Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Unplug for a Day" Challenge

This has been the summer of the ice bucket challenge fundraiser for ALS. All month I've seen friends douse themselves with ice water to raise awareness of this neurodegenerative disease that eventually results in total paralysis. The ice water is apparently to remind them of the nerve-shocking effects of ALS. What a successful fundraiser this has been for their organization!

I wonder, what kind of fundraiser would be useful in making others more aware of symptoms of dementia and brain injury? Short term memory loss, in and of itself, doesn't sound too frightening, but I'm sure there must be something that would allow one to experience the life changing event that it is.

Perhaps the activity that would most closely simulate what it's like with dementia would be to "unplug" for a day. No electricity, no technology, for a whole day.

I will attempt to relate this to Dean's present life:
  • Without proper lighting, our senses would change...Dean has this challenge with vision in only one eye and with little periphery vision in the other. He falls a lot, just like we might in the dark. His other senses suffer too. Limited hearing in just one ear and having no sense of smell are what he lives with every day.
  • No electricity would make our daily tasks more challenging...Dean has difficulty with many chores we take for granted. Taking a shower, for instance, is a major undertaking.
  • No technology means no cell phone or computer. For us, this would be very limiting, especially if all our contact info is on our phone...Dean misses every day the enhanced communication and socialization that these gadgets bring into our lives. But not having a cell phone or Blackberry for some might be like having part of their memories erased. Say hello to Dean's world.
  • No television or entertainment...Dean's greatest desire is to interact socially with his friends, and this has become more and more difficult as dementia takes over his life. He misses this activity as much as people would miss their television programs.
Yes, Dean misses out on a lot in life: his senses, ability to perform simple tasks, being able to remember what he did just a short time ago, and just interacting normally with others. In a sense, he has become "unplugged".

But God has not left him powerless. Many times angels have kept him from falling. He has a faithful wife caregiver who is able to perform the work he can no longer do, and most of all, he has retained his desire and ability to worship God. Human relationships may have suffered, but his spiritual relationship with God has never been better.

If caregiving for Dean has taught me anything about life, it's the meaning and value of being "plugged" into God.

P.S. Remember to donate to

Saturday, August 9, 2014

This Battered Life

A few blogposts ago, I reported my long-due visit to the dentist. Well, this has turned out to be a sinus problem rather than a dental one. I am taking a daily antihistamine and using a sinus rinse quite frequently and the facial pain I have experienced all these months has wondrously disappeared. Being on oxygen for nine years must be very drying on the nasal passages.

But now there's this sore on the bridge of my nose (been there for weeks) and it just keeps getting worse. It couldn't be in a worse place--right where my nasal mask hits. The doctor suggested not using the bi-pap for awhile or changing masks (which I will be able to do this coming week, when Medicare will pay for another type of mask).

But doing without the bi-pap is just not an option for me. I have tried cutting down on its use and napping during the day without it, with just the oxygen feed, and for a couple of hours at night. But it feels like going into a boxing match without gloves or any protection. I wake up feeling pretty battered.

This has reminded me of waking up at the Resurrection when Jesus comes. We won't feel battered then. We'll wake up as refreshed as the day we were born. But even better. For gone will be all our human frailties, our petty health grievances. The Master Physician has a whole new body to give us--one that won't wear out or grow old. No more birth defects (like my scoliosis) or brain injuries from having tractors run over us (like my husband). Now that's one kind of waking up I won't mind a bit!