Stress is just a state of being, whether identified or whether it so subtly sneaks into every portion of your being and realigns your muscles, thoughts and sleep patterns into a new norm without even your slightest acknowledgement. It grows into the trivial annoyances, the frustrated tear, periods of self doubt, self medication, occasional to more frequent down days. Eventually it becomes anger, avoidance, bargaining, escapism, depression, hopelessness and guilt.
About mid stage through Dorey’s alzheimers descent I found Dementia caregivers support group and Carers UK. Real people on the same road, sharing their devotion, joys, pain, grief and dedication to fellow travellers. Answering questions, offering tips and available every hour of every day, no holidays, time off or closure for public holidays because that’s what caring is all about. Isn’t it? What has started with the helping hand and ended up with every hour devoted to a failing loved one has taken over a sense of self.
I’m eternally grateful to the specialists, scientists, universities and mice who are giving their time to finding an ease or a cure to the many forms of dementia; I’m grateful to the service providers, the stream of associated professionals who have dedicated their career to the care of our loved ones but more than anything I’m in awe of the ones who are there every day, who wipe up the messes, clear the confusion and hug when it hurts, not just for their loved ones but for each other.
I was a public servant in the People Are Not Very Nice Sometimes department before I retired and seemingly moved planets to care for Dorey. She’s 89 now and well along the Alzheimer Road. Her Offsider is 91, physically disabled, half blind, deaf and has end stage kidney failure. Their communication style is quite unique and shared with the neighbours in the retirement village. In short I’m their carer and their only child. I often wonder how many bus loads of …….. people I killed for that.
This is not my retirement of choice. I want to do special education classes in photography, make silly sculptures for the garden, visit friends overnight, go to the movies on “pensioner discount” days, scrounge around weekend markets, join the drum group and house swap in Italy, England or Tasmania. People don’t always get what they want. Those crappy sayings about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger make me cringe. Some days I don’t feel like watching the clock, making lunch, paying the bill, doing the washing and tracking down that latest smell.
Some days I just want to be a daughter. I don’t want to be a parent, an adult or a carer. I just want to be a child and remember how warm I felt when you wrapped your arms around me, kissed me on the head and promised everything was going to be o.k. I knew you were there. Although it’s not my choice, it’s my turn and I will put the other stuff on hold for some time although if I find out who has been making their caste iron genes for this family there will be trouble.