It’s becoming harder and harder for me to find the enthusiasm to write my updates. I think it’s mainly because I’m no longer on an exciting adventure as I was during my overseas travels, visiting friends and cultures and all the challenges that involves. It’s true I’m still facing challenges of a different nature but they seem to be a repetition of a similar kind, mainly dementia! Poor old Mum, she seems to make up the bulk of my challenges and adventures.
Last month I mentioned problems with my phone data running out and although I thought I had recharged it I had obviously done something wrong as when my bill arrived it said I was $10 in credit! What! That payment was supposed to go towards more data not next month’s bill! Oh well, I have learnt my lesson. I now go to where I can do my updates on Wifi.
I’ve been busy in the garden as usual, weeding and planting things for all this lovely rain to soak in. Last year I collected a lot of native seeds from around the area including from my jogs through Star Swamp bushlands. I have recently sown some straight into the soil hoping that the rains will germinate them. Others I have planted into pots hoping some of the seeds will germinate and survive in my garden. I find it so rewarding watching my garden develop and plants mature. The lime tree I was given has been doing so well. I pulled off all the first flowers last year to help strengthen the tree and now it has burst forth with new shoots and a lot more buds. I should get quite a crop of limes this year. My three avocados planted from seed are over a meter tall, if they survive I should be harvesting a crop in around four years. The passionfruit vine is spreading across the new trellised fence and the newly planted banana palms have survived their transplant as has the mandarin which is also covered with new growth. The runaway strawberries have finally settled down to producing flowers and, God willing, soon a harvest of fruit and the re-potted herbs are flourishing.
One night as I lay awake from 1 am to 4 am unable to sleep, I was planning where in the remaining garden to put my next fruit trees. I had recently taken a trip to Bunnings to help Nezka with some shopping and had been wondering around the garden section, as I do, and had seen a double grafted cherry and dwarf apricot. I’ve also been considering a dwarf mango, almond and possibly a double grafted pear if I can find one. With all these wonderful fruit trees in mind (literally) I was trying to plan where best to plant them in my small garden area which is becoming smaller and smaller by the day! I was mentally making a list on what needed to be done in preparation. Finish off the espalier wiring for the lime and mandarin, put the white stones around the bananas and pineapple plants, dig out the area for the deciduous trees which will need a load of mushroom compost and manure and prepare the area for the raised vegetable garden. Praise the Lord I finally fell back to sleep and woke full of energy and enthusiasm for an early morning jog before getting stuck into my garden chores.
That day I finished putting the last of the wire up for the espaliered trees out the back and lay the old flywire on the ground for the white stones to go on. I was told if the stones are laid straight on the soil they will eventually just sink in and disappear. The flywire helps prevent this.
The stones had been given to me by a tenant moving out from the unit across the drive from me. Having previously used them they were a bit grubby but were quickly washed clean in the recent rains. Their colours, when wet, really amazed me. Soft hues of pink and blue with specks that glisten when wet.
My water tanks continue to fill and overflow, water which I now use for drinking, in the kitchen as well as for clothes washing by carting buckets into the bathroom to fill the washing machine. Just recently the washing machine sprung a leak! I thought I would need someone to help me manoeuvre the machine out of the bathroom but in the end I managed to tip it up. Taking a closer look underneath, I noticed there was a valve on the side of the machine which, when unscrewed, let the water run out. I wondered if this had been a bit loose so tightened it back up and hey presto no more water escaping! Praise the Lord we were back in action having already done two loads at Mum’s while I was trying to figure out the problem.
One Sunday after church I offered to help a friend repot her roses. We stopped at Bunnings on route to get potting mix before tackling the job. It was quite difficult as the roses, which were quite root bound, were growing in soil which only filled half the large pots. This made it very awkward to lift them out. First I dug around the plants to remove most of the soil which was making them heavy, then together we heaved them out onto the path. The pots were then refilled with fresh potting mix and fertiliser. The roses were cleaned up, pruning both stems and roots, before returning them to their pots and watering them in with a seaweed solution. Hard but rewarding work. I’m looking forward to seeing them bloom later this year.
This month I also volunteered to assist one of the teachers at the North Beach Primary School with their vegetable gardening project. This class starts around 10 am which is perfect for me as I can walk across from the church after helping out on the barista. Before school starts we make coffees for the teachers, then for the mum’s who attend the church mothers group. There are a few volunteers from church who help out two at a time. One of the volunteers is a FIFO worker therefore the need for more than two helpers. On my first day I supervise students weeding a garden bed ready for planting. Before we started I gave them a quick lesson on what were weeds and what were not. While assisting the students, who were more interested in mucking around than weeding, one of the kids found a very large centipede! I scooped it up in a tin thinking they might want it for show and tell back in class but the teacher wasn’t interested and suggested we put it back into the garden somewhere safe. I was relieved to know there were some gloves in the garden shed which some of the children were able to wear. I had forgotten to bring my gloves but made a note to remember them next time.
