Today in My History2000: The Nutcracker
2001: Anvils Have Limited Appeal
2002: Full Moon Syndrome
2003: Out with the Old
2004: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2005: Stranger in a Strange Land
2006: Lizzie's Gift
2007: Hop, Skip and Go Naked
2008: Redefining Traditions
2009: Who's On First?
2010: Turn Off the Bubble Machine
2012: Making the World a Little Better
Books Read in 2013
"Things Overheard While Talking
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2013 Christmas Letter
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TURNS OUT IT WASN'T SO BAD
19 December 2013
The morning started with my second visit to the dementia support group. I didn't have anything traumatic to talk about this time, but just sharing information with others in the group about frustrations, practical suggestions, and reading material was very helpful.
The two facilitators make certain that everyone has a chance to be heard and keep the discussion going as long as necessary. It also helps that one of the two is someone I have known for more than 20 years and had no idea was involved with this group.
Listening to others' stories is always so helpful, realizing that I have it pretty easy. Others are dealing with advanced alzheimers, one is dealing with a patient who is terminal and may die at any moment. This stress on the family has made this group member look like death warmed over. One is taking care of a parent with dementia and a sibling with mental deficits. One moved to a facility like Atria because of the activities offered, which seemed to be terrific for the spouse with dementia, but the spouse wants to do nothing but sit in the apartment 24/7. Won't even go to the dining room for meals. That's slightly worse than my mother. One has a spouse with advanced Alzheimers who "wanders" and can't be left alone. At all. One has a spouse who is still driving, but is showing signs of more advanced Alzheimers and incidents have made it obvious that it's time to take away the car, and possibly do some serious decision-making about where this patient should be living.
Of all of these people, I think I'm the only one who does not have my loved one in house with me. I can get away and take time for myself, which has been stressed over and over again is the most important part of things when you are in this situation.
I got a lot of support for how I'm dealing with my mother right now and it was stressed the importance of getting her evaluated, which I know I should do, but it's going to be a battle. One interesting part of this was the discussion of various medical providers, some of whom I know and one of whom in particular I was warned against as someone who should no longer work with patients like this. Horror stories were shared. This is someone I have known, with all of my work within the local medical community. But the stories did not come as a surprise.
Following the meeting, I headed across town to meet a friend for lunch. This was someone I have not seen in several years, though we live in the same town. We just both have busy schedules and our paths don't cross. But I met her in the parking lot of the supermarket last week and we decided we should get caught up.
A few months back, I had another meeting scheduled with someone I had not seen in years. I was looking forward to getting caught up with her and hearing about her life now. An hour after we sat down, she said she had to leave to go to another appointment. In that hour, she did not ask one question about me, but told me about her, her kids (whom I don't know), her grandkids (whom I don't know), her siblings, her job, and her neighbors. As I walked her to the car, she said "next time you'll have to tell me about you." Given that we seem to see each other every 5 years, I'm not going to hold my breath.
About half an hour into my lunch today, I was having visions of a replay of the previous lunch. It was 30 minutes solid without a single "and how are you doing these days?"
The problem with these long-term friendships ... and I'm sure I'm guilty of it too ... is that your memory of the friend you have not seen in many years is that they know your entire family. If you have a large family, and the interrelationships are complex, the listener very quickly gets lost in all the minutae. I couldn't remember today whether this person was a sister, a daughter, or a granddaughter. I couldn't remember who had done what to whom. The young children who had been in grammar school the last time we saw each other are now setting up famlies with spouses or significant others and birthin' babies. By the end of the first half hour, my head was swimming and I was sorry that I hadn't ordered wine with my meal!
After about 45 minutes there was a lull in the conversation and I was asked "how about you? how are all your kids?" It was MY turn. Fortunately, I had just had the experience of domination a conversation about people that my dining companion didn't know, so I kept it short (in fact, we never even got to Ned, let alone Tom!), but we did get into my mother and her situation. As it turns out, we shared experiences of dementia and were both familiar with Atria, and suddenly the conversation became a real conversation. We sat there for another hour chatting like we used to chat in years past and it was really fun. We didn't talk about family so much as just things that we remembered together. Turns out that we had both taken Viking trips and it was fun comparing notes, the good and the bad. I loved that.
Living mostly like a hermit, which I do most days (other than going to Atria all the time), I may have lost the art of conversation. Maybe I found a piece of it today.
Actually, yesterday I had lunch with another friend, one who likes to talk about show biz things and we had a really good conversation.
Tomorrow is lunch #3 with a friend, but we always get along well, so I'm not concerned about that one--this is the friend I lunch with once a month at Olive Garden, though now that she has retired, after about 15 years of Olive Garden lunches, we are doing Davis lunches for awhile.
Friday I'll lunch at Atria, rounding out a perfect lunch week!
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