Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2004 - Trying to find something that works

The year 2004 had started out well. Elbert has always been even-tempered, easy going, pleasant and kind. He still is as there have been no wild mood swings as there had been when he was first diagnosed. The Respirdal has helped tremendously. Medicine can be both a hindrance and a huge help. In this case it gave me back the man I knew... sort of.

I notice that Elbert is becoming increasingly uncomfortable when he's 'out of his comfort zone'. It's very noticeable when we go to places he's unfamiliar with or when he is with a group of people. He seems confused about his surroundings so he just shuts down. Where is the guy who was always full of laughter, happiest in the midst of family and friends, telling jokes, whistling, singing? I don't know where he went... he just vanished and I know he will never be back.

Our son in law John takes Elbert fishing every chance he gets. Elbert loves that, especially when he catches more fish than John does, which is just about every time they go. On their return, Elbert remembers to tell me how many fish he caught and usually gets it right (according to a nod from John).

Elbert has replaced his favorite pasttime, fox hunting, with the fishing now. The hunting grounds are several miles away but he doesn't go anymore.

I wonder alot about how we will manage. I hate being in a position of needing help but know that we will need it... I hope I can stay strong, both mentally and physically and I am trying but my own health has suffered lately. But, both the cancer and the first knee surgery is behind me. Elbert is very concerned about me. He worries like an old mother hen and comes to give me a kiss whenever he is in the room.
Those are the sweet times and I wouldn't trade them for anything. He's such a dear.
I have to laugh sometimes to keep from crying. For instance, after spending hours in Elbert's company I will walk away to do some chore only to have him call after me, 'What do YOU have to do' as if I should be sitting beside him every minute the rest of our lives. I could say 'What do I have to do, oh, honey, let me tell you.' but I just laugh. He has no idea that life is just one easy moment after another. He doesn't remember what it is to work, to take care of things. His world is shrinking into his immediate surroundings. If I don't laugh, I may lose my mind.

In an effort to try to entertain him I drag out a box of photos. It worked!! How often I try to introduce things that he has no interest in but he spends hours looking at the pictures, recalling in some small measure a memory or two from the past.

Asking him to help me with the housework has different results. 'Please put the dishes in the dishwasher' I ask. But, I find where he has rinsed food off some plates and put them on the counter top to dry. I find dirty dishes stacked in the cabinets, clean dishes taken out and placed in the dishwasher to be washed. He needs to feel useful, to make his small contribution, but it's just making more work for me. So, the dishwasher is put on an 'off limits' list. My work load gets heavier while he is sitting more and more.

I know that our journey has really just begun. I have no idea where it will take us. I just take one day at a time, that's all I can do. Today I survived. I may cry a little and even laugh but I won't even think about tomorrow until the sun rises after a restless night.

1 comment:

A Colorful World said...

Excellent post....I remember these days, Mom. Boy, the journey has certainly progressed since then! He still likes to take his plate to the kitchen after he eats (now in early 2009) but we are always afraid he will drop the dish or fall on it and hurt himself, so we rush to grab it and take it ourselves. But, it's so neat to see him still trying to do something he would have always done. He was the oldest child of ten kids and always helped his mother in the kitchen when he was a boy, and he was always there for you, Mom, to help load the dishwasher etc in those earlier years.