Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Notes from Tucson . . .

Well, I'm typing this from a computer in a branch of the Pima County Public library system. The main branch is in downtown Tucson. This one is a tiny little branch in a strip mall just about 10 minutes from Bill's parent's house. They live wa-a-a-ay out away from civilization, and so they're 10 minutes from anything and 30 minutes from Tucson itself. They actually live in a development called Saddlebrooke, and even though it has its own post office and cable system, it still has a Tucson address. Go figure. I have no idea how they came up with that. But its at least 30 minutes if not 45 from downtown Tucson and at least 20 minutes from the nearest shopping center. It would drive me crazy, but they seem to like it. You know you're a bit out of town when you've been driving for 20 minutes, and you come to a sign that says Tucson - 14 miles. YIKES. Makes it difficult to just "pop" down to the store -- you definitely have to make your errands count.

But anyway, this "ordeal" hasn't turned into an ordeal at all. So far, Bill's dad has been very appreciative of our company. Bill and I arrived in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and rented a car and drove to Tucson. We spent the night at his folks's house (courtesy of an extra key the neighbor provided). We picked up Bill's dad from the airport the next day (he mentioned that it was a good thing we were picking him up, or he would have gotten lost going home -- interesting!). We spent a good deal of the day Friday and Saturday cleaning up the house (it wasn't all that dirty -- someone must have come in and done some cleaning recently). Since then, its been just a lot of sitting around and reading, making sure Bill's dad doesn't go anywhere alone, and just "being there" for him. Bill is going with him to the doctor's this afternoon, where Bill's dad will hear for the first time that he has been officially diagnosed with beginning stages of Alzheimer's. This will be a difficult appointment. Bill and I have noticed some confusion on his dad's part. He repeats himself sometimes, and gets confused as to where he is. The first few days he was back, Bill's dad kept thinking he was still in Chicago. He is lucid more often than not, so fortunately it is the very early stages. There is some medications that the doctor is going to recommend. We hope that Bill's dad will take the meds, which should reduce the frequency of his "spells." It only seems to affect his short-term memory.

Another thing that we're hoping the doctor will help us with, is convincing Bill's dad that they need to live in assisted living. Bill's dad is insisting that after "a week or so" in assisted living, that Bill's mom will be "just fine"; when in fact they both need to be in assisted living on a permanent basis. I'm sure it is a very difficult thing to face, and we are hoping the doctor's appointment won't be too horrible. Hard to know how Bill's dad will react.

The financial paperwork for the assisted living is all filled out and the financial information has been gathered. So for Bill and I, most of this time has been spent napping (I don't sleep well at night; their guest bed is EXTREMELY hard. I've been taking Nyquil at night, just to help me sleep!!! Its awful) and I've read three books so far while I've been here (okay, a couple of them are short and easy reads!). I also got to go to the Barnes and Noble the other day and browse for a couple of hours. Its a HUGE store -- two stories, and it has a music section. Fun stuff!! I bought a couple more books, and I'm glad I did. I've had a lot more downtime and time to read than I ever figured.

Mainly, since the house has been cleaned up, my job has been to cook dinner. Yesterday, Bill and I drove around the development in his dad's golf cart. That was really fun. The weather here has been incredible -- I think I see why people live here in the winter!! Wow. There are all kinds of birds, and the weather has been in the 70s. I've worn shorts and short-sleeve tops. It still gets awfully cold at night though -- down into the 30s. But the air is crystal clear and gorgeous. Its weird to hear the birds in January -- but they fly south for the winter so -- here we are, in the south, with the birds! They certainly have the right idea.

Anyway, my time is nearly up on this computer and so I will sign off. I don't know how tomorrow will go, since the doctor's appointment is this afternoon. It may be a rough couple of days, depending on how Bill's dad takes the news. We put him back on a plane to Chicago on Friday, and then we fly home on Saturday. I can't wait to sleep in my own wonderful, soft bed again!!

Ciao for now!