When my Dad was ill with Alzheimer’s, I subscribed to two forums/support groups. I suppose I am not good at letting go because I have not left the groups despite the fact that my dad lost his fight against AD on the 20th of May 2011. On the other hand Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness and there is a lot of synergy between my Dad and Vicky’s journeys. I don’t think I would have gotten through my Dad’s journey if it had not been for the Caring.com group. http://www.caring.com/home-care. The practical advice of caring for an AD patient was of immeasurable help. The members support helped us as a family in understanding the destruction of Alzheimer’s and recognizing the stages of the disease.
So when I received the latest post: “Who is Taking Care of the Caregiver While the Caregiver is Taking Care?” written By Carol Blackwell Alzheimer’s Reading Room, I was delighted. I am in such a depression and totally at a lost as how to get out of it. http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2010/05/whos-taking-care-of-caregiver-while.html
I just knew there would be solid, practical advice in the article.
Carol Blackwell’s opening question is: “Are you taking care of yourself? You can’t be there for them if you aren’t there for ‘you.’ Your mood and stress affects their mood. It surely isn’t easy and life is sometimes stressful and difficult. Here are some things that helped me—you can decide if they will work for you.”
Carol Blackwell wrote “I know you may be thinking you have no time to exercise because you are so busy taking care of your loved one and too tired at the end of the day. I say, that is exactly why we need to exercise.”
Right on Carol. I don’t have time. My days are very long and I don’t get a lot of off-time. Last year Danie and I went for a walk every night. Sometimes the boys joined us. It was great and I miss it. But I have decided that I will start exercising today!
Volunteer for service to others.
Carol Blackwell wrote: “I imagine you are now thinking I am really weird. How can we find time to work for others when we are struggling ourselves? For me, initially, I found it was easy to sit in the house and feel sorry for us. We didn’t sign up for this disease invading our lives, we had just had gotten to the point where we could be free from work constraints, etc. Etc. Unfortunately, sitting in the house feeling sorry for us didn’t help much. It wasn’t fun and served no purpose except to make me crabby and Bob depressed. No one wants to be around crabby people.”
Carol you are weird. I don’t have time to sit and do anything. I have a career, a household to run, two grandsons to fetch and carry, Vic to take care of… For many years I was very involved in working with the less fortunate. I however believe that in the Chinese Proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Done and dusted. One day I would love to do some community work again but for the time being I have to concentrate on my family and their survival. Selfish – maybe… For now that is the way it has to be.
Do things you enjoy—you deserve it.
Carol Blackburn wrote: “What do you find fun and what gives you pleasure? It is different for all of us. I enjoy Wii games—I love the Wii Fitness Plus activities. They are fun. “
Tick. I love my Children and grandchildren. I love the patter of little children’s feet in the passages of our home, the sound of children’s laughter, and their little arms around my neck. I desperately miss my UK grandchildren. I am permanently miserable when I think of them. I miss them with every fiber of my body. Sometimes I am so weepy that I cannot even Skype with them.
I am so happy that Lanie and Tom have moved to Johannesburg. Now we see them and the girls on a regular basis. We spend a lot of quality time together.
Yuri, our youngest grandson asks his Mom whether he can’t come visit his Oumie every day before school…
Liza (the youngest daughter) and her husband have finished sailing around the world. I look forward to flying down to Cape Town to visit with them. As soon as Vic is able to cope without me we will fly off…
Vic finds the noise a little distressing. But the little ones know Aunty Vic is ill and are so good!
Carol is right. I enjoy having the grandchildren around and I deserve to have my grandchildren around me. Grandchildren are the joy of my life! And I love playing Cityville on Facebook.
Carol wrote: “Research has found that taking time to meditate and to engage in yoga is beneficial in reducing stress.”
Maybe one day when I have time… and the energy.
Don’t be a martyr.
Carol wrote: “Martyrs may be noble, but they really aren’t much fun. You can’t do it all and you shouldn’t have to. Find help if you need it. Are you in a support group? Check the Alzheimer’s Association link to fine one near you. Join it—it will help to find others who are going through what you are. “
“Is there someone who can come in for a few hours and let you take a break? Someone from church? A friend? There are people who would love to help us, but we don’t ask. Ask. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones!”
My dearest friend, Gillian, wrote:”I would like to half your work and cares. Put you in a bed for sleep therapy. But I know you won’t trust a soul with your family”. Few people know me as well as Gillian does. I cannot leave Vic. There is that beautiful John Lennon song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”. Vic ain’t heavy she is my baby.
I am trying to get Hospice involved. Danie does help a lot and so do the boys. Esther bathed Vic on Tuesday whilst I was at a meeting. The church and I deserted one another some time back. I don’t have many friends.
People have their own lives. We live in a world where we don’t have time for other people’s problems.
Only a mother who has watched her child suffer will understand the despair of another mother. Will understand how difficult it is to face every day, the depth of despair when you cradle your vomiting child in your arms….to say “Just one more hour baby” when she begs you for pain medication…
We do. Today I watched Rango with the boys. It was so funny.
Cut yourself some slack.
The wise Carol Blackwell wrote: “Everyone has ‘blue’ days. It’s OK to have a ‘pity party’ once in a while. It just doesn’t help to let those days happen too frequently. Also, don’t beat yourself up. We can’t always be calm, patient, understanding and saint-like. We are all just doing the best we can. Wallowing in guilt for occasional impatience won’t help either.”
This week I am truly wallowing in self-pity. I have been guilty of impatience, I have lacked understanding. I am petrified that Vic’s pain and suffering will continue for many more years. It is strange that Vic is having a better week than she has had in three months. As Esther said, her eyes are bright and she has mobilised pretty well. She is less tired… What if this vicious cycle of pain and suffering continues?
Don’t lose hope.
Carol Blackwell wrote: “There IS a cure for this awful disease. Out there—somewhere, someone is working on it. We just don’t know it yet. It will come. Keep the faith, baby!”
Just as there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this stage there is no cure for Osteogenesis Imperfecta. But there may just be a cure for the adhesions that I believe will ultimately cause a fatal obstruction. Today I found a website where a doctor who claims great success with the treatment of frozen abdomens. On the surface it seems very positive. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/5/prweb9432209.htm
Anyone who has ever wrestled with God can understand the bargaining prayer. I have bargained with God all of Vic’s life. If there is a cure I will do this or that…. For MANY years I have put the Church and God ahead of Vic and my family and yet all my love and commitment has resulted in further pain and suffering. I know this paragraph will result in many emails or comments but I ask of you “Do not judge me if you have not walked ten miles in my moccasins!”
So for today and maybe the rest of the week I will hold onto my new hope. “Hope removes the blinders of fear and despair. Hope opens up our minds and allows us to think positive under dire circumstances.” Until I receive a reply to my enquiries…
To all my friends, cyber friends and family thank you for your support and love! Yesterday I considered stopping the blog as it has opened up fears that I have suppressed for so many years. I however think it is something I must do – for myself.