Simply Sitting

Today is the last day of the year, and naturally, a day of reflection. So as the snow flies, and I watch Fried Green Tomatoes for the 50th time, my mind wanders.

“How is he?” is a common question and a little difficult to answer. He’s mostly okay, but to be honest, there have been some subtle changes.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, Frontotemporal Dementia is caused by damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes at the front and sides of the brain by the ears. These are the areas responsible for our behaviour, our emotional responses and our language skills. Damage to the left side affects language and the right side, behaviour.

A person with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia may appear uncharacteristically selfish and unfeeling. They may behave rudely, or may seem more easily distracted. Other early symptoms may include loss of inhibition, ritualised behaviour (eg tapping or repeatedly walking the same route) or compulsions and a liking for sweet foods. It is much more likely for those around the person to be aware of these changes than the person is themselves.

In a small number of people with frontotemporal dementia, the first symptoms are problems with recalling the names of objects and understanding words (semantic dementia) or with producing fluent speech (progressive non-fluent aphasia).

As frontotemporal dementia progresses, differences between these types lessen: people with the behavioural variant develop language problems and those with language problems develop behaviour changes.

Each person’s experience of frontotemporal dementia will be different, but on average people live for six to eight years after symptoms begin. In April we will reach milestone (year) 7.

Although we have seen many of the “typical” changes, it should be noted that my favorite man is not “the norm”. For example, he built a deck this summer and a “He Shed” addition to the back of the garage this fall. He still reads, follows politics, watches movie series, and follows the plot so long as it doesn’t become too complicated. He watches Youtube videos when he needs reminders about how to fix things that are broken or to build things that need building.

This Christmas Eve was the first service that my favorite man didn’t attend in 32 years of marriage. While I struggled to swallow, I forced myself to praise God for the blessings. Although anxiety keeps him from large gatherings, he still bakes, decorates, wraps gifts, keeps the fire going, and the house clean. Best of all, he still knows the kids and I.

This year for my birthday, my favorite man bought himself a fish tank and yesterday we traveled over an hour away for neon fish to fill the gigantic tank. $200 later, he became the happy Papa of 12 new fish, and a “fish playground”. Placing his chair next to the tank, he has enjoyed chatting with his new colored friends. Last night, he even snuck into the livingroom to turn the lights on to insure that they weren’t scared. He just melts my heart.

He has spent the day cooking chicken with his new air fryer, 2 at a time and the Christmas tree has come down. Secretly, I think he’s anxious for me to return to school on Thursday so that he can get back to normal. Hopefully he will return to his nap schedule and back to baseline. But if he doesn’t, it’s okay. We will recalculate and love him through it, just like we always do.

So today, I’m simply sitting. I’m thinking about how my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been so blessed to have been a part of his life for 38 years.

So for 2020, I pray that he continue to beat the odds and that the Lord continues to lead us by the hand one day at a time. May you too, be blessed by God and have a new year that is mostly okay.

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