Monday, July 4, 2016

How long does "New Normal" take to find?

Other than when he or I went on business trips, backpacking or visiting family, Gary and I were rarely apart for long periods of time.  We always came home to each other.  In 30 years, I never considered that Gary and I would be alive but NOT live together.  It never crossed my mind.

My husband is alive and being cared for in Memory Care.  In looking at the situation, he appears to be settling in and has accepted his new situation.  I have visited him for an hour or two every day to try and be with him but not confuse him.  Tomorrow, I go back to work and will only be able to see him at night.  Its a short window from getting off work and his bedtime.  I guess its not different than before when I would get off work and come home.  We were only together a few hours and then off to bed.  Somehow, it is very different.

As I walk through our home, I look at his belongings differently.  What should I do with his shoes?  He still has dress Italian loafers....he will never need them.  What about all the sandals and tennis shoes?  My goodness, he had lots of shoes and still MANY more clothes that he will never wear.  Do I keep them?  Donate them?  Sell them?  Or just leave them where they are?  What is my hurry?

I feel as if I need to be doing something.....all the time.  I have had a few days rest and am now restless.  Should I buy new furniture to replace our well worn furniture from 1985?  No, I might need the money down the road.  His care is very expensive.

I have seen stories and heard of women who keep their husbands clothes because they smell like him.  I rolled over in the bed last night and tried to smell his pillow to see if there was an aroma of him....nothing.  Gary does not have a distinct smell and I recently washed the sheets so I cannot relate to that coping mechanism.

He has closets full of clothes.  I never thought of our belongings as excess.  Now, it seems weird and inappropriate.  We just always had what we needed when we needed it. 

I try to plan my mornings and evenings in the new life.  This morning I awoke at 6 am....I never would have done that before due to exhaustion.  What will be the best use of my time?  Reading?  Exercising?  Walking the dog?  I sort of feel guilty that I am free to do whatever I want or need to do.  I am also intelligent enough to know that it is okay.

I think of Gary sitting in that parlor at Sunrise.  His body is starting to wither and his mind is partially there.  Today, I sat with him during a visit from Therapy Dogs.  He liked touching them and being near them.  I watched him not participate in the stretching exercise because he was not aware of what they were doing due to us being so far back in the room.  I tried to get him to stretch with the others.  He moved his hands a little but seemed to drift back to somewhere else.

At one point he said, "I have to pee."  Rather than try to get him up and take him to the restroom, I made the conscious choice to ask one of the caregivers to take him.  That is how this whole situation was sold, right?  "All you have to do is visit and be the wife."  So, I tried it. I'm not sold yet.

 The guy took Gary to the restroom right off the parlor where everyone sits.  Shortly thereafter he called for help as he needed pull ups and another pair of pants for Gary.  I knew that meant that he probably missed and peed on himself because the guy did not know to tell him exactly what to do.  If he does not receive extensive prompts, that happens. I just sat there and let the folks do their job.  It felt as if I had abandoned my duties.  He eventually came back to our seat, clean and relieved.  I have to let go of the caregiver part.

When I first got there, I shaved him.  They have not shaved him in 4 days.  The Hospice nurse had given him a bath and brushed his teeth.  I asked her why they had not shaved him and she said that he needs an electric shaver.  So, I will see that he gets one. Apparently, they don't want to use a safety razor.

I also cut his finger nails and filed them.  He said a hearty thank you. I will continue to do this as it is a good way to be near him and touch him.

While we sit in the parlor, I hold his hands and rub his arms.  He likes the touch and gives me approval through sounds but not so much in words.  If I ask him questions, he repeats the question and then usually answers.  He has a far off look in his eyes. 

When I left today he told me he loved me and when I said I would see him tomorrow after work he said, "Okay. Tomorrow after work."  I know he has no concept of what time means.  I have to look at the hearts of the people who are caregivers for him. They are giving their all to take care of those people and give them quality of life.  My husband is one of those people.  Who would have ever guessed?

I have to accept the fact that he will never be home.  How long does the "new normal" take to find? 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ada, There's no answer to how long the "new normal" will take to find. One day, you'll just realize it's arrived. I enjoyed meeting you at church and hope to chat with you again. I'll continue to read your blog. Mary