It is early morning. I have not been to bed. I spent an inordinate amount of time getting a new phone to work. I lost my phone and have been out of contact with everyone for several days. In many ways it has been a delicious reprieve and in other ways a monumental inconvenience. A SIM card made an honest effort to defeat me but I wielded the mighty swords of You Tube and Google and I won in the end. It is a paltry victory. My contacts did not move with my phone number. I am hoping to find that wizard thing that transfers stuff although it omits bits and pieces of information for what appear to be unrelated and arbitrary reasons. This has not got a thing to do with dignity which is the title of this post but I am getting to the point in an unrelated and arbitrary way.

Recently my husband has had an increase in symptoms that, while not caused by the traditional physical reasons, have the traditional impacts on his body. His brain is slowly losing brain cells. Very slowly and that may be part of the reason he is not hearing what the doctor is saying. The doctor is saying he needs to be drinking fluids constantly. He is in danger of renal problems. He is in a delicate position with the numbers doctors use to gauge the progression of one thing or the other. He has been holding a steady "not so good" number. In the inevitable shift of circumstances that tenuous balance is threatened. Hydrating and hydrating great amounts is one way to maintain the status quo. What I am trying to get out of my brain and onto this writing is that Robert needs to be drinking copious amounts of his favorite drink of all time...crystal light...the punch crystal light. Until the new symptoms began he was guzzling the stuff. All day, every day. I have made many, many pitchers of it and I admit that it is refreshing and have been glad he liked it so much. But that was before the doctor upped the ante and made drinking gallons of it an important part of maintaining health, staying out of the hospital, bad things happening to Robert.

Now Robert drinks crystal light but not as much. He does not eat as much. He balks at my suggestions that he drink more crystal light. I remind him that he needs to drink liquids. His body needs to flush out those kidneys. I invoke the "doctor says" incantation. He hears me. He says he is drinking as much as he can drink without feeling yucky. He says he feels weak and a little dizzy and he is drinking lots of drink. And he clearly wants me to leave the subject alone. He is not rude to me. He is frustrated that I do not seem to understand his point of view.

I bought a blood pressure cuff just like the nurses use and I am learning on myself to use it. Robert wants nothing to do with me taking his blood pressure. He recoils and stiffens his arm and tells me to go away. Again, he is polite but firm. He does allow me to monitor his temperature, barely, the thermometer is invasive to him. It is one more thing to do with nothing that he cares about at all. The readings are inaccurate because he pushes the thermometer out before the beep. The interminable 30 seconds to the beep during which time I can almost here him asking, like a child on a long trip, "Are we there yet?"

This morning I was thinking of what matters to me and what matters to him. We are not in the end stages of the progression. There will be many opportunities and decision points where he and I will be at cross purposes. I watch and listen as his doctor shares information with him. He always leaves the ball in Robert's court. He looks to me to be the cheerleader and supporter but he always leaves the decision in Robert's hands. It is subtle. It is clear. It is loving.

This morning I thought that Robert should be given the dignity of making his own decisions about the way he does or does not follow a prescribed path. It is, after all, a path with only one ending. No effort is going to change that fact. He is not depressed and he is not pensive and he does not talk about the what if's or even about much of anything but where are the remote controls and what is for supper and can I help him up off the couch. He is not thinking in terms of what he must do or else. Nor is he thinking of stopping and allowing nature to take it's course. He is being Robert. He has always been Robert. This morning I thought of his right to be himself. The gift of allowing him the dignity to choose his path and walking with him at his pace and in his own way.

Dignity is precious. I don't often think of dignity at all. It isn't that I discredit it. I think it is natural to encourage it. But then times such as these happen and, with all good intentions, I find myself pushing and pulling away at Robert's right to himself. His mind is good. I am not throwing in the towel on someone who cannot think for himself. I am planning on and will choose to follow his lead. I will offer and I will accept his decision. I will not trespass the dignity inherent in the freedom he has to make his own choices. It occurs to me that in this decision I am also preserving my dignity. I am free to let go with love and be present with love. I am free to let go of being pushy, difficult, frightened and burdened by concerns beyond my control. Dignity sounds healthy today.

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Dignity......thanks for sharing your experience with this. .\" There are days I struggle with controlling DH's disease, as I push and pull at him to do what I or the dr. recommends. You put it well: \"The gift of allowing him the dignity to choose his path and walking with him at his pace and in his own way.\" and as you said \"dignity is precious\".