Sunday, November 4, 2012

A little newness, please

10:35 p.m. Today's project was to visit Steve in the late morning. I was eager to see whether he would remember me after I missed our visit yesterday, and be extra happy to see me. Lately, he's been greeting me with a mean, angry face until he realizes who I am, relaxes from his initial shaking and agitation, and gives me a smile.

When I stepped into the common room, all of the residents were seated for lunch, but it hadn't started yet. Steve had an empty seat at his table, right next to him. His lunch companions were both dozing in their wheelchairs. The rest of the room was abuzz with conversation and laughter from residents, caregivers and aides. Steve was just sitting quietly as he usually does, bent over, staring at the floor in front of him.

One of the caregivers cried out, "Steve! Looks who's here! It's your wife!" He barely lifted his head in acknowledgement as I walked over to hug him. He started up at me with an angry look on his face, flinging out his grabbing hands, and saying, "You here?! I told you!..." then tried to make an accusation of some kind, based on an incident when my picture fell out of a glassless picture frame onto the carpet in his room. For about a month now, he's been thinking that "those people" want to get rid of me, when it was just a fallen picture. I told him I was going to give him his lunch and that seemed to help for a while.

I got some glasses of water for him, because he seems to perk up some and become calmer after drinking. The director of memory care, La Christola, confirmed what the other caregivers have said. Steve's combative and doesn't want to be changed or dressed upon waking, and it takes extra personnel to get him going and dressed for the day. She is going to fax in an order for the supplements Theanine and GABA at my request--both organic supplements promote calm.

Lunch went well, with me feeding Steve. That alleviates the work of one caregiver, who can now feed another resident in the same time period.  I try to be as unobtrusive as possible so they can feed, toilet and lay their charges down, in order, for their naps. Steve did get angry suddenly, pulling on the tablecloth, pounding the table and loudly speaking. We then went on with our meal.  Steve did keep leaning over to the side, so the staff fears he might have a Urinary Tract infection (UTI). He'll have a sample of urine collected and sent out to a lab for results early on Monday.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Steve wanted to get up and walk after his large lunch as we generally do, but began leaning so hard to the left that I couldn't hold him up, and two attendants were called over to get him standing, and then walking by the hand with me. When I left, Steve was sitting in a safe position on his bed, so I notified the staff and left, worn out and sore from half-pulling Steve down and up the hallways during our "walk.".

This incident today got me thinking about the times the Bible mentions mental illness, demon possession, or the presence of an evil spirit causing the person to be an outcast from the general population. In I Samuel 16:14, we read that after his kingship was rejected by God for disobedience and David had already been anointed as the next king, 

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Having the gift of hindsight, we know that King Saul's rages and depression caused him to bring David into the court to serve him by playing his harp and singing. Years later, while fleeing from Saul, David feigned madness in Gath of Philistia, in order not to be killed, since he had been Goliath's slayer. I Samuel 21:10-14:

So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let saliva fall down on his beard.

David was allowed to depart from King Achish, who apparently felt he already had enough madmen to deal with (V. 15).

In Daniel 4:28-33, King Nebuchadnezzar was boasting of "this great Babylon which I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty," when a voice fell from heaven, prophesying what happened within the hour (v.33):

That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebucadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.

Saul was killed in battle with his sons, with only momentary clarity and cessation of his irrational and murderous pursuit of David; David became king, which would have happened without going into the enemy's territory and feigning madness, both of which show doubt about the anointing God had put on his life.EventuallyNebuchadnezzar praised God, gave Him the glory and was restored.

In the New Testament, I mainly think of the man of Gadara (Mark 5:9) who was wild and mad, heavily demon possessed, unable to live with his townspeople until Jesus cast out a legion of demons, perhaps as many as 6,000. God was glorified by the amazing sight of the one who had been demon possessed "clothed and in his right mind"(v. 15).

God is definitely glorified by His mighty works of power, whether it be a rebellious sinner like I was suddenly repenting [turning] from my sins and following Christ, or a physical healing, of which the Bible records Jesus healing thousands during His earthly ministry. But those of us with mentally ill family members pray for healing daily, and are waiting and watching the deterioration and not really expecting it, as I confess for myself at times, and for you as well, I imagine! There is no doubt that Jesus can and does heal! But if he chooses not to heal my Steve, then I must ask Him to allow me to help and encourage others in their own dementia tragedies, and share the resources and learning I've been blessed to be privy to.

No one chooses to see a parent, spouse or other loved one succumb to dementia, and eventual death when the person forgets to breathe. Yet for a Christian, there is the bigger, brighter picture: eternity, where ALL will be in perfect health, and without sinful unbelief, either. Revelation 21:4-5a says of  our lives in heaven:

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful heart-felt post. Those brain cells take away social graces and make them fixate on something like a picture.

    Good relating to Scripture as well.

    I had trouble getting my husband to bathe and shave yesterday and then we went out with our friends to the Alzheimer's Association walk. After we went out, hubby accused me of not reminding him to shave, when of course I had reminded him.

    Hugs and prayers,