Back FromWhat Felt Like One Brink to Face Another

As usual we balance on the teeter-totter of good news and bad.

teeter

Ralph’s visit to Emory last week was a bit worrisome. The social worker noticed the same change in his communication that I’d been noticing. He was not exactly monosyllabic but offered much less information than usual. When I explained that he’d been in bed for a week, without his usual dosage of nicotine or caffeine, we agreed that it might be situational blip but that I should watch his lack of energy and engagement. It could be situational, but what worried me was that the temporary setback would set off a permanent slide. I was nervous. Ralph definitely seemed sluggish the next couple of day. I had to prod him to take his pills, to take his shower, to eat his lunch. But he has always been negatively affected by the kind of dreary weather were having and to my relief when the sun finally came out, his energy definitely ticked up.  I still had some niggling doubts because he seemed a bit foggy in the evenings, but then again we were still both a little stuffed up and coughing.

Then two days ago he shocked me by announcing. “I’m looking forward to Christmas with everyone in New Orleans. That should be fun.”

Ralph looking forward to travel? Ralph looking forward to anything? Wow. He was back to his old self, well not his old old self but at least his self of three weeks ago if not a touch more lively. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course, being back to his self of three weeks ago meant he was back to cigarettes and beer. And spending more time in his office away from his wife’s prying. And instead of sitting on the cold porch in the late afternoon, he began sitting in his truck where he could run the heat. I nagged him some, but mostly I turned a semi-blind eye. To be honest I didn’t have the energy to fight him.

(Except over the cigarette smell, which I had forgotten how much I hate but that’s another story.)

And last night we had the kind of crisis we’ve avoided for quite a while. He shambled into the house for dinner, stumbling against the wall and just short of incoherent. In other words drunk on lite beer. At least I think he was. I was worried that maybe it was something else, but no, it was beer overindulgence because once he ate he was more or less fine.

If he didn’t have the cognitive impairment, I’d…well he does have it.

So we talked calmly. I was stern and he contrite. He agreed again, to have no more than four beers a day. No beer at all unless I was there to keep count. So no more keeping beer outside the house, whether in the office or the truck. He agreed.

I reminded him this morning. Of course he didn’t remember last night, except his hand hurt, and that was enough to prove my point. Again he agreed. I drove to an appointment. He called to ask where his car keys were. I said I didn’t have them. He was sure I did. I drove home a bit later and found a new 12-case in his truck. He’d used the extra keys in the mudroom. But he was now chastened and suggested I go ahead and take the case of beer out of his car. He came to the house at four as we’d agreed. Everything is calm.

Sort of.  To watch him as carefully as he may need requires limiting myself in ways I frankly don’t want to. I feel a wave of resentment along with the standard guilt that I have been doing an inadequate job. I have already made one big change:

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I’m putting the life list I always make for him while I’m away in service everyday now. And the list itself is longer now, including more daily activities, and also including a check off for beers 1 thru 4.

We’ll see how long this lasts. He got home at 3:30 this afternoon. It’s 5:15 now and he’s on beer #4.

6 thoughts on “Back FromWhat Felt Like One Brink to Face Another

  1. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this. I don’t know what the weather in your part of the world is like but if you do get long spells of dreary weather a SAD (seaonal affected disroder) lamp might help Ralph’s mood. I switch mine on in late November until about the end of February and it really makes a difference. I have no idea what you should or shouldn’t do about the beers and cigarettes. By the time I was caring for dad he was past getting himself a drink so I could monitor his intake. Is he still looking forward to going to the family for Christmas or has he forgotten that idea?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Weather definitely affects both of us, but fortunately we have a lot of sun here and I do have him walking again. He is not excited about xmas anymore, but I hope that changes when we get on the road…have a wonderful holiday. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of how similar I find the challenges of being a partner to someone with unacknowledged memory loss to being a partner to someone who drinks too much – it’s the unacknowledgement of a reality that is constantly hitting us, as spouses, in the face, but for which reasonable, contructive dialogue is either ineffective or impossible any more.

    Quite draining, and erodes the bond we knew and loved with our spouses. This type of challenge, with someone who can’t/won’t discuss it, is probably the biggest stressor in my journey. Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You articulate exactly the struggle of so many of us–the strain of unacknowledgement. May I quote you in my next post because you clarify what is so central to spouse caregiving….not in all cases but when “reasonable, constructive dialogue is either ineffective or impossible any more.” Thanks so much for this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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