One of mankind’s greatest gifts is having the ability to laugh, to be able to find humor even in the most painful and darkest of circumstances. There are also a lot of things that happen in taking care of others that can cause one to laugh, not at the person but just at the unexpected things that do happen.
William continues to decline, unlike Philip, he does not seem to be one who will reach a plateau and stay there for awhile. His Alzheimer’s is taking its toll fast, and it saddens me to see this happen, for before this disease hit, and for a time afterwards, he was a very alive, loud, colorful, joyful individual whom I have come to love and care for deeply. Lately, the times when he does not know who I am, is becoming more common. When he remembers me, it is easier to take care of him, because he remembers my voice, when this is missing things can get a little rough at times, and yes even humorous.
He is unusual, he does not like being in bed. When put in bed, even if he is very tired, he will fight it, try to get out and cause a fuss. The only reason I can come up with, is that he does not know where he is at, is alone, and becomes very frightened. So most of the time he is in his geriatric chair; not the best of situations but that is the place we are at with him at this time. When in his chair we have him positioned where he can see what is going on, but away from the noise and bustle of the main sitting area. Too much stimulation makes him very restless and at times angry. He still eats well, and at times I can carry on a conversation, but it is often one sided, however the contact seems to comfort him at times. Bernie, Rose, and Pierre, also do a very good job in taking care of him. Rose is the RN here, very compassionate and competent. Neda takes care of the night shift, she is a LPN and she also does a great job with William. We do have a good crew, and we get along well with each other. We also have some part time people from two agencies who help out, and we are lucky with the care in which they do their jobs.
It takes two people to take care of Williams’s daily needs. Sometimes it goes smoothly and at others it can be a battle of sorts, since he often does not know what is going on. Each time is his first, since his short term memory is gone. The other night Bernie and I went in to take care of him. It started off ok; he seemed to be in a quiet mood, so we got him near his bed, put up the guard rail and stood him up. Usually he stands up and holds on to the rail. This evening right after I stood him up, he decided not to help us and would not support himself, so he started to slide towards the floor. I managed to get him into a position to support him, also trying to connect with him, but that night he did not know who I was. So I am holding him, Bernie is trying to finish the job, meanwhile William starts using his arms to try to pick things up off the bed, and I try to dissuade him, taking first one had and putting it back on the rail, and then the other. Then he finds out how to press the button to move the rail, which I then have to try to put back up. He then reaches back to get at Bernie, and I then take hold of his arm and try to gently pull it back, only to find out that I have Bernie’s arm. Got the right arm back, starting to get tired at this point. Busy trying to keep William up, then Bernie yells,” he has me in a headlock”, so I try to use one arm to free Bernie, which I do. William starts to slip, but I got him up. All the while amidst all this activity, William is not making a sound; I start to see the humor and start laughing, and Bernie joins in. We finally got it done. We when have to pry his hands free and gently talk him back into his chair, because of his fear of falling. We get him in, secure him, and he looks up, smiles, and says “any ice cream?”. Which of course we have and gave it to him, black cherry I think; he likes any brand.
So yes, something funny and tragic and painful can coexist, and I for one am thankful for it, I doubt too many of us would last long if from time to time we could not laugh at the tangle that life can become at times, a life that I love with a passion and want to live it out. I want to die worn out and exhausted, and also with memories that will bring either a laugh or a smile to my face. Who knows when I am old, I will also get myself into situations that will cause my caregivers to laugh; I hope so.