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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Location: United States

Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back on Mom’s Schedule—Back to Unneeded Stress

Monday, August 27, 2007

It felt great sleeping in for two days but I’m back to waking up at 5:30 or 6:00 and back to sticking with Mom’s schedule. I woke her at the usual time of 6:30, washed and dressed her, took her blood glucose test for her diabetes, had her take her pills, and guided her out the door and into the car to take her to the Day Care.

The sun was shining on my deck when I arrived and Two Feather and I sat outside and enjoyed our morning cup of coffee together. Neither of us felt like doing much so we just sat and enjoyed the sun and talked about the projects we need to do around our house and Mom’s.

My flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds and wild grapevines from the woods surrounding the house have stretched into the yard and over the fence. When fall comes and trees and bushes lose their leaves, we’ll have a major project on our hands.

I called for estimates last week to have a few trees removed from Mom’s because they are a threat to the house and telephone and electric lines. I also asked for an estimate to have the leaning trees removed from behind my garage and along the side of my house. Better to be safe than sorry.

Two Feather and I talked about how we’ve neglected our house and yard because we don’t really have the time to take care of it after we take care of Mom’s place. We’ll eventually get the work done at our house. It may take some time, but we’ll whittle away at it little by little. We will have to start working on it in the next month or so in order to make any progress before winter sets in.

Today was a beautiful day, sun shining and not too humid, and discussing our thoughts on sprucing up the place gave us something to talk and think about. The time seemed to fly and before we knew it the time had come for me to leave to pick up Mom at the Day Care.

The nurses at the Day Care told me Mom didn’t have a good day. She was moody all day and had several incontinent accidents. That was apparent to me when I walked in because Mom had on the “spare clothing” I’d given the Day Care in case of accidents.

On the ride home, Mom’s mood didn’t seem to be any better. Mom didn’t remember that she had been cleaned and changed at Day Care. I guess one of the good things about Alzheimer’s disease is that the loved one forgets they were embarrassed. Unfortunately, the feeling of embarrassment seems to stick with them in an uncertain way. It changes their mood and they can’t remember why they’re angry, but the anger lingers.

Mom didn’t make it to the bathroom once we arrived at home, so I ended up putting her in the shower again. Then, she remembered what happened during the day and became angrier.

“I hate this,” she said. “I did this all day.”

“I know, Mom. Don’t worry about it. Sometimes we have accidents. Let’s get you cleaned up and you’ll feel better.”

She cried the entire time she was in the shower.

Needless to say, after those type incidents, making dinner and trying to eat is a challenge for the caregiver. What appetite one may have had, is gone. In most cases, the loved one normally forgets the incident, sits down to a nice meal, and wonders why you’re not eating dinner, too.

Mom’s appetite isn’t what it used to be. The diabetic diet isn’t the problem, but the amount of food is. It used to be that she could eat the limited card-deck-size piece of meat, the potato or starch, and the vegetables, and ask for more. Lately, I’m lucky if I can get her to eat half of that before she tells me she’s full. Tonight she ate only a few pieces of chicken, a few bites of baked potato, a few teaspoons full of applesauce, and no vegetables.

We sat at the kitchen table and talked for a few minutes and she began to doze as we talked. We were running a bit behind her normal schedule because of the shower, so by 5:45 she was ready for bed; by 6:00 I could hear her snoring through the baby monitor. She’d had a long, hard day with all her accidents and mood swings, and the continued louder pitch of her snoring told me she was totally exhausted.

Two Feather normally comes down to visit me after Mom is asleep. She’s been aware of this since I moved in and said she feels better when he’s here. She’s even told him he should move in, too, but he respects her too much to have her embarrassed by the possibility of him seeing her walking through the house half dressed at times. He always side-steps this offer by saying, “I appreciate the offer, Mother, but I need to take care of our house, too.” She’s content with that.

We sit upstairs and quietly talk for about 30 minutes and he goes back home. This evening because Mom and I were running behind schedule, his visit was later than normal. He came down around 6:30. Just before he was getting ready to leave at 7:00 PM Mom’s phone rang.

