Joe, Janet, and Memory Loss

There was no mistaking her beauty. At 78 Janet was in college shape and her engaging smile drew you to her. Her figure was enticing and she moved and laughed like a woman who had provoked males her entire life and thoroughly enjoyed the attention. And she could not remember what she had eaten for lunch or who just called or where she went yesterday or if she was on chemo therapy. She was completely free of pain or anxiety concerning her newly elevated cancer markers and the subsequent weekly chemo. She never remembered the ongoing side effects of chemo allowing her to remain emotionally unaffected and free of pain medication.

Janet and Joe have a Beautiful Garden
Janet and Joe Have a Garden

Joe’s cancerous kidney had been removed and he was slowly returning to his new normal. A full recovery with no chemo was his future. Kidney cancer is very often healed by simply removing the infected kidney without any additional treatment.

“I have to do everything for her except washing her.” Joe was sharing his frustration with the woman he had loved for 60 years. I wondered why he didn’t wash her too.

“You know she never said no to me. Never.” He had once privately disclosed. Were his memories of their love manifested as physical intimacy too painful?

“She asks me the same thing over and over again. She just can’t remember. I get mad at her and I know it’s not her fault.”

“I will come by and sit with her later.” I knew he needed a break from his caretaker role to refuel his emotional storage tanks. And I enjoyed talking with Janet.

“Where did you stay on your trip to Savannah? With friends? A Hotel?” I wanted to know how her 60th High School class reunion had gone.

“I know Tom has an extra bedroom so maybe we stayed there. It could have been a hotel. I can’t remember.” And she laughed happily and somewhat mischievously. I was glad she was not in one of her angry moods. Janet could be viciously angry about her inability to cook, drive and do any of the things she used to. She missed her old lifestyle when she could remember it.

“By the end of the year I will need to put Janet in a home. She is getting worse and worse. I can’t take care of her the way she needs it.” His overwhelming sadness at the living loss he was going through brought two different feelings. ? I was very sad for his living loss and incredibly jealous that he had had a 60 year life with a woman he unwaveringly loved.

 A living loss where your wife’s soul left her living body might be worse than sudden death. You could see your beautiful wife looking as great as ever and know that your partner had left the body. The person you had shared your day with for 60 years was no longer there.  Death would be a welcomed event but I wondered if Janet passed would Joe be right behind her.

As we stand talking in the front yard I can’t help noticing that Janet’s incredible garden was in full bloom and weed free. This was the same garden that had gone to waste last year during her cancer recovery.  Now the garden was clearly being cared for.

“I guess Janet is feeling good enough to work on her garden again.” I assumed and hoped she was.

“She loves that garden and worked really hard for it.” Joe seemed reserved and sullen as he spoke.

“Hi Janet.” I welcomed Janet as she joined us.

“You are back to work on the garden again. I thought I had a chance with my garden but I will never catch you.” I was teasing but also somewhat jealous.

“I can’t work on the garden. I don’t know what is going on with it.” Janet balked at her memory being called for. Her head was shaking as it often did when she felt stress.

“Joe, you are doing it aren’t you?” A wave of understanding washed over me as Joe’s love for Janet burst into the limelight. He was working the garden to hold onto that part of Janet and because he knew the joy it had brought her.

Make sure you check the links below. Take the online memory test.

When It’s Time for a Nursing Home

Memory Loss – When to Seek Help

Online Memory Test

A Stressful MRI to Check for Brain Cancer

Hospital Admissions
Hospital Admissions

A month after Janet’s cancer was removed Joe got gangrene. In the process of curing the gangrene it was discovered that he had kidney cancer. I guess the kidney cancer had compromised his immune system and allowed the gangrene.

Possible Complications

Joe had terrible migraine headaches too and it was decided that before the kidney was removed he would have an MRI brain scan to see if the cancer had spread. As my neighbor for 30 years, I had all kinds of feelings and worries about them and what I could do to help.

Joe’s doctor arranged a brain scan two weeks into the future. When Joe asked why he had to wait so long the doctor explained that there was a shortage of machines. Two weeks seemed way too long. Why weren’t there enough machines?

Joe’s brain had him thinking the worst. What would Janet, suffering from severe memory issues, do if he had brain cancer and died? Would it be a horrible death?

Joe opened up to me. “I’ve had a good life. Better then I expected. I was the luckiest man on earth to have gotten Janet.” When he said “I don’t care if I die.” I told him “Yeah, but I do. And what about Janet?”

