Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death of a child, Family Life, Grief, Grief Poetry, OI Treatment, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Vic succeeded at life…


Vic often said “I must be such a disappointment to you.  I have done nothing with my life!”

This morning I read these beautiful words and so wished I could have shared it with Vic.

“This is to have succeeded” posted on June 4, 2013 by Dr Bill http://drbillwooten.com/2013/06/04/this-is-to-have-succeeded

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” ~ Bessie Anderson Stanley

To laugh often and love much – That Vic did.  She always had a smile on her precious face.  Even when she was in dreadful pain she would try to smile.  When she was in a lot of pain her laugh was shrill.  Pain seldom stopped her from laughing… In 2007 I said to Vic that my life was sad.

“That is terrible Mommy.  Why?”

I felt like hitting my head against a wall!  What did the child think?  In 2007 Vic must have had 18 operations; developed every hospital superbug in the book; developed septicaemia, had a high output fistula; developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome; spend months in ICU and survived having the ventilator turned off… Vic was op TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) for months…she had a massive open wound that we could not keep covered with a colostomy bag.  It was too big and positioned very low down.

“I worry about you every second of the day baby.  I worry whether you have vomited and how much you vomited; I worry whether you have been able to eat anything…  I worry about your wound.  I worry about your pain control….”

“Mommy, that is so sad.  At least once a week the boys and I laugh so much that my tummy hurts from it…”

so sick

Vic in 2007

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Vic loved unconditionally and with every fibre of her body.  She gave everything!  She was a wonderful daughter, mother, friend…She loved her family, her siblings, her friends and her boys.  She LIVED love.

Her last words ever were “I love you Mommy”

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… to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;  Worldwide, intelligent people, respected and admired Vic for her courage, tenacity…  We called Vic the “baby whisperer”.  Children loved her.  She loved children.  Her only ambition as a toddler and teenager was to be a Mommy.  She loved her sons beyond comprehension…

The Baby Whisperer

…… to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; Vic suffered a lot of betrayal in her little life.  People got tired of waiting for her to die.  “Friends” spoke about her “addiction” to pain medication behind her back… They used her illness as a weapon against her when she was at her most vulnerable.  False friends (and loved ones) spoke their “minds” and condemned and judged Vic for choices she made… Because she was ill people thought they could say what they wanted, when they wanted.

….. to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;  My precious child was so naïve.  She refused to see the bad in people!  The only time she got irritated and miserable was in hospital.  She always found the good in people.  She did not speak badly of people.  When I was angry with someone she would placate me…point out their good points… She knew that if she voiced her own anger it would have driven me over the edge.  Vic taught me unconditional love, forgiveness and tolerance.  Vic brought out the best in me and the most other people.

…..to give of one’s self; Vic was a people pleaser.  She would turn down MY bed!!!!  She made sacrifices for each and every person in her life.  Even in death she worried about other dying people who were less privileged than she was.  I promised her at 2 am on the 16th of November 2012, a mere 2 months and 2 days before she died, that I would start Stepping Stone Hospice!  She kept talking to me about Stepping Stone until she lapsed into a coma.  We started on the 1st of January 2013 and Vic died on the 18th of January.  Our first patient.  Our first death.

A

…..to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; Vic left the world a better place.  Her sons are monuments of the person she was; her dream of a Hospice has been realized.

Vic’s monuments…

……to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;  With the 2010 Soccer World Cup Vic went crazy with enthusiasm; she bought every gimmick that hit the shops; she went of the “soccer train” in her wheelchair, she watched every single soccer game.

 

Vic loving World Cup 2010

……to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived     Vic’s legacy will live on through her sons and Stepping Stone Hospice.  Long after I have died, people will continue to benefit from Vic’s dreams and goodness.

—this is to have succeeded.”  My angel child – you succeeded!  You succeeded in life and with living.  You made the world a beautiful place filled with goodness and hope.  I am so proud of you.  You lived life to the full.  You made a difference!  You lived a greater and more successful life than most people.  You have put the world to shame.  You are my hero!

