May 8, 2012

I Learned That When I Changed So Did Dotty

During my metamorphosis and in the period of greatest burden I had many breakthroughs and realizations. Each event led to the next.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Last night I was pacing up and down and thinking. Before I go to the Bunkhouse this is what I do, pace. I have been doing this since I was in High School. I think better when I walk.

Carole Larkin called to see how Dotty was doing. This morning Dotty is not doing well, so far.

I told Carole I was thinking back to the last time Dotty was really sick, couldn't walk and was generally out of it. That happened in January - February 2011. The problem and condition persisted for 6 weeks. Then one day, Dotty stood up on her own. It was like night and day.

I clearly remember thinking that I would be calling the Hospice any day, and this was likely the beginning of the end. I was wrong, Dotty came back.

This time will be different for sure. Dotty has not been able to walk for some time now, and we have been using the wheelchair to get her to and from the car, etc.

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I'll interject here that the tremendous support I received from readers at that time gave me a "a stiff upper back" and the strength to carry on. Same story this time around with one exception more loving, caring, compassionate people to support us.

The last time around one of readers wrote this:
"Bob, I think you do not tell us all the negatives in your life. We probably all think everything is just fine - no problems".
This was written by a new reader at the time.

I want everyone here to understand, the period of heavy burden for me occurred from 2003-2006. I did not start writing actively about my experiences until 2009. The reason I did start writing more is because members of the Alzheimer's community encouraged me to do so. So I did.

Then amazingly the Alzheimer's Reading Room started to grow every single day. No advertising, no marketing, in the beginning mostly word of mouth in the Community and in support groups.

The point here is that I was not writing about the burden at the time it was happening. I not sure if I would have anyway because I don't see any real reason to pound the negative into my brain. Oh, its is all there somewhere, but I choose not to think about it.

Now don't get some wild and crazy idea that I am repressing those thoughts and feelings. Not true. It is just that I prefer to think about the positive, and the good stuff.

They say you are what you eat. Well it is also true that you are what you think. You have control over your stomach, and you have control over your brain.

So last night I start thinking to myself, the last year or so was much better than the period from 2003-2006. Dotty and I had a lot of fun. Dotty makes me laugh all the time.

Dotty is sweeter now than she was during the period of burden. Sure her short term memory is gone. That doesn't bother me. I understand it, I learned to cope with it, and quite frankly I tend to ignore it to the degree possible. I also learned how to communicate more effectively with Dotty over the years, so the memory part doesn't bring me down. I guess you could say we ignore it, or stay away from it.

You get to choose, and you get to choose what you think.

I am trying to figure out which of the past events changed our lives the most. My metamorphosis as an Alzheimer's caregiver is on going, still ongoing. So no single significant event had an impact greater than any other significant event.

During my metamorphosis in the period of greatest burden I had many breakthroughs and realizations. Each event led to the next.

Exercise, More There (Dotty actually first taught me this), start living our lives, something had to change, that something was me. They all lead me to Alzheimer's World. I took the big step to the left and started looking at our situation through Dotty's eyes.

Instead of venting and complaining, I start to try and understand how Dotty was thinking and feeling, and how she perceived the world.

I became kinder and gentler in this understanding.

As I became kinder and gentler, so did Dotty. She more or less began to mirror my behavior.

Think about it. Instead of me mirroring her behavior, Dotty started to mirror me. It was a complete role reversal.

So if you are wondering why I can't remember the bad stuff, now you know.

I Learned That When I Changed So Did Dotty.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,511 articles with more than 297,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room