?"

When I was young my slippers were red,
I could back my heels right over my hear.
When I grew older my slippers were blue;
But I still could dance the whole night through.
Now that I'm old, my slippers are black,
And I wheeze to the stove and puff my way back!
I get up each morning and dust off my wits-
Pick up the paper and read the "obits."
If my name is still missing, I know I'm not dead,
So I have a good breakfast and go back to bed!

May 2, 2006

I was just thinking about the old saying that some Christian's are so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good. I think others can be so self minded that they are of no earthly good. It's a reminder for me to live life to the fullest, enjoying each day in the here and now, while paying attention to the details in daily living in the here and now.

Each day we have the opportunity to live. It's a gift to us. We have the opportunity to do good, we have the opportunity for enjoyment and we have the opportunity to be a part of our surroundings ... of life.

As someone with dementia, I am sensitive to those round about me. I look forward to the smile, the laughing, the hugs, kisses and touching. the small talk. I'm human, very human and no matter how old or sick we become, these are welcome acts. Random acts of love and kindness during the day should and could become the norm for all of us. Perhaps it already is with you. They don't have to be planned. I think they should be a part of caring. A natural part. When they are missing both the affected individual and the person involved is robbed of something very special. Something very essential.

How much energy or thought does it take to reach out to another human? I can only answer for myself. Not much...not much at all. It's just the natural thing to do.

Are there days or longer when this does not happen? The unnatural thing is too not reach out to others. Perhaps those that have difficulty with showing their feelings have never been shown these feelings at a baby, youngster or adult and therefore are hesitant to reach out or feel unable to do so. For one who has never been loved, it must be difficult to show love.

Personally I have been blessed by love and because I am loved, I can love others that are in my life and that come into my life. I can love myself. You are loved too and because of that great love, you can reach out and make a difference which in turn will make a difference in your own life.

May 3, 2006

My voice for some years now is getting worse and worse. It's weak and soft, making it difficult for other's to hear and understand me. When it first began at least six years ago, I became concerned. I thought it was part of my early stage of Alzheimer's Disease. After having my voice checked by an an ear, nose and throat doctor, I was informed that there was no reason for my difficulty, leaving the cause open to my dementia. I then went to a speech therapist. She observed that I did not breath properly when I spoke and set out to work on it. I was given tips on how to breath properly when I talked. I was finding that it took lots of energy to communicate and I had to think to communicate.I was told that I should think while breathing and talking. I ended up telling the speech therapist that I could only do one thing at once. If it came between breathing and talking, that I'd rather talk. Lots of laughs. I do enjoy talking. I think I inherited it from part of my family. Part of my family was very quiet and part were talkers...real talkers. Well, I learned to enjoy talking and still do to this very day. Communication for me is a gift. For me a gift is best when it's opened and used. A gift is also great if it can be shared with others.

Over the years I have found that my voice is stronger in the morning and lessens in strength as the day continues. By late afternoon or evening, it is pretty weak. It's strange but this is also when my sundowning sets in.

Although I've discovered that voice problems are not on the list of symptoms for Alzheimer's Disease, it is one of the symptoms of those with Lewy Body Dementia. This is the disease that I was rediagnosed with a few years ago. My voice problems are part of my progressive disease and I have to live with it. It's not easy for me to accept and I admit that rather than accepting it, I fight it. I hate it and refuse to quit talking just because I have speech difficulties. I have stopped speaking publicly due to this problem however, feeling that it is not fair for those listening to me. I would have difficulty setting though a speech with someone that has my speech problem and therefore refuse to put other's through it. This does not stop my advocacy. I just look and find other ways to advocate for what I believe in and changes I hope for.

Me, stop talking? Never...Even though I'm sure at times I sound much like a frog.Lot's of laughs

May 4, 2006

May the fourth is the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer is an annual event established in 1952 by an Act of the United States Congress. It's a broader tradition that reaches back to the beginnings of America. Prayers were offered at Plymouth Rock to the American Revolution. As we look at the history of our presidents and many great American's we see that many of them believed and put into practice prayer. This National Day of Prayer has been a part of American history now for 55 years. Millions of individuals of all faiths participate each year. It is not just a Christian day. America is made of individuals of all religious persuasions and many that are of no particular group. One does not have to be a person of faith to pray. We are all part of the creation of God and can talk with God.

Many of the prayers are for our government on the local, state and national level. It was for our leaders and our soldiers. It was asking for Gods help, guidance, protection. We give thanks for our freedom and acknowledge our dependence. I don't think God really minds what we pray for as long as it is from our hearts.

Although this day has become a time that many attempt to make political points, address self interests, personal spiritual beliefs and make into almost a military holiday, it is not for that purpose.

Lord Ashley before the battle of Edge Hill said "O Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me." This day is not so much about us as it is about talking to God. It's not the words we use so much as it is that what we pray is from our hearts It's a matter of the heart...our heart. I'm a praying man and I'm learning more and more that prayer is about spending time with my God. Not that I don't bring requests to God, but I also come with a thankful, humble heart. Prayer is not just me talking, but it's also me listening to what God has to say. It's a very personal meeting, Him and I. My words are not meant for others to hear. They are meant for God.

I like what Albert Edward Day said about prayer. He said "the function of prayer is to set God at the center of attention."

May 5, 2006

I just read a sentence that made me think. It said that for some, education is frightening. I've never thought about that before. Education since high school has always been challenging and enlightening for me. I thought that I'd be a life long student until I became ill. Even a few years after being diagnosed, I still attended classes of interest to me. I only stopped going to classes because I could no longer make good, complete notes that made sense, remember who the teacher was or where the bath room was. There were times that I even forgot where I had parked my car. I decided after much consideration that the struggle was too much for me.

The thought that education is frightening too some caused me too wonder if this could be a reason that more individuals and caregiver's don't reach by attending support groups and educating themselves. Perhaps education does scare some individuals. Not everyone can accept dementia and all that goes with it and I have do doubt that not everyone wants to know all the intimate details of dementia. There was a time in my own life after being diagnosed with dementia that I was in denial and was not ready or prepared to reach out for support or education. The sad fact is that by not reaching individuals can isolate themselves and cut themselves off from the support that could really help them.

Education about oneself concerning the various aspects of dementia can be a little unsettling but I tend to not dwell upon it personally. I want to know all aspects but then move on with my life. So far I've been able to do that and I don't see that changing.

Education is not a threat but a friend for me and although I am no longer able to understand or remember much of what I read or watch on TV, education only becomes more of a challenge to me, but usually in the safety of my home or a support meeting. I also find a safe place at the local library and bookstore.

