Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Finding that place of peace
4:44 p.m. Today's project was to take the Riverside City Utilities form to Steve's doctor for a renewal of our discount. We have a lowered rate for our water and electricity because they are both needed to run his C-pap breathing machine.
Steve was officially diagnosed with sleep apnea last year as a result of a sleep test at his neurologist's office. Over 8 hours, the sensors attached to his body, plus video monitoring, determined that he stopped breathing 12 times per hour! It's a wonder he had any energy at all for daytime. I know that his gasping for air, followed by a dead silence, woke me up regularly, but I apparently slept through most of his non-breathing episodes.
That's definitely dangerous.
So we began the task of learning to put on the mask at home, after training at the appliance provider's conference room. With Steve's Alzheimer's, it was an extra challenge helping him to remember the way the mask went on, and not take it off during the night. However, after the first two weeks, Steve had the routine down, and slept peacefully and quietly through the night. I enjoyed the relief as well.
The night time solace reminds me of Jesus saying in Mark 4:39 to the roiling waves on the Sea of Galilee,
"Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
In the past year, Steve has had much deterioration in his condition, losing his writing, a great deal of his speech, and has lost some coordination in his walking. And when it comes to grasping instructions, and following up instructions with action, Steve has lost a lot of ground. He has also begun moving in the opposite direction of where he needs to go--i.e., walking toward the living room when the dogs and dog-walking equipment are at, and outside, the back patio door. It is unbearably sad, but since these behaviors are woven into the fabric of our daily lives, I choose to accept any and all developments as from the Lord.
"Peace, be still," Jesus says to my heart, and I do try to pray and then speak as calmly as I can, remembering from my caregivers' class that it takes 30 seconds for an Alzheimer's victim to process what he hears. That's a lifetime in speaking and listening to a normal person who processes multiple inputs every second! The Lord does remind me of what I know--that Steve's discrepancies and neglectful behaviors are the disease--not anything intentional on his part!
To spare his feelings or any need to be defensive, I've taken to asking Steve if he can do a job before requesting his assistance. Most of the time he is confident to proceed. But when he is doubtful, we just do something else and I take care of the task later, or call upon friends and church members to help. That way, he feels productive and needed, and a lot less frustrated. I also do a lot of rephrasing, instead of "vain repetitions" that truly are in vain!
As to Steve's C-pap, this year has brought some difficulties in placing the mask and tube on his face. About half the nights, he gets it all together, and when I go up to check on him, he's already asleep with his C-pap breezily blowing a gentle stream into his nose. Other nights, he comes downstairs while I'm straightening up for the evening, and says, "I need help." That is a huge improvement from times when I'd check and find the whole set-up askew on the carpet! Then I'd have to give him a little tap and put it on for him. Now we work on it together.
Maintaining peace in a household is challenging when all family members are in their right minds (save for the adolescent years)! Imagine when your spouse just cannot focus on a statement unless you specifically ask him to look at you and remind him to listen, and then forgets what was said almost immediately. It really causes me to pray and consider my choice of topics and conversation openers. And when Steve initiates conversation I immediately stop everything and turn down and radio or tv, even praise music on the car radio. Often it's not quick enough--he's lost his train of thought. sometimes we can bring it back--together.
Please pray for us; I know many of you do on a regular basis, and I thank you.