CBD Oil to The Rescue

His migraines got worse and his doctor told him to go get CBD oil for his head pain and anxiety because the drug store pills weren’t working. I went with him to a ‘vape shop’ and bought some with 1000mg in the bottle. It didn’t do much to help and his pain surged. I looked it up and decided that we needed to get some really strong CBD oil and once again we were back at the vape shop.

This time I asked for the strongest CBD oil he had. The owner reached under the cash register and brought out a bottle with a dark colored liquid that said 5000mg. Joe said it was worth a try and he dumped half a dropper under his tongue. Ten minutes later he had his head back with his eyes closed and was obviously relaxed. Joe said that this made it bearable where none of the prescription pain killers had worked. CBD was it!

First Attempt for MRI

Two weeks and a bottle of CBD oil and finally Joe was at the hospital on the MRI table sliding into the MRI’s tunnel. The waiting and claustrophobia were just too much and Joe had a panic attack. He needed sedation to calm him but on Wednesdays they did not have anyone available so he would have to reschedule his MRI.

The soonest they could get him back was two more weeks. Two more weeks of anxiety from not knowing what was wrong with his brain. It would be four weeks since his diagnoses and four more weeks for the kidney cancer to grow.

Second Time MRI – Success

Another bottle of CBD oil and two weeks with the fear he had brain cancer found Joe back at the MRI hospital. This time I went with him because you have to have someone drive you home if they sedate you. Much to our surprise when Joe went to check in they told him he was not on the schedule. The check-in person graciously called Joe’s doctor and was told by the doctor’s staff that yes they had made an appointment. Check-in then called scheduling to see what could be done and was told that no sedations were performed on Wednesdays and therefore he would have to reschedule. Didn’t anyone know about the Wednesday rule before scheduling Joe?

Joe, to his credit, was trying as hard as he could to control his anger. Joe was given the phone to speak with scheduling. The scheduler decided that Joe could wait two more weeks and Joe replied, “In two more weeks I might be dead.” Everyone in the room was listening when the scheduler decided that she did not like Joe’s comment and hung up.

The check-in people immediately went to work as advocates for Joe. One called the scheduling supervisor to ask why one of their people hung up ‘on their patient’. The other started calling in favors to get personnel to allow Joe to have sedation and to fit him in to the schedule. The hospital workers were incredible and showed tremendous concern for Joe. Joe got his brain scan and now has to wait for the results.


Even though the administration part of the hospital was a mess the medical personnel were miracle workers. Good with the bad. It is important to remember that there are concerned people to treat you and there are ones who just go to work and do not understand that no one is at the hospital because they wanted to be there. It might not be right but it is really important to hold your temper when things go wrong in the medical industry.

As an update, Joe’s brain scan did not show any cancer so now he is going to have his cancer kidney removed. Make sure you follow the links below for more information on all of this.

Great Video Showing MRI

Chronic Headache as the First Symptom of an Undiagnosed Renal Cell Carcinoma

Neuro Imaging

CBD Oil is Making Seniors Live Happier and Better

CBD Oil Is Helping Seniors Live Better


One of the most disconcerting issues with caring for your aging parent is watching them become filled with anxiety and/or frightened about things that had been routine. I know a woman, we will call her Jane for this article, who broke her wrist from a fall she had while outside watering her plants. She was terrific about doing her physical therapy and her wrist recovered really well.

What didn’t recover was her feeling of freedom to walk outside and water her plants. Jane became filled with anxiety when she walked without someone else helping. She walked with her daughter for two miles at a time so she was definitely physically capable but her anxiety made her unable to walk around her house without aids.

Jane’s anxiety got so bad that she had the doctor give her prescriptions for anti-anxiety drugs.  The drugs had some positive effects but she still would become immobilized with fear. The anxiety was creating memory problems and a degree of depression that limited Jane’s independence. She wanted an answer that worked for her.

The Answer

The answer came from a friend’s younger daughter. She thought that since CBD oil was finally legal in her state that maybe it could help and she devised a plan to get her to try it. First she asked for Jane’s daughters to support the attempt. This took some effort because CBD oil comes from Marijuana or Cannabis. Cannabis is not legal in Jane’s state but CBD oil is. Jane’s daughters came onboard after doing some research and went to a local store and purchased some CBD oil and an inexpensive Vape Pen or E-Cigarette.

From the first puff Jane became calmer. She even smiled and laughed. She was not ‘high’ but CBD seemed to work on her nerves and had a calming effect on her anxiety and panic attacks.

Since that day Jane’s life has changed. She has sublingual CDB oil that she places under her tongue before she goes to sleep and a Vape Pen that she carries for when she gets an anxiety attack during the day. She now sleeps through the night and any of the debilitating anxiety attacks are short-lived by taking a couple of puffs on her Vape Pen.