May 6, 2006

I received a phone call from my youngest daughter, Mary Ann earlier today. She was telling me about my Grandson Darren, age 11. He's becoming quite a young man for his age. I'm very proud of him.

Mary Ann told me of a recent occurrence with Darren. In their yard is a large container of water with plants surrounding it. In the water lived a family of frogs. Darren's Dad, David had told him that he was going to use the frogs for fishing bate in the future. Darren didn't say much but after some consideration, he decided to remove the frogs form the water to protect them. He later told his mother that he removed them, having to follow his heart even if he got into trouble with his Dad.

What a boy. I'd like to think he's following me somewhat. See, I also am following my heart. Have been for some time now. There's many things in life we can follow but I chose to follow my heart at an early age and still do so today. The heart leads the way to home, if we will only follow it. We must be careful because negative, bad things can also come out of our heart. Follow the good and resist the bad. Not easy to do all the time, at least for me. Perhaps there are those that it is easy to be good all the time but for me....well, it's a moment by moment decision that only I can make. I've decided that I have to follow my heart, like Darren. I've never been sorry. It doesn't rob me of job but what it does is fills me with joy. I have moments of depression. Those of us with dementia as well as others are prone to depression, but we don't have to live there. I breath in life. I live life. I enjoy life. I chose to live life to the fullest by following my heart.

May 7, 2006

In this fast paced age in which we live, I think the art of listening to each other can be lost in all that there is too do. Many times we are over burdened with the day, with all the things that we have too do and then there are the things we want too do, we like too do, that crowds out taking time to listen to others.

Even after retirement the fast pace for so many seems to continue. Those of us in the slow lane of life are lost in the dust of the rush.

In past years people seemed to take time for each other, even if they didn't have it. They stopped, listened and then went on their way. Today it seems the pace is so hectic that it''s almost like playing the old game of Monopoly when were all rushing to go past go and pick up the money we receive for passing go.

The art of listening to yourself, to your surroundings and to others is lost. I miss it and want to bring it back. The slower pace if only for a few moments. I want people to listen during our conversations. I will also do my share of listening if only given the chance to do so. Slow down and breath. Take a deep breath and let it out easy. Sit back and enjoy life with me.for a few moments. I won't ask for a lot of your time. I need you. I want you. I want a chance to enjoy you.

When I speak please act like your interested. Please acknowledge that you heard me and understand what I'm trying to say. Please don't make me question if you heard me or not. Take time to comment on what I have said. Add too it if desired. Just let me know that your still interested in me, in my life and what I have to offer too a conversation.

I don't ask for all your time and want you to have your life and personal time. I just want to be included in your busy life. I want to know that I am still loved, appreciated for who I am and that what I have to say is worth the listening. Am I asking for too much?

May 8, 2006

Communication is made through a smile and a frown. It's made through a gesture or an expression. Communication can be made through sounds or quiet. Communication can be made through the simple act of a touch.

For those of us with dementia, communication is important. Too be understood and too understand.

This can be challenging at times for both of us but for me, it's worth the effort. Sometimes I think because I have dementia, some think I have nothing to say, nothing to offer or I wouldn't understand. There are times that I am quiet but there are many other times when I have plenty to say, understand more than many might think and have something to offer if only I'm given the time and opportunity to communicate.

Some tip toe around us like their walking on egg shells. Others walk right by us, ignoring us like were not there. Some hurry away from us like we have the plague. There are times were in a group setting but not included. I am still able to notice when I'm being ignored. Hey, I'm not dead yet. I am still here. Just give me a chance to be a part of the conversation. I don't always have to be the center of the conversation. I'm just one....but I am one. Even if I was no longer able to communicate, I would appreciate being included. Because I am unable to talk or communicate in no way indicates that I cannot feel, think or understand. But presently I can still communicate and enjoy communicating. I want to communicate but I hate talking to myself. It doesn't seem right unless I'm talking to the TV set. There are occasions that I have talked back to commentators on the news. I enjoy relating and interacting with others.

As our condition worsens we may experience physical, cognitive, or sensory changes that affect how we speak, listen or follow through. We might even withdrawal. My memory is affected and I may at times have poor judgment but I still have feelings. I am still a person, a human being, a person of worth. I still have value. I may be on medication that affects me and my condition can change constantly. I may have doubts and fears but I still have the need to communicate.

Here are some brief thoughts taken from Helen Osborne - In Other Words...Mind What You say...Speaking With and Listening to Older Adults.

Allow sufficient time.
Identify the patient's priorities. Take care of what's on their mind first.
Redirection might be needed. My thought.
Give Directions One Step at a Time.
Assume Responsibility to Remember
Keep is simple. My thought.
Write it down for us if necessary. Make us signs and notes. My thought.
Use queues to remind us. My thought
Repeat as needed.
Respond to Repetitive Information as if it is new.
One may want to spend less time with this information. My thought
Try Not to Criticize or Correct.
Ask simple direct questions. My thought
Confirm that you understand each other.

Communication with babies and young children as well as teenagers is attempted by individuals. Many times it takes creativity and effort. With patience and care, communication can also be a part of making life better for those of us with dementia and can be very rewarding.

May 9, 2006

I was thinking about relationships and how it's possible to take one another for granted. I know, were all perfect and that this would never happen but just what if? What if this was happening and we didn't realize what we were doing? Possible we know what were doing and just don't care to change.

For married couples and relationships of other types, I don't think this was always the case, or we probably won't be in these relationships. It's hard to make and keep a relationship early on if we take each other for granted. It's hard to maintain a relationship that's close when taking each other for granted.

For many of us that were diagnosed at an early age with dementia, we were tossed ungracefully into full retirement. Ready or not, here we were. Without a time to plan or think about our future. Many times out of no where seemingly.

Many individuals that retire today plan for years before making the final decision. They dream of the golden years ahead and what they will do. I was beginning to do the same. I knew that with my retirement system I could retire in not so many years. That thought would occasionally cross my mind, but having some years ahead, I gave it little consideration.

For some there is hesitation in retiring. If they can continue work they'll have more money and perhaps more benefits to retire on.Some feel that retirement will end their life. Some hesitate because they will be forced to spend more time with those they are married too.

Over the years we change. I don't think it's possible not too change and we might be afraid of those changes. That closeness that we could avoid before retirement at least some of the time may affect our relationship more now that we are retired.

Now some of our privacy has changed. The way we chose to do some things has been changed. We are forced to be together for long periods of time. In addition we have the stress of a new income, health and aging problems and all that come with it. How are we to live and cope?

