A Brief History of a Dementia

Etc. By Etc., 11th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Family

Dementia is a fact of life for many, even most, families. It is devastating on a personal level to the victim and to the family. Look, up close, and understand.

The man lying on the bed is ready to stop.

His face now shows no anxiety, softens into lines and shadows receding from life into death. Occasionally there is a smile, impish; like it must have been as a small boy. It plays with impressions passing through his mind. But the mind is letting go.

Understanding has become unimportant. Two and too have come to have the same meaning. Heat is seen to come from overhead lights. Our dog, his friend of long years, has no name. “Do we have a cat?” he wants to know. And there is pain. Mercifully, the pain has no reference; it is just there, somewhere.

Can you believe that this is the man who, a year ago, wanted to divorce me because I changed the oil in the car? The one who called the sheriff over it, who said it was his word against mine. This man wired the deep well with house wire, and installed a hole in the bedroom wall where he meant a heater to go, but couldn't figure it out.

About the same time, I detected a hole in my life that has been getting bigger.

This is the man who spent an entire summer mowing our two-acre lawn with a hand-mower because it had a grass-catcher. The grass fed a warren of rabbits--every day, every day. This man picked them apples. Fed them pumpkins. Gardened for their benefit until the snow came, then turned them loose. Of course they ravaged the yard, ringing fruit trees, excavating winter burrows for generations of babies, endless busy generations. When it became absolutely necessary to shoot them all, the man no longer cared, perhaps because he had moved on to clandestinely appropriating a neighbor’s cows, hell bent for election to have one last herd.

The man has been difficult. From a nonsensical automobile maintenance crisis of divorce potential, the difficulty progressed until I had a management situation rivaling any Fortune 500 CEO. They, at least, find some peaceful sleep. I managed a man who went on four- and five-day no-sleep jags ending in paranoid-delusional trysts with a war fought decades ago in Korea. He plotted, planned and strategized until he collapsed. Then withdrew, mustered, and started all over again.

The collapse this time is going to be final. Every line in his face, every broken memory he can find, every spoonful of food he turns away makes that plain. The finality clears away the detritus of many years as if they never were. In the end, I remember only the calm man playing with the children; the strong man loading the cattle for auction, the able man wiring the house, the religious man commending our souls to God at holiday dinners, the generous man ready to give others what was needed in a pinch, and the man who loved me remarkably well.

Mona L S Baisch

Credits

This is a true story which, in fact, had a different ending. I'm sorry I can't say it had a happy ending: It didn't.

Against all odds, and the doctors' insistence that he was about to die, my husband lived on for many years--with dementia that became increasingly worse, though there was never another crisis like this one.'

Years have now gone by; I have remarried and have a new life. But, I'm a writer, and the notes that authorize this piece, written long ago, came to the top, as notes will do.

This is a memorial, or sorts, here to make dementia real to those who have not seen it up close and personal. It is charged with the words as they were written when this happened.

Photos: My own, taken at Giant Springs near Great Falls, Montana

Tags

Alzheimers, Alzheimers Disease, Care For Elders, Care Givers, Dementia, Elderly, Progression Of Dementia, Senile Dementia, Senility

Meet the author

author avatar Etc.
I write about gardens and birds, books and blogs, history, philosophy and psychology. It will be all wrapped up pretty and bow-tied with a connection to life in the here and now.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
11th Aug 2014 (#)

Elegantly written, Etc., expressive of the psychic pain, and steadfastly accepting the sorrow that accompanies the dementia decline. This shows the beauty and benefit of writing for those who do it well. You do. Thank you for exposing and sharing your story.

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author avatar Etc.
11th Aug 2014 (#)

You are correct LeRain, that writing does so much to focus the self, to understand, and to elevate even terrible experiences. I appreciate your comment.

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author avatar Joyce Singha
11th Aug 2014 (#)

Etc, this is beautifully written, a style that I love to use in my Blog. My Mum showed plenty of signs of pre-dementia and I figured the causes of old age, stress and anti-depressants, being major culprits. I treated her with Homeopathic meds (specifically Acid-Phos for her) and she seems to be back to her normal self with minor wear and tear. One condition: she had to stop her anti-depressants. I am now treating her for insomnia, memory loss and depression. I wish I could have helped you. There are so many wonderful medicines in Homeopathy and so gentle, with zero side effects. God Bless.

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author avatar Etc.
11th Aug 2014 (#)

I wish you could have, too, Joyce. I'm learning the benefits of some of them now, for myself. I have a mild rheumatoid arthritis (in my hands). Cucurmin (Turmeric) and Quercetin work better than prescription meds for inflammation and pain.

Thanks for your kind words.

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author avatar Joyce Singha
23rd Aug 2014 (#)

You could use Homeopathic Colchicum 30c for this. It worked very well for a lady I treated earlier. Homeopathy is zero side effects and no harm will come. Be well.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
11th Aug 2014 (#)

I took this beautifully written article to heart and felt it very deeply Etc. as we lost my Dad to Alzheimer's disease six years ago...

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author avatar Retired
12th Aug 2014 (#)

The pain and love are clearly felt, Etc. I have also had close experience with it, experienced the sting of cruel words spoken to me, fought the bone-tired weariness, and, I will admit, even begged God to just let my loved go. Then I would feel guilty, depressed, unable to see beyond the stranger now in the sick-bed. Bless your heart for all you did for him, and for always remembering the husband he always was, buried inside his illness.

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author avatar spirited
12th Aug 2014 (#)

Compelling reading Etc.

Only love sees past all to all.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
12th Aug 2014 (#)

A very poignant piece in every way Etc...
I cared for a very dear friend who died last year after suffering ten years with Alzheimer's disease..
The hardest part is watching a once upright and healthy mind and body become just a shell .
God bless you for sharing this with us
Stella ><

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author avatar Lee Hansen
13th Aug 2014 (#)

What a touching story. Our family has been challenged with this disease. It is a hard pill to swallow.

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author avatar Etc.
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Yes, Lee, most families have experienced a family member with dementia. I suppose, in part, because people are living longer--although my late husband wasn't that old.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Oh Mona. We dealt with this with two of my grandfathers (I have had 3 wonderful men in that role). Luckily, to my way of thinking, we did not spend 24/7 with them like one of my grandmothers and a home health care nurse did.
Thank you for sharing your story. You speak from the heart and with tons of courage.

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author avatar Etc.
13th Aug 2014 (#)

What I didn't say, Phyl, is that at the same time I was caring for my mother who had dementia from a stroke. My mother's passing overlapped with my husband's deterioration. It was a very difficult time--a decade.

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author avatar Margaret Michel
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thank you for you story. I fear I am just beginning this journey for I see the signs within my mother.

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author avatar Retired
14th Aug 2014 (#)

So beautifully and poignantly written. Thank you so much for sharing ...

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author avatar Retired
15th Aug 2014 (#)

The care givers go through it call more than the those who need that care. You are brave and your experience will give courage to those who need it.

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author avatar Kingwell
22nd Aug 2014 (#)

A very well written article. A brother of mine had Alzheimer's for several years before he passed on. It is a terrible disease.

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