I suppose the reason I don't cry as much and that I can laugh more is because I've reached a point of acceptance. For at least 10 years it seemed, in my denial, that we could beat this thing. We gave it our best shot! I kind of liked the place called denial because it kept us in a place of "positive". It's a good place to be for a while. What I mean by that is that dwelling in the destruction of the disease causes a huge weight of depression, a real buzz kill. Almost devastating to watch. So........."Alzheimers? What's Alzheimer's? Never heard of it."
As long as I didn't give into the demon called Alzheimer, we could overcome just about anything. With a few modifications, we could live life normally; eat, drink and by merry, so to speak. As long as Jerry had his good days, somehow in my mind, I felt he would get better. We didn't stop. We kept going.
I remember probably about eight years ago, we were in California visiting our son and his wife. We surprised them. It was so exciting to see the thrill on their faces. Everything Jerry and I did was usually my idea. I hated that. Before "A", Jerry and I both would be spontaneous. We hardly ever planned anything..but one thing we knew is that we always went out on the weekends. Neither of us liked to "do nothing". (accept when football game was on, of course.)
Either one of us might get an idea to go somewhere, or do something TOGETHER. Then usually we would do it. After "A", Jerry began to lose his "initiator" button. His "idea" mechanism. Everything was always up to me to initiate and plan. And usually Jerry was reluctant to go along with it. So, he would follow me around like a puppy dog. It got on my last nerve. It was like pushing a rope! Why did it always have to be MY idea? I didn't realize the initiator had died and that it was a part of his disease.
While out in California, we went to this beach called Point Dume. Like so many California beaches, it was set into this craggy cliff and in order to get to the beach you'd have to hike down to the bottom where there are all sorts of starfish and sea urchins. It was beautiful! Our son was so happy to explore this beach with us, but Jerry would lag behind with a grumpy look of annoyance on his face. Sort of reminded me of Walter Matthow in Grumpy Old Men. I would exhaust myself trying to be positive. "Oh look! It's beautiful. Let's go." We' walk down the trail and Jerry, dressed in his white golf shirt and faded kaki shorts, would follow behind about 15 feet. Needless to say, I was about to become a naggy wife. (that's not a good thing!) Once, we got to the bottom, Jerry would just stand there while we would skip over rocks and collect starfish. It was so frustrating and I just couldn't understand why he wouldn't participate. Now, I realize that it was the disease.
Here's the deal. Part of the exhaustion, thus depression, of being a caregiver is to constantly have to be "up". Constantly have to be positive. At the point of that California trip, I didn't realize that Jerry's disease was causing him to be so negative. It made me so frustrated and angry. Here I was, trying to be a brave caregiver, provide a happy life experience, in the midst of Alzheimers. I was trying as hard as I could...everyday....and he didn't even seem to want to try. Grrr!
Those were the good ole days. The days we can't get back. I see now, somewhat, what was Alzheimer's and what was not. Over time, the progression has continued. It has been hard. There have been lots of tears. We have finally given up the denial and the fight and have moved to our new "A" worlds. Jerry has moved to Alzheimer's world completely where he is secure and happily unaware.
I've moved to Acceptance world. Are those the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving? Denial. Anger. Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It took a long time to get here...14 years....but I'm here now. The dark days are compartmentalized and the light days are more frequent. Acceptance world. Let their be more smiles.