As some of you have noticed, I have been around the twitter universe/blog universe very much lately. I wish I could say I’m too busy having a lot of fun, but it’s pretty much been the opposite.
We “think” my dad has Alzheimer’s. I say think because at this point, he’s being so secretive about what is going on that no one has been able to actually talk to a doctor about what is happening. He just keeps saying something is wrong with his head, but they don’t know what it is, and can’t do anything about it. Yes, I realize that is somewhat of an oxymoron, but my dad is more stubborn than I am so it’s basically like talking to a brink wall.
What we do know is that he is having some pretty severe memory loss. A few months ago we went to lunch and my dad had to call me 3 times to help him get there. This is normal if you’re in a new area, but he wasn’t. He was a police sergeant in this city for nearly 25 years. It was a restaurant not even a mile from the police station, in a strip mall that had been there for at least 35 years.
Then he had a seizure. He was sent by ambulance to the hospital and stayed for 3 days. He didn’t tell me until about 2 months after it happened because he doesn’t want me to worry about him. Because of the seizure, his drivers license was taken away. He has no idea when they are going to tell him if he can have it back or not. He seems convinced he’s not going to get it back.
That is one of the most frustrating parts of what is going on. He’s not sure when he has doctor appointments. He’s not sure when he’ll know about his license. If I try to push him to remember he gets upset because he just can’t recall the information. (Or he’s still trying to protect me, who knows at this point).
The worst part of this whole situation is watching my father disappear before my eyes. He’s always been so independent, and always working on projects. He had his own woodworking shop for about 40 years where he would make furniture and other wood pieces. He bought a 20 acre farm with my mom, where we had horses, cows, bailed our own hay, and had a gorgeous house that seemed like our own oasis from life. He had a duplex he rented out for so long that I can’t even tell you when he started. He use to maintain that house, plus our house on top of working. All of that is gone now because it became too much for him to take care of.
He’s lost a lot of weight/mass. He was a Marine, gymnast, and a cop. He was built with a lot of upper body strength that he maintained most of my childhood. These days he practically swims in his clothes, he’s just barely over my height of 5’3, and weighs in at a whopping 145.
This is the first song he thought me how to sing :)
Luckily, his sister lives very close to him and has been able to help him out a lot, otherwise it’s just me trying to look after him. But he still walks to the grocery store to get food, which he won’t be able to do once the seasons start to change and it gets cold out. He changes his mind weekly on whether he wants to move to assisted living.
As some of you know, I have massive anxiety issues. Needless to say, fearing something will/is happening to my parents is one of my biggest triggers so this has been a really tough time for me. I get so upset that I can’t “fix” this that I cry nearly everyday. My anxiety medication has been doubled, but I still spend most of my time dealing with a mind that won’t stop jumping to horrible conclusions. I had to quit my job (earlier than I was planning to), because I just felt like I couldn’t function correctly any more.
I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, although I will absolutely take any well wishes/good thoughts/prayers and the like to heart. I just don’t know what to do at this point. My mom says I should work on letting things go a little, but honestly I’m not sure I can. I wouldn’t be able to do so with her, and as much as I try I can’t figure out a way to do that without feeling like I’m letting him down or being a failure. I’ve tried to find out more information on Alzheimer’s, but there really isn’t a lot of information out there for caretakers that isn’t from the 80’s.
Maybe someone reading this has been through something like this before, and knows of good resources. Or maybe someone reading this is going through something similar and we can know we aren’t alone. At this point I’m willing to try anything to make this “changing of the times” easier on my dad and myself.
It’s tough putting this out there for everyone to read, so thank you for taking time out of your day to read it.