Once again I’m having problems with spacing between paragraphs. I’ve been fooling with this long enough. I’m publishing it anyway. Apologies if it’s hard to read.
Sunday June 21st is our anniversary. That day will be 30 years since we met and 23 years since we became husband and wife. I’m not a bit surprised that we’re still together. We both made up our minds long ago that “’til death do us part” was the only way for us. I do think it’s that simple to stay together. Just making up your mind, not quitting or giving up when things get hard. And they will get hard.
Things that used to bother me about Greg no longer do. Or else I’ve just mellowed or learned to accept them. Other things will always bother me about him. I’m sure he could say the same thing about me. Overall, Greg has been a wonderful husband. There are things that have happened that no doubt would have made others throw in the towel and leave. The people who say they would “never put up with” things from a spouse are single for a reason. The people I know who aren’t married will often say they are happy to be alone. I can see how that could be true. However, most of them are desperately lonely. To the point of being willing to date a married man or just lamenting how they’ll end up alone in a house full of cats. The reason people never marry is because they don’t want to have to compromise or give in to someone else. They don’t want to have to put someone else’s needs ahead of their own on a regular basis. I don’t blame them but they have to realize that is what marriage is. The only way you can do everything you want all the time and be married is if you have one of those marriages where you both do your own thing. You don’t eat meals together, the guy goes out with the boys and you spend evenings with the girls. You take separate vacations, shop apart and never talk face to face. That to me is not a marriage.
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The last few weeks have been hectic. Hubby got home from his week long training in Georgia the afternoon of Sat. March 28th. We had to get 2 gifts wrapped (not giftwrapped, just protectively boxed up for transport) and 2 cards made. While we were readying them, we got a phone call that Greg’s Aunt Aggie had passed away. She was only 78 and was always a favorite of both of ours. We were already going to WI the next day for his mother’s 80th birthday party. Now we were potentially going to a funeral a few days after that. As you can imagine, the entire week was just stress-filled. We fought on multiple occasions.
We got up at 5 am on Sunday March 22nd since hubby had a super early flight and I had to drive him to the airport. It was still dark and I was driving my car. Recently I’ve had one thing after another go wrong with my 22 year old car. Besides my brakes going out, I had my battery not hold a charge. I’d been starting it daily after it had been in the shop last and had it on a trickle charger. Hubby had been taking it to work once a week and everything was fine. Then I went around dusk to get a gallon of milk at the grocery (nothing else) and when I came out, it was getting dark. I put on the lights and barely made it home! The car was ready to die any minute. Then I was afraid to drive it again and the whole month of Feb. it was cold. Average of 14 degrees each day. Hubby offered to get a new battery but I knew the battery wasn’t old! When the weather got warmer, we took it to the garage again. This time it was the alternator for $350. Ok, the rollercoaster continues….Yesterday, about halfway home after dropping hubby off and the headlights go out. Then they come back on for a second and go out again. I wiggled it and turned them on and off and it kept happening. Luckily, we don’t live far from the airport and I know my way in the dark. I made it home safely even though I half expected to get pulled over by a cop. When I got home I realized I’d forgotten my purse and cellphone! Gah! I was so sleepy and had gone to grab my keys and purse and had only gotten my keys. I plan to drive it again tomorrow to get some soda that’s on sale at the store. I won’t be driving it at night if I can help it.
Yesterday was the first day with Greg gone. I’m used to him being at work during the daytime on Sundays, so that went fine. I did have to unplug/ reset the Directv which freezes up when you try to go up or down on the Playlist. The only thing I was looking forward to while hubby is gone is reading in bed. When I got back yesterday morning from the airport, I went back to bed. I couldn’t sleep but it was too early to be up. I noticed that the light on my nightstand that had been working the night before, didn’t work anymore. So yesterday I got out the ladder and climbed up to get a replacement bulb from the hidden storage above the kitchen cupboards. It wasn’t the exact same wattage but close enough. I took it up and put it in, only to find out it still wouldn’t give light. At this point I checked the cord. It was still plugged into a power strip on my side of the bed. The power strip was supposed to be plugged into the power strip on his side of the bed. It wasn’t. Nor could I reach it. So I pulled it and it came out on my side. I had to take out a ton of things that were stored under the bed. I went from one side of the bed to the other, laying down, trying to feed the cord under the Queen size bed. I even used something to push it. Then I went to his side and tried to reach it. After I did this over a dozen times, I realized my arms are too short and it would never work. The cord was too short to feed behind the headboard. I ended up running an extension cord from my side to his behind the headboard. It’s not ideal. When I talked to him on the phone last night, Greg said he must’ve unplugged it by accident when he unplugged his bi-pap yesterday morning. Then I took the new lightbulb out and went downstairs and got the old one and put that back in and it worked fine. I just hating wasting time like this!
