Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Drastic Change

I wasn’t ready for this stage quite yet.

I’ve tried to prepare myself for our future with dementia by educating myself on the disease. I have read books. I have gone to support groups. I network with others online. I think, for most part, I know what to expect. Yet I did not expect to have this issue at this phase in the game. I thought this part wouldn’t come until the end. That’s usually when a person refuses to eat. Or, at least, that’s what I thought.

I know that mom could pass through many phases in this diseases. I’ve read about others who regress back to toddlerhood and infancy, putting non-food objects in their mouth, getting into things they shouldn’t be touching. I know many caregivers have to “childproof” their living spaces to keep their loved one safe. Most, if not all, lose the ability to toilet themselves, shower themselves or take care of any hygiene for that matter. Towards the end phases, many have trouble walking, talking (some lose language completely), and many develop problems swallowing and lose the ability to eat.

Mom hasn’t passed through any of these phases yet. She still takes care of her own hygiene. She toilets and showers herself. She puts on a face of make-up and attempts to curl her hair everyday (though not quite like she used to). Aside from hiding car keys, medicines and credit cards, we haven’t had to childproof anything from mom. I thought she would have to pass through all of these phases before she struggled with the eating phase. I expected it. I guess it’s true what they say. No two cases of dementia are exactly alike.

Over the past couple of months, mom has altered her diet once again. One thing always remains the same, and that is her morning Slim Fast. [Although one minor modification to that is that sometimes she will skip it in the morning now and drink it for lunch instead]. A typical day consists of: Slim Fast in the morning, a sandwich for lunch (with turkey, tomato, sliced American cheese, mayo and lots of sandwich oil), occasionally fruit (strawberries or canned pineapple) or Poppycock for an afternoon snack, and an Ensure for dinner. If we are lucky, she might go out to dinner with us but that has almost become non-existent as well. We can’t even get her to go out to her favorite restaurant (Miguel’s) anymore!

In the past week, the only solid food mom has eaten is some strawberries (twice) and 1 1/2 or 2 sandwiches; this is total for the entire week. She might have tried to eat a handful of Poppycock popcorn once or twice. Half of that food was thrown up. She drinks her Slim Fast everyday, once a day, and drinks a small can of Ensure most nights for dinner. Half of that has been thrown up as well. She only drinks water (about 6-8 oz) when she takes her medication, 3 times a day (as far as I’ve noticed). Try as we might, we cannot get her to eat anything. We’ve tried soups, Gatorade, popsicles, lemon-ginger tea, breads, toast...we’ve even offered to take her shopping to pick out what she thought would sit well in her stomach. It’s no use. Mom has it in her head that if she eats, she will throw up. And when mom has something in her head, you cannot convince her otherwise.

My dad took her to a follow-up appointment with the doctor yesterday…if that did any good. All they did was order more lab work and give her more medicine: one medication to prevent her from throwing up, and one medication to help increase her appetite.

My dad is willing to do anything at this point to get her to eat, including to try this medication. I suppose it is worth a shot, but I’m a bit more hesitant-with good reason. With mom’s disease, the body loses it’s ability to make sense of bodily functions and signals. For example, mom cannot understand why her eyes water all the time; she thinks she’s “so weird” when she burps or yawns or if her stomach makes noises. She doesn’t understand these things anymore or what these functions represent. Along with this, they (those with semantic dementia) lose the sense of knowing when they are hungry or full. I firmly believe that mom’s ability to decode hunger is lost. I think a part of her stomach pains could actually be attributed to hunger pain. But she doesn’t recognize it as such. Instead of eating and ending the hunger pains, she skips meals because she’s afraid of upsetting her stomach.

If my hypothesis is correct, wouldn’t it be logical, then, to say that this medication will only worsen her stomach problems?

Mom now weighs in at 126 pounds. That means she has lost another 14 pounds in the past 5 months and I would say most of that has been in the past 2 months. If this drastic change in her eating continues, at what point will the doctors do more than just prescribe a pill? I’m not sure what this means for the future. Is it just a phase? Will she eventually start to eat again? Or has she taken a drastic turn?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mom’s Urgent Care Visit

In my last post, I talked about mom’s ongoing stomach issue. By this weekend, mom was still throwing up. She was unable to hold anything down. I’m not a doctor, but I know enough to figure out that mom was dehydrated by this point. I told dad that she needed to see a doctor. I think he was afraid he’d take her down there and they’d just send him home (since no stomach issues have been found at previous visits) but I explained to him that she is most likely dehydrated, having not held anything down for a few days. By yesterday afternoon, dad was ready to take her in. But mom, much to our surprise (she normally loves the doctor), was very resistant. Dad fought with her for a good 20 minutes or so, to no avail.

