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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dementia Timeline - First Anniversary of Joe's Death



This is my favorite photo of a very young Joe, on our honeymoon. 

Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of my husband's death. In reality he had been gone from me for a long time. The man in the bed, slowly dying, had not been my Joe, my husband, for a long time.

They originally told me that it was unlikely that Joe would live beyond March 2011. He had been in the nursing home quite a while at that point. He didn't actually die until August 1, 2012.

I was forced to place him for his safety and mine on July 1, 2010. He had spent two hours one day late in June trying to escape from me. He had no idea who I was but he needed to go home to his wife and children, and I was keeping him from doing that. He spent 3 days in a local hospital while they tried to determine if there was anything they could do for him, or if it was just the way his disease had progressed. And then the nursing home.

In November 2010 there was a crisis that he never came back from. Hospice was on board by that time. He became totally bedridden not long after that. He continued to decline and then, he plateaued, more or less. The decline slowed down, but he did continue to decline.

There are stages in dementias. And Joe died at the last possible stage -- 7F. There is no 7G. By the time he died he could not hold a sitting position, or even hold his head up. He could not smile. He could not say even on word. He literally did not know that someone was standing next to him, or interact with that someone at all. I was told that he had stopped interacting with the nurses and aides who physically took care of him or fed him.

And I started mourning way back in early 2011 when most of the interaction stopped.

During the last week of his life I went numb. You survive this kind of death of a loved one by never expecting the death to actually come, and I did that. So when it happens, you go numb. Or at least I did. I'd done what crying I was going to do months before, years before. I stayed numb until I once again found myself, alone in the house with no one in it but me, after the visit to the cemetery.

And then I began to work on my grief. There were some surprises. As I read the widow books I discovered that I had already done a lot of the things new widows do. Most of the financial stuff was already done. Partly because his time in the nursing home got so long that I had to do a lot of financial things you generally don't do until after someone dies. And I had already begun to build a new life.

There had been changes in the master bedroom. A new bed was purchased before he died because the old one was in such bad condition that it had to be replaced. The bed was a new size, because I was alone, and was miserable in a King Sized bed. A sewing area had taken over the once empty area near the bay windows. I had never bought the reading nook furniture for that area. Most of the rest of the house has stayed the same. Some pictures were changed out in the dining room, but I haven't panted the house again yet. And over the last three years my quilts have gone up on the walls so I can enjoy them.

I had begun to find widow friends to take the place of the couple friendships that always go away when the couple doesn't exist anymore. I was surprised that I actually made some couple friends after he was placed and that they included me and another widow in some of the things they do. But I wasn't surprised that the other couple friendships went away. My mother was a widow most of my childhood, so I knew how that kind of thing goes.

So after a couple of weeks I picked up the threads of rebuilding my life. Now, a year later, I'm mostly doing OK. I've been working on my physical conditions. I did dental work, got needed medical tests, and got myself a shingles vaccine early on. This year it has mostly been trips to the chiropractor to fix stuff that has been part of my life since I was very young. Progress has been slow, but there has been progress.

Today, the last day of my first year of widowhood seemed to be a good day to take stock. I've been journaling and now I've blogged.

Take care all.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bloom, Finished

Bloom is finished. I took its last photo in a chair just because I could photograph it the way it will look when it is hung. It even has a rod pocket on the back. But I'll admit in this photo, it looks like a pillow. I just didn't have any place to hang it properly, and since it is leaving my house for new quarters, that is OK.


I did several new things with this project. I did some beading. I've been wanting to do that for a long time but didn't have the right project for it. I did the embroidery AFTER I did the free motion quilting. That wasn't great because I didn't want the traveling threads to show on the back. I succeeded for the most part, but not totally.

I used a facing on it instead of a binding, and that went extremely well. I will be doing that again with similar projects were a simple zig zag is not appropriate.


I'm pleased with the final result. Which is strange because I gave up on it more than once. This wasn't just setting something aside until I'd gotten the skills to take the next step. I do that a lot and actually have 3 projects rolled up in a corner of my bedroom right now for just that reason.This was just not being happy with what I had and having no idea where to go next.

But it is finished and I'm glad I did that.

Take care all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paper Piecing

Craftsy was having a huge sale last week. I bought several classes. The one that I've been working through is a class on Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing by Carol Doak. I've done foundation paper piecing before, but not truly successfully. Carol Doak's method is probably one of the ones several people use, but I think she probably had a lot to do with figuring it out.

