Sometimes in the midst of working on my blog I stop to think about my wife.
No that is not right...many times during the day while I am working on my blog, I think about my wife!
It is now past midnight. She has been asleep in the bed beside my desk, since about 10.30 PM. In that time while she has been asleep, I have have gone over to her to touch her feet to see if she is cold as she only has one blanket covering her (no, her feet was not cold) and then I had gone to kneel beside her bed to watch her face deep in sleep and at peace. And from time to time as she stirs in her sleep, I look over to see that she does not uncover herself and that all is well with her.
Meal times are getting to be a lot longer than it was a few months back. My wife has problems swallowing. This, her doctor tells me, is a normal progression for those with dementia. Eating and swallowing is a complex process involving volitional and reflexive activities of more than 30 nerves and muscles. My wife no longer has control over that many nerves and muscles to help her eat and swallow her food. So all her food has got to be mashed up or pureed.
The consistency of the food must be just right so that it allows her to swallow the food slowly. Her drinks too have to be thicken - yes they have food and drink thickener - to ensure that the liquid goes down her throat slowly and safely.
This is what we use to thicken her food, soups and drinks.
Getting her meals ready takes from firteen minutes to longer, depending on what lunch or dinner is. Those of you who are caring for your loved ones who can no longer take care of themselves understand the temptation to take short cuts and cut corners when you are lazy or not in the mood to do what you have to do. My way of overcoming these situations that invariably arises in all of us, is simply this : I ask myself if I will eat what I have prepared for my wife to eat before I give it to her. That takes care of everything...but you have to be honest to yourself!
On average every mealtime will take about an hour to get through - and in between I have learned to eat my meals together with my wife....in between feeding her. This took a while for me to get used to doing because in the past, when I sit down to have my meals, I want to do so without without any interference. These days I can feed my wife, feed myself, watch TV and do a hundred and one things at the same time without choking on my food...and more important, feed my wife first before feeding myself! That is hard to do when you are hungry and the food in front of you is mouth watering good...but love conquers all!
Yes I love my wife! Thinking of her, where ever I am, makes me happy.
Lately my physical self has started to protest. Today I had to go to this place call Carrums Down, 50 KM away from Melbourne, to collect some things for my wife. With the GPS all I had to do was to sit back, listen to the instructions and drive. I have not driven that long a distance for many many years and I found that I had to focus on driving in order to keep within my lane and be watchful of traffic around me - and these are things I use to do without blinking an eye. Not any more! Doing anything out of the ordinary requires effort and concentration lest I stray into uncharted waters.
What comforts me is that I am aware of all these things that is happening to me and pace myself accordingly. Taking care of my wife 24/7 is no longer a chore because that has been my new normal for the last three years. And what is normal does not bother you. What I am now adjusting myself to in these last few months is to understand what is to come in the coming months or years as dementia takes it toll on the physical and mental aspect of life for my wife. That will be a steep learning curve for me but one I intend to cope with. For now all is well and manageable.
Life is still good.