Diagnosis Death

I realize that the title to this blog is alarming but that is truly how I felt at the time when my oncologist told me that my breast cancer was back metastasized to my spine. That was six months ago. With a great cancer team, I have lived. So far.

Radiation, pain medication, bone strengthening medication and cancer-fighting drugs are my new best friends. Five months ago, I was laying in the bed and whimpering from the pain. With the help of a wonderful Radiology Oncologist and his team, I was able to get the pain in my lower back and hip managed, and began walking better again with the aid of a walker with a seat they arranged for me. Whenever my back feels a little tired, I can turn around to sit and rest for a minute.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and I BBQ’d and cooked a wonderful celebratory meal for my husband and I. Five months ago, I couldn’t get out of bed. Every evening my husband would come into the bedroom with a pad and pen and I would dictate the steps he needed to take in the order he was to cook our dinner. He learned, and we ate. A true testimony from a man that has loved me for 40 years. He said that I cooked for him the first 40 years so he would cook the rest. Thankfully, for now we are sharing the responsibility. When I get tired, he picks up the slack. He also does most of the dishes, a job he dislikes. We are very lucky to have each other. We will be married 40 years on August 1st. He is the love of my life.

I don’t know how much longer I have left but an old friend who I watched pass away with the same illness once told me, “It is time spent with friends and loved ones that is the most important. Time is the thing.”

Death is upon me but I intend to dodge that diagnosis for as long as I can. The new cancer drugs help. I have had good results with IBrance and the rest of my protocol, so far. I have lived a good life truly blessed with wonderful experiences. Thank God for each day.

Thanks for reading…Laura

Aging Year In Recuperating Review

It has truly been an eventful year for all of us, 2016! There were politics, financial challenges to medical coverage and grocery budgets, and aging issues as usual. Frankly, I was so busy trying to take care of Don, Big Boy the dog, and me, there was little time to write. But, I couldn’t let the whole year go by without posting something here. (Please see me on http://www.facebook.com too)

Looking back  over the year, the biggest standout was caring for my husband Don after he had major surgery. He is perfectly fine now, and even back to teaching tennis! The issue was that he had never before been under general anesthesia, and was he ever a “big baby” about it. As a person in the business of caring, that may sound callous but he drove me crazy the week before the surgery. A cautionary note to wives everywhere. He even developed an imaginary illness the day before the surgery and the doctor told him he was fine after he insisted on getting a last-minute appointment. However, his fear was real, especially to him. As one who has undergone several surgeries during my lifetime, there is always risk with any surgery. One friend died after having hand surgery, and another went in for back surgery and came out a paraplegic, so he had good reason to fear.

Patience is a virtue of course and when taking care of your spouse you will have plenty of virtuous behavior. Recognize that the fear is real and empathize. I just kept smiling and took over all the chores because that is what we do as loving wives. He had double-hernia surgery along with another procedure and couldn’t lift anything while recuperating. So I did it all and so will you when, or if, the time comes. He may have to do it for you too. I kept remembering how great he had been with me. Many times. We came through it just fine. I am so thankful every day for my loving husband of over 35 years. I appreciate him even more now that I finally was without his whole strong being for awhile. Silently, understanding and thinking about the aging process, thoughts of what may/will come entered my mind.

So, I say goodbye to 2016’s politics, financial troubles, aging issues.  Hug your husbands. There will be a new start in 2017, and I am thankful.

An Aging Life Renewed

As I look out into my back yard at the new palm fronds on my palm tree, I am reminded that sometimes old truly can be made new again. This aging palm tree had lost all of its fronds but one. I thought it was following the three other palms that had lost all of their fronds in the last few months. The palm orchard behind our house seemed to be dying. I took one of the fronds to the university agriculture department to study but they couldn’t find why the trees were loosing their palms. For the next week, I went outside and studied the one palm frond that was left. My husband went up the ladder and took one small dead piece off of it. A few days later, a new palm frond started unfurling. Today, there are two more. The palm tree had come back to life.

It just goes to show that when something is cared for, it can revive. The same goes for an aging person who is alone. When someone pays attention to such a person, they will have the occasion to react to the attention. Without an interchange, there is no reaction. Think about that when you think about the aging persons in your life and pay them some attention. You may be their reason for a good quality of life. With a little attention, they too will flourish like the palm frond. Take a leaf from my book and spend some time with that aging friend or relative today. It could be that little act of kindness that makes the difference.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The Heart of the Matter of Aging

Social Media=A Generation of Aging Press Writers

Ok, so I’m not sure if anybody really missed me blogging lately but for the last several months, let’s just say that life got in the way. Not just life was in the way, but so was social media. Who knew ten years ago that I would have spent so much time on Facebook in 2014? That my friends would too? Maybe it is because we, as Baby Boomers, are a generation used to instant gratification. We can be in touch with our friends at the drop of a sentence. Not just a sentence, but a bullitt sentence at that.