 I made four blocks. This is what they looked like completed but not trimmed to size. Her method involves using rectangles and triangles of fabric that are bigger than you will need. There are people who worry about wasting fabric doing this, but her method means that you WILL have enough fabric to cover the space it needs to cover. Frankly, especially for a beginner, that is worth wasting a little fabric.

She also has a method that helps you place the new piece of fabric in the right place by trimming what will be the seam allowance of the previous piece(s) before you do the placement. With this method, it is almost impossible to make a mistake.

What you are looking at is what will be a 6 inch star block, with 44 pieces. I have never made anything with such small pieces. I have never even made a 12 inch block with this many pieces. And it is likely that all the points will be in the right place, on the block and not in the seam area once this has been put together.

I made these out of scraps. The dark green fabric is something I bought in the 70s. Everything else came out of scrap bags from Allentown Sewing. I have enough of the blue background to make a border around the finished block.

This was the "beginner's block" in her class. She teaches others that have triangle pieces. The big lesson in this block is how to make your points land in the correct place. Otherwise it truly is a beginner's block even though it looks very complicated. Part of the lesson here is that even a beginner can do something that would be almost impossible in regular piecing. Once you have made this block there truly is nothing you can't attempt.

The question, of course, with something like this is how does one quilt anything with such tiny pieces.

I definitely can recommend this class.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bloom

I think Bloom is nearly finished. It still needs to be faced. I'm not going to put a binding on it. I've looked for facing tutorials online and I've found several including one in a pdf file which I have downloaded. The directions look pretty clear.

This is what Bloom looked like at the beginning of July. I'd finished with the free motion quilting. The next thing I did was some beading in the area just below the lettering. It looked very subtle, but from a few feet across the room you literally could not see anything except the original couched lines, and some of the lines of patterned machine stitching.






This is what it looks like now. I've added a lot of hand embroidery. Mostly chain stitch and lazy daisy and lots (around 90) French knots.

The details show better in the photo below.

The thing is, that it is very different from the way it looked a couple of weeks ago.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Just an update

No pictures today. Just a daily life update.

My walking continues to be difficult. This weekend my big advance was being able to spend about 5 minutes in Dollar Tree hanging onto a cart. I tend to love that store. And they had new school supplies. I love shopping for school supplies. There are always new, fun things at this time of year. I bought a new pencil case and a stack of 3 x 5 index cards with back and front covers, an elastic band and a small ring to keep them together. Not sure what I'll use either of them for.

The sewing machine went into the shop for a bit less than a week not long after my last blog post. That put an end to the FMQ roll I was on. I expected it to be in the shop for several weeks because the man who owns the dealership has serious family issues, but he got my machine out pretty quickly since what was wrong was very minor and basically it needed a tune up. I have threaded it and tried it out in regular stitching, but that is all.

What I have been working on is Bloom. It is going to be finished pretty soon. I've been doing hand embroidery on it. It now looks like something from a few feet away, and still looks pretty good close up. I'll be taking photos and posting about it when it gets a bit further along.

Take care all.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Dementia Timeline - Again

I haven't written about dementia since last August. But today is the third anniversary of the day my husband was placed in a nursing home. He had spent the previous 3 days in the hospital. They checked him out to make sure that there was nothing that could be fixed before he was placed. And the decision was that what had changed for him was just the normal progress of the disease.

It was very hard placing Joe. Two weeks earlier I truly could not imagine needing to do it. But one thing I have heard from other caregivers is that almost all placements happen much later than they should. If you are thinking about placement, it is probably a lot later than you should have started thinking about it.

Looking at how things progressed I would not have been able to continue to take care of him. Within a week or two of placement, Joe as looking for corners to urinate in because he could no longer figure out where a bathroom was, or why he needed to go there. The nursing home was prepared to deal with that, but I would not have been able to.

He also began to pace 20 hours at a time. No single person could deal with that either. We all need to sleep.

 He was already losing a great deal of weight when he was placed. If he had stayed home he would have died from the weight loss that I was not qualified to deal with. The nursing home got the weight loss stopped and plateaued for over a year before even they could no longer reverse what the disease was doing.

I always knew logically and rationally that placement was what had to happen. I'm beginning to accept it emotionally now as well.