The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Prov. 13:4
Have you ever had a drippy faucet? Much like the drippy cars I have driven in my life, the Applegates have lived in some drippy houses too. Now our current home isn’t drippy, as such, but some of the previous have been doozies. One we lived in has a basement that flooded. That wasn’t a huge problem had it not been for 2 things: our clothing drier was down there on blocks to stay off the water (Gulp…)….and….SNAKES. Now I am respectful of snakes but I am not super scared of them…except in water. They seem lightning quick in water and my coordination isn’t ideal, so that is a recipe for badness.
Our current house is very nice, but we had a water leak behind where the spigot is connected to the house and it cost us nearly $1000 in water overage that the water company was super helpful in pointing out that it wasn’t their fault. Regardless, we made some calls and the leaking was stopped. However, we discovered something new yesterday: there is a mini-sinkhole forming below where that happened, hidden by the weeds of the small amount of grass that has survived the cruddy weather this summer. It extends probably 3 foot out and 4-5 foot wide right next to the foundation. What does this have to do with Dementia? (Rustling through my toolbox…Oh, there is my shoe horn!!!)
7 Things You Can Learn About Dementia From Drips:
- A little drip can go a long way, especially over time. Stop the drip and the problem stops– One house that we called home had old school everything and one drip had dripped soooooo long that it left dared water stains in the porcelain that were older than ny current house. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip……. This dripping made my vicarious spelunking heart race. (I like caves, but I also like not squeezing holes, having lots of light, and avoiding bears) I fully expected there to be a stalagmite forming soon… One merely needs to do this to stop most drips: LINK. On a related note….ok, related in my weird brain… If you have one or more of the warning signs of dementia (SEE LINK), PLEASE talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Donanemab (soon to be fully approved and covered, hopefully) and the fully covered and approved Leqembi, on the forefront of slowing the progression, require starting before the stalagmite even thinks of beginning. You need to catch it very early. This will always be the case with brain drugs because the damage happens before we know it more and more. In order to be covered and allowed to have these treatments, seemingly effective to push back the damage significantly, you need to spot it early. It could be that I left the leak too long in my faucet although, in my defense, how was I supposed to know until I got the eye-popping bill???
- What seems small still messing things up. Ask a pro to tell you the difference– I never even saw the stupid dripping! The professional who fixed the leak should have warned me of the possibilities of a sinkhole! OK…sinkhole is a bit of an exaggeration…but there is a big hole there. 🙁 When you go to the doctor, know two things: some primary care docs are indifferent to dementia because they, sadly, consider it pretty untreatable. Also know that you will want a neurologist consultation. You may have to ask and threaten a little to get this done. But you need the expert. Heck, it could be one of the many things that mimic dementia that is causing your brain drip. In hindsite I should have asked the plumber if there was a chance of the Grand Canyon appearing in my front yard…but even then he would have probably referred me to an environmental scientist, a staffer at the Department of Natural resources, or a psychologist. Sometimes it takes an expert…
- Elusivity. Hideability. Bigfoot-esqueness. Yeti-hide-n-seekedness– (If you listen closely, you can hear every English teacher I have ever learned under squeal in terror) The grass was probably a foot tall in the very front of my house below the overflowing gutters. The rest of the hard looked like a yard version of my scalp. Long shoots hair and there, but not much ground cover. However, the stupid problem was hidden from view. Out of sight, out of mind… You know, my mom was diagnosed in 2009 but it took us YEARS to get it. We should have known better. Our grandma died with the disease although she also had congestive heart failure. It just fell off the Bach of the Radar. We knew what dementia was, but we just didn’t see that in mom! My problem (and I won’t speak for my sibs) is I spent a lot of time talking to mom on the phone and not nearly enough visiting in person. You can hide a lot of memory loss on the weeds of a phone call that you cannot in the finely cut grass of an in-person visit. When one pauses on a phone call, for all you know, they may be multitasking. In person, however, not only can you see the context, you can see non-verbal cues. Two other factors play in here too: spouses undergird and supplement and enable this out of fear of losing their spouse and denial. They let the grass grow so you don’t notice… AND, other friends or loved ones, who perhaps are beneficiaries of cogent, clear-thinking days, deny there is a problem too. Any caregiver who has spent any time alone with someone with dementia has seen it before: 8 hours of terrible times, then a loved one visits for the first time in a month and the patient suddenly turns completely clear-thinking! It is a non-miracle miracle! They, and their spouse hides it. They just do…and I don’t blame them, because it is hard and sad. 🙁 However, again, early detection means all sorts of better outcomes. So I wonder, should I fill the chasm in with new dirt? Hmmm.
- These holes caused by drips can be a pain– I discovered the hole by my mower jamming its front right wheel into the chasm and chugging to a stop. I guess it hit a rock at the ledge? Regardless, fortunately it started again. It was close, though, to trashing an already Tempo-One-esque mower (Temp One was my old, junky car). Dementia is fatal. 100% fatal. That is, as of 7/24/23. We are working hard at the hole and the drip. Our best bet: prevention…avoiding the hole.
