Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Please Don't Leave Me.....

I struggled today trying to decide whether to meet Heather at the gym or go to visit Gary.  I did not leave work until around 5:30 and I knew Heather had gone to the gym earlier so my next decision was "where do I go?"  I decided to stop by Gary's and then go to the gym.  As I arrived at the "Happy Place" there was a fire engine and an ambulance outside.  My heart stopped.

I had no reason to think the emergency vehicles had anything to do with Gary.  I had not received any phone calls.  SO, I parked in the underground garage and walked around to the front door as to not disturb the concierge.  When I walked up the front steps and opened the double doors, out came the Activity Director.  She was obviously leaving for the evening. I looked at her for clues...was there something wrong with Gary?  Why was she meeting me at the door?  Have I made the right decisions regarding his care?  I pictured firefighters standing over Gary and saying, "well, you have a DNR order.  What do you want us to do?"

All those thoughts went through my brain in the split second that I saw the Activity DIrector meeting me.  The reality was, she really was leaving for the evening and was not meeting me to deliver any bad news.  Not knowing that I was going through all this thinking, she merely hugged me and asked how I am.  Boy, did I feel silly.

I walked into the front door and heard the Assisted Living Dog, Buddy, barking at the firefighters who were tending to some poor soul.  One of the angels let me into the Memory Unit and I was sucked past the fears of moments ago into the unit that has become home for my husband, Gary.

He had finished dinner and was sitting in his wheelchair with his butt nearly off the end of his wheelchair in a position that appeared he was about to fall out of the chair.  I saw it as "he is almost in the floor and unable to use his arms to reposition himself and sit up straight."  One of the caregivers walked by and said, "look at Gary chilling!"

I asked a different caregiver to help me re-position him to sit up straight.  She did and he promptly slid, intentionally back to the same position.  I accepted that he wanted to be in this position.  Annie, the dog, jumped up into his lap and began licking his nose.  She turned around and did the same to me.  She positioned herself on his lap and seemed perfectly content to have her ears rubbed as she spied, eye level, the plate of Marion. 

Gary seemed in a far off place.  I was experiencing angst because I wanted to stay with him and I wanted to go to the gym.  They had cleared the dinner plates and tablecloths.  He attempted to put his foot up on the table from that slid-down position.  I told him not the put his feet on the table.   He did not understand.

One of the residents sitting at the table said "Sir, please take your feet off the table.  I eat here.  You eat here.  Be civil."  I realized that I needed to get his wheelchair attachments that enable him to rest his feet in an "up" position.  I went to this room and found his wheelchair attachments.  WHen I returned, one of the angels who takes great pride in taking care of Gary was by his side and noticing the  slumped position.  SHe asked one of the other angels to help her and moved him back into a seated position.  "Poppi, listen to me and sit up!"  He did.

My daughter Heather called from the gym to see if I was going to join her.  I explained that I was still with Gary and wasn't sure what I was going to do.  We had a quick chat and I decided that I would leave him and go to the gym by myself.  I had to do it.  I have to take care of me.

I told Gary that I was going to leave to check on Diva, our dog.  (that is my typical exit line...).  He very clearly looked at me and said in a complete sentence, "Please don't leave me...." I asked what he said and he repeated the plea.

Wow, the emotions continued to run rampant.  I pulled up a chair and sat with him again.  He had a very tight grip on his sweatpants waist tie with his teeth.  I pulled the cord out of his teeth and substituted with the activity blanket.  He started buckling, unbuckling and zipping the blanket.

I felt trapped. I walked away for a few minutes and joined some of the lady residents at the table where one of them was very frustrated that she did not have the money to stay there tonight.  She could not understand why her son was not coming to pick her up.  I explained that we are all staying tonight and that she could stay with the other ladies.  Debbie reassured her that she was safe and that they all stayed there everynight.  She also told her that she could lock her door if she was afraid.  I told them all a joke and made them laugh.

The laughter caught Gary's attention which caught my attention.  I sat with him for a few more minutes and again told him that I would be back tomorrow.  I felt like bursting.  He said goodbye and I left.  I chatted with a friend via phone as I drove to the gym.  When I reached the mall with the gym, I kept driving and came home.  I had no energy for the gym.

I was low.  I came home, ate dinner and sat down with a cocktail.  I am overwhelmed with the heaviness of life with Gary, job and attempting to take care of me.  None of it fits.

I am still feeling as if I don't know what to do.  I cannot "Be Here NOW".  No matter where I am, I feel like I should be in the other place.

I am thankful that Gary still wants me to be near him and asks for my company.  But when I can't bear to stay with him and he begs me to is too much.

So, I am going to bed.....I will pray for peace and for Gary's healing.

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