Years ago when I was being taught to write press releases, I learned that the most you can say in as short a sentence that you can use, would get printed, since advertising space was at a premium cost. Even though we don’t pay to use Facebook, per se, we are all so short of time to live our daily lives and keep up with social media, that we have to keep it short to get our points across.

We are anxious to know and see what all of our friends and family are doing. We want to see what the next generation behind us is doing. We know they are on social media. We may not have the time or inclination to go and visit them, nor do they have the time for us with their equally, if not more, busy lives. So, armchair travel through social media is perfect. I got to see one nephew do the ALS Ice Challenge before anybody knew what it was. The graduation photos of another were priceless. A former classmate’s new baby is literally growing up in front of my eyes through her photos. Who knew that when we were first putting tin foil on the television antenna ears to get better reception, that we would be seeing our friends on safari in Africa as they were experiencing it? This is all news, as it happens!

Here is to the new generation of aging press writers! Keeping us informed, keeping us current, and keeping us visible!

Thanks for reading! ;-))

Senior Car Buyers Beware

You may be seeing car advertisements on television like the cute little vehicle coming out of the ocean and driving up on the sand, or another darling little car driving across the desert as if it is a mirage, and must seem too good to be true. Well, maybe it is.

One unknowing purchaser bought the cute little car for her husband’s birthday and was pleased to learn there was a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty. The purchase was made in California with the intention that the car was to reside in California. When circumstances changed and the couple relocated to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, they checked if there was a dealer there and were relieved when they found out there was, so they shipped the car at great personal expense.

When the first thing went wrong with the car, they took it to the dealer and were told they didn’t have an authorized repair person on the Big Island so the car would have to be transported by barge to Oahu were they could have an authorized repair person fix it. It was something minor, so they didn’t see the sense of sending it all the way over there so called Detroit and spoke to customer service. After many, many hours on the phone negotiating with them, they finally agreed to let it be fixed locally. The couple had to pay for it and then send in the bill to Detroit and then they were reimbursed. They said that it was a “One-time goodwill gesture.” The overall cost was a couple hundred dollars after many hours of their staff time and the couples’ time spent haggling over it. Blood pressure was raised.

Several months later when the car was around 2 years old and had only 31,000 miles on it, it stopped driving in a shopping center parking lot when it wouldn’t shift. The husband had it towed by his insurance company to a local repair shop who he knew could fix it. Again, a call was placed to the headquarters in Detroit. After much negotiation and the car company agreeing to pay for the car being transferred, it was sent by barge to Oahu to the dealer with the authorized repair person. The husband suggested they fly the mechanic over to do the work because that would be cheaper than the transport fees of approximately $1200.00 round-trip.

Once the car was in the car dealer in Oahu, the repair person determined that it was the clutch plate assembly and it MAY be covered under warranty. The husband again called Detroit and was told that it was not covered, that it was “Normal Wear and Tear.” The husband was incredulous and explained that he had driven a standard shift all his life and 31,000 miles was not enough on a two year old car to be “Normal Wear and Tear.” He asked to speak to a supervisor. He spoke to a man who said that he would get back to him. He didn’t so the husband called for three more days in a row and the man was always out. Meanwhile, the husband was also without a car so he and his wife had to share one. With a limited retirement income, they couldn’t afford to rent a car, and the car company wouldn’t give them a rental because the deal they had with a rental company was on the wrong island. The couple’s insurance company wouldn’t cover the rental either because the car hadn’t been in an accident.

At this writing the F__T Car Company has not called the man back, the work has not been done on the car, the couple has only one car, the dealer has it taking up space at their lot, and nobody is remembering the commercial of the happy drivers coming up the beach!

Ask these questions before you buy:
1) Who does the warranty work if I move the car someplace without authorized dealer repair?
2) How much money will you take off the purchase price of the vehicle if I can’t get the warranty work done?
3) Who do I refer interested prospective buyers to that take up so much of my time asking about the car every where I go because it is so cute? And, do I tell them that the $20,000.00 purchase price is only good for the first 31,000 miles?
4) Are they an “Aging-Friendly” business or do they take advantage of older adults by wearing them down with lack of communication and customer satisfaction?

Let the Senior Car Buyer Beware!

Thanks for reading! 😉

Planning for Alzheimer’s

Do you want to know when you will get Alzheimer’s Disease and be able to plan for it? A new study from Georgetown University states that with only a simple blood test you may know if you will get the disease within three years. It is interesting to note that the test is on fats in the body. It begs the question that if there are less fats in the body, maybe less Alzheimer’s? Something to ponder.

Finding out early about contracting Alzheimer’s May have many ramifications benefitting families. Monetary and caregiving considerations may actually be planned for, easing the burden of sudden onset.

