Friday, June 21, 2019

Regret - Useless? Painful

Yesterday I spoke to the Joy Club (Just Older Youths) at the First Baptist Church in Crystal River.

   One of the audience members (Roger) asked what were my regrets.  What would I have done differently while caring for George.  And I froze.  I couldn't think of a thing.

   It is not that I don't have regrets it is that I don't let my mind go there.  The shoulda coulda woulda would eat me alive.  But after I got home I let myself ponder into the depths of this.  And regrets... "I've had a few, too few to mention."  The tears flowed.
  1.  Video tape more! I would video tape my loved ones more.  Video tape them talking, walking, dancing, laughing.  Don't wait until they have a diagnosis or get hit by a truck.  Do it NOW, today and tomorrow.  Who-ever you love and are close to, video tape them.  Precious sounds and movements that are dear will be captured to give you joy after they have faded.
  2. Use soap!  I don't know why it took me so long to learn that soap dissolves poop. But it does.  I went through so many wet wipes trying to get gooey pooh off of George's hairy bottom.  Soap is magical.  Use soap and don't worry about rinsing out the rag in the sink.  But if it bothers you, then rinse it out in the toilet.  
  3. Ask a question and then be quiet.  I have been a fixer, a smoother over of situations, an empathetic personality.  So when I ask a question and I see a person struggling to get the words out I want to step in and make it easier.  I may guess at what they are going to say and fill it in for them, or I might just move the conversation along.  They usually look relieved.  But maybe I needed to let George try more.  Lost in his world of inability to communicate, there were only a couple times when he shared with me his deep sorrow over his losses as he progressed with dementia.  The times were so emotionally heart breaking I couldn't let us stay there too long.  I would lighten the tone, give him a hug, always trying to find a brighter side.  
  4. Do the exercises more often.  We had a set of exercises we were given for George's mobility.  We were supposed to do them three times a day.  Most days I would do them once... in the beginning.  But as time progressed and I got more absorbed in other care, we would go days without doing them.  And then he couldn't do them well enough.  I would exaggerate the move trying to get him to copy it, but he would barely move.  It was so frustrating.  I just stopped doing them.  My regret is not doing them at least twice a day for as long into the illness as he could.
   Ok.  That is enough regret for one day.  The past is in the past.  Enough heart ache... onto other things and life as it is now.
   I want to thank Gabrelle who generously spent the day with me giving advice on lighting and background and taking the great pictures at the event.  She also ended up driving me to the event because as I backed out of the driveway I turned too sharply and scraped a bush.  The bumper pulled off!  Now I gotta go to the body shop.  What would I have done without you Gabrielle Harrison?  I continue to be amazed at the generous people around me.

   Shortly after I published Alzheimer's Trippin' with George I joined AlzAuthors. For this week they are celebrating their anniversary and providing book give-aways. Many of us authors have put our books up for a discounted price for this week. It is also our way of honoring Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. My book appears first on their list of books in their blog post today. Thank you AlzAuthors!
Here is what they say about my book.

Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George: Diagnosis to Discovery in 10,000 Miles by Susan Straley
What would you do if you learned that your spouse or partner has progressive dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s disease?  This is the brutally honest journal of one spouse and reluctant caregiver that “ran for the hills.” Of course she took her husband George along.
What challenges did Susan encounter?  How can she enjoy the present — a journey across the U.S.A. –  while worrying about the future?  How do she and George deal with his increasing dementia symptoms? And the biggest question of all, after 40 years together, can they remain married and loving through it all?  Travel along with George and Susan.  You will learn, you will laugh and maybe shed a tear as you too go Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George. A portion of the author’s proceeds for each sale (paperback or ebook) will be donated to Caregiver Assistance.  Don’t let the number of pages scare you.  There are LOTS of pictures to help tell the story.  The Kindle version shows the pictures in color on your tablet or phone. Kindle reg. price 7.99/ sale price 2.99; Paperback reg. price 18.87/ sale price 15.00.

Thank you AlzAuthors!

The Netherlands Trip

   I have posted pictures here from the trip I took in May to the Netherlands.  I was fortunate to have good friends and lovely people to travel with.  All of them more experienced in Overseas travel than I am.  I mentioned the fat-butt cows they have there.  Well recently I asked on Twitter if anyone knew what kinds of cows they were.  My answer came in Dutch.  I used Google Translator and here is what I learned.  Dikbil is the breed I guess.  They can't give birth normally but have to have surgery to remove the calf because they have been bred to be big. 

 So, there is our lesson for the day.

Travel Lesson

  The day we arrived at the rental home I adjusted the bike I was going to be riding all week.  I then got on it and went for a spin to see how it fit.  I promptly got lost.  The blocks were not rectangular.  I kept riding looking for a land mark.   I got really nervous, I didn't have my phone with me, I didn't have the address of the place we were staying, I didn't have anyone's phone number in my head. 
  As I was riding trying to figure out a solution, I remembered that I knew how to get to the house from the train station.  I stopped and asked a woman on the street for directions to the train station.  Thank goodness people speak English there.  I would have been in a REAL pickle if they didn't understand me. 
  I found the train station and found "home".  When I walked in and told my fellow travelers what had happened, they didn't even know I had gone anywhere.  They thought I was up in my room.
  Lesson learned... always take the cell phone with the maps in it, and always memorize the address or name of the street where you are staying.

Barneveld Stay

   Below are some pictures from our stay in Barneveld.  A small town in central Netherlands know for it's chickens.  Some days the smell of farms was constant.  Mari thought they might be spreading it on the fields.

   They had an egg vending machine in a parking lot, a lovely historical and active downtown (no Walmart or big box stores).  On our last day in Barneveld I went to the Chicken Museum by myself.  I had a delightful time.  This is the Barneveld breed pictured below.  And I was able to witness a mock auction like they used to hold before it was all switched over to electronic/internet sales.

Racks like the one below were in the bathroom.  Hotwater flows through the pipes and keep them warm for drying towels and wet clothes.

 Black licorice takes up a large amount of shelf space in the local grocery store. 
 The train station in Barneveld (a town of about 28,000) had a lot of bikes.  We were surmising that many commuters might have a bike for Barneveld and a bike they keep in their destination town.

 We took a couple train rides to other towns.  Once to a castle.  We biked to an art museum in a forest.  It had the 2nd largest private collection of Van Gough in the world, I think.  Outside in the forest were many peices of art as well.

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