The Hardest Thing

Although I like to class myself as a reasonable wordsmith, locating the words to effectively express the emotions experienced when caring for someone with a vascular dementia diagnosis is a challenge. A literary impotence I’ve not previously experienced when broaching other detrital existential plot lines which’ve sullied my past decade.

For instance, at no stage was I lost for words when losing my father to cancer; likewise during episodes like my hospitalisation following a heart attack and a helicobacter pylori induced gastric bleed, or indeed a spousal cancer diagnosis.

All of the above either laying me low physically, or requiring yours truly to step up and provide support to a family member stricken by cancer. In my dad’s case, whose death remains the single most distressing time of my life, the support wholeheartedly appreciated by the patriarch.

Sadly, in my now estranged wife’s case the hundreds of hours I spent with her at various medical institutions unappreciatively written off in a desperate and inexplicable need to paint me as a villain. GJ Strachan’s support dismissed in one fell swoop by Mrs S junior’s comment of “Well you didn’t want to be there, so that wasn’t you being supportive!

My response being “Of course, I didn’t want to be there….. It was sitting in a waiting room full of people suffering from cancer…… But the key thing is that I was f***ing there!…… Unlike any of your family or friends…… The very people to who you now give a free pass, while lambasting me!”

History being re-written in front of everyones eyes in retaliation for yours truly deciding I’d no longer put up with her odious behaviour. Episodes such as her stamping on my shin while I said an emotional goodbye to my father as he laid moribund in his hospice bed. The disgusting act accompanied by a spousal admonishment of “Don’t wake him up!”

He was dying you f***ing moron…. God, what I’d have given to have been able to wake him at that juncture…… She, of course, has differing recollections of the event, stating “I didn’t stamp on your shin…… I kicked your shin!”……. A bizarre ‘confession’ which, despite being inaccurate, seems to indicate in her mind that kicking your husband’s shin while he pays reverence to his dying father is a perfectly acceptable course of action.

This despicable behaviour just one of many episodes which contributing towards my departure from the marital home in August 2019.

Anyhow, as the point of this blog wasn’t to slag off a woman who didn’t even have the decency to allow me to properly grieve my father’s passing, I’ll move on. The yarns disclosing her other odious acts will have to wait to be revealed in another piece.

No, the driver behind this blog was to relay that although my landscape over the past decade has included many detrital challenges (which admittedly we all get) what’s confronting me now is without doubt playing out as the biggest ever test of my resilience.

For example, yesterday’s first task was fishing a pair of the matriarch’s trousers from the toilet bowl (don’t ask; I did and I’m still none the wiser). The final act of the day an argument on whether your son’s (who’s a history of heart issues) chest pains were worthy of maternal concern. I’d like to think mum’s indifference to the news was dementia related, but who knows!

In between those Wednesday daytime bookends, a multitude of other spirit draining episodes joined the plot line. Among them, finding she’d placed a pair of used pull up continence pants in with a laundry load, not to mention numerous dramas with TV remote control and set functionality.

Let me be clear, I don’t begrudge being a carer one iota. However, I won’t pretend that adapting to the many nuances which come with this role is an easy gig – In particular, the collateral damage to the mental health of all main protagonists involved can be absolutely devastating.

Shortly, after my estranged wife had stamped on my shin at the hospice, I promised my moribund dad that I (along with my siblings) would look after mum. His condition at that juncture not affording him a verbal response; however, as he raised his eyebrows after I’d uttered the commitment I’d like to think he heard and appreciated this bulletin.

If truth be told I doubt my dad would deem my frustrated and oft irritable demeanour, while skulking around his house like a caged lion, to be adequately ‘looking after’ his beloved wife of 57 years….. But please know this if you’re looking down on me now, dad…… I am trying really hard to make this work!!

I began this piece by revealing how I was struggling to locate the words to effectively put into prose the emotional rollercoaster experienced when caring for someone with vascular dementia. With this being the case, instead I’m gonna go with this erudite snippet I found online – A sentence which sums up perfectly my thoughts and emotions at this current juncture:-

“One of the hardest things you will have to do, my dear, is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive.” – Unknown

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