Monday, November 25, 2013


     From a young age, I fancied myself a writer.  I wrote my first poem in fifth grade.  I was hooked.

     I had the makings of a writer long before I discovered that I could have an audience.  I was a somewhat quiet child who needed alone time with my books.  I liked books and the outdoors and animals-- things I still love today.  I was not terribly social.  I had acquaintances of all ages but very few friends.  I didn't fit in with the more typical kids in my school classes.  Later, I drank and did street drugs to the point of oblivion.  And still later, I found that writers too-- even frustrated writers-- do recovery.  I did some poetry open mics, got published in over fifty litmags and zines-- many of them more than once, got stuff accepted into three anthologies.

     I kept talking about the novel that I was going to write.  I didn't write it.  I could write poetry after a fashion, churn out essays and a few bad cartoons [which got published, go figure] and some short stories.  But I could not think of what to write in the novel.  I started blogging instead.

     This year, I decided to do NaNoWriMo.  Unfortunately, I made this decision on November 13th.  I did not sign up at the website.  I decided that since I started late, I would end on December 13th rather than December 1st.  And I am writing.  I surpassed the 10K [words] mark and I have 40K [words] to go.  On December 13th, I hope to have a first draft of a novel that will not be putrid.  Rather than striving for the elusive bestseller, I set my goal to write the novel that will not cause everyone to run screaming from the room with burning eyes and queasy guts.

     It's working.

sapphoq on life

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Cellphone

Dad's had a cellphone for a number of years.  He was fluent in its' use and operation but like many other skills, his dementia has taken that away from him. 

     A few weeks ago, we went to the cellphone store to find out why his cellphone would not hold a charge as long as it used to.  After some fancy cellphone testing involving a machine and scary-looking probes, it was determined that "the battery is bad."  Not only was the battery "bad," said battery could not be replaced because it wasn't being manufactured anymore.  Almost everyone in the cellphone-speaking universe is quite enamored with "smart-phones."  My dad was barely able to operate his simple "dumb-phone."  The sales staff gave him the "only dumb phone left in the store" and a two year contract for it.  The staff claimed that the dumb phone was worth three hundred dollars.  Sorry dude, I wasn't born in a Luddite void.  I protested the contract.  I told the guy that Dad would be dead before the contract was up.  To no avail.  Dad wanted the use of a cellphone, his own cellphone.  So away we went with his newer dumb phone. 

     Dad pointed out right away that he had to maneuver the included charger into a hole [slot] located on the left side of the new dumb phone.  His old phone had a charger he could set it into and that was easier.  I knew there was going to be a bit of trouble when is dementia-affected vision could not distinguish the standard picture of a cornfield from-- whatever it was that Dad thought it was.  I couldn't quite make out what he meant there.  But he seemed to be able to associate the yellow in the picture with the word "corn."

     Two weeks passed.  Two weeks of, "Show me how to ______ ."  Dad could not find the location of his contacts.  Once I located the contacts for him, he appeared to be trying to memorize the order of the contacts rather than being able to read the names of the people.  Then he didn't know how to dial the numbers or the shortcuts [which had been transferred for him from the old dumb phone to the new dumb phone].  He also complained that he was missing calls because he couldn't answer the phone fast enough.  [Dad had not been able to understand or to access the voice mail feature for a couple of years now].  He could not remember how to find what calls he missed, even after I showed him a number of times.  I gave up.

     The house has several phones.  The folks who live there are able to use the phone as they wish to and all of their calls are free.  No charge.  The folks who live there are also able to receive phone calls from the outside.  Not only that, the staff will bring a portable phone to them when they do get a call.  Dad will have to get used to this arrangement.  I talked the phone company into cancelling Dad's contract without penalty on the basis that Lewey Body Dementia is progressive and fatal and that his deterioration has speeded up dramatically within the last two weeks.  I told Dad the new cell phone had to be "fixed."  I brought the new dumb phone back to the cell phone store.  End of story.  [N.B.:  It's called "therapeutic lying" and it is a necessity when dealing with Dad and things that must be done.  Therapeutic lying is not something that I condoned before I found that I had to use it with my dad because of what the dementia is doing to his brain].

     Guilt?  Yes.  Always guilt.  The guilt over pulling Dad's cellphone was mitigated by what he told me he had spent the morning doing [before I showed up to get the new cell phone].  Dad had spent the morning trying to get his old[er, disconnected] cellphone to work.

sapphoq on life says:  Don't ever doubt that dementia sucks.