Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mom, I Know You're In There And I'm Here

March 8, 2012

     Well, the past week has been interesting to say the least. However, this time, it is my Mom who has been the focal point of my attention. She has Alzheimer's, an awful disease, which wreaks havoc in the lives of everyone concerned. Mom has her days and nights mixed up and we can't seem to get her turned around. She sleeps in her chair most of the day, wakes around 6:00p.m. and then goes to bed for the night at 8:30. She then wakes up at least two times in the middle of the night, thinks it's morning and gets dressed. The confusion has gotten worse lately and I am hoping it is not permanent. She is hallucinating and thinks that the people in the pictures on her wall are moving and she doesn't understand that it isn't real so the anxiety from that upsets her terribly. I feel so sorry for her because she cannot help what is happening but at the same time it is very hard on Keith and me and our ability to function as a normal couple. Keith, even with all he has to deal with, is handling it well and his patience is commendable. It is hard to watch my mom deteriorate right before my eyes knowing that there is nothing I, or anyone else, can do to stop this diseases progression. If not for God, who gives me strength, Keith and the help of two of my siblings and their spouses this would be impossible to bear. I am so thankful that Keith is such a supportive, generous and helpful husband. After God and my husband, my sister Denise is the biggest help to me and I am grateful for her. Her husband Curt, along with my brother Steve and his wife Karen all work and can only do as much as their schedules allow but they are each still a godsend. Karen, my sister-in-law, is a huge help when she is available but being a nurse limits her time. She has done so much for mom and has been more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law. God has blessed our family and I thank Him for His goodness and mercy through out these trying times.
     Being a caregiver is not for sissies. It is awful to watch someone you love lose more of herself everyday. Today Mom was belligerent and there was no settling her down until she was good and ready. I suppose having no sense of control over any area of her life is frustrating enough but when the confusion of her mind is added to the mix she must feel totally lost and helpless. She is becoming more childlike as time passes and gets defiant, pouty and sullen. The difficulty comes when she insists "I am the mother", and expects us to behave like the children. We respect that she is the 'Mom' but she no longer has the ability to care for herself and the roles have been reversed whether any of us like it or not. To put it simply, it is what it is and we are doing what is necessary regardless of whether or not feelings get hurt, hers or ours.
     I know that the chances are high that some morning I will go down stairs to check on her and she will be gone. It is not easy to think about but it is a fact that I cannot escape. Since her heart condition reared it's ugly head in January it has become clear that her fragile body is wearing out. I'm relatively sure she senses that   her time is growing shorter. Anyone at the age of 86, in fragile condition, would be aware of their life ebbing even if their mind was confusing them. I believe we can all sense when our time is near perhaps so we can make peace with God and the people we will leave behind. For the past week I have literally taken a deep breath before entering her bedroom in the morning because I don't know what I'll find and although I tell myself I'm prepared I don't think I really am. I may be dreading that moment but even so my prayer is that God takes her gently in her sleep one night and that she doesn't have to suffer. She is tired of how uncooperative her body is and often says she just wants it over, she doesn't want to live anymore. As hard as that is for me to hear it must be terrible to feel that way. My poor Mom, I wish there was more I could do to help ease her discomfort. I guess for now I'll keep doing what I've been doing and pray that she finds peace in her situation. 
     The Bible says we are to Honor our father and mother. It doesn't say to honor them only when they are nice, when they are in a good mood, when they are healthy, or when the mood strikes us. No, we are to honor them because God has commanded us to do so, at all times. End of story! 
     If your mother is still alive thank God for blessing you and use your time wisely where she is concerned. Don't wait to tell her you love her you may not get another chance. 

The only one who loves us more than our mother is God. How awesome is that?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trusting In God = Peace

March 6, 2012

     Well here we sit at the Weinberg Cancer Institute while Keith gets a blood transfusion. He is almost through the first unit and then the nurse will start the second one, which will take another two to three hours. If all goes well we will be out of here by four or five o'clock at the latest. 
     His blood counts and energy level were not as good as the doctor thought they should be and felt it was time to give his blood a boost. His color already looks better and the doctor said he should make him feel more energetic.
     Keith is still Keith, giving the nurses a good laugh. Before the nurse hung the first unit Keith requested 'young stud blood'. Anyone who knows him well will not be surprised by this, nor am I. I just looked at the nurse, who seemed amused, and rolled my eyes. I told him it was probably the blood of a woman (should have said a  menopausal woman) and the nurse got a bit of a chuckle. 
     He is an inspiration in his overall attitude toward his cancer. As I sit here it is even more clear how upbeat he remains in the midst of this madness. We are both handling this setback better then I had expected and I know it is only by the grace of God that this is so. 
     Our family and friends have been very supportive and we are blessed. I cannot even imagine how it must be for someone going through this without family and friends but more importantly without God. I am the kind of person who values my alone time and am able to fill the occasional void without feeling lonely but I also know how valuable it is to have the support and comfort of people around who love me and on whom I can depend. Above all, as I have said before, it is knowing that God is watching over Keith and me that offers the most comfort. 
     This past year I have discovered that to trust God is absolutely necessary in order to gain peace of mind. When I learned how to give it to God and stop stealing it back my outlook in the midst of trials became brighter, my focus clearer and my ability to function in a productive manner improved greatly.
     We are nearing the end of the chemo treatments, five down and one to go. All prayers are still highly coveted. 

                             We'll see the beauty beyond the pain
                            for there'd be no garden without some rain.
Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!