My dementia diary – Beginnings

Five years ago this month, two things happened which changed the course of my life. I lost my sight and my wife began to lose her mind.

I’d already lost vision in one eye when, one day, my other eye clouded over. For the second time, a rare blood clot condition had fried my remaining healthy  optic nerve. The same week, my wife had a seizure which resulted in total amnesia. Fortunately, within twenty four hours, her memory came back, but her mental ability to reason, remember, and connect with reality began to deteriorate.

Sudden blindness left me disoriented and depressed. It was months before I was able to start on the path towards re-inventing my life with the help of folks from California’s rehabilitative services program. While  riding the emotional rollercoaster of adapting to my new world, my wife was also changing.

More and more, she was showing the signs of dementia, repeating questions many times and forgetting recent events. Over time, the dementia symptoms became more obvious. Her ability to plan and organize disappeared. Her creative activities got simpler. Where she once enjoyed abstract painting, she now spends hours with coloring books, her mind unable to deal with mixing paint colors.

She has become a child who loves life, no longer distracted by adult worries or conceptions of what life should be. I deal with practicalities, grocery shopping, money matters, scheduling. We have found a new balance, becoming a unique partnership of attitudes and abilities..

Do I miss the dreams I had for our life? All the time. I miss the adventures we had and the ones I’d hoped to share. I miss saying, “let’s go!” jumping in the car and taking off to nowhere. But, as the popular saying goes, “it is what it is.” The work now is making the most of the life  we still have.

That’s a daily challenge, one I’m going to explore in writing this journal. I invite you to join us as we walk together, blind and demented, down the road of life.

 

this child who once was woman

she laughs at dancing butterflies
smiles at babies passing by
clings to me when brought to cry
this child who once was woman

her zest is sparkling innocence
a love of life without a fence
a mind released from circumstance
this child who once was woman

a singing bird
a playful word
the mirth of anything absurd
she hugs
she screams
she loves
she beams
this child who once was woman

my heart beats glad, she is such joy
reminds me when I was a boy
of times preceding plots and ploys
this child who once was woman

the change, I was slow to see
as fog crept over memories
and here is all that she can be
this child who once was woman

now I hold her close and dear
do my best to soften fears
not to shed a single tear
make the most while she is here
my wife who once was woman

tio stib
2017

You might also enjoy: First Snow, Forgiveness, the Greatest Gift

this child who once was woman

she laughs at dancing butterflies
smiles at babies passing by
clings to me when brought to cry
this child who once was woman

her zest is sparkling innocence
a love of life without a fence
a mind released from circumstance
this child who once was woman

a singing bird
a playful word
the mirth of anything absurd
she hugs
she screams
she loves
she beams
this child who once was woman

my heart beats glad, she is such joy
reminds me when I was a boy
of times preceding plots and ploys
this child who once was woman

the change, I was slow to see
as fog crept over memories
and here is all that she can be
this child who once was woman

now, I hold her close and dear
do my best to soften fears
not to shed a single tear
make the most while she is here
my wife who once was woman

tio stib

2017

Categories: life journey

Tags: love, marriage, relationships, Alzheimers, dementia, blind poet, blind writer, happiness, joy, fulfillment, blind blogger, aging, partners, life journey

Adapt, Migrate, or Don’t Be Happy

A wise friend of mine often reminds me of what his grandaddy said when facing tough circumstances.

“Boy, in life you’ve only got three choices in any dire situation. It’s the basic law of Nature. When facing any threat of impending doom, you can either adapt, migrate, or go extinct. Period.”

Seems like a rather simplistic pronouncement, but as I’ve studied how these words measured up against my own unending perils, I think old granddad summed it up quite well, although I’d modify his thought thus:

“In any perilous situation, man has three choices: adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.”

How might this apply to man’s’ daily encounters with the arguably most dangerous of species, women? Consider the following example:

He is sitting in front of the television, beer and chips in hand, watching the championship football game. He’s been looking forward to this all week. She marches in, stands defiantly in front of the television and blurts, “The sun’s shining and you’ve promised to cut the grass for weeks. It’s time!”

Adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.

Consider the options:

Adapt: You could negotiate, promise to cut the grass immediately after the game, never mind that it’s already 4 p.m., and darkness will engulf the yard at 6, not to mention this is a double header day. Or, you could offer to do the yard tomorrow, hoping she doesn’t remember that you’ve already promised to take the family to the Wonderland Theme Park. Yes, you can adapt by trying to negotiate. In this case you’re options are limited as this is the tactic you used the past two weeks in avoiding the task. Next-

Migrate. You could arrange for your buddy Harry to call and then tell your wife he urgently needs your help in fixing his broken hot water heater, you’ll be back as soon as possible. Of course, Harry’s hot water heater is fine, but now you and he can watch the games in the safety of his garage undisturbed by domestic trivia. The downside of this is that Your wife and his wife are also friends and it’s more than likely that they will talk and your wife will soon discover that she’s been scammed, reducing your options to the final

Or don’t be happy. Yes, it may come to this. After reviewing all your other options and their consequences, you may just have to get out and mow the yard or face the continued wrath of your wife. But, wait, perhaps there are other  possibilities. Let’s go back to adapt.

Man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has been the single most important means of his survival on planet Earth. What are other ways he can adapt to this crisis? He could call Billy, the teenage kid next door, and offer him $20 to cut the yard, plus a free beer on the side. For an extra $10 he could probably get Billy to wash the wife’s car too. Now, we’re talking bonus points in the Love Game, getting out of the hole and back on top of her graces, (see previous post on The Love Game). Yes, it’s always wise to consider all options for adapting to crisis situations.

Looking for more ideas for how to survive and win the Love Game? Check out my new book, Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways To Sweep Love Its Feet. It’s available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Remedies-Reluctant-Romantics-Tio-Stib-ebook/dp/B00HM9CN7A

I’m in your corner.

Remedies for Reluctant Romantics Cover small

Tio Stib

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