Will we begin taking one another for granted? Will we live with the feeling of frustration? Perhaps resignation will set in. Perhaps, just perhaps this can be a new beginning for both of us. We can decide to live and let live. To accept one another's continuing change and not just make the best of it but excel in our relationship with each other. Using it as a challenge for growth, positive change in our own lives and a change to really get to know each other all over again. It's a time to show who we really are deep inside of us and too show our character. It's a time to serve each other and to renew our wedding vows with each other.

Taking one another for granted can be a way of life for some, but a very sad way to live. Our relationship to one another is worth thinking about and then doing something about it. Remember how happy we were when we made those vows so many years ago? The same feelings of love and commitment can encircle us once again if we chose. It's a choice we make. Life each day is a choice.

May 10, 2006

I've been thinking about communication lately. My mind continues to wander. I got to thinking about how I communicate with Sharon and others. Many of you know that I have problems with my voice. This is part of my Lewy Body Dementia. My voice has definitely been affected. There's few things I hate but this is one of them. I'm a talker. I enjoy it. Communication is important to me and I do my best to communicate with others. I use other methods of communication but talking is my favorite. Since my voice has changed, it has made it more difficult to communicate, but I still try. My attempts are not always that easy to understand. There are times in the day when my voice is not as strong as at other times. It seems to have it's own mind and changes at will. Especially in the morning and in mid to late afternoon when I go into Sundowning.Also when I am feeling stressed.

My voice goes up and down, back and forth with it's strength. It takes a lot of energy for me to talk, taking a lot out of me, but it's worth it. At times I have noticed that I start my sentence out softly, building up strength as I go and then close my sentence again ever so softly. Some might say that I'm soft spoken. I was told by a speech therapist that I must think about breathing while I speak. Heck, it takes all my thought power to think about what I'm saying and then I make lots of mistakes along the way. Breathing with speech usually comes natural without thinking but with me, it seems that my breathing does not come quite as natural. It takes effort to make it all happen and in a very short, quick amount of time. At times when ask a question I am caught off guard and unable to answer or give a correct, complete answer.

My voice is strained much of the day. Others seem to be able to hear me most of the time, according to the time of the day and how tired I am, but not all of the time. This can be embarrassing and frustrating for me. Enough that I have given up public speaking which I really enjoyed doing. I still speak in small groups along with friends, but some of my feelings and thoughts are locked inside me due to my speech impediment.

At times I am ignored by individuals but most are very courteous and understanding, and are glad to converse with me. For this I am thankful.

I know in my heart that someday, my voice might go entirely. It happened too me quietly, barely unnoticeable but then I was forced to deal with it. I fear it might leave me in the same way, but I am prepared. I have the computer and my note pad at hand so that I can continue to communicate, no matter what the future holds for me. Someone once said that "where there's a will...there's a way." That's how I live from day to day. I thank God that the will is still there.

May 11, 2006

We've been having a cool break in our weather here in Florida and I am enjoying it. Sitting out on my porch recently, I tried to take it all in with all of my senses. The air was fresh and cool. I could smell someone barbecuing in the neighborhood. h, it smelled sooo good. The birds were busy eating, drinking from the bird bath and singing their hearts out. The squirrels as usual were doing their antics and running across the screen on occasion, at times chasing each other. I noticed a small lizard as I sat there. As soon as our cat Noel discovered we were both on the front porch, she was at our door wanting to be with us. It was so relaxing, I questioned why I didn't do it more often? We have had lots of humid, hot days that seem to never cool off. It's not even summer yet. I come to expect this type of day and it takes me a little to figure out that it has cooled off. Once I figure that out, I have take more advantage of it. On our front screened in porch are many plants, two rocking chairs, a swing and a hammock. Talk about luxury. We enjoy our porch. One in front for when it is shady and one in the back for when it becomes shady there. Spoiled? I guess so. Were very fortunate. God has blessed us with so many things to enjoy. Now, all we have too do is to enjoy them. I think I'm up to the porch thing. Lots of laughs. Taking advantage of the enjoyable gifts given us is becoming more of my daily routine since I've discovered that I'm retired now. Took me a while.

May 12, 2006

Is like over, now that I have dementia? Is life over now that you are a caregiver or a family member of one with dementia? Does our happiness depend on what happens to us or our loved ones or does life depend on what we make it? I know that bad things happen to good people but I refuse to stop living at that point. Life goes on for me. With the good and the bad, life is pretty much what I make it. Not what other's make it. Life is now, today, this very moment. I don't go around all the time grinning, making other's wonder what I'm up too. I don't always have a smile. I'm not always laughing. These emotions seem to come through much of the time but not always..The thought,"if only" does not haunt me. It's in my attitude and expectations that I move on. It's what I do with the ever changing gift I've been given. It's in the journey that I'm on..The road has lots of curves and bends, some straight miles that seem to last for ever and then before I'm prepared, I hit a bump in the road of life. A sign that tells me I am being rerouted or that the road is closed appears. At times this seems to last a long time. Personally I've never been promised a road garden. I've been promised the unexpected and in that for me is excitement. If I fight it, my life can become unbearable for me but when I go with the flow of life, I find it worth the living. The promise to me personally is that God will hold my hand every inch of my journey and He will be there with me at the end of my earthly journey. The life awaiting me on the other side is full of even more excitement than this one. My journey goes on and on. It never ends.

I have a disease that is progressive with no cure. I've been informed of the possibilities about my tomorrow, but I don't dwell there. I go on, living my life one moment at a time. If I took to heart every ache and pain. If I believed every report and the latest news on health and what might happen with my disease, I'd go around circles like a dog chasing his tail. I'd spend most of my moments and time sitting in a doctor's office. I'd probably give up but giving up is not in me. Life is in me and I'm enjoying the journey.

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."
By Crystal Boyd

May 13, 2006

I was just thinking. Without other's in my life, how sad my life would be. In fact, I would not be able to make it without others. Especially my Sharon.

I was just rereading a letter I just sent out to friends and family updating them. I entitled it, "An update from Chip Gerber." It would have been more correct to call it an update from Chip and Sharon Gerber and too have included more of my day with Sharon. Sometimes I feel so independent. Like I can do it all by myself and need no one else to help. In reality, without other's, I would not be able to make it. Just me is a mighty small package. It's when I include others that life is worth the living.

Sharon is pretty close to the top of that list. Without her assistance, advice, touch, her just being there for me, life would be mighty difficult. Without her love life would be mighty dreary.

