Dementia and Montezuma. You know that terrible "bug" that effects you at both ends! The East coast has been iced over for several days, and I've not been able to visit Jerry. Calling before heading up to New Bern to see if the coast was clear, I was asked to bring more diapers. "Ok. …but didn't I just bring you a CASE?"
Just for the record, I use to be so embarrassed to buy adult undergarment products. That was BEFORE Alzheimer's disease. I'm sorry to divulge this (Jerry would probably be mortified. But since this is suppose to be a helpful and informative blog, I know he would be willing to help.) Jerry has been incontinent for years. I know if he were aware, he would be embarrassed. But he is not aware and shows no quams at all that he has to be helped to the bathroom. At first, it was "underwear". Really no different than his "tightie whities". Just a little fluffier. In the last 6 months, however, diapers work better because he is unable to sit on a potty. The tabs on the sides make it easier for the staff to get them on and off.
Back to today. When I arrived at Jerry's place, one of the staff members told me he was in his easy chair in his room. That's normally not the case. Usually, he is in the "family" living room with the rest of his friends. Today, I walked on back to his corner room which is a nice sunny yellow with two windows that let the light in. There he was, sitting in his maroon lazy boy with his eyes closed. His room mate was in his lazy boy too, watching a football game. Not an usual sight for most guys on a Saturday. But Jerry was looking a bit pitiful.
Since the snow and ice had kept me from visiting for several days I was anxious for my hug. I walked over and sat on the arm of his chair. Repeating his name several times, I put my arm around him and waited for him to respond. His eyes slowly began to open, blink a bit and they attempted to focus. I honestly think he knew who I was but this time his were wanting and red and glazed over, like a little innocent child with a virus. : (
I don't see Jerry that way very often. I kept stroking his cheek and all I wanted to do was put my arms around him and hold him close. Of course, he had know idea why I felt that way. He didn't know that Montezuma had come to visit the day before, nor did I.
The aide came in to take him to the bathroom. She told me that the whole unit had been sick with an intestinal virus. Yikes! Can you imagine how bad that was? All of these folks are incontinent. I cannot imagine the chaos in the unit when all of them were dropping like flies and sick at both ends. I think you get the visual.
I could tell that something had happened because a virus can really effect a dementia patient. It's as if Jerry took a downward shift back to where he was last summer. Weak. No food. Dehydrated. Disoriented. Confused. As far as I know, he has not contracted a virus since he has lived at his new home. But this virus ran rampant through the patients and the staff.
I now see, for the first time, how it weakened Jerry. I had a glimpse of what he will look like in the days/months ahead. I did not like it. It was a reminder of how I need to appreciate every day we have left….how I need to hold him whenever I can. Those glazed eyes were endearing as if longing for me….like an injured soldier on the battle field calling out for his mamma.
All I could say was….. "I'm here. I 'm here. I'm here."