Friday, November 11, 2011

Catching up with family

4:46 p.m. Today's project was to welcome Steve's sisters, cousin, brother-in-law and sister-in-law to the house for lunch together and a long overdue visit. They hadn't seen Steve since Heidi's wedding in June, and his Alzheimer's has taken a major turn for the worse in the meantime.

Steve's sibs' surprised us with lunch from In-'n-Out Burger, Steve's favorite. Their hospitality even extended to bringing me a lettuce-wrapped burger, for my gluten-free lifestyle. After Sharon, the oldest of the remaining three Kruckenberg offspring, prayed, we dug in to a delicious feast, a real treat. Steve ate with only a couple of incidents, but his burger got put back together by his brother Larry's widow Michaele, and warmed up, too, for this special occasion of food and fellowship. As Steve's cousin Stephanie remarked, "We just don't eat out." I concurred. She continued, "There are too many other more urgent things to do with our money!" And as Jesus described in Luke 12:42, we need to be good stewards of our household income. As servants of our Master Jesus, we can identify with His challenge!

And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes."

We covered several topics, and had lots of laughs, but when Steve sister Linda's husband Mike took a nodding Steve out for a short walk, I brought up one particular use for money, prescriptions! I laid on the table the online coupons I printed for 16% off of Aricept, and "up to" 75% off of Namenda.  We have descended into Medicare's "Doughnut Hole," a place of darkness where Medicare Part D won't cover our prescriptions again until January of 2012. I'm looking for ways to save on buying Steve's most expensive brand name drugs. Aricept is $225/30, and Namenda is $89/30 market price! They used to cost $29, making them substantially more costly than his other drugs, which have a $5 co-pay.  Better hustle up and sell more Mary Kay!! (Or, along with building my business, keep searching out patient prescription assistance programs).

Right now, as my husband's neurosurgeon sees it from the images of his brain, Aricept isn't having any effect on him at mid-to-late stage Alzheimer's. I can anecdotally state that the disease process, as judged by his coping and basic functioning skills, is precipitously going downhill. Namenda, however, does seem to improve his sharpness and alertness. Steve has no memory of any event, whether it's on days we've accidentally skipped an Aricept pill, he's taken the max level of 23 milligrams or whether he's taken 10 milligrams. Whether to keep giving him this drug is a matter of prayer and God's leading--"Where he guides, He provides," Pastor Chuck Smith always says.

Everyone had a medical incident to report, a dog story, and endless chuckles about our kids and grand kids. We are almost all grandparents now. The family is looking forward to our nephew's wedding next summer, and our Kriss' son Clark Alexander birth next March. In between, there will come a prayerful  and delicious Thanksgiving, for which I'm hoping youngest son Steven will be here from Fresno; festive and faith-filled, but frugal, Christmas, and a fresh new year. My dad isn't getting any younger, and my husband isn't getting any healthier.  We have much to celebrate together, and precious little time to do it in.

Our time here on earth is so short, and that time is the Lord's to parcel out. We all hope to live long lives with full abilities to the end, and some of us will. As for other people like my Steve, their decline will be devastating to them and to their families in every way. Knowing this, I'll close with Psalm 31:14-15a:

But as for me, I trust in You,
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in Your hand.

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