Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bookend

You may be surprised to see a new post in this blog. I am too. I thought I had finished writing my father's story almost a year ago. Not quite...

Writing this blog has been a fascinating experience. I thought I was just recording the details of my father's battle with Alzheimer's Disease, and sharing experiences that other people might find useful. But in reality, I was also providing vital therapy and closure for myself.

I was also meeting other people, near and far, who have been going through the same heartache, watching their loved ones struggle through this horrible disease. One very special lady is Dolores in Texas, who is continuing to write about her beloved husband David.

I have learned a great deal from Dolores, and I'm proud and honoured to be her blogging friend. One particular lesson is something that I have now put into action. Several months ago, Dolores wrote about a company that turns a blog into a printed book for safekeeping. The company name is SharedBook and the website is www.sharedbook.com.

After some research, I was so excited about this opportunity that I couldn't resist. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and now takes a place of honour on our living room coffee table.

The printed version of my blog, appropriately entitled Sam's Alzheimer Highway, is bound in a beautiful blue cover with two of my favourite photos on the front and back.
The pages contain a dedication, a table of contents, and all my posts, presented with an easy-to-read font and bright colour photos.

We don't need a bound book to remember you, Dad, but it's nice to look at anyway. I'm still Daddy's little girl, and you're still with us.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

At last he's off the Alzheimer highway

My father came to the end of his Alzheimer highway on January 1, 2010.

He had stopped eating about four days earlier, and had some sort of infection that might have been pneumonia. The head nurse asked if we would like to send Sam to the hospital, but we declined. We didn't want him poked and prodded by strangers in an impersonal Emergency room. We wanted him to be treated gently in his own home, in his own bed, and eventually to slip away quietly, surrounded by his family and the nursing staff who loved him.

And that's exactly what happened at 7:15 pm on New Year's Day. You made it to 2010, Dad.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Endings

My father's battle with Alzheimer's disease ended this year on a day that is normally reserved for beginnings - New Year's Day.

That date also represented the beginning of my Jewish mourning process. Now, almost eleven months later, I am coming to an ending.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Miracles in the 21st century

In the prayers that I have said in synagogue every day for the nine months since my father died, there's a prayer in which we thank God "for Your miracles that happen every day." That line resonates with me every time I read it, because of something that happened about a year before my father died.

Sam was slipping further and further down the Alzheimer highway. It was getting more difficult to tell, but the father I loved was still in there somewhere. And he still had a surprise or two in store for us.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Painful decisions

Being the principal caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease necessitates one difficult decision after another.

When I signed the admission papers for my father to enter his nursing home in January 2005, I was presented with one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. I was asked to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food for thought

My father's period of major setbacks on his Alzheimer highway lasted six months. It had been a horrible six months, marred by hallucinations, agitation, and a minor stroke.

Thankfully, Sam eventually settled into a new, more peaceful routine. The sad thing, of course, was that his new routine was at an entirely different level than before. Here was my gentle and genteel father, a well-dressed man who had always worn a suit and tie, now strapped into a wheelchair, wearing a diaper and jogging pants with an elastic waist. It broke our hearts.

One of the big issues during the next period of my father's life became food.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tooting Sam's horn

The year after our loved one dies is a year of firsts - the first birthday, the first Father's Day, and so on. We marvel: Has it really been three weeks, six months, or whatever, since he has been gone? In some ways, it seems like just yesterday; in others, an eternity.

In my previous post, I wrote that the first day of the Jewish High Holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, prompted me to think back on my father's last years since his Alzheimer's Disease first made itself known through subtle and then not-so-subtle clues. Yesterday, the last day of the Jewish High Holidays, Yom Kippur, was also an opportunity to think back, this time to repent the sins of the past year.

This Yom Kippur presented another first. For the first time, I tooted Sam's horn.