I think of all that Sharon does in one day for me. It's amazing. Her gifts are many. Just her smile, her sense of humor, her warmth, her faith and trust. The many, many things she does without receiving near enough credit.Oh,I thank her on Mother's Day and maybe Sweet Heart Day. I try to be appreciative not taking her goodness for granted but I need to think about my expectations of her and why I have these expectations of her. Should I have these expectations or should I accept them as a gift? Sharon makes me smile, she makes me laugh, she assists me with the things I'm unable to do or need reminded to do. In other words, Sharon, my Sweetheart, wife, partner and caregiver gives of herself unselfishly daily and keeps us going. Thanks Honey....for everything. I'm so blessed that you said "yes" many years ago, and continue to say "yes" moment by moment.Our's is an ongoing relationship.

May 14, 2006

Mother's Day made me think of my Mom. She was a very special lady in my life. Although she's been gone two years now, she's still very much a part of me. She's in my heart.

Mom put up with me during pregnancy, bore me, took care of me as a baby, toddler, and youngster. There were the terrible one's, two's, three's and right up through the teen age years. I'm sure I tried her patience many times and made her wonder if I would ever make it into adulthood. But, I did, much to her care and what she instilled in me as a child. I owe her much.

I'm thankful and glad to be called the son of Mary Gerber. Life was not all that pleasant for her. She bore five of us children and worked hard to make sure we had our needs met. Although Mom never worked out of the home, she sure worked in, around and at our home. The house was so clean one could have ate off the floor. Our clothes were always sewed when needed, washed and ironed. She cooked, baked, canned, and made sure we always had a filling, tasty meal. Supper around the table together almost always included potatoes of some type. She could do miracles with potatoes in so many ways and too this day, I love my potatoes. She could make a meal out of almost nothing. What a cook she was.

Mom gardened and always had the nicest flower garden one would want to see. She took good care of herself and taught us well.

Being a caring, giving person, she would always feed those that came to our door hungry

She was a spiritual person who lived out her faith in such a way that we could see the difference faith makes in an individual and in a home.

I know your in Heaven now, Mom, but I just wanted to again thank you for caring, thanks for loving, thanks for making a difference in my life. It won't be long till were together again.

May 15, 2006

I have observed that many people of today say almost anything that comes to their minds. This morning, a friend made a comment too me that hurt and I must be very careful that I am not overly sensitive too others or too timid. I usually don't make comments back when someone says something that offends me. Usually it hits me out of no where, suddenly, and I don't have time to give a good reply. I'm sort of in shock, unable to think what to say without any given notice. It takes me time to get my thoughts together and they don't come automatically if they come at all.

I know I should just consider the source and walk away. At times, that's easier said than done. There are times when the words cut, wound, linger on, make me doubt myself, question if I was in the wrong or If I was out of order.

I read an editorial recently in the local newspaper that stated everyone seems to be afraid to say what they think today. That they are afraid of offending others. I thought about it. I was a very shy child and teenager. Very withdrawn. As I grew and matured I found I had little to fear but fear itself. That the life I wanted took risk on my part and as I stepped out of fear, I found freedom. Freedom to grow, to change, to be proactive and to risk being misunderstood. I found love, grace, family and friends, I found tolerance and faith. I discovered a life that was worth living and that one person really could make a difference. But there was something I've always kept with me. That is the thought that words can kill, destroy and hurt or bring blessing, encouragement and support. Words can also be put together too just exchange thoughts or too pass the time of day.

I personally find I personally find that in our country today, there is much apathy in sharing our words with others. I believe in tolerance and avoiding arguments. I believe in not offending just to offend but I don't feel I have to fit the ever changing politically correct image of our times in order not to offend. I try to examine political correctness and use it when it applies, based on good OLE common sense and all those things that make me who I am. When I disagree with it, I am not afraid to differ with another in a non descending manner.

I've heard the saying,"God gave me a mouth and I'm going to use it." It's true that God gave me a mouth, but he also gave me a heart and a mind. He gave me the ability to chose my words carefully. My words come out of my heart.

With dementia it is not always so simple to use words correctly or hold onto our thoughts. Many times it's very challenging for me.

The childhood saying of "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" is not always correct. Words have a way of sticking in my mind and heart and can hurt me deeply. No, I'm not female but just because I'm a male does not mean that I cannot be hurt. Words can bring healing or harm. Words must be used very carefully.

Perhaps one of the blessings of dementia is that I usually have a delayed reaction if any reaction to words. I don't always have the words or quickness to respond to what other's say. I can always say later what I thought of a remark or conversation after I've had time to digest it, if I want or even remember them. Many times I find it's just better to ignore insults and negative conversations. Once my thoughts do come, I can then decide what I want to do with those thoughts.

May 16, 2006

I was thinking of the word ponder. Too ponder. What does it mean? My dictionary tells me it means to weigh in the mind, consider, reflect, meditate. Synonyms under consider are, deliberate, examine, muse.

If you've read many of my journals, you can see that I do a lot of pondering. Lots of things go through my mind but only a few tend to stick there. And yet, I enjoy pondering. Pondering does much for me personally. It helps me too understand myself better. It helps me put two and two together. It assists me with exploring thoughts and feelings I have or others have. It helps me stay on one subject for a time without jumping from one thought to another, which is difficult for me. Pondering helps me know myself. It helps me know others and God better. It gives me new ideas and thoughts. I just have to catch them at they pass by.

Perhaps this is much of what my journaling is all about. It's not just facts, although it is factual.It's not just a record of my life. It's not just ideas although I seem to have plenty of them. Pondering helps me understand and to chagne.Words, thoughts and ideas are not boring to me. Too some they are. For me pondering opens a whole new world for me as I travel this journey that is a long good bye.I do my best to catch some of these ponderings and share them with you.

Perhaps my daily journals should be called Chip's ponderings.I hope that you ponder with me and that I can encourage you to ponder more. Together we can go backward, forward and upward. Perhaps you can add as we ponder together. With each of us there is a story waiting to be told.

Perhaps pondering brings fear to some. The unknown. Newness with the possibility of change, of adding to oneself and becoming a part of something bigger than ourselves. For me personally, pondering has been worth any effort I have made and well worth the risk I have taken. You, my friend can do it too.

May 17, 2006

I was just thinking about my last journal and pondering. It brought up the old word, muse. I've heard it before but didn't really understand it, so back to the old dictionary I went. One of the meanings of muse is to indulge in reverie. Synonyms are brood, consider, contemplate, deliberate, dream, meditate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, stew,study,think.

I think that is what I do in my journaling. It's good for me. Musing goes way back with me. I've always been sort of a dreamer. I, much like an auto mechanic take things about with my heart and mind and try to piece them together, figure them out, make sense of them, and then use them in my personal life.

Now, I grew up in the country. I'm a country boy at heart and although I've lived much of my college life and work life in the city, no one's ever been able to get that country out of me. It's a part of me that I like and enjoy. A part of me that I'm proud of. Someone once said that you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. Well, for me that's true. Oh, I've adjusted to my surroundings that I've lived in, worked in and played in, but down deep, it's country for me that I really enjoy.