I had all kinds of big ideas on what I was going to accomplish while Greg was gone. Yesterday I made homemade chicken noodle soup. Today I was going to make chicken pot pie. I was going to get a lot of items listed on Etsy and start a new shop just for vintage ephemera. Things like antique and rare books, greeting cards, postcards, Victorian Trade Cards, old letters, photographs, etc. After what happened today, I’ll probably mostly be resting.
Last night it started snowing. A freak Spring storm that wasn’t expected to leave much evidence. The local weathermen predicted 1.5″ while the national news guessed more in the 5-6″ range. This morning, I went out to shovel just a trail on the deck for the dogs and we had almost 7″. It snowed for several more hours since then. It’s 28 degrees out and tomorrow will be in the 40’s and Wed. in the 50’s with rain. All this is going to melt and I can’t entertain the idea of the basement flooding again!! All our snow had been gone and we even had one day last week that was 70 degrees. I had taken the dogs for a walk with no coat! I had shoveled a path to the backyard for the dogs and took some videos of them playing in the snow. Then I came in and went to the front and shoveled just the steps for the mailman.
At this point, my worry about the melting and rain made me paranoid about all that snow sitting on the flat roof above the garage. We don’t shovel it if it’s less than 3″ but this was so heavy and I can’t risk water coming in and ruining all our inventory in the garage. So I went up there and the dogs followed me. There’s a railing around all sides up there and they know better than to jump. They like to run around and look down from up there. Greg always lets them be up there when he does the shoveling. I haven’t done it alone for a few years. The last time I had, I had gotten locked out! It was before Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I had tried to get her attention by throwing the shovel on the deck and yelling but nothing would work. That time I was up there alone and Greg was at work. The dogs were inside and I had climbed over the railing, onto the deck of the shed and then jumped onto the railing of the deck. Now we’ve got bowling pins on top of the deck railing. Plus I knew the dogs would try to follow me and they’d hurt themselves.
As you might guess, IT HAPPENED AGAIN. I couldn’t even believe my luck!! I had shoveled just over half of it up there and the snow was coming down hard. Ivy acted like she wanted to go in. I was going to open the storm door and let her and whoever else wanted in to come in. This time I had left the inside door open so I could look in. I went to open the door and it had latched! We keep it locked but you have to flick the latch down to open it. When I had gone out, it had relocked somehow. I was beyond upset! If the dogs hadn’t been up there, I might’ve just tried to climb down. But I had no choice, I had to get in. So I took the shovel, which was entirely PLASTIC, and tried to pop the window out. The shovel tore the screen up immediately but the window is plexi-glass so it wouldn’t break. I tried pushing it at the corners or pounding it in the middle. Nothing worked.
Then the babysitter next door came out and asked me if I needed help. It must’ve looked quite a sight. Me beating furiously on the door with a shovel, one end and then the other. I even tried throwing my considerable weight against it repeatedly. According to what I’ve seen on tv, pushing your shoulder or bulk should pop a window out. Instead, every time I did that, I felt pain in my arm and left side. It was slippery up there so I couldn’t get good traction, even in snow boots. I tried kicking it but that didn’t work either. I told the neighbor I needed a ladder. She asked if the door was open and I said no. I had locked them both when I went up there since that was the last thing I was going to do outside. Then she stood and watched me for the longest time while I struggled. The dogs barked at her while I worked feverishly to no avail. Later I asked her if she had a hammer. She said she could look for one. I told her not to bother since I didn’t know how I’d get it from her. She’d have to throw it up there and it might hit one of the dogs in the head and hurt them!
I had my cellphone with me which is rare. I actually thought of calling 911 but I’ve never done it and don’t want to do it over something so foolish. I’d be the butt of a ton of jokes by the firemen and police. Mom would never hear me banging and would never come look for me. I decided to call the house phone anyway and on the message, call for her loudly and tell her to go in the hallway. Of course that didn’t work. Then I couldn’t see my phone, it was so bright out, I must’ve called my husband when I tried to hang up the call. I surely wouldn’t have called him since I knew there was NOTHING he could do. He was at lunch so could talk but just told me to do what I had already done. I let him go and went back to throwing myself against the window and jamming the shovel into it. It seemed like I could get a gap on the right side towards the lock but I couldn’t pry it open. I was afraid to put my fingers in there since it might cut them off! I tried putting the shovel into it but it wouldn’t work.