 

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/16/and-the-winner-is/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/06/09/9-6-2012/

https://wordpress.com/post/36185300/3015/

http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/71/art%253A10.1186%252Fcc11867.pdf?originUrl=http%3A%2F%2Flink.springer.com%2Farticle%2F10.1186%2Fcc11867&token2=exp=1461937379~acl=%2Fstatic%2Fpdf%2F71%2Fart%25253A10.1186%25252Fcc11867.pdf%3ForiginUrl%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Flink.springer.com%252Farticle%252F10.1186%252Fcc11867*~hmac=08ff3ff972d6f80826a88836b665cace297a3e6feae8c461089cc821104e11fb

http://www.anaesthesiauk.com/documents/ards.pdf

http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/nejm200005043421806

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Anniversary of my child's death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Two years today


Our last coffee shop outing...
Our last coffee shop outing…

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My precious Angel Child

Two years ago I lay next to you listening to your laboured breathing. You lay motionless in your bed. Your hands and feet were ice-cold. Your body was burning up with fever. Daddy and I counting the seconds between your breaths. My hand on your little heart and my head next to yours.

I remember whispering how much I love you; that there was nothing to be scared of…I felt your heart beat getting weaker and weaker; your breathing becoming more shallow by the minute.
When your little heart stopped beating my heart broke into a million pieces. As your soul soared mine plummeted into a hell hole of grief and despair.

I knew that it would be hard but nothing in the world could have prepared me for the pain that followed. My heart aches for you and I would give anything to hold you one more time. To hear that mischievous giggle…

We miss you so much. Our family will never be the same again.

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness

My First Message from Heaven


I have no doubt that my child is in Heaven.  Vic lived hell everyday of her life.  Maybe her journey on earth was a purifying process….I don’t know.  What I do know is that Vic’s life was a lesson to most people.

Nobody can suffer a lifetime of devastating pain, indignity, loss and then still go to hell…This was her hell.  It was a hell that she suffered and lived with dignity.  She never stopped smiling.  Often through her tears…but she smiled.  Vic lived every second that she breathed.

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I do believe that Vic is running free in Heaven.  Running for the first time in her life… free of pain and suffering!

A year ago, today, we had Vic’s memorial service.  It was incredibly sad and beautiful…it was also the day I received my first message from Heaven.

I RECEIVED MY SIGN!

ImageTuesday morning arrived.  It had been a very long weekend.  I battled with the eulogy and my broken heart.  Everybody kept looking at me to make sure I was okay…  Patting my hand and saying: “It is going to be okay!”

It is never going to be okay.  Nothing can erase my child’s suffering and death from my mind.  In time I suppose I will learn to live with the pain and longing, but it is NOT GOING TO BE FLIPPEN OKAY!!!!! EVER!!!

I have slept in Vic’s bed since her death to “demystify” her room.  I also feel close to her.  I can smell her in her pillow; I spray her perfume before I go to sleep.

After Vic passed and before the undertakers arrived I lay next to her lifeless little body. I spoke to her non-stop.

“Sweetie, If your soul is hovering in this room I want a clear sign from you that you are still with me…”

I woke early and prepared for the lousiest day of my life.  I started chewing “Rescue” tablets.  It was the only way I was going to get through the memorial service without making an absolute fool of myself.  The boys looked so handsome!  Their mom would have been very proud of her boys!

At the church the hearse was parked at the front door.  Vic was already inside the church.  A huge photo was on an easel, and at least a hundred candles were burning around the casket.  The flowers were beautiful.  Vic would have approved.

I sat in the pew with tears running down my face.  I could not believe that my baby girl was lying in that casket!  That I would never see her, never hold her again, never hear her voice again.  Sitting in church I could not remember her pain and suffering only my own.

The service was beautiful!  The minister spoke from his heart and shared his memories of a brave young woman with almost 200 people.  He said that not many people are ever prepared for death, but Vic was to such an extent that she had planned her entire memorial service.  He wiped a tear from his eyes where he spoke of Vic’s journey.

As instructed by Vic we sang “Amazing Grace” and “How great Art Thou”.  I managed to sing – not a pretty sound though!  My voice was all over!  Vic would have giggled and told me that I sound like my mom!

I did the eulogy with the two boys standing on either side of me.  At times my voice wavered and at times even I could hear how strong I sounded.

And then it was time to carry the coffin to the hearse for the FINAL part of Vic’s journey.  I could hear the boys quietly sobbing as we carried Vic on her final journey.  I felt my face contort with grief and tears.

The coffin was so light!  I remember thinking “I wonder if Vic is really in the coffin….”