In the country there were always cows near by. Dad didn't have any on the acreage we lived on, but relatives and neighbors had them. I use to enjoy watching them as they would chew on their cud. The would slowly and leisurely chew on what they were eating. No hurry, it seemed. Hey, they had their whole lives to do it. On occasion I still sneak over to a near by field, take my lawn chair and sit there watching the horses and cows doing their thing.

Much like the cow, I learned to chew on ideas, thoughts, feelings and suggestions. I still do, just not as long. Now, in my life, the thoughts fly by and are only partially heard or understood many times. Still, I return on occasion to the old days of chewing, meditating, dreaming, contemplating, considering, even musing on words and thoughts that are stuck somewhere inside of me..Even though more brief and less often now, I still tend to do it, especially while I'm journaling and having my devotions.

I think this old old habit of mine helps me maintain and not to lose as much ground to the thief and destroyer, dementia. Musing is important to me and I hope I can continue chewing away on my cud for years too come. By the way according to the dictionary, cud is food forced up into one's mouth and chewed over again.

May 18, 2006

I just was reading on one of my dementia email communities, AD Friends, that a friend, Lynne recently feel, but fortunately she was not hurt.

One of the things those of us with dementia should be careful about is getting dizzy and losing our balance, possible resulting in falling and injury.

For some strange reason, years ago, back when first diagnosed, I would occasionally fall. I never hurt myself but I remember I had to be pulled up by others on some occasions. At times it felt like my legs would just go limp on me and at other times, I felt dizzy and off balance.

I haven't fell in a long time now, but on occasion the dizziness can still creep up on me. That same OLE feeling of being off balance can reoccur. The feeling of being unsteady on my feet.

At times I have observed as well as others that I will take a step backwards or side ways. Some times a couple steps. I'm feeling unsteady and a bit dizzy usually during those moments. It's then that I have to be alert enough to catch myself, balance myself, hold on to something near me or grab something insight. This doesn't occur often, but the times it does occur is often enough for me. It's hard to imagine that a time is coming when I might not be able to notice, to observe what is happening with me and not be able to stop myself from falling. Although in my dim recollection of the past, falling has happened, still, it's difficult to place myself in that situation in the future.

One can know the future, but still not be able to place oneself there. I know the possibilities of my future, but I can't force myself to go there very often. Oh, on occasion I take a brief look into the crystal ball but it's uncomfortable for me and I quickly go on to the next thought. I guess I feel that I don't have to rush things by dwelling on the negative. I want to know but not dwell there. I must make the choice moment by moment of living in the present.

May 19, 2006

My wife and caregiver Sharon keeps my computer up and running for me. Without her assistance, I'd be lost. It's true.

I didn't have a computer until after I had gotten dementia. I didn't know how to operate one. Everything I have learned about the computer is directly from Sharon.

In 1997 when I was diagnosed with dementia, most jobs were coming with a computer. In my office, some had a computer and some did not. I did not. In fact, I had some fear and resistance to a computer. I knew how to type from taking a high school class years before. It seems once you learned the keyboard of a typewriter, you didn't forget. It stuck in my mind although I didn't use one often for many years. That class of long ago and what I learned about typing still helps me today. These days I seem to make more mistakes and must run what ever I've written through spell check several times. Thank God for spell check and thank God for computers. I don't imagine that many of those who must work with them day after day would say the same thing, I even know several individuals who refuse to have a computer in their homes because they use them so much in their employment settings.

In Ohio where I was born and grew up, we had a large Amish community near by us. Sharon and I enjoyed visiting here often. I was always amazed when I would find an Amish person in one of their businesses, doing some of their work on a computer.

I don't have the percentage of senior citizens that use a computer, but I've observed that the use is very low and especially with many dementia individuals. Many senior citizens of which I am one, are afraid to use computers. It frightens them. There are some who have tried and failed at using them. I have a good friend, Tommy and his wife Trudy who are, lets say in my age range, and just got their first computer and seem to be enjoying it. I'm happy for them, in that I have found such enjoyment in my own computer. There are so many things I can use it for. Journaling, surfing the net for new information or wanted information. I can look up word meanings and thoughts on certain topics. I can learn more on desired subjects, I can write letters and notes. I can connect with friends who also have journals. I can be involved with computer communities across the world on almost any area of life and even chat with many of them. The computer talks to me. It tells me I have mail and I can hear sounds and words from some mailings etc.I can use the computer to send greeting cards to others. It is a big help as I explore and dream.

I wish I knew more about the computer. It seems I can no longer learn new things and some of the things that I thought I knew how to do constantly changes for me. What do they say about teaching an old dog new tricks? Sometimes I can remember what to do and some times I can't. I've tried notes to remind me but they don't really work for me. I either lose them or don't understand them, even though I many times wrote them.

I find I'm making more and more mistakes on the computer and must correct more and more of the things I do on the computer. I freeze the computer up, I get confused and run out of coping paper on our copier often. On and on the list goes of things I do or don't do.

I've never actually studied the computer. Perhaps the time I learned how to operate a computer, being after being diagnosed with dementia and the fact that my stages are ever increasing with the disease is affecting my performance or lack of.

In spite of all of this, with the help of my Sharon, I will continue to tap those keys and do what I can to help make life's experience enjoyable for me. Frustrated at times and having a love hate relationship with the computer, I still can't see a time in my immediate future of giving it's use up.

May 20, 2006

Yesterday morning found me near my church, partially covered from the sun by a tent. I, along with a group of other's were giving out free bottles of ice cold water to visitors that passed by our tent. It's time for the yearly Blue Crab Festival, a festival that is held on the banks of the famous St. John's River in downtown Palatla.

I had signed up for an hour of passing out water, knowing that it would be hot outside in the sun. The weather didn't disappoint me. It was in the high 90's.Fortunately I was holding cold water for a moment as the team passed it on to others working with us, and we had a nice large fan blowing on us. Having difficulty in the Florida sun and humid heat, I did my best to stay partially inside of the tent, sitting down as needed too rest.

I ended up staying for probably two hours or a little over. We couldn't hand out water fast enough, it seemed, as we volunteers busily worked together side by side.

The space we had to work in was limited, therefore we had little personal space. Personally I was glad that all those present were wearing what seemed to be long endurance arm deoderent.When your working close together in such weather, it's a necessity.

