Sunday, July 30, 2017

Feeling Good

A few times a year I wake up just feeling good. It often happens after a family reunion. This morning I will attribute it to the monarch butterfly egg search yesterday.
About a dozen people gathered at the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands shelter. I took a 6 qt plastic box with caterpillars of various sizes, related to the temperature they were held, and another box where a caterpillar had fastened itself to the lid in preparation for its next stage in life.
We spent an hour finding eggs and caterpillars of various sizes. And visiting. It was just fun to share each find, and why each person had come, and how they found the shelter. I was among people of all ages with a common interest. I have new email friends. For an hour my back did not bother.
Then it did. I rested as soon as the spasm started. That took two stops in ½ mile. One of my new friends asked which of three ways people used to find the shelter I had used. “I will help you take stuff up to your car if you will give me a ride to my car, over a mile away.” Kimberly had left me her milkweed display to feed my caterpillars. Deal.
Feeling good must also be related to my new fitness program that builds on the Provision Living fitness program. It takes me 15-20 minutes to repeat the  “before you get out of bed” movements I learned before leaving our house. Only now I do them in the slow, graceful, non-straining, style of yoga and tai chi, including an awareness shared from meditation. I just bought a wall clock with a second hand. I am learning to count breathing when my eyes are closed (no clocks when yoga was invented).
Each stretching movement is only repeated three times (or if it just feels good maybe five). The idea is to awaken the body one muscle at a time. This makes it possible to figure out which muscle is a problem. Then assume stretches that work that muscle without hurting, no more than three times.
Feeling good is also related to the care my wife receives. Her persistent-tummy fold rash during hot weather has been a real botheration. It takes less than five minutes to clean, dry, and powder, when she will permit doing it. What has bothered me is my need to keep track of this and call again after each failure to get the job done. This is not a problem with long term caregivers to whom my wife has bonded. That now leaves getting her teeth brushed and pills daily.
I no longer worry about my wife receiving good care if I am not here to referee. Even the smallest experienced caregiver seems resilient to my wife’s responses when her dementia personality takes over. There is an increasing need for patience and split second timing. The good timing in getting my wife to bed for the past 3-4 days has resulted in my sleep number bed, sleep quality score, increasing from below 70 to above 80.
The August 7, 2017, issue of Time was on the stand where I pick up the newspaper this morning. It reviews drug free treatments for depression. They include exercise (move), cognitive behavioral therapy (identify the problem), behavioral activation therapy (active group participation), and mindfulness training (awareness of self). All of these are presented in a different mix in the fitness classes at Provision Living at Columbia. Everyone participates within their limitations in memory care. Assisted living residents select participation.
11:11 am. I just learned that my wife was up, happy, and talking, yesterday when I was gone for two hours. This morning is the exact opposite. She refuses to dress, is scowling, and has not said a word. Her attention is only on her keepsakes. Is this the typical bad day following a real good day? Or does my presence make the difference? Is this a problem or not?
12:10 pm. Our lunch delivered to our room! Margaret’s napkin and silverware are missing in the picture. In the time everything was transferred from the cart to our table, it snuggled in under stuff in the lowest bookcase shelf. 
The Crossing at Columbia, MO, is playing on my computer (Christians are happier, healthier and live longer lives than atheist; I can replay what I missed from the Internet). The Time article is on my desk and the monarch caterpillars are happily feeding in the 6 qt boxes.
12:25 pm. The fifth attempt to give her morning medications. Her first speech today! Very clear. It startled both the caregiver and me. It may be a good day after all.
1:15 pm. My older brother and his wife come each Sunday. We Facetime with my youngest brother and Margaret’s youngest sister in Indiana. “Oh, I am sorry, you are having company.” I motion for the caregiver to come on in. She picks up on using our company as a distraction. “Here Maggie is your medicine.” Down it goes. Maggie is a happy camper. I am too.

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