“No there’s no doctors open on Sunday. I want to lay here, no. I’m not going.”

I talked to my very-frustrated-dad on the phone and told him I’d be right over to see if I could convince mom to go. My back up plan was to my call my Aunt Sharon, who is a nurse, and put her on the phone with mom to tell her she had to go. Fortunately, it didn’t get to that point. By the time I pulled up to dad’s house, mom was sitting on the couch ready to go.

“I don’t know what kind of hold you have over her, but as soon as I said Cassandra was coming over she jumped out of bed and was ready to go…20 minutes of fighting and that’s all it took,” dad explained to me, as I walked in the room. [I have to confess, that made me feel a little bit good inside…like the kind of good when you walk into a room and a baby reaches for you and wants you to be the one to hold them].

“Mom, we’re taking you to Urgent Care,” I explained to her.

“What? I didn’t know the doctor was open on Sundays? I didn’t know that, but is it the Riverside Medical Clinic? Is it there? I don’t want to go to a new place.”

“Yes, it’s the same place mom. You’ve been to Urgent Care lots of time; you’ll remember once you’re there.”

We led her to the car and drove her to Urgent Care. Dad even took her “favorite” route to make her happy.

We pulled into the Urgent Care side of the clinic and mom got out of the car, looked at the sign and said,

“Oh, Urgent Care. Yeah, I know Urgent Care. I didn’t hear you say that it was Urgent Care.”


When we walked into the waiting room, there was only one elderly couple (probably late 70’s) sitting in the room. Dad checked mom in at the front desk as mom plopped down in a chair across from the couple. She turned her body towards them and immediately started chatting incessantly to the elderly woman.

“I’m feeling so severe, my stomach too and I’ve been throwing up, I hope the doctors can help me.” Mom began rambling on for several minutes as the woman stared blankly at mom. “It’s just so weird how us women change when we get to be in our 50’s, are you in your 50’s too?”

“No,” the woman replied flatly.

“Oh, no? Are you younger than me then?”

“Older,” she stated. The woman was saved then, as the nurse called her back to a room.

A few minutes later mom was called by the nurse to read her vitals. The nurse asked her to step on the scale; mom refused.

“No I just went on my scale at home a few days ago too and it said 133 pounds, which is so good too.”

After finally convincing mom that she had to step on the scale, she protested when it read 126 pounds.

“No, I don’t weigh like that, I weigh 133 pounds. No.”

After her vitals were read, they asked for a urine sample. Dad gave me the honor of helping her with that. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, she was very confused at why she had to do this and insisted she went pee at home and didn’t need to do it. We were (barely) able to get what we needed.

Shortly after settling into her room, the doctor came in and asked a few questions. Mom went a-mile-a-minute telling him not only about her stomach problems, but about every other problem as well. He was very patient and listened to mom as she went on. We, of course, explained her situation (and her dementia) and he told us that her urine sample came back showing that she was “severely” dehydrated (his words, not moms!!) He explained that she was spilling out ketones; in normal urine, it should test negative for ketones. Mom’s tested at the highest level possible. When urine spills ketones, it means dehydration and a lack of proper fats and nutrients to the body. She also had a slight urinary tract infection. He told us that he’d start an IV to hydrate her as well as give a round of antibiotics to treat the UTI. He tried explaining this to mom as well. Of course she had no idea what an IV was and was expecting a magic pill to cure her ills.

As the nurse came in to set up mom’s IV, I became a bit nervous. My teeth chatter when I get really nervous and try as I might, I couldn’t stop the chattering. I felt like I was back in there with my small child, anticipating the surprise and pain they would feel at the poke of the needle. I wasn’t sure how she would react and I was praying she wouldn’t throw a big fit. A 2 year old is easy enough to hold down…a 52 year old…not so much.

We explained as we went along, trying to capture mom’s attention. She rambled on and on about the trip she wants to take to Utah because “it’s so good there” and she has family members she’d like to see. A good distraction I suppose, but I didn’t want her to be caught off guard and freak out. I followed her eyes, made contact, and said,

“Mom, she’s going to put a needle in your arm, like a shot. It’s going to hurt just a little bit, okay? Just hold still.”