There were two leaders, and one had ask that I stand next to him, as he initially got a bottle of water out of a container of ice and quickly passed it onto me, who in turn, passed the bottles of water on to other volunteer's who were giving it too those passing my us that seemed only to glad to receive it. I would also keep track by observation of those that were about to pass in front of our tent. I tried to do my assigned job but as time went by, nerves began to slightly unravel of some of those involved. Not that we didn't want to be there....we did. It's just that we were forced to work under pressure, with limited room for movement on our part, in a hot tent. Most of the volunteers kept a good attitude but I was not one of them. As the time flew by, I could feel frustration and a bad attitude on my part invading my comfort zone. Down deep I was glad I could help. I wanted to be a part of this project. I had looked forward to this event, knowing that I was pushing myself too my limits and perhaps beyond, I had only signed myself up for an hour and I felt that I could certainly handle an hour. I has pushed my limits, my self made boundaries even as some had warned me of what might happen if I insisted on volunteering for this project.

Well, I helped as much as I could, but as my frustration level increased with the heat, closeness of my surroundings and remarks of frustration by a few others, I made a curt comment or so myself, indicating my attitude at the moment to anyone who was in ear shot. It wasn't that bad, but the words I carelessly used helped me release some built up tension and pressure that I was having internally. My words gave release to what I was experiencing within. Of course, this was followed by feelings of guilt for blowing off like I had. I'm usually pretty self controlled under pressure even when inside I am fighting a battle of strong feelings and emotions. I admit that in the last few years, I have lost my cool more times than I can recall but always feel that this will not occur again.

Control of my attitude and putting my faltering mind in gear before I speak is becoming more of a problem for me. There are occasions that if I don't say it...I sure enough think it and end up grappling with what occurred, and later apologizing.

I don't harbor these negative feelings long before I want to come to terms with them and too make amends. Reconciliation is deeply a part of my life and when I cross what I feel is right for me personally, I'm not above or below making the first step at reconcilliation.It may take me a little to maul it over before doing so, but it happens. That's not to say that I can't take some time stewing over my feelings.

I've found that anger, resentment, holding a grudge, unforgiveness and hate can eat away at a person like poison. For those of us affected with dementia and caregiver's it's so important that we make amends daily or even more often for the sake of all concerned. Someone has to make the first move. Why shouldn't that person be me? Once it's made peace and harmony can reign and relationships can again be restored.

May 21, 2006

The thought of life getting in my way was brought to my attention recently. I don't know that I had thought of life in that manner. There are times for many when life really does get in the way. Life for many is crazy. It's in the fast lane. It's full of business. Many feel that there everyday life gets in the way of doing things that they want to do, of being who they want to be, or completing projects and life long dreams. I once was in that position. There was never enough time to do all that I wanted to do or all that I needed to do. At times I would complain and the usual answer was just do it. Just get it done. Just accomplish it, but I found many pat answers such as these are somehow lacking and almost are meaningless in a world gone mad.

There are lists almost everywhere one looks on how to do it, what not to do, how to make it better, how not to get dementia, basically easy steps on how to survive but few lists for those of us with dementia.

As one having dementia, I find few survival lists that are especially designed to meet my needs. What am I to do to moment after moment and day after day? How am I to live and not just merely exist? This is not a new thought. From little up, I've wanted to know how to live and not just exist. The difference in the past is that I was able to obtain the information, ask the right questions, search for the answers. These techniques were developed over time and became very much a part of my life.

On most dementia sites I have been on, and I've been on many of them, the list of ideas and suggestion is sadly missing. It's like I should automatically know how to survive with dementia. I should have the answers and not the questions. If I don't have the answers, then my caregiver should. The words may not be used exactly but by the absence of material on this subject, it seems implied. We should know how to live a life with dementia? Should we, really?

There are so few mentors for us. Those that are willing to travel with us as we make our individual journeys. There are professionals like doctors, specialists, counselors, ministers, family members and friends that are involved with areas of our lives, many of who we could not exist without. Most certainly our caregiver's are individuals we could not exist at home without. Each of these individuals and groups have an important part to play in our continued existence, but when they are not with us, when it comes down to the quality of life we have in our long good byes, many times it's up too us to find the way and were the ones with dementia. The early stage of dementia can last for years and during those years, we need individual creative guidance. I desire too not just exist but to live the rest of my life. Of course I know that there are many walls and limitations blocking my progress, but still the question lingers on what to do when life gets in the way? Can we still make some progress? Dementia, if were not very careful can take control of us and our situations and many things we had wanted to do in life, things that we might still be able to do, are not done. There must be constant guidance and suggestions as we travel this road no one want's to travel. With other's help, many things are still possible for us. Some dreams can still come true. Some of our gifts that each of us have can still be used. We can still do many of the things we once liked too do, perhaps with new limitations and restrictions. Perhaps too a lesser degree. With some changes, encouragement, creativity, guidance and flexability, I strongly believe that we can still have a quality of life that we personally can approve of.

Is anyone out there listening to us as individuals? Where do we go from here? How do I have a meaningful day? What are some ideas that will make our existence more meaningful? Dementia will get in the way of our lives, but it does not have to stop us dead in our tracks. When dementia and it's awful affects does stop us, we probably will no be interested in those lists. Even then good care with dignity is necessary and deserved by each human being. Until that time, I hanging on to life with all that is within me. Come along with me on my journey and help me...please. Many of you have been there all along and for that, I'm grateful.

May 22, 2006

I think I just sent an almost blank email to my family and friends. I took a copy of it afterwards and happened to notice that the copy only showed the title of the inspirational, page one story, without the contents. I thought it was so good, I wanted to share it with those I love. It was sent to me by another friend and came in two sections. Page one and page two. I sent them both out, one after the other. Hopefully those that receive it, though incomplete, will understand that I did my best. I didn't understand that this copy of a copy I had received could not be emailed to another. I just don't always understand the mysteries of my computer. I can get the basic keys to work at times.

My computer seems to have a mind of it's own. A mind that my mind does not always understand. It seems that it is of the female gender also. Always changing...oh, I'm getting my self into trouble but it's true no matter how hard I try, this male will never fully understand the mysteries of the wonderful female gender. And that's OK with me. Mystery is good. Very good. Lots of laughs. But...not in my computer. I get frustrated and upset when it acts up on me. The many times that I just don't seem to understand it.

Sharon can make me all the notes she wants regarding my friend, the computer, and plaster them all over the computer but still, I cannot comprehend all there is too understand.

In spite of my computer's unwillingness to cooperate fully with me, I will not give in or up. I will continue to use it and do my best to make sense out of it and enjoy it. In good times and not, I will continue to try and make sense out of it all.

