As someone who lived and cared for my mom who had Alzheimer’s, I learned very quickly that guilt would be my closest companion. It’s inevitable that those emotions become intertwined with sadness and sometimes even anger.
The guilt comes from the feelings of:
- Not doing enough
- Not doing things correctly
- Dreaming about an afterlife
- Anger at the situation
That last one is a doozie! I remember during those really hard days and dreaming of why my life would look like when it was just my husband and I would finally be able to enjoy an empty nest that we had been looking forward to since we were 20 years old. We had our children young and weren’t ones to leave them behind.
We have a blended family with a “yours”, “mine”, and an “ours”. So, we had had children in our lives since our very first date! So, we had big dreams of traveling the country in an RV just the two of us and the open road.
Well, that road turned into a driveway just a short year and a half after our youngest left home, my mother moved in.
But as the weeks and months turned into years and a decade my feelings began to think about more than just mom’s care. Alzheimer’s is heredity and that in itself terrifies me. Literally, turning bowels into water scared. Every day, I try to fight it off by taking care of myself and keeping my mind active.
Alzheimer’s is hereditary. I have my mom’s hair, I have her sense of humor, I have her nose and ears does that mean I’ll also get Alzheimer’s?
I like my mother have one daughter, (90% of caregivers are women), and the further and further we delved deeper into the world of dementia I began to think about what I would be willing to put my daughter through.
Do I really want to make my daughter go through what I spent a decade doing 24/7? ABSOLUTELY NOT! So, I smoke. I won’t quit no matter what people say. I’m not being stubborn I’ve just made a choice. Will I still get Alzheimer’s maybe (I fear it every day), but I’m betting the smoking will take me first.
So when I read C.A. Price’s, “ALLISON’S GAMBIT” it felt so much like it was a memoir, The choices that caregivers make not only for the people they care for but their own futures as well can be daunting, but the number one thing that saved me was knowing I wasn’t alone. Because there are days when you think the world is going on without you and it can be very depressing.
Allison is a little different in that she started smoking but I’ve been a smoker since I was 15. I grew up where tobacco was king and readily available.
When Allison began to care for her mother with Alzheimer’s, she started to ask some difficult questions. At what point is a life no longer worth living? Would dementia be in her future too?
Worried that her mother’s fate may be her own, Allison comes up with an unusual approach to try and control her own demise: start smoking. After all, she would rather die of cancer or a lung infection than the way her mother did—unable to recognize her own family, to take care of herself, or even speak. The tough part will be getting her family and friends on board with her new perspective.
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