10 August 2015

Another six months has passed since my last post. For past readers of this blog (refer post dated 19 February 2015) I ought tell you I am uni dropout. About 9 weeks into the semester I had a medical problem that needed surgery fairly urgently. This seems to be a recurring theme with me over the last 6 years since I retired. It took me a while to get back into my routine after being released from hospital, and to be able to spend any length of time sitting at my computer writing. I had successfully completed the first and second assignments of the subject I had been studying but failed to submit the final one. 

There has been some deterioration in my wife’s condition since my last post. As on the previous occasion when I was hospitalised I did not tell her about it. This time I missed visiting her for 5 days. The day I visited after coming home she smiled when she saw me and then talked about me to me as though I was someone else. This has happened several times now. Lately when I have visited she sometimes asks who am I, before recognition takes place. In early July she had 3 falls in 5 days. Fortunately she did no harm to herself, although in one of the falls she landed on one of the carers in the nursing home. Now she is in a wheelchair for her own safety. This change in her circumstances also means that the staff now have to use a mechanical lifting device to move her from the wheelchair for toileting and showering. It takes 2 staff members to operate the device. She has also become incontinent.

About 3 weeks ago the staff told me that my wife now needs help with feeding. She had been able to feed her quite well with a little assistance. Sometimes the food on the fork didn’t quite make as far as her mouth. Now the fork more often than not has nothing on it at all. In the dementia wing at the nursing home there are 15 residents, 13 of whom need help with feeding. With 3 carers on duty at meal times the maths is easy to do. Carers come from other parts of the nursing home to help, and family members come to assist too. I have now joined that group of people. The words most often spoken during meal times are, “open wide” and “swallow”. Have you ever thought how long it takes to chew and swallow a fork of mashed potatoes? My experience over the last few weeks is about 2 minutes. If you then wonder how to do the same with a piece of tender meat, you might understand why it takes close to 40 minutes to eat a main course at lunchtime. Dessert is a totally different story. This goes down with relative ease in about 10 minutes.

I am currently on holiday in Fiji. This is my very first holiday as a solo traveller and is something that I had many doubts about doing. It is also the first real holiday in about 4 years. I am staying at a resort where, according to my observation of other guests, I am the only person who is there without a friend or family in attendance. A table for one at mealtimes means to me take a good book to read. You can only spend so much time examining the wall decorations, and trying not to watch other diners before you start saying to yourself “I wish they had room service for meals”.  Apart from that I am having a very restful time. The weather could do with being a bit warmer, but the meals are fantastic and I don’ t have to cook them or wash up afterwards. Someone also tidies my room and makes the bed and gives me clean towels every day. I am sleeping better than I have in months, hardly ever waking in the early hours as has been normal for me since my wife went into aged care.

About labtad

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. Migrated to Australia in 1968 and now live in an outer South eastern suburb of Melbourne. Married since 1966 to my wife who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. I am an imperfect follower of the Christian faith who believes that most things in life happen for a reason or purpose. The last 12 years, since my wife showed the first signs of having memory problems, have gradually taught me patience, compassion and some understanding of the situations that arise when a person Is living with dementia.
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2 Responses to 10 August 2015

  1. Glenda Cresswick says:

    Hi Peter. It is so good that you have been able to take this break and enjoy some rest and good sleeps. Yes it IS hard having a holiday alone, especially at meal times, but a good book does help, and it is those quiet, peaceful, relaxing times with a book or a movie that help pass the time.
    It’s still very cold here, so enjoy the warmth, and RELAX a little more!!


    • labtad says:

      Thanks for your comment Glenda. It took a couple of days to work the book thing out. I was brought up to believe that reading at the table was bad manners.


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