Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Want To Come Along, Too!

Adorable fainting goat image found here. Read on to see why. 

I had the most enjoyable lunch yesterday with my dear friend Bev. I've known Bev since the first day that we started construction on our house seventeen years ago when she scooted over as soon as she saw me standing on the sidewalk with my camera. (Of course). I wish I would have snapped a picture of her that day -- or better yet, asked a construction worker to take a photo of the two of us together.

She introduced herself as my new next-door neighbor and we were buddies instantly. What a rare thing. I wish she still lived next door......but luckily when she and her husband sold their home and moved, it was only a few miles further away, so we still are very close; although the days of running between each other's houses for morning coffee gabfests are long gone. Sigh.

Bev chose to move to a different home because she and her husband decided to buy a home that would allow them to be caregivers for Bev's mom, who has a long-term illness. As this woman progresses through the stages of dementia, Bev and her family are there with her every minute of every day. Needless to say, being a caregiver in a situation such as this is challenging, but I'm constantly amazed at the resources that my friend manages to find within herself to deal with the stress and uncertainty that accompanies this twenty four hour per day job.

Bev is blessed with a husband and family that are not only helpful to her mother; but also are a strong and loving source of support for her as the primary caregiver. As someone who has worked with patients with dementia/Alzheimer's, I know what a valuable thing this is. But I think that Bev's amazing sense of humor -- one of the first attributes about her that I appreciated -- has been one of her strongest lifelines through this journey which actually has only really seriously begun.

Here's an example.

Several months ago, I had been encouraging Bev to take some serious time for herself. Have someone else stay with Mom, I urged her. Just get out and about and do whatever you want!

It didn't take long before she realized that this was good advice, and she began to plan regular outings for herself even if they were simple things as taking time to grocery shop alone, or having a mani/pedi. Our friendship continued but as the needs of her mother became more consuming, I saw much less of my friend, although we still spent lots of time on the phone together. But it also didn't take long for Bev's mom to sense that something had changed in their routine, and she told Bev that she would really prefer to join her.

Which, as those who deal with Alzheimer's knows, is a very common thing: that the patient develops a strong dependency for one caregiver in particular and is reluctant to let that person out of their sight.

One day as Bev and I sat together over a Starbucks, she was lamenting the fact that it was becoming more difficult for her to leave the house without some pretty extravagant excuses that, even though another family member would be staying with her, didn't allow for Mom to tag along.

I nodded, sympathetically.

But then Bev grinned. "I'm so glad that I have to take care of YOU, too, girl."


"Oh, yes. Every week you need something or other. Gosh. DID YOU KNOW that my friend Julia has to have someone to go with her to all of her doctor appointments? And that she needs to sit with her for all of her infusions? And that sometimes she just needs to get out of the house but can't drive herself?"

Um...Oh, righto! I chuckled. I was a bit slow on the uptake.

"Oh, yes. Julia and I do all sorts of things. Constantly." She winked.

Girlfriend! Brilliant! Mom knows who I am and is vaguely aware that I have had some medical issues.

So. What sorts of things have WE been doing, Bev? I laughed. I was delighted. What a great plan.

"Well. There was this one time when you said that you just couldn't stand one more minute in the house and that I had to take you to a casino."


"Oh, yes. And you know that it takes at least an hour and a half to drive down there....and wouldn't you know it you started winning and I had such a time getting you to come home! That one got me a almost a whole day of errands!"


"You have to get infusions ALL OF THE TIME. And you're really not good at grocery shopping much these days, either."

Right. Which is pretty close to the truth, if you consider the kind of stuff that is making it's way home to my refrigerator and pantry these days.

"Oh, and this one is great --" She chuckled. "Then there was the time that you wanted to go looking to buy a miniature goat. One of the kind that faints when they're startled. We drove all over the state that day!"

I DID? Did I get one?!? I think those goats are amazing, actually....

"Oh, no. Sorry. John called us and told you to get home immediately because he was sure that we were going to buy a little one and throw it in the car with us."

By this time we were guffawing. Good thing there were lots of people in the coffee shop making a racket because we were getting pretty boisterous.

"Oh, and get this..." Bev managed as she dabbed tears of laugher, "Mom is beginning to worry about you!"

I'm sure she has every reason to be concerned.

"Oh, my yes. What with your gambling, and your constant doctor appointments, and running around looking for really unsuitable livestock, golly. She really thinks that you just need to stay home more!"

Girl. This sounds like so much fun. Can I come along sometime when you take JULIA out for the day?

By this time we had slid down almost completely out of our comfy coffee-shop plush chairs as we doubled over giggling.


No wonder Bev's mom always gives me a solicitous hug when I drop by to see her. I'd give a million bucks to know what she's thinking.........

Woo hoo! I can't wait to hear all about the adventures JULIA and BEV have next!


Heda said...

Awhhhh I so sympathise with those dear little goats. Faints and the very very occasional seizure come with the neuropathies that are part of my sjogren's world. I'm so glad for your friend that Julia needs so much care and support.

Unknown said...

Bless yo heart Julia, I had no idea that you are so needy! What a fun friend...I want one too.


Annette/@Anetto said...

Bev is welcome to take care of me too. What an amazing imagination she has. Would you really get a little goat? It might eat everything you have in the yard though.

Debbie said...

Love this....I am laughing hysterically. What an imagination!! Laughter is wonderful medicine considering what most of us cope with from day to day. I would love to go on a "Julia" trip too. Count me in. Thanks for all you do.