Some may not want to know, afraid of knowing, but it is only staving off the inevitable. Being ready can help by starting some medications earlier to put off the severity and consequences of memory loss. Planning for your own caregiving options will give you the say on how you will be treated and cared for. Your children will know and not have to guess about what your wishes were/are!

Perhaps looking at it like you have a three year option to stay as healthy as possible and tackle your bucket list will help some. Remember that knowledge is power and you can take control of how you will handle the disease.

Thanks for reading! 😉

For Better, And For Aging Worse, Try Aloha

When one spouse starts having a decline in health due to aging, the other spouse usually has to pick up the slack. Not only do they do the caregiving, but also the other person’s share of household duties, billpaying, gardening, shopping, pharmacy runs, getting the mail, taking care of the pets, all the transportation responsibilities, and any other myriad of things that come up. Once married, we agree to a lifelong decision of caring for each other for better, and for worse. Unfortunately, the worse part usually comes at the end of our lives when we don’t have the strength and vitality of youth to energize us for the caring. Imagine if you were 70 or 80 years of age and suddenly had a new baby to care for. That is what caring for a partner feels like to the older adult. There is a drastic change in life that happens unexpectedly. It shouldn’t seem unexpected because we all age, but, we all think, it won’t happen to me.

There may be adult diapers and adult formulas to buy. There may be caregivers hired to be there when the spouse can’t be, or wants to go out for respite. A baby monitor may need to be purchased to listen if the person has to sleep downstairs becuase they can’t physically make it up to their bedroom. Their life has come full circle. 

Living with Aloha is what we, in Hawaii do and would like to see others practice its meaning of kindness, unity, and agreeable, with humility, and patience. Understanding and patience is needed for all in the family circle that provide care and companionship for the loved spouse and relative. Children should be instructed about how to be compassionate, without pity, to the older adults in their lives. Every life is worthwhile to the end. Until death do us part.

Thanks for reading! 😉

New Year, Old “Friends”

The new year is here and it is a time for reflection. Many older adults take stock of their lives during this time and evaluate the quality of their lives. Some have had changes like the loss of a spouse whether it be by divorce, or death, and are having to change their way of living which can be excessively difficult during and after the Holidays. Many will find out who their real friends are once they are alone, and not part of a couple anymore. It is common, unfortunately, for many “couples” friends to fall by the wayside leaving the lonely remaining spouse to carve out a new way of life. That is when they learn who their true friends are. It is also a time when some supposed friends may try to take advantage of the persons’ sadness for personal gain. There are studies out that are evidence-based that show as we age some people will experience a loss of judgement capacities. The old saying of “There is safety in numbers” applies for older adults. When trying to make an important decision, run it by your friends and family first, and get a consensus from those that truly care about your welfare. Take a trusted friend or family member to appointments with you. Get advise from unpartial professionals. Sometimes paying for advice, or a companion to accompany you might be a good way to go. Get referrals from others. Help yourself, help yourself.

Kick those old “friends” out that don’t have your best interest in mind out of your life, and make way for new ones. there are others out there just like you who need friends too. Stay away from negativity as best as you can during the trying times in your life. Read the comics in the newspaper first, before you read the news. It just may help you through the hard news of the day. Make new friends by joining into new activities at church, the gym, take a class; anything that will help you stay positive.

For the “friends” that don’t know what to say or how to be around the newly alone person, just try to be kind. There, but for the Grace of God, goes you.

Thanks for reading! 😉

Caregiving, a Granddaughter’s Perspective

Caregiving, a Granddaughter’s Perspective

Many of us have cared for a loved one, a friend, a relative but nothing seems as intense as watching disease progress through the aging journey of your beloved grandmother. For many, it is the first time seeing death looming in the future and its undeniable effects, especially of our own mortality. Nobody wants to face that but we all must. We caregivers work so hard to stave of the inevitable. Accepting the sadness we feel can be the first step to doing a good job of caregiving. Recognizing when you need others and utilizing them to help when you need respite can be important for your own health. You need to stay healthy so you can stay strong for the job of caring. Respite is good for both the caregiver and the cared for. Getting a break from each other is important for both of your well-beings. You come back a little more refreshed on both sides. Seeing the same person day in and day out can be tiresome. There are many benefits to having a primary caregiver who knows the ins and outs of the cared for person’s condition and treatment. 

There is also work to be done by the one who is cared for. Don’t be that person that is making the caregiver’s job more difficult because you are holding on to the negativity of why it is happening to you. Aging will eventually get all of us. Aging isn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when. If we live long, we will most likely get some ailment that will need to be addressed. It would be good if we can be gracious to the person who is easing our way through the aging journey. My own grandmother was gracious until the end and I loved her for it. The very hard job was made easier.

Thanks for reading! 😉