Friday, September 26, 2008

Letters to Mom

I have created a site dedicated to my mother, a place where I can write letters and send them out into the vast world of the Internet. It is a place where I can talk about the things that I normally would have discussed with my mom, where I can send letters out into the ethereal world of the Internet.

I am working on creating a similar setup for others who wish to send similar letters off to the world of the Internet, but it is not quite ready yet - I'm finalizing a site design for it at the moment. Hopefully it will be ready for launch by the end of the weekend.

For now you can find my Letters to Mom site on a subdomain of Family Caregiver Info.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Personal Loss

In Memory of My Mother

My mom died on September 14th 2008 of heart failure. It was an unexpected and devastating blow to my entire family. I have been trying to keep focused, to stay strong for my family. I promised my mom that I would take care of them all, that I would make sure that everything ....

It has been a hell of a week for me, but I need to start getting back to work. I can't take care of people if I'm not working, so I have promised myself that I would get back to work no matter how difficult it is to focus on working. Particularly when I am not getting enough sleep or food at the moment. I am catching sleep when I can, and making myself eat as much as I am able, but I know I am not getting enough of either one.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tis the time of year for canning stuff

My sister came up last night to visit with our parents and while she was here she got to talking about wanting to borrow my water bath canning deal to do some canning, so that sent me on a search for my water bath canning basket. Took me a long time to finally remember I had put it on top of the refrigerator when I used the canning kettle one day to heat water on the stove.

Now the canning stuff is all collected together in there and ready for use. I am thinking that I will pick some cranberries this week and make some cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Would have liked to have got up and picked blueberries too, but did not make it up the mountain to do that this year.

Rains just made getting out and about nearly impossible most of the time this year, and when you add in the cost of gas at $40 for half a tank of gas in the car, it's not easy to get excited about just driving around in the rain. Might do that today though, my sister promised our dad that she'd come up today and take him for a Sunday drive. Looking very muggy out there though, so I am not sure they won't call that one off for a couple of days. We'll see, calling it off for a couple days would suit me, since I could not go along today and I am about the only one that can help my dad get in and out of the car and stuff, but I'm more than willing to let her try it if she and him decide they want to go ahead and go without me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Be aware of the medications that your care recipient is taking

My dad had an appointment with his doctor in town the other day, and she gave him a prescription for a medication that she thought might help alleviate the pain he felt in his left arm and leg. It was a good effort, and one that I felt was well worth testing out - until I got the medication from the pharmacy and was able to look up what the side effects were for it.

I won't name the medication specifically, but I will note that one of the side effects on the pharmacy handout was suicidal thoughts. My mental brakes went on right there and I decided that was probably not something I want my dad to be taking, so I did some more research into the medication.

Common reactions, according to Epocrates Online, include:

Abnormal thinking
Accidental injury

Okay, there were a lot more, but I think that is enough to make me shy away from giving that medication to my dad as a test 'just to see if it helps the nerve pain he's feeling'. Add in that it has an interaction with the pain medication that he is taking that may lessen the effectiveness of that pain medication, and the "caution in elderly patients" warning I found at Epocrates Online, and I called back the doctor's office and told the nurse that I was not going to be giving him the medication until after I had consulted the doctor once again.

I'm glad that there are sites such as Epocrates Online where I can check for medication interactions and side effects, since the handouts that I get from the pharmacy are just the basics about medications. A few of them I had not even known what time of the day they should be taken, when later on I discovered that it does make a difference in the time the medicine is taken.

Intended for clinicians, the Epocrates Online website is also a very valuable resource for family caregivers wanting to make sure that the medications their care recipients get are not going to have adverse interactions with medications they are already prescribed.

Since my dad recently quit smoking, medications for stopping smoking are one of the things I have been looking at for helping make it easier for him and my mom, so being able to look up things such as Chantix and find out what the common and possible serious side effects of them are before considering them as a medication that my parents should be taking as a stop smoking aid. In the case of Chantix, I know that it would be a bad choice for my dad because of serious reactions such as anemia, GI bleed, and depression / suicidality.

I understand that you can not expect drugs not to have some kind of side effects and serious potential reactions, however, it is better in my experience to know what those potential side effects are and in particular what interactions the drug has with other drugs. Particularly when, like with my dad, there are multiple doctors that have written prescriptions for a variety of conditions.

This announcement was paid for by Epocrates. And while this is a paid posting, it is also a very important issue that I feel every family caregiver needs to be aware of and take the extra step it requires to get to know what their care recipient's medications are and what interactions they have with other medications. It takes only a few moments to check new prescriptions at Epocrates Online, but those few minutes could be the few that make all the difference.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Talking to Alaska's Senator Stevens

The other day Alaska's Senator Stevens did a phone call town meeting deal, where he was talking on the phone with people all over the State. I really wanted to ask him about HR 1161, the Family Caregiver Security Act of 2007, but the call had to be ended before they got the chance to get to me.

Ah well, I just need to write him a nice long letter and explain my position to him about that stuff and explain why it is important to help family caregivers. Even if they only helped the ones that are providing direct full-time in-home care, it opens things up for all caregivers to have some kind of voice for their situations.

I think I'll make up a area over at Family Caregiver Info where statements about being a caregiver can be collected together and senators can be sent to see why the bills mean what they do to family caregivers.

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Computer start up issues

Well, I know I ain't been here for a while, but this time I have a good excuse. My computer started having serious issues last Sunday, and I have been fighting to perform CPU/CPR on it.

The problem seemed to be a program that Windows XP was not getting along with, but trying to reset to a date before the program was loaded did not help, nor did Spybot, or virus scans, or a hundred other things I tried. I finally ended up resetting the computer to factory specs last night and am now going to spend the weekend getting it set back up to how it is supposed to be set up - getting my programs back in place and all that fun stuff.

I lost a lot of stuff, but thankfully I think I may not have to replace the computer itself. Won't know for sure for a couple more days though.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008, a division of the privately owned Allegro Enterprises of Tempe, AZ, offers over 55,000 products for home health care with an easy to navigate website that allows visitors to shop by condition or to sort the products into categories.

In addition to their offerings of medical supplies, also has product guides and a free eCatalog that provides subscribers with limited time specials and discounts.

Also take a look at their Auto Re-Order feature, that can be used for products you need to receive repeat deliveries of, letting you set them to be delivered to you at pre-set intervals.

Founded in 1996, the independently owned now serves over 1 million customers.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I went into town the other day and picked up some things from the store, when I was getting ready to check out I saw some roses marked down by the checkout counter, so I picked up a small bouquet of three of them for my parents. They are lovely seep red roses that are just starting to open up. I would love to share a picture of them, but my camera is broken and I can't afford to get a new one yet.

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