For Christmas 2015, we got dad a new knee! ...
Thankfully the surgery went off without a hitch! It was a little congested around our house between the two competing walkers of Dottie and dad, and a 150 pound dog, but we got through it. He recovered just as expected, no complications, and was going up and down stairs again in no time. One thing about having so many surgeries is, when you have one without complications or trouble, you feel a bit like you've won the lottery, at least I did!
Before too long, we were settled back into our regular routine. I got up and took the early morning shift with Dottie. He took care of her in the afternoon, so I could do a little consulting and photography work on the side. Then when she started to "sundown" we'd share in the fun of getting her through it every night. If you aren't familiar, "sundowning" is a common term used with Alzheimer's or dementia patients. For Dottie what it meant was, everyday around 6pm when her cortisol level would drop, she would become extra-confused, agitated, scared, and just completely inconsolable at times. Sometimes it meant she'd flip into that grandma I first encountered in the middle of the street in Sun City, punching and screaming. She would be filled with blinding rage and often times I was the target. She would sometimes try to run me down with her walker, or one time she bit me so hard it bruised the joint in my thumb for over 2 months. Here is an interesting bit of trivia I picked up... did you know humans are capable of biting with the force equivalent of an elephant's body weight! Yes, very painful indeed! They were not all easy days, but we got through them leaning on each-other and tried to make the best of it.
Dad and I did our best to put on a show for Dottie daily to keep her engaged and as happy as she could be. Most days she was delightful, smiling, happy, "thank you, thank you, thank you" (always 3 times), and she was thrilled easily by a fun game of costume dress-up. We would dip into my mom's collection of costumes and wigs and she loved it! It helped to keep our humor in tact!
Looking again for the blessings when life lobs curses at you, I am so grateful it gave us the time together! I can't imagine surviving the loss of my mom, without the love of my dad to pull me through it and the reverse is true as well. As a family, it has only served to pull us all closer together.
"This Too Shall Pass"
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