Monday, May 18, 2015

35 years together

We have been married 35 years as of yesterday.  I am not going to say this last year has been easy or that it was a breeze and we are the happiest couple ever because it wasn't.  It has been a hard year.  Yes we still love each other but having one partner totally relying on the other is hard on them both.  Dan gets frustrated that his body doesn't work anymore and I get tired from doing so many things.  My life is out of control, my house is a mess, I never have enough time to get things done that need to be done, I am exhausted most of the time.  Up until now we have been so blessed and have what many call a perfect marriage.  I think that makes this even harder! We have breezed thru most years.  It was hard when one of our parents died and the year my brother died.  It was hard when we had to move but we moved a lot so it got easier.  It hasn't been perfect but this, this is real and it is hard.  So many people tell me I am so wonderful because I am sticking with him.  What on earth are they talking about I always think.  This isn't the time to walk away.  This is what your marriage vows talk about "for better or worse, for sicker or poorer."  This is sicker! This is it.  As I watch him getting sicker every day, getting weaker everyday, needing me more every day how could I walk away, he needs me and we love each other.  Many times I say "we had a bad day" because to me this is happening to both of us.  This disease doesn't just affect just Dan it hits him, me, our children and grandchildren. Even our little grandkids pray for Dan all the time.  One of the littlest prays "bless pawpaw, bless papaw" They all see that he is sick and getting weaker every day.  This is not a disease that you can hide or if you take the right medication you can live forever and nothing changes.  I wish he had one of those, or cancer where they could take it out and with chemo he could possibly get better.  But no, it's not like that.  There is no medication, there is no exercise, there is nothing that can change this.  It takes over his life, over my life it is out there eating away the motor neurons inside my husband's body.  The doctor says "you know this is going fast right?" Well, I am not stupid so yes I do know it.  I can see! Not that I want to but I can.  So here I am starting my 36th year as his wife with love in my heart and praying we will make it to our 36th anniversary.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Doesn't matter that I am sick

Things I have learned today.  It really doesn't matter how sick you get because you still have to take care of them.  There is no break, no time out, no off, no weekends, no holidays.  I worked as hard on Mother's day as I do every other day of the week.  It is the same as it was when my kids were little.  Life goes on everyday no matter what.  One day of the week is no different than any other.  I miss having Sundays as a day of rest. 
          What I learned today about ALS.  Things change fast.  So take the CNA when offered.  You will need them! You can't do it all yourself no matter what you think.  For the last year we have been trying to handle it our selves.  I was raised to believe that you took care of yourself.  It was no one else's responsibility to help you.  You can't do it by yourself.  This is a BIG illness and it takes a lot of energy, and there is a lot of doctor's appointments, and a lot of needs to be met.  Most insurances cover a CNA and she/he knows how to do all those things you don't.  If nothing else let them teach you so that you don't hurt your back.  I am pretty sure mine is going quick because I really don't know what I am doing.  I am learning as I go and many times someone will say "why are you doing it that way, try this way" and it will be so much easier!!  Ask questions!! And let people help you! I know it will be hard but I think I would be dead if I hadn't had my brother here.  He and my son in-law have done a ton to help.  When Dan got to where he couldn't do the stairs they literally walked his feet on them while the other one held him upright. 
         What I learned otherwise.  Plan their funeral.  I am sure you have heard it more than once and I am sure you thought as I did "Stop saying that he is not dying yet" or "We don't need that yet"  But it really did give me one thing I didn't have to worry about.  And right now, one thing is a LOT!
         We are living day by day.  It is not easy and I am just trying to stay ahead of the curve ball most days.  Today is a bad day it started that way and hardly ever changes once it gets started that way.  I just hold on for tomorrow and hope it will be a better one.  He took a few real steps with the help of a walker yesterday.  That was really big so I will take a bad day today for a few more good days in return.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Some days are hard on all of us

Yesterday was a hard morning for Dan.  Some days are like that.  I have found that we have no clue whether or not tomorrow is going to be a hard day.  He just wakes up like that.  I think that Dan is just trying to keep me on my toes.  But last night he was able to get out of the bathroom without help and used big steps.  Well, big for him anyway.  He hasn't done that in a while.  Things like that are so hard for me because they give me hope that we are going to get thru this and that he is going to live for a long time.  Then he will have another major setback, and it is usually the next day or the day after.  So now I live in fear of what it is going to be.  All I want is my dear, sweet do anything for anyone husband back.  Not this angry, sometimes mean fellow who has taken his place.  And I get it.  I don't want anyone to think I don't but it is so hard to set apart the man who is sick for the first time in his life and having a really hard time dealing with what is happening to his body to my awesome husband who never would have yelled at me.  I have to consciously think "this is not my husband it is his illness" but when I don't think it fast enough then I get my feelings hurt and that starts a really hard cycle to get out of.  Usually takes me a day or two and I always want to snap back at him "I am doing the best I can" or "I do everything for you why isn't that enough".  But why say anything since it won't change anything and it will just upset him. And he cries so easily.  Bless his heart it is hard for him to not cry.  Yesterday at church there was a lot of our old friends there and he cried a lot.  Seeing them as they came over to shake his hand or give him a hug made his day.  He was so happy but the tears came.  He also laughs easily and once he gets started he has trouble stopping.  He and our youngest get going and set each other off.  The worst part is his little boy attitude like "letting gas" really tickles him or the other day he pooped in his pants and that really tickled him.  All the while he was saying sorry he laughed.  Makes it hard to believe him.
          ALS lesson of the week.  A Hoyer lift is great but wow is it hard to use.  Order it early so you can have time to practice.  I practiced on my son in-law and even with him being able to move it still took me 6 tries to get him to where he would move like he is supposed to.  It works much better if it is not on carpet.  We are going to use one of the plastic things for the floor that Dan used his computer chair on.  We are going to get the biggest one we can find.  We were told we could use plywood but then I would have to wear shoes all the time.  And I hate shoes but I hate splinters even more!
          Lesson learned this week about death.  I found out that if your spouse has served in the military you can have them cremated for free and they will then put them in a vault at Leavenworth for free.  And did you know that they charge you per pound to cremate? A friend of mine just had to go thru that and at the last minute found out the military would take care of it. Thank goodness since they were going to charge her over a thousand to cremate him since he was so heavy.  He had swollen up the last couple of weeks.  BTW: He didn't have ALS.  Not sure if they swell or not and I am not looking forward to finding out.