Tips From Glenna
This little corner of the web site is for me to share some of my experiences as a
caregiver with all of you. So many people write to us daily and in reviewing the
questions, I felt I could save you some effort and time with some handy tips that
I've learned the hard way.
Remember, you are not alone even though you may feel like it right now. We can help one another. Please let me offer you some encouragement.
I will add notes when something new comes along so just glance at the end of this
section once in a while. You might find a new tidbit periodically. May God bless you on your journey as a caregiver,
No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever prepared me for the emotional changes that would occur in both Eric and I. All of a sudden something would hit Eric and my "mountain of strength" would melt into tears. I couldn't believe it. It seemed totally foreign to me. It was both scary and heart breaking.
Since he has been working on his program for improvement, he is no longer so sensitive about everything. Thank God. I didn't quite know what to do with him when that happened. He could be laughing one minute and then have it turn into sobbing...and all I could do was watch helplessly. There was no consoling him when that happened. I am so glad that is over for us both.
We both had to deal with anger in our own individual ways. We were not only disappointed, but mad as hell that this awful disease could attack one of the world's greatest human beings...Eric. What about all the plans we had for retirement and the future? It is natural to be mad...we have every right to be mad. We just need to learn what to do with the anger...to put it to good use instead of letting it be a negative in our lives.
I noticed as we started the ALS battle that Eric didn't care about the same things he used to care about. In fact, often he says "I don't know" to my questions just like he had had a lobotomy or something. Now this man is about the smartest human being I know so I don't like hearing "I don't know" to everything. What I realize now is that what he is saying is "I don't care about that anymore." I see now that so many things that I feel are important just are not to him. This has taken some getting used to for me and I'm still working on it.
Speaking of that, the role reversals are horrendous. All of a sudden, I was in charge of oil changes in the car, catching all the spiders, flies and bugs in the house, handling banking and financial affairs, etc. along with all the other duties I have in running the household. Thank goodness Eric still handles the stock market and that is his way to contribute to the family finances. He is so darned smart and knowledgeable in an area that I'm a dunce.
As soon as I realized the long road ahead, and that Eric and I were in for the battle of our lives some, I quickly decided I couldn't handle this "monster" alone (ALS that is, not Eric.) I looked for a support group that I could turn to so I could learn about caregiving from the emotional and practical aspects. I quickly found that there was nothing available in my area so I started looking for resources.
Another PALS' wife told me about the Well Spouse Foundation. I contacted them and found out there was a need for a Well Spouse Support Group in my area so I stepped up to the plate and volunteered. This support group is for any caregiver who cares for their spouse with a long-term disability or illness and not just for ALS families. No matter what the illness, the caregiver is affected the same.
I did find that local hospitals often had a caregivers support group that would include everyone caring for anyone ill such as children and not just spouses. I needed a group specifically for spouses myself.
For the past six years, this group has been a Godsend to me. We meet twice a month, once for lunch because we seldom get out ourselves, and once for a scheduled meeting. My local church offered a room to meet in and even was willing to advertise the support group's existence. Each of us brought our experiences to share so I learned a good deal on the physical aspects of caregiving as well as an opportunity to laugh and cry together about our daily hassles.
If you would like to contact the Well Spouse Foundation to locate the nearest support group or if you would like to start your own group, please go to the web site below:
CLAY FOOT BATHS
Let me tell you about my first experience with a clay foot bath. When we were done, my kitchen and I were all a total disaster. I had clay all over the walls, floor, sink and just everywhere. It took smarty pants Eric to figure out how to do it without a colossal mess...here it is the secret to the right way to do it without a mess:
I do Eric's in the kitchen. Using two plastic dishpans, I fill one with warm water about three inches deep. In a DEEP bowl, I fill the bowl with rather warm water deep enough to cover the depth of my electric beaters. Clay is not toxic so it is safe to use your regular electric mixer. Only thing with that, I bought a second mixer because I manage to splatter clay all over the unit itself and it is just easier to have a designated "clay foot bath" mixer on hand. I think it cost me less than $20 at Wal Mart.
Now with the deep bowl full of warm water, slowly sprinkle the clay into the water while the beaters are going. Do not lift the beaters higher than the depth of the water or you will have clay on the ceiling. The water and clay mixture will still be a little lumpy but that is OK. Pour into the warm water dish pan and stir together. Put feet in for appropriate amount of time.
When you are done, fill second dish pan with nice warm water and simply slide the clay dish pan aside and move feet from clay pay to clean water pan. I find that putting a bath towel under both dish pans makes it easy to slip the pans and move the feet. Just wash the feet removing the clay and then dry with the towel that is already on the floor. The feet will feel soft and clean....like a baby's butt!
I pour the clay down my kitchen sink with the water running full blast and so far no problem with that. Put the beaters and mixing bowl in the dishwasher, wipe off the mixer unit and dish pans, and wallah...you are done and you don't have to hose down the kitchen.
My first reaction to an ALL ORGANIC diet was "What in the world am I gonna cook?" First of all I discovered lots of fresh vegetables which I steam for Eric every night for dinner. Going to "ho-hum" health food stores was really discouraging. I found their organic food looked like my food at home just before I threw it out...old, dried up and very unappetizing. Then I discovered local farmer's markets which had some organic food that was fresh. Finally, we were blessed with a Clark's Nutrition health food store....a supermarket of good food. I now shop there about two or three times a week. Some of the food is a little more expensive, but it is better tasting and better for you. I would like to share some good things I have discovered that makes it all so much more fun.
You have to experiment....not all experiments are successful. You should have seen the way my steel cut oatmeal blew up in the micro-wave....I definitely don't recommend micro-waving oatmeal.
