It is now way past midnight....12.50 am to be exact....and I have begun to wind down for the day, ready for sleep. The day have been like any other day for me....living life the best way I can. Just a few minutes ago I got up from my desk to get a drink from the fridge. On the way back, I stopped to give my wife a kiss on her cheek. She is fast asleep and does not even stir when I did so. ...and as i sat down at my desk to start working again on my blog....it suddenly occurred to me that my wife and me has not talked to each other for over three years. I cannot recall how it happened but it must have been a gradual process because I do not remember her waking up one morning and not talk anymore. What I do know now is that today, she no longer talks. The doctors have told me that not being able to talk is one of the things that people with dementia sometimes do. If I sit down and think about it....really think about not being able to talk with my wife....I sometimes do ask myself if I will be able to cope with it....but the times I think about it is so rare that it does not trouble me at all.
Many times the nurses and Doctors I come into contact with when with my wife at the Clinic, makes it a point to talk to me and ask about my ability to cope with the condition of my wife - advanced dementia. The tell me that "respite care" can be made available to allow me to have some time off for myself, because to take good care of my wife, I must first take care of myself - be healthy and have the mental capacity to cope with the stress and physicality of taking care of my wife who can no longer talk, walk or do anything for herself. So far, I tell them, I can cope. It is not a burden for me or my son...it is something I and my son do because that is what we want to do. I tell them I do not need anyone to come and clean the house and I do not need someone to come to the house to give my wife a bath twice a week so that I can take a break. And we certainly do not want anyone to come in once in a while and cook for my wife and for us because we prefer to do these things ourselves.
Some of you may ask how do you take care of someone 24/7?
You do it with care, with much patient, with grace and with a total commitment and understanding that you are there to do for her what she cannot do for herself. In the morning, from the time I know that she wants to get up....it will take me about two hours from the time I say good morning to her, switch on the lights and start the process of getting her ready for breakfast and actually finish giving her breakfast too! At least one and a half hours of constant motion and things to do before she is all ready for breakfast....and the last half hour is giving her breakfast. These last two weeks I have started making her cappuccino for breakfast because I remembered that she used to love the froth on top of the coffee. So two weeks ago I made her cappuccino and watched her really enjoyed herself drinking it. Of course it meant more work for me and more time to be spent over breakfast for her to have that cup of coffee....but her eagerness and impatience when I was a bit slow in giving her the next spoonful of froth...makes it all worthwhile for me.
No I am not going through hell at this time of my life because of my wife's condition. Every day for me, and I hope for her too, is a good day. We have each other. What about a life for myself? To each his own...you will all have you own druthers in life....for me, this life that I now have with my wife is good. World peace and fighting poverty will have to take a back seat......and sometimes, blogging too!
What about quality of life? You guys read what I write in my blog...despite all the care and time that I give to my wife....I still have to time to write for my blog....something I really enjoy doing!
Is there joy in our lives? I cannot really know how my wife really feels but I see her smile, I see her eyes follow me around the room and watching me with a twinkle in them and I see her relax and contented...and every time I see her, every time I do things for her and react to the looks she gives me....there is joy for me! For me, and I hope, for her too! We live every day to the fullest. She is the love of my life..we have been together from the time I was 21 and she 23 and we are still together now that both of us are over 70. These are the best times of our lives together!
Let me share with you what sometimes passes through my mind as I look at my wife when she is quietly resting in her recliner that has been made specially for her comfort. I think about myself.....I think about what if that was me in her situation? That I was the one with dementia and she was the healthy one. Would she care for me? Would she be there to take care of my needs and make me a cappuccino even if I did not know to ask her for one? I think about would what she would do if I can no longer feed myself...when I can no longer walk and talk.....what would she do? If I am cold at night....would she care? And how would she assure me that she cares, that she still loves me and that taking care of me is something she wants to do?
Everyday I ask myself these questions and when I do, it makes it easier for me to do the things I do for her. So I know...whatever happens in our life tomorrow and in the days ahead, we will have each other and live life as we have lived life together since the time we met in London in the 1960's....live life as if there is no tomorrow! Live life as if today was our last day together!
Sudah pukul 2.16 am....and now I must to sleep.