My neighbour Ann was off again for another European trip, I had promised to help lay some pavers so decided I’d better get those done before she returned. We had collected the pavers from another neighbour which was very handy. I also promised to pick her up on her return so on the Friday I went out, about a three quarter hour surely drive from home, and waited. As most of you know who have waited for an international flight it can take a time. I gave extra time for her to get through customs and immigration then drove around to see if I could see her. It’s not cheap using the airport parking so I usually wait just outside the airport. In Perth we are permitted to wait for a short time at the pickup and drop off area before the security personnel comes to move you on. That day I got to know one of the guy’s quite well as he must have moved me on over 4 times! Even the woman working there came over for a chat. We had a bit of a laugh as she commented that I was trying to distract her by chatting. I said ‘oh dear, you have seen through my plan!’ Eventually, having been around the circuit four times without seeing Ann, I gave up and drove home without her. As I had left home I had forgotten to take Ann’s itinerary with me, worse still, as I was in a hurry I had forgotten to check the date. I had written it into my diary on the wrong day! I had come a day early! Oh dear! Back to the airport the following day I was hoping not to see the security personal from the previous day, how embarrassing would that have been! On arrival I had been waiting less than a minute when I decided to move up closer to another exit. Then just as I was being asked to move on from there, I told the security officer my friend would be coming out with a walking stick as she was an invalid. Just then I saw Ann coming through the doors being pushed in a wheelchair! I later found out she had lost her stick somewhere between London and Dubai. She was grateful I had come and I was relieved to have found her!
I have also been blessed by Mum’s neighbour with a small dining room table which has fitted snugly into the study nook under the bookshelf. It looks like it was made for the spot and what’s more I now have four dining room chairs to replace the two Kat reclaimed.
Some time back Mum had done something to the latch of her glass sliding door off her lounge room. I truly don’t know how but she had pushed the latch further than it should go and it jammed! Kat’s friend Simon had visited while Kat was in town, he had given Mum a 90th birthday gift of some handyman work. Kat had a list of things he could help with including the lock. I couldn’t believe she had done it again this time with her front door lock! I couldn’t even use the key to unlock it. After some jiggling I finally got the door to open and unscrewed the latch to see if I could see what was jamming it. No success. Praise the Lord I was able to find a locksmith who could come around so late in the day. It didn’t take him very long to see the latch had cracked (I’m not sure if that was me while trying to open the door or Mum). The lock was replaced and changed so that our existing keys would open it. Thank God! Otherwise I would have had to get seven new keys! A spare one for staying visitor’s, one for my elder sister, one for me, one for both neighbours, one for Mum and one for the lockbox just in case none of us who had keys was around to let Mum in if she lost her key!
Kat was due back for another short visit on route to her new home in Eumundi, QLD. Mum was looking forward to her visit as usual. The day before she arrived I wrote out Mum’s usual routine for the following day mentioning that I’d be picking Kat up from the airport at 3 pm if she wanted to come with me. I also mentioned it when I left. I mustn’t have made myself clear as at 9:45 that night, having just fallen asleep, Mum rang to ask where Kathy was, had she arrived yet? I was furious! All the effort I took in writing things down for her and she hadn’t even read it and what’s more she knows I go to bed at 9 pm and have problems sleeping! Grrrrr I wasn’t happy! Of course by the next day she had read my note and didn’t remember calling me. I, on the other hand had taken quite awhile to get back to sleep having been woken from a deep sleep and with adrenalin now surging through my veins from the sudden wakening, was wide awake!
While Kat was here I took the opportunity to visit my friend Grace who lives in Leda, quite a way south of Fremantle and about an hour’s drive from my place. As Kat had Mum’s car I decided I’d take public transport which, here in WA, is free for Senior’s on weekends, public holidays and off peak times. I could have caught a bus from North Beach Road, which is just around the corner from my home, to Stirling Station but decided to take the van and park at the station instead. Parking is free on weekends and I needed the van later that evening to pick up bread so didn’t want to be late. From the station I took a train through the city, south to a station not far from Grace’s home. It’s always lovely visiting Grace and her family. This time I showed them how to make congee a Chinese rice porridge. Grace’s girls had cut up a plate of vegies which were prefect to add to the precooked rice. They had never tried congee before and really liked it which was a blessings. Later that afternoon Grace dropped me back at the train station. I enjoy taking the train as I can either read, catch up on all the Christian newspapers or observe other passengers and the passing scenery along the Swan River.
