Sunday, April 9, 2017

Under the Weather, Part 2

I am still feeling under the weather, and a dear friend's amazing husband has taken The Old Man out for a couple hours so I can rest. When friends offer this kind of help, please don't turn them down as I did at first, embarrassed. Say "Oh, yes! Thank you so much!" Trust me on this one.

Three hours later, I hear the doorbell. My husband has asked our friend to bring him home, and his face brightens when I open the door.

We go to the kitchen. He sits at the table, looking at me tenderly, and I start to prepare yet another cup of green tea with lemon and raw, local honey and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. He asks me a question. I attempt a response, but I start to cough uncontrollably and try to explain, between coughing fits, that I can't talk very much right now. His hands cover his face as he rests his elbows on the table, his expression sullen and dejected. Is he crying?

"Honey," I ask, concerned, "What's wrong?"

"I just like you so much."

He just likes me so much. It makes him sad that I am sick. I go to him and give him a hug. This is a moment to remember. Can you blame me for having tears in my eyes?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Under the Weather

I've been under the weather for a few days. Okay, a week and half. I finally decided to go to the doctor yesterday. My husband was with me, of course, and I was half afraid they would want to admit me. What would I do then?

But they didn't, and I'm trying to breathe between coughing fits. I'm on the couch, trying to rest, trying to ignore his urgent requests to leave the house to go somewhere or do something. It is a losing battle. He paces.

"Please, would you get me another glass of water?" I ask, lifting my glass in his general direction. Maybe he needs something to do, to focus on, besides being stuck in the house with me.

"Okay," he responds, taking the glass from my hand and leaving the room. Some minutes later, he returns with an unpeeled lemon on a children's plate.

"Honey," I try to modulate my voice. "I asked you to bring me a glass of water."

Again, he leaves, returning some minutes later. With a peeled lemon on a plate. He means well and is trying to help, I know. I force myself to get up, take the peeled lemon back to the kitchen, put it in a baggie in the refrigerator, and get my own glass of water.

Because when you're the caregiver, that's how it is.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Puzzles for Brain Health

Isn't he charming?
My husband has always enjoyed working puzzles. For years, we subscribed to a so-so newspaper just because he enjoyed the New York Times crossword puzzle, which he usually completed in fifteen minutes or less. I enjoyed the comics and the letters to the editor, but that's a topic for another day.

Helping Papa
When my husband was diagnosed with this illness, puzzles were suggested as a possible therapy to keep his mind active. So I went out and bought puzzle books, the kind with the answers in the back in case you get stuck. But I noticed, once he started going to work with me every day so he wouldn't be home alone, that he was less and less interested in crosswords. I also noticed that he would "solve" one or two words incorrectly, get stuck (no matter how many times I suggested checking the answers in the back), and move on to another puzzle. I downloaded easier, children's crosswords to no avail. I tried mazes, which were more successful. But only for a while. And we switched to our old pal, jigsaw puzzles.

His favorite jigsaw puzzles had always been the really hard ones with lots of tiny pieces that look alike. Well, they all looked alike to me, with subtle color variations and barely any indication of skylines or lakefronts until the puzzle was coming together. It was a challenge. The pieces would be grouped together by color, shape, size. And naturally the border was always completed first, a kind of frame for corralling unruly pieces. I knew these puzzles would be out of the question.

A couple of years ago, he was interested in completing 500-piece puzzles (with quite a bit of help). A year ago, he worked 100-piece puzzles. I went to the dollar store and purchased dozens of 100-piece puzzles. Every time they had a new one I thought he'll like, it came home with us.

Today's puzzle.
Early this year, I started working the borders for him, and he worked the main body. Though he will sometimes surprise me by completing the rest of the puzzle entirely on his own, this is becoming a rarity even if he's worked the puzzle many times before. In fact, where he used to work at least one and sometimes two or even three of the 100-piece puzzles a day, he now seems to have lost interest. A puzzle can sit on the table for days, unfinished. He takes coins out of his pocket and organizes them with the puzzle pieces or even as part of the puzzle, as if they somehow belong there.

Has the task become too much for him to handle, or is he just bored? I suspect the former. There's lots about this illness that's evil and discouraging and depressing. This is just one of many things.