Monday, February 29, 2016

Let's Talk About Parkinson's Disease

If you, like me, thought of Parkinson's disease as one that leaves the victim with mostly hand shakes, we are about to find out that although that is true, there are other debilitating complications that come with the disease.

But, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's first see Maureen on her last go round with the darling physical therapy girl at the rehab center.
We learned that Pryia was a Magic girl for five years which means something to Orlando folks. She was so darn sweet.  Her last instructions to Maureen were--move, move, move! So, Friday morning arrived with discharge set for between 10-12. Arriving a little after 11, we waited and waited. Maureen was anxious to spring that joint!! As we were to soon careful what you wish for.

At any rate, we drove home without incident, and as we turned onto Maureen's street, she shut her eyes tight. You know, how they do on HGTV. It was super good that Bruce was there to receive us. Backing the car into the driveway, Maureen was able to exit with some room to maneuver up to the house. We are happy to report that she was delighted with the paint scheme, including the door! Bruce helped her around the house, and it was so gratifying watching her reactions...
The above room looks vastly improved. Before I picked her up, I'd done some grocery shopping so we thought we were prepared. Again, we were to soon learn, that was not the case at all. When we walked up to the house, there was a lovely bouquet of flowers on the walkway from her daughter in Atlanta. The chair is working beautifully.
Speaking of flowers, Maureen received such a lovely bouquet of roses that I wish I'd photographed earlier. They still look good, but believe me, they looked even better before!
In yet another God send, Lisa had come by earlier with some much needed equipment, which I moved indoors while loading groceries into the fridge.
The potty chair and shower chair have proved invaluable! For three plus weeks, Maureen had only a sponge bath, but on Saturday morning I got her into the shower where she stayed for nearly fifteen minutes under the healing power of hot water.

Backtracking a moment to Bruce, I finally went by his job site which is only about a mile or so from the rehab center. They have some serious signage going on, as well as barricades. In Canada they call it hoarding. How about that?
For my Orlando friends, here's another look so you can get your bearings.
That, my friends, is it for photographs, because the truth is, I've had very little time to take anything more. It is probably just as well that my owls are nowhere to be found according to Nell, the woman who lives in the house where I took last year's photographs.

So, what I really want to talk about is how debilitating Parkinson's disease is over time. Yes, people get tremors, which to me, is the least of their problems. Seeing how much Maureen is struggling, I did some looking, discovering that there are a whole host of problems associated with Parkinson's, which only get worse over time. Like memory for example. Sure she can remember the theme song to Romper Room, a show we watched when we were kids, but did she take her medications in the morning? Not quite sure.

Then there are bladder problems, something this 13 year old bed wetter knows something about. And what exactly did they say about how you should walk? Definitely not on your toes, as is quite common for a Parkinson's patient. Confusion--check. When someone breaks their hip it is really, really bad. When a Parkinson's patient breaks their hip, it is whatever the next worst word you can think of because a Parkinson's patient already has difficulty with gait. As they do with movement in general. Then there are the everyday challenges that only increase in difficulty as the years progress. Yes, there are medications that can help, however, they can only decrease the severity of symptoms. The longer you have Parkinson's disease, the more pronounced the symptoms. I love how they label these problems as complications on the Mayo Clinic website. NOT!

A good friend told me how the neurologist who was treating her father-in-law showed the MRI to his son. See that black hole in your Dad's brain? That is how much functionality Parkinson's has claimed. Now that is quite a picture, isn't it? Early on there are probably black holes here and there in the brain; as time goes on there are more and more, making daily life increasingly difficult. Did I mention there is no cure?

Had you been following this blog, you now know what a challenge Maureen faces in her recovery. Would we all love it be an easier climb? Of course. Will it be? Not very likely, although we are working every single day on giving her every opportunity for success.

Those groceries I purchased do not mean a thing at this point because with two shaky hands on a walker, there is no getting, even microwaved food, to the table. We are working on that. Four days in at home and so far it is not getting any easier, but today a home Physical Therapist came by and gave us some tips. Little ski tips for the walker, for example, should make it easier to move on the carpet. Bruce went to the medical supply place to purchase a tray for the walker, as well as a grabber should she drop something. Both weren't ideal. More shopping, and the skis are now on the walker, as well as a basket to carry things. Tomorrow morning we give a different tray a tryout, hoping no modifications are necessary.

