FOR GREGORY. He was not a VICTIM of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, he was a HERO!
PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Many of the antidotes and photographs of Gregory show him enjoying himself at The Lieberman Center: whether outside, at a meal, in his room, or watching a performance in the Community Room.
But I need to chastise you a bit if you are sad for Gregory or get depressed yourself when you read about how he is today!
I think that for the most part you should feel sad for ME when the posts seem down, overwhelmed, or despondent ... not Gregory. It is me that is trying to cope with my new life or trying to problem solve for him at Lieberman Center. Gregory is content so don't feel sorry for him. I am able to regroup so don't feel too bad for me either!
The Gregory we all knew and loved, the whole person Gregory, the pre-Dementia/Alzheimer's Gregory is no longer with us. No amount of crying or sadness or depression will bring him back. If anything the crying, sadness, and depression will not only affect us but how we deal with him and he will "read" us which will affect him negatively.
So I try to be up and optimistic and positive when I am with him. The Spirit that is Gregory exists beautifully and fully. His sense of humor peeks out, his being aware of the situation peeks out now and then. Out of the clear blue he will lean in and tell me or tell you something very loving and poignant. His being distraught peeks out only rarely and his sadness passes quickly and easily.
He exists in a diminished place, a narrow community, with a greatly reduced cognitive ability level and skill set. But he is happy. He is content. He is safe. It may seem ugly to us but he does not see it that way. We must see his life through his eyes, not through our eyes or through our expectations.
Now and then, he gets a little "out of balance" but the medical staff and I work at helping him be at peace with himself through music, food, reassuring, and the very very careful use of calming drugs.
Many Dementia/Alzheimer's facilities have gotten a bad rap for drug use to calm residents in an effort to make it easier to take care of them, to sedate them into oblivion. And some facilities deserve to be chastised for such activity.
But many facilities also very carefully use medication to help the resident be calm within themselves, especially when they no longer have the ability to discuss their fears and emotions, when language fails them.
For those of you who think drug use is "wrong," I would say how is Gregory, in some ways, any different than the hundreds of thousands of people who need a mild tranquilizer or who pop an Ativan now and then to help them cope with life? When he is balanced; he is easy, happy, content, engaged, alert, and enjoying life to the fullest. His fullest ... not our concept of what "fullest" should be!
There are no expectations for Gregory from the outside and for the most part he has none for himself. He has no "shoulds" or "oughts" and that is beautiful. He has no obligations, doesn't have to be anywhere special or accomplish anything unique. Being late for an appointment or deadline does not exist for him. He gets to eat well, watch a lot of TV, see his favorite DVD movies, have his dark chocolate treats, sing, sit outside in the sun, and visit with people who love him and who somewhere inside he knows he loves back.
In many ways Gregory is well on his way to NIRVANA |nərˈvänə, nir-| noun (in Buddhism) a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism. Something we are all looking forward to.
Don't cry for Gregory. Please see his glass as half full - not half empty, celebrate him as he is today do not grieve for his yesterdays and don't feel too bad for me either.
I love that man More Than Ever and enjoy him every day I visit. Slowly I have been able to begin thinking about our past and being grateful for all we have had. I am overjoyed at the wonderful care he is receiving at Lieberman and I am slowly reclaiming my life.
The hole ripped in my chest, at loosing what he was, will never be filled and when he dies it will be ripped open a touch more, but that hole will and never should be filled. It is the sacred place where our love for each other continues to live and will live as long as I breath. I have learned and will continue to learn how to live with that emptiness in my chest. Then I will die and will have achieved my Nirvana!