Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


Our 4th of July, 2013. Thank you Mr. Poole for the wonderful family photo (again).

Our 4th of July, 2013. Thank you Mr. Poole for the wonderful family photo (again).

I have a dream husband.  Really.  I know so many women complain about their husbands controlling the remote or not letting them drive or not asking for “permission” to go out with the guys.  So many men are determined to be in charge of what is for dinner and what the family does on weekends (or doesn’t do in some cases).

I also hear complaints from women whose husbands have Alzheimer’s Disease just like Jim. Their husbands are angry. Their husbands won’t admit anything is wrong with them and deny any problems when visiting the doctor.

I am fortunate. Even while fighting a disease that is taking over his mind, my Jim is still an amazing husband, father and not following the typical husband line.

My personality is a very strong one.  Even though I can be insecure and at times indecisive, I am also very loud and straightforward.  Jim has always been a great match for me.  Let me have my way until he didn’t.  What I mean is, he got the big picture.  He understood those cutesy sayings you read on Facebook and Instagram.

“If you don’t care and it isn’t important, let it go”.  If he didn’t care what he ate for dinner, he let me choose whatever I wanted.  If he didn’t care what he watched on tv, he let me choose.  Of course one of the things he always said he married me for was the fact I liked pizza, beer and football.  That always helped with the decision on what we were watching and eating on Sunday’s.

If something really mattered to him he would let me know.  Or I could ask him and with enough prodding, he would decide.  Every once in a while this would annoy me and I would tell him I wanted him to make more decisions and speak up more.  I wanted to know what he thought and how he felt about things.  And he would.

Flash forward 16 years.  Alzheimer’s has released a fog over Jim’s mind.  A fog that lies thick on the cortex of the brain that determines what you really want to do or how you feel or what will make you emotionally involved in something.  There are glimpses of the fog lifting every few weeks, but for the most part, the fog rolls around and around and Jim doesn’t seem to notice or mind, no matter how many times I ask him to blow the fog away.

Almost a year ago I decided we needed to get rid of our smallish SUV, get back to a minivan and lower our monthly payment.  Please notice I said “I decided”.  That is right.  Me.  I did the research, I contacted every single dealership in our area. I went for a test drive by myself (twice). I determined the make, year, model, color and add -ons we got.  All while I was working full time.   I was also planning our annual vacation to family camp and keeping up with the kids schedules. I would be so happy if I never had to purchase another vehicle again.  Ever. I already have 28,000 miles on that van. I basically work out of it. It is my office. And the kids’ taxi.

Now on one hand, many people in this world would be ecstatic to be the one making the decision.  But I also know there are those out there that will understand and totally get where I am coming from.  You get married to have a life partner.   A partner in decisions.  The other side of the equation.  Should we get this one or that one?  Should we do it now or later?  Should we get blue, black, white, tan or red?  Or should we just keep the vehicle we have since we will have it paid off in a year?  No, the payments are too much, the warranty is within weeks of being gone, it takes premium gas which is way too expensive (keep in mind the amount of miles I drive), the tires are expensive….well you get the idea, right?  But the flip side of the coin conversations were between me, myself and I.  I would say these words out loud and Jim would just agree with what I wanted or sit quietly.  He was fine with whatever I wanted.

My chest literally is constricting now as I think of the loneliness and emptiness I feel focusing on Jim’s lack of any involvement in not only our day to day decisions but the major ones as well.

Financial decisions.  Disciplining the kids.  Large and small purchases.  Gifts for family and friends.  Birthdays.  Christmas.  Home repairs. Bill paying.  Every single decision comes from my mind.

Yes, there are those of you that would cheer this way of life.  Until you got your wish.  Until you realized the weight of the world was on your shoulders and it was you that had to forge ahead a path with the right choice.  If you make the wrong decision, it may keep your kids from being able to take music lessons or you may lose the house or it may cause you to have to dip into the savings that you have worked so hard to build up to its current measly level.  You have to figure out a way to pay for home care for Jim  (at some point) AND work full time AND take care of the kids AND keep up the house AND keep up with bills and schedules AND figuring out if there are bagels left for breakfast. You would rejoice at the idea of being in charge and determining your own fate, until you do it day after day and week after week and that grows into months and years.  Suddenly, the very last thing you want to do is make a decision.  OF ANY KIND.  You don’t want to decide where to go out to eat.  You don’t want to decide which cable company to use, or if you should even still have cable.  You want someone else to take over your mind and pick out what to wear, which load of laundry to wash, what is for dinner, what tv show we will watch(when we actually sit down to watch it)….. I could keep writing this for hours.  Well, maybe not hours, but you get the picture.

Yes, I am one lucky woman.  I have a man that lets me decide my family’s activities and path ahead.  I look forward to the day that everytime I yell “heads” the coin lands on tails and it isn’t my decision anymore.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions”

  1. Mary says:

    Karen, you are so right with this one. I also make all of the decisions. Had to purchase a vehicle recently and I never want to see a car salesman again. Truly aggravating experience. Even when I ask my husband a question to try to help me make a decision, I end up answering myself. Prayers your way.

  2. nicole burton says:

    I agree, I agree! I am so happy when I get a respite from decision-making. I try to get a day off every month. It helps. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. Thank you for sharing about your journey.


  4. Mary says:

    It is hard not having your other half contributing! I know how you feel. For years I suffered from what I affectionately referred to as “decision paralysis.” I made all the decisions that HAD to be made (by myself) but when it came to something that wasn’t as important I was just too tired to make another decision. So I didn’t. But that’s okay. The important thing is to cut yourself some slack. If you are too tired to make a decision and it isn’t a life threatening situation – don’t make it. Or if you have to make a decision, try to understand that even bad decisions are seldom irreversible. I think one of the worst things we do to ourselves when coping with this disease is to needlessly worry – and I am definitely guilty of that myself. I don’t know if I have shared this before, but I have this posted on my fridge to try and remind myself every day:
    “If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying?
    If you cannot solve it, then what is the use in worrying?”
    ~ Shantideva

    Keeping your family in my prayers.

  5. Laurie says:

    I absolutely understand. We are 7 years into early onset alz. Though we trust in God, for this path of life, the decisions can be so wearing on me. My husband sounds much like yours, and I too really miss his partnership in our lives. When I’m having a hard time deciding, I ask “what would Gary want.” That helps immensely.

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