So, the coolest woman any of us knew is not the same, and never will be, making me incredibly sad.



Thursday, February 25, 2016

What Do You Want To Do About Dinner Tonight?

Those have been familiar words around the Peck household the last three weeks. Lord willing, they won't be for much longer. Maureen comes home tomorrow, and is she ever going to be in for a big surprise. Visiting her day before yesterday, I brought a coloring book and we went to the "library" to use the table there. For a short while, she was able to wheel herself.
As well, she can now walk unassisted with a walker down the hall which I believe bodes well for when she comes home because the distance between various rooms is not terribly great. As to meals, we will face those challenges as they come.

Meanwhile, back at her ranch, we have been busy. Regina gave me the name of some painters and were they ever terrific, putting our job in front of some other scheduled ones. Rusty and Tina are some great folks. Sunday they pressure washed...
and did the paint ever peel off on the side of the house,
and the back of the house.
I can't remember how long ago she had the house painted, but her previous painters used the wrong stuff. Tina explained how they would use a paint with a special bonding agent, and I did not argue with her!
A super hard working couple, they also began dating when they were thirteen! Did I mention they are about our age? Please note the fan in the above photo---that is what happens when an indoor fan is hung outdoors. That said, it is now a thing of the past because Bruce took it down!

Bill has been working forever on his pool, so leaving Rusty and Tina to do their thing, we drove over to see the now acid washed pool, with all new deck and tile! As we drove up I thought about the power of paint. Remember when Bill's house was pink?
And now it looks like this?
This was a particularly horrible time for the pool nearly two years ago!
Well, it all looks like a new pool now!
You may be wondering what took so long, and the answer to that is that there is over 1,000 square feet of travertine tile that was laid by Bobby, with Bill helping as he was able. So, mostly a one man band. That said, it is all paid for, which is how Bill likes it. Next up, the front yard and a sprinkler system.

Back by Maureen's house, Tina had put some of the paint on so I could see what I thought. I did not think much. Long story short, the house paint needed to be darker, and the trim paint needed to be lighter. I hated to say anything because they were doing me such a favor, however, she was fine with it, returning on Monday afternoon with the renewed colors. Bruce took the fan down before they began painting the ceiling of the porch. Hallelujah!

From there, we went on a search mission for new patio cushions. There are way too many cats in the neighborhood, if you know what I mean. As well, the porch light needed replacing. I'd planned on painting the door red, however, knowing that a storm door would leave the door open inside, while at Lowes to get a light fixture, I came across what I hope she will like for the front door. Something with personality. Sample first, which did not impress either of my painters, it took me two more trips to the store before I had both the right color, and finish. A few hours later they called, and said they were done! Ta da! I could not be any happier with the door color and hope Maureen is as well.
Doesn't it look so cheery? While finishing up with them, David, the upholsterer called with good news--the chairs were ready. Bring them on!!

I've had to do quite a bit of shopping for all of this, and while I was waiting in line at Marshalls with some nice, new sheets, this woman was paying for not just one cart full, but two!!
Both were piled high!!

When David brought the arm chair in, Bruce, who was not too happy with my find, could not believe the job he did. Stripping it pretty much to the frame, he refinished all of the wood and you would never know that it was a road find!
I had him use the other fabric on the kitchen chairs, and I'm super pleased with them. They, too, look brand new with both new foam and a sprucing up of the wood finish.
Yesterday morning, the new mattress and box spring was delivered, and they took away the old ones. It was interesting to me how they wrap them tightly before putting them in the truck to haul away.
Only one more thing to do...the storm door which was Pam's brilliant idea to bring more natural light into the living room. After lunch we went to pick it up at Lowes....just barely fit in the Pilot. I told Bruce it is times like these that it is good to have a Pilot. The weather was not the best, but we soldiered on, opening it in the front yard.
Bruce has hung a few doors in his day, but never a storm door. Now he has.
Sherry sent me a check and told me to work some magic; with the help of some great folks, and a willing husband, I believe we've done just that.

As to those pesky cats, I found a formula on the internet, using fresh rosemary, lemon juice, and white vinegar. I sprayed it liberally yesterday morning; I have high hopes that those pretty red cushions will stay that way!

Tomorrow is the big reveal....

Hoping for a real dinner tonight,


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Doing What's Right!