Suddenly, without warning, the plexi-glass shattered into a million tiny pieces. A few pieces were the size of a dime but mostly they were just a bit bigger than a grain of sand. It had shattered into a pile an inch thick on the landing and then all the way down the stairs. I reached into the empty space and flipped the lock on the door. I went inside being careful not to let the dogs in. There was so much broken glass, if I let them walk on it, they would surely cut their feet! So I reached through and lifted Ivy through the missing pane and carried her to safety. Then I went up and told Amber to come up to me and she did. I lifted her through and took her down. Then I got Elvis and took him all the way to the sunroom and put the leash on him. I had Mom hold him while she played on the computer. He cried for most of the time. He can’t stand to be away from me and I knew he wouldn’t stay away from the stairs without restraint. Overall, I was really proud of the dogs for how they behaved.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sit down and get my breath and rest. I couldn’t though since I had to immediately vacuum up the glass! It took me at least 45 min. to do it, then I lifted the pane with the remnants out of the track and put it in a garbage bag. I had to vacuum with the wand and go over the area multiple times. Even so, I won’t be going barefoot anytime soon. After I was done with that, I wanted to rest but couldn’t. I had to go back out and finish shoveling! I was so overheated, I didn’t put a coat on right away. It was stupid so I went back and got it and finished. Then the babysitter drove up and said she was glad I got in. You and me both!!
By then, it was time to make lunch and get Mom to the bathroom. I managed to rest a bit after lunch but I’ve got a sore throat and my side is so sore. I don’t know if it’s stress on my heart or I tore some muscles from that. All I know is I’ve had enough excitement for the day, the week, the month and the year!
As for what else the next few weeks hold, hubby gets home late on Sat. March 28th. On Sun. he has to work but is going in early and taking 4 hours sick leave so we can go to his mother’s 80th birthday party. It’s up in WI so there’s a 2 hour drive each way. It’s at 4 pm so we can only stay an hour or so if we go together. Mom will be fine as long as I’m home to get her dinner that night. Hubby and I argued about this for at least a week! When he found out he was going away this week, I made him call his brother Dan and tell him when he’d be gone so he didn’t expect him to go during that week. At the time, he also told him he couldn’t make it on Sundays since he worked. The fact that they expect him to go, basically guilting him into it doesn’t sit good with me. He’s afraid of looking like the bad guy if he doesn’t go. His niece just had a baby (the first great grandchild for his Mom) on March 20th. So we have a gift for her and one for his mom. I told him we should mail them but he must want to go to the party. After not seeing me for 7 days, I hate the thought of not seeing him for another day if he went alone. So many unpleasant things, so little time…
Next Mon. is Ivy’s vet appt. for vaccinations and heartworm. If Greg can come with me, that’s great, otherwise I’ll take her alone. Then the next day is hubby’s dentist appt. Mine is the day after that which is also Greg’s birthday! The day after that we’re taking the other 2 dogs to the vet for their heartworm tests. So you can see how busy every single day is…
I just had to share the latest disaster that befell me. Let’s hope no one else has luck like that. I guess it’s all in how you look at it. Some people might say I’m a Superhero for rescuing the dogs but that title does not apply. I can’t even function in daily life without having ridiculous things happen to me…
In horror stories, usually the demon has to be invited in. With Alzheimer’s, no invitation was issued, nor was an RSVP received. Talk about an uninvited houseguest. This one comes and never leaves until it’s sucked the life out of you. Most demons take your soul but Alzheimer’s steals your brain, not just the mind that holds memories but the entire organ including the first things we learned how to do to function. Like the ability to comprehend speech, let alone answer. The ability to form words or sentences. To sign your name. To recognize loved ones. To recall the name of things. This demon alters the possessed’s personality and hijacks their emotions. Nothing can make the person happy or sad any longer. They just exist to hold the host demon inside for it to feed off of…
Everything gets exponentially harder daily. Yesterday was bath day which is always the hardest. She doesn’t listen to me hardly at all anymore. I don’t think she’d listen to anyone else any better. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t leave her alone much. Obviously I have to at times, just to cook meals and do household chores. I can’t trust her to follow through on things I tell her. Like I used to just walk her to the bathroom (holding hands) and leave her, maybe check on her once while she was in there. Now I have to walk her and stand in the doorway while she goes. I have to keep track of IF she went or not since if I ask her if she went, she says, “I don’t know.” I have to tell her to take her soiled pad out of her underpants. Even if she sees it’s soiled, she doesn’t think to do anything about it. I have to give her a new one. I have to open it for her and watch that she puts it in her underpants correctly. I keep the Poise incontinence pads under the sink in the downstairs bathroom. She used to know to open the cabinet, reach in and take one. Now if I’m not with her, she may take the soiled pad out and not replace it at all. One day I left one on the sink and she went earlier than usual without me being home. She put the entire pad still wrapped in the plastic, inside her underpants. It’s folded into thirds with a plastic on top. I have to hand her toilet paper or she won’t use it. I have to count how many times I hand her toilet paper (5 in a row and I have to flush) so that the upstairs toilet doesn’t get clogged and I have to plunge it. I have to stand by and make sure she USES the toilet paper and doesn’t just set it on the sink or put it on top of the pad in her underpants. I have to make sure she wipes enough and in the right area and doesn’t give herself an infection. I have to watch and make sure she puts the used toilet paper IN the toilet and not in the sink, or on the floor. She often wants to hand it to me. NO THANKS.