The nurse did the same (explaining) but I’m not sure that mom really understood. When the needle went in, mom flinched.

“Owe! That hurt! Why did you do that? Why are you doing that to me? Owe! Don’t do that, owe, that hurts!”

Unfortunately, the first attempt to start the IV didn’t work, and she had to try again on another vein, with the same protests. As soon as the pain subsided, however, mom went right back into her conversation about Utah without skipping a beat. Despite her protests, mom did really well and held still while the nurse did what she needed to do. Thank goodness!!

Then came the hard part. Waiting. And waiting. Mom kept asking when we could leave, complaining that she was uncomfortable and cold. She ended up with 5 blankets and her fleece jacket on top of her, but she was still cold. We tried to make her comfortable and pointed to the fluid bag, explaining that all of that “medicine” had to drip down through her IV and into her body before we could leave. I lost track of how many times we explained that to her.

“Where’s the doctor? Why do they keep leaving? I wanna go home now! I need to go home. They need to let me go home.”

When the nurses would come in to check on the bags, mom would start on them,

“Can you take this off now please, I wanna go home? I don’t know why I still have to be here.”

As the fluid was finishing up, the doctor made his way back in to check on mom.

“Oh, can you please let me go now? And take this thing off so we can leave? I’m ready to go home. And I’m so cold too.”

“I can get you another blanket,” the doctor said, exiting the room briefly to round up another blanket.

Mom became agitated. “Where did he go now? Why does he keep leaving??”

She kicked her foot off the edge of her bed and kicked at the curtain in an attempt to look out the door for the doctor. Just then, he stepped back in and mom let out a sheepish grin.

“Oh, there you are. Please take this off and let me go home now.”

“Okay, we’re almost done and you can go home.”

They could see she was getting restless, so as the last drops of the fluid made their way down into her IV, they began their check out process in an effort to pacify mom. They checked her vitals, printed out the at-home care instructions and input some notes in their computer…as slowly as they could. Mom was overjoyed when it came time to take out the needle (though she was not very amused that they wrapped her arm again where the puncture was…the dressing over the IV had been irritating her all night!)

Nearly 3 hours later after our adventure had begun, mom was back at home. I’ll be heading over there shortly, and hopefully she is up and doing much better today. This brings the future to question…how many more times will we end up in Urgent Care or the ER, hooked up to an IV? Will this become a weekly or bi-monthly procedure? No amount of explanation can convince mom that she needs to eat or drink. Once she starts feeling the slightest bit nauseous, which can be for a number of reasons, she quits eating and drinking and the viscous cycle begins. I plan on buying some ketostix over the counter at the pharmacy, which will help in monitoring the dehydration. We need to look into more medical options and see about a home nurse coming in weekly to check on her. I’m not sure how to begin that process, but it’s on the to-do list. I suppose this is just one of the many issues we are going to have to deal with from here on out in this ugly journey of dementia.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mom’s Stomach Issues

Mom has been having stomach issues for quite some time now. She will go days, and even weeks, with little problem and then suddenly a stomach “attack” comes on. Lately, these episodes are becoming closer together.

An episode usually starts in the evening or in the middle of the night. Usually. Mom starts to feel “severe” and in no time she is hovering over her small wastebasket at her bedside, gagging and throwing up phlegm and liquid. By the next day, she refuses to eat because she is afraid that if she does, it will upset her stomach and she will throw up again. So it continues for a few days: mom, throwing up while taking her usual medicines and refusing to eat.

I believe it’s a cycle. Mom’s stomach is upset. Mom throws up. Mom refuses to eat which makes her stomach even more upset causing her to become nauseous and eventually throw up again.

The part that is unclear is why she is getting sick in the first place. We’ve brainstormed many ideas: maybe she’s developed a lactose intolerance (we switched her milk to almond milk, unbeknownst to her) or maybe she’s eating spoiled food (this could still be a possibility, but we try our hardest to keep up on cleaning out the fridge). We have taken her to a specialist (the “stomach doctor”) who has done ultrasounds and CT scans. Nothing shows up. Yesterday, dad had another appointment with this doctor to follow up with past issues and again, he said that there was nothing obvious that was showing up that could be a source for her sickness. He recommended that they put mom under anesthesia and do some sort of exploratory procedure to see if anything else can be seen. Dad told him that he would consider it, but hasn’t made a decision on whether or not to put mom through this.

