Well, I don’t have enough time to sit here and tell you all the 15,000 million reasons I hate dementia. But, just trust me on this one: it is the most awful thing in the world. I seriously think I would rather die of a slow and painful flesh eating bacteria than have to live and die with dementia.
I’ve been real convicted lately about how I respond to Gran and her spells. Part of her behavior, I am 100% certain she can control. I can catch her manipulating situations. But, for the most part, dementia has taken over her brain and she just can’t help it. So, if she isn’t being intentional in her SOB-ness, there really is no value in me responding with a hateful heart. Dementia gets a double victory if I allow it to steal my joy also. I decided this weekend I was going to truly pamper Gran, not fuss, not yell, not get angry and respond in 100% kindness, just to see if my happy heart would rub off on her a little. Because, just maybe I was making the situation worse by feeding the anger.
On Friday, I took Gran to a local meat and three restaurant. Those are her favorite. She ordered enough food to cover the entire table. I knew she wouldn’t eat it, and when the waitress questioned her order, I told her to bring it as ordered. Normally, I would have gone on a tirade about the wastefulness and the diabetes and all the reasons she couldn’t have all the food she wanted. But, I didn’t. And, of course when the food came out, she yelled at the waitress, fussed about having too much food, and on and on. I just kept trying to re-direct her to positive thoughts and behavior patterns.
Saturday was full on make Gran happy day. I took her driving to see Tulips, her favorite flowers. I took her to get her haircut and styled, and get her face waxing done. We went for pedicures. And, we went out for a steak dinner. I spent all but a couple hours of the day with her. We folded laundry together. I really tried to cater to things that make her happy. But, guess what, it didn’t make her happy one bit. She fussed, she complained, she acted out. She told me I was a terrible person. Why?
Because she truly doesn’t know how to be happy. She cannot find contentment. One of the things I have learned about dementia is how as the disease progresses parts of your brain die. Once you lose a skill, it can’t come back. You can’t relearn how to ride the bike once it’s gone. The area that stores those skills isn’t available. It hit me Sunday morning on our way to church that Gran’s part of her brain that controls the emotions of joy and contentment are just gone. Dead. It is neurologically impossible for her to be happy. And, that is so very sad. Just like she has lost her ability to tell when she is hungry or full, she has lost her ability to know when she should be glad.
Just imagine if you had to live for years without the ability to experience joy. It’s truly devastating. And, it’s hard for us to live with. Because, no matter how hard you try to control your own emotions and not let someone else steal your joy- you can only fake it ’till you make it so long. I have to remind myself moment by moment that responding in anger only makes me madder, and it isn’t good for the kids. But, when the shit literally hits the fan, it’s hard not to lose it sometimes.
So, dementia of all the things you’ve take from us, the ability to experience joy and contentment is by far the worse. And, for that I hate you!