Entering the world of a rehab center is brand new to me, and from what others have said, and I witnessed for myself at "Terror" Vista, it can be a pretty scary, and awful, experience. We got so very lucky that Maureen has not had to experience such awfulness because the folks at Solaris have a logo, and for the most part, they live it.
From the moment I come in the door, greeted warmly by Stacy, on the left, I feel good about where Maureen is learning to walk all over again.
The girl in the background is who showed me around more than two weeks ago, and one of the things she said is that the employees like working there, which is always a good sign. I'd not had the pleasure of meeting the girl on the right before, however, while taking the photo above, unprompted, she said "we love our jobs!" Well, if a CNA can say that, I'm in!!

By day, I was trying hard to get better quickly, by night I was out with Bruce and some folks who had come to town for his job. Zarita, is his kitchen designer from Vancouver.
Jesse, standing on Bruce's left, is from St. Louis, and works for a company called Edward Don that provides said kitchen equipment. We met at Yardhouse, adjacent to the Orlando Eye.
Yardhouse, which some of you may remember is a Darden Restaurant, in fact, that is the last concept Bruce built for Darden down in South Beach. In any case, both Jesse and Zarita were loving our sunshine, soaking it in before heading back to the gray weather from whence they came. I, meanwhile, could barely hear them because my left ear was so clogged up. Nonetheless, I did what I could to be a good wife of the boss.

Wednesday was a big day because Maureen was to go have the staples removed at the orthopedic doctor's office near the hospital. It was, as is so often the case, a very frustrating experience, with being called by number rather than name, just one of the irritations. At any rate, I was mildly worried about her getting into the Pilot, but darn if she did not do it with flying colors.
The center provided a travel wheelchair to use once we were at our destination. which worked beautifully. There was far too much waiting involved, especially because the healthcare folks spent about eight minutes total with her, but after an hour and a half, we repeated the getting into the Pilot, heading back to Solaris without incident. 27 staples held the wound together before, now there are just little bandages called steri-strips.

Yet another reason Wednesday was big, Herbert arrived to put in some much needed LED ceiling lights for Maureen's living room.
They make an incredible difference! Perhaps you see that chair with the reddish cover? Well, in a stroke of luck, I found it beside the road! Just what we were looking for, albeit without the hideous cover, and beat up wood. David, our amazing upholsterer to the rescue!! The pictured couch is quite low to the ground, so I knew there was no way Maureen would be able to sit on that for quite some time. I am doing my best to stretch those dollars from Maureen's fairy Godmother. Yesterday, I snuck in a trip to the mattress store and that will be arriving on Wednesday. As well, I was able to have the kitchen chairs recovered with some fresh, fun, fabric. Try saying that three times in a row!!

Some of you know, some not, so let's recap all the medical misfortunes Maureen has endured....
  • Acromeglia, a tumor of the pituitary gland which was diagnosed when she was around forty. Requiring major brain surgery, followed by 25 radiation treatments, more than twenty years ago, the treatments were much harder to endure than they are today.
  • Parkinson's disease...she's lived with it for nearly ten years, and while it is mostly under control, without medication, she would be in a very bad way. 
  • Small stroke a few years ago.
  • Anal cancer two years ago, which required yet another round of radiation and very painful I might add.
  • In what is very tiny compared to the above, she now has cataracts. What next, right?
So, having said all that, Maureen has not been quite up to the task of keeping a tidy home. Bruce, Lynn, Pam, me, and her son Rich, have all done what we can to make her home, both safe, and attractive. Years ago, I worked with a young woman who'd had thoracic cancer, (maybe I've told you this before, so forgive me if it is a repeat) who told me that she got through it with some inspirational words---"look good, feel good." Everyday, no matter how terrible she felt, she spruced herself up, and before she knew it, she was feeling good. That's what I've been trying to do at Maureen's house; an attractive environment is bound to add to her recovery.

In between the mattress buying, and two trips to the center yesterday, I finally got something off my plate. Apparently, a magazine is doing a story on the Winter Garden market, and they wanted some photographs. Dana called...would you go shoot some? That was three weeks ago, pre-hip, and with one thing and another, I'd not gotten to it. Now I have, and boy has it expanded since last I sold there!! They carry all manner of things, way more than Lake Eola. Like specialty yarn, which will interest some of you.
 Of all things, my former space is being filled by someone I've known forever!
I asked the Mom if I could photograph the dog in the stroller, and immediately her two girls got down to be photographed as well!
Plenty of dogs, plenty of people, and so many, many vendors that they have spilled across the street.
I remember the day Dana told me she was starting it, and boy has she delivered!!

