Lesson #33: Crisis? What Crisis?

I’m not good in a crisis. In my dreams, I’m this incredibly courageous woman who leaps tall buildings, laughing and bubbling with confidence. In my fantasies, I am an orator of note; able to express myself elegantly with witty wisdoms that make everyone shake their head in awe and agreement. In reality, I’m neither. I crumble with anxiety at the merest whiff of uncertainty, I cringe before the specter of responsibility, and I become tongue-tied and dumb with despair when confronted with a conundrum. … More Lesson #33: Crisis? What Crisis?

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Lesson #32: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t

It’s not easy to share our health woes; there’s so much stigma in our cynical society. If you whine too much, you’re a hypochondriac. If you have something incurable, it’s all in your head. If you have something really wrong with you, you shouldn’t be out in public. Stop coughing and sneezing on us! Stop blocking the aisles with your wheelchair! Stay home, why dontchya? … More Lesson #32: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t

Lesson #24: Sit Still, Be Quiet!

A decade ago, I had no idea what meditation was – beyond the ability to sit cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. That in itself is a challenge for some people. And I admit that, even after practising meditation for almost three years (daily for about one year), I still don’t know what I’m doing. But I have come to realize the benefits of this activity, despite my ineptitude. … More Lesson #24: Sit Still, Be Quiet!

Lesson #17: Help Help Help!

The other day I walked quickly before a rainfall to secure a lone taxi. I was just behind a man who, as it turned out, also needed the taxi. A rare gentleman, he asked me where I was headed and offered to share his ride. As we awkwardly made small talk in the back seat of the cab, I mentioned that I had moved to the area to care for my parents, both with dementia and Alzheimer’s. … More Lesson #17: Help Help Help!

Lesson #16: Look Forward, Stay Present

There is so much about caregiving that makes me sad, and looking back is a big one. Mom seems to be moving into an advanced stage of her Alzheimer’s; she has recently become more confused, less willing to get out of bed in the morning, and less connected with reality. She’s having trouble going to the washroom on her own, she struggles with her fork and knife, and her appetite has decreased. Along with her increasing inability to express herself, it’s truly heartbreaking.  … More Lesson #16: Look Forward, Stay Present

Lesson #15: Do Your Homework

My mother has shown signs of “sundowning,” which is a peculiar behaviour in some people with Alzheimer’s. The name is apt; when the sun disappears, the change in light can trigger confusion and agitation in the brain. I noticed this in my mother during the last months of winter. At around 6 p.m., she would start to become restless and uneasy, a bit “clingy.” I assumed it was because she didn’t want me to leave, having become dependent on me and our other caregiver. … More Lesson #15: Do Your Homework

Lesson #14: The Cortisol Curse

My older sister, who lives on the other side of the country, has a rough time hearing about all the changes that my parents are experiencing. She’s grateful they are being well cared for, but finds it emotionally distressing to follow their journey from afar. In the past few years, she has made the trip home as often as possible, and for as long as she can. She’s here for a month now, staying with them and offering me some respite. … More Lesson #14: The Cortisol Curse