Less than two years ago it was unthinkable that the day would come where Anthony would have to go into a nursing lodge. I vividly remember making a secret appointment with our doctor to discuss his deterioration and, after arranging Silver Chain respite help that day, Ming and I went into town. During the conversation with the doctor, he mentioned the inevitability of nursing home care and Ming, nearly crying, said, “No, we will never put Dad into care.” The doctor gently said to him, “You don’t know what is coming.”
And we didn’t. All three of us could never have predicted how bad it would get - hallucinations, immobility, stroke-like episodes, falls, loss of hand/eye coordination, confusion, nightmare horrors, sleepless nights, sleep-filled days, loss of appetite, subsequent dramatic weight loss, confusion, cognitive problems, ablutionary problems … and the list goes on. Ming transformed from a devoted son to an intolerant son and I transformed from a devoted wife to a physical and mental wreck. But I only see that now – in hindsight.
The things I wish:
- that I had stopped asking Ming to do occasional ‘night shifts’ with Ants while Ming was still at school;
- that I had discussed nursing home/lodge possibilities with Ants earlier (he was assessed as a candidate for ‘high care’ over four years ago); and
- that I had broached the subject of death with both of them earlier.
Bubble and Baby Turkey are inseparable but I think this is because, initially, there were four Bubbles and four Baby Turkeys and (except for these two) the foxes got all of them when they were littler despite my vigilance.
Ants, Ming and I were inseparable too until Parkinson’s disease began to steal pieces of our jigsaw. Ming took a few leftover pieces, went into his room and shut the door; I tried to find some of the pieces of a blue sky, but they all looked the same; and Ants never liked jigsaws in the first place.
This photo was taken a few years ago when we were inseparable.