We lay single roses on the coffin.  The two boys’ red roses and the rest of us pink….  Kari and Simone (Vic’s nieces) came up and stroked the coffin.  They sobbed uncontrollably.  I could hear people crying.

The minister said a final prayer, and it was time for Vic to leave.

The undertaker solemnly hugged me and closed the rear door of the hearse.  It opened…. He pushed the coffin into position and relocked the locking mechanism.  He closed the door again.  Once again the door closed and opened!

“Vic is here and she is telling us she is going no where!” I said

People laughed nervously….

The undertaker unlocked the lock and pushed the coffin into position again.  The undertaker locked the locking mechanism for the 3rd time.  He closed the door. This time it remained closed.  Vic had gotten her message through to me…I received my sign.

My precious child is still with me.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Awards, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

Awards evening


Tonight Jon-Daniel will be honoured for his brilliant school marks.  I suspect that he will be awarded honours for the second time in his highschool career.  Vic so desperately wanted to be there last year.  It was not to be.

This year, I know, she will be there cheering for her precious son.

Congratulations my Genius! Oumie is so proud of you!!!!

Jon-Daniel's prizegiving - 2012
Jon-Daniel’s prizegiving – 2010.  
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Jon-daniel helping prepare his Mommy’s injection
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Jon-Daniel “showing” his mommy his honours tie – 16.1.2013
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15.1.2013 Prizegiving

 

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Grief Poetry, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

One year today


My precious child

Somehow 31,536,000 seconds or even 525,600 minutes makes far more sense than 8760 hours; 365 days; 52 weeks and one day or 1 year…

If feels as if a lifetime of sorrow has passed since you stopped breathing.  If feels as if it has been a lifetime since I held you in my arms.  It feels as if I have cried an ocean of tears.

In the past year I have aged.  I have gained weight. I have existed. A year ago my life ended.  The boys and I still burn candles for you.

I am still filled with rage.  I know you were born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta but doctor arrogance caused you so much pain, suffering and indignity.  I know that you would more than likely have died before me but perhaps with less suffering?

I will always miss you.  I will always remember your smile, your laugh, your bravery. I will never forget how you fought to live.

Today I want to thank you for my beautiful grandsons.  Thank you for remaining my little girl through-out your life.  Thank you for fighting for so long.  You were such a warrior!

I thank God that you came home to die.  I thank God that I had the privilege of caring for you.  I thank God that He entrusted me with something as pure and precious as you.

I am grateful that you are no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting.  As much as I miss your laugh I do not miss your pain filled tears.  I am grateful precious baby that your suffering is over.

I miss your company.  I miss our late night chats, drinking untold cups of tea/coffee.  I miss your text messages, your telephone calls, your shuffling footsteps down the passage…  the smell of smoke alerting me that you are awake and sitting on your step…

I miss the boys laughter.  I miss the joy that you brought into our lives.

We will continue to honour your memory – every day of our lives.  Your legacy will live on in each and every person that is allowed to live until they die with dignity.

I love you Angel Child with every fiber in my body.

Your Silent Dreams by April D. Parker
I held you as you were sleeping…
All the while I sat weeping….
Gazing at your beautiful features…
For you were one of God’s Creatures…

I loved you from the minute you existed to be…
Living inside me, Dreaming silently…
You were always a part of my life…
Even before you saw day-light…

Looking down at you, I kissed your warm little hand…
Knowing you had passed on to the Promised Land…
You, my sweet baby, are forever my Child…
The fact you were in my life makes it worth while…

Undeniably I have hope…
The thought of seeing you again allows my spirit to lift…
I thank God to have had what time I had with you…
Love and cherish you I shall always do…

look and don't touch_edited vicbaby Vic 5 years old100_7453 (2)Image (184) Image (191) Image (193) Image (214) Image (220)

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family Life, Grief, Grief Poetry, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

The hardest part of life


In my arms I held you tight
Through the hardest part of life
In my heart the memories clear
Of the greatest child I love so dear
I held you so close to my heart
Praying that we’ll never part
But angels came and took you away
And tears I shed for your everyday
Now a shining lit up star
My precious child watches from up far
And sees all the pain I’m going through                                                                      Know that you are forever in my heart

 

 

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief

Another birthday…..one year ago


Yesterday I celebrated (another) birthday.

