Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Faith and Death

Alzheimer's is a disease that makes you think about death. It can last a while. Sometimes it is something else that kills you. Sometimes it is Alzheimer's. There is a widely held perception that Alzheimer's isn't fatal but it is. Oh, it doesn't kill you suddenly or even within a short time. It is patient and cruel and kills you little by little. It doesn't kill you uniformly but snatches life in tears and hunks here and there. It raises hope and then dashes it again and again.

So if you are a caregiver for an Alzheimer's patient you think about death. Sometimes you think about your patient's death. Sometimes you think about your own. Of course we all are going to die but Alzheimer's makes us focus.

A long while back now I met someone who changed my life. Afterwards I made the conscious decision to study the Bible and learn its lessons as best I could and to live the remainder of my life accordingly. That was quite a surprise to those who knew me. It was shocking to me.

There's a passage about death that has been on my mind lately:

All these people were still living by faith when they died.
Hebrews 11:13 NIV
Previously the author has mentioned several men and women whose lives were marked by significant events which were accounted as acts of faith. Afterwards many more, named and unnamed, are described. Some died in agony because they refused to renounce their faith.

It is not the where of death, or the when, or the how, or the what, or even the why that is important.

It is how we are living when it occurs that is important. All of those men and women died in faith.

I want to live that way myself and when I die I want to be yet living in that same faith.

Update on Dad:
It seems we are back once again to where we were in January and February except he seems even worse to me.

It is nearly impossible for him to get out of bed. Even standing for me to change him is too hard for him without some assistance. I'm holding on to the pullups for now though. He is drinking his juice still but by straw. I was able to feed him a little yogurt, applesauce, pudding, and ice cream yesterday. So I've managed to continue the medications. He pretty much stays in one position in bed. He is sleeping with his eyes partially open and his mouth is open a little. He looks really awful. He has some stiffening but it loosens with ABHR and Hydrocodone.

I suspected pain and gave him Hydrocodone. But I don't trust it. I am suspicious that it causes additional weakness. I don't know how to prove it. It is just a feeling. So I use liquid Tylenol except when I sense he is really hurting. And I do think he is hurting but I have no idea from what.

His speech is slurred and more unintelligible and he rarely attempts any speech. His voice is more hoarse and raspy and weaker than it has been. He does not always follow commands now and seems less aware.

The personal care aide yesterday was able to bathe him in bed. First time he's been able to do that. I think he felt good at finally being able to help do something for dad. I was surely glad for the help.

My respite volunteer was so surprised by the change. I told her to keep a close eye on dad because I do not want him to try and get up. He last tried at 3:15 AM Tuesday morning. It is dangerous now for him to try to get up.

Our nurse was here and still could not get vitals. I suppose he will resist that to the very end. But she was able to do more with him. She thinks it may again be a pain issue that we do not understand. She also wants to discuss all dad's meds with the Dr. She is suspicious of a some long term affects from either the Geodon or a combination of the other drugs. She's still trying to get the Dr. out for a personal exam. He will come when he can. I know that because he and I have been together a long while now. He always comes but I never know exactly when.

We are concerned about his lack of BM's, too.


nancy said...

your description of your dad seems so familiar to what i saw with russ just a little over a week ago. there is even less life left in him now.

your post was so moving to me. it spoke so personally to me. thank you for posting it.

it is a long road we travel with our loved one's with AD. you have been a wonderful son. my thoughts and prayers are with you both today.

Lori1955 said...

I am so sorry Flinty. This is all too familiar to me. I will keep you both in my prayers.

steflovesnonna said...

Your right you know. I used to think it was just me. That there was not a person out there who could think about death as much as I do. I realized when I came to there forum that there are a lot of people like me. I also realized that death and life are pretty much the same thing. We cant have one with out the other so why try and separate them. Thanks for the post my friend.

flintysooner said...

Dr. is supposed to come out this afternoon. I had to get help this morning to get dad changed. I got him in a chair but couldn't hold him up by myself to change him. It was more stiffness than strength.

He couldn't unfold his legs and he kind of had a crick in his neck. Nurse things Dr. may prescribe Cogentin because she suspects some symptoms from long term anti-psychotic use. She is speculating but makes sense.

I applied the ABH and it loosened him up I think. I suspect he may have a sinus infection.

He's back asleep and I'm trying to straighten his neck out but he just keeps pushing it to the left.

We will see.

~Betsy said...

I'm sorry to read of your dad's decline. Hopefully the doctor will prescribe something to keep him pain free. Please let us know when your doctor arrives and what he says.

I love your Bible verse. I really think that's the ticket - to die living in faith. Frankly, it's been the only comfort I have taken from my dad's sudden death. There has never been a doubt in my mind that his faith was as strong that cold morning as it ever was. Thanks for reminding me.

I'm thinking and praying for you and your dad. Hang in there.

arutherford said...

Sounds like you are doing all you can for your Father, yet still wishing you could do more. I sure relate to that feeling. It is a miserable feeling to watch our loved ones suffer and not be able to alleviate it much.

I am thankful you are holding on to your faith. Our Lord will stay by your side and give you the wisdom and courage you will need for the remainder of this journey. I will be praying for you, your Dad, Mrs. Flinty and your family.

~Betsy said...

Just checking in, Flinty. I hope things are peaceful tonight.