Thursday, January 26, 2023

An Update For The New Year...

It has been a few weeks since I last posted to this blog, so let me update you.  Pam is still doing fairly well.  Her cognitive decline has slowed, but the physical decline has been pretty steady.  Lack of a structured sleep pattern continues to be a problem.  Some nights she will sleep through the night, waking about 8 or 9 am.  Other days, she will be up at 3 am.  It is difficult for the body to rejuvenate when you have only a few hours of good sleep.  When that happens she often spends the day watching TV while dozing off.  And she will often take a three or four hour nap during the day.

 The decline in her physical performance has been significant.  She has tremors in both arms.   She appears to be losing strength or control of her legs.  Getting into the car is even more difficult now and her shuffle walk is more pronounced as the shuffle steps have gotten shorter.  And she walks all hunched over.  I am often helping her go down the hall by holding her hand.   Her regulation of body functions has also deteriorated.  We have been keeping the condo set at 71 degrees and she is often still cold.  At times, I touch her skin and it is ice cold.  Some days the digestive system doesn't seem to work well.  And she is using absorbent undergarments to deal with the incontinence.   A few days a week she will have the same hallucinations that have plagued her for more than a year.

On the positive side, we have endeavored to do as much socializing as possible.   Our two oldest daughters took her out shopping a couple weekends ago and then last weekend to a family baby shower.   Pam was often engaged in conversation and very social.  We took in several of the condo holiday activities, including a game night where she out shined most of the other players with her Trivial Pursuit skills.  She was always a killer TP player.  Apparently that part of her memory is still in working order.  We saw two plays over the last month or so.  Earlier this week we took one of our grandsons out to dinner to celebrate his seventeenth birthday.  And most importantly, she does really well with the monthly luncheon that we host for her sisters.

 Yesterday was her video appointment with the geriatric psychiatrist, well with the physician's assistant anyway.  We discussed all of my concerns, but most need to be taken up with her primary care provider.  They also asked about how I was doing.  At this point, I don't feel stressed out and have been comfortable  providing what care I can.  I mentioned that I have considered bringing in some home care assistance, but I am struggling trying to figure out just what this person would be doing.  They offered the services of their social worker to help with that if I needed it.  We have had a few friends offer to come fill in in a pinch, but have not had that need so far.  Our oldest daughter has been a constant help and is over every weekend.  Pam and I are both very appreciative of that.  She has her hands full raising three sons and now is dealing with a reno-eviction after thirteen years in the same apartment.

While I might not be stressed with the caretaker role so far, I am stressing over my own health.  I have started sleeping on the day bed in the den at night.  It has improved my sleep patterns.  But my breathing has not been great lately.  To some extent that can be expected by a lifelong asthmatic.  But a recent diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension has me worried.  This is a rare condition caused by elevated pressure in the lung blood vessels.  So the first priority for me right now is to loose some weight.  This is especially problematic for someone that loves to cook and someone that loves to eat.  So we are now embarking on a keto diet.  I guess if I continue to bake a lot of bread and stuff, I am going to have to give it all away.  Does anyone want some Dutch oven rye?  That is my favorite.  I have ordered some keno-friendly sweeteners, so I intend to keep baking.

Outside of the kitchen I have been keeping busy in the garage.  When we sold off everything before leaving Maine, most of my tools and workshop stuff went also.   Now that we are not traveling, I am missing some of that.  So I have set up a small workshop in the garage at the condo.  I am building new flower boxes to go out on the deck in the spring.  Today I worked on an end table for the living room.  I am finishing it like I did the buffet/hutch in our dining room.  The horizontal surfaces are stained the the rest is painted gray.  I need to do a final finish coat, but I am happy with it.  And it keeps my mind occupied on things other than being a caregiver.


  1. You’re doing a wonderful job with all you do caring for Pam, cooking, planning for days ahead and workshop making furniture GOOD JOB⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Happy that we (Pam’s sisters) are part of this journey❤️

  2. Hi Bruce, Good to hear about Pam's Trivial Pursuit moments! That must feel good for you all. As your cousin (and someone who also loves to cook and eat :)) I suggest limiting your eating window to an eight hour time slot each day. I eat between noon and 8pm. This has helped me lose >50 lbs without feeling deprived of much other than breakfast. Good luck, please keep posting. Love you Cuz!

  3. I am sure Bill has any tool you might need and would be more than happy to let you use them

  4. Thinking of you and Pam! Your love to Pam and family is amazing too! Your workshop and furniture pieces are beautiful. Love, Sarah & Roland

  5. It looks like you're doing things right, Cuz. Pam is so lucky to have you. Just don't forget that as tough and resilient as Bruce is - the Caretaker needs Care too. Love to you both.

  6. I love that you are doing more work with your hands and in the shop you have created. That is an awesome outlet! I am trying to learn to do some of this stuff myself at my house when I have time. I love you both and miss you. I am struggling with the diagnoses for you both in my own way. <3 <3

  7. Sometimes staying the same is actually a step forward. I’m glad to see that there still positive, warm moments in this journey.