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New Year: New Lessons About Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Louise Behiel | 23 comments

On Thursday, I took my mom to another specialist’s appointment.  She has Alzheimer’s Disease, a form of Dementia.

Dementia is the scourge of the modern era.  As more and more of us live longerr, the illness is increasingly common. We, the sandwich generation, are dealing with adult children and grandchildren while also dealing with our failing parents.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Most of us think we know about the illness, but as my mother’s path into this terminal illness continues, I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know.

AD begins with the gradual loss of short term memory.  Mom tells the same story over and over and over again.  Usually in a five minute period.  We don’t have conversations. We are taken hostage by her need to share the details of her life – details she doesn’t remember sharing.

But AD is more than simple forgetfulness. (You can all wipe your brow now – this probably doesn’t apply to you.) AD begins with the normal forgetfulness of aging but morphs into a monster than takes away short term memory, eventually robbing us of our ability to recognize our loved ones. If we live long enough (and this is happening more often) we end up in a fetal position, unable to feed ourselves or control our body functions.

AD includes the loss of the ability to think and reason.  It is critical to have a personal directive, which names an agent to act on your behalf, and an enduring power of attorney to manage your finances. In a perfect world these are two different people, who can keep your best interests at heart and yet have different responsibilities. (More about this in a future post.)

AD may include a change of personality.  People go from sweet and kind to absolute terrors, nasty, bitchy and mean-spirited.  I have participated in a discussion of the placement of a white-haired ninety year old woman who’d become increasingly violent as her disease progressed.  She had become a real threat to the other residents in her long-term care facility. Unfortunately, nobody wanted this lady as a resident but she was much too far gone to live alone or with family.  Eventually, we were able to find a place, but only under a bit of duress and a living arrangement with a higher number than usual lock down hours – because the lady couldn’t be allowed to wonder the halls.

AD usually includes fixation. People get an idea in their heads and that becomes their only reality. For my mother it’s diarrhoea. To hear her tell it, she can’t leave her apartment because of this problem, and yet there is no evidence of chronic, on-going bowel problems. This fixation may center on noises around them, or bad neighbors, or adult children who are rude, never visit or are stealing.  The idea is irrelevant. What matters is that it becomes part of the fabric of their reality, even though the rest of us don’t see the same thing.

AD may also include depression and anxiety. Both are fairly predictable when we consider the realities of the illness.  Who wouldn’t be depressed if you honestly believed no one came to visit? If you honestly believe that you are all alone, isolated and forgotten?

And of course, if you’re unable to remember how to do simple tasks (recently mom couldn’t remember how to use her washing machine) you will be subject to panic attacks. In mom’s case this has resulted in one trip, via ambulance to the emergency department because her pulse skyrocketed and she had resulting chest pain.

Aging is not for sissies. And the diagnosis of Dementia is difficult. Alzheimer’s is a huge challenge – for the individual and their family. I’m lucky. We have a big family and we all play a role in helping mom, with each of us taking different roles at different times. But it is important to remember that dealing with this illness is a long haul. (Average life expectancy can be from five to twenty years.) Pace yourself. Be gentle. Know that it is not always easy and some days are plain awful.

I will be sharing more of what I learn and experience as we travel this road. Hopefully we can all learn something. I’m hoping these posts will help me remember that my mom has an illness. Her behaviour is not her fault. I can’t expect her to change. There is no point losing my patience; nor is there a point in sliding into her dramas.  Because none of this is real – it’s all about Alzheimer’s Disease and the price it demands from victim, family and friends.

 

 

Happy New Year and Blog of the Year

Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Award, Louise Behiel | 23 comments

 

What a wonderful year it’s going to be.  How do I know?  Because I decided. I set the intention. I made the plan.  <vbg>

 

The year started off wonderfully in my house. About 11:30 last night, my daughter called from a party they attended with some friends they met at my granddaughter’s school.  If I was up, they were going to come over on their way home and welcome in the new year with me.  What a treat!  I was working on my chapter’s books (I’m the treasurer) but put them away faster than you could say “Auld Lang Syne”.

The girls were still going strong, although the little one fell asleep at 12:05.  I’m sure they slept long and hard last night.  They didn’t stay long but it was such a treat to see them.  And today, for excitement, I’m going to finish the books.  LOL

I’ll post some information about setting goals and making plans next week, but for now, I want to thank John Holton for nominating my blog for Blog of the Year. What an honor.  John mentioned that he had learned some things from my posts, for which I’m very grateful. Thank you John for including me in your power-packed list of bloggers

 

Blog of the Year Award Rules

The “Blog of the Year” award is a little different from some other awards, because you accumulate stars.

