December 2, 2016

There Goes All Sense of Dignity (Guest Post)



Grace had the shingles, and not just the shingles, but the shingles in her forehead and one eye. The doctors said the worse kind of pain. The difficult part was that because of the Alzheimer’s, she could not remember why she was in so much pain and she could not remember to keep her hands off her sores and away from her eyes. It was a terrible time. I had her in the basement of our home as it was cool and dark down there. I even had to put a towel over the basement window as she could handle no light at all. This one night, she became quite delusional and was screaming that there was water all around the bed. She was “worried for the children”. It was a very long night as I just laid with her and held her so she would not “fall into the water.”

By early morning, both she and I were totally, physically and emotionally exhausted. About this time, she needed to use the bathroom and as I started to get her up, I realized she could not walk. Her legs just would not hold her up. I knew something else was going on but not sure what and she became quite adamant that she needed the bathroom. Thus, I mostly drug and somewhat carried her down the little hallway to the bathroom but I could not hold her weight and I started to fall. I positioned myself so that she would fall on top of me and not be hurt. As we both hit the floor, so did her bowels. An explosion all over me.. We both just kept eye contact with each other as we did not want to acknowledge what had just happened. Then, with as much clarity as you or I, Grace said “Well, there goes all sense of dignity”. We laughed and laughed and then I somehow got her to the bathroom and into the shower. Once dressed, I called 911 and we got her the help needed.


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Stages of Grace

I'm sharing with you something near and dear to my heart. I've known first had what it's like to witness the long goodbye associated with Alzheimer's and I believe Ms. Ruben's words within this book is helpful to anyone who have been through the same. Thank you to Connie for her words of encouragement and for making us feel not so alone in this difficult journey. 



This book was written out of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer's disease what I have experience as Grace' caregiver and friend. I wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and the unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace and I have shared as a result of this disease. This is not mean to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer's disease, but I hope that by sharing my feelings and experiences, readers may recognize they are not alone on this particular journey
 
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November 15, 2016

How To Make Your Life a Priority




If I could go back in time. I would go back to the moment when my mom was first diagnosed with cancer.  I would hold her and hug her and cry with her just like I did in that tiny little seafoam-green hospital room.  I would look her in the eye and I would say “lets go on vacation.” That is the one thing we never got to do before she passed. 

As soon as she started treatments the cancer and the medicine made her too weak to travel. I would have stolen two weeks and took her somewhere crazy beautiful. Somewhere we could relax and laugh, free from the grips of cancer. That is my only regret on her journey.

So, whether you are sick or healthy, here are the five things I would encourage all of you to do today. 

1. Create a yearly bucket list. Summers are fast, holidays are booked up, but don’t let that mean all you do is rush around trying to be everywhere on time. This summer for instance, we saw one movie a month. We visited one event a month (fairs, renaissance festivals, strawberry patches and more.) Don’t let life pass you by. Make living a priority. The laundry can wait.

2. Make the phone call. Ever day when I got off work I would call my mom. Whether I felt like talking or not, whether I had something worth saying or not. I would call and I would say I love you, how is your day. And hear her voice. Because you know what, I can’t hear her any more and I am so thankful I took the time to hear her. If you can’t answer the question, when did I talk to my mom last, you better call her right away. 

3. Take the vacation. Now don’t go crazy and put $10,000 on a credit card. Find a way to take trips and spend time together. Don’t stress about it. Float through it. If camping is going to make you pull out your hair, don’t go camping. Stay at a hotel with a nice pool. Do what feels right for your family, but make the time and spend the money because when we die, all we take with us is our memories. Our money and our trinkets we leave behind. 

4. Stop what you’re doing and listen. When your child has something to say, stop what you’re doing. Get on their level and listen. They have something to share. It may seem silly to you, but to them it is everything. So listen. They want your time and they will remember your hugs and your attention for the rest of their lives. 

5. Forgive yourself. For whatever it is you think you’ve done wrong. If you think you could have been more patient when your toddler turned into a ball of crazy in the grocery store, then say you’re sorry to them and yourself and try again next time. Don’t worry your child will likely give you another chance at patience. If you think you should have worked out today or not eaten that candy bar, tell yourself you’re sorry and try again tomorrow. No one is perfect, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Every day is a new page in your story, so live it.


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