Late Saturday night Vic’s restlessness was indicative that she was determined to be the first to wish me.  At 11.30 pm she came through and said “another half hour….. I want to be the first to wish you Mommy.  I just want 30 minutes alone with you on your birthday…”

“No problem angel.  I’ll switch the kettle on.” I said

“I will be back in a minute” she said

I made coffee and checked some e-mails.  At 12:00pm I expected her to come through singing “Happy Birthday” but no Vicky….

I went through to her room and the poor baby had fallen asleep on her bed…

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Jon-Daniel came through and brought me a cup of tea on a tray, with a gift and card and a rose!  “Happy birthday Oumie” he said.

He had bought a book I have wanted to read for a while “The Elephant Whisperer” – It is an inspiring, true life drama of a herd of wild African elephants on an African game reserve. The herd is destined to be shot for dangerous behaviour when this special human being, Anthony, intervenes to try to save their lives.  I was so thrilled that he remembered.

Just before 01:00 am Vic shuffled into my TV lounge.

“Oh Mommy, I am so sorry I fell asleep.  I thought I would just close my eyes for 5 minutes whilst you make the coffee…”

We sat and chatted for a while.  Vic shared her good wishes with me and we just sat and spoke.  We spoke about our very special mother-daughter relationship.  We spoke about years gone by and how blessed we are to have this time together. (I cannot imagine Vic married and living in someone else’s home on her final journey.)

The girls, Esther and Lani, arrived at 10:00am with gifts, a cooked meal, dessert and cake.  The grandchildren set the table…  My sister Lorraine and dear friend Judy arrived bearing armloads of gifts.  The grandchildren had written me letters and cards – it was so special.  Vic bravely cooked a pot of rice and had lunch with the family.  All the grandchildren swam and played tug-a-war!   We laughed and joked.

It was a perfect day.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

Esther and Lani planned the day to start early whilst Vic is at her best.  As the day progresses so her energy levels decrease.  Immediately after lunch Vic went to bed.  She was in so much pain and absolutely exhausted.

All the grandchildren wanted to stay.

Sunday evening we Skyped my son and his family in the UK.  Vic and Danie spoke.  Vic and Danie Jnr have a special bond.

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Twenty two years ago I married Danie Sr and his four children; Esther 23, Lani 18, Liza 16 and Danie 11…  Danie married me and one, sick, very protected, spoilt brat, Vicky, aged 16.  Vic and Danie Jnr were the two kids who lived with us.  Vic embraced her new family.  (I was petrified of the children!)

Vic’s siblings have been amazing over the years.  I could never have coped as well as I do if it was not for their love, support and encouragement.  The siblings are fiercely protective of their little sister.

Vic and Danie Jnr spoke for at least 10 minutes last night.  It was a sad conversation between a brother and his older, little sister.

“I miss you so much Little Brother” Vic said

“I miss you too Vic.  How are you feeling?”  Jnr asked

“I am battling Boetie (Little Brother) Vic said

“We are coming to visit in April then I will see you Vic”

“I don’t know if I am going to make it to April” Vic said

“Just hang in there Vic.  It is not that long to April…” Jnr consoled her

“I know but I am tired.  I am just missing you” Vic cried

“I will fly over for a weekend.  I want to see you again” Danie promised

Vic was so tired last night.  Her little body cannot handle parties anymore.  She tries so hard.  This weekend we will have Jared’s 16th birthday.  It is only his birthday on the 26th but most of his friends are away for Christmas so we have his friend party an early in December.

I know this will more than likely be another last for Vic.

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

Godliness of a mother


“The woman who creates and sustains a home and under whose hands children grow up to be strong pure men and women, is a creator second only to God”   Helen Marta Fiske Hunt Jackson

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Vic raised two magnificent young men.  They have beautiful manners, they are respectful to their elders and especially women.  They are gentle, compassionate and like their mom they speak badly of no one.  They have a wonderful set of values and morals.

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Vic had so little time to raise her boys.  She spent most of their lives in a hospital bed or in bed at home.  The boys grew up doing their homework in her room, helping her cook… Jared was four years old when he made his (and his brothers) bed.  “Because Mommy’s back is sore”…

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The boys are old souls.  They have witnessed so much pain and suffering… They have lived with, and cared for, a dying mother.