Here are the ‘rules’ for this award:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award –http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page and you can share your blog with an even wider audience
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

 

 

Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs, and even if they have already been given the award by someone else, then you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

For more information check the FAQ on The Thought Palette.

_________________________________________________________

Many thanks to John, I appreciate your recommendation more than you can know.  If you’re looking for a blog with lots of information, videos and facts about music and musicians, John’s home is the place to go.  I learn every time he posts. I can’t encourage you enough to check out the blogs he’s recommended – they’re all excellent.

Here are my recommendations:

1.  Steena Holmes has had a wonderful year going from an indie-only author to a hybrid author who will soon be traditionally published author.  Steena has been more than generous in sharing her personal journey as well as the lessons she’s learned.

2. Diane Capri writer killer suspense novels and is an exciting addition and strong leader to the indie publishing community.  And she’s always willing to help those who are just starting on their journey, as evidenced by her ‘Diane Capri Reveals’ series.

3. Rhonda Hopkins is a woman who goes to ridiculous levels to support and help other writers.  Her blog has many interesting features, including “Authors Give Back” an opportunity for writers to share information about and links to their favorite charities.

4. Sheila Seabrook is another incredibly supportive blogger who is always willing to extend her hand to others. Check out her posts on the Bandit Creek books – I guarantee you’ll find a book you enjoy.

5. Tameri Etherton posts on many topics but her New Year’s post is worth this award.  She’s full of humor and fun and always adds a light touch to every topic.

 

There are many great bloggers out there.  I could have nominated many others in the recovery world and in the ‘personal development’ world, but I controlled myself.  To those I nominated, thank for enriching my life and my world.  Here’s to a very successful 2013 for each of you.

 

 

 

 

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The Newest Next Big Thing

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Louise Behiel | 10 comments

Today’s post is thanks to author of many genres, Kristy James.  She published Enza, one of my favorite books of all time.  Now she has Erin’s Christmas Wish coming out soon.  I can’t wait to read it.

 So what are the rules for this blog hop?

 *Give credit to the person / blog that tagged you

* Post the rules for the blog hop

*Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

 

1. What is the title of the work?

This novella, part of the Bandit Creek series, is called Christmas on the Run.

 

 

 2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Bandit Creek is a series of 30+ books set in the fictional town of Bandit Creek Montana. There are a variety of settings, time and genres in the series. This book is a romantic suspense.

I wanted to write a story about a woman on the run who wasn’t an abused wife and who didn’t fear for her own life. Why would that happen? What would make a woman grab her daughter and leave everything behind? As I thought about that, I realized that if a woman learned that her life was a lie, then she’d run as fast as she could, until she couldn’t run anymore. Of course, that had to happen in Bandit Creek.

3.     What genre is the book?

Romantic Suspense

4.     Which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

Can I skip this question? I haven’t the foggiest idea, since I rarely watch movies.

5What’s a one sentence synopsis for your book?

When a woman who doesn’t trust her judgement of others meets a man who wants nothing to do with a woman in need, honesty becomes the only solution to their problems.

6.     Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

 Christmas on the Run was  released on Amazon on December 15, but given the events on the news, I decided to delay any promotional work

7.      How long did it take you to write this book?

Writing the novella only took about 6 weeks, but it took forever to edit it.

8.     What other books would you compare this book to?

This is a Christmas romance, with a touch of suspense thrown in – as are many books released at this time of year.

9.     Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This book is totally the result of the Bandit Creek consortium. Given a setting and a cast of characters made this an interesting book to write, especially since I knew from the beginning my heroine would not be a resident of the town.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love Christmas, especially in the mountains. The falling snow, the lights, and the decorated tree all combine to make the season magical.  But life does not stop for the holidays. The juxtaposition of the worst possible outcome in my heroine’s life against the holiday season was an intriguing idea, especially when she’s on the run.

I’ve chosen to tag the following authors, mostly because I know they’ve either released a new book recently, or they’re working on something that will be out soon. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I know I will.