Everyone in the family knows Mom goes to bed early and has been directed to call my cell phone if they need to call after 4:30 PM, so I figured it was a telephone solicitor.

Boy was I wrong. It was my brother. He called to ask me why there were stakes and rope at the top of the path. I told him that after the recent storm the path was blocked with trees and Two Feather put up the stakes and rope because he’d be working down there with his chainsaw. He knows his grandchildren play in his yard and he wanted to make sure no one came near there when he began to work on cutting up the fallen trees.

“That’s not why you put them up,” he said. “You put them up to make a point!”

I’m so tire of my brother and his attitude. The only time he calls “me” is to bitch about something.

“What the hell point would I be trying to make by staking and roping off a path that you haven’t used in three years?” I said. “You haven’t used that path since you told me to tell Two Feather he had to cut the grass because you were going on vacation. You haven’t been back to cut the grass or do anything around Mom’s house since. Do you realize how ridiculous and childish you sound?”

“You put them up to make a point,” he repeated.

“So you’re calling me a liar?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Two Feather has never cut wood close to someone’s yard before. I don’t appreciate being called a liar. Excuse me for the fact that Two Feather shows consideration to everyone. I don’t need to explain to you what Two Feather or I do on Mom’s property, and I’m really sick of your childish nonsense. Why don’t you grow up? By the way, what time is it?” I asked.

“Seven, why?”

“What time does Mom go to bed?”


“So, why are you calling her home phone at 7:00 PM? You know to call my cell phone after 4:30. And since you called only to start childish nonsense again, let me remind you that you’re not to stop by the house without calling and verifying if it’s a convenient time.”

“There was no problem when Angel was there.”

“You don’t see barging in on someone else’s visit a problem, I’m sure. But problem or not, it’s a matter of courtesy toward my mother. I either don’t answer the phone because we’re not home or I’m busy with her. Busy can mean many things: She has company, I’m giving her a shower, cleaning up her bed after an accident, cleaning her up after an accident, or her mood and agitation level is bad. The last thing she needs is you just stopping by when we’re ‘busy’ with something like that.”

After a few more insults from my brother bringing up past garbage that has nothing to do with Mom and her illness, I gave up and hung up the phone. I’m so tired of his intimidation tactics and his attitude toward me, and his lack of consideration and courtesy toward my mother.

I’ve sent him information about Alzheimer’s Disease so he could get a better picture of what is going on; to help him understand. I even marked off the stages that she’s already been through. I’d think that he’d have some clue since my dad had this disease as well and died from it nearly 10 years ago.

Sometimes caregivers can explain until they’re blue in the face, the need to keep the loved ones on a schedule, the many things that can and usually do happen during the course of a day, the need to clean and change the loved one, the moods, the agitation, etc., but some people just don’t get it!

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Anonymous watching you said...

You make me sick with all your whining and complaining about caregivers not getting recognized....what is your real reason for taking care of your mom? Is it, as it should be, because you love her and want her to be warm, safe, and comfortable? Or do you want a big pat on the back, you martyr!!!!!!! OR is it that you are sucking her bank accounts dry????????

10/01/2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Gee, watching you, sorry I make you sick. Thank you for being concerned about my mother. Mom is warm, safe, comfortable and her dignity is in tact. So are her bank accounts, since I chose to take care of her at home and not let a nursing home suck her bank accounts dry.

10/01/2007 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

It's sad that this person "watching you" thinks your whining and complaining. Obviously this person has doesn't have an inkling about the time caregiver put in. This person, nor your brother, will never understand that caregiving isn't about getting recognized, it's about recognizing the loved one's needs. I feel sorry for both of them. Maybe they should walk in our shoes, even for just a "full" day and see what it's like. They both seem like the type that wouldn't have the patience or the intellegence to understand.

Cheers to you for taking care of your mother, Joanne. And bigger cheers for not letting this poster raise your stress level.

10/01/2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Yikes, watching you needs a reality check.

Stay strong, Joanne. You're a wonderful caregiver with a great attitude. Can's say the same for the other poster...