There was almost a Godliness to the way Vic raised her boys.  Vic taught the boys to love their Lord.  It shows in their pure hearts.  Her legacy lives on through and in her boys.

I am so proud of you my Angle Child.  You did good!

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death of a child, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

We need a miracle again….


 

 

 

 

I posted this a year ago.  We never did get the miracle we needed.Image (195)

Vic's Final Journey

Daniel and Vic 29-01-07

Sr Siza examined Vic today.  She phoned Dr Sue who will be in tomorrow morning.  She also brought a script with for Dalacin antibiotics.  The cellulitis has spread to all three the subcutaneous sites.

Siza expressed her concern at Vic’s decline…

Last Friday Danie, my husband, came and sat next to me and said “I know everyone says it will be better for Vic to die than live in this pain but I was thinking how hard it will be for us without her…”

That statement really shook me.  Up until now death has been a hypothetical issue… Doctors diagnoses and prognosis…predictions…  I have never really considered living without my child.

Last week Siza and I met with the CEO of Amcare, a large community project that provide community based feeding schemes, HIV/AIDS Counselling, Home-based care, skills development, ARV Clinic, women and children shelters.   We are hoping that they…

View original post 800 more words

Posted in Family Life, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness

What is the difference between “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease”?


The heartbreaking description of a person with Alzheimer’s disease illustrates what a precious thing we have in the gift of memory. Memory gives us a past and enables us to plan for a future. We enjoy routines in our daily cycle and retrace our steps. Without memory, all we have is the present – no more. Everybody is a stranger. Calendars don’t make sense. Even mirrors are confusing, because there is somebody else here in the room.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 suggests that we should remember our Creator when we are young, because days of trouble will come. The implication is that we will forget even our God. Declining mental abilities are well-known symptoms of increasing age. In 1906 Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German physician, did a brain autopsy on one of his elderly patients who had died after years of severe memory problems. He was surprised to find tangled nerve cells and dense deposits around them. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that science positively linked them to memory losses. After that it wasn’t long until intense research began to uncover some of the environmental and genetic causes of what is now commonly known as Alzheimer’s disease. http://www.wondermomsworld.com/tag/alzheimer%E2%80%99s-disease/

alzheimers-diseaseIn a nutshell, dementia is a symptom, and AD is the cause of the symptom. When someone is told they have dementia, it means that they have significant memory problems as well as other cognitive difficulties, and that these problems are severe enough to get in the way of daily living…..

Too often, patients and their family members are told by their doctors that the patient has been diagnosed with “a little bit of dementia.” They leave the doctor’s visit with a feeling of relief that at least they don’t have Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 

There is great confusion about the difference between “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s disease.”

The confusion is felt on the part of patients, family members, the media, and even healthcare providers. This article provides information to reduce the confusion by defining and describing these two common and often poorly understood terms. 

“Dementia” is a term that has replaced a more out-of-date word, “senility,” to refer to cognitive changes with advanced age. 

Dementia includes a group of symptoms, the most prominent of which is memory difficulty with additional problems in at least one other area of cognitive functioning, including language, attention, problem solving, spatial skills, judgment, planning, or organization.

alzheimers

These cognitive problems are a noticeable change compared to the person’s cognitive functioning earlier in life and are severe enough to get in the way of normal daily living, such as social and occupational activities.

A good analogy to the term dementia is “fever.”

Fever refers to an elevated temperature, indicating that a person is sick. But it does not give any information about what is causing the sickness. In the same way, dementia means that there is something wrong with a person’s brain, but it does not provide any information about what is causing the memory or cognitive difficulties. Dementia is not a disease; it is the clinical presentation or symptoms of a disease.

There are many possible causes of dementia. Some causes are reversible, such as certain thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies. If these underlying problems are identified and treated, then the dementia reverses and the person can return to normal functioning. 

However, most causes of dementia are not reversible. Rather, they are degenerative diseases of the brain that get worse over time. The most common cause of dementia is AD, accounting for as many as 70-80% of all cases of dementia. 

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Approximately 5.3 million Americans currently live with AD.

As people get older, the prevalence of AD increases, with approximately 50% of people age 85 and older having the disease. It is important to note, however, that although AD is extremely common in later years of life, it is not part of normal aging. For that matter, dementia is not part of normal aging.

If someone has dementia (due to whatever underlying cause), it represents an important problem in need of appropriate diagnosis and treatment by a well-trained healthcare provider who specializes in degenerative diseases.

