Monthly Archives: May 2016

Is something afoot?

Back from a great and satisfying working weekend with friends and colleagues, and a little disjointed from conversation and travel removed from the daily routines, I trucked off to the care home to see my love.

The last couple of times I had  visited, he had wandered off several times to engage with the other patients. Not too sure anyone can follow these social interactions but the other people don’t seem to mind and frequently respond.

Our caregiver friend had reported that on the weekend Don had been busy pushing a friendly little lady’s wheelchair. Although pleasant and cheerful with her, (must be be a great relief to my friend after the days of miserable abuse he had heaped on her during our less happy times), he soon left to continue the wheelchair journeys.

When  I got there today his face lit up, he seized my hands and talked about how pretty I was and how much he loved me. Soon, though, I could clearly see the effort he was putting out to try to figure out about the car and arrangements — what, i have no idea, although he relaxed when i assured him there was lots of money.

I am beginning to wonder (duh?) if i am associated in his mind with obligations to look after me and us, and if that is what was stressing him so much at home. It could be that kind of unresolved responsibility was part of the horrendous stress, especially since he never did believe i could look after myself. To be honest i  have been much better off until recently in almost every way – although not all – since he came into my life, so this is not entirely sexist delusion on his part.

In any event, the (other) lady sitting beside him asked for help and he jumped up to give her a hand – two rather affectionate hands – to pull her to her feet.

He wandered off with her for a moment and then came back. “Did that bite you?” he asked seriously.

“Not at all,” I smiled, trying not to chortle.

Soon he was off again, talking to a guy who was seated for dinner, and wiping off his table for him, over and over. When you have no short-term memory, you remember planning to do something, but don’t remember doing it.

(First really clued into this about 4 years ago when don was reading something from the paper and read the first two sentences over and over. At first i thought the paper had really messed up, but as he started the fourth repetition, i took a look and realized what was happening. Just another memorable moment. I have no idea how many weeks or months he had been struggling like that with his reading, a skill we are far beyond now.)

Today, the last i saw, he was peering out the window at me as i slipped away, but i am pretty sure he quickly got re-involved in his new world of social relations.

I have heard about this from other caregivers: their partners dismissing them because the here and now of life on the ward is more important. If this is starting to happen for my love, I rejoice, thankful for him and for me. But i admit i do pause to wipe away a few tears at the bitter blessing of this next coming stage of loss and separation.





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After 4 months of sleeping 8-9-10, even 11 hours a day, I seemed to bounce back with the spring sun. I awaken with the same relaxed joy now as before, but with only 7 to 8 hours sleep. I tell friends i am doing better, and i am.

But even now, often —- maybe usually — after a visit with don i need to nap. I think it is just needing to take the time to recover – short-circuited every day because there is no end. There may never be an end to these reverberations. An emotional amputation.

Today was an interesting case. A neighborhood garage sale had me up way early. It was all low key and kind of fun. But several hours of standing in the sun left me wiped.

Then i had another crowd scene to check on the Watershed Sentinel stand at Cumberland’s Empire days. Scores of great and joyful booths and a great time.

Thanks to a friend i was able to take off early. Got home and fell asleep for 3 hours.

So much for recovery. I am just weak, physically and emotionally.  I think this opens a door to the spiritual but I need to decide to walk in. The last time i did was almost 40 years ago. I never regretted it, but it took years to reconstruct an outer shell that worked in this “real time” world.

And all the while Don’s voice echoes in my head. Today it was from our dancing yesterday at happy hour at the care home. (Pop instead of booze, but music and laughter amid the dozing and the wheelchairs). Whenever he realizes it is me, or rather, that i am his woman, because i don’t think he really remembers me anymore, just the feeling of our life and love, he gets very busy figuring out how we can spend the night together although “Not to do anything.”

Back in the care wing — “There will be supper here” “oh do you have money?” — I somewhat absently-mindedly stick-handle the inquiries about where we would sleep together that night, made more difficult because all the cells in my body  too agree we belong wrapped together happily snoring.

Then in great comic relief, the staff start a little joking around skit with lots of innuendo. We all are laughing, in a quick and wonderful release, as most of the patients sleep.

Don, surrounded by laughter that makes no sense and focused on his driver who will get us wherever — the magic home — says tenderly, “Maybe you shouldn’t have any more to drink, what do you think, babe?”

I say, “I think you’re right.”

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More and More I Wonder

More and more as time goes on I wonder just how disabled Don was for how long. Little things catch my mind.

I happily throw my dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and suddenly realise that could have never happened before because don would either get pissed off that i thought his clothes were dirty, or confuse it with throwing the clothes out, or – well … just get po’ed and sulking and unpredictable in ways I always danced on hot coals to avoid, because one never knew where that anger born of confusion would go. “You think I’m stupid. You took my driver’s license.”

What a flash back, from the simple act of carelessly tossing dirty clothes in a laundry basket. My stomach and my head start to ache.

This is some kind of weird PTSD I suspect from the ongoing trauma of walking on eggshells for years and years. All the stuff that never shows up on that stupid mini mental test….

Now i have a safe place to explore that a little, but i sure don’t want to get sucked down into it in detail, because now is about now, not then.

But i do think i need to see, identify and label the echoes, perhaps learn to sing or drum them out of my day to day life? I am serious about the sense of being a trauma-survivor.


A couple of weeks after I wrote that, I get up fine one morning and, out of nowhere, am overcome by memories. One holiday evening a few years ago, I fell and cut my hand, rather deeply and badly. As I tried to wrap towels around the cut, and realizing i could not drive, and a cabbie would not want me bleeding in the car,  I said to Don, who was dancing around in panic, “Call 911.”

“I don’t know H-O-W,” he wailed, wringing his hands. I got to the phone, and as I explained to the operator, I realised Don could never have expressed what had happened anyway. The ambulance came and the paramedics, of course, were wonderful. They took Don in the front and we went off to Emerg. The intern was a bit gleeful about the chance to probe and stitch, which was very painful. But she positioned herself so Don could not see, and he sat in a chair beside the bed, quietly weeping. (It turned out that it was a very lucky cut, missing an artery by about a centimetre.)

It was just around that time, that the Home and Community Care people came to make an assessment of what help we needed. I felt strongly that it was unsafe to leave Don alone, but they seemed skeptical. They asked, “If there was a fire, what would you do?”

Don thought awhile and replied, brightly, “Do they still have 911?”

They nodded and checked off a box on their form. They never asked if he knew how to use a phone. memories


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