I found small pearl tapioca under the brand name Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods. It calls for 2% milk, salt, eggs, sugar and vanilla and I was able to find all of those things that were 100% organic. Here is the surprise. This is the very best tapioca pudding that I've ever eaten....so yummy that I have to make a double batch each time. Try it. It will really surprise you.
Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
I am not telling you about the tapioca and the cookies to suggest that these are good for you. The main purpose here is to let you know the VARIETY of organic food that is available. Also, Eric thinks that a little sweetness in your life is OK as long as it is all organic.
Organic Coconut Oil
My friend, Becky, introduced me to Spectrum Naturals organic Coconut Oil. This has become a main staple in my kitchen. It is delicious for sauteing and can be used as a substitute for shortening. Get this: you can even place jar in a pan of warm water to liquefy and then message into skin or apply to hair for one hour or so the jar says. I haven't tried that one yet. Tonight I substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil when cooking my artichokes.
The other night we had fried chicken for the first time in a long time. We don't eat a lot of fried food, but I think if you fry chicken at a low or moderate heat and use organic coconut oil, it may be OK. We prefer to skin the chicken parts first and dip them in organic egg and flour before putting them in the pan. Our chicken came out very tastey and it had no greasy taste at all. You will love the flavor of the coconut oil.
Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
I have been experimenting and found a wonderful vegetable dish that we both like very much. I cut organic carrots into slices and Brussels sprouts in half and steam them for 30 minutes. Eric likes his veggies soft so you might like to adjust the cooking time to your taste. In another pan I saute finely minced dry onion in either butter or the coconut oil and when the two are cooked, drain off the water from the veggies and combine with the cooked onions. What a great taste. Try it. You can do this with any vegetable. Steamed only can get boring.
I finally found an organic mayonnaise that tastes the best we've tried so far. We had tried several brands and Eric had me throw them all out because their taste was lousy. Tried a brand called Spectrum....yuk! That one hit the trash too.
The best so far is called Organic VEGENAISE. It is egg free, dairy free, no preservatives or cholesterol. It was in the refrigerated section of the health food store. I do make Eric an organic ham and cheese sandwich on organic bread with mayo once a week while I go to Bible study.
Found a delicious organic peanut butter made by American Classic and you can buy it crunchy or creamy either one. I put a dab in celery for Eric as a treat.
When Eric decided we had to get rid of ALL TOXINS inside our home, that meant I had to throw out my old faithful spray bottles and cans of chemicals for cleaning. I was really at a loss for what to use. I found I could use white vinegar for many cleaning chores but it streaked on mirrors especially.
Just recently I was given a microfiber cloth for cleaning. It is called "Mystic Maid" and is fabulous. All you have to do is use plain tap water to wet the cloth, wring it out completely, wipe the surface without drying it, and wallah!!! a clean streak free surface when it dries. I use it on computer screens, TV's, mirrors, windows, or any glass surface. Rinse it out often and rewring each time. You can throw the cloth in the washer but line dry--don't put in the dryer.
Plain water, no chemicals, and Eric likes the results. Just thought I'd share.
I've had requests for my Buttermilk Salad Dressing so thought I'd post it here to share with you all. Here goes:
GLENNA'S RANCH BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
Keep all the following in a jar:
1 1/2 T dried parsley
1/2 T salt
1/2 T dried chives
1/4 T dried oregano
1/4 T dried tarragon
1/2 T garlic powder
1/2 T lemon pepper
Use one Tablespoon of the above mixed spices to the following:
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C buttermilk
Whisk all together and store in refrigerator.
It has been a long time since I shared any new tidbits with you so here goes some miscellaneous things that I have discovered lately:
100% CERTIFIED ORGANIC FRUIT
Found a wonderful source for organic fruit. They also have gift packs of gourmet cheeses, crackers, and sausages; premium chocolates and sweets; savory nuts and other delicious treats. Some special friends sent us a gift basket over the Holidays and everything was exceptional:
Go to web site www.CherryMoonFarms.com or call 1-888-378-2758
People often ask us about what we use for laundry detergent. My local organic food store carries a whole line of "Seventh Generation" products. They have a natural citrus scent or lavender scent liquid detergent. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and hypo-allergenic. It is the best thing I've run across for doing my laundry. They have a web site to learn about their other cleaning and paper products: www.seventhgeneration.com
STAIN & ODOR REMOVER
This is a natural enzymatic product to eliminate pet stains & odors, urine, blood, food stains, etc. called "Citra-Spot." It contains no harsh chemicals. Works great when my cat throws up.
ORGANIC BEDS & BEDDING
In Eric's quest to find out just what is toxic in our home environment, he discovered a company called Llifekind Products. They have over 100 organic and naturally safer products available. We have already purchased organic pillows, sheets, blankets and mattress pads. We have a brand new organic bed ordered which will arrive in two days. Our old mattresses are about 25 years old and who knows what lives in there. You can call for a catalog: 800 284-4983. You can ask for Sylvia on Ext. 217 who was very helpful when we called. They have a web site www.lifekind.com
I found a product called "Orange Mate Mist" which is an all natural air freshener. It is non-aerosol without man-made chemicals. It does not say it is organic, but it was the best I could find.
Also made by "Seventh Generation" this product is non-toxic, biodegradable and contains no chlorine. It has a natural citrus scent and it cleans and deodorizes counters, sinks, walls, and works great on my oven and range.
GLASS & SURFACE CLEANER
This is an all-natural, non-toxic, hypoallergenic glass cleaner by "Mountain Green." It is streak-free and fragrance-free. Does a good job on windows and mirrors as well as stainless steel. Their web site is: www.mtngreen.com
That's all for now.....Glenna