So today is the first day in a little over three months that Ralph and I are back to something resembling what I used to call our new normal but I guess is now our old normal.
First I had hip surgery. For two weeks Ralph was thrust out of his bedroom and his routine. My caregiving kids made sure he had coffee, beer and his pills daily, but he had to climb stairs for the first time in ages and he had to feed the dog every morning. He also got to spend more time than usual with his grandchildren. He seemed to thrive.
Just days after I was up and about, and our lives seemed back on track, Covid struck. The first week we had the the grandkids staying with us while their parents isolated. Then Ralph got sick. He was never dangerously ill but as I wrote about then, having Alzheimer’s made Covid that much more difficult. He was very weakened.
It took days after he was over the actual virus before he could be coaxed up for meals or to sit with the dog at least for short periods. And he was definitely mentally fuzzy, the same way he’d been after his illness two years ago. Then after only a few days of being upright he was back to bed stuffed up and red eyed. My daughter the NP said it was allergies, but fearing he’d had a Covid relapse (and petrified it could be some version of long Covid, which in combination with Alzheimer’s would promise a bad future for us all) I put my mask back on. Fortunately a Zyrtec/Flonase combo kicked in immediately. He tested negative
Unfortunately in a few days I started feeling ill, took a home test and was bright red ]positive. Ralph was still not wanting to get up. As soon as I saw the results, I cooked up a pot of soup, knowing the next few days would be rough. It’s one thing to care for someone sick, it’s another to feel ill yourself but have to care for someone.
I am lucky because I never did get very sick, but I don’t think I was exactly what you’d call a loving caregiver. I made sure he had his pills and his meals—and his beer—but otherwise he was on his own. Not that he minded. I wasn’t nagging him to get up and about.
I have been out of isolation for two days now. And this morning Ralph went back to music therapy for the first time in close to a month. Last night he asked for a new book to read, again the first time in a month.
So maybe we are returning to the old normal.
But I can’t help thinking that ten years ago neither physical nor mental problems were on Rick’s radar, or mine. I had a busy social and creative life. Ralph was revelling in his life as Mr. Outdoorsman, mowing and caring for his cattle on a daily basis, going on fishing trips with his buddies every chance he got. As an empty nester couple we were actually getting along and planning—fantasizing as it turns out—all kinds of adventures.
That life, that normal, is not coming back.