Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blended family, shared space!

Gary is going through a period where he is again confused about where we live and he thinks we are visiting the home we have lived in for four months.  Our daughter Heather and her three year old son moved in with us a little over a week ago and I think the new energies and shared space has confused him. 

It is not a disturbing confusion for him, but certainly not clarity.  We have separate "living" areas so both families can watch independent television and have separate activities or be together if we wish.  When we are separate, he seems more at ease and I believe he will adjust soon.  The only barrier to clarity sooner is that he and I are going to Yosemite at the end of the week for a few much-needed get away days.  (Well, I need them!) This trip may confuse him more, but Yosemite has such a healing nature!

We all went to church this morning.  I love watching Gary worship and sing.  He is more like his old self then.  I somehow sense that when he is that close to God that the broken brain doesn't matter so much.  He knows he is worshipping and the Lord knows he is loving him.  Its a precious time!

My patience with him has been shorter than normal lately.  Could be the changes at work, changes at home or Heaven forbid, hormones!  When Gary gets on my nerves, I try so hard to stay calm and let the tension go.  While attempting to pack this afternoon, he got very overwhelmed and started asking 40,000 questions.  I could not answer them quick enough nor satisfy his need to know the intricacies of the smallest detail of hiking boots, poles and luggage.  I was in the closet and he was lying on the bed....apparently we were quite loud as I heard Heather come in the bedroom to soothe the situation.  She suggested he go and sit in the massage chair.  It diffused the whole nervous, aggravating situation. 

I believe for so many reasons, this will work out! Thank you, our precious daughter, for changing your life for us. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"No! No! No! I live HERE!"

"Honey, I am sorry to bother you at the office but Cheryl is sitting next to me on the sofa and you really need to talk to her."  So, Gary handed his phone to Cheryl (his caregiver)who proceeded to tell me that they had just returned from their walk with Diva and that Gary had misbehaved.  She sounded quite disturbed, as did he.  I asked what happened and she proceeded to share with me her first experience with him being "independent and bull-headed". (THose are my descriptions, not hers :))

Apparently, they walked up our street which is a typical suburban street with near identical homes on either side of the street.  He had seen a car in a driveway of a house a few doors down and proceeded to think it was mine and that he was home. As he approached the front door, Cheryl realized his confusion and told him that he was at the wrong house.  He ignored her and proceeded to get out his key and moved toward the door to unlock it.  She quickly escalated her communication to protect his actions and he then turned into the ten year old boy that many of us know and love.  "NO! NO! NO! I live HERE!"  Before he could finish putting the key in the door, she pulled his hand away and moved him back to the sidewalk. 

They were both quite frustrated.  He called me to say that she was inappropriate and wanted me to rebuke her.  NOT.  At the end of our conversation, he had apologized and agreed to be compliant with all "ADULTS" who might take care of him.  I actually had practiced this same speech with my 3 year old grandson just last week. I explained that today was Cheryl's last day with him due to Heather having moved in with us and that he needed to be very nice to her.

Gary seemed to understand.  I sure hope so.

It feels lately that many of my days are filled with endless hope of his compliance with.....well, whatever situation we are dealing with at that moment in time.  Recently, I have also noticed that his behavior triggers an acceleration in my levels of anger and my response. I go from zero to sixty in being perturbed, frustrated and angry.  I would never hurt him but words can be just as hurtful as a strike.  Biting my tongue has become imperative for the sanity in our household.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Can you walk any slower?

I spent the whole day with Gary and I am truly tired and is he.

We got up super early for a Saturday so that we could get ready in time to go for breakfast before we had to drive to Elk Grove to get our haircuts.  I watched Gary carefully to make sure he was progressing through his morning ritual to ensure we could leave on time.  At some point, I stopped watching him so he forget to shave.  He looked quite unshaven all day. 

He poked through everything so we did not have time for a menu breakfast and went to Carls Jr for a quick meal.  We arrived at the new salon (same hair professional at a new salon) right on time.  Normally, she colors my hair and cuts Gary's hair while mine is "cooking".  He was a little unsettled at the new place and said hello to Everybody who walked in the shop and asked all kinds of interesting questions.  Two and a half hours later, we left and headed to Pet Smart and Sprouts. The theme for the day was "how slow can you go?"  He could not have a sense of urgency nor move beyond SLOW all day.  Everywhere we went, he poked along and walked behind me.  I repeatedly asked him to keep up with me, held his hand, etc. 

He just couldn't seem to think clearly all day.  I was so frustrated most of the time.  I get very irritable in these situations and am not pleasant. He knows it and gets overwhelmed. 

We came home and took a nap.  It took him hours to come down.  We went for a long walk with our dog and he moved like a snail.  On the last stretch home, I thought he would need carrying.  Upon reaching the front door, he asked for water and said he was hot and wanted to put on shorts.  Then, very quickly, he announced he wanted to go for a longer walk.  Diva was done and frankly, so was I.  He fought me and kept asking until I distracted him by sitting in our back yard.

He took Sedalia and Tension Tamer tea.  I fixed vegetables for dinner and as we sat down I noticed he was not overwhelmed.  I must admit it was pleasant for a little while.

He cleaned up all the dishes and loaded the dishwasher without asking.  He fixed ice cream and cookies, fed the dog and is sitting quietly.

It is amazing the ups and downs. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Blog title change: Go to Your Corners and Come out Loving!

On Sunday, I was talking with a very dear woman whose husband is in an Assisted Living Facility with Alzheimers.  They have been married for eons of time (not sure how many years) and are now living apart.  She knows of Gary's dementia and sees him on a weekly basis.  She quietly asked me, "How quickly is he progressing?"  I answered that I am not sure how to answer the question compared to others but that he has declined but he seems manageable.

Today, I dropped him off at his CLUB and watched him stand at the door while an attendant came to let him in the locked environment.  We had a great breakfast immediately before with lots of very lucid conversation.  When he saw the woman, he lit up and went into "hug" mode.  She came out, hugged him and motioned to me in the car to see if I was ok.  I gave a thumbs up and he went into the building without ever looking back at me or acknowledging my presence. 

Months ago that would have devastated me, but today, not so much.  As I drove away I considered the conversation from last Sunday.  People who know others with dementia ask "how is Gary?" but i realized today the real question is:  How quickly is Gary declining?  Everyone except me seems to know that he will never get better.  I have been holding out hope and continuing with treatments, supplements, gimics with a private hope that someday he will get better.  He will not get better.  I need to face that fact. (Miracles excluded)

So, with that acceptance, I am now looking at behaviors that I have been participating in toward the end of "recovery".  What can I stop doing?  What angers me that shouldn't? 

One of the steps to grieving is acceptance.  Okay, check that one off.  I accept the fact that my husband has dementia.  Perhaps I should rename this blog from "Go To Your Corners and Come out Fighting" to "Go To Your Corners and Come out Loving".  I will change it. 

Perhaps this can assist us both in being calmer, less frustrated by expectations and overall, much happier.  For all you prayer warriors, I always request that you pray for God's will.  If its His will that today's acceptance is correct, I pray for more Loving. There is nothing to fight about in this situation.  We will not win the battle.