Patience is Indeed a Virtue.

Christmas 1998

Christmas 1998

Patience.  How I wish to the heavens above I were a more patient person. Unfortunately, all of my life I have struggled with this very thing. I distinctly recall as a young girl my Father talking to me about being patient and  learning to relax. Many years later he is still telling me these same things. It seems such a cruel joke for me, of all people, to be put into a position where each day brings a new level of need that I could never have foreseen. When you are a mother, a full time employee and a care partner to someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, patience seems to always be flittering just out of reach.

I somehow find the patience to deal with work, although there are times I can tell I am not quite as tolerant as I used to be. I have patience to deal with the person who just cut me off while driving. Or the call center person that answers when I call for the 3rd time about a bill that is incorrect. I have patience for the person talking loudly on their cell phone next to me in a restaurant. Somehow I manage to tolerate a rude server or incompetent customer service rep.

Where I seem to be lacking in patience:  a combination of two kids and a husband that sometimes makes me feel like I have a 3rd kid. The people I love the most are the very people that will bring out the utter lack of restraint I possess. By the time I get through my workday, I am sometimes on the cusp of a meltdown. Then to find out one of the kids forgot their homework or that Jim didn’t check to see if Brad had homework and instead stayed at the park way too long so we are now rushing to get something to eat and out the door to practice or piano and homework and reading will have to wait. Homework comes first, right? Or when someone finishes up the bread, milk, bagels, cereal, fruit, etc. during the day and doesn’t mention it to me so I can pick it up on the way home. I find out we are out of something the next morning when it isn’t there to fix for breakfast or to make for lunches.

If I only had to deal with one area of my life that needed patience, maybe that would work.  But it seems that I am constantly needing to use every ounce of tolerance I possess and search within me for any reserves. Sometimes there isn’t any to be found.

Then the guilt comes. Although I am getting better about the guilt, I see it as a gift to keep me in check and to encourage me to be the calm I want to see in the world.  Especially my own world.

Those of you that read my words who have traveled this path will certainly understand and probably relate. Those of you reading my words without a  personal experience living with someone with Alzheimer’s Disease will hopefully become more educated and garner a better  understanding.

In the past two weeks I have: walked in the door to find that Jim has taken ALL of the fire alarms down and laid them out on our bar in an attempt to find the one that was beeping (he even grabbed the one out of the attic); found my treasured “Life Is Good” mug hiding above the dryer with a huge chip missing after Jim had told me weeks ago he had broken it and thrown the pieces in the trash outside; had to reprimand Brad for disrespecting his father and taking advantage of our situation, while Jim was standing there aloofly listening; discovered Jim sleeping with his jacket on in our bed with two quilts and a blanket also covering him; found an overflowing basket of wet clothes sitting outside and Jim not recalling when he took them out there; asked Jim to keep an eye on the heat pump I had just turned on for the winter to make sure the water was flowing through the radiator pipes, upon returning a few hours later from softball practice I realized the heat had not come on, Jim had completely forgotten and the house was freezing. I have witnessed a slight decline in Jim over the past few weeks that starts the heartbreak train and the emotional inner-turmoil churning. Yes, you can know that someone is going to get worse and read all the books and speak to all the specialists. But it cannot prepare you to be a bystander as it unfolds in realtime.

By sharing these stories I am not putting Jim down or trying to have anyone feel sorry for me. I think it is important for everyone to understand that having Alzheimer’s Disease is just that; A DISEASE. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is more than forgetting who someone is or getting lost. It is a frustrating life that can wear even the strongest person down.

The REAL irony and truly sad part is Jim is probably THE most patient person on this Earth.  If the roles were reversed, I cannot imagine him not being patient and understanding. He always has been, even now. He doesn’t get mad and angry and just accepts what comes as it comes. He continues to teach me so much and is helping me grow into a person that is so much better and stronger than ever before.