You’d think this would be ENOUGH. But I can’t leave the room yet. I have to tell her to flush the toilet. Or sometimes I do it for her. It’s not always worth shouting about. She’s hard of hearing so I feel like when I do address her I’m always shouting. The less reaction she gives me, the louder I yell. It’s exhausting. Then I tell her to wash her hands. You’d think I could walk away then.But no…I have to make sure she uses soap. And then stick around to show her where to dry her hands. EVERY SINGLE TIME. She doesn’t go to the bathroom as much as most people so I should count myself “lucky”. She goes in the morning when she gets up, before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime. Occasionally, there’ll be another time. She doesn’t drink much water and then when the mood strikes her, she’ll drink 2 full bottles in a row. I still have trouble catching her always trying to stand up from the toilet without wiping or with feces hanging out of her. The struggle is real.
Some of this sounds atrocious and I probably shouldn’t even put it in print. Maybe the worst thing that bothers me is her lack of interest in EVERYTHING. She doesn’t care what she eats, what she watches on tv, what she wears, you name it. I no longer see her smile ever or get any joy out of life. She sits in her recliner in the living room and I tell her to “put your legs up”. She lifts them together about 6 inches off the ground. It’s like a bad joke but no one’s laughing. I have to tell her to “use the handle”. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Some days she reaches for it and says, “I can’t”. She doesn’t even really try. It’s the worst to do for someone else who doesn’t try for themselves.
She was always somewhat demanding and difficult. I guess I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. She used to boss me around, “Cut my hair!” or “I want ice cream!” I used to be annoyed because I felt like it cut into my time. Now if only she could express what she wanted. As it turns out, my time is not my own anyway.
I’m on day 9 of one of the worst colds I’ve had in my life! I haven’t had a cold this bad in over 20 years. Back when I used to get them like this, I was working 3rd shift (nights) at the Post Office. I would stay in bed for at least 3 days to recover. Now I can’t even take a nap. I have someone to care for 24/7. Possibly the worst is that she has no comprehension that I’m sick. She doesn’t acknowledge it or have any compassion for me. Now hubby has caught the cold. He’s about 2 days behind me. I’ve been very diligent with washing hands and trying to keep from infecting my mom since a cold like this could kill her. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone! Not the cold and not Alzheimer’s!!!
Even Mom playing on the computer has become a challenge. We have it set up so she only has to push the space bar on the keyboard to spin the slot machine games. If she hits the wrong button, sometimes a grey box or a white box will come up. You have to tap or move the mouse to get it to disappear. She used to be able to move a mouse, now she doesn’t know what a mouse is!! I have to get up from wherever I am and fix it for her every time. Sometimes she can go all day without hitting the wrong thing. Other days it will come up every few minutes. She won’t call to me if I’m in the other room to tell me either, so I have to walk in and check on her every few minutes.
It’s similar to every day I have to hand her a kleenex and have her blow her nose. I can usually hear if she’s got snot in her nose so I try to get to her before she does things like sneeze everywhere or wipe snot somewhere. I have to stand there and make sure she blows her nose or she’ll just take the kleenex and fold it up and lay it somewhere. I can’t just tell her “the kleenex box is on your left” because it doesn’t sink in.