May 23, 2006

I just skimmed an article stating that early balance problems can be a clue for Alzheimer's Disease. It was for me, but I in no way connected the two. For a couple years before I was diagnosed with dementia, I would fall. My balance was off. My legs were strong. I had walked for years and even ran earlier in life. I loved this form of exercise. Then out of no where, it began. I would just fall and at times have difficulty getting back up. I remember one of the first times I lost my balance I was sitting in my desk chair at work. I don't recall must I must have tried to get up but the next thing I knew, my chair was on it's side and I was on the floor. I was sort of dazed for a few moments. I was caught completely by surprise and it took me a few minutes to regain my self.

I continue to have balance problems at times. I can feel a light headiness some times. On occasion, I will take a step backward or sideways. I will feel unsteady on my feet. It doesn't last long, but it happens.

When one falls, I find it is best just to pick one's self up...if your able, brush yourself off, and keep on going. Don't lay there. Don't take the incident overly serious. Just go on...and perhaps, just perhaps it will be some time before the incident occurs again.

May 24, 2006

It happened again last night. My water glass was sitting near the computer. I decided I''d take a drink but I didn't give it much thought. I was sorry I didn't. I began to choke immediately after taking the drink.

There are times that this happens with food. I eat without thinking what I'm doing, and soon I'm choking on what I'm trying to eat. I don't think of what I'm doing. I don't think of chewing or sipping slowly, I don't take conscious time while I'm eating or drinking and end of choking. The contents go down the wrong pipe. It's not a pleasant occurence.This can also occur when I'm taking my pills.

One thing that has helped me in eating is that Sharon has begun cooking meat so that it is more tender and I try to take smaller bites of what I am eating. I try to eat softer foods also. Concentration is difficult for me. I can begin by concentrating but soon my mind is drifting off. Focus is something that is very difficult for me

Sips and small bites...carefully and with some thought can prevent choking but with dementia, this just isn't always going to happen with me. Attention and carefulness along with proper preparation of food by Sharon can go along way in assisting me in this basic but important area of my life.

May 25, 2006

I was standing in line along with Sharon at Wendy's Restaurant after church Sunday with some friends. Out of no where, someone came up behind me, put their hands on my eyes, and ask, "who is it?" On occasion my friend's grandson, Curtis, stops by Wendy's to eat with us and others gathered there for lunch. He's a bit of a prankster and we usually talk together. The first thing that came into my head is that it was Curtis. I didn't stop to think about the hand size or the sound of the voice. I thought very little before I blurted out his name. The person happened to be my grand daughter Ashley, who works many afternoons at Wendy's. I wasn't even thinking of her at that moment, not really remembering her work schedule.

If I was thinking, I had been told that Curtis along with his family had just moved to another area. We had just talked about that briefly some time before this fun game we were playing began, but this fact didn't even enter my mind. One might think I would connect my granddaughter Ashley with Wendy's. I do make that connection but not at that moment. The thought never occurred to me.

I felt I had to guess quickly for some reason without thinking it through and so I did. It was no big deal, but I do the same thing when ask a question. I think I have to say something quickly, possible as to not appear out of control or different. So I quickly make some lame answer without thinking, at times mumbling something that makes little sense mumble and later feel that I could have done better...much better with my answer. I Know I have dementia but I still expect much from myself. When I don't get it...when it doesn't occur, I fret about it later. Fretting does nothing to change my situation so I don't know why I bother with it but I do. Part of my control issue, I guess.

I need to feel I'm in control but I'm not in control. I need to feel in control but the control is not there any more. It's part of that powerlessness feeling that I dislike intensely and fight so I react in ways that I would not have in the past. Without much forethought or imagination.

As a person I need too feel in control of at least some areas of my life and as my life spins out of control, I react...I don't think or try to concentrate just react. No one seems to care other than myself. I guess my ego is still much in control of me and that perhaps I have not come to terms with full acceptance of what has happened to me. I like to think I have but perhaps..perhaps I haven't yet.

May 26, 2006

What are your dreams? Not the one that you had last night, but the one in your heart and perhaps somewhere in a corner of your mind?

Dale Carnegie made the statement,"One of the most tragic things I know about humans is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today."

As one with dementia, I found that my dreams have and are constantly changing. My old dreams of traveling the world, visiting and being with family and friends, of advocating for dementia causes and other just causes, of volunteering my energy, talents and time to worthy causes have changed. I dreamed of taking classes and of attending conferences. I dreamed about being a minister and then a social worker. I dreamed of falling in love with a beautiful, charming female. Of fathering children someday and having a home of my own. I dreamed about retirement. Many of these dreams have been realized and I am enjoying them presently or the results of them. Many our fond memories and some are memories that are fading. Then there are those dreams that were never really fully realized.

My God had a big part in making my dreams come true. Wife, family and friends all had and has their unique part. There were times when I played a part in making dreams come true by determination, hard work, effort, positive thinking, education and faith. One must first have a dream for it too come true and I...I was a dreamer. I still am a dreamer.

Now, I find that my dreams have been affected by so many things. They have been affected by the aging process, illness and dementia, circumstances and my abilities to enjoy and endure. I've had many years to dream and I'm not one that gives up easily on my dreams but this I know. Dreams can come true.

Although being a dreamer, I am also becoming more realistic. I'm not there yet, but I am becoming. As I age and my health worsens, many of my dreams are changing. More and more, my dreams involve my home, being with my wife, family and friends. Not just the big things but the small. Living my dream as it continues on. Moment by moment. Enjoying whatever situation and place I find myself in. Stopping to smell the roses that surround me in life. In these dreams I have found fulfillment and enjoyment that continue to fill my life. My future is now, and so my dreams are for the here and now. Occasionally I allow my mind to wander to my next home beyond the river, but then I am content in returning home for the present, enjoying the dreams in and of the present. My future, what ever it be, is uncertain, but my next home is certain. It's not just a dream, it is reality.

May 27, 2006

Why should I laugh? A Norwegian Proverb says "He who laughs-lasts."

James Walsh says that "people who laugh actually live longer than people who don't laugh. Few persons realize that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter."

I like what Abe Lincoln said. "I laugh because I must not cry...With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die."

It's none of my business how much you laugh. I try to make it my business how much I laugh. Laughter for me lightens the load. Sometimes I forget to laugh and find when I think back, that I haven't really laughed for some time. And then there are times that it seems like I laugh more frequently. I feel better when I laugh. There's a change in my emotions and in my mind. I feel better all over in fact. Laughter is good medicine, the Bible says. Most medicine cost something. Even if we have insurance, we usually end of paying some of the cost. Laughter is a gift to us. No cost to it. An all wise God made us so that we have this release value in us.

Is laughter important? You bet ya. When I journal I'm speaking to myself. I always invite you to listen in on my conversations and drawl your own conclusions if the thoughts make any sense or not.

