« Safe Haven | Main | When I am Old - Whoops »

Monday, 19 October 2009

Alzheimer's: Part 8 – The Final Day

By William Weatherstone of The Diesel Gypsy

I am not quite sure as to where I should begin. Perhaps a week before the final day should describe the leading-up to today’s situation.

I met with my case worker and selected the three optional locations that I approved of. She then entered my applications for me. While at that meeting, she could see that I was on my way to a burn out. She advised me not to wait too much longer before my own health would be in peril.

She also said that I should not hesitate to send my wife to the emergency at the local hospital to be taken care of until a placement could be made.

I had no idea that they had a secured long term care ward.

Days of 24/7 care looking after her was starting to really take a toll on me. I would be up every four hours to take her to the toilet so as not to mess the bed. Near the end, I would practically have to carry her.

The sitter would be in for two hours a day while I went and did the shopping or laundry. Out of the two hours, it used up half an hour just to get the car and head for the store.

Near the weekend the store had lineups at the checkout and used up more of my precious time. I then had to get back, unload the car, return and park it in the underground space to make it in time for the sitter to get away on her schedule. No time to relax.

I had just spent three times getting up in the middle of the night to look after my wife. It was about 9:00AM in the morning and I just couldn’t cut it anymore. I laid down on the bed for about three or four minutes and she was in the doorway calling me. I jumped up and she was standing there with he slacks half off and had messed herself and trailed across the floor unknowingly. She did not realize what had happened.

I started to undress her and clean up. I put her in the shower and scrubbed her clean and not wasting any time, gathered up her soiled cloths and slippers, bagged them and dropped them down the garbage chute.

She still had no idea as to what happened. I got her clean clothes and sat her in her big chair in the living room. She then complained of pain in the stomach and back. I told her that I would have to take her to emergency (which she always objected to) as I did not know what to do. She surprised me by agreeing. I called for an ambulance and they were here in a flash. Her sugar was fairly high for her and her blood pressure was off.

They took her away and I was exhausted. I lay down and flaked out, and in an hour the phone woke me up.

The sitters were probably reporting to my case worker as to what condition I was in as it was my case worker telling me that I should right now send her to emergency. I replied that she was an hour too late as she is already gone.

She responded with “Good, you get some rest and I will look after everything.”

I also had a horrendous cough and assumed it to be flu of some sort. I was dizzy and wandering around the apartment in a trance. It carried on for about three days and I started to get some sleep. Every now and then a noise would bring me crashing out of bed looking for my wife. Not there.

On the third day a call from the hospital told me that she had a fall and had broken her pelvic bone. From x-rays, a surgeon figured it was from a fall previously and had started to mend. They will not operate, and make it a bed healing.

She did not recognize me on the second visit, but came around on the third visit. She is constantly tired and sleeps for hours on end. The girls in the ward are first class and I could not ask for better care.

I have taken her favourite pillow and blanket to give her a sense of comfort from home. I gave her a valentine teddy bear a few years ago and gave it to her at the hospital. She hangs on to it constantly. I also pinned up some photos from 40 and 50 years ago on her bulletin board beside her bed on the wall. And she smiles and remembers the occasions.

I have never ever been an emotional person. I have never shown my feelings outright. But now I get extremely weepy at the slightest thought, and cannot hold back.

I have traveled all my life as a loner. I can survive without personal human contact for days and months; it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been a self-preserving survivor all my life. In the last 45 years of marriage, I have been away on the road for up to 27 days. I have never felt alone or lonely. When I get home I have a wonderful time.

Since my wife has been separated from me in the hospital, and I am alone in the apartment, I find that for the first time in my life I am experiencing loneliness. I am filling my time with house cleaning such as furniture oiling, dusting, vacuuming, dish washing after every meal.

I have always been clean, but finding myself going overboard now, almost antiseptic. A germ would not dare to enter my abode for it would be facing a death sentence.

I find myself starting to think to myself out loud. I catch myself making a verbal statement when there is no one to hear me.

My flu is backing off and I am slowly feeling rejuvenation moving in. I visit with my wife for a few moments each day. I wake her, she recognizes me, we kiss and she is off to dreamland again.

My sleep is progressing daily and is slowly getting back on track. I am now able to settle down and rationally explore my next moves.

My wife has been accepted into two nursing homes at the top of the waiting list. I have never in this lifetime known that Alzheimer’s was so prevalent. You never really pay attention to something until you are involved with it personally.

It is a horrendous disease that causes pain to all that are associated with the patient, whether it be family or friends.

I feel extremely lucky to have had the support of the local organized caregivers for otherwise, I would have been a total mental case.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


God bless you, Diesel Gypsy. Be gentle with yourself.

It's OK, you almost need to be a little nuts for awhile just to begin to balance some of the stress you've been under.
The important thing is your wife is being well looked after, you can stand down and take care of you now.

Yes, William, please take very good care of yourself now.

You deserve it......

You have been through so much....I am so glad to hear that you have taken these steps to relief..for both of you. It is a horrible disease and yes, far more prevalent than many would believe. Take care, my friend. May blessings be yours.

My heart goes out to you. You must take care of yourself now. About being lonely as opposed to being comfortable with solitude - I once heard someone describe lonliness as feeling that there is no one who cares about you - no one who is thinking about you. When you have been a solitary driver you knew that your wife was at home, thinking about you. That makes a difference. Now that you know how prevalent Alzheimers is you also probably know that there is support for you from others who have been or are there. You've been a private person but you may need that support right now.

I am so relieved for you that you can now get some rest. The loneliness will pass as you begin to find a life other than being an Alzheimer patient's caregiver.

When my husband was terminal I didn't have your stress, but there was a night when I got bad news about him that I paced around my house crying and screaming. If anyone had seen me they would surely have had me committed. Sometimes you shouldn't hold back because this is nature's way to help you cope with something beyond your control.

I think your obsessive cleanliness is a way of trying to eliminate the messy part of having a ill patient to care for. It will pass.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Most people have no idea the toll it can take on others.

I'm so glad to hear you made this move. Be kind to yourself and rest--life will regain its meaning in time.

Now time to take care of yourself. Because, in the end, that is still the best way to be there for others. We need to be, ourselves, ok. Thanks for sharing your story.

How honest, kind, loving, and special you are. I honor your deeds and intentions for your wife. What a lucky woman, and how selfless your love. May you have rest and comfort knowing that your superhuman labors and concerns are shifted in part to professional staffers in a safe, comfortable residence for your wife. Adjusting to change is hard, and time takes time. Know that while you are feeling lonely others are holding you in their thoughts and sending hope and friendship.

Please keep on writing so we know how you are. Hugs.........

What an insight:
"I once heard someone describe lonliness as feeling that there is no one who cares about you - no one who is thinking about you."
Thank you, Brenda.
And - know that we are thinking about you, Diesel Gypsy!

The comments to this entry are closed.