Dementia - the aftermath

 Did you know that Ash has been in the care home for five months now?  The time has flown by and he's been happy since day one which is wonderful.  

My life, post dementia, is also good.  I've already had adventures this year and we're only just past the first quarter.  Australia was of course the big one, and amazing enough to have lasted me until 2024, but there has also been a trip to the Cotswolds, a 1970s weekend, trips to the theatre, lunch out with friends and lots of other things that I thought may never come my way again.

I'm working my way through the house and turning it, room by room, into a space just for me and, big news of the moment, I'm going back to work.  This last had never been in my plans for the future but it turns out that Ash being in a care home, even with government funding, costs far more than I expected so needs must and all that.  The very lucky thing about it all is that, on the day our financial situation sank in, my dream job appeared almost in front of me.  I applied for it with great hope and fingers crossed,  got the interview and start on Monday.  It's a proper grown up job doing something I love and I have high hopes for it.

So the finances seem secure, my social life is picking up and I have adventures planned until the end of the year.  I'm happier than I've been in a very long time, as is Ash, so that seemed to be that.

I've discovered recently however that dementia leaves wounds that will take a long time to heal.  I knew there were scars but I didn't realise that some of the wounds were still open and raw.

I've told you lots of times how, pre dementia, Ash and I rarely argued.  We both loved life and when things got tough we could still make each other laugh.  He sometimes snapped at other people but very rarely with me and the odd time he did I snapped back and it was instantly over.  Then came the dreaded disease and it seemed we did nothing but argue.  He shouted, I cried and it was truly awful for a very long time.  Some of it was before the diagnosis but afterwards things got worse as he took his anger out on me so for most of the last five years life has been miserable for both of us.

I've had such high hopes since he moved into the care home.  We're both so much happier and I thought we were over the bad times but I've discovered something different.

I've discovered that, even with the easier way of life, the plans for the future and the smiles all round, all it takes is the hint of a possible area of conflict at sometime in the future to make me dissolve into tears.  I've discovered that I can't bear the thought of an argument, that the very idea exhausts me and makes me want to run in the opposite direction, makes me want to hide from the world and never come out again.  In fact I've come to realise that dementia has turned me into a screw-up and it's unsettled me completely.

I've never been one for considering how events in my life have formed me and have always assumed that I am who I've chosen to be but this experience has made me see things differently.  I hope it doesn't last and I'd like to think I'm currently in recovery but I realise that there's no guarantee.

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Carol S said…
Hi Jane.
So glad to hear about the good stuff. As for the difficulties, I think even without dementia there would always be a period of adjustment , getting used to, in effect, being single again after you have been so tightly part of a happy couple for most of your life. I’m sure you will grow into your new life - you have so many skills and so much positivity. I think getting a new job is a great idea for really making a new start and having an area of life that Ash was never part of. Wishing you so much happiness and love. 😘
Anonymous said…
I understand completely about avoiding conflict because of what you have experienced with Ash in recent years as his dementia progressed and conflict left scars rather than something you brush aside unscathed .....I know that feeling from when my darling man was ill and even now, 15 months after his death, .....more than once I have had to bite a lip/ walk away etc at a situation which has upset me is a legacy of those scars dementia wrought on me. I remain hopeful that such feelings will diminish....meanwhile we all have ways to deal with the bad times.....shouting in the wind as we walk or run, yelling underwater as we swim....
On a positive note.....all the best for your new job.....well done you. Enjoy,6

Anonymous said…
I haven’t read your blog for about two years.

When I last read it I was going through the very same things as you with a very young husband who had dementia.

We also live in the same area.

Since then my husband has gone in a care home and is also very happy, he just smiles all the time.

However the tiredness and sadness I feel after months of not sleeping and tension is very real and I’m struggling to feel free.

I’m so pleased to hear about your adventures and your new job I’m sure you’ll be amazing x