There are pros and cons to the procedure. The pro would be that we could possibly find a cause for her stomach issues. The cons are many: how will mom do under anesthesia? Could it cause further complications with mom’s condition or could it “push along” the disease process? If they do find something-say, maybe cancer-what good would that knowledge do [I know this sounds horrible, but if indeed they did find cancer would it be worth putting mom through chemo in her condition and with the quality of life that she has to look forward to?] These are all things to consider.

The biggest question remains: if we put her through this test, are they actually going to find something or is a lot of this in mom’s head? With semantic dementia, hypochondria is a big problem. This was explained to me at our last visit with UCLA, that with this form of dementia, their mind is losing memory/recognition of what certain bodily functions mean. For example, mom’s stomach may growl or hurt because she is hungry, yet she doesn’t understand that what she is feeling is related to hunger; she becomes confused with what she is feeling. Because of this lack of recognition, they become preoccupied with and fixated on every sensation they feel. Could it be that mom is simply hungry but cannot recognize the hunger pain? Rather than eating and putting an end to the hunger pains, mom starves herself for days, only occasionally drinking Slim Fast, Ensure or water, all the while continuing to take her medications. It becomes a cycle: not eating, feeling sick, not eating because she feels sick, feeling more sick because she’s not eating.

Within the past 2-3 months, mom’s eating habits have significantly worsened. She hardly eats (which could explain her increase in stomach problems). She’s losing more weight. She drinks Slim Fast for breakfast, Ensure most nights for dinner and eats only a sandwich at lunch time. Sometimes she will snack on fruit or Poppycock in the afternoon. I know that when I do not get enough to eat, I sure don’t feel good! Despite our efforts in getting her eat, she keeps herself on a mostly liquid diet. She doesn’t recognize most foods anymore (the other day she didn’t even know what chicken tacos were…and that was one of her ‘staple’ foods only a few months ago!) and when we try to convince her to eat something we’ve made, she protests,

“No, different things now upset my stomach, no. I don’t know how that will make my stomach feel.”

I have tried telling her over and over and OVER that her stomach upset is likely due to her medication with her liquid diet. She will hear nothing about it. No amount of coaxing or explaining will convince her. We have tried everything we can think of. We are at a loss of what to do. :(

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mom’s Disneyland Adventure

For the past 2 years, mom has wanted Disneyland tickets for her birthday. Last year, my siblings and I bought both her and dad tickets to go. She went and had a good time, but was tired by late afternoon/early evening. But from what I remember, she went on quite a few rides and reminisced about her earlier days at the popular amusement park.

This year, as her birthday approached, mom kept no mystery as to what she wanted for her gift.

“And last year how you got me those tickets to go to Disneyland, I want to have those again so will you buy them for me too please?” (When she asks questions such as these, they generally sound more like demands than questions, ha ha).

Of course I wanted to make all of her dreams come true. But the reality is, my dad is the one who would have to take her. I wanted to make sure he was up to it. The nice guy that he is, he said that he had already been considering taking her.

Mom’s birthday was in May, and I told her I was sending her to Disneyland for her birthday gift. Every time I’ve seen her since, she asks me where her ticket is and laments,

“I just don’t know why your dad won’t take me yet.” [Side note: dad has been really busy running his business].

This week, dad was in between jobs and decided he’d take mom to Disneyland. When I asked him how it went, he told me he would write down his story and email to me (and my siblings). I asked him if I could share this on my blog. He was hesitant at first, but I was able to talk him into it ;) I think it’s good for my readers to sometimes see things in the perspective of other members of my family, especially my dad. Some parts are a little sad and some parts will make you laugh out loud. So here it is; thank you, dad, for opening up and letting me share this.

“Mom got a ticket for California Adventure from Cassandra last month for her birthday. For the last month she's been like a child "when can we go", "It'll be good exercise for me too" "being active I won't even need to take a nap".

Finally the day came when I could take her. I got up at my usual time, took care of some things, then woke her at 730. We had issues about taking the purse vs. taking the buttpack, as she would normally do. She wanted to take everything, finally consolidating to the buttpack; I gave in on taking the three full pill bottles. We left at 8:45, I got a little turned around in Anahiem, mom kept trying to be the navigator, "you're not going the correct way".......Blah, blah blah. We arrived at the Woody parking lot, very unfamiliar territory for her. She was very insistent that I wasn't at the right place. We took the shuttle, got to the gate by 10.

