Not Jeannie or a Genie

cactusI am not Jeannie, as in I Dream of Jeannie, nor am I a genie. I do not grant wishes, I don’t look like Barbara Eden, I don’t live in a bottle or a lamp, and I don’t have a master. I think I’ve given the wrong impression that I might be a genie, though. Either that, or my husband thinks he is Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Many times during the series, Captain Picard tells his crew, “Make it so.” (I’d love to be able to use that line!)

For the last two years my husband has gone with the Alzheimer’s Association of  Orange County to Advocacy Day in Sacramento. I’ve been very fortunate because they have used the airport 15 minutes from our house. It’s a little airport that we’ve used many times, so I’ve felt comfortable dropping Steve off at the curb. This year they are using Orange County airport which is farther away and larger. Steve has to be there at 5:30 a.m. and won’t return home until 10:20 p.m. Ugh. While this is not a huge airport, it’s still too big for me to expect Steve to navigate it on his own, so I’ll need to allow enough time to park and walk Steve up to security. I can’t imagine how early I’ll need to get up that day because I’ll need to get myself ready first, which can be quick, then supervise Steve so he stays on task. I groaned inwardly when I saw Steve had been granted a scholarship for the trip. If he didn’t receive one, he wasn’t going. Steve said he really wanted to go, then left on a walk. 

Oh, I was irritated. There’s no good reason except it takes effort on my part to make it happen. I was cleaning a bathroom (great therapy when I’m annoyed) and realized I’m either a genie or Will Riker to Captain Picard. (Don’t call me “Number One”!!)

By the time Steve came back from his walk I was over it and told him that if he wanted to go, he should. I’d make it all happen for him. I sent the e-mail to accept the scholarship.

This semester Steve is taking three classes. A beginning business class, a small business class, and a pottery class. From the moment he mentioned the small business class, I questioned whether he had ideas of starting a small business. I told him this was not something I supported because I’d be doing a lot of the work. Before he had MCI I had to write his e-mails. Can you imagine what I’d need to do now to help Steve run a business? Steve loves the three classes. Since the first day of class, he’s been talking about what type of small business he should start. Each time I have verified that this is a hypothetical business he’s talking about.

This morning he got mad and said he was thinking of dropping the class because it’s going to be a lot of work and if he’s not going to be able to open a business, since I’m not supporting him, why should he take it? I asked why he’s taking pottery. It’s not like he’s going to make us a set of dishes. (Okay, for those of you familiar with any type of dementia, you might wonder why I was even having this conversation. It’s just the way I am, I guess! If you’re going to throw something at me, please make it something soft. Like marshmallows.)

Honestly, I don’t know what’s realistic. I want to support Steve and I completely understand that he wants to feel like a contributing member of society. He’s still coming to terms with never returning to work at Disney. I get frustrated because what I see is different than what he sees. I see the man I love having used his cognitive abilities after two business classes and needing to take a nap. I see that as he takes something into the dining room, I point out what needs to go in there next. He returns to the kitchen and stops, knowing I wanted him to do something but not remembering what it is. I also see a man who correctly remembers that he has an appointment at 12:45, when I thought it was at 1:45.

So I wonder, who am I to say Steve shouldn’t start a business? My shoulders tighten at the thought, and I know more of my time will be committed to Steve if he pursues something, but is it fair to discourage him? He’s had so much taken away already. I hope that if he continues in this class, Steve will learn that maybe this isn’t what he wants to do and I won’t have to be the bad guy. Because unfortunately, I’m not Jeannie or a genie.

Profile photo of G-J

About G-J

I am a caregiver for my 59-year-old husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009. His employer put him on disability and he had to retire one year later when he couldn't return to work. I am also the mother to our son who is now a high school senior. We have a cat, Sagwa, who rounds out our family. In addition to blogging here, I volunteer at my son's high school in the scholarship office, teach a class I created called, "Keep Your Brain Buff" at our city's Senior Center, lead a writing group at the Alzheimer's Association, and advocate for people with all types of dementia. In November, I will be participating in my third Walk to End Alzheimer's.

3 thoughts on “Not Jeannie or a Genie

  1. Profile photo of Gail KrollGail Kroll

    You have the patience of a Saint, G-J! I need that now! Please write a blog about how to maintain that!

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of PegiPegi

    G-J, you do have an admirable amount of patience! Its quite a balancing act you have to deal wtih in trying to encourage Steve to maintain as much independence as possible, and keeping things managable for you. It was nice for him to get the scholarship, too bad it puts such a strain on you. I know what you mean about the genie thing. All of s sudden my husband seems to think I can teleport, multitask and be whereever, in mere nanoseconds! You do a great job trying. I think you’re much better than a genie!

    Reply
  3. Profile photo of DeniseDenise

    Hi G-J–I’m so glad you wrote this out. I hope you will keep us posted on how you balance out Steve’s independence and your sanity. :)

    Reply

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