Maureen has been receiving some lovely cards, and the other day I arrived to see a wonderful air plant from Amanda. She knows how to get to her Aunt's heart!
Isn't it adorable? Lisa has been visiting, as have others, helping to make the days fly by. So much so, that next Thursday she is to be discharged. Or at least Medicare wants her to be! This week will be crucial for continued improvement. Time will tell, as it always does.

A lovely sunset on our way to dinner last week to end this post...
Wish I'd been by the lake instead, but you do what you have to do...

doing what's right,


p.s. today is my brother Pat's 70th birthday...where has the time gone??

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Two Days in Bed

The timing could not be any worse, but what did I expect? It is February, so that means there is a good chance I will be sick like I was last year at about the very same time.

This time it was not worth an ambulance ride, however, I did arrive at Dr. Parillo's office yesterday morning just after 7, hoping to be seen by someone. Antibiotics to the rescue! One of the days I spent curled in a ball with a fever, body aches, and what felt like a knife in my throat; the other, after convincing myself the antibiotic would work immediately, I read a novel, and was it ever a good one...The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck. For some reason, after buying it at a garage sale last year, it ended up in my nightstand beside my bed, which is where I discovered it, and because I'd never read it before, I began and could not stop. What a storyteller, and in spite of it being written in 1931, the themes are every bit as relevant today as they were back then. So, being sick was not a total loss. I'm up today, insisting to myself that I will be better because I MUST be better!

What you really want to know about is, how Maureen is doing? Sadly, I have not seen her since Friday night, however, Bruce went late Sunday morning and brought back a good report. I took another one of her in the physical therapy room during my last visit, where they are putting her to work!
She is now able to, with the aid of a walker and a physical therapist by her side, walk back to her room which is a massive improvement over last week at this time! The bandage came off after seven days and her first visit to the outside world will be to see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow.

While she's been in the rehab center, Bruce, Pam and I, have been working to make her home both more pleasant and safe. Maureen's fairy godmother is sending funds for new things, like a comfortable chair, and a new mattress. She is so good to Maureen, however, she tells me that she may have more funds than Maureen, Maureen has more wit and charm so their forty year friendship is beneficial to both. Nice.

A week ago Sunday morning, when I first visited Maureen in the daylight, I noticed a lot of vultures flying overhead. I mean a whole lot of them. The specks in the great big beautiful sky are but a few of them.
I learned from one of the staff that there is some sort of garbage facility nearby, thus their constant presence. Friday night as I was leaving they were still flying around.
Speaking of birds, they have been plentiful in the last few weeks. In fact, as I lay in bed on Sunday they kept me entertained out my window. Red winged blackbirds come in droves. There are about seven or eight, mostly on the ground in this shot.
And the finches...oh my are they cute little birds! I heard from Matt who said he had a whole flock of goldfinches that look nothing like our goldfinches. Naturally, I was jealous.
Out front, where the feeder is on a pole in the ground, they vie for space, whereas in the side yard, they wait their turn in the oak tree.
Once I am out and about again, I not only need to fill the feeders, but I intend to look for a cardinal nest somewhere in the bushes. They, too, have been hanging around a lot.
I wonder why sometimes their crest is up, and sometimes down?
If you live anywhere near downtown, and if you like to eat out, you may have heard of Maxine's on Shine Street. You may very well have wondered just who is Maxine. Well, here she is in the red glasses with Catherine during her birthday celebration last week.
It was quite a group, including a Scottish woman, (Catherine), a Frenchwoman, a German woman, and a couple from Switzerland. You may have guessed that they have all become friends through Cheryle and David's airbnb adventures of which there are plenty! The couple sitting next to me had only just arrived from Seattle but they came along to experience the "real" Orlando. A good time was had by all.

