My last post, on taking care of my husband, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, generated some great comments. Thank you to all. I don’t walk around thinking about my childless state all the time, but I couldn’t help noticing the parallels when Fred was in the hospital, the feeding, the diapers, his inability to talk.
I thought not only about how he was like a baby, but also how caring for him was similar in some ways to taking care of Annie, my dog–and I do have a lot of practice with dogs. Annie would react in panic if anyone tried to hold her down and do anything to her body. Just try clipping her nails. She can’t speak to tell me where she hurts, and she can’t understand when I tell her everything will be all right.
Sometimes I feel alone in this journey, but I’m not really. I have been in support groups, I have been in therapy, I have great friends. I exercise, and I really try to take good care of myself. For the most part, I’m on my own now. Except during crises, I only see Fred once a week for a few hours. It’s a 150-mile round trip to his nursing home.
I made that trip last week to take him to the doctor. This was not like taking care of a child, unless that child is blind and brain-damaged. I had to do all the talking and help Fred through every moment of our visit. Just getting him to lie on the table was a huge challenge. But it was a good visit. This is a new doctor for us, and he really seemed to listen and to care.
Having a husband with Alzheimer’s (and other diseases that take people away a little at a time) is hard. But I’m glad I can take care of Fred. I have to remember everything he gave me over our years together. Everything I have and much of what I have been able to accomplish over the last 25 years I owe to him.
Marrying an older man brings an added risk that he will become ill or die long before you do. I knew that going in. It would be nice to have children to help me and to help him, but I don’t. Instead, I have good friends.
Bringing things back to childlessness, I was in an online group for a while, but most of the members seemed to be older than I am, and they spent a lot of time talking about their children and grandchildren. When they started posting tons of photos,I bailed. Whatever we do, we’re still the ones without kids.