Fellow Humble Humans: I hate to break it to us, but:
All we truly wake up in the morning for is ... dopamine and seratonin.
Are we aware that late in life we will essentially wake to live for, perk up in spirit only for ... vanilla ice cream or jello?
Yes, that is the fatedness of the coding of us humans: things that make dopamine or seratonin course through our brains. This simplicity is so humbling, embarrassing, to thinkers, humans who have invested a life in deeper study of why, how, and what about it mentality and strivings.
Have you made me to believe that if only one person needs me, then I am good to be there? Was that you or was it me?
I'm gonna tell you something. I work with a progressed Alzheimer's patient. She rocks. She is 87 years old and some nights we are at a Lumberyard, some nights we are at her daughter's house, and some nights we just eat Jello or vanilla ice cream and all is happy again. Due to the progressed state of rapid dementia, I have to reintroduce myself every 20 minutes, and then re-establish credibility. Over time, the love that I show her seems to have penetrated beyond "the mind" that is fast-track-fated to forget me and all else stored in the short-term part of her memory. She requires my full attention for 60-70 hours straight each weekend. Bless her tired heart, in her fading eyes, I can go from my being a beloved to an enemy in less than a minute flat. The moments stretch or are truncated. I am not her family, but she "remembers" me now due to familiarity. Last weekend we were in the E.R. because she had the flu. Her sodium levels were not what they should be, so her dear daughter and I took turns in shifts, sleeping there while donning protective face masks so as to not breathe in the flu.
Helen can be so frustrated with the saddest plight of simply not knowing who I am or where she is or ... why. The outer world can call her behavior when in this intense anxiety, abusive, all they like, but I know better. She is expressing her ultimate angst and needs a caring recipient to receive her upset. Four living facilities turned her down for care or full-time living because she has the I.Q. of a 5-7 year old and can grow physically violent and verbally abusive. Once she threw--and I mean threw--her plastic juice container at me. Hard. I go from the friend to the enemy in seconds if I do not dance on my toes, go with the music of her mind. It is a great practice for me to be mentally agile, because it requires that I be. I cannot let her fall. Her knees are bone on bone and collapse could come easily at any single moment she wakes and tries to stand unassisted.
I sleep with a monitor tucked near a pillow and do not sleep for these 60-70 hours. Well, I sleep, but not the REM sleep one requires in order to stay sane. I opt to "sanity sleep" on Mondays after having had spent the weekend with Ms. Helen. She wakes, pees, and suddenly, as if I have been miraculously transported via the portal that is her mind, we are then magically part of the Catholic church's Altar Society--it is like assisting a character that Meryl Streep plays in a film; Helen is suddenly and without warning committed to whatever current memory or belief her mind is entertaining at that time. I.e.: "... These rooms aren't clean enough". "The sheriff is coming to get me." Once, still bedside, she instantly found herself in some lumberyard where she had "just organized" the owner's tool shed; "...He had all of these tools all over the place and didn't have them organized..."
She triggers my own anxiety at times and also delights my heart more often than not. I look at her with total love with no impetus from her, and she loves me back.
I look at her with confusion and she gives me confusion back.
This is a lesson in and of itself for which I am most grateful for this experience. To learn from a dementia/Alzheimer's patient that you get exactly what you give, is in my mind, proof that this is truth.
Last week my heart broke for her, another chip of it fell off of the statue inside. At some early odd hour in the a.m., she confided, "...I am so scared; I don't know if I'm in a safe place and I need you to call my family if I am staying here. I don't think my husband would appreciate it at all. I need to get dressed and go home." It is 4 o'clock in the morning. Birds are quiet. So is the sun. The air is still. Helen is not.