Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Night Bingo



You haven't lived until you've gone to Monday Night Bingo at the nursing home. It's a transformation of meek, mild mannered elderly and young unfortunates who are no longer able to care for themselves independently. Suddenly, someone announces the activity for tonight is Bingo and something magical happens. There is excitement in the air. 

It started at supper time. "Bingo tonight" someone shouted to his hard of hearing neighbor. "Singing? Who's singing?" asked someone to the left. Two table mates look at each other, rolling their eyes. She can't hear a thing," they mouth to each other. "She asked if he's single,"  another responds. 


Bill and I excuse ourselves from the table to go outside for some fresh air. "Where are YOU going??" I hear. "We have to play bingo." Slowly, we sat back down. This was serious stuff.  


The bingo cards are chosen, the chips are distributed, and it begins. 


This wonderful transformation 
slowly converts the helpless 
into the helping...


and a simple activity 
turns into a moment  
of friendship 
and communion 
with each other, 

and a simple reminder that 
they are Somebody. 
Somebody important. 
Somebody with confidence. 
 A winner. 

retrieved from the web
It doesn't matter that everybody wins. Twice.
I (the residents) won. And so did my neighbor. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

A note from May 2010... how quickly our lives changed

Reflecting on the past-
I found this post today in an old blog. I am so glad God shelters us from predicting the future.

Professor Bill McLaurine, May 2010

Professor Bill McLaurine,, July 2013


We did it. Bill made it through the MRI today. Tough tough for someone who is very claustrophobic, has a big history of being suspicious, and has dementia on top of that. The first time we tried (over a year ago) he ran out of the hospital. There I am following him in a dead run (I am 50 and not in shape by any means at all; not a pretty sight) going, "hey, hey, Bill, stop, wait honey..." He met me at the car. That was the last time he agreed to be tested, until now.

On the way to the doctors, Bill was talking and grieving about not reaching all his goals and dreams, and was laughing and reliving some old times. He looks at me summarizing his philosophy by announcing that we are loving life and living it. And that's that no matter how the tests come out. We know it's not a tumor, we know we have some time, so Bill wants his Goldwing fixed. Wow. I feel like I have permission to relax emotionally a little while.

Now, the actual process was a hoot. I had explained to Bill's neurologist, Dr. Roth, about the last excursion of the MRI attempt and Bill's sudden ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Dr. Roth generously prescribes three doses of 10 mil Valium each. He tells me to give the first on 3 hours before the appt., the next one in an hour or so. If he's still showing signs of anxiety an hour before the appt, give him the third dose and they will give him a place to sleep it off. So I give the first dose. His response: I'm driving. Sorry, over my dead body, babe. Someone has to raise Jack and pee the dog. I win. For one hour he of course becomes an expert in back driving. I look at my watch. Time for pill 2. Hallelujah, thank you Lord. About twenty minutes later the talking does slow down. We now limit the conversation only to back driving. We get closer, the adrenalin rises, so down goes the third dose. He not only walks into the appointment,He walks into the MRI room, and totally cooperates. As soon as the test was over, he was definitely stoned out of his gourd, but he is in a jolly and ornery, mood. He gave every person in the office a tough time and words of wisdom, did the test. Bill pops out of the tube chatting away. The doctor is stunned Bill is still talking and walking and asks Bill, "Have you ever taken that much Valium before, Bill?" Bill response is, "Well, not legally, doc."Doctor's cracking up, nurses are roaring with laughter, the blood tech comes out for him and say, "Come on, sassy frass, I'm done dulling the needle." We go have lunch,he starts flirting with the waitress until I smacked him in the head and reminded him he is an old man and married," he spends an hour recruiting our waitress to go back to College, learn a second language (Spanish), and she's fired up and ready to return when we're done laughing and eating.

So, I set a few goals, wrote down a to list, and am making a promise to add Walnuts, popcorn, and yogurt (like one a day) to help control my blood sugar levels. The promise includes being consistant in my daily exercise regime, thirty minutes a day.I know we face some very difficult periods, but right now, at this very moment, I feel hope today. It feels good.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013


photo courtesy of

"When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue, 
when you start to get mad...
you should do what I do...
Just tell yourself, Duckie, 
you're really quite lucky! 
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!" - Dr. Seuss

I sat last night at a dining room table, centered between Bill and his sweet co-resident, Betty. Betty, a woman I am guessing in her mid 70's although the years had not been kind to her, sat on my left and Bill sat on my right. Both share in advanced onset of Alzheimer's despite the years differentiating between the two.

I pick up Bill's fork and begin introducing him to his supper. He is resistant to eating and drinking now, for the past few weeks.

 "Oh, no, no," he says. He looks at me suspiciously saying, "I can't eat this." He looked at his food as if it were the cause of his disorientation. I turned to Betty, who smiles momentarily and asks, "What's going on?" I gently lift her spoon to her mouth. She opens widely, accepting the food. I turned to Bill, noting how delicious this food looks. "Just take a little bite, honey." He frowns, but allows a spoon full of salad to enter his mouth. "Delicious! Look at this! This is a southern meal just like your mama would make you! Scalloped potatoes with ham, fried apples, yum!"
He looks at his plate and smiles. I turn to Betty. She has all ready forgotten what we are here to do. "What's going on?" she asks me. "We are here to enjoy this wonderful meal, I smile." I scoop a bit of her food, and she graciously opens and receives. This scenario continues through out the meal as I coax and encourage the two to eat. I cannot help but laugh and smile as I try to carry on conversation between the two, Betty asking me continuously "what's going on" and Bill asking about his dog and his son.
The two laugh as we talk, and others around the room join in with laughter and comments. Tonight we found success for both as we finalized their meals and celebrated fluid intake. I move momentarily from the table and return to help the two finish. Betty is seeing me again for the very first time. "Well, honey! How are you?" Blessed, Betty. Blessed. 

10 Requests from an Alzheimer's Patient

Please be patient with me.
I am the helpless victim of a brain disease.

Talk to me.
Even though I cannot always answer.

Be kind to me.
Each day of my life is a desperate struggle.

Consider my feelings.
They are still very much alive within me.

Treat me with dignity and respect.
As I would have gladly treated you.

Remember my past.
For I was once a healthy vibrant person.

Remember my present.
For I am still living.

Remember my future.
Though it may seem bleak to you.

Pray for me.
For I am a person who lingers in the mists of time and eternity.

Love me.
And the gifts of love you give will be a blessing forever.....


In memory of my sweet cousin and my number one encouragement to continue to put into words the things in my life that can help others. I will miss you, Patsy (Patricia Keller Nelson) I will keep writing.