My Dementia Diary 25 – Life in Reverse

Noting my wife’s continuing mental deterioration from rational adult to simple minded child, I was reminded of a piece I saw George Carlin do some years ago. Bless his brilliant and irreverent mind, George has moved on to the great comedy stage in the sky, but he leaves many laughs behind him. I think his piece on “Life in Reverse” is all-time hilarious. Wouldn’t it be great if life actually worked this way-

tio stib

Life in Reverse By George Carlin

In my next life I want to live my life backwards.
You start out dead and get that out of the way.
Then you wake up in an old people’s home
feeling better every day.
You get kicked out for being too healthy,
go collect your pension,
and then when you start work,
you get a gold watch and a party on your first day.
You work 40 years
until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous,
then you are ready for high school.
You then go to primary school,
you become a kid,
you play.
You have no responsibilities,
you become a baby until you are born.
And then you spend your last 9 months
floating in luxurious spa-like conditions
with central heating and room service on tap,
larger quarters every day and then Voila!
You finish off as an orgasm.

I rest my case.

by George Carlin, 1937-2008

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My Dementia Diary 42 – My Gratitude List

Today’s gratitude list-

our good health and well being
a comfortable home that fits us perfectly
living in a safe town in a free country
clear air to breathe, clean water to drink
hot showers
phone calls from caring family
the Brocks, our compassionate neighbors
hot chocolate  and chocolate chip cookies
our daily walk adventures
digital music from Beethoven to Arkenstone
a computer that defies blindness and lets me write
a life full of smiling memories
audio books and my writing mentors
2012, our honeymoon year
a tasty club sandwich
playing the banjo
hearing my wife whistling
snuggles and wet kisses

and another birthday, happy, happy!

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 41 – Reality Check

We seldom notice the small changes in those close to us, but over time, these changes add up. Suddenly, we are aware of differences. Our children have grown up. Our parents have grown old.

My wife’s dementia has deteriorated.

She is more confused, no longer remembering where our children live, forgetting names and places. She is more fearful, often upset by imaginary ghosts. She needs more help with daily functions, getting dressed, brushing teeth, taking a shower. She cannot be left alone, this causes her extreme anxiety. Her spoken words are often unintelligible, gibberish.

That said, there’s another side to this story. She is still filled with love and joy, greeting all we meet with a smile and “thank you, very good day!” She still loves to color, spending afternoons with crayons and coloring designs as she whistles happily. She is easily directed, no arguments about the right jacket to wear, going shopping, visiting friends, or what I’m serving for dinner.

It has been five years now since I became aware of my wife’s dementia. the mental deterioration process has been slow but all the little losses have added up. She now requires twenty four hour care, although much of the time little direct supervision is necessary. She is more confused and fragile, requiring my careful consideration in in response to her emotional needs.

Still, she is healthy and active, we enjoy our daily walks through town, visits to restaurants, phone conversations with family. But this will change, the disease will further consume her brain, there will come a time where meeting her needs will be more than I can do alone.

For now, I continue to do what we love with the woman I love for as long as we can.

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 40 – When “No!” Means “Yes!”

“Do you want to take a shower?” I asked her.

“No!”

I asked again, “do you want to take a Shower?”

“No!”

I took off my clothes, then asked one more time, “do you want to take a shower?”

“No!”

Okay, fine, I thought, I’m taking a shower by myself. I was tired, not feeling well, and the thought of soaking under a stream of hot water was delicious. I needed it. I’d asked my wife three times if she’d wanted to join me because recently I’ve had to shower with her to ensure she was washed thoroughly. She enjoys this.

But, she said, “no!”

I lost myself in the showers warm deluge, letting fatigue and aches melt away. Eventually, I turned off the water, dried myself and put on pajamas, then approached my wife, who was lying in bed.

“You don’t love me,” she said defiantly, “why didn’t you shower with me?”

Obviously, I’d made a mistake, something I often do when tired.

Obviously, her previous “no!” meant “yes!”

I’d forgotten that she is now so attached to me that she expects we will do everything together. If we don’t, something is wrong.

It took a lot  of soothing talk and caresses before her anger dissolved and her usual loving self returned. I’ve learned that these situations simply require patience and eventually harmony is restored.

Later, as she slept soundly beside me, I pondered how easy it is to do everything right and still have things go wrong.

Dementia is not a rational disease.

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 39 – My Mockingbirds

We often hear mockingbirds on our morning walks. It’s hard to ignore them. Male mockingbirds barrage the world all day long with sounds that vary from raucous  noises to sweet songbirds. They are incessant, stringing their auditory outbursts on and on with nary a breath between the various snippets.

My wife and the mockingbirds have much in common.

It seems each day unleashes a torrent of words from  her mind, which is somehow dammed up by night time silence. this verbal flood bursts out just as I lock the door and we step away from home. There are common themes, where are the kids, what is someone’s name, why don’t people call us anymore? the words keep pouring out. Like the mockingbirds, there is no noticeable breath between one thought and the next. 

Then come the songs. Although she can’t remember what we had for breakfast, she does remember songs from the third grade, pitch perfect, every word. She sings, she whistles, and we merrily walk on.

I am blessed by mockingbirds.

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 38 – Naked in the Night

naked in the night
truth stood bare before his mind

lost in Heaven’s dreams
his angel slept beside him
caressing her hair
he remembered that first smile
the joy that had bewitched him

how many smiles were left
how many days, how many years
before joy would disappear

the nearby window rattled
the wind swept Fall away

naked in the night
the tree stood bare before the moon

it would be hours before sleep claimed him

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 37 – Does She Dream?

I feel her sleeping next to me
her softness, warmth, and peace
What thoughts are dancing in her mind
what memories live from distant times
in a life that soon forgets today
what has dementia swept away

does she dream of long lost roads
when skies screamed blue and aspens glowed
when all our moments turned to gold

of dancing barefoot in the waves
running, laughing, in the rain
gathered round the Christmas tree
celebrating family
holding hands on sunset walks
listening as the other talks
smiling babies
hummingbirds
fragrant roses
loving words

I hold her gently in the night
shielding her from nightmare’s fright

tio stib

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