Well, the first snow of the season yesterday left a few inches and the world is totally gorgeous today – bright sun and snow-laden pines cheering people up. Everyone you see comments on how beautiful it is. Of course, it’s a pain in the neck, too – slippery walks, hazardous driving, cold temps – but at least for today, the beauty overrides all that. The light in the house is almost doubled, with snow to bounce it right into the windows.
At Thanksgiving, we tried a short get-together at our house with people bringing most of the food, and it worked out pretty well. The hard part was not really getting to talk to anyone – I sort of forgot that J no longer really knows where anything is, nor how to keep an eye on the company or the kitchen. Probably will go back to the restaurant idea for larger gatherings, like we did with both families this summer.
We are puttering along pretty well, especially when I think of the last two autumn-early winter periods, a year and two years ago. J was very troubled with physical symptoms and we spent a LOT of time at various doctors’ offices trying to find relief for abdominal pains or itchy skin. The level of panic and upset that these symptoms caused had to be seen to be believed. And of course, as her memory worsened, anything comforting that I said was promptly forgotten – that we’ve been to the doctor many times, that nothing is seriously wrong, that there is a pill for that & here it is, etc.
So far, though, this fall and early winter have been pretty smooth sailing. I can only chalk it up to a calmer household, and having learned myself how to not get riled up when J does. I think I would get so upset because I couldn’t make it better, and that would ricochet off J’s upset, and we were off and running.
I have to credit the Respite group for giving J something to do that’s out of the house, and involves a social group of her own. She no longer can get out on her own, so her world is pretty much the house here, and wherever I drive her. I wish the Respite group had “levels” so that she could spend more time with other fairly high-functioning people, but it is a small operation and probably cannot do that. I did hear about a new adult day program a half hour away, and might look into that – if it looks good, she might be able to go there one day, and stay with her present group another day or two also.
As far as “level” goes, I noticed that J almost never goes to her computer anymore. I have arranged for her email to show up on my ipad, so I can alert her to anything important. This seems to be fine with her. In a way, this is a relief to me because she would become really, really frustrated with the computer, and there was no way to tell her what to do that she could grasp – anything with more than one step is now too much, if it is not very familiar territory.
Conversation is getting pretty thin – I am not able to share much of what is going on because everything requires background, which she doesn’t retain. I brought her to the carpet store when we were starting to look at stair carpeting – I found myself all engaged with the project, the colors, the weaves, the quality and all the factors involved. But I couldn’t enjoy doing that with J – it was a little like taking someone to the store who doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak her language, or maybe it was like taking a youngish child. She accompanied politely, and it was more fun than sitting home, but it just wasn’t the shared project it would have been even a few years ago.
The good news, though, is that there is still a lot of warmth and closeness. This is a god-send. She’s affectionate and kind and cute – which all go a long way to making this weird situation manageable.
Thanks for reading – it helps a lot to be able to talk this through.