This is dementia. It's not just a memory problem.
What you read in this blog is purely my own personal experience in dealing with Lewy Body Dementia every day.

This is not meant to offer any medical or legal advise.
I have no professional training in care giving or experiences in formal writing.
I'm just a woman that loves her husband deeply and wants to provide him with the best quality of life he can and chooses to have.
My prayer though this is "Lord, What am I learning from this; how can I use it help someone else and to glorify You?"
If just one person finds comfort in this public blog. I will feel like it was a success.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Next Steps

I hope this makes some sense because my thoughts and emotions are so scattered lately I feel like Hubby and I are in an emotional blender.

I've been avoiding, for the most part, the caregiving www.
I've struggled to support myself and Hubby and unless the support was "easy" to give and receive, I've remained silent.
Unless I was sure what to ask for or offer, I've remained silent.
To the majority of my family and friends, I've remained silent.
Now is the time to break the silence because the silence is breaking my heart.

Hubby has had some serious anger issues. Nothing physical, just verbal. And that's not really the problem since we have lived with his PTSD for our entire married life, I'm used to it. In the past, he could leave or I could suggest he leave and go someplace or I could until he cooled off. But now he feels trapped. Trapped by me, the Drs and his Lewy Body Dementia. He doesn't want to be here. He's mad at me, the Drs, his illness, the whole world.
If I was in his place, I would probably feel the same way.
He's also sad, very very lonely, frustrated and scared. All the things I wanted to prevent for him and have not succeeded in doing right now.
All I can do is watch as he fights with his emotions and listen as he vents his frustrations. Most directed at me and admittedly they hurt but I understand where they are coming from so I try my best to ignore the feelings that come because of his words.
What can we do? How can we fix this? We are maxed out on meds and some of my big fears are more would make him "drugged" something neither of us want. He's sick of taking pills anyway and I don't blame him.
He has had some very lucid moments and we have talked about his dementia, his feelings and a few of his fears. Then HE suggested that perhaps placement would be the best.
Oh my heart! I HATE Lewy Body Dementia. I hate that he can have these moments of clarity. I HATE that he realizes what is happening. I HATE HATE HATE IT!!!

At his suggestion, we have talked Nursing Home placement on several occasions. Sometimes he says he wants to leave, other times he says a Nursing Home is not where he wants to be, but he doesn't want to be here. Some times he says he doesn't want to be a burden. I've tried to assure him that he is not a burden, perhaps difficult at times but never a burden.
He and I have both spoken to our children about it.
I have to add that we are very blessed with the support that they offer us. They may not like the situation but they support whatever decisions needs to be made in the best interest of their father and me. How did I deserve such amazing gifts when I received them?

It took a long time to bring it up to them. Hubby and I both fought emotions about it. We've cried together and separately, I've prayed for and over him. I still fight back tears and it's taken alot of emotional strength to put these words down. Even more when I hit the post button.

I've read more than once that it's never too early for placement when dementia is a concern. But it can come too late.
Late for the caregiver who is stretched beyond their capabilities and health. Late for the loved one who may do something that could potentially be life threatening to themselves or to others.
And if you're already talking about it, now is the time to make the move.
My head knows all of this, my lips and fingers have repeated it to others. My heart wont get on board.

I've tried to find things for Hubby to be engaged in yet he refuses. So, I wonder if a different environment and the company of other people would be in his best interest. At least that way he could refuse to participate or engage with someone other than me.
I'm sure it wouldn't help with how he feels about his illness, the Drs, the situation or me and all of his losses but perhaps with others he could "vent" to, it would help release some of his anger. Maybe he could deal with it better. I don't know the answers. I'm grasping anything I can to get even a small hold on a constantly slipping situation.

Neither of us have decided anything but Hubby wants to talk to a Dr about it. He has an appointment in a couple of weeks.
Confession : His wanting to do this feels like a bit of rejection of me but I have to shake that off and realize, this isn't about me, it's about what's best for him.
I did tell him if he wanted we could tour a facility and nothing had to be permanent so if he did go in and then decided wanted to go home, I would be loading him up and bringing him home.

Please say a prayer for us. We need clarity of mind and sure direction.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In the year 2009

I found a couple of videos I had from 2009 when Hubby was admitted for testing to rule out hydrocephalus. I knew I had written a couple of FB posts before I ever started blogging so I found them and thought I would share them both.
May 30, 2009

Anxious Heart

So are you ready for a blow away?

