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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Adjustment (Sometimes by Torture)

I missed another WordsFlow meeting — that’s the first two this term. (My GP had a cancellation. I was desperate to talk to him about Andrew, so I grabbed it.)

Reporting by email on the meeting afterwards, the person who deputised for me said:

It's sad to hear about Andrew, but then, you will now have more freedom to move around yourself. We miss you in WordsFlow!

That unleashed my flood! (Words this time; there have already been many floods of tears, and they’re not done yet. Many words too, but mostly in poetry.) I replied:


Went to nursing home late afternoon, to have tea with him. Nursing staff said he had been anxious about 'a readers group?' He himself told me he had tried to go to WordsFlow but 'no bugger would listen'. [I retired him from WordsFlow shortly before the end of last term, as it was proving far too tiring for him, and in any case he was barely able to participate any more due to the Alzheimer's. He was relieved at the time, but has since missed his writer identity.]

I am learning fast to take it moment by moment. In the space of 3 hours tonight he was in many moods, and degrees of lucidity or otherwise. So much love still between us on both sides, so much grief at not being happily at home together any more, so much adjustment ... and also some pleasure to be derived in each other's company wherever. 

Last night I racked my brains to come up with some strategy to successfully have him back home and kept hitting brick walls. Tonight, observing the rapid mental and physical deterioration, and facing up to the fact that I was already nursing him around the clock these last weeks before he went to hospital, I know quite well I can't cope with having him back home. Maybe when one of our kids comes up to visit, as all plan to do when possible. [He can have 52 overnight home visits a year.]

(Of course my stepdaughter was already here and helped choose the nursing home, which was wonderful. Couldn't have been better timed. And my son David put some money in my account, so I could just get whatever I needed without stressing. He and the steps are all very supportive.)

There is some good news. I asked the geriatrician to order tests for me too as Alzheimer's runs through my father's side of the family (though on my Mum's side it’s a very different story). While I was seeing the GP today re Andrew, I asked if he'd seen the results. He had. I have no sign of it whatsoever! HUGE relief. (Cognitive function intact, no sign of any recent damage to brain, not even mini strokes I might not have noticed, as many people have. Some slight changes, normal with ageing.)

Freedom. Yes, it is good to go and get a nurse instead of dealing with various practical matters myself. When I went to lunch with a friend yesterday, I had to restrain myself from becoming fidgety about getting back to Andrew‚ because there was no need. The other night I went to see the final session of Hugo at the Regent. (Lovely movie! I knew it would be.) I was on my own; I didn't want to go with anyone else. As it began and I got absorbed, I thought, 'Yes, I can do this: this being on my own.'  It is strange — I love large periods of solitude, yet have never in my life lived alone except for a few months between my first and second marriages.

Yesterday morning I took my laptop and the DVD of Tintin to the nursing home. I loved it. He seemed to enjoy it but said afterwards it was hard to follow and the 'noises off' of normal nursing home activities bothered him. Ah well, it's all an experiment now. 

I probably would have been a mess today anyway. I fall into tears at the drop of a hat. Hopefully will have come to terms with it more in another week. 

It all seemed incredibly sudden. But the GP said, not to the medicos. Andrew's frequent hospitalisation over the past year or so was an indication of decline.

Andrew was genuinely delighted I have no sign of Alzheimer's. 'When is he going to do me?' he asked, and later said he didn't know how he'd cope with a brain scan. He has forgotten he ever had any! Perhaps it's just as well.


  1. I hope you don't mind ... I'm following your journey when I think to and have a chance; I think it's wonderful how well you're documenting both the details and the feelings - I guess because my husband and I are undergoing some transitioning ourselves (he's newly retired, recently diagnosed with skin cancer - early stage, not life threatening) - nothing near as chaotic as what you're experiencing but I think I find your story in some way comforting in that you're able to tell it - if that makes any sense. I guess what I'm trying to say is I admire your courage in this very trying situation Rosemary and the strength of your love ... it's a sad story in many ways but you are putting as positive a spin on as possible and I find that remarkable.

    1. Of course I don't mind. Sharon. Writers like to be read! Also I hope that in some way these accounts may be useful to others.

  2. I'm so pleased you can write about it - we writers are lucky in that way; we have something to help us deal with the hardest things. Not that it can change anything of course, but at least it is a way to cope. Thinking of you both.

  3. Yes, Jenny. Can't imagine how people cope who don't have writing to help!


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