This blog was written by Mary Mitchell, a tide carer member in Wales.
Last weekend I was there,
Bringing essential supplies,
Of toiletries, chocolate and wine gums.
I couldn’t come in,
I could only stand by the door,
At a distance.
The thing that broke me though
Was looking up at your window
Hoping to catch a glimpse,
But not wanting you to see me…………….
I wrote this last week after several weeks of lockdown due to “the virus”. I have visited a couple of times now, knowing that I can’t see Mike, and wishing I could, imagining walking in and smiling and weeping and hugging. I am so thankful for all the staff in his care home, they are going the extra mile, like so many others in similar homes. I tell them how thankful I am every time I ring, which is most days. They answer my questions honestly, and if he is having a bad day, they tell me how and why. I really appreciate this, because I know then that they are not just trying to put my mind at rest (though it’s good when they do), they are telling me like it is. After the phone calls, especially if I have spoken to Mike and he sounded calm and settled, the emotion and feelings of reassurance stay with me, and the rest of my day is brighter. The same happens in reverse if he is agitated or uncommunicative and unsettled, I can feel down and fretful until I know that he is alright. I know from the literature that those kinds of feelings can linger long after the event for people living with dementia.
I have come to accept that I prefer Mike to be happy there, even if he’s forgetting who I am. I’d far rather this than he be distressed because I haven’t been to visit. How do you explain why I can’t visit? Yesterday, I found myself saying that the prime minister had said that we can’t visit until it’s safe! A bit extreme I know, but Mike enjoyed politics and would recognise I think that it was advice from a higher level than myself!Sometimes he asks if I can join him, and when we say goodbye he will automatically say “love you too” sometimes, so then I know that he knows who he is talking to.
I’m telling it how it is now…maybe in another blog I can go back to the beginning of lockdown. I have been keeping a diary specific to Mike and his life since he has been away from home. This is to help me remember things that happened way back, or appointments and special dates etc. I also find myself writing poetry and feelings down too, and have used them at times in the dementia training for NHS and carer staff for BCUHB (Betsi Cadwalard University Health Board) Sometimes words written “at the moment” can be more emotive than those planned and written afterwards.
I try to put myself in Mike’s shoes, to figure out what he is thinking and feeling about me not visiting….. I can’t know for sure can I? But I know him by heart and so, I think I can have a pretty good idea. On the other hand, I could be way off the mark….it’s a roller coaster, groping in the dark. Sometimes though, he is totally in the moment and it’s wonderful for those few minutes while it lasts. I realise, this week that I’m easily moved to tears when I talk about him, or listen to certain music, or hear discussions about care homes on the media, or see moving clips on face book of residents waving through windows to their loved ones… In fact, it’s a weepy week for me and it’s only Tuesday! My solution is to keep busy, go for a walk, sing, craft, write, do household jobs, speak to someone on the phone of course, anything in fact to lift my own spirits.
I think it would be too hard for us both to wave through a window and not be able to meet face to face….