The next time you see someone in the store, or driving down the road or in a restaurant and they snap for something that doesn’t seem like that big a deal, please stop and remember you don’t know the fifty things that happened before that moment they had dealt with. One minor thing can release the flood gates that have been held together by a wall of crumbling rocks.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (11)

11 Responses to “Patience is Indeed a Virtue.”

  1. Shirley Sehar says:

    So good Karen! Patience is the hardest for me as well! Especially when it is the basic tasks on nights that Wayne isn’t feeling well. The other night I was helping Wayne get dressed and he would just repeat what I would say and stand there! Unfortunately I was tired and patience was at minimal! The next morning he woke up just saying I’m sorry,..I’m sorry! Broke my heart! When I asked him about it he said he didn’t feel good!

  2. Meredith Lawrence says:

    It’s so ironic to me that Jay is the one that taught me how to be more patient in general. Now when I need patience the most it’s usually him I snap at. The other day he just looked at me & said would I say that to you? About broke my heart.

  3. Kimberly Smith says:

    Everyone I read your post, it tugs at my heart strings. My husband had always said I was the most impatient person in the world. Now he has Alzheimer’s disease and I’m like you trying to learn patience. Thank you for sharing. As always, praying for a cure.

  4. Jan says:

    I love your comment about how Jim is continuing to teach you and helping you to grow into a much stronger person. Remember, a strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey …
    but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong.

  5. Susan says:

    All of you ladies inspire me daily. With a mom in final stages of dementia, I am recognizing that other associates think someone has adhd on the phone, when the poor girl’s cognitive abilities are shot and she can’t carry on a conversation. Be strong and you are strong and I support you daily.

  6. Michelle Fox says:

    Patience wears thin, I know, but please, before you snap, look in their eyes and see that they are lost. If they could do it better, the would. Please, devise a way to achieve patience for your sake but most importantly..their sake.

  7. Maureen says:

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your experience!
    xoxo Maureen

  8. Wendy says:

    I was so patient when our three girls were growing up. Friends used to call me Mrs.Job. I never snapped, just accepted whatever came my way. Now with a husband with YOAD I am at a loss as to what happened to all that patience from years ago. I hate how snarky I sound and I know that his disease is only in the early stages…how will I be further down the road?

  9. Mary says:

    It is so difficult, and you express the overwhelming nature of the disease very well. You might want to assess Jim’s abilities more frequently and reduce his responsibilities accordingly. I know it’s painful every time we must admit there is another task they can’t be trusted with, but it’s like ripping a band aid off – the faster you get it over with the less painful it is. Your children need to be responsible for their own homework (this is true for all children, not just in your special circumstances). The children should also be responsible for all your routine household chores (vacuuming, dusting, laundry, dishes, etc). If they can recruit dad’s help on any given day – fine – but ultimately the chores should be their responsibility. Don’t spend time lamenting how unfair this is to them. Yes – they have been dealt a crummy hand. Yes – they will not enjoy the same coddling many other children do. But they will be better for it. Your children have the potential to grow into wonderful, responsible, selfless adults while their coddled peers will grow into self-centered, entitled, irresponsible adults. I’ll take the former over the latter any day.

  10. Lee Ann says:

    I agree completely with Mary, above. The kids need to do their homework, put it away, turn it in without prodding. If they forget, its their problem. They shouldn’t have to do all the chores around the house, but at least their own laundry, vacuuming, dishes, learning to cook a bit, etc. Sad to say, they are going to pass their father up in cognitive activities. They will have to protect him from himself at times, if he is unsafe. They will grow up fine, I am sure.

    You can’t be perfect. You have a home, a husband with problems, two children, a job, etc. YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL! Your mental health is important. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of any of them. Relax, go for a walk, read a book every afternoon for a half hour. When my Dad came home from work, he sat in the kitchen with my Mom and none of us kids were to go into the kitchen until supper, it was his time to unwind. Take some time to unwind. Get into a support group, even if they are all seniors, they know what you are going through. And they can be helpful too. This blog is good for you to get your feelings out and cleared. But nothing beats someone sitting right beside you, understanding what you have been going through.

  11. Lee Ann says:

    Is Jim on Social security disability? Does he have medicare? If not, get him on it ASAP. If he has medicare, he qualifies for things like massages, chiropractors, day care, people to come in to the house as helpers, etc. Check out all of the possibilities for any kind of help you can. Make it as easy as you can on yourself. Take care.

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