“A good measure, pressed down…”

I haven’t written anything bloggy in awhile. Life has a way of interrupting. Ha-Ha.
“To everything there is a season.” When you read the Scriptures they prepare you for life. They really do. It always seems like the ones I need to read somehow come to my attention. And I then go to the Bible and read the entire verse, so I am sure I get the fullest meaning I can, and then am able to apply it better to my life.

And I have been contemplating life. I have been so stressed out. Not sleeping. Stomach churning. I had thought my life would ease up a bit as I got into my sixties. But it seems like it has only pressed down and become more concentrated. Certainly not an empty nest or decreased responsibilities. Ha-Ha. Nope. Not at all.

And trying to think, all these verses come springing into my head. I am looking for blessings being poured into my lap. Oh I do! But instead, I am picturing God, sitting up there, watching me and thinking, “She needs more work. She needs to be pressed down a little more. She needs more refining.” And He’s laughing. And sending me experiences that test my knowledge, faith, state of mind, creativity, and love. I have been seeing myself get pretty down. So I have tried to giggle through these experiences. Some days it works; some nights it does not.

I have always loved that painting above, by Thomas Blackshear. It helps me when I feel like I have tripped and fallen again. And when I am facing things that hurt, or are causing me to be depressed. It comforts me because even though the young man is holding the nails and the hammer, Christ is forgiving him and holding him up. We all do things that hammer those nails into Christ. Sometimes we fall short of who we know we can be. Sometimes we ignore the right thing and do the convenient, easier thing. Sometimes we ignore our faith for the world. The Lord knows all of it, and He is still holding us.

This past week has been eventful and stressful. My mom was bitten by a dog we were hoping to foster. We spent hours upon hours at Urgent Care. When a person with Alzheimer’s gets an injury, it changes the entire world. For them, and for those who care for them. It took so long at Urgent Care because mom kept touching the wound after they had sanitized it, not realizing what it was. She did not understand what had happened, nor why she was where she was (which was an operating room). She kept insisting in putting a bandaid on it and just leaving. We finally were able to get her to leave it alone long enough for the PA to stitch it back together. Within the hour, and while still in the car on the way home, she had torn through a stitch. The PA had asked me if she was on blood thinners, because she was just bleeding so much (she is not). Her skin is so fragile, the stitches are stronger than her skin and when she moves, the stitches stay put and the skin moves, pulling away from the stitches. The bleeding is pretty extensive. And she keeps forgetting she is injured, how she is injured, and where she is injured. We had to re-visit Urgent Care and were able to work with an Occupational Therapist who devised a glove/brace so we could immobilize the area, allowing the skin to knit and heal, and to keep unwanted bacteria out of the wound. This morning the brace was missing and when I located it and tried to put it back on, she asked me if she had broken her arm. No recall of the past few days. At the OT, it became apparent her short term memory is now at about 1 minute and with my husband there as well, it helped me realize how quickly and how much this has progressed. Sadly, we have realized she has absolutely no recall. I have had to remind her every couple of minutes that she cannot move her hand, and that, “Yes, she has stitches,” and that she can “take it off in another week.” Every couple of minutes, all day long. I am tired. And this stress headache is becoming an old friend.

It is amazing to me how quickly this has happened! Just a few months ago we were doing facials, shopping, having lunch. Now she cannot remember what I said a moment ago. And I have been so-so-so worried about this wound. Keeping it clean. Not allowing more bacteria into her world. UTIs are a way of life with Alzheimer’s and two in two months is two too many! And so I am not sleeping. Not eating right. Having panic attacks. Because Alzheimer’s is getting very, very real and very, very quickly, very real. And I am sad. And I am scared.

I am already missing my mom. We can no longer carry on fruitful conversations. We cannot even comment on the weather, because she gets confused. Having so many hours of daylight here in Alaska is also messing with her head. Getting her to bed some nights is almost impossible. Getting a good night’s sleep, for me, is becoming more and more rare. I am emotionally fried, and pretty tired. And mom is becoming more and more immeshed in her world, which is about 1953-ish. When I remember that, our chats are easier! Today, she looked at me with clear eyes and said, “I can’t believe how much I can’t remember” and smacked her head with the new brace.

Alzheimer’s – this dang terminal, degenerative brain disease – is a lose-lose disease. Mom loses her life, and I lose my mom. I have spent most of my adult life living in a different town from my parents. My mom has always been a prickly person. Sharp tongued and stubborn. Not an easy woman to live with. But when she is gentle and kind, you know you are so very loved. She was the best mom when we needed that. She could comfort like no one else. And I know deeply in her heart, she lives for her kids and grandkids. And having to go on in life without that in my life? Well, I had not given it much thought. Today, it is all I can think about. My loss. My pain. And how I mismanage this journey so many moments, of so many days. Thankful my God is behind me and holding me up, even when I am undeserving. Because His love is unconditional. And I am learning that my love for my mom is becoming a better reflection of that. Because this disease is becoming more of a reality the worse it becomes. And the less my mom becomes, the more I need to be. I am tired. But I can do this. We are all called to care for our elderly and infirm. It truly is the very least we can do.

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