She wasn't too keen on opening the pack and letting security have a look, but we finally got into California Adventure and started walking around.

"This isn't looking correctly to me, No, No this isn't the right state, this isn't right." We walked around finally got on the white water raft ride. She got wet, protesting loudly how unhappy it made her. We walked around for about an hour. She couldn't find the "severe rides" she remembered. She wanted to be at Disneyland, So I go to customer services, explain the situation, 15 minutes later we're in Disneyland.

We went on Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted House and walked around looking for the "severe ride" which I think she was thinking Big Thunder Mountain, which was closed and fenced off so it was mostly out of view. Lunch time, medicine, walking around more, nothing seemed to interest her, not shopping, not any of the rides. We went to see about space mountain,(not that she would've gone on it) but even fast pass was three hours out. She seemed to enjoy Michael Jackson at Captain EO. Nothing else interested her so by 3:00 we were heading out.

While at California Adventure, nature called, so I hunted down the nearest restroom, told mom "wait right here" so I go in standing at the urinal checking out the tile work when I hear "So this is the men’s bathroom too?" Horrified I turned to find none other than mom standing there wringing her hands together as she does. It's amazing how many thoughts shot through my head at once.....well at least they have partitions....I quickly looked to see how many of the dozen or so people noticed a woman in there....I wanted to be mad, but simply told her "you can't be in here go wait outside please.....I remembered Rod Steward’s line from Every Picture Tells a Story "make the best time out of bad , just laugh it off" So I did. Looking back, it was quite humorous. She has such an innocence about her.

I feel bad for her that she wasn't fully able to enjoy her long anticipated trip, but I don't know how much she realizes the difference, between what is and what used to be. She seemed content to have spent such a short time there.”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Waiting for the Storm to Pass

This summer marks 10 years that my hubby and I said our “I Do’s”. Every year, we take a weekend away somewhere-just the two of us-to celebrate our years together. Hitting the 10 year milestone this year, we felt it was only appropriate to do something big. For the past year, we’ve been brainstorming places to venture away. We both love the water and the sunshine and decided on a popular tourist destination that we haven’t yet been to: Cancun, Mexico.

For months we planned this trip. We researched the best sites to see and places to visit during our stay. We greatly anticipated our getaway and I prepared by shopping for swimsuits and daydreaming about the long hours I’d spend laying out on the beach, soaking up the sun with a good book in hand. For an entire week I would cast away my worries and the stress of everything else going on in my life and just enjoy being carefree and having uninterrupted time with my husband. This vacation was all about us;  it was about sun, fun and relaxation. And boy was I looking forward to it!

Late Friday night (a week ago) I kissed my kids good-bye and hopped on a plane with my other half to begin our week of Paradise. We arrived in Cancun Saturday afternoon…along with Andrea-a tropical storm.

We didn’t realize, at first, that a tropical storm was following us in. We’ve vacationed in the tropics before and have had storms come in, stay for a couple hours, and then head out. I figured this rain would be the same. So I wasn’t terribly concerned when we ventured out on a shuttle to the Sister Resort of where we were staying. While we were there, the rains came down harder and harder, so much that when we were ready to go back to our hotel, the shuttle driver refused to drive on the roads and told us we’d have to wait a couple hours or walk. We attempted to walk. Oh how foolish we were.

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The roads were so flooded that we ended up taking off our shoes and wading in calf-deep water to find the public bus stop. We hopped on the bus and were SOAKED by the time we made it back to our hotel. We got a good laugh out of it. After all, the storm was sure to be over and in the morning I’d be laying on the beach sipping my (virgin) strawberry daiquiri and soaking up the sun.

Well, the morning came. But the sun did not. In fact, for the next 4 days it rained. It rained and it poured as Tropical Storm Andrea unleashed her fury on Cancun. At first, I decided that the rain was not going to hold me back from having fun. We booked our trip to see the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, followed by snorkeling at Xel Ha. But I have to admit, the rain really put a damper on everything. It was hard to relax and have fun with rain pounding down and blowing into my eyes. The wind, along with the rain, made it too cold to fully enjoy the experience in the water. There was supposed to be sunshine. I was supposed to be getting a suntan and taking naps in the hammocks. This was NOT how I envisioned my trip to be.