 

Victoria Chatham writes rich historical romance and has a new release in January. She can be found at

https://www.amazon.com/author/victoriachatham  OR

www.facebook.com/Victoria-Chatham

Vivianna, who also writes as Tawny Stokes always has something on the go.  Her next release will be on January 1, 2013. It is the final book in the Bandit Creek Series. Tawny is a huge part of the enthusiasm and focus of the 30 Banditos who came together in this series. She can be found at:

http://www.vivianna.net

http://www.tawnystokes.com

Katie OConnor is a hot, hot, hot author who will be guest posting here about her next release.

There are two authors I was going to mention but they asked me to wait a bit to tag them, so stay tuned for information about their upcoming releases.

Thanks again, Kristy for tagging me.  Here’s hoping for much success in your publishing journey – you absolutely deserve it.

 

99 Books for .99

Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Louise Behiel | 0 comments

These prices are available on Amazon only.

For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!

 

Dec 15 – Conflicting Emotions

Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Louise Behiel, Tragedy | 27 comments

I had big plans for today.  My Bandit Creek novella Christmas on the Run is released today. Writers know how excited and nervous I am the night before. It’s thrilling, right?

BUT…

Twenty eight people are dead in a small town in Connecticut. It is hard to even consider something so trivial as the release of a novel when others are suffering so much. How do we assimilate this horror?

I saw bits and pieces of the news today from work. I left early to attend a session called “Preparing for a Colonoscopy”. Too much information, right? (By the way, it sounds disgusting.) I believe this is simply a precaution arising because of some wonky test results I had a month ago.  No big deal. At least that’s what I’m assuming. I’m not going to worry until I know there’s something to worry about.

Then I took my two granddaughters to the mall to buy Christmas presents for their mom and dad.  The oldest of these two little darlings is five and she’s in kindergarten.  It could have been her.  That’s what kept running through my mind – it could have been her. I can’t get that image out of my mind –  it could have been her.

The death of a child is always horrid. My sister was killed in a car accident in 1969. She was 15.  In some ways, I don’t think my mother ever recovered. The moment I heard about her death is one of those moments I will never forget. And yet, she was fifteen.

It seems different, somehow. She was older.

But it marked my family from that day forward.

I wish there were words to say, but there isn’t. We all need to assimilate the horror and the emotions in our own way.

My prayers are with the families of Sandy Hook school. As are my thoughts. God Bless

What else is there to say?

Diane Capri Reveals — Louise Behiel

Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Louise Behiel | 0 comments

For a fun interview like only Diane can do, please join me at the blog of thriller author Diane Capri for another in her ‘Reveals’ series. Hopefully, you’ll learn something new about me and have a chuckle or two at the same time.

 

 

Are You Ready? It’s Coming

Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Christmas, Louise Behiel | 50 comments

I stopped at a store today, wanting to get some new hand towels for my half bath.  I wanted Christmas ones. Maybe penguins, since my youngest daughter loves “Happy Feet” or snowmen, because the older one loves the inflated snowman her dad put in the yard.  Or Rudolph, or…well you get the picture.  I wanted hand towels that would reflect the season in a child’s eyes.

Imagine my surprise when the store (you know the big one I mean) had none left! I asked for help and the clerk told me that they had been sold out for a couple of weeks already.  I said “What????” It’s not even December yet.  She said it’s less that a month until Christmas.

Good heavens! I am so not ready to think about the big day being less than a month away.  Yikes.  I am not ready.

I’ve been busy getting a book ready to release on November 15 (Christmas on the Run) and trying to catch up with my life. Work’s been crazy, Life’s been nuts and I’m not sure which way is up.  But Christmas is less than a month away.

So what to do? I really wanted to panic for a minute or two. But I’ve learned to do a few things first.  So I took a deep breath. I sat in silence in my car for a couple of minutes. And I said the Serenity Prayer – at least seven times. <VBG>

As I sat there, I realized I have a lot to do in a limited period of time. There’s the chapter party I’m hosting…gasp…next Tuesday. There’s my granddaughter’s birthday next week.  There’s a couple of big meetings at work next week. And that flashing light

 

image from Wikimedia Commons

blinking over and over.  On and off. On and off.

My heart started racing as I wrote this. What to do? Hmmm. Then I wondered what do you do about this time of year and how do you stay calm? What if your health isn’t good and you can’t keep up to your usual schedule? What if family demands are making you crazy? What if you have a book release that’s adding to your pressure? Do your kids, family and boss have expectations about the holiday and how you should manage it? What are the traditions you feel forced to keep?

