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Caregiver On The Brink

M. L.  Kiser Avatar  Send Soup Mail  Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled Caregiver On The Brink which was written by poet M. L. Kiser. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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The poem is below.

Caregiver On The Brink

Bone-drained, there is no respite, no split second of peace.  The “sundowner”, a hyper-active toddler in a man’s vehicle, never sleeps nor sits.
When I succumb to that one precious moment of rest; I am awakened to a furnace running full blast in a freezing cold house and on a nineteen degree night.  A butter knife has removed a window; the culprit and dementia-mind panics; he’s terrified of being trapped in a fire.  There’s no arguing with dementia-mind; it’s best to play along with the his ideas.

Another day of madness and I awake to a frantically screeching doorbell; it’s his nurse.   I've revived in the floor.  A migraine faint pulled me down; I’ve had no sleep for eight nights, you see.  Sweet respite…she says she’ll, “sit with him”, so I can lie down a bit; a pleasant miracle; such happenstance is a rarity.  

Dementia-mind has no solutions, only hallucinations, delusions; absence of mind and aggression for the “sundowners”.  I watch at breakfast, as he pours his milk upon the floor; he has no clue of what he is doing or why; 
he stares, mindless.   When the eyes go blank it’s obvious; he’s not in there.  A robot gone haywire, used to be my Father.  The last thing to go, were his mathematical skills.  Dementia-mind has forgotten so many people; how to swallow, but recalls numbers…

“Who is that man?” he demands, pointing at himself in the mirror.  My exhausted mind briefly forgets and I mistakenly reply, “You dad.”  The firestorm is initiated; he calls me a, “liar”.  Self recognition has failed him now; the flame of his mind is burning low; soon to extinguish.

He’s fed and dressed, but I’ve no time to eat; if he should sleep an hour today; I must cook for the week.  It’s the only opportunity I have…when and if he sleeps.  I must not go to the bathroom; he’ll break something or fall.  I must hold myself until my sister arrives.

The “passives” are painful to watch, as they deteriorate, but the “sundowners” are constant exhaustion.  I was in the ER, almost as much as, he.  You see, there’s no one to care for the caregiver, but themselves and when they can’t, exhaustion and malnutrition escalate.  Dementia-mind is round-the-clock work and two doing the work of six people, takes its’ toll.  The disease never discriminates; it destroys everyone.

(My Father died with dementia, a form of Alzheimer's in 2003, after a 15 year battle.)

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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Date: 7/18/2017 4:37:00 AM
I spent three years with my wife suffering from dementia. She died from heart failure, but I dread what what have happened if got any worse with her dementia.
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M. L. Kiser
Date: 7/18/2017 7:44:00 AM
I certainly can sympathize; it is not easy to be around anyone with the disease; so hard to watch them go down. The disease not only strips them of their memory, but the ability to swallow, chew, feed themselves, etc. I hope that some day the disease will have a complete cure. Love and empathy, to you, my friend.
Date: 7/17/2017 1:50:00 PM
What a painful and sad poem. Your telling it tugs at my heart
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Kiser Avatar
M. L. Kiser
Date: 7/17/2017 2:30:00 PM
I'm still healing from those days; I've posted some on Alzheimer's websites, but this one had never been posted. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, again.