In a nutshell, dementia is a symptom, and Alzheimer’s Disease is the cause of the symptom.

When someone is told they have dementia, it means that they have significant memory problems as well as other cognitive difficulties, and that these problems are severe enough to get in the way of daily living.

Most of the time, dementia is caused by the specific brain disease, AD.

However, some uncommon degenerative causes of dementia include vascular dementia (also referred to as multi-infarct dementia), frontotemporal dementia, Lewy Body disease, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Contrary to what some people may think, dementia is not a less severe problem, with AD being a more severe problem. 

There is not a continuum with dementia on one side and AD at the extreme.

Rather, there can be early or mild stages of AD, which then progress to moderate and severe stages of the disease.

One reason for the confusion about dementia and AD is that it is not possible to diagnose AD with 100% accuracy while someone is alive. Rather, AD can only truly be diagnosed after death, upon autopsy when the brain tissue is carefully examined by a specialized doctor referred to as a neuropathologist.

During life, a patient can be diagnosed with “probable AD.” This term is used by doctors and researchers to indicate that, based on the person’s symptoms, the course of the symptoms, and the results of various tests, it is very likely that the person will show pathological features of AD when the brain tissue is examined following death.

In specialty memory clinics and research programs, such as the BU ADC, the accuracy of a probable AD diagnosis can be excellent. And with the results of exciting new research, such as that being conducted at the BU ADC, the accuracy of AD diagnosis during life is getting better and better.http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2010/06/whats-difference-between-alzheimers-and.html

This contribution was made by Dr. Robert Stern, Director of the BU ADC Clinical Core.  Source BU ADC Bulletin

 

Posted in Angels, Family Life, Uncategorized, Vicky Bruce

sticks and stones and hurtful words


I reblogged this.  So often we use words without stopping to think that years later the words will still ring through the ears of the recipient…

When I first got married, and my ex-husband asked me for a divorce, he cited a couple of reasons for the request.

1.  I was a great mother, career person, entertainer, friend etc but I was a lousy wife

2.  He thought I was ugly

Now I know there was a certain amount of truth in the statement.  I knew that I was not focused on his needs quite as much as his mistress was.  But, I also knew, in my heart that, although I am not an oil painting, I was reasonably attractive in my own way.  Some people have even said I am pretty.

The fact remains – when I look at myself in the mirror I see what he saw.  When Danie and I have a disagreement he agrees with his predecessor.  Other days he will tell me I am beautiful.  Then I agree with his predecessor…

It is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It is also true that harsh words will never leave one’s head.  I still hear his words 34 years later!

Let us remember that words destruct and destroy.  Words can never be taken back.  Hurt lingers on….  Let’s be gentle!

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Happy birthday angel boy


Today Vic’s youngest son turned 15. It is his first birthday without his Mommy. As a family we have dreaded it.

Vic was a birthday person. Banners all over the house, balloons, singing, speeches and lots of laughter. Vic loved parties especially when they were her sons’ birthday parties.

We cannot do what she did. It would not be right to do what she did. We need to create new traditions around birthdays.

It is a day filled with pride and heartbreak. I know many people will think and say that Vic is smiling down from Heaven on her baby boy today. I know she is weeping. Vic never wanted to die. She so desperately wanted to live. She wanted to be at her sons’ birthdays, tell them how proud she is of them…Vic wanted to mother her boys herself…

The day has come and gone. We all hid our feelings so well. We laughed, smiled and sang….

Tonight when I get into bed I will weep with my child for my grandson…

10th birthday
10th birthday
Pregnant with Jon-Daniel
Pregnant with Jon-Daniel

Jon-Daniel 13th birthday
Jon-Daniel 13th birthday
Vic wrapping Jon-Daniel's gift
Vic wrapping Jon-Daniel’s gift
Jared smearing cream all over the birthday boy's face...
Jared smearing cream all over the birthday boy’s face…

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

An elephant cow’s mourning


We are spending a couple of days on a Game Reserve. It is a beautiful place where you are able to make peace with your soul. It was one of Vic’s favourite places. Vic loved the Kruger national Park too and on her last visit there witnessed a Cheetah kill!!

When we were told that Vic was terminal she fled to Mabalingwe. When she got divorced – Vic fled to Mabalingwe. This was Vic’s bit of Heaven on earth.

