Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My dad is getting worse....rapidly. This weekend he began having "spells" in which he starts to shake uncontrollably and cries...usually asking for help from my mother or I and reaching out his hands for us to hold. I've discovered that if I look him in the eye and get him to concentrate on breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth over and over again, the spells are milder and don't last as long. Unfortunately, they occur more and more often.
His dr. appt. didn't happen. By this, I mean that we got up at the crack of dawn, got to the dr.'s office early, sat and waited...then waited some more...only for the receptionist to inform us that the dr. called in sick. Go figure. We are taking him back tomorrow morning (Wed.). I truly hope the dr. can and will help. If not, then the pursuit of another dr. will begin.
My brain is jam packed with all I've learned in the past few days...all the research. I've had to sit my children down and try and explain this incurable disease to them....which is so hard to understand at their ages. However, they've come up with some great ideas on things we all can do to help. My girls are precious.
I'm having constant headaches....a sign that my clinical depression is surfacing again. That means I need to make a dr.'s appt. for myself in the near future. It's been a couple of years since I had my meds checked and I know that life changes and upsets can trigger my med-controlled chemicals in my brain to be altered. Constant headaches, wanting to sleep a lot, disengaging from my world....these are the symptoms I've learned to watch for. I've been battling clinical depression for 11 years. I've used natural/herbal meds for some of those years, been med free for a few, but for the last 5-6 years I've been under constant medication...and too afraid to try and get off. I've also been through a lot of counseling on/off and know that I have a firm grasp on how to care for myself and the signs to watch for. I recently learned that suffering depression in your life increases your risk for developing Alzheimer's....my dad suffered from it as well as my biological mother who has mental disturbances still. My genetic gene-pool seems rotten and stagnant, eh? My poor girls.
I'm now checking on my dad multiple times daily....worried about him having a spell while home alone. I set their phone to have me on speed dial....which means him pressing 'dial' and the #1....but he thinks he can't do that. I'm going to have him practice it. I found him coloring at lunch time today. That made me proud! :0) He says he did some reading, but I can't ask him what or he will have a "spell". Questions seem to trigger the spells as well as choices (like what to eat or wear). Sometimes nothing triggers them, though. They are like panic attacks.
I'm grateful that over the past 3 years the Lord has brought me so many great friends. Friends I can truly call on at any time and for any reason and will drop all and come running. I've not had to do that a lot, and it's hard for me to do period, but knowing they are there and that they care so much is very comforting. I'm sure the near future will require me to lean on them more than I care to. I feel like a bottle of soda that is constantly shaken up and ready to explode....not angrily, mind you, but the tears, sadness, mourning....they come in waves. I'm not used to being so emotional so often. Every time I leave my dad I cry. I worry about him. I'm scared of losing more of him than I already have. I'm sorry for him that he is enduring this at the age of 59. I'm sad for what this means for my girls and our family. However, it does have some positive effects on me. I'm now more determined than ever to LIVE ON PURPOSE. I want to make memories.....have fantastic memorable moments with my father, and my family. I want a strong memory bank to draw from should I ever face this. I want my dad to have good recent memories to concentrate on. Much of his life and childhood were filled with harshness, so now he needs the sunshine.
Some ideas I/my daughters have come up with are:

-Take him fishing (he used to love this)
-read him a chapter/day of a great book (like Tom Sawyer)
-take him on lots of walks, maybe mushroom hunting with all this rain we are having
-pull out the old round-table and listen to his (and consequently my) old favorites
Most of all, I want to make him smile as much as possible and make him feel loved. I want to take many pictures and create a memory book for him to look at often. Something to help him live in the present (or most recent past).

I want to thank those of you who are bothering to read this-to listen while I attempt to empty some of the raw emotion and frustration of this disease. Please continue to pray for my dad and especially my mom, who bears the brunt of this. She is such a wonderful woman and a great caretaker, but none of us are perfect and I can only guess at the toll that this is taking on her health. I'm thinking of starting another blog where I can post updates about my dad's illness and other's can share of their experiences as well. I'd like to keep the "Dalrymple School Among Thorns" a happy place.....a place to hide, perhaps, on the really bad days.

Thank you, all my friends. I love each and every one of you.



Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Oh, Jerri. I'm praying for you. Now.

Lord, please comfort Jerri. Please hold her up, close to Your heart, and wipe away her tears. Father, I pray that you will be ever-near Jerri's father, giving him protection and peace in his mind. And, Lord, I pray for wisdom for the doctors, and that his family doctor would take a particular interest in helping. We ask all this in Your Name, Lord. Amen.

I'm so sorry. For him, and for all of you.
Jerri, it's so good that you recognize early symptoms of depression in yourself. And there is absolutely nothing wrong, as you know, with being on medication that can help. Like you said, it's not only circumstances that change, but also chemical fluctuations.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Jerri Dalrymple said...

Thank you....from the bottom of my heart!

sara's art house said...

WOW, your father is very lucky to have you. What a sweet post. I will pray for you.