Thursday, September 08, 2022

I'll Take Good Karma Anytime...

 One problem with being a caregiver for someone diagnosed with dementia is that there are many opportunities to generate tears.   Labor Day provided my most recent opportunity.  Our daughters were all busy with their lives, so Pam and I spent the day just hanging around the condo.  At about 4pm, Pam came out of the bathroom all dressed and ready to go out.  I asked where she was going.  She explained that she had a conversation with our youngest daughter and Pam's eldest sister was going to pick her up to go shopping.
Knowing that her sister no longer drives, I gently questioned when she had had this conversation.  At this point, Pam realized that she must have hallucinated the conversation and that all of her effort in getting dressed and makeup was for naught.  I could see the disappointment on her face as she sat and stared off into space without saying a word.  I could also see her eyes well up.  That was all I needed.  I could not hold back my tears.  Knowing how excited she was to go shopping with her sister, and have that come crashing down.  The dementia prevents Pam from processing the situation and evaluating solutions, and she is just left with the raw emotional response.  Seeing and feeling the disappointment that your loved one is experiencing is so painful for the caregiver.   My recovery was to take her out to dinner and a couple of hour visit with my sister for dessert.
We often think of Karma in the negative.... as the well deserved consequence for the stupid action or bad behavior of someone else.  But occasionally, the Karma is good.  According to the 6th Law of Karma, everything and every person is connected.   Well the very next day I received a call from one of Pam's sisters (she has five of them) asking about when Pam might be available for a gathering of the sisters.   Karma had responded to Pam's disappointment.  Instead of just shopping with one sister, she will get to reminisce and laugh with most of them all together.  Good Karma!
The very next day, we hosted the gathering at our condo.  I got to show my love by cooking  for them.  And Pam got to socialize and  experience her love of her sisters with much laughter (and a quick nap 😏).  The conversations were wide-ranging and sometime boisterous.  But a good time was had by all.  And my NY cheesecake was fantastic as usual.   

 Pam continues to have more good days than bad, but the mix continues to decline.  She is very aware of her dementia and how it affects her.  She must get very tired of me asking "How are you doing?" many times a day.   And she will respond "not so well" on occasion.   It is amazing to me that she can be disconnected and distance part of the day and alert and conversational another part of the day.  And I fully understand why the doctors want dementia patients to have several hours of eye-to-eye social time with others.    It is like they overcome the symptoms in order to fully participate in the socializing.   Her Parkinson-like symptoms continue to worsen.  She is walking very slowly and hunched over.  I notice that she makes very little use of her left arm.   You notice the tremors in her hand and the arm feels stiff.   Getting into and out of the car is getting increasing more difficult trying to lift her legs over the door threshold.
And the good Karma seems to be avoiding our daughters at the moment.  There is amazing strength in families that lets them weather the tough times.   Nothing is more important than family.  But a rift has developed.  I understand that these things happen in most families to varying degrees.   We are all individuals, with our own beliefs and feelings.  But instead of taking ownership of seeing it resolved, we all just turn our backs to it.  If this ever affects their mother, they will have one very angry father.  Put your big girl pants on and step up!


  1. Great picture! Has she been able to take strolls in the powerchair around the neighborhood with you?

  2. Bruce - Many thanks for sharing the details of the ups and downs associated with this incident. Very glad that Good Karma was at play. Engaing the extended family is a blessing all the way around and I appreciate this confirmation.

  3. I thanks for sharing! I also either believe in Karma or so want it to be true that I always look for signs! The part about eye contact was eye opening and I’ll pay attention now when I engage.

  4. Bruce, your ability to pivot and recover to fulfill Pam's need to have an outing for dinner and a visit with her sister was inspired. And I suspect stages or grief may be at work in your daughters, and that's expressed differently be each of us, sometimes in unpleasant ways. That's not so much an excuse as a reality.. It's the first of the four noble truths that there is suffering (or more concisely, "shit happens"). It's what we do with it that counts.

  5. So glad you have so much family there, Cuz. Lots of love to all of you and thanks for sharing.

  6. What a powerful story . Thank you for sharing. Pam is blessed to have your support and understanding. I too have experienced the Bumper sticker of "Shit Happens " . It's true. Charles

    1. I’ve known you for a very long time. You continue to be an inspiration.