Teddies for Mary

It has been just over a week since I posted my last blog. In the meantime I have done loads of research, I have subscribed to various blogs to see how it is done and have completed quite a few online courses, mainly to do with the technical aspect of WordPress. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by it all to say the very least… Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook. Can you even remember a life without it all?

I felt that my life was being bogged down by bloggers doing too much blogging!  Some brilliant, some belligerent, yes, apparently the more controversial you are on your blog, the more readers/followers you will have. I am inclined NOT to agree.

I still have a slight technical issue whereby you are not automatically notified once I have published a new blog. Please subscribe anyway (if you like) so that I have your email address. I hope to sort this out soon and I promise never to post too much or use your email address for anything else.

Peter Lawson has graciously offered another little insight into his life as husband and carer to Mary. A few adjectives come to mind to describe this wonderful man… kind, compassionate, loyal, steadfast and selfless. I am quite sure I could think of a few more given the time.

Duty calls – it is now 6pm and my wonderful lady who I am caring for at the moment is about to rise from her afternoon rest. We have our daily crossword to do. (I must confess, I do cheat and use google for crossword clues when the going gets tough) Our British versus South African accents and use of the English language are cause for many a shriek of laughter! (she would call it ‘Guffaw’ I think) Crosswords are coupled with a lovely glass of Prosecco while the sky turns the most incredible shades of pink, red and orange as the sun sets on another beautiful summers day in the Cotswolds. “Pink sky at night – shepherds delight” No doubt tomorrow will be another glorious day! Heatwave warnings with temperatures rising to 25 degrees Celsius this week. Only someone from Nelspruit could find this hilarious!

CARING FOR MARY by Peter Lawson

In my previous story about caring for Mary I was limited in what I could say due to publication space. So much has happened, and is still happening, over the years since she contracted the dreaded Alzheimer’s that I feel I must write more in the hopes that others caring for a loved one may benefit or get some comfort.

I made no mention previously that earlier this year Mary had a fall which resulted in a badly bruised face and two black eyes. I was away in the Cape when it happened and got the fright of my life when the night Sister at the Home where she is taken care of, telephoned to inform me, and I felt desperate and guilty at being 2 000 kilometres away. A good friend went to visit her and put me at ease by telling me that the injury was only superficial and she was in good hands – “a friend in need is a friend indeed”, and how right that saying is.  There are wonderful people out there, and I could relax with this comfort. On my return to Nelspruit my very first duty was to visit my beloved Mary and my heart went out to her when I saw what her face looked like.

Shortly after that incident she went into a coma. Shock no doubt played a part in this, but also I knew it was the next stage in this disease with no cure. She was moved to the Frail Care section of the Home where good care was taken of her, but we thought we would lose her then and friends and family were distraught. My daily visits were sad times but also cheerful when I saw and appreciated how well she was looked after, and all the kind phone calls from people who cared were a comfort indeed.

I was told she may come out of the coma but not to put my hopes too high.  Mary did not have an easy life in her early years and had many a challenge to contend with. This made her strong in mind though and perhaps helped on this occasion. She did come out of the coma but had deteriorated in that she was now virtually bedridden, could no longer talk and needed to be spoon-fed soft foods. She has now improved even further and spends most days relaxing in a comfortable chair which she enjoys, plus the constant activity in the ward and the special attention she gets.

Her improvement is remarkable and she now is able to take some short walks within the building with the help of a nurse. She enjoys this and has even been seated in the Sisters duty room with the resident cat on her lap. It is such a comfort knowing that others also care. On a recent scary occasion another Alzheimer’s patient sharing the same ward took Mary walking without the staff knowing.  They found the two of them in the dining room, with Joey feeding Mary on peanut butter with a teaspoon. Mary was enjoying it too and we can see the funny side now.

On many of my visits I take her yoghurt which she really enjoys and which is easy to eat. I would feed her a teaspoon at a time, but one day she took the spoon from me and started feeding herself and she does this every time now. It may sound like a small incident but to me it is a huge, exciting achievement which means a lot. She also now drinks her tea and soft drinks by herself and that is amazing after her recent condition. I do understand however that it may not be long lasting though as improvement in an Alzheimer’s patient is rare.

When the weather is warm and pleasant I take her out in a wheelchair around the spacious grounds of the home. She doesn’t show it but I know she enjoys it. I show her flowers and pick some small ones for her. She holds them and examines them and carries them back to the ward on our return. There is a bird aviary in the grounds and we spend some time here. She loves watching the activities of the small birds. Incidents like this are occupational therapy for her and I just love helping her in this way.

Three small teddies are constant companions for Mary and are usually seated next to her in her chair, or tucked into bed with her. Someone not fully understanding what Alzheimer’s is about asked if I didn’t feel embarrassed giving her teddies, but if this person could see what pleasure they bring perhaps she would think otherwise. They are fondled and cuddled and she stares into their faces. Of course being nice and soft also helps and the slightest thing my Mary may enjoy gives me great pleasure too.  Something else she enjoys is colourful paintings on cardboard made by a small child. She holds them and gazes at them for long periods. The bright colours are obviously fascinating and this is a joy to see.

Little things mean a lot.

Peter Lawson. 

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