Ski Trip

Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, skiing

Frances, our new teenager.

We celebrated a spectacular 13th birthday this past weekend. Frances  had requested we go skiing. Skiing. A very expensive hobby. As fate would have it, after a series of articles were published about our family last fall, a kind, giving and very generous stranger contacted us through his bank and “donated” money for us to go away for a weekend as a family. So, I kept the money socked away for a few months and used that to cover the lift tickets, ski rentals, gas and food.  We were also fortunate enough to have a friend lend us a place to stay and so we were able to enjoy a beautiful family mini- vacation full of fun and white powder. Frances had the birthday she was hoping for and we all got respite from the normal daily grind.

Frances has a friend that also loves skiing and her family joined us, as did my parents. So, it was a special time indeed.

Not only was this a fun trip for Frances, but Jim also got to ski again. He loves skiing. He has skied in Europe and different parts of the US. He is a natural athlete and can ski quite well. I, on the other hand, stick to the slopes made for beginners, fall a few times and then I am happy to call it a day and sit by a warm fire.

I thought this would be a good time for Jim and Frances to have some quality Father/Daughter time. And they did. But Jim wasn’t able to coordinate all of the equipment well. He lost the brand new pair of goggles I had just bought him. He literally lost $10 while getting organized in our room (we tore that place apart looking and never could locate it. Where is Nancy Drew when you need her? The Case of the Missing Ten Dollar Bill.) He had a tremendously hard time putting on his hat that also covered his neck and face. He, at one point, lost his ski poles, his skis, his helmet and just wanted to give up. He was crying as we stood there, on the white powder, searching through the crowds of brightly colored outfits for his goggles, his skis, his helmet and his poles. I told him he was going to ski and we would get it all worked out. I found the skis. We got a new helmet and new poles. But he was left to ski with no goggles in below zero temps. And he loved it. He had such a great time. Even better was the next day when our friend that had joined us took Jim and Frances out on the slopes. They ate at the bottom of a slope, next to a lake  for lunch.  She worked with Frances and  helped Jim navigate the trails and the lifts. It saddened me that Jim had to quit early because he had gotten tired and began having a lot of trouble getting on and off the lifts, but wow! What a great friend! I know she wanted nothing more than to ski all day on the slopes and spend the day zig zagging and jumping over the beautiful white stuff. But, she didn’t. She took it upon herself to help. And what a gift she gave me. I was able to relax and not worry about him. I was able to chill out with Brad and my parents and at the same time know he was being looked out for. I hadn’t realized until then how stressful it can be at times. Just trying to keep up with him and his stuff and his schedule and his needs on top of mine and the kids.

I already had been feeling guilty because I had stopped long enough to look at his hands. They were cracked and looked horrible. He hadn’t trimmed his nails and wasn’t putting anything on them to protect them from this harsh winter and they looked painful. A few weeks ago I had seen they were looking rough and had told him to start putting lotion on them each night. He would wash his hands after putting the lotion on and I would tell him to go put some more on. I would explain to him to wash his hands before putting the lotion on. And he would repeat the same scenario night after night. It was almost like a comedy. But with such a hectic life, I hadn’t really checked out the progression. I am so ashamed to admit that I hadn’t noticed how deep the cracks had become and how long his nails had gotten. Jim has always been a stickler for personal hygiene and this is all so foreign to me. Having to keep watch on his personal care seems so evasive and robs him of some privacy. I know this is going to get much worse. But each initial stage of care seems to rob him of himself and robs me of him.

So, we had many rescuers this past weekend. Silent angels who helped make the vacation possible. Good friends that joined in the fun and helped us. The knowledge that my parents were there to help and to be back up parents if need be for the kids was appreciated. Plus, I got to spend a long weekend with them, which I cherish.

I wish everyone going through this difficult journey were able to enjoy a weekend away like we were. It heals the soul. It rejuvenates the spirit. It brings a sense of normalcy to an otherwise abnormal life.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “Ski Trip”

  1. Kam says:

    I have to tell you I love your blog!!!you are telling my story and I am so thankful for you doing it. My husband was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s last year and he is only 37, I am 33 and we have 4 kids age 1 yr to 7 yrs.
    He can’t work or drive and needs 24 hr supervision. I work full time and try desperately to take care of him, the kids and everything else!! So I get it- everything you have said on your blog is spot on. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Mari says:

    Thanks so much for your blog. I’m so glad you had this memory and such a great friend to help you. Thank you also for giving others just a small glimpse of what we go through as we travel down this long road. You do a great job of that.

  3. Oh Karen so glad you could get away. We took a big family ski trip 3 years ago also while Curt could still ski. He didn’t loose his goggles, just his hat. And I had to help him get his ski boots on…….much harder to do than I thought. But all in all it was a great memory maker! And yes someone also gave us money for the trip. :) Don’t beat yourself up over the hands thing, that kind of thing happened here when I took on new “duties” with Curt, I was half shocked that I now had to do it, forgetful due to the chaos……it happens, and you will get it next time!! :)

  4. sherri williams says:

    Sounds like an awesome time even with the lost items! You can’t help some of the things that fall through the cracks and you have to remember that you are important too. Its hard to get our time “off” and harder still to explain the guilt and stress you feel as a caretaker.

  5. Wendy says:

    Times like that will live on in your children lives and your life as you continue this journey with Jim. So glad you had the time with your parents too!

  6. Michelle Fox says:

    So happy you got away and have friends and family that support you. Just keep letting go of some of the small things. In the big picture, you were all together, with love and laughter, on a birthday Frances will always remember. God Bless

  7. Grace says:

    Sending Frances warmest birthday wishes from California. Love to you all :)

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