Since Oct of 2007 Hubby has had a diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia. A combination of Parkinsons symptoms and Alzheimer symptoms. I've watched the other half of my heart decline for almost 2 years now. Some days at a very quick rate and some days unchanged. It has been a roller coaster ride for sure. These days he can't be left alone as he is a fall risk so I COMPLETELY understand what the expression "shut in" means. I'm grateful for this social network as here is as close as I get to spending any time with my family and friends and I can still feel a part of their lives.

Life may change though. Hubby had a Neurologist appointment last Thursday. They had the CT back from his head and it showed LARGE amounts of spinal fluid in his brain. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound good BUT they are going to admit him for a 3 day spinal tap and relieve the pressure from his ventricles and HOPE it makes a world of difference!! They could see an immediate change! Could it be that simple? It sounds almost too good to be true. Could he regain some of mobility and thinking back or has he had too much damage? My mind and heart are in a whirlwind with hope.

Then I have to think of all negatives also. If it helps enough, they will do brain surgery to insert a shunt and drain the spinal fluid. His age (72) comes into play here with brain surgery. IF he actually has Lewy Body plaques in his brain also, then we run the risk of an anesthesia catapult into a worse condition as lewy bodies and anesthesia are like bleach and ammonia mixed. Right now he is calm, not anxious, he feels safe and protected. Although I feel he is missing out on much of his life he is content where he is. Where will this procedure leave him and in what condition?

So many questions and more prayers asked as we are faced with possible life changing decisions. The biggest and hardest prayer is "Thy will be done". Following through with that though has been difficult as I find myself guarding my heart. I'm afraid to have him just to lose him yet again. I'm glad my Heavenly Father is my comforter and keeper of my soul. I could not make it without His hope and love. I look toward the day where there is no sadness or confusion. Just worship.

Wanted to share, keep us in your prayers.

Jun 19, 2009

Home from the hospital

Current mood:disappointed
My Hubby just spent 4 days in the hospital ruling out Hydrocephalus.
He endured a spinal tap for 3 days in a row with very little to no change in his gait or cognition.
I endured 3 nights of being away from him as the V.A. would not let me stay with him.

My fear of him getting confused, anxious and wandering or falling, then the staff giving him meds to keep him calm tearfully spilled over onto the poor Dr. I was assured that they would NOT give him any meds other than what was in his chart for any reason. A little calmer I left and double checked personally with the head floor nurse (I don't think she was too happy with me) before I absolutely had to leave. Came home and crashed and returned the next day bright and early. He had a bed alarm on his arm so they knew if he ever got out of his bed for any reason.

The tap however was not successful so hydrocephalus was ruled out and a shunt surgery is not even in question. I suppose the only thing accomplished was that my poor Bobby got a headache and is a little grouchy. We are however back to the , Why can't I drive? phase. I'm not sure how long that will last.

So it looks like Lewy wins again. And I'm too tired to give it much thought today.

Just wanted you all to know how things went.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wrapped up

Over the last couple of months I feel like, no, I have been wrapped up in my own little personal emotional bubble.
Why do I do that? I'm not really sure. Perhaps it feels like a safe place to protect my heart and mind while I sort through the jumbled mess looking for solutions.
Hubby is dealing with some strong emotions from his Lewy Body Dementia his own self so as we sort through these together and separate I'm finding it difficult to blog about at this time.
gasp! I KNOW! Normally I'm an "everything out there no holds barred" kinda gal.

But this latest Lewy Body Roller Coaster ride is leaving us feeling some motion sickness.
I always know where to go for the support I need. I feel like we have a good team with Hubby's Drs and I feel secure in knowing if I need them they are willing to work with me and Hubby to give him a better quality life. But the majority of my support comes from on line sources that I am so very grateful for. Besides my FaceBook family and friends, I have a Lewy Body spousal support group, a place I can find valuable information from spouses that live with, care for and love those suffering with Lewy body Dementia,
There are FaceBook dementia groups where we can give and take in real time.
I know my adopted support family is there for whatever I need.
I have prayer warriors and well wishers and virtual huggers.
I cherish you all and I have no problems asking for the support I need. Yet at this time I'm not sure exactly what kind of support I need. I think what I need is less "Oh, I'm so sorry", and more ideas, or solution, and lots of, I'm praying. I like the support that makes me feel like a stronger caregiver when I'm at my very weakest. Support that builds me emotionally, allows me to vent and cry then hands me a tissue and picks me up. Sometimes even snatches me up by the collar, shakes me a bit and sets me back down. That feels like support.  That feels strong. That feels like love.
The sorrys make me feel unstable and not strengthened.
So I suppose I'm hiding from the sorrys these days because my emotions are sitting right behind my eyes and under my skin, ready to collapse and I need to get a grip on those.

