A to Z Challenge: A for Alice

Character sketches that are fictional but based on real characters, like us.

She knew she tended to overthink things. What a contrast now that she had trouble thinking at all. She watched the cat eat leaves off her favorite house plant, again. She wasn’t jumping up and chasing it away anymore. It hadn’t died yet and was possibly getting some nutrient it needed. Have to like a proactive cat.

And then there was her husband, who lay nearly comatose 90% of the time, making no decisions, proactive or otherwise. She had been deciding everything for him for the last four months since he had come home from the hospital and into Hospice care, in their living room. They weren’t all hard decisions. Medication schedules, toileting, when to give tube feedings – all that could be evaluated and changed if it needed to be and she had practice making those decision for previous patients. Sometimes the combined weight of them did make a difference in her energy level or kept her from sleeping well at night. But they were, after all, the easier things to decide.

What she struggled with was the fact that they had decided, after the stroke, to intervene. By “they”, she meant “he”, because it was still his choice. Ever since his earlier diagnosis of Lewy Body dementia, he had been waiting for God to heal him. He didn’t want to take himself out of the game before God got around to it. She was pretty sure he had made the decisions for the ventilator, the feeding tube, and rehab, even though it had already begun to feel like she was making them.

But now, it was pretty clear that decisions were on her. She was deciding to take really good care of him, and thereby prolonging considerable misery. The misery was more hers than his. Watching his decline was not fun, but he seemed unaware of his condition. Just that morning she had been orienting him to where he was, where he had been and how long he had been ill.

“Can I spit on the ground?” he asked.

“You better not because we’re in the house. You don’t want to spit on the floor.”

“But I can open the car door and spit on the ground, can’t I?”

“Yes, if we were ever in the car. But that hasn’t been happening for months. The only way you’ve gone anywhere lately is by ambulance. We stay home all the time now. You haven’t been in the car for nearly a year.”

“What a boring lifestyle”, he said in his weak, barely intelligible voice. He was grinning and looking at her for approval, like he had done all their married life. This time, instead of rolling her eyes, she laughed with him and wondered if it would be the last time he tried to tell her a joke.

She believed there was a kind way to explain to him that he might actually be dying. So far, her attempts had not been successful.

There were times when she felt she wasn’t taking good care of him too. She would get lost in a jigsaw puzzle and forget his feeding time. She would turn down the noise in the monitor in order to get another hour of much needed sleep. All those guilt producing moments. But, she was sensible enough to know that she had to take care of herself in order to take care of him. Everybody told her that, and it helped to hear it from others, even though they didn’t really know how that worked out.

Was she depressed? Not really. Sad, for sure, and tired. Tired enough to pray that it be over soon. And even though she had all kinds of questions about God’s timing, she was, ultimately, content with him calling the shots.

6 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: A for Alice

  1. You definitely nailed the feelings that Alice would be going through. 💐 The only thing that I would like you to consider is that many Lewy Body Dementia patients are aware of how they are failing. It makes this form of dementia worse because of it. It is so heartbreaking to see my husband’s decline and have him apologize for it.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts. 😊

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