This may not be my most exciting post, however, I figured you might be looking for an update so I've done my best to provide one. Soon, very soon, I hope the posts will again be both more frequent and more interesting!



p.s. I neglected to mention that my darling has had a sore throat for the longest time now, at one point completely losing his voice. Unlike me, he never gets sick! What is going on around here??

p.p.s. Don't feel bad I was in bed on Valentine's Day--every day is VD around here!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Making Progress

Early Saturday afternoon we got the word that Maureen was to be moved over to a rehabilitation facility. We were both more than ready to get her out of ORMC. The day was gray and rainy, making the wait even more unbearable.
The nurse said she was getting paperwork together and it would be about 4:30. Great, was our reaction. Except 4:30 came and went with no word on what was holding things up. I began roaming the hallways looking for help, however, mostly they were empty. 5:30 came and went. 6:30 came and went. By now it was no longer gray but dark and rainy.
Finally, we got word they were on their way. I took one load of her things down to my car in the rain. Luckily I was able to move it closer for my next trip down! The ambulance folks came and I drove my car to Solaris Healthcare of Windemere.
That said, it is not at all in Windemere. Off Conroy Road, it is a few blocks from Mecca, otherwise known as the Mall at Millenia area where there is every shopping possibility you can imagine. I am thrilled they are building a Costco there, as well, yesterday, I'm pretty sure I saw a sign for a new Hobby Lobby. So, there's that.

Anyway, we got her settled as best we could late Saturday night. I left her about 8:45, fairly anxious she was, but there was nothing more I could do. I did learn from the Saturday nurse at the hospital that although the first center I visited is formally called Terra Vista, it is more commonly known by those in the know as TERROR Vista; I could not agree more!!

Everyone at the center is really nice. It is clean, and the food is pretty good as well. Sunday morning I popped over before church, bringing her a few things. Following church we had lunch somewhere new...Giraffas, a Brazillian place in Mills Park. I took this photo because the wallpaper looks like something I've seen before
Not exactly the pattern of the quilt block I was working on when I got the call about Maureen, but pretty darn close.
A small table runner for our home,  using some of the beautiful batik fabric Jane gave me for my birthday.

I had Mr. Bruce take my photo while we were waiting on our food so you could see the new me:
I am absolutely loving not having to take glasses on and off, not to mention find them around the house!! Once the food came it was tasty. For a side, I tried something entirely new--despite searching the web, I can't seem to find out what it is called. Made with yucca flour, eggs, olives, and bacon, it had a good taste, but a bit of a weird feel in the mouth.
Next up was a stop at an estate sale at a house I've photographed before. Oh my goodness, we could not believe our eyes, wether it was the room dedicated to costumes:
The shark jaws nesting amongst other things:
One of two bathtubs filled with stuffed animals,
or the array of worn statues lakeside, well really fence side.
I say fence side because on the other side of the fence there were probably ten watercraft! Let's not forget one of two VW bugs, this one sinking into the dirt:
Should the VW not interest you, perhaps you will remember these from an earlier blog post?
I wrote about them here back in December 2014. Talking with folks, loads of people went to the sale, having seen the crazy mannequins in the front yard, mostly to see what the inside would be like. They were not disappointed! Seriously it is like nothing I've ever seen before, and, come to think of it, hope never to do so again! The estate sale lady told us that the man had 15 dogs when he died! Animal lovers will be delighted to learn that homes were found for all of them! I could have taken a gazillion pictures of weird stuff as there were about twenty rooms and a whole back yard filled with stuff. Oh yeah, they also hauled off FIVE dumpsters worth of stuff before the sale began!

Sunday afternoon the physical therapist assessed Maureen, and by Monday they put her to work!
She will be having PT twice daily beginning today. This morning, following her therapy, we went to the dining room for a treat. The preschoolers from Windemere Prep came to give a little Valentine's Day concert.
Their Moms came along as well.
You might be tempted to think it was the Super Bowl should the cameras be larger....

They were adorable, and sang heartily for 15 minutes which seems like a long time for such little children. The residents, as you can imagine, loved every minute of it. I was only sad to think that all the folks in wheelchairs were once just like those little ones. :(

All in all she is doing very well. The staff is quite attentive, unlike the hospital; today she walked ten steps with her walker.  They want her to wear clothes, so after asking the staff what would be appropriate, I went to Wal Mart for sweat pants and t-shirts. Some of the things I bought did not fit so when I was returning them to another WM, a woman began chatting me up, and do I mean chatting. The result is she suggested I try a thrift store which I'd not thought of. Should she need more than I've purchased I know where I will be going next.

Feeling optimistic,


Long Beach, CA