Asking For Help

Lark

Asking For Help

Lark
My husband had a rough afternoon and early night. He became exhausted trying to do something for himself and that resulted in him feeling weak, nauseated and mentally confused. I was busy with various things and he wanted to help me by helping himself. That is lovely and sad at the same time. It took this FTD (form of dementia) to bring this tenderness out in him. Now he has the tenderness and thoughtfulness and has little strength to help himself much less take care of me. I have been changed by this awful "thing" in our lives. Our lives together had been less than happy for a long time. I turned to  support groups, church and volunteering to find a sense of fulfillment and he went fishing, all the time. I was full of resentment and what, sadly enough, could only be honestly identified as having developed a deeply flawed and insidious sense of entitlement. This led to passive aggressive behaviors that made no impact on him (I can laugh at that now.) and kept me in a perpetual state of smoldering anger. For some reason,  that only God understands,  we still loved each other. I knew my husband had emotional wounds from events in his early life and I had them in mine. I craved his attention and mourned the reality of our situation. I think the FTD was already manifesting itself in his brain. I think, now, that the apathy and obsessions of my husband were indicators of a progression at the birth of this dementia. He also had chronic depression for which he was treated. He was not capable of being more than he was being. I could not see that at the time. I saw a selfish, uncaring and inaccessible man. The impact of his behaviors were significant in the heart of a wounded woman. It may be why I felt a relief when, a number of years later, he was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia. I began to learn everything I could about FTD.  In the process I found out that many caregivers of people with FTD come to believe it began long before it was identified and diagnosed.

The stage is set for the rest of the story.

My husband began to complain of weakness in his legs and a backache. He is tough as nails and rarely caught any virus that I would bring home. He did not get sick. When he began talking about the problems he was having with his body I listened with half an ear. I thought he would shake it off and get back to fishing. Instead he went fishing less and less and found walking any distance challenging. Long story short, the symptoms drove us to doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, deep shock at the diagnosis of FTD and, current day,the full time caregiving of my husband at home. FTD is terminal and there is no cure to date. Our lives slowly changed in ways we could not have imagined.

The stage is set for the rest of the story.

Over a period of time a new life together began to grow out of this tragic diagnosis. I committed, of my own free will, to take care of my husband from home as long as possible.  In stark contrast to the man I thought I knew, my husband, began to change also. He began to notice me and to thank me and to let me know that he loved me. God allowed me to see these changes coming from my husband and to accept them. The anger and resentment I held in my heart began to melt and is no longer a part of me. We are walking out this new journey together and in our own way. Both of us understand the reality of this diagnosis. We rarely speak of it.

Fast forward to tonight and my husband's attempts to protect me by doing things for himself. It would be easy to believe that I must dwell on why this did not happen earlier in our marriage. I do not. I am grateful. I am grateful that I will know he loved me and he will know I loved him. In our most difficult challenges our hearts have been softened to let the love we had all this time be revealed. This gives me joy and no regrets.

The end of this part of our story.

Tonight I pulled into the driveway full of nervous energy and thoughts pinging around in my head. I was making an effort to understand what happened to Robert when he became exhausted. I felt exhausted with the effort. Right in the middle of that state of  mind I found myself sitting in the car, getting quiet and praying. I prayed for wisdom and guidance. I prayed for Robert. I thanked God for the love that has been given a voice between my husband and myself. I prayed that I would know how to best care for my husband tonight. I felt a bit of peace and comfort growing in me. I marveled at the fact that I often forget to stop and ask for God's help. The short amount of time I spent in asking for help this evening brought me comfort and a sense of confidence I had not felt earlier. I got out of the car to go into our home. I am reminded as I write this post of the many, many times times I have felt anxious and overwhelmed and chosen to ask God for help. I wonder why I often persist in pushing through tough times on my own will.  I am grateful that I caught myself tonight and took the time to ask for help. I am humbled by the loving answer. This awful time births, yet again, a moment of wonder.

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