CBD oil is quickly becoming mainstream because it really works with almost no side effects. Read below to see how much the medical industry is now involved and endorsing it.

Marijuana and Cancer – America Cancer Society

Why Is Marijuana Use Among Seniors on the Rise?

Treating Dementia with Marijuana

No One’s Son Anymore – My Mother Passed Away – A Loved Ones Death

Mother Lies in Trauma Center After Stroke

At the beginning of September my mother passed away. I had stopped home to pick up some things at lunch when I heard what I thought was an awful song on the radio. I searched and then discovered my mother on the floor incapacitated by a massive stroke. I called for help and she ended up at the local trauma center where doctor’s finally agreed that at 90 1/2 years of age there was nothing they could do for her.

I arranged to have her transported to a beautiful hospice and summoned my seven siblings and their children to her bedside. Everyone came immediately and she passed with six of her grandchildren in various stages on her bed. One was brushing her hair. Another held a cup for her to sip Coke. Several were stroking her arms and massaging her feet. Over 20 of her direct descendants were there. It was exactly how she wanted it… quick, painless and her loved ones at her bedside.

Everything went very smoothly because she had taken the time with my prodding to clearly write out her exact wishes. When we sat down to put her wishes on paper it was often traumatic, argumentative, and simultaneously calming. I now know that completing her will and medical directive were the best things I ever did for me and my mother.

The doctor’s at the trauma center were clear that I was a lucky one because all I had to do was follow her directive. He bemoaned the fact that most people fail in this because it is too uncomfortable and then when the end is near they are left arguing and fighting. The lesson is to take the time and energy to have a medical directive that clearly states every contingency. We were able to grieve and stay bedside because we did not have any decisions to make when we were so emotional.

To this day when something of importance happens I want to call her and tell her about it. It is all a part of grieving. The hospice provided information about grieving that was a help.  I noticed that everyone grieves in their own way and sometimes I did not feel comfortable with other people’s comments even though I knew that they were given thoughtfully. It is difficult for those who care about you because there is no training class for dealing with a loved ones passing. But there are many groups that offer support after a loved one passes and it is fine to take advantage of them.

Here are a few helpful links to sites that offer information and help:

Common Grief Experiences

Find a Grief Share Group

Get a Medical Directive

I Am So Busy I Can’t Make My Weekly Visit

Elderly Are Often a Second Choice

Elderly Are Often a Second Choice

My brother “D” has always been good about taking my live-in mother out for a couple of hours at least once a week. But there is no real consistency. I can’t depend on him taking her to the grocery store at the same time each week or even showing up once a week. He just thinks that I can fill in for him at a moments notice. He doesn’t realize that I am already taking off work for her doctor’s appointments and rushing home to help fix her computer or some other ’emergency’.

The elderly look forward to outside stimulus and visits from family and friends are that stimulus. It is important for them to feel a part of the community and to keep on going. I sometimes find my mother making doctor’s appointments that are unnecessary just to connect to the world. The visits from my brother and his family are much more than grocery shopping but rather they are a symbol of being a part of the world and still very much engaged with life.

Sometimes I feel alone with my mother’s needs when a family member regards their commitment as a flexible commitment. It is upsetting to my mother when she has expected a visit only to get a call that they cannot make it because of another event. She acts gracious and forgiving but that is more because she does not want to upset them into never ever showing up. She knows how helpless she is and how dependent she is on caretakers.

When she gets the cancellation I often alter my schedule to take her wherever she was to go.  It is never convenient for me but it does make me feel really good about myself. I also feel really frustrated with other’s lack of responsibility. I often think of Karma and what will happen to them when it is their time to depend on others. And I pray that Karma will not exercise itself in a lack of care when father time places them in need of caretakers.

5 Ways to Keep Your Elderly Parent Safe

Getting Organized and the Benefits of a Routine

Keep Them Busy and Engaged

Busy Building the Bathroom
Busy Building the Bathroom

Recently I decided to rebuild the upstairs bath room. So right away I enlisted my 88 year old mother who happens to live with me. She became responsible for taking pictures of my progress, entering receipts in my Excel worksheet, and keeping me company on my numerous trips to the local Lowes or Home Depot. Who says that only Walmart is a good place for older ones to have their exercise walk. I find the big hardware stores to be fascinating to my mom. And everyone is really friendly even when I lose her.

Keeping your loved ones working and serving a purpose in life is critical to their well being. When they have a reason for living they wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and they forget their pains and assorted ailments. It is much nicer to have conversations about what you are doing positive in your life than what ails you.

Here are links to some more information:

Older people and social connectedness: how place and activities keep people engaged.

Importance of Activities for Elderly People