So until then we're making do the best we can and know how. One day at a time and seeking the smiles.
One BIG smile was very evident the other day.
I was given the gift of clarity from Hubby.
He and I were grazing in the kitchen. He sat down and started a serious conversation with me about dementia.
We talk openly and honestly about it, no secrets or hushed tones about his Lewy Body. He didn't cause it and he can't help it, there is no shame. We talked on and off for quite a while.
After a long silence he asked me a question about something earlier in the day. 

I said; "I don't remember", 
to which he replied, "Honey, are you getting dementia?" 
Then he smiled and cut his hazel blue eyes at me!! 

That my friends was a beautiful gift all wrapped up with a nice bow :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Memory Tree

It's the Holiday Season!
At our house we celebrate Christmas.
We celebrate with lights and trees and presents and baking and music.
We remember it's a day to celebrate Jesus' birthday, but He is a constant in our lives all year round too.
If that fact isn't obvious in my life, I have a serious relationship problem that one time a year wont make up for.
Of course as  I  the kids grew older and Lewy Body Dementia moved in we have scaled back on the decorating.

I have learned not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Take it slow and easy.
For the most part, Lewy Body Dementia has been VERY selfish with Hubby and my time. Most of the time it seems impossible to leave our home and do anything that isn't a Dr visit or a one stop trip out to eat then home. Most of the time we get to combine those two things, Dr and lunch and home. Makes for an exhausting day for Hubby. IF I'm lucky, I can pop into the grocery store for a gal of milk if necessary while he waits in the car. I try not to make that a habit, only on a have to basis.
I've done most of my shopping on line over the year and last night I had the boxes with a smile (amazon) stacked on my table for wrapping

We are planning a Christmas Eve celebration at our home. I've specifically asked to be the host mainly because Hubby is more comfortable in his own home, even though he doesn't recognize it as such. He can choose to participate or not and I can stay as long as I like and enjoy the company of family I get to see once a year.  I don't put expectations on anyone to join us for celebrations. They have lives apart from us, jobs and weather could prevent them from being there and I have said that any time we can get together is a time of celebration. They just may not have a tree in the living room when we do :)

This year is no different except, this year Hubby asked for a BIG Christmas. Now I'm not quite sure what that meant for him so I'll do the best I can to encourage the family to all come. I'll prepare a big dinner and we can all gather together under one roof. He misses his family.

I haven't done a lot of decorating but I did have a really good idea that I'm sure I stole from somewhere, I just don't remember where. I added my own flair so I don't think I get points off.
I made a Memory Tree for Hubby.
I printed off lots of family photos and clued them on various foam frames. I even bought some clear bulbs and inserted pictures in them. I left one empty. Just a symbolic gesture for me. I think it turned out really nice.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Adventure Seeker

I wrote the following in response to a question by a fairly new caregiver.
He asked how he could make the care of his father an adventure for he and his wife.
I liked my response so well, (sometimes stuff just flows out of my head and sounds good, giggle) I'm posting it as a blog because I think it can relate to others as well as those of us living and caring for loved ones with Lewy Body dementia.

It (caregiving) will be an adventure on it's own, YOU just have to decide the type. Keep your humor, you WILL need it.
Pick and choose your battles.
Don't sweat the small stuff and there will be an overwhelming amount of small stuff.

Find time for you, let your wife find some time for her and together find time for each other. Have a date night even if it's at home.
Sounds like you have a team of 2, add to it and smile LOTS.

Daily write one thing on the calendar that made you smile or laugh, anything at all, try not to repeat. It will be an easy start but will get increasingly hard to do so you will have to SEEK it and eventually you will train your mind to find the positive. Some days may be blank. Try not to leave too many of them.

Ask for advice, others can help you think outside the box. There is a TON of seasoned caregivers willing and able to lend to your list of suggestions. Every person is different, what works for one does not necessarily work for another. Trial and error. There will be lots of error
Don't let things "pile up" Try not to get caught up in the loop of negative thinking. It's too easy of a trap. Say you're sorry, admit your frustrations remember your dad can't help how he is.

Love him madly, even when he is the most unlovable, you won't have to like his actions all the time.

Buckle up! It's a bumpy ride, the twists and turns will make you and your wife bump heads at times. Stay seated and keep your hands and feet and heart inside at all times. You got this!!