Vic has not been able to come to Mabalingwe for a couple of years. The roads are bad and it is a 2.5 hour trip. Just too far for her frail little body. Last year Vic was too ill and it was also Jared’s confirmation weekend.

Jared helping his Mommy to her seat in Church. 23.9.2012

The last time Vic came to Mabalingwe was in 2008. She photographed a herd of elephants. My Christmas gift, that year, was a beautifully framed enlargement of the elephant cow with her babies. Vic wrote a touching note on the back on the picture saying that I was just like the elephant cow – the matriarch of the family. This photograph is one of my most treasured possessions.

Vic's Photo
Vic’s Photo

The first time I was compared to an elephant cow I was appalled! I have however learnt so much about these amazing animals from Vic.

Elephants are widely believed to mourn the deaths of members of their herd, and even pay homage to long-dead elephants.

A 2005 study in the UK found the creatures displayed traits similar to humans and, coming across the remains of an elephant, would gently touch the skull and tusks with their trunks and feet. It is thought that hovering around the carcass and examining the bones and skull by smelling, touching and moving the bones around, is an attempt to recognize whom it was… Some elephants have been seen to weep and others make sounds associated with grief as they cover the body with leaves and branches before keeping a silent vigil. When a member of the herd has passed away, either due to fights or injury, the entire herd would gather around the dead elephant and stay there, not eating, and not allowing anything near it for 18 hours to 24 hours. Mothers of stillborn infants appear to grieve for days over her dead infant, crying and trying to revive it, before finally moving on.

“Elephants, the largest land animals on the planet, are among the most exuberantly expressive of creatures. Joy, anger, grief, compassion, love; the finest emotions reside within these hulking masses. Through years of research, scientists have found that elephants are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. In fact, the emotional attachment elephants’ form toward family members may rival our own.

 Joy is an emotion that elephants have no shame in showing. They express their happiness and joy when they are amongst their loved ones-family and friends. Playing games and greeting friends or family members all elicit displays of joy.

But the one event that stirs a level of elephant happiness beyond compare is the birth of a baby elephant. In Echo: An Elephant to Remember, the birth of Ebony is one such occasion. The excitement of several of the females in Echo’s family can’t be contained as they are heard bellowing and blaring during the birth of the new baby.

An elephant reunion is a joyful meeting between related, but separated, elephants is one of exuberance and drama. The greeting ceremony marks the incredible welcoming of a formerly absent family member. During the extraordinary event, the elephants about to be united begin calling each other from a quarter a mile away. As they get closer, their pace quickens. Their excitement visibly flows as fluid from their temporal glands streams down the sides of their faces. Eventually, the elephants make a run towards each other, screaming and trumpeting the whole time. When they finally make contact, they form a loud, rumbling mass of flapping ears, clicked tusks and entwined trunks. The two leaning on each other, rubbing each other, spinning around, even defecating, and urinating (for this is what elephants do when they are experiencing sheer delight). With heads held high, the reunited pair fill the air with a symphony of trumpets, rumbles, screams, and roars. Bliss.

 There is no greater love in elephant society than the maternal kind. Nobody who observes a mother with her calf could doubt this. It is one of the most touching aspects of elephant social customs. The calf is so small compared to the adult that it walks under its mother, who, incredibly, does not step on it or trip over it. Mother and child remain in constant touch. If a calf strays too far from its mother, she will fetch it. The mother often touches her child with trunk and legs, helping it to its feet with one foot and her trunk. She carries it over obstacles and hauls it out of pits or ravines. She pushes it under her to protect it from predators or hot sun. She bathes it, using her trunk to spray water over it and then to scrub it gently. The mother steers her calf by grasping its tail with her trunk, and the calf follows, holding its mother’s tail. When the calf squeals in distress, its mother and others rush to its protection immediately. It is easy to see why the bond between mother and daughter lasts 50 years or more.

 One of the most moving displays of elephant emotion is the grieving process. Elephants remember and mourn loved ones, even many years after their death. When an elephant walks past a place that a loved one died he or she will stop and take a silent pause that can last several minutes. While standing over the remains, the elephant may touch the bones of the dead elephant (not the bones of any other species), smelling them, turning them over and caressing the bones with their trunk. Researchers don’t quite understand the reason for this behaviour. They guess the elephants could be grieving. Or they could they be reliving memories. Or perhaps the elephant is trying to recognize the deceased. Whatever the reason, researchers suspect that the sheer interest in the dead elephant is evidence that elephants have a concept of death.

