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It helps to write my thoughts in this journal; it's like having someone to talk to, and very valuable to me. So my Saturday morning ruminations on the home front:

I'm still driving back and forth to the VA four times a week to visit N. We (the doctor and I) are trying to help him accept the fact that he needs to be in a nursing home. She (the doctor) is working especially hard to get him admitted to the VA Community Home, which, she says, is excellent--more of a community, less of a "home". He is unhappy. He wants to come home. But we both have been emphasizing that it would not be safe for him to be home alone. The last time we tried that (having him at home) he called 911 three times in 4 days and the third time they admitted him to the hospital.

I have made a commitment to him that I will continue to visit, and, in addition, so long as he is able, I will take him on weekend Day Trips to various places around southern California. The social isolation home alone wasn't good for him and I think part of the major improvements we have seen have been due to the constant round-the-clock care and the regular social interaction that his current placement has provided him. Not to mention they require him to exercise: get out of that bed, get your walker, and walk (shuffle, shuffle).

Were he to come home, we both feel that he would slide right back into the old patterns with the old problems recurring, after a week or two, as happened last time (and, come to think of it, the time before).

One thing that hurts my feelings is that he claims I never visit. He says I've abandoned him. Not true; I would never do that (I have the VA visitor tags to prove it). But his time perception is badly skewed and he doesn't realize how often I visit), and his mental facilities and logic are fading. Some times when we talk he puts words together that sound like reasonable sentences, until I start to parse them for meaning, and then I realize that the logic just falls apart. For instance: he wants to plant trees at our house. Plant trees?? the man can hardly stand up, let alone dig a hole for a tree. Plus, my property is full of trees and bushes and garden. Where would he want to put a tree? Let alone more than one. That's the kind of breakdown in logic I see. He says things without realizing the full meaning behind them.

I try not to poke holes in his plans, while at the same time not allowing him to do them. Dreaming is good, but some of the ideas he has come up with border on the bizarre. I could see the slightly startled look on the doctor's face, probably mirroring my own as I listed the consequences and actual physical requirements which would result from trying to put that project into action.

He wants his online girlfriend to be hired as his caregiver (she has nursing experience). The arrangement would be all right with me, BUT she's solidly married and lives in the midwest. I don't think it's a real possibility....it's just a fantasy of his and I've emailed her to break it to him gently that it's probably not going to happen and he should make other plans.

When the doctor and Norm and I talked, I made it plain that I am not ever going to be his full time caregiver, even when I retire. Just as some people are not cut out to be parents, and others are not suited to be managers, I am not ever going to sacrifice my life to the cause of caregiving. I wouldn't do it for my mother, and I'm not going to do it for my husband.

I'll arrange for care; I'll visit; I do part-time caregiving; I'll arrange for paid full-time caregivers. But I will not, can not, do it round the clock myself, giving up everything to be a servant to one person, no matter how handicapped. (That realization came to me the weekend Norm forced me to give up all my social and church community commitments and tried to coerce me into retiring. No, I said to myself, this is wrong. We have to work out a better arrangement.)

I feel guilty because women are supposed to be self-sacrificing nurturers [would the same expectations exist if I were a man?], but that is just not my path, no matter what society expects.

So that's where it stands. He's feeling much better (less depressed; less shaky). I am hopeful that we can find a good place for him to live with attentive caregivers. and the rest of life just keeps marching along.... I have a regular path to and from the VA hospital every Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to program your car with the destination you desire and take a nap while the car navigates itself to the arrival point?

All is well...life is good.

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