Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fun Times While Living With Alzheimer's


Even though we aren't traveling right now, we are still on a great journey.  This wild roller coaster style trip living with dementia.

The fun times...

And the times when I try to remain calm and I tell George (as he would have said before his brain started deteriorating) "It is what it is."

Right now it is January, 2017 and our snow-bird friends have arrived.  I want to host lots of dinners and parties and gatherings.  I want to attend lots of fun activities and go on long all-day rides.  It is what we have done since we moved to Florida. But even with all the busy-ness...

I miss you.

I miss sharing the little things that happen day to day.  I miss having each of you with me in those moments.  I miss thinking how this moment looks from the OUTSIDE.

I am afraid.  I am afraid if I don't record these moments that they will be lost in the fog of my own memory which too will fade someday.  I am afraid that when George passes I will be overwhelmed with guilt because I will only remember the times my patience came up short.

I won't remember all the good times, the laughs, the dances, and all the hugs. So, out of fear and nostalgia for the community you helped me create by following our 2016 journey.  I have decided to keep posting, keep updating, keep this online journal-thing going.  At least try when I can pull myself away from the day to day.

So, you may wonder, how is George doing?

George seems happy.  But he doesn't tell me so unless I ask.  He still says "I love you."

And the other day, Friday 1/20/17, I couldn't believe it...

But before I get into what I couldn't believe on Friday, I first have to give you some background information.

I now take George with me when I go to work.  I am working part-time at a little bike shop in Floral City. (Also known as Hampton's Edge)  It works out well right now because the owner is gone and George can sit in his office chair, see me, do his coloring and watch his videos (he has moved on from "How It's Made" to "The Three Stooges".  He is very quiet and my co-workers are supportive.

I started taking him to work with me because one day... We were about ready to hop on our trikes and go meet the group for a ride.  George went to use the 1/2 bath on the first floor.  He was in there a long while, I was concerned.

I heard a flush and he opened the door and I saw that the toilet was overflowing behind him.  George stood by and watched as I turned off the water, I ran into the garage and got the plunger and some big rags to soak up the mess.  George following a few paces behind. 

When I got back to the bathroom I laid down the rags to start soaking.  Both of us tried to get the plunger to work.  It was the former owner's plunger and it didn't plunge.  Fortunately our neighbors (who also ride with the group) had not left yet, so I ran over and borrowed their plunger.

The mess cleaned up, we got on our trikes and started down the road.  Then I saw George sit up in his trike and reach to wipe something off his sock.  It was POOP!

Let's just say my exclamation was appropriate to the situation.

We returned home.  I directed hm to take his shoes off because I saw they were full of poop too.  Then I was yelling, "DON'T TOUCH THE WALLS!"

We got him cleaned up.  As I washed him off I said, "No big deal.  It is what it is."   I think his embarrassment emotion is gone.  He didn't seem affected.

Afterward we went on the ride and caught up with some of the group at a stopping point.  We had a good rest of the day.

So that was when I started to take him to work with me.  Can you imagine the mess if I had been gone that day?

A few more messy incidents and we have graduated from incontinence pads to the full pants.

You never think of this, but a caregiver has to keep track.  George is still cleaning and dressing himself most the time.  One thing he doesn't always do is change his pad.  A caregiver at this stage must keep count or watch the waste can.

I am very fortunate in that George does not protest when I clean him up.  He doesn't argue when I tell him to change his pad.  I suspect that may change.  We'll see.

But to get back to the story I was going to tell you.. the thing I couldn't believe...

On Friday 1/20/17 he was with me at work.

At lunch time I took him outside to a picnic table.  I ate my sandwich and left him at the table to finish his lunch.  Right next to the bike shop is a flower shop.  In all the years we have lived here he never stopped to buy me flowers.  But that day...

 He must have noticed the flower shop....

Or maybe someone talked to him about it... I have my suspicions...

But then he has been... as a friend calls it... feeling "frisky".  I can't imagine he could plot out a strategy for wooing me at this stage of his illness. 

After work we rode our trikes from work to Inverness to meet up with a few snow-bird friends.  There was an old car show downtown and music to dance to.  I showed the flowers to our friends and they took more pictures.

 The music was good for dancing and George danced practically every dance with me/us... Frankie and I.  The first dance we did was a line dance and George just followed me around the dance floor... not doing the steps, just following me around.

Frankie and Joan.

We had a great time.

We are living in our new home now, much closer to Inverness.  I love that we are close to town.  We both miss our old home and neighbors.  Twice since we have moved we have gone back to walk around and visit folks.

One couple is on the same path as us.  Learning as she goes she has shared information and experiences.  She introduced me to the better support groups in the area.

Another friend recommended the book, "Alzheimer's proofing your home" so I ordered it from Amazon.

George and I joined the closest fitness club for a very reasonable fee.  Melody's has character and is walking distance.  George does well, though his form sometimes worries me, he keeps going and has not injured himself yet.

Well, that is enough for now.  I really should go sit with him and watch a movie or something.  Tomorrow night I am hosting "Girls Game Night".  I will probably set him up in the den.  Someone gave us a used DVD player that is portable.. like a small laptop.   So maybe I will get him some movies to watch.


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