How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Friday, May 31, 2013

Alzheimer's is Winning. It Always Does.

I visited Dad at the V.A today, but for about the first twenty minutes he didn't really know I was there. He was sleeping in the Geri chair in the dining room when I arrived. I tried to wake him, I spoke to him, I hugged him, but he didn't respond much, other than random mumbling.

 Maria (one of the nurses) finally got him to wake up, and when he saw me he started crying. He stared at me and tears spilled over onto his cheeks. I hugged him, I kissed him, then I tried to divert his attention with sweet iced tea and Sonic onion rings, but he wouldn't drink or eat more than a few sips and four or five bites.
 I told him I was sorry that I hadn't visited, but that I had been sick. He wrinkled his brow and asked,, "You okay...?" I told him I was fine now. He nodded his head  and closed his eyes.

Dad dozed off fitfully and I held his hand. Every now and then he would startle awake and call, “Honey?”. I think he thought I was Mom. I would clasp his hand tighter and say, “I’m here”, and he’d settle back down for a few minutes. At one point he opened his eyes and became animated and started trying to tell me something, his eyes wide and red rimmed, desperate, but he couldn't even get a full word out. I could see he was getting frustrated, so I told him, "Dad, it's okay. You've already told me everything I need to know. You've told me everything important, and I remember. I remember everything you told me". This eased him enough so that he started relaxing.
He finally settled down and closed his eyes.

While he slept his body began slipping down in the chair, so two nurses grabbed his arms and pulled him upright. This woke him and upset him a lot. When the nurses walked off, Dad looked at me and said, "Leave me alone", quite plainly. I told him I wouldn't let anyone else bother him and then I just sat and held his hand while he drifted back off to sleep. I placed my head gently on his chest and listened to his heart beat and I breathed in the scent of him.  One day soon I know I’ll miss that scent. It is my daddy's scent and no else on earth smells the way he does. It is how I have always identified him. It calms me, it soothes me, it lets me know I am loved. 

His body is wasting away. Food no longer holds much interest for him. His arms are so very thin and the skin is stretched over his ribcage. He has no muscle tone left at all. His hands stay curled in on themselves like a baby's. The hair on his arms is sparse and his eyebrows are nearly gone. His teeth appear too large for his mouth. There are angry looking red and purple spots on his forearms. His scalp is dry and flaking. His feet stay swollen like balloons. His eyes are watery and unfocused. His days consist of lying in the Geri chair. He does not respond to television or music. He has no quality of life left at all.

I would give almost anything to have one last conversation with him. A real conversation like he and I used to have. A conversation about life, what's important and what isn't, how he feels, memories of his life. But that conversation will never happen again. It's in the past with so much else.

 Dad is being moved to a palliative care floor next week.

 I fucking hate Alzheimer's. 


  1. Teri,
    None of it is fun. Or fair. It's a double edged sword, parents aging..... One of my parents died in an ultralight plane accident GONE in a nanosecond, the other died of cancer... wasted away but I got to spend that time with him during the wasting away. He was NOT the daddy of my youth, but he was my daddy. Take what you can, leave the rest.
    love you.

    1. Everyone has a time to go. And we all wish to go quickly and with no pain. Some of us are lucky, others are not. It's just all part of life. I have never asked the universe why this happened to dad. I just know that there are a billion and one sadder things happening to other people right this very second. I know that there are a billion and one tragedies that make this Alzheimer's beast seem tame in comparison. I guess the hardest thing to deal with in all this is how terribly much I miss my dad and his being GONE while he is still here... I guess we never outgrow the need and the love for our parents, no matter how old we are. But you know, Viney. You know in your heart what that feels like. Bless you, my dear friend.

  2. Teri,
    I just want you to know that I'm praying for you. Your Mom and Dad are both great people! Mine are in their mid 70s and are beginning to 'go down quickly'.....especially Mama. She's exhibiting signs of dementia and Alzheimers but hasn't been officially diagnosed. She can no longer do so many of the things she used to do and Daddy is having to help her with EVERYTHING!!!! It is so hard to watch. I don't really think there are any words that anybody can say to you that will help to make the situation easier........only God can help to ease that pain. I'll continue praying that God will just remove your pain to some degree.

  3. Alzheimer's is like watching who a person IS be sucked out of them thru some invisible hose, slowly, and against their will, to where ever they go. I believe they ARE still there tho, just held captive by the beast that is Alzheimer's.
    Teri, my heart goes out to you. I jumped right back to laying MY head on MY Daddy's chest, breathing in his scent, trying to find a way to keep it with me forever, when I read that part. Nothing I can say will make the "going thru it" any easier, but I will tell you this...14 years later, my Daddy isn't with me physically, but he's still with me every minute of every day too, because the love is eternal. ((hug))