Posted 7/15/2007 8:39 PM (GMT -7)
Good evening to all;
First and foremost, I want you to know that my prayers are with each of you and those you are caring for. I take your postings very seriously, as I know all of you do. I have come to care for all of you and have great admiration for all you do for those you are caring for. Because of the nature of what you are currently doing, and a journey I went through with my parents, there is always a need for some lightheartedness to break up what may have been a particularly difficult day. I had cause to remember today something I did with my Mom every day (until she was unable to anymore). It made me smile, laugh and cry and I wanted to pass this on and hope it puts a smile on your face as you envision this. From the first day I moved in with my parents to begin full time caregiving, I knew that a priority was to get my Mom out of the house and moving. Her disease had caused her to become very sedate, something my very active mother had never been. Dad didn't have the emotional or physical strength to take her out daily and I was anxious to start. With no gyms or indoor malls at our disposal, we made the local grocery store our daily physical outing. Mom, being a restaurant owner and incredible cook, always loved trips to the grocery store so this was a no brainer as far as the "where" i would take her. For the exercise, I would have mom push the grocery cart and I would stand in front and pull the cart. This would cause her to move faster than she would choose but she didn't put it together that it was me propelling her on so she just picked up the pace and "pushed" this ever speed increasing cart. We would be in the store for at least 40 minutes, doing very little actual shopping but instead going up and down the aisles, back and forth and around as many times as I could get her to go before I saw real fatigue. I took her at times when the store would not be crowded and the managers and all the clerks were already very familiar with mom because of her many years in the community and had missed seeing her as her decline had started. They were absolutely delighted to have mom in the store and would smile, laugh, and visit with her as we ran through the store. Because of her memory, she didn't realize we were spending an inordinate amount of time in the store, nor would she remember the manager she had just spokem to moments before. She loved seeing the fresh produce (not that I would slow down much for her to see it very long!), the flowers, and the people who were always so sweet and charming to her. A cartoonist friend of mine drew a wonderful caricature of what he saw when mom and I were "shopping." It shows a woman with her feet almost off the ground, being dragged by a mysterious shopping cart which appears to have its own momentum, her smile glowing and beautiful white hair blowing in the breeze we created. Although she is at the helm of the cart, she has no control over the speed and the drawing shows me as a fun, yet merciless shopping cart dragger! I just ran across that cartoon while cleaning this afternoon and it made me smile and cry and laugh. Mom would come home from our trips and tell Dad she couldn't quite remember where we had been, where 'that girl" had taken her, but that she sure was pooped!
Those were good moments. We were able to do that for almost every day for 13 months. As her illness progressed, we had to alter the routines, but these are memories I will not forget. As always, when taking care of someone else, there are going to be bad days. I know I had many, especially the last two years. But memories like the grocery cart, among thousands of others, kept me going when times got much more difficult. To this day, I get a little smile when I enter that grocery store and grab a shopping cart. It took a while for me to take the cart by the handle, rather than pull it as I did with Mom. Now the cart goes slower, I stop to admire the vegetables and flowers for mom and say hellos to all her shopping friends.
Good day all of you. May you have a memory today which brings you a smile tomorrow. Best to all of you.
Lyn, this is to you: You remind me so much of me. My journey with my parents became only about them and I totally failed to care for myself emotionally or physically. My physical health got so bad at times that I would cry in the morning when I heard the first sounds of life upstairs, signaling my time to get up and moving. I just could not imagine another day dealing with two 90 year old people with AD at a time when my body was literally screaming at me to stop and take care myself. I never listened and had several serious bouts of hospitalization, leaving my parents in a sister's care which was inferior at best, and always left hospital before the doctor recommended. As mom, in particular, worsened, there were weeks at a time when I thought I seriously might die from the pain and exhaustion. Then after mom passed and dad started to decline so quickly, it was even more difficult because I had no one to help me with him. Several times after having to take him to the hospital because of falls (actually the ambulance would take him) I had to literally spread a thick blanket on the floor, help him to lie on it, and then drag him into the house because I could not carry a 170 pound man and especially not when I was so sick. But I didn't stop. I got sicker and dad got sicker. All he wanted was to die after mom was gone, so he lost all physical momentum. I was lifting, scooting and trying to do physical things that my body was incapable of. I never thought of giving up, but I was so scared I would die and then leave him alone. I was stubborn, or whatever it was I don't know, and didn't seek help. In my defense, though, I didn't know what help was available so I powered through. I see you doing the same thing and it worries me. After Dad died I got so sick and another hospitalization which was upsetting because I had the estate to deal with so I left again. I am paying dearly with my health issues now because of not getting help. Besides some physical ailments I already was dealing with, I have had two shoulder surgeries since Dad died to repair torn ligaments from lifting. More surgeries are planned and I am putting them off as usual because I now have a new person who is needing help. My younger sister has a drug/alcohol problem and needs intervention and someone to enroll in a program with as a support. She has been an addict for over 20 years and i am so relieved she is finally at least semi willing to accept some help. Before I start, though, I am having surgery this week to hopefully correct a problem in my spine and then a lumpectomy to remove a non-cancerous (Thank you, God) lump from the breast, same breast where I had two previous cancers. I will be praying for all of you and hoping, Lyn, that you remember your life is important, your health is critical, and that the world needs you so you MUST care for yourself. It sounds like you have some scary stuff going on and you must care for YOU. Prayers, loves and hugs to all of you. If the shopping mom story gives you a smile, remember it and think of my flying mother.
Like my screen name.....I have survived so much and aim to thrive from all the experiences I have had. It must be possible and I will never stop trying!
Alzheimer's caregiver, loss of parents, diagnoses of anxiety/panic disorder, agorophobia, chronic depression, PTSD, and some rather pesky physical ailments.