Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MOVE Forward

I doubt that I've mentioned publicly, anywhere online, the current situation my family finds itself in. It's something extremely personal to me, the hardships we're facing, and I hate to bring it up in the off chance we'll be pitied or given special treatment beyond reason. My opinion on horrid life events is that it's all just apart of Life. Everything that we experience is what makes us who we are and simply comes with the territory of living. Really and truly living. With a great life comes great challenges. You can decide to skip or avoid some of those challenges, if you want, but just remember your final score is affected.

The biggest issue that my family currently faces is my grandmother's Alzheimer's disease. She was diagnosed about 3-4 years ago when we started to notice her memory slipping. She was also diagnosed with dementia at the same time, which seemed to just make her memory loss a lot more interesting. In the beginning, we all treated her with kid gloves about her disease. Let her believe that she would get better. We believed she would get better. She's not going to get better.

Alzheimer's and dementia are both terminal diseases, the combination of which is even more harsh on the mind and people affected. Imagine that you are slowly and steadily losing your memory and sense of being in the real world. Time no longer has meaning to you, people are no longer recognizable. Now imagine that you're also losing the ability to see the real world. You see things that your brain imagines, dropped into the typical and calm state of your being. People disappear in front of your eyes and your worst fears are realized at a moment's notice. Or, at least what your brain is telling you you're seeing.

Nanny is terrified of being alone. You have to constantly remind her of your presence, otherwise she loses you in the chaos of her memory. There are multiple people flowing in and out of her world, constantly leaving and coming when you are there. And when you're gone, there is no one there to talk to her or take care of her. I am Tiffany, Debbie, the girls, and her granddaughter, all in one. I am one of the lucky family members in that each incarnation of me is loved. I'm also one of the most unlucky, as when one of my incarnations is not with her, she is constantly asking for me. We are each lucky and unlucky when it comes to our interactions with Nanny, and we each try to support each other, to reaffirm that we know that her perspective is not always accurate.

The little things that we do to help ourselves and her are all varied. I want to be there for her, and my grandfather, in every way I can. Physical presence is obviously preferred. I also want to use my various talents to help us all cope a little. I got the hair-brained idea a few weeks ago to craft various items, all incorporating the Alzheimer's Association's logo into their design, and sell them and their patterns on Etsy, or Ravelry. I would like all the proceeds to go to helping purchase me plane tickets, from California to Florida, every month, to help my grandparents transition their lifestyle to something more supportive of their situation. Currently, I can only afford trips every two or three months, which is no where near enough to make an impact. Ideally, I would be able to be there every week, every day, and every hour, but my grandfather refuses to let me put my career on hold like that. I don't want people to just give me this money. I want to earn it. Anything extra that I make I intend to donate to the Alzheimer's Association.

I've already filled several pages of my sketch book with ideas for patterns and projects that I can sell. To kinda ensure myself that this isn't just something I'm going to toss out there, I made a shawl for Nan, kinda just to prove to myself that I can turn out items quickly when I put my mind to it. Overall, the shawl took me about an evening to complete. I managed to bust through two of my stash skeins, so that's also another victory. Hopefully soon I'll be able to post a pic of a completed original design/pattern.

I don't want to turn this blog into an Alzheimer's support forum, that's not it's purpose. I'm also pretty sure I'd go crazy constantly writing up all the depressing things that are happening. I am, however, going to continue to post on the issues we, and all those people effected by this disease, face, as well as information about how I, and others cope in crafty ways.