SAM_0050 Still, we tried to have fun. We had to modify our original plans and we did have some fun. There were moments that the rain stopped and we were able to swim in the pool (under the gray clouds) or shop at the flea market. We took advantage of the hotel’s spa and got a couple’s massage and joined in the night life activities at the resort (all of which was indoors). But we also had many moments of despair as our plans were constantly changing and put on hold due to inclement weather. By Wednesday morning, the rain was so bad that I was sure a hurricane was coming. For the 2nd day in a row, our horseback riding trip had been cancelled as had most other trips because the storm was too debilitating to drive through. I laid in bed all morning, covers over my head as I cried about my ruined plans (and lack of sunshine!!!) We even debated throwing in the towel and coming home early. What was the point of staying through the storm?

That night was karaoke night in the hotel lounge. We walked down (through the rain) and met up with some other friends we had met the previous day at the pool. They asked if we had still planned on attempting the day trip we wanted to take to XPlor the following day.

“We just don’t see the sense in paying all that money to go just to be rained on,” Jeff explained.

“Yeah…we figured it was either be rained on at the hotel, or be rained on while doing something fun,” our new friend answered back.

I contemplated what she said. I looked outside to see that the rains had stopped and the trees were still. My brother, also known as “Weatherman Joe” (due to his obsession with tracking tropical storms), told me that by Thursday the storm should be making it’s way up to Florida. I wasn’t holding my breath, but I also knew that I couldn’t handle another depressing day in the hotel. And I was tired of cancelling trips!! Jeff and I briefly discussed the day trip and decided we’d take the chance and book XPlor for the next day. We had determined, by this point, that no hurricane was coming and the worst case scenario would be that we got rained on. Half of the day trip was swimming and rafting in caves anyway, so rain wouldn’t really make a difference. I decided that no matter the outcome, I was going to have a good attitude and make it a great day!

T13-060613-135657 Thursday morning, for the first time since we had arrived (and our last full day in Cancun), we woke up to blue skies and the sun shining overhead. That put a huge smile on my face! We met our shuttle and journeyed to XPlor where we spent the day in sunshine with not a drop of rain! We ziplined, swam in caves, went on rafts through caves with stalactites and stalagmites and took a turn driving an all-terrain vehicle through caves and over bridges and mud. It was awesome. Had it rained, we still would have enjoyed the day because I told myself that were gonna have fun!! The sun was an added bonus!

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I’ve thought about this vacation as a metaphor for my life. 10 years ago, I was on top of the world. I was madly in love, getting married and starting my new life. I had a perfect vision of what my life would be like. I had everything mapped out; I anticipated what was to come and daydreamed about what life would be like in the future. I never saw the storm coming. I never anticipated the heartbreaks that would come my way, the things I have had to go through over the past few years and even more recently, the past few months. I never imagined life to be this way and I have to admit, I wasn’t quite prepared for it. Tropical Storm Dementia has altered my course.

There have been times when I have resolved to stand strong and make the best of the situation. And there have been times when I have laid in my bed, covers over my head, and cried at the storm that was looming overhead. Last week was another reminder to me that when the storm comes, I need to buck up and make the best of it. Had I stayed in that hotel bed and continued feeling sorry for myself, I would have missed out on a fabulous day. There are moments now when I feel consumed with sadness. I admit that some days, it would be much easier to stay in bed than to face that dark cloud. But if I give up and let those feelings take over, I will miss out on making precious memories.

This morning I was sitting in my class at church when I saw my mom standing outside the open door of the room (we attend the same church building; but our services are at different times and our last hour of church overlaps their first hour of church…if that makes sense;) ). Mom knows exactly where to find me when she arrives and always likes to find me before she seats herself for her own service. She peered inside the room, saying “Cassandra? Is she here…Cassandra?”

I excused myself and went out to the hall to greet my mom. It warmed my heart to see her (after being a week away from her) and to see her smiling and genuinely happy to see me. My heart was filled with love for my mom and  I gave her a hug and told her that I had missed her. In that moment, I felt so grateful that my mom is still here with me. Although the person she once was is fading away, she is still here and she is teaching me great lessons of patience, service and unconditional love. I am trying my hardest, each day, to rise above the storm.