Alzheimers an Emotional Walk
One week after Mom's death in 2009 was a week I will never forget. I realized at that point that Dad was sick. I hadn't realized how much Mom had hidden for years. I had to go to his doctor and see what I was up against. His doctor told me she had noticed too but no one said anything. She ordered an examination with a mental health doctor to see what he could find out. Dad didn't like this at all. Dad said when Mom comes back she would stop all this nonsense. He couldn't remember one day from the next. He told me after we had a talk about me getting a job; he told me that I was abandoning him. It hurt me.
The mental health doctor got the test results to the primary doctor and my worst nightmare was realized. Dad had shown signs of Alzheimer's. What do I do now? Well, the doctor told me he could live with me until it got worse. I had to come to his appointments. If I couldn't come I would get notes or letters from the doctor. Every two weeks dad was either in the hospital or the doctor's office. The first time I had to use my medical POA the doctor said dad wouldn't be able to understand what he wanted. My dad was a bleeder so when the doctor gave me the problem I was like you mean to say if I do what you want he could fall and bleed to death or if I don't he could throw a blood clot and die? I told the doctor he could make that decision as that was putting me between a rock and a hard place. The doctor chose the no blood thinner option. Dad asked me to cook a full Christmas dinner three days after Mom's death. Thank heaven it was Christmas Dad wouldn't talk to me about Mom. When the hospital had a memorial service he didn't know why he was there. A week later he told me he had seen Mom naked out in the yard with the rabbits. It went on like this for a year. Dad didn't drink water and many times he wouldn't take his meds as he should. I had found a job 5 hours per night and thought the television could keep Dad busy. He was so confused sometimes when I would give him his morning meds that if I had been scheduled for days that dad's meds would still be where I had put them. He had forgotten how to work the TV remote. He couldn't watch TV because I had to write him instructions on how to use the remote. He lost track of time one night and accused me of being out all night. He said he could take his morning and evening meds together as the doctors didn't know anything.
After a year of up and down battles; Dad had his stroke. That was the next step in the disease called Alzheimer's. He had fallen on the first and the hospital did nothing except send him home. His face was scratched and his glasses broke. He had neck pain and nothing was done.. The second he fell and I and a friend told the hospital they were going to find a way to keep him or he would be back because of another fall. They found out he was dehydrated and kept dad which was good because two days later on his birthday he had a stroke. He was so confused that he pulled out his IV. .This did nothing except make the memory problems worse. He was paralyzed as well on the left side. The hospital told me I could take care of him no more. I was fine with that. The nurses called him a problem patient as he couldn't understand that he needed help to get out of bed. They expected me to feed him which I was not mentally ready to do. By this time I was in counseling do to the stress of Dad's disease. The hospital did do therapy to get it where he could walk again but his speech was never the same.
That month of June was a blur when I think hard about it. I don't know how I got through it. I had to move out of a three-bedroom trailer to a one-bedroom apartment. I had to fill out Medicaid papers for dad. I had a friend who helped with that. We laughed at how often Medicaid could ask the same question. We got through that and got dad in a nursing home in a town I had no idea where it was. I got an apartment and got moved. I had never lived on my own so I was lost. I was now living my life and being guardian to my father who could no longer make his own decisions. I found I could get at the grocery store what I wanted with my EBT. I could do what I wanted as long as I had time to go see Dad once a week.
My friend and I went to this nursing home and oh man it was interesting, to say the least. Three days later when I visited Dad he told me the home wasn't as nice as I thought it was. In the time dad was there he was put in a behavior hospital for inappropriate sexual behavior to the staff. I didn't know what to do about his behavior. I cried. It took me 6 months before I moved him to a different home. By then I was his guardian and conservator so I had more responsibility then I really wanted but my friend told me I was my dad's voice now so to put on my big girl pants and get ready. My mechanic was who helped me to find a new home for dad.
The new nursing home was a really clean home and I could get there as my dentist was in the same town. I got a call from them one day that dad had to have the sheriff called on him. He threatened to hit the nurse. He did that because another resident had kicked him. I was like this can't be happening. I called my friend and was in tears and said what do I do now? I couldn't help dad as it was all progression of the disease. Dad ended up in the hospital with a GI bleed by then I had met my future husband who said this is what we are going to do. My fiancé and I decided we better move the wedding up. The hard part was it was an hour away and he would have the home call me at nine pm and he would want to come home. I told him he would have to stay there until he got stronger. I felt like a traitor.
I was thinking that dad would live for a long time after he got moved to the last home. They didn't keep him busy and soon he couldn't walk anymore. He had fallen so often I could almost tell time by the falls. Soon he was not able to be understood anymore so carrying on a conversation with him was next to impossible. Some days he didn't want to eat.
Soon my husband and I decide to move to town and the home sees me two to three times a day and they better be able to give me a report on how dad was doing or I became the woman they hated to see. When he got sick and was dying the last month; I was the woman that you better have answers for or I would be very hard to deal with. I would go over to see dad. I got to know some of the other residents and still visit them even though dad has moved on to heaven where he is whole, healthy and happy once again. I miss him but it is just starting week two since he passed away. I plan to pass on what I learned on this journey called Alzheimer's. I know that this disease will always be a part of me. So many people have to hit the ground running with knowing as much as possible. I had to realize that dad was never going to be the same again. I joined an Alzheimer's support group where I found out I wasn't alone.
when I put dad on hospice care I thought it would be easier but to take care of him because the end was close. I didn't realize that hospice took so much. The questions took awhile and then he was set for the end of life. I didn't know it was so close. I know he fought a good fight and that he was in a better place.
It has been almost two years since Dad passed away. Alzheimer's is still a big part of my life. I still have a lot of friends that are going through the journey of Alzheimer's. Many have gotten loved ones that have gotten much worse. I know what they are going through. I try to help them get through the tough times. According to our support group, this is a group that is of an elite group of members who all have something in common. We all wish we hadn't had this walk but we are stronger because of it. Many of us have had our own health suffer while we were caregivers. I, myself, am one that only the grace of God gets me through each day. We all have times that we think we didn't do our best but I will say we all did the best we knew how.
I have heard some people say that I should just move on. There is no way to move on. It is a different kind of college in a way, that you don't forget what you learned. I am glad that I can help others with loved ones with this disease.