Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Published: 01 March 2016
Trips to the emergency room had become almost commonplace. While Jeanne was home, she went for assorted reasons: a heart attack, a fractured hip, several nose bleeds, a developed blood clot on her leg, and several falls. While in the nursing home, she went because of other assorted reasons. So when I received a call on August 15, 2010, from Shannon, an RN, telling me they were concerned that she was dehydrated, I thought nothing of it, and told her that I would meet my wife in the ER.
When I arrived, the physician ushered me into a room and told me that Jeanne was having a massive stroke, was in a coma, had no pain, and would not survive the day. Numb, I called her family and told them where she was and what was happening. In a few minutes, they were all surrounding her bed, where she laid unresponsive. Each person was given some alone time with her to say what they needed to say.
That night, at 9:30 p.m., I was holding her hand with a finger on her pulse, and I felt it fade, then finally stop. It was remarkably peaceful.
I went home and wrote an email to our friends and family telling them of the many miracles that had just occurred: she was without any pain, the family was with her, she never forgot our names, she hadn’t died from Alzheimer’s.
At the moment I sent the email, I saw a golden gossamer sheet descend and wrap itself around me. I experienced a glowing love as I had never felt before. I smiled through my tears and said out loud, “Jeanne, you have only been on the other side for an hour and already you are learning new tricks.”
The one thing I had not addressed during the last few years with her was, “What were my needs?” It was nothing I had considered, and now that she was gone I really had to examine what they were. It took me a year to start to realize what I wanted for me. I began to feel alive again.
During the years I cared for my wife, I learned many lessons. These articles allowed me to share some of them. The most important lesson she taught me is: “All we have is this moment. It’s all we really have.”
It’s been over five years now since she is gone. These articles are just a small way I am able to give back to the community. Thank you for following my journey.
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