- There is good to be found– I had a salamander scamper up my brick exterior at the hole. I tried to get a picture for your enjoyment, but he was much too fast, with it being 100 degrees and him being turbocharged by the sun and all. It did remind me, though, to seek out the good, the (gasp) joy, among the holes. Yes the disease is terrible! I agree. It makes me so sad I get sick at my stomach. However, I cannot stop there. I owe it to my mom and everyone else I meet with dementia to look for the salamander among the hole of despair. Break out the picture and, instead of saying “Remember this one?” tell them for the first time all over again “This was us at Six Flags! What a great time we had!!!” Join their world, don’t expect them to leave it back to yours.
- Finding the problem is sometimes far from where you would expect to look– I could have noticed the hole before, but the real telling point SHOULD have been the high water bill. When it happened, I was paying the water bill separately. The huge bill screamed “LEAK!!!” Now the water is combined in autopsy with my electricity bill and, worse, on level pay. I could be racking up a huge bill for next yard and not even know it. (Leaving the keyboard to have my wife pull a bill…) I was worried about stopping that bleeding and didn’t think about other possible issues. Interestingly enough, in dementia diagnosis, there are lots of thing that seem a little counterintuitive that help diagnose the disease:
- Cerebrospinal fluid. The clear fluid surrounding your spine also travels all the way to surround your brain. This fluid, extracted from what some terrible marketing professionals call spinal taps or lumbar punctures (what, was kitten stomps not available???), is thoroughly examined by brain scientists in all shapes and sizes and is a primary key to diagnosis and future treatments. Go to Trial Match and find some studies that need it and donate it. I have done it a handful of times now and will do it again this fall at least one more time this year. It is that critical! Call it something sweet like…I dunno… the “back hokey pokey”. It kind of hurts I guess, but it mostly just feels weird. It feels like the original COVID test swab they found it necessary to poke out of the back of your head. Not pain…just ewwww.
- Blood test– Coming soon. Like within a year or two we will have a blood test for dementia. I have guinea pigged a couple different ways to this end. It would be great to know in our 40s that if we don’t change a few things we are likely to get dementia in 20 years… while it can still be addressed. 30-50% of all cases were preventable.
- Eyes, ears and teeth– This is a weird one, but more and more science is mentioning potential diagnosis aid in examining eyes, ears, and teeth. Here are some links: LINK LINK LINK LINK and LINK
- Gut– The guy…the digestive system seems like the neighbor’s water meter away from the problem, but it is far from it. Here are some links LINK and LINK that point to things in the gut causing, or at least pointing strongly, toward dementia.
- Wrist watch- One thing I have heard a few times in this realm is the forgetting how to tell time, even in short bursts. Losing track of time and other time issues (sundowning) abound. There must be an internal brain battery like a computer uses to maintain time.
- Shovelling is hard, Get help– I am an IT professional, as a whole, by trade. I sit, literally, all day long. Aside from walking stairs 9 nhours a day for 4 days, and jogging 37 miles…on back-to-back days…I am generally not a strong guy. I have a lot of fortitude…but I am not an athlete. If I had to dig a big hole, I would probably find someone stronger and pay them. Filling the hole in my yard is only in my wheelhouse because I can buy several bags of topsoil at Menards, have them load them, and back right uo to the site and bust the bags right into the hole. I still depend on menards to load them…the hard part. I depend on my SUV to get me close. I can’t go it alone. If you are facing a bad doctor visit, PLEASE don’t go it alone. First call 2 groups: The Alzheimer’s Association (1-800-272-3900) and your closest Area Agency on Aging. I work for SeniorAge, our local Area Agency on Aging, and I volunteer extensively for the Alzheimer’s Association. These are the two top considerations…but they need to be backfilled by a wheelbarrow full of neighbors, friends, church family members, civic groups, and hospice staff as soon as you are eligible. The hole is deel and you need to maintain your strength to do the hard part…day-in and day-out caring and loving your loved one. We need help. Get it….
I will let you know how my yard hole fillin’ extravaganza turns out. It stinks, but no biggie compared to our typical typic. Be blessed friends! Hydrate a lot…the weather, at least where I am, is stinkin’ hot!
Update: Nothing much new with mom. Decent days and less so. We have her on daily breathing treatments now to help fight the aspiration of liquid induced attempted and failed coughs. Her eyes are desperately dry and we have them adding drops by the gallons. She doesn’t blink a lot, and that isn’t helping. Quite a long journey mom has fought through…
OK…it is a small hole, not one like this. 🙂
Reminder…anything underlined in my articles is a link to what I am talking about or similar. I don’t sell things or give viruses. 🙂
There was a lot of drip nippin’ here, wasn’t there??? Rest in Peace, Barney Fife. 🙂