Christmas…….

Ah yes Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the celebration of several days off of school for this weary teacher!

I must confess that I was pretty darn excited to win 2nd place in the “who can sleep in the longest”  family contest on Sunday the day after Christmas.  Yep this mom slept in until 10:15, Tyler won it all and slept until 11:05, but I was pretty content with 2nd place.

R.E.S.T is what I needed, and I am thankful that is what I got!

You know you must be a mom when you get very excited about a rare moment to sleep in AND I may add,  you get excited about getting a new toaster for Christmas!

I have found that through this entire ordeal with my dear hubs that I tend to be much more tired than normal!  I guess that is how I handle the stress of it all, I frequently ponder when I will be able to get my next nap and how soon ’til bedtime!

But alas Christmas day was a nice, NORMAL, relaxing day for us!  We opened presents together as a family Sat. morning then headed to my parent’s house for the day.  And Tyler with a newly earned learner’s permit in hand got to drive some of the trip!

Christmas Day really drove home to me the importance of taking time to relax and revive!  Days like that are going to be important to all of us.   It will be while relaxing and reviving our hearts we will find strength to press on in this journey.

Curt apparently took the R & R to heart,  I noticed he had dozed off during the present opening!  (And for those of you who are wondering if this couch has ever been entered in the “Ugliest Couch Contest”, Yes I believe it already has! :))

Tyler also took the R & R thing to heart……..found him sprawled on the kitchen floor like this after dinner.  Such a proud mom moment!!!


Christmas Day also emphasized to me the importance of family during tough times.  Both Curt’s family and my family have really supported us during this unexpected detour in life!  It’s good to gather together and be there for each other!  I have always emphasized the importance of family, now it’s nice to see it all in action.  After all you only have one family, love them and support them……..and we are thankful to now be on the receiving end of that!  I know it also means a lot to Madi……shown here with her wonderful, supportive cousins!

We are thankful for this Christmas, and we are thankful for each of you who have supported us.  I have lots to tell of the many special blessings we have received………God’s timing is perfect.  We continue to press on by the prayers of God’s people, friends and family support, coffee, naps, encouragement from God’s word, sweet cards sent in snail mail, and encouraging emails, lots of hugs, kind and gentle words spoken to us, and sweet gifts given to us!


Please continue to pray for us, we were disappointed that Johns Hopkins called last Friday to cancel Curt’s appointment for today.  He was to have an initial evaluation by a specialist there.  We were hoping they could answer lots of questions, find a good med for him, give us a more defined diagnosis and prognosis.  He is now rescheduled for Jan. 14th.

 

Also pray for Curt to keep busy during the day, he tends to become a bit depressed at times.  Not horribly depressed, just down ( and who wouldn’t be!).

 

Pray for the kids as they continue to adjust to their Dad not really being the Dad they have grown used to.  They need to make adjustments to their expectations, which can sometimes be hard for teenagers!

 

Pray for wisdom for all the decisions that need to be made…..especially for me in this area.  I have learned a ton about medicaid, medicare, health care, wills, durable power of attorney etc…but I still feel clueless!

 

~Thanks!!

 



How did you know……..

Well it has been a good week at our house…..YES we are adjusting to the new normal.  It is hard at times…….I see glimpses of the difficulties that Curt will have down the road.  He has such difficulty spelling, and he was always the best speller in the house!! Typing has also become an difficult process for him.   Things like that drive home the reality of what is to come.  But for now we are focusing on the present.


I heard this quote the other day;

“Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present.

That really seems to fit our attitude!

This verse also seems to capture our hope for an unknown future;

Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV)

We are making the choice to not focus on the worries of tomorrow, sure we are planning for them, but not focusing on them.  And as any woman over 40 with wacky hormones and emotions knows that can be difficult at times.  🙂

So back to my story of how did we know something was wrong with Curt.  I had started it in this post in case you missed the first post.

After the chaos of a busy baseball season for Tyler, a track season for Madi and the end of the school year for Curt and I….. the dust began to settle and the slower pace of summer evolved!  It was a welcome reprieve for us.  But it was during the dog days of summer that Curt’s deficiencies became more evident.

We took a memory making trip to Omaha, NE where Tyler played baseball in a tournament and we were able to attend the College World Series Championship games both nights.  It was a great trip for Tyler since he aspires to play college baseball!

