Just a brief anecdote about leaving for my trip to Las Vegas last week:
Stay at my dad’s until time to fly out at 7:45pm and have him take me to the airport so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. I arrive at 10pm and get a nice, full night of sleep before driving to the convention Tuesday morning at 9am to my normal, wonderful parking lot just west of the convention center. Pretty straight-forward, eh?
Went to dad’s. Got a text saying the plane was delayed and wouldn’t leave until 10pm. At 9pm got a text delaying flight until 3:50am!!!! Slept on dad’s couch and he still, as my hero, took me at 3am. The flight didn’t depart until after 4am. Upon arriving, my car rental was cancelled because of the 6+ hour delay. I scrambled to be shuttled twice to find a new car rental that turned out to cost more. By the time I got to the hotel, it was nearly 7am Vegas time. I slept 1.5 hours, then headed that way. I got pulled over by the Vegas finest almost immediately because 1. I didn’t have a license plate on my rental. 2. I was using my cell as a GPS. (Note to self: sexual exploitation for money and/or sex slavery and using marijuana is legal and generally accepted in Vegas, but put down that phone you scoundrel!!!). Fortunately I begged/played ignorant and was super-respectful and got out of the surely $1,000 fine and/or jail time for such a scandalous offense. Finally I arrived at my parking lot only to find a 1.5 million square foot addition to the convention center being built there. I drove, in a stupor, for 30 minutes to finally find a $25 parking lot nearly 2 miles away. (Stinkin’ organized crime lot owners!) I then walked for 8 hours at the convention. By the time I made it back to my hotel, I collapsed in a heap.
How does this relate to dementia?
- Disorientation sucks. I was out of kilter the whole first day…and I, arguably, am of sound mind. It made me empathize how hard it must be to struggle with the disease and have everyday life throw you for a loop. It is NOT the same, but it sure made me appreciate them even more than I already did.
- Routine is super nice and takes away the stress, even for me. I can’t imagine how important it would be to relax my brain if it was struggling. I am a creature of habit and the disease teases habits, but throws them aside when it chooses.
- Sometimes life throws us a curveball. My trite story is a micro-drop, mosquito sweat bead in the bucket compared to mom’s. She should be travelling the world in her mid-70s! (or, at least fishing and camping). She is still physically pretty darn healthy although she has gained weight since she is stuck in her chair. This stinkin’ disease!
- Plan for the unexpected. When you travel, try to expect the unexpected. Don’t let the stress of change ruin the trip. (Note: I wasn’t on vacation, but it could have felt somewhat more like it had I gotten off on a better start). Make alternate plans. Be flexible. Embrace change. Same applies for caregiving. I would love to give you a caregiving itinerary/schedule and say “This is how the first month will go, then you will experience this the next month….”, but I can’t. Every day, during some stages of the disease, is different. Take care of yourself. Get enough help. Then expect change. Easier said than done…I get it…but do your best to heed my advice.
Bottom line: I made it and learned a tremendous amount about senior health technology, my goal in going. However, it didn’t diminish the amount dementia disorients my life.
Update: I had a nice, long visit with mom yesterday. Same ole doing-better-all-things-considered mom. Her next hospice renewal is in February and I hope she keeps it since they help sooooo much. She maxes out on 2-3 words in conversation, one of the markers for her status with the group. It sure was nice to get back. 🙂