Sunday, September 25, 2016

Facebook Rant

I often see articles on Facebook about things that can be done to avoid memory loss.  Although I recognize that this is an advertisement for someone to make money I am often saddened by the simplistic things that are said.  And if you don’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease you could certainly take time to do many of the things that they talk about.  But may I say that if you are dealing with someone who is struggling to remember every little detail of their life these articles drive me crazy!  A few months ago my husband was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer although I knew a few years before the diagnosis that we were approaching a definite change that would eventually alter our lives.  I knew this because my mother also had dementia for the last ten years of her life.  This is not a disease that can be worked through and out of.  It is a disease that slowly takes away the once wonderful memory of someone you love who you spent your life building those memories with.  Believe me there is so much guilt and questions that as a caregiver you ask.  Did I do this to him?  Could I have been more patient and encouraging?  Why doesn’t he try harder to fight this insidious disease?  Isn’t love enough?  The answer is no, I didn’t do this to him and God isn’t punishing us by allowing Alzheimer’s to come into our lives.  Yes, I can be more patient and encouraging and I am learning daily how that looks and what I can do better but that doesn’t change the course of this disease nor did I or anyone else do anything to cause him to “catch” this disease.  He doesn’t fight his disease because he doesn’t even realize what is happening to him and even if he knew he couldn’t do anything to change it. And last, yes, love is enough because that ends up being the only thing that you are able to give to the person who often experiences fear, confusion, and anger because they don’t know what to do.  I don’t begrudge anyone who actually has someone they love who has severe memory loss wanting to try anything that might help that person who they love and care about.  But the reality is,  so far there is no cure.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Wonderful Gift

Would I have chosen for my mom to finish her life with dementia?  Would I have wanted Scott to be diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer?  Of course not.  But can I be fascinated by the wonderful opportunity I had and have been given to be a caregiver to two of the nicest people that have been placed on this earth.  I realize often that as I read and hear about various experiences people have that so far I need to daily express gratitude for sweet memories I am storing up of both my mom and now of my husband.  I think back of the time I went to the facility where mom was living in and she was in a room full of other patients with limited or no memory of who they were or why they were there.  And there sat my mom with a big smile on her face, clapping her hands to the music, and singing every single word of a song from the 30s.  Even though she thought I was her sister Erma she would light up when she saw me and tell everyone that her sister came to see her as she threw her arms around me.  I can't tell you how many times she asked if she could go back to Phoenix and when I would tell her we were in Phoenix she would light up and say, "I love Phoenix."  I remember the day I left her in her room when it was time for me to come back to California and as I walked down the hall towards the exit thought to myself, 'I hope you are watching dad and know that I am trying my best to take care of mom.'  Just before the exit a very distinguished gentleman walked out of the hallway and when he saw me he put out his arms and said, "I knew you would come."  He then put his arms around me and gave me the most wonderful hug and then whispered, "I love you so much."   He then turned around and walked back down the hallway.  Say what you may but I knew exactly why that happened and that sweet man was not a stranger!  I smile every time I have Mexican food because I remember when we went to dinner and mom was so happy to have it that I had to stop her from licking her plate!  Whenever I see a can of Dr Pepper I remember that right to the very end she loved her Dr Pepper and she would take a deep gulp and then smile and say, AHHHH!  I still laugh when I remember taking her to buy her some new bras and telling her we needed to have her try them on before buying them.  In the middle of the lingerie department she whipped off her shirt so she could.  I quickly redressed her and took her into the changing room.  My mom ended her life with grace and I was blessed to experience much of those moments learning from her.

Now I have another opportunity to see that Scott is given the love and kindness that he deserves.  My friend once described him as a man without guile.  I realize that as the disease progresses that things may become more difficult for him and then of course for me but he makes me smile every day.  His latest thing is telling me that he needs to go to Hawaii when he wants to take a shower.  It is required that I go in and turn the shower on and get the temperature just right.  I then tell him to see if it is warm enough.  He sticks his hand in the water and then with a big grin he always say,  "just like Hawaii!"  We have struggled together coming up with a way to keep him up a little later so he will sleep better at night.  When it is about 9:30 I always say that if he is tired he could go to bed.  The first things he always says is, "are you coming with me?"  I smile and remind him that I never go to bed that early.  I then walk with him and then make sure he is tucked in and turn off the light.  He then kisses my hand and tell me "thank you for being so nice to me."  In the coming years I hope there will be many more opportunities to share some of the experiences he and I have together. I hope he will stay the sweet and kind gentleman that he has always been.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Lincoln!

15 Years Old

The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Perry!

19 Years Old
Yesterday is a beautiful reflection.  Today is a new beginning.  tomorrow is a limitless possibility."