How is it possible to be simultaneously negative, tired, bereaved, sad, frustrated, angry, lonely, and yet be content, enjoy friends, laugh, be involved, motivated and optimistic?
Somehow, they all coexist with me now! Dorothy has been in full time care for six months and I remain here in our home, a villa unit in a retirement village. You’d think that arrangement would be ‘freeing’ for me, as her (almost) lifelong partner. Well it is, but it isn’t. I am so glad we sold our home of forty years and moved here, nearly ten years ago; at least here I don’t need to worry about caring for a house and garden!
Living with all that incredible mix of emotions is still not easy for me, and a bit scary, but so far manageable with a little help. Help with a small amount of medication and some physical activities. Activities are extremely varied! They include visiting my wife almost daily and interspersed with that is: sometimes watching TV, reading, visiting friends, going to church on Sundays providing transport for friends occasionally, cooking cleaning, doing laundry and shopping, and more! All of that is actually what helps to sustain my sense of equilibrium.
But yesterday I was really sad. So sad I cried. Yes, I do that sometimes. I was sad because I felt that I had lost even more control of our lives. Why? Because we had just achieved, I thought, a reasonably successful six-month transition for Dorothy from being at home with me into her own room in a care-home. Then, last Friday night at home, I was told by phone that she was about to be moved into a new room in a separate block of the building, and with a different group of residents. Because the other residents of both groups are frequently together on activities, she would at least have met with them, and that was some solace.
I felt sad that her living pattern, and her bonding with her current group of residents, was to be disturbed too soon. And, to be honest, it was too soon for me, too! So, I wrote to the care home manager last week and, after discussion, it was mutually agreed to postpone the move and review the need in a few weeks. That was enough to settle me down again and has allowed me time to think through all the implications. I spent most of today with Dorothy and observed all the interactions more carefully and became much more aware of the fractious relationships that exist in that little community of a dozen different, somewhat demented, beautiful people.
The shock of an imminent potential move of my wife into a different group has caused me to be more sensitive to, and conscious of, those current small group dynamics, including the role of the competent staff. Perhaps the proposed move to a more compliant, less emotionally charged, group would be beneficial to her, the staff, the other residents, and maybe to me! So, when I fully accept this proposition in a week or two, I will happily agree to making a gradual move. I admit now that in the process of getting to this mindset I have been unnecessarily distraught. I do think management were wrong in not explaining and discussing their thinking more fully with me in advance, but now I finally recognise the wisdom of at least a trial. The journey continues……..