Generally, the saying “In like a lion, out like a lamb” is reserved for March, but I think it is fitting for January 2018 as well. For us, the end of December and beginning of January have been lion-like.
The Christmas season was pleasant and quiet. We tried very hard to follow traditions, but do all things in moderation, understanding that my sweet husband needed sensitivity and flexibility. Our middle child was home for ten days, our oldest and his family are safely settled into their new duty station in Japan, and our youngest and her family are nestled into the basement. We shopped, baked, decorated, wrapped, listened to Christmas music and watched the Christmas classics.
Christmas Eve became gathering day for our family at the farm since winter weather was harsh on Christmas Day. It was strange, but stretched out the holiday into a more doable weekend. My favorite man did amazingly well at the farm, and was able to remain with us throughout the meal, gift giving, and most of clean up before needing to be brought home. That evening we slid in last to the Christmas Eve service and by “coincidence”, there was only room in the way back. It worked well, and we were able to scoot out first once the service was over. My favorite man was only slightly shaken by people he knew he should recognize but didn’t, and was happy to see a familiar face. Christmas day was equally as quiet. We calmly enjoyed breakfast, opened a few gifts, napped in the afternoon, and FaceTimed with our oldest and his family. Honestly, it was a heavenly weekend despite the fact that we all were battling colds.
December 26th was our youngest grandchild’s birthday and we gathered with close family for chopsuey and cupcakes. My favorite man was so sick that he missed the entire celebration. By the 27th, his temperature spiked and held at 103 degrees. He complained of a headache, bodyache, and coughed constantly. At that point, the doctor recommended taking him to the Emergency Room. When he didn’t fight us, we knew he was sick.
At the Emergency Room, we learned that there has been an influx of illnesses and it was verified by our Primary Care Physician. The good news was that he tested negative for Influenza A, but the bad news was that he tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus, or RSV and Pneumonia. Infections can increase confusion and can speed up the progression of dementia, and unfortunately, we have seen that over the past 10 days. My favorite man has become quieter, much more confused, easily agitated, and is on food strike.
It is the strangest thing. He gets so excited to see me or hear from me. Yet, when I call or come home, I get a quick response. Then he puts his headphones back on and returns to his world of politics, Forensic Files, or X-Factor. I have become his security blanket, and as long as he knows I am around, he is content and he goes back into his world. When I kiss him, there is a delayed response, no matter how many times I try. He rarely touches me, but doesn’t retract when hugged, kissed, or when I hold his hand. He doesn’t initiate affection any more, although I know that he loves me.
I still leave him notes each day, and he holds the phone until I call at noontime. He looks forward to my FaceTime, even if it is short. When I can get him to eat, he continues to love sweet treats, coffee, Pepsi, pizza, or anything he can put on the grill. He continues to cook and clean, although he forgets to shower, can’t remember how to shave, and can’t tie his shoes. He does the laundry, but can’t remember how to separate the laundry into darks, colors, or whites. He just tosses them all in together.
But I am losing him. On December 29th, my mother went into the hospital with bronchitis and a mild heart attack and she was readmitted into the hospital January 1st for pneumonia. It was the same day that my husband didn’t recognize me for the first time.
I wondered how I’d handle it. I’ve been expecting it for a long time. In fact, I was so nonchalant, that I have wondered if something was wrong with me. I didn’t cry. I just told him that I was his favorite wife, and he seemed okay with it. The majority of the day, I believe that he just thought I was someone who loved him and that he was supposed to love. The good news is that he later called me by name. However, it was a glimpse into what is to come and I know that.
I don’t quiz him. I don’t want to know who or what he remembers. It shakes him up, because no matter how hard he tries, some memories just don’t surface. I don’t ask him how many siblings he has or what their names are. I don’t ask him to recall anything. I just tell him about things. When people get close to him and quiz him, it frightens him. However, when they introduce themselves, it gives him to clues to either remember or fake it.
I hope and pray that he bounces back, but I am a realist. I know what to expect. I have accepted it. Maybe that’s why I don’t cry much any more. I cried a lot at the beginning, and I suspect that I will when it is all over. But for now, I just do my best to reset and recalculate.
In a way, I feel like I have PTSD. I have shared with friends that I feel like a piece of driftwood that keeps smashing against the rocks in the ocean. Although the trials around me haven’t necessarily been mine, I have been damaged by association. A lot has changed since 2009. It was the beginning of the change in my husband’s behavior and I will forever be scarred by some of what I have been through.
I do think that this experience has made me more mature. It has given me an opportunity to live a Christian testimony. However, I am not going to lie, I just completed a devotional on Trials that I wanted to jump up and down and stomp on, over the past 10 days. Finding joy, peace, and blessings is really tough when the heat is on full blast.
Speaking of heat… it is colder than the Arctic here in the northeast. We have been battling -30 degree wind chills, and 30-40 mph gusts of wind. We have had snow, and ice, that is driving us all inside to huddle around our stoves, dress in layers, and wrap up in blankets. Heating our beastly castle is very challenging and as an answer to prayer this week, we were able to fill our oil and propane tanks for another round of frigid weather.
The good news is that in the middle of the chaos my girls took me out for my birthday. We saw Pitch Perfect 3 in theaters after a wonderful lunch at Applebees. We enjoyed reclining chairs, sweet treats, and cupcakes made by my son-in-law when we returned home. It was a nice day. I even got a sweet note from my husband- which was extra special because he rarely writes any more.
After 2 trips to the airport, we finally got our oldest daughter back to Arkansas in time to start school. The first flight was cancelled, and the second flight had such tight connections that she had to run at all three airports. It did a number on my nerves, but by New Years Eve she was safely in the arms of good friends- but without her luggage. They came the next day!
Today’s prayer is to thank God for all He has done to keep me healthy so that I can be what I need to be for my family and for my favorite man. I want to thank Him especially for pricking the hearts of those in my circle, to encourage and hold me up when I feel weak, scared, or when the burden is becoming just too much to bear. I want to thank Him for family, friends, and coworkers who are committed to stepping in and praying, especially when loneliness begins to overtake me, because that is the worst. More than anything, I pray that when the time comes, my support system will rally around my family and I because we are going to need all the help we can get.
May January go out like a lamb, and may we get a little relief from the rough seas of life in the weeks to come. This piece of driftwood is feeling a little haggard these days.