But as we headed through security at a busy Baltimore airport on the morning of the trip, Curt had trouble.  He didn’t take off his belt, didn’t take off his shoes, or take out his money clip.  It was like he just didn’t get what to do.  He held up the line, made people mad and didn’t really seem to notice the commotion he had caused.  But I did.  Also on that trip I ended up driving a great deal since he was unfamiliar with the highways in Nebraska and driving proved to be a challenge for him.

Another eye opener to a medical problem was when Curt took my sports minded son to the Dr. to see if he had truly broken his finger while diving for a ball in centerfield during a baseball game.  Curt returned from the Dr with the good news that the finger was not broken.  Only to find out later that is was broken!


But come August I became increasingly concerned….I attended an in-service with Curt and saw how he had trouble keeping up with what we were learning.  I also noticed his once proficient typing skills deteriorating rapidly.  He seemed more apathetic and could not accomplish as much around the house as previously.  He kept messing up setting his clock radio alarm and had difficulty using the computer.  He also had great difficulty learning anything new.    Most people would not have been aware of anything, but a wife sees these changes.  I then decided to email his Dr. to express my concerns, Curt had an annual physical in late August and I wanted the Dr. to know what I was seeing.


I became more worried, concerned and anxious about him.  Soon I began to have great difficulty sleeping at night, and  with in 2 weeks time lost 10 lbs, just like that!  (So if you are looking for a good weight loss program, anxiety and worry seemed to work pretty well for me!)

So when he talked with his family Dr. in late August and he ordered an array of tests, I was not surprised when his MRI came back fine, and his blood work also came back fine.  I just had a sinking feeling all along that dementia/alzheimer’s was what we were dealing with, even with NO family history of it!

When a neuropsychologist confirmed a diagnosis of dementia I was emotionless, I had already come to grips with what was happening to my dear husband!  I really thought I would throw up when they told me, but when the moment came,  I just thought to myself, ” I knew it, I knew it!”

And on that day Oct. 1st began the first day of living with our new normal.

 

I will write more later, I have one amazing story to tell of God really providing for us last week!!  But alas, I am getting ready to head off to Tyler’s basketball game, and finish some last minute Christmas shopping……yes life with two teens at home….life does go on!


How did you know??

People often ask me how did I know something was wrong on with Curt.  Alzheimer’s is so unusual in the way it affects people.  Each one is so different!  And Curt being so young, obviously  the last thing we thought was going on was Alzheimer’s!!

Curt started complaining 3-4 years about “losing it!”  I of course figured it was the busy and over 40 brain kicking in.  He was always pretty disorganized, so I just figured it was the combination of that and getting older.  He of course insisted there was more to it than that, and I  as any good, busy wife does, really didn’t listen to well to his complaints about memory!  🙂

But about 2 years ago we both noticed it had gotten worse.  And he talked to his primary care dr.  At that point he was up sleepwalking a lot at night with no recollection of any of it the next day, becoming more disorganized, having trouble keeping track of appointments and the details of what was happening through out a busy week.  I also noticed he was having trouble driving  somewhere new and unfamiliar, and he was having great difficulty with things like putting the tent up when we went camping, or simple fix it jobs around the house.  He was also reluctant to try a new skills.

He talked to his Dr. and they agreed to a sleep study, ( since my sweetie is a snorer!!).  Sometimes memory loss issues can be caused by simple lack of sleep…..seemed to make sense to me.  But deep down at that point I thought there seemed to be more to it than just short term memory problems.

He had the sleep study done and he was shown to have sleep apnea so he started with the good ole C-Pap machine, and I was happy to now be sleeping with Darth Vader each night.  Shortly after starting with the C-Pap the short term memory issues did get better…….HOWEVER, I was also starting to see other more disturbing symptoms.

He called me one night late in Feb. of this year on his cell phone asking me how to turn off the bright lights on the van.  He was complaining that he rarely drives this car and couldn’t figure it out.  Problem is, the brights turn off the exact same way as the car he is used to driving!

He was also having trouble parking the same van in a parking spot.  It was always crooked, and not positioned well.  In addition he had great trouble parallel parking a car, a skill he had always done with exact precision.  I began to notice spatial concepts were difficult for him.

Then this past summer, things became more apparent there was something wrong.

And there is where I will have to stop for now…..I am off to school for the day.  More to come later…….

Thanks again for praying for ALL of us!!

Keep praying as Curt adjusts to being home….most days are good and busy, but there are those moments when he seems a bit depressed by everything.  Which is understandable.

Also please pray for wisdom with ALL the decisions for the future that need to be made.