What expectations are you setting to make yourself crazy? Stressed out? Fried? Will you begin the year totally exhausted from this season? Will you sit down on December 26, totally exhausted and completely relieved that it’s over? Is this the year you promised yourself that things would be different? Will it be different or will it be the same as always?

What I realized (again) is that it’s my choice.

So I made a decision.

I will take control of the season and ensure that I enjoy every moment of it. It’s okay to buy cookies and cakes, rather than bake. It’s fine to set my priorities and live them, regardless of others’ expectations of me. And it’s important to remember that if  I’m very, very lucky, I will have forty more Christmas Days. God willing I’ll be healthy for all of them. But forty isn’t many, is it?

So how am I going to enjoy, celebrate and honor this day? This season? This month?

By enjoying it.  By reveling in the time of good cheer. By hanging with my friends and allowing life to unfold as it will. I can’t control very much, but I can manage my emotions and the way I react to life. Including the Christmas Season.

That is my commitment to myself and to you – I’m going to enjoy the moments, hours and days. I’m going to celebrate them.  And I’m going to consciously prepare for the 25th in the way I want the day to be – full of joy, contentment and peace in my world.

I hope you’ll join me.

 

Credit for the image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A25_white%2C_red_rounded_rectangle.svg

 

Thor Comes Calling to Calgary

Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Louise Behiel | 38 comments

My dear Debra,

Just a very quick note to let you know that I have hurriedly sent Thor on his way to Washington.  You can have him.

When Thor’s travels brought him to Calgary, I was thrilled.  I welcomed him into my home. He relaxed from his journey. He liked my two dogs, but wasn’t impressed that they wanted to carry him around.  Fear not, Thor, I’ll protect you.

 

 

 

 

 

I was delighted to tell my friends about Thor’s arrival. Since this is a G-rated blog, I won’t tell you some of the comments they  made about hosting a single man with a big hammer in my humble abode. My granddaughters thought he was a perfect playmate for Barbie and Tinkerbell.  Thor was not amused.

I looked forward to taking him to the Calgary Tower, or maybe a professional hockey game.  I hate hockey, but I was willing to make the sacrifice for this hunk of burning love,  to give him a sense of our community. Alas I was not given the chance.

You told me that Thor was the God of  thunder, lightning, storms, and strength. He’s also supposed to be busy protecting mankind and being the God of hallowing, healing and fertility.  Hmmm not so much, in my opinion.

About the time he arrived from England, he must have waved his hammer in the box, for it snowed and snowed. Way too early for snow in Calgary but what can you do?

Thor enjoying the light snow

I have to say, Thor seemed to love it. I think it’s his Norse heritage—you know the Scandinavian countries get lots of snow. He threw himself on to my deck with abandon…he loved our weather.

But the weather cleared and the snow melted and I was about to take him around town when he turned petulant again. He said it was because of how my killer guard dogs looked at him, but I think he was over-reacting. In a fit of pique, he waved that damned hammer and we’ve had record snowfall. Two days of it. About ten inches.

Thor Playing in the Snow

 

Fed up and sick of shovelling, I wrapped him up and took him out to the car, but the hammer-wielding God escaped. He jumped into the snow and tried to get away from me.

Never let it be said that a muscular over-opinionated yahoo God can outrun an irritated, fed up almost senior citizen.  I jumped on that snow-devil and  threw him into my car. He was delivered to the courier to take him to Washington. Maybe they can control his hammer-wielding tendencies and how it messes with the weather.

Rest assured, Debra I don’t hold  you responsible for his poor manners.  Just because he likes snow, doesn’t mean he had to blizzard on our parade.

If you want to see the mess I mean the travels of Thor, you can see his itinerary on Debra’s blog. I won’t be watching for him.  He and I have issues – serious issues. He can take his hammer and…well you know what he can do with it.

Good luck to my American friends dealing with this hammer wielding egotist.

 

Come Visit my Crazy Life

Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Louise Behiel | 3 comments

SJ Driscoll  is featuring me and my crazy life on her blog today.  Please drop by for a visit. I’d love to visit with you there. Here’s the link to make it easy for you to drop in

http://sjdriscoll.com/2012/11/03/louise-behiel-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/?year=2012&monthnum=11&day=03&like=1&_wpnonce=804946b372&wpl_rand=215ac98c49

Substance Abuse Disorder or Who Me? A Junkie?

Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Louise Behiel, mental health | 44 comments

In the thirties, when the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous concluded that alcoholism was a disease, people were outraged. Everyone knew it was a moral weakness and nothing more. How times have changed.

Today Substance Abuse Disorder is considered a mental illness. The DSM-V defines it as “A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress”.

To put it into simpler language: Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain – they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

According to the DSM –V, to be diagnosed, a person must have at least two of the following symptoms:

  1.  Recurring substance abuse which interferes with work, social or family life and play.
  2. Using in situations which are physically hazardous (e.g. Drunk driving)
  3. Continued use in spite of problems made worse by using.
  4. Increased tolerance: i.e. it takes a lot more of the stuff to get high.
  5. Withdrawal: lack of use causes pain and discomfort.
  6. Heavier use than intended.
  7. Persistent desire and unsuccessful attempts to cut down or moderate usage
  8. Much time and effort is put into securing the substance, using and recovering from it.
  9. Important personal activities and goals are given up or reduced for substance use.
  10. Substance use is continued in spite of knowledge of its detrimental effects.
  11. Craving for the substance is present.

 

Causes of Substance Abuse Disorder As with so many issues manifesting in the brain, there is little hard evidence about the causes of this disorder. Two people coming from the same gene pool and with the same early family life will often end up with vastly different results (see earlier posts on family roles). But that doesn’t change certain facts:

Alcoholics and drug addicts are more likely to have an addicted parent.

Greater likelihood to have grown up in emotionally barren families

Lack of parental attachment

Socialization factors in early life may also be considered:

• Extremely shy or aggressive classroom behaviour

• Poor coping skills

• Poor school performance

• Isolated from peers or association with an inappropriate peer group

• Perception that drug-use behaviour is acceptable.

What is the difference between a bad habit and an addiction? The primary difference between these two is the matter of choice. People choose a habit, but addicts have lost the freedom to choose whether or not to use. This is probably the hardest element for others to understand: the addict does not have a choice. The chemical of choice becomes as necessary as breathing. From the outside we can see the destructiveness of the individual’s choices, but as with all mental illnesses, the patient lacks the insight to see their own behaviour and its outcomes in the way that the rest of the world sees it. So if something critical comes along, a person can give up a bad habit, but that’s not as likely with an addiction. In spite of all his/her best intentions, the addict is unable to quit on their own.

Common addictive substances include:

• Alcohol

• Amphetamines

• Caffeine

Courtesy of Catie Rhodes, via wana commons on flick

• Cannabis• cocaine

• hallucinogens

• inhalants

• nicotine

• opioids

• phencyclidine (PCP)

• sedative-, hypnotic-, or anxiolytics

We can become addicted to almost anything. Prescription medications are one of the fastest growing categories of drug addiction. This feeds another fast growing abuse of drugs by teenagers who steal their parents prescribed medications and combine them with other pills and/or booze to create a high. Unfortunately, such combinations are often lethal and the kids don’t know enough to tell the difference between a friend who’s high and one who’s dying.

All of the above named chemicals pass through the blood/brain barrier and impact the structure and functioning of the brain. When we abuse our gray matter over periods of time, we risk our very survival. Babies are often born drug addicted. And many are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which includes low birth weight and decreased muscle tone, as well as delayed development in the major areas of thinking, speech, movement and/or social skills.

Outside of the DSM, gambling, internet, sexual activities and a variety of other actions are also recognized as addicting. And recently, food has also been added to the list of addictive chemicals. (This is my substance of choice. I’m grateful to have been abstinent from sugar and between-meal snacking for almost thirty-two years, but that’s a post for another day.)

Addiction is a difficult medical problem, for people with this disorder often aren’t aware enough (or honest enough) to admit to what they’re doing and how much they’re using. But in the meantime, they’re tearing apart families, ruining their reputations and behaving in ways that shorten their life. If a person comes to me as a client wondering if a loved one has an addiction, I usually tell them to guess at how much that person is using and then double it and double it again. Remember, addicts are very good at pulling the wool over the eyes of their loved ones.

As with every mental illness, the symptoms are behavioral. Families need to remember they didn’t cause it, they can’t control it and they can’t cure it. But they don’t need to enable the disease either.

Details, fact checking and lots of great information can be found at these sites:

http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Substance-abuse-and-related-disorders.html

http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=431

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/substance_abuse/page2_em.htm

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=23049 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/addiction/