May 28, 2006

I wanted to think about prayer this morning. Many may be thinking, there he goes again, talking that religion stuff. I don't think of it as religion. I don't connect it with being overly religious, being overly zealous, off the wall or being fanatical. For me prayer is an everyday experience for me.It's a way of life for me. Bragging? No. Just thinking about prayer.

If you've been a part of My Journey long, you will soon realize that I take my faith very seriously.It's the glue that holds my life together.Fath is what sustains Sharon and I as we travel down this road which has a long good bye. Prayer is a part of my faith. It's the way I speak to my Father who is right there with me. He's a big part of my life. In fact, He is my life, my peace, my joy, my hopes, my dreams and my future. He's the best friend a person could ever have and He is God.

Prayer for me is not a ritual, part of some creed, an idea or a thought. It's not a formula of some kind or memorized lines by someone other than ourselves.

Prayer is honest thought and feelings coming from us to our God. It doesn't matter what time of the day we pray, in what position we take to pray or the words we use. It does not matter how long we pray or how short the prayer is. What matter's is that it comes from our hearts. Prayers are not just for emergencies. It's based on our desire to come to our Father, opening our selves and our hearts to Him and then listening. Listening to what He has to say. It's not just a time to complain or bring a long list of things we want Him to do for us and others. It can be that, but it's also a time just to be with Him.Along with prayer comes believing that He hears and will answer us.

Some thoughts on prayer follow:

"Hurry is the death of prayer." Samuel Chadwick
"Good prayers never come creeping home. I am sure I shall receive either what I ask or what I should ask." Joseph Hall
"When God inclines the heart to pray,
He hath an ear to hear;
To him there's music in a groan,
And beauty in a tear." Anonymous

"I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." Abraham Lincoln

May 29, 2006

It's Memorial Day. An American holiday. The government is shut down. The schools are closed. It's a time for trips and family times together. Were having a get together with our family. It's a time for parades and celebrations.

We all know that Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer. I's about downtime ahead, vacations that are coming.

Officially it is also about honoring the dead. In those parades, Veterans will be marching along with families at times. Flags will be flying high. Bands will be playing.

I am told that on this day, some of the elder members of my family would walk in a parade in the near by town, in honor of their father who was a veteran of the Civil War. He was Haman Rohn, my great grandfather.

My family would often visit the graves of those in our family who had fought in our American wars. To my knowledge only one of them died as a result of a war. The ship he was on was hit by enemy fire and he returned home with cancer and died shortly after. That was my uncle, David Bartholomew.

I didn't know either of these relatives. One died before my birth and one died when I was very young, and I have no memory of him.

I'm afraid that Memorial Day has lost it's meaning for me and my family. It seems to have lost it's meaning for much of America. It's just another holiday when we get to play and relax.

The news seldom mentioned the names of our veterans or soldiers. It mentions little of why our soldiers died. Former wars are rarely thought of unless one pulls out a dusty old history book. The pros and cons of the war are unknown to most of us. They fought for our freedom and I'm ever so grateful but freedom from what? I know we have enemies. Always have and always will but an inquiring mind wants to know more about why our soldiers fought and died.

Freedom from others, from our enemies, from ourselves? Perhaps a mixture of the three? Sill they fought for us, many loosing their lives, many coming back ill and diseased, Many of them in body bags, rarely mentioned by name. If one goes to the cemeteries where they are buried, the names would be found on tomb stones and memorials but it does not tell the whole story. And then there are the unknown soldiers and the prisoners missing in action.

I am proud of our veterans and soldiers. Those presently serving and those that have served in the past. Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice, loosing their lives and many returned, never to be the same as when they left our shores. Each of them gave up much.

I owe them more than memory on this one occasion. I owe them honor where they lay at rest, and respect in the treatment they get once they return home. No cost is too great for our nation when it comes to caring for those that served us and they are truly heroes, one and all. May each of these brave men and women receive the honor they deserve. For those serving and suffering, my prayers are with them and their loved ones.

May 30, 2006

May is Fibromyalgia month. My wife Sharon has had Fibromyalgia at least since 1966 and probably longer. Fibormyalgia is called "An Invisible Disease." It's the second most common type of arthritis 3.7 million American's have Fibromyalgia, mostly female. It's estimated that 3-6% of the population has this disease.

Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by widespread pain in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues of the body. This pain is profound and migrates the body with varying intensity. The pain is widespread. Some of the other problems commonly linked with Fibromyalgia include fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, sexual problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression and anxiety, irritable bowel and bladder, impaired memory and concentration, skin irritations and rashes, poor vision, dry eyes and mouth, ringing in the ears, dizziness, neurological symptoms and impaired coordination, and poor circulation,

This terrible disease is not progrssive . It is possible genetic, predisposition on female sides of the family. The disease can wane in time but there is no known cure.

Treatments takes a lot of lifetime adaption. Mediciation,sleep management, psychological support and group support when possible, Therapies of various types include physical therapy, massage therapy, water therapy, relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, nutritional supplements, many other therapies as well as light exercise, and food management. The list of symptoms goes on and on.

The overall characteristic of Fibromyalgia is long standing, body wide pain with defined tender points.

It seems that few understand this disease or have much sympathy for those who suffer with it. This is my way of creating more awareness for Fibromyalgia and honoring my caregiver and wife, Sharon. Her life is one of much suffering and my disease only makes it worse. In spite of all she has been through and continues to live with, she is a great caregiver, wife, and fighter. Sharon is a survivor and I admire her strength and courage greatly and want too work with her as much as my disease allows, to lighten her burden and pain.

May 31, 2006

Both Fibromyalgia and Dementia have a serious impact of patient's families, friends and employers, society at large. Pain and disease can change everything and cause much stress in relationships.

Can you imagine coping with a disease that affects almost every area of your life, during most waking as well as sleeping hours. There's little excape from the hurt, stress and pain from either. There are bandages that help, but nothing really seems to work. The future looks bleak. Oh, there's breathers for both but much of life is all about surviving.

I've tried to compare some of the symptoms that both those with Fibromyalgia and those with Dementia include. They are as follows but I'm sure there are more than I have listed here:

Poor memory and concentration
Changes in mood and thinking
Memory lapses
Feeling of spaciness
Feeling blue or down
Impaired coordination
Feeling of being overwhelmed
Feeling of exhaustion
Being too hard on self
Unable to begin or follow through on tasks
Light headiness
Visual confusion
Problems with focus-eyes
Circulation problems
Dryness of mouth
Sensitivity to cold and heat
Achiness and fluctuating pain
Being sensitive
Sleep disorder

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