I love this picture, it’s a reflection of our busy life…..Curt eating breakfast at a baseball tournament in Omaha, NE this summer! 🙂

Friday Fave Five

For those of you who are new to reading Jesus and Dark Chocolate, most Fridays I write a Friday Fave Five post.  This is a time to reflect upon my favorite big or little things of the past week.  And as I sit in my comfy chair listening to Christmas music, with my softly lit Christmas tree glowing nearby.   I am thinking it will be good for me to continue writing a Friday Fave Five.

Yes my current circumstances are not real fun and are probably not a favorite for anyone…..BUT there are still plenty of good, special and endearing things that come my way each week and I am choosing to focus on them.  Imagine if I wrote a post called “Five Depressing Downers” for the week.   Focusing on those downers for the week really won’t carry me too far in this ordeal.

So with out further adieu…..my Faves of the week!

My dear 13 year old daughter had her 8th annual cookie baking party last Sat.  Imagine the chaos of nine 8th graders baking cookies, eating cookies & cookie dough, throwing flour at each other, and decorating and making 8 different YUMMY types of cookies!  It was a great day,and a great distraction for me and FUN for all.  Oh and did I mention our family enjoyed cookies for dinner that night and for breakfast the next morning!

This simple message scrawled on my husbands classroom chalkboard brought joy to my heart during our storm of life right now.  Such a sweet message from public high school students!!

I got a facebook message from dear friends who are missionaries in Thailand……here are her words.  God used them to encourage me all week long!!

Our staff gathered on a mountain with streams of running water beside… It’s still warm here, so don’t picture us freezing :-)… Our ministry team is made up of Chinese/Singaporeans, Canadian, British, Thais and American ( a glimpse of the Body!). We were gathered for a morning of prayer, to just sit as His feet as a ministry team. We stopped and prayed specifically for you Curt and your whole family. I wished you could have heard the various languages, accents, heart cries going before the Lord, prayer being lifted for you in different languages, it was beautiful. I hope that is an encouragement to you to know your brothers and sisters from all over the world, are lifting you up in prayer, and we know our Father heard…

Yes it is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ!  Thanks Lori!


Our chiropractor just got the greatest massage chairs in their office, wow during my appointment this week I practically fell asleep in that glorious chair.  The worst thing I heard all week was when someone told me my time was up in that chair!! 🙂


Curt has really been embraced by dear friends since he stopped working.  He has gotten so many emails, phone calls and offers to get together.  It has really helped make a tough adjustment to not working somewhat easier.  But please do continue to pray for him, after teaching for 25 years, it has been hard for him to not be working.  It has been met with an array of emotions!

Thanks again dear friends for your prayers and notes of encouragement…..it really helps ME to PRESS On!

For more Friday Fave Five please visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story


So…how are you doing?

That is the question I hear everywhere I go.

And I often answer, “I don’t know.”

People also ask how last week went, Curt’s first official week being home.  To that I respond with one word….”weird.”

It’s all so weird and I don’t knowish…….I know I am not really saying a lot here….but that is the point!

This is all so different, new and surreal at times.

I am the type of person who carries a flashlight, a tape measure, a pocketknife, and clorox wipes in my purse with me.  I am always prepared for everything, I plan for things, I think ahead…..BUT having a husband who has Alzheimer’s at age 46 is NOT something I ever planned for, or ever prepared for.  That is why I think I respond with I don’t know.

I think overall I am handling all of this well, I have come to ACCEPT this diagnosis.  I don’t like it, I don’t understand why it is happening to us….BUT it is what we are dealing with and I refuse to confront it with a negative attitude.  But, I have such a mix of emotions that I just don’t know how I am doing….and I think at this point that is pretty normal.

This song by Chris Tomlin keeps coming to mind.  And I think it speaks so much of what I am feeling.

There is a PEACE I have come to know….
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well”

Those words seem to be the cry of my heart lately. I am not prepared for this journey we are on….but amidst such difficulties I am amazed at the PEACE I have come to know!!  God has truly granted me that peace during the storm of this life, I don’t know how I am doing, but I do know I can stand strong each morning knowing God is with me and granting me peace during my storm!


For those who were wondering, Curt had a busy first week at home, lots of friends called to do things with him.  It helped to make a difficult week for him better with so many so dear friends checking in on him.  We all dealt with such a range of emotions last week, sometimes they would hit me out of nowhere!   But we do cherish your prayers.

I plan to write more this week about how we first started to notice some changes in Curt.  So many of you have asked.