A Moment with Alzheimer’s

Imagine this…

You don’t know the name of your own daughter when she is standing in front of you although you have been her Daddy for 52 years; the place you have lived for 6 months feels like a foreign land; you can’t see well because of a degenerative eye disease and your hearing is severly diminished. You believe (because your thoughts are so haywire), that everyone is out to get you and no one should be trusted. The one person you do trust has turned into two of the same person and you don’t know which one is the ‘good’ one. You are given a piece of chocolate that you love by a kind woman you generally like, but you can’t eat it because you are 99% certain she has poisoned it and you don’t know why she wants to hurt you.

Every conversation, every whisper, every sound is overstimulation and reminds you that there is a conspiracy in every corner. All of this…and yet, there are some very real cognitive processes and heartfelt feelings going on.

You quiet just a bit because of the medicine that was rubbed onto your neck to help calm you but now you feel sick and anxious for a time. You allow the kind woman that you generally like to kneel down beside you and hold your hand. You soften but you are still frightened, and your heart is racing as is your mind. “Is she safe?” you ask out loud. You allow her to stroke your forehead and listen to her soft words to you…although they are gentle, they are just a big clump of jibberish. Tears roll silently down your soft, wrinkly cheeks.

Then…you come to life for a moment in time. You tell the woman that you are nearly blind, can barely hear, don’t know who to trust and are scared ‘they’ are going to hurt you. You ask her why your brain is damaged too. You tell her that you have lived a good life, you have done things right…now here you are and there is nothing you can do to help yourself.

What does the woman say? She tells you that you are safe, that she loves you and that she does not know why this happened either. She holds your hand, lets you lean your forehead into hers and she prays out loud for you. She thanks God for your life and she asks him to hold you close through this often horrific journey. She asks God to allow her to provide comfort for these people on their journey, for in giving that comfort, she recieves her own healing.

#afewmomentswithalzheimers

#shepraysforacure

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Rooted in change…then and now

Transformation, alteration, renewal, metamorphosis….constant change is a certainty of this human experience.  Stubborn resistance may root us in place.  Still, the very change that surrounds will also change us.  Why resist?  We are forever becoming.

I was playing a little game with a friend, we were giving each other a number, and we had to share the photo from our phones that matched that number.  He asked to see the 10th picture of only me.

The 10th picture of only me sent me spinning with shame and embarrassment.  I could not show him this one.  However, I promised…no cheating.  Before sending the photo, I let him know that this was taken at one of the worst times of my life.  My ex-husband had just told me he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce; my precious daddy was dying after a 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s.  The picture (which is here for all the world to see) was a clear image of a lady who had no love for herself and her eyes held a deep sadness, despite the smile on her face. The only reason I share it is because I am trying to practice what I preach…vulnerability and transparency. In this moment, I also share in hopes of diminishing the pier of shame this photo holds.

This precious friend heard my shame and replied with, ‘it’s just a selfie, look at your smile’.  Then he made me laugh with a gentle joke about chipmunk cheeks.  I never thought I’d giggle looking at that picture, but I did, and it was genuine.  However, I have obsessed over that picture since.  It’s not just that I hadn’t realized how much I changed, it brought back a rush of painful memories.

I remember the day the man who was the only love I’d ever known told me he was leaving.  I was inundated with feelings of unworthiness, disposability and fear.  For some reason, I made a little video on my phone to myself.  I guess to commemorate the day.  I very clearly stated (to myself) that I wanted to learn to love myself, no matter who else loved or didn’t love me.  That my friends, is the journey of transformation I have been and am still on.

My timehop today reminded me that at this time last year, I had lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers.  I then stopped Weight Watchers, and started doing my own thing.  It’s called the ‘keto’ish but not all the way because life is too short to not enjoy ice cream” diet.  Clean eating pretty much, low carb, very low sugar and almost no processed foods.  In doing this, I have lost another 28 pounds.  This makes 48 pounds gone!  I should be so proud.

Rather, my first reaction was “wow!, but I have so long to go.”  I began a laundry list of all the men who would like me better if I had a better body, and of how life would be different if my ass matched my sass!  (Borrowed from a favorite meme).  Somehow, I stopped myself in the middle of my negative recitation.  I wondered to myself, “what will it take for me to be good enough?”

I asked myself what I wanted.  Easy.  I want to love myself.  As is.  I want to believe I am enough and honor that deeply, no matter where I am on my journey.  I want to be excited about the work I am doing for ME while enjoying who I am right in this moment.

I want to practice gratitude, for I have so much to be grateful for.  I am here, breathing.  I am a miracle, just as we all are.  Life is the celebration!  I have two legs that are strong and lovely, and they get me where I want to go.  The gift of walking was taken away from me in 2009 and I had to relearn that skill at the age of 35.  How dare I fuss that I am not enough?  My heart is strong; it is full of love, life and laughter.  I can easily exercise on the elliptical for 35 minutes without rest.  I might not be the most graceful, but I am me and I am a masterpiece.  There is no one like me, ever, anywhere.  I am blessed in every way, I want to remember this every second of every moment of every day.

I want to realize that when someone asks me out on a date, they are every bit as lucky to have time with me as I am to have time with them.  It is not settling to be with me, it is a gift, for I am pretty damn cool.  I want to stand in this truth.  It changes my choices, it changes everything.

I want to show my kiddos who I am at my core and that we are ALL capable and worthy of beautiful, positive, transformation…their Momma included.

There is so much joy in the transformation these days…one day the pain will be nothing but a motivator for better.