My dementia Diary 14 – Pink Nails

 

Vietnamese. Spanish. english. Put a blind guy in the middle of this language chaos and what do you get?

Pink nails, or so I’m told.

I am realizing that my wife is less and less able to care for her personal hygiene, from remembering to take showers to brushing her teeth. She has been meticulous about such things in the past, so I’m  always surprised to discover such care is not happening. the remedy is usually a nudging, a gentle reminder, and she will spring into action, smiling. Yes, I am blessed most things are still easy.

But her nails are a different matter.

Up until now, she has done her own finger and toe nail care, cutting, filing, and painting them, an activity she has much enjoyed. However, she recently held out a hand to me and asked me to touch it. Doing so, I felt her nails and realized they were quite long, much longer than she usually kept them. It had probably been weeks since they’d been trimmed. Obviously, she wasn’t doing this herself anymore.

Off we went to the local nail salon. We walk by it often and greet the workers who sit outside lunching, all friendly and all Vietnamese. Upon entering, I explained that my wife needed a manicure and pedicure and pink was the preferred color for her nail polish. There was a response in strange words which I took as affirmative. then, I sat nearby as two young women babbled to my wife in Vietnamese and she babbled back in Spanish. I was quite content to keep my English out of the conversation, trusting my wife’s needs would be met as women seem to be able to understand each other no matter the language differences.

A short time later, she waved her hands gleefully in front of me and I, sensing they must now look beautiful, told her so, feeling good that, once more, we’ve successfully adapted to life’s continuing changes.

Yes, her nails are now likely pink, but I don’t really care, she’s happy. No, I was not tempted to have my own nails done. Blindness gives me a good excuse to avoid that. Besides, I don’t look good in pink, or so I’m told.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 13 – 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

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary

My Dementia Diary 2 – Signs

“When is he coming?” she asked.

“At noon,” I replied.

Several minutes later, “when is he coming?”

Again, I replied, “at noon.”

Then, five minutes later, “when is he coming?”

This time, irritated, I respond loudly, “he will be here at noon.”

When my wife first started doing this, I assumed she simply was not paying attention and I became frustrated having to answer the same question over and over. I soon realized there was something else going on. Her mind was not remembering my answers.

There were other signs. Her ability to process numbers faded. Simple addition and subtraction was not happening. It also became apparent that she could not plan and organize thoughts anymore.

Still, to most people around her, my wife seemed fine. She was happy, always glad to meet people, singing and whistling as she went about her daily activities. I watched as her family struggled to accept her new mental reality. Like me, at first they were frustrated with her inability to remember things, her confusion over simple tasks. Then, they too began to adapt.

We continue to adapt as her mind continues to deteriorate. We adapt to the sadness, the grief, the difficulty of dealing with the reality that someone we love is less and less able to connect with us each day.

the signs keep coming, like road signs proclaiming the destination is getting closer and closer. But no one wants to get there.

Yesterday, after returning from our daily walk, I watched my wife trying to unzip her jacket. Her hand kept raising the zipper up instead of lowering it. I could tell her mind was confused. Something was not happening the way she expected it to. I gently helped her unzip the jacket.

Her mind gets more confused now. She has trouble recalling names and finding the words she wants to say at times. Yet, there are spells when everything seems fine and part of me hopes this is so.

Then, another sign appears.

 

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