10/02/2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Hi Nancy. I think you're right! "Watching you" seems more stressed out than I am. ROFL Whatever floats his or her boat.

10/02/2007 2:09 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

You're a great caregiver, too, Betsy. If "watching you" spent as little as 48 hours with a person with Alzheimer's, he/she might get that reality check. But...from such a harsh post, I sort of doubt it. ;)

10/02/2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger stay4real said...

Hey Mommy, the "Martyr"!!! I find that quite amusing. Looks like you struck a nerve with Watching You! What is extremely sad about this individual, is that they obviously have no perception of what making someone warm, safe and loved is. Why in the world would you drop everything you do and love to care for someone if you did not love them. Most people prefer to place those they "Love" in a home and let someone else do the "caring" while they put on nice clothes, sit in a nice office and use their company's computer to post sarcastic blogs to "REAL" people. If anyone knows most why you take care of Grandma, your family does...your real family that is, not those that choose to tear you down instead of build you up for what you do....I love you MOM!!!

TO WATCHING YOU:::: I will tell you one thing that is more true than you are or ever will be... my mother is a loving person. She is not looking for a pat on the back, a little help would be nice, but as hard as it is to do what she does daily, she LOVES it. She sacrifices seeing her daughters and their children because this consumes her life that much. She cannot take trips to visit or vacation because it would screw up my Grammy's life even more. If my grandmother had a nickel to her name, my mother would do the same, so the bank "accounts" crap is bull. People that do not care about people, care about money...that is not my mother. You need to find yourself a life, and if you think you have one, you need to re-examine it very closely. If the only joy you get is from making others feel bad, you are worth nothing and will never be anything. My mother has done nothing to you, and if she ever has, you better beilieve you deserved it. She is the most caring, loving and sincere person I know, so take your sickness that she "gives" you with her "whining" and tell it to a psychiatrist, you sound like you need it. This blog is her outlet to say and show how she feels... her only outlet. Find somewhere else to complain about what really bothers you...

10/04/2007 10:40 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

I love you, too, Stacey. Thanks to Two Feather , you, and Angel I have a wonderful family who understands and supports Mom and me. I can’t thank all of you enough for the time you take, the help you give when you’re able, and the understanding you all show toward this awful disease Alzheimer’s that’s turned all our lives upside down.

“Watching you” fits in the category with many others we know…self-centered and selfish—thinking only of themselves and their own conveniences, and ridiculing others for their own indiscretions. I’m certain this person wouldn’t give up even a full day, let alone vacations, or miss seeing their children or grandchildren on any occasion, for the sake of pitching in to help her/his loved one. It’s obvious she/he doesn’t feel or even know that type of compassion. But we’re used to dealing with people like that…family is only family if they make an effort, lend support, and show they care.

Words are only words if they have true meaning.

Your words touched me, as they always do, and I thank you once again for your loving support, your honesty, your passion and compassion, and your extra effort to drive from whichever part of the US you’re residing to make sure you’re a constant in Mom’s life. That means the world to me and to your grandmother.

Hearing your words made me realize that I didn’t do such a bad job raising my girls. You’re both caring and compassionate women, and hold close to your heart the wonderful memories you’ve made with your grandparents. Thank you for helping make more wonderful memories.

I love you!

10/05/2007 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Watching "Watching You" said...

You know what, Watching You, it is you who makes me sick. Have you ever done anything like taking care of your mother 24/7, feeding her, bathing her, taking care of her every need including the most embarrassing? Until you do, please don't spew this kind of nonsense against one of the kindest, self-sacrificing people I know. If I were you, I would cease and desist and keep you pie hole shut.

Have some decency or God will smite you.

The real reason for Joanne to take care of her mother? BECAUSE her so-called brother and his wife won't do it -- when is the last time those two creatures do ANYTHING to help out? To take care of Mom for just one day and let Joanne take a breath? When?

I can wait.

So keep your pathetic mouth shut or I will personally see to it that you do.

10/27/2007 2:27 PM