Monthly Archives: November 2020

What i have learned #1

I never really knew what Namaste meant until i met a lovely strong woman in ltc, caring for an angry demanding bed-ridden dementia husband.

We sat together on more than one occasion and cried, together, very quietly, hiding our tears from our husbands and the staff, in the dementia ward.

I learned that her husband was an university mathematics professor in India, and taught high school here in Canada. She told me, as he hollered, and she wheeled him back and forth.

Seeking comfort from each other, when we could find a moment, because no one else could know how very dreadful this was.

Sometimes she said, What have I done that god hates me so much?

And i would try to say, It is bad luck- no god would do this to us, but i don’t think she ever agreed.

I lost her when her husband died. Gone instantly from the ward. I know she had family in the US and i hope she is with her sons now.

But i learned because of her what Namaste means. The god in me honours the god in you.

And that learning will stay with me forever.


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I lefted you

So he said, clearly, repeatedly, deliberately, as he was wheeled into the little side room where we get to spend an hour twice a week. He eats or to be honest gobbles, and i try to catch the spills.

I knew his words were only slightly tangled.

I know he meant “love” and i don’t think it was past tense. The level of cognition required to know it was me, out of nowhere, bobbing behind the mask, and put that statement out, is actually quite awesome. Given all.

And yeah, a couple or four or ten years ago i would have agreed, quite bitterly, that he had lefted me. To be honest, i still measure time by before or after “Don left.” But he never meant to, and he does no longer know he did.

He didn’t leave, he was stolen by dementia. And he went kicking and screaming, sometimes literally.

The rest of that meal was more high stress and less aware. Juice, food, plates could go anywhere.

He has lost his awareness of space, measurement, and eventually inside/outside, like inside or outside the plate or mouth, over the years, and now it is gone i think totally. Except that spoon still manages to land in or near the mouth mostly.

Time of course doesn’t exist and neither do the memories held by awareness of time.

And yet a core remains.

Today, he struggled unsteadily up out of the chair and we walked around the little room. He reached out and held me in a tentive, then close, mutually-satisfying hug, stepped back and said something that resembled “You are beautiful.”

He also a bit later, cased the room and suggested, somewhat dubiously, that the space behind the whiteboard and between the chairs might do. Gotta put on the record that he was relieved when i wrinkled my nose and turned down that nest.

Remembrance of any kind! Beautiful! I will take it! and beg people to please be careful and please slow down.

If Covid cases continue to skyrocket in exponential growth, and the hospitals fill, the odds of another total lockdown increase.

The four months when i could not see him were the worst of my life, and i almost didn’t survive it.

But he did and I did. Now, as we are slowly getting reacquainted, beyond my wildest hope given the very high level of his dementia, the Covid numbers rise, slowly, and now faster, and worse, exponentially.

Rule of thumb doubling time is 70├Ěrate of growth.

Rate of growth, says Dr Henry, is 50 per cent in 13 days. That means in 2 weeks roughly, we can expect 140% more covid cases in bc.

If we have 500 a day now, that means over 700 every day in 13 days before the end of November. If we have 600 cases now that means 840 a day in 13 days. And well over 1000 a day by mid-December.

As space runs out and staff get sick, hospitals and ICUs and care aides and the whole system is at severe risk.

It’s starting to look less like Christmas and a lot more like covid careless chickens coming home to roost.

Please stay the blazes home!

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We had a lovely long hour in the room we visit in; we have 2 hour visits at supper and 1 day an hour quietly together. I had brought a few items for fun, one a Melissa and Doug pounding bench (age 2+) with colourful pegs that go up and down.

Well, that pounding game was barely interesting to his nibs, he was politely bored, but he liked the hammer after i took the plastic wrap off – totally rejected it before.

And then we had sanding and polishing — the pegs, my jeans, the board, for at least half an hour. I loved to see him engrossed in a project.

As our time together grew to a close, i introduced the art balls – colourful, pretty strongly attached, movable in many shapes.

He did clearly have opinions on how they should be positioned, including balancing them.

Then it was time for supper. To be honest, an hour or more of interacting with him so intensely on his level leaves me wrung out, so i was glad.

I got him up on his feet and the care aide came with the wheelchair to say let’s go to supper. But he was on his feet now. Forget the chair.

So she tried to walk him to supper, but he braced against the wall and said very clearly and loudly, “No I do not want to go.”

Behind, i collapsed laughing, thinking, that’s my guy! but quickly the care aide switched without blinking to ” let’s dance” swung his hands and seduced and sang him into the hall. I followed with the chair until at exactly the right moment, she got him sitting down.

For those who cannot imagine these daily care scenes, he needs to be in the chair to eat because he falls asleep right after supper. And he is heavy.

But i am still gobsmacked at the clear intent and diction of that “No”. He is way more aware of what is going on than it seems on casual interaction. My guy, still using his amazing brain.

I miss him so.

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