I Miss You, Mom
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I Miss You, Mom

Every day I wake up with a dull ache in my heart and it stays with me until I fall asleep at night. I hate eating alone. I think I've tried every frozen dinner in the supermarket but none of them taste good. I miss making meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I miss hearing you say how good it tastes.

I remember when I was in my twenties and dad was diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer. I moved home to help you care for him. I was not happy about that at all! But that’s when you and I grew close. We were care-giving partners and when he died, we clung to each other. It was then that we began to build a life together.

We began to dream of moving to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It was where you and dad had spent so many happy vacations. It was where the two of you had planned to retire. We bought a small piece of land and in March of 1999, our dream came true!

We had so much fun in those days. We went to craft shows, bought all of the Up North trinkets and of course, Green Bay Packer sweatshirts. We decorated our new home and filled it with laughter.

In 2002, you were diagnosed with diabetes. At first, we didn't think much of it. Your doctor had you on medication and your blood sugars were under good control. You were still able to enjoy your cinnamon roll at breakfast as long as you didn't overdo it.

Then we moved to Florida in 2006, for that job I had with a pastor. Remember that? You were so unhappy, but you came with me anyway. It was a year later that I noticed some changes in you. You struggled with the checkbook. You couldn't follow a recipe. I thought it was stress; it wasn't an easy time for either one of us. My job came to an end in 2008 and we gratefully moved back to our little house in Wisconsin.

The changes became more pronounced after we moved back. You seemed lost in the house we had lived in for nine years. You couldn't remember where your bathroom was, you didn't recognize the clothes in your closet. You couldn't remember how to use the phone. In January of 2012, my suspicions were confirmed. You were diagnosed with diabetes related vascular dementia. I quit my job so I could stay home with you full time.

At first, it wasn't so bad. You had some momentary lapses, but we could still talk with each other and still enjoy going to church together. But in July, your dementia became worse, much worse.

You would look at me and I could tell from the expression on your face that you didn't know who I was. It was so hard to see you struggle. I would get frustrated and you would get scared. You began to wander at night and our neighbors would tell me that you had knocked on their doors at 3:00 in the morning. I was terrified that I would fall asleep, wake up in the morning and not know where you were.

I wanted to take care of you, Mom, I really did. But I just didn't know how to keep you safe. Please try to understand. I didn’t want to admit you to the nursing home. Oh, I felt so guilty, like I had betrayed your trust. Knowing that I was doing the best thing in the world for you didn't make it any easier.

My friends try, but they really don’t understand. They think it’s so nice that I have my freedom now. I don’t want my freedom; I want you back in my life. But when I visit you in the dementia unit, I know I made the right decision. It’s so good to see you smile again. You are in an environment where you can be secure and successful. You've made lots of friends and you really enjoy the activities. Physical therapy has been wonderful; you walk better than you have in years.But I miss you, Mom. I really, really miss you.

This was written three years ago. Hot tears flooded my eyes so it was almost impossible to see the computer screen as I typed it. I have never shared it with anyone until now. It was written in raw emotion and it was very, very personal.

So why share it now? Well, I want to reach out to others, for one thing. I want you to know that I understand what you are going through from the inside out. I am not just some cold, professional spewing scientific speak at you. I have walked where you are walking.

Dementia is a scary world for the person who suffers from it and for the one who is caring for them. It robs them of their identity, memory and dignity. For the family, it rips their loved one away and leaves behind a frail shell of a person who no longer remembers who they are. It's weird but true, when your loved one has dementia, you grieve their loss while they are still alive.

Sometimes natural therapies work and sometimes they don't. In the early stages of my mom's dementia, coconut oil gave her a slight improvement. However, it stopped having any effect when her dementia worsened.

There are some natural, organic supplements that may help your loved one to hold on to their independence for a little longer. Cerebrate is one of the rare nutritional supplements that has received a "qualified health claim" from the ever cautious FDA. It combines organic compounds that research has proven to have positive effects on brain function and memory. Vitamin B-12 is another supplement that is so helpful that I will dedicate my next article to it completely!

As always, before you add any kind of supplement to your loved one's routine, you should always ask their doctor's advice and see if it will interact with their other medications.

Street Talk

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