As Abbie was at my parents, cleaning their house today, Dad’s Occupational Therapist met him at my house this morning. She brought along the Speech Therapist too. Bugs was due to leave for work at 11am, so him and I sat in another room together, listening to the Therapists working with Dad.
I find it so difficult to take in. My Dad reading simple words with great difficulty. A man who has indulged in the world of words all his life. Listening to him sounding out words is literally heartbreaking. As his daughter, I thought it was me being sensitive and emotional, but today, I could see that it had the same effect on my hubby. Struggling with function words? I can’t get my head around it, but then, my Dad can’t get his head around the words.
Having the luxury of my Bugsy home for the last three days, really helped me to cope. He gives me strength, as do my children. Just having him there, makes me feel emotionally stronger. Today, I’m not feeling strong.
Until 11th July, 2018, I had considered a stroke to be something that you were sure to recover from. What total ignorance. Yes, people can recover within a few weeks. Some, even a couple of days. However, my Dad has not been that lucky. Until that fateful day, my Dad was Carer to Mum, privately of course, not wanting the world to know she was any different than she ever was. Never did I imagine the ramifications and lasting effects of his stroke.
During a conversation with my hubby on Saturday, we were discussing which parent was most vulnerable right now. I suggested it was my Dad, whilst Bugsy argued that they both were equally vulnerable, but in different ways. I take his viewpoint. Nobody can ever prepare you for the day that you see your parents as anything other than your familiar role models. The effect of the sudden change is devastating. I have spent 44 years knowing who I am in this world, confident that I’m the daughter of strong and pretty amazing people. Today, I feel scared of the future.
Dementia is so cruel. It takes away someone’s identity, their dignity and their life story. I hate it. We are what life made us, but Dementia is like a bomb which destroys all those functioning pathways, which allow us to think and feel. Dementia does not just affect that one person alone, it affects the whole of their family. I already feel I’m a different person to the one I was prior to 11th July. My priorities have certainly shifted. I’ve learnt that it’s impossible to please everyone. You should concentrate on a smaller circle. If you don’t, you’ll burn yourself out.
Repeatedly, I’m told that I should tell the professional services that my parents need help. For whose best interest? Is this so my life can return to some kind of normal? I really don’t know what normal is anymore, but I do know that my parents are my responsibility. They’ve been there my entire life. They’ve always encouraged me, celebrated my successes and supported my failures. As children of vulnerable parents, surely it should be our responsibility, and privilege, to repay that love and support. I certainly think so.