Ever since I have been helping Mum, I have had a battle with her GP. As her doctor I understand he has patient/doctor confidentiality but surly common sense would prevail when it comes to a patient with dementia? His lack of understanding towards my position as a carer has been very frustrating to say the least! Recently I took Mum in for her dementia assessment and spoke to the residential doctor and social worker about my frustrations. They were both very understanding and sympathetic and promised to mention to Mum’s GP the need for more open communications to be able to better care for Mum. I am now waiting for the GP to receive the report and God willing thing will change.
Mum is frequently in and out of doctors for leg infections due to cuts and scratches from the garden or the dog jumping up and ripping open her paper thin skin. This frequently means another round of antibiotics. Before taking Mum to visits her doctor I call the clinic to update them on her progress and let them know if there is anything I’m concerned about. Mum doesn’t like us going with her to see the doctor as in the past I have contradicted things she has said. This is mainly because she can’t remember so I have tried to correct her but she sees it differently. It has caused some contention and disagreements so I have backed off and let her go in alone. This makes it very difficult when I’m unable to get feedback from the doctor to what Mum is needing help with.
On one occasion I asked the receptionist to inform the doctor that Mum no longer remembers to take her puffers in the morning. I asked that he could please not give her another script for her puffers as she still had a few unused ones in her draw. I have also asked for all prescriptions be faxed to our local pharmacy where I can pick them up. That evening while I was chatting to Mum I noticed she pulled out what looked like a prescription from her purse and hid it under her magazine. When she was not looking I rescued it and found to my annoyance it was a script for her puffers! You can see my frustration! One very convenient thing with dementia is that Mum forgets quickly, the script was never mentioned or even missed.
Fortunately the pharmacist understands and on one occasion when the doctor’s clinic called them to say Mum was asking about her blister pack and could they please make up a new one, the pharmacist reminded them that Jane’s daughter Sally looked after Jane’s medication and that they should speak to me.
Mum continues to enjoy her Wednesday social outings. She is picked up in a bus and either taken to the Bethanie community centre or out for a coffee, lunch or another event. One Wed last month they had a Christmas in July. Below is a photo taken from a local newspaper which reported on the event. On Fridays mum has returned to her paining class while I have been working slowly on the mosaics. Mum’s great granddaughter, Nezka and Michael’s daughter, turned 13 this month too. We went over to celebrate and enjoy the cake with them.
My iPhone 4S had been having difficulty connecting to the power cord. I think the connection on the phone had finally worn out. I was very concerned that one day it just wouldn’t work and although it is my second phone it is the one which I use for my incoming calls. I have been waiting for Apple to bring out a duel SIM phone but it hasn’t happened yet! In the past I looked for a duel SIM adaptor but wasn’t happy with that so sent it back. This time I looked into one that connected through a Bluetooth. The problem with a Bluetooth is that is flattens the phone battery very fast. In the meantime I left my old phone permanently plugged in and just returned the call if I happened to be out when someone called. This was not a good habit as Mum was not able to contact me if I was out. I desperately needed another solution. The Lord was quick to answer. In the mail I received IKEA’s latest catalogue and while skimming through the pages I saw exactly what I needed! A wireless charger pad! Nezka, my nephew’s wife, had a few things she wanted to pick up from IKEA so we went together. I usually enjoy browsing the rows but this time I was there on a mission. I was delighted to find there was a single pad as the one advertised was for a triple pad. I had also considered one with a table lamp but then remembered I’d more than likely need to take it with me when I travelled. To enable it to work I also needed to buy an adaptor case for the phone. I was very surprised to find the case was only fifty cents! What a bargain! On arriving home I immediately set it up to try it out. I was overjoyed to find it worked beautifully! Thank you Lord!
Looking back on the month of August there have been quite a few adventures to write about. It’s amazing how the Lord brings things across our paths to keep us looking to Him for our future.
Photos: 1. A white African Violet turning pink! 2. Front garden 3. Tropical garden with while stones 4. White stones 5. Coffee North Beach Baptist Church 6. Study nook 7. The painter 8. Christmas in July at Community Centre (Mum in top far right corner) 9. My mosaic
Prayer & Praise Points:
Praise the Lord for this month’s adventures and activities. For more rain, plants flourishing and bringing forth spring growth and flowers with a promise of a coming harvest.
Thank you Lord for patience to help Mum through some of her challenges. For her on going good health and healing. Please pray that Mum’s GP will begin to work with me to help me care for Mum.
Thank you for your continued prayers as I learn how to manage the challenges dealing with dementia and for the Lord’s patience and wisdom as I learn to grow in love guarding my heart and zip my lip.
Praise the Lord for the ongoing advances with the new business, Senior’s Benefits and Rewards. Please continue to pray for both Grace and myself that we will make the right contacts to move the business forward and to have the wisdom for all the challenges that go with starting this new business.
Thank you once again to all my supportive friends and prayer partners, knowing you stand with me in prayer is a real encouragement and strength.