jmgoyder

wings and things

My hero

She doesn’t know she is my hero.
She works long shifts at the nursing home.
She always makes time to have a chat with Anthony and me.
She has been known to give Ming a hug!

On her days off, she makes beautifully soft comfort blankets for the residents in the dementia house.

On her days off, she collects, and organises various goods to sell in order to raise money for the nursing home. As a result, the last few boxes of stuff I was going to take to the Salvation Army shop will now be donated for this cause.

She doesn’t have to do any of this extra work.
She has her own family responsibilities, like we all do, and yet she
still
goes
the
extra
mile.

My hero, E.

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Whispers

“If you listen quietly enough life will whisper its secrets to you”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

Anthony’s dysarthria is getting worse. Dysarthria is difficulty in speaking and, in Parkinson’s disease, is caused by the vocal muscles not working properly. Except for occasional unwhispered flashes of eloquence (usually in response to visitors or staff talking directly to him and waiting for an answer), his voice now is mostly a whisper.

This means that over a period of hours, Ants and I may only speak a few sentences and that it is mostly me doing the talking. Sometimes I have to put my ear right next to his mouth to hear what he is whispering and often I still won’t understand and he will shake his head in resigned frustration.

At other times, Ants may form meaningful words into sentences that to me are indecipherable. As a result my mind-reading abilities are improving and usually I will be able to figure out what he is saying. Sometimes, of course, the sentences do make sense syntactically, but not semantically, for example when he asks me to move the calves outside his window.

It may be a long way off, or it may be soon, but eventually Ants may not be able to speak at all so I am preparing myself for that possibility by writing down the things he does say as well as the things that I say that trigger his half-smile. I am a bit scared though because his facial expression is mostly pretty frozen (another PD thing) so it may be hard to ‘read’ him.

The contrast between this whispering Anthony and the loud, bellowing, laughing person he used to be is acute but I refuse to allow this to be heartbreaking, and I refuse to revert to the fug of despair I felt so long ago that I hardly remember its blah. There is nothing heroic about this newfound attitude; it’s a matter of pragmatism and survival I guess.

There was a period of time way back when Anthony’s inability to smile spontaneously, coupled with my down-in-the-dumpness, made my visits to him sad and difficult and I would come home in tears. But now it is so wonderful because I look forward to seeing Ants, almost like the teenager-in-love I used to be, and evoking this new half-smile from him easily now, and often, is fantastic fun!

That half-smile highlights our days and Anthony’s whispered “I love you, Jules” makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I so admire his resilience, acceptance and unsadness in the face of this horrible disease. His fortitude and courage continues to amaze me. He is not just my hero; he is a hero of Parkinson’s disease and I salute him.

And every whisper is a weapon against the impending silence.

weights 2

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Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and FEAR

I don’t think many people recognize, and acknowledge, the kind of fear that a person with any kind of dementia can experience. Anthony has PDD but can still vocalize his fears, especially after the sun goes down (Sundowner’s syndrome).

About 15 minutes ago, I rang him on his new phone and he actually picked up (doesn’t always remember how) and he was frightened and utterly delusional, thinking that he was at his brother’s house and that a storm had destroyed it, and asking me to come and rescue him. His words were garbled and frantic. I tried to calm him down, then told him I would ring the nurse but he said I wouldn’t be able to get hold of a nurse because of all the workmen were around and it was dangerous.

So then I rang the nurse and told her and she said she would go and check on him and get back to me. There is now an anti-anxiety drug that has been prescribed for these occasions so I reminded her of that.

Now I am waiting for her phone-call. As I wait, I think, with great distress, about how, from time to time, Anthony becomes absolutely terrified at night. PDD and, paradoxically, some of the medications used to treat it, can cause hallucinations, paranoia, confusion of space and time, and fear.

Anthony’s bouts of terror usually only last about half an hour which is the same amount of time it would take me to drive into town and ‘rescue’ him.

When is scared like this, he becomes more articulate despite the fact that what he describes isn’t real. Very soon, I think, he will not be able to talk at all, so it is very important for me that I understand his fear, and try to reassure him. I was in this afternoon, seeing him, and there was no indication he might have one of these ‘episodes’ despite the fact that he was very confused.

I am not just spilling my guts here – I am also saying that if your loved one has dementia but has ceased to speak, they might have the FEAR thing too so your voice on a phone, your visit, your touch, a hug, a cake, a blanket or a cup of tea might just alleviate that.

My heart breaks for those suffering this kind of fear in silence. I just spoke to the nurse and Anthony is apparently okay again and he is being put to bed but what if he is still really afraid? I am so worried, but I won’t be able to see Ants until tomorrow morning by which time he may have forgotten the fear. Oh I hope so.

He is, and always will be, my hero.

[ps. not keeping up with other blogs atm – sorry]

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