And this is….

I sat at the table with a nurse who used to work in Neurology and Orthopedics. When her departments got changed around she choose to stick with Orthopedics. The subject of my husband’s health came up.

Rich had been with the group dinner put on by my neighbor but decided not to stay. He can’t take crowds of people and the confusion of too many conversations at once.

I explained to the nurse that he’d had a stroke and she had worked with the doctor that cleared the clots. We talked about progression and the recovery from strokes. I told her that a year and a half later his outcome now included Vascular Dementia and how it bothered Rich to know that he was slowly losing control of thoughts, words, and actions.

The nurse and I talked and suddenly her eyes lit up and she reached over.

“Oh honey, this is just the beginning…” she trailed off and there was a hint of sympathy in her eyes. She knew what my future was going to bring since she’d spent years as a nurse in that field. “…each day NOW is his best day.” She patted my hand and nodded.

Then she turned and joined in another conversation. I sat with my cup of coffee. ‘This is just the beginning….’

So how can you explain to someone who doesn’t visit [Stepdaughter, sister…other family members] just what it is like to have a 69 yr old sometimes…child to care for? One day goes well. The next day he calls you in tears from the bathroom. He’s made a mess and needs help. He’s tried to clean it up himself but has made it worse.

You don’t get angry, you just march in and step up to the plate and calm him down. A mess is a mess and can be cleaned.

“I can’t go outside.”

You can go outside.

“I don’t know.”

I will go with you.

And you wait for an hour while he sits at the kitchen table and contemplates going outside to do one small thing.

You need a shower.

“Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow.” He sits in front of the screen and watches 3 hrs of programs.

It took two days for me to convince him to shower. Three days to get him to use the skid steer to plow the driveway. I simply pointed out that if he didn’t do it, he wouldn’t have milk for cereal.

Note to self. Learn to operate the skid steer and plow.

This is just the beginning. 

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