 Researchers have described mother elephants who appear to go through a period of despondency after the death of a calf, dragging behind the herd for days. They’ve also witnessed an elephant herd circling a dead companion disconsolately. After some time, and likely when they realized the elephant was dead, the family members broke off branches, tore grass clumps and dropped these on the carcass. Another researcher noted a family of African elephants surrounding a dying matriarch. The family stood around her and tried to get her up with their tusks and put food in her mouth. When the rest of the herd finally moved on, one female and one calf stayed with her, touching her with their feet.

Terror, rage and stress, unfortunately, are also commonplace in the elephant repertoire of emotions. Terror afflicts baby African elephants who wake up screaming in the middle of the night after they have witnessed their families murdered and poached — a type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Some researchers suggest a species-wide trauma is taking place in wild elephant populations. They say that elephants are suffering from a form of chronic stress after sustaining decades of killings and habitat loss. The recent surge in cases of wild elephant rage reported by the media is a sad indicator of the kind of stress that wild elephants are undergoing. Nearly 300 persons are killed every year by wild elephants in India. But the increasing numbers of deaths are closely correlated to the ever-increasing human presence in traditional wild elephant habitats, as well as the the effects of climate change, and loss of territory and resources. The ongoing competition between elephants and humans for available land and resources is leading to ever more unfortunate and often deadly consequences.

 Human activity does more than put a stress on elephants to find resources. It can often disrupt the complex and delicate web of familial and societal relations that are so important in elephant society. Calves are carefully protected and guarded by members of the matriarchal elephant family. Any perception of danger triggers a violent reaction from the matriarch and, subsequently, the entire family. The extremes a family will go to protect a vulnerable new calf are reported in the news stories as fits of unprovoked “elephant rage.” Charging a village, storming into huts where harvested crop is stored, plundering fields and, if disturbed, turning violent are some of the instances reported by the media.

 Compassion is not reserved for offspring alone in elephant society. Elephants appear to make allowances for other members of their herd. Observers noted that one African herd always traveled slowly because one of its members had never recovered from a broken leg. And in another case, a park warden reported a herd that traveled slowly because one female was carrying around a dead calf. One perplexing report was of an adult elephant making repeated attempt to help a baby rhinoceros stuck in the mud. She continued to try to save the baby rhino despite the fact that its mother charged her each time. Risking her life for the sake of an animal that is not her own, not related to her, or even her own species is remarkably altruistic in nature.

 While there is a great deal more to learn about what elephants feel, such accounts are astonishing. They reveal a creature that weeps, revels, rages and grieves. They lead us to believe that the depth of elephant emotional capacity knows no limit. They are striking for they suggest that elephants act on feelings and not solely for survival.

So my baby girl, tomorrow I shall start looking for the elephants. I will remember your exuberant excitement and joy when you saw the herd. I will remember your words “Mommy, you are just like that elephant matriarch. You also protect and care for your family.”

Bottom-line, if animals mourn how can we as mothers be expected “to move along”…

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http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/echo-an-elephant-to-remember/elephant-emotions/4489/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2090915/Well-forget-Elephants-say-sad-farewell-month-old-calf-died-heart-defect.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/25/lola-baby-elephant-dies-heart-herd-mourns_n_1232007.html

http://perezhilton.com/teddyhilton/2012-06-22-elephants-mourning-death#sthash.YznTAxLx.dpbs

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

I just can’t do it…


Today is a bad day. This past week has been a horrific week. I have missed Vic and her unconditional love so much this week.  Not only her unconditional love of and for me and her boys  but also the love that she radiated into the world…

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I have looked through photos of Vic and going through her Facebook page, and I know I cannot do what she did.

I cannot bring the joy in her boys’ lives that she did. Vic was a fun person, and if she had one spare breath of oxygen in her little body she would organize a party. I looked at Vic’s photos, and I saw the fun she had with her boys.

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Vic would space bank energy and willpower to watch Jon-Daniel play tennis or cricket…  That took serious commitment!

I know I am their safe haven.  I can just never be what Vic was in their lives.

I miss laughing.  I miss being happy.