Mom falls asleep a lot and doesn’t know if it’s time for bed or time for dinner. When I take her to the bathroom before dinner, she often tries to go upstairs to bed. I have to tell her no and get her moving the other way. I’ve been cooking a lot (as usual) and made a couple of pork roasts. I got out 2 crockpots and prepared a whole bunch of veggies and cooked them up so I wouldn’t have to cook every single night. I still end up making more veggies later and improvising in different ways using the roasts. One night we had a frozen pizza and she hates them. I’m not too fond of them either but I was sick and didn’t want to fuss. I asked her if she wanted pizza or would she rather have a small scoop of cottage cheese for dinner. She said, “I don’t know.” So I gave her the cottage cheese and she ate it right up. I guess I could start making soups and things for her. It seems more that she’s forgotten how to swallow than anything else.
I started babysitting when I was 11 years old. I took a babysitting course from the Red Cross at the YMCA and got certified. I learned CPR and all that other good stuff. I was gungho to make money. I got jobs right away. Nobody wanted to pay anything. I guess 50 cents an hour was the average back in mid-1970’s. I had a young couple who lived next door who even had me babysit when they moved way across town. They paid like $1/hr. too which was great. Then I had a nightmare babysitting job for a woman across the street. She had rented from my dad the apt. next door and then later moved across the street. She was divorced and was a waitress at a chinese restaurant. She had one child who was a demon! This child would not listen at all. As soon as you got done telling her something, she would ignore you. I would say she was around 5 yrs. old. I stayed with her and played with her all day from mid afternoon until her mom was supposed to be home at 10 pm. We were in the house (while it was still light out) and I went to use the bathroom. Just a quick pee and I came out and the child was GONE. I wasn’t worried the kid was abducted or anything but how would I find the child? It was a girl and I was frantic. I went out looking for her with no luck. I called my dad for help. My mom was working. I wouldn’t call my dad unless I had no other choice. He helped me drive around the neighborhood and we found her. This child was impossible to control. I put her to bed and she kept getting up again and saying she wanted me to make her bacon. That sounded crazy to me. The kid kept carrying on. the mother called to say she’d be late and to go ahead and make the kid bacon. She said she’d be home by midnight. Then she never showed up until 3:30 am and I think it was a school night. Then she paid me what amounted to less than 25 cents an hour!! She called me later to babysit and I told her NO. She asked why. I told her she didn’t pay enough for what she put me through. No amount of money is worth that kind of aggravation.
It may seem odd that I’ve brought this up but I think of this scenario every single day. I have the same helpless feeling with my mom that I did with that girl I babysat. I get my mom to the upstairs bathroom and sit her down on the toilet and then I quick RUN a few steps to her bedroom and get a diaper and her glasses case and hearing aid container. I tell her to sit with her hands together (so she doesn’t pick her leg) and wait. Before I can get back to the bathroom, she’s trying to get up! I scream, “NO!” and get her sat down. Then I RUN to her bedroom, pull back the covers and put down the bed pads. By the time I’m back, she’s trying to get up again or HAS gotten up. Without wiping. She doesn’t know enough to pull up her pants so may just be standing there. What I’m living now, makes me relive that type of unpleasantness from that babysitting nightmare.
I’ve been trying to figure out WHY I’ve gotten into collecting religious artifacts at all, let alone during this time in my life. I’ve come to believe that it’s because I’m trying to ward off the demon Alzheimer’s. Not only am I afraid inhabited my mother, I’m afraid he has his sights set on me. In horror movies, often the demon leaves one host only to make himself at home in another nearby being. Scary stuff but nothing compares to reality and how frightening it is to watch someone disappear before your eyes.
No amount of wishing, praying or hoping can get the demon to leave. Alzheimer’s has taken root and is here to stay. No exorcism can remove the demon from our lives. Today I was counting days of the week to see how long I’d had this cold. I go, “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Eighty, Ninety, One Hundred…” I’m not even kidding. I caught myself and did it wrong a total of 3 times. I can’t even make this stuff up. I’m going to say this is the cold messing with my head (even though I’ve taken no meds for it) and not freak out that I’m losing my mind as well.
I have finally come to terms with how people can put a loved one in a nursing home. I honestly couldn’t see it before. I’m still not going to do it but at least I understand. People must feel that one life is enough to sacrifice and lose. By being the caretaker of an individual with Alzheimer’s, you are giving up your own life. So basically 2 whole lives are wasted, not just one. I’m assuming this is my purpose in life since I haven’t accomplished much else. I’ll just continue to take it one day at a time since looking beyond that is overwhelming.