Ramblings of thankfulness

Over the past few days I have seen or been reminded of how fortunate I am, and most New Zealander’s, Australians, English.. Well just how fortunate the western world seems to be.  Here in New Zealand we are not experiencing war, serious drought, poverty that can’t be solved, no one I know in New Zealand has experienced the true meaning of hunger, by this I mean days, weeks without food.  Currently our greatest debate is about changing the flag (my personal opinion is that this is a waste of money, but someone voted for John Key, so all is fair? Right?) and whether or not we should let Chris Brown into the country. So as I sift through facebook and see all this tragedy unfolding, war, refugees, shootings I am reminded that I, in my warm house, with a fully stocked fridge, a car full of petrol and gym memberships galore am pretty darn lucky.

Then Martha gets home and I am reminded once more that I am probably the luckiest person out (right now).  I ask how her day was, in the 60 minute drive home Martha has completely forgotten where she has been.  She does her ritual of bathroom, tea, fruit and sitting down for the afternoon. We make small chat, which by the way, if you know me, I am terrible at and we have a cuddle. Then I get a whiff, she needs a shower. When you have alzheimers you don’t only lose memories but you start to lose the connections between body and brain. The signal that goes from your bladder to your brain fades and on it goes.  In some it is quick and I know carers who completely care for their person, they toilet them, shower them, change them, I am thankful I only occasionally have to help Martha have a shower (we also get assistance from an agency).  So I shuffle Martha into the shower, stripping her, helping her in, I soap her and wash her, shampoo her hair and condition it. She stands, turns when I tell her to, covers her eyes so she doesn’t get soap in them and I turn off the water when it is done.  As I help dry her I am thankful that she is ok but also that I am able to care for myself. I don’t need constant reassurance, I don’t need help to shower, I can prepare my own food, I pay my own bills.

How hard it must be at the age of 67 to be so dependent on another being just for survival.  She follows me needing me to show her where her clothes are, I have laid them out. I learnt early that if left to her own devices she will find clothes that aren’t so suitable, we sit and chat while I dress her, underwear, pants, bra, singlet, shirt and socks. I kiss her hand and brush her hair. I dress her like she is a child but I am her child.  I find myself feeling thankful that I am able to do all these things myself.

I remind myself that this isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but also that everything is relative to each individual.  I tell Martha about my day as I make her a cup of tea and she smiles at me, I wonder if she knows how much she has lost or perhaps for her this is now her normal.

Love, K xx

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