Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Hope is not usually considered a ‘power word’.  But St. Paul lists it as one of the big three:  Faith, Hope and Love, with Love having top billing.  This is not the hope of wishful thinking, but the Hope of full expectation, the Hope of firm anticipation.  Grounded in Faith and powered by Love, this Hope grants us the full expectation that God is consistent with His Word.  It has little to do with the outcome of life’s events and everything to do with the process of living.  
The opposite of hope is despair.  The two forces cannot occupy the same place at the same time.  Hope is nurtured by the words we speak, just as Faith and Love are nurtured by our words.  This nurturing by Faith, Hope and Love matures us and, as we grow, we take action in the lives of other people. 
One of the most common challenges to Hope is disease.  When my darling was first diagnosed nearly six years ago, we could hear only the word “Alzheimer’s”.  The phrase “probable Alzheimer’s” faded, as did the phrase “Senile Dementia Alzheimer’s Type”.  I’d like to say The Big Three sprang into action, to say Faith, Hope and Love took charge and immediately quieted this earthquake.  Our faith in God and His love for us remained steady.  But Hope seemed to have no role in this invasion, which was steadily taking Barbara’s brain captive.
My sweetheart’s condition declined and our daily life became a warped existence.  During the next five years I prayed, raged, read books, searched blogs, alienated people, talked with Barb’s doctor, met over coffee with friends and longed for light in the growing darkness.  Then, in the spring of 2012, like the flicker of a single candle, Hope appeared.   I found multiple sources discussing the nutrient curcumin and it’s effect on Alzheimer’s Disease.  These sources suggest that the chemical curcumin in combination with vitamin D3 may help stimulate the immune system to clear amyloid-beta plaques from the brain, considered to be the main cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.  In the late spring of 2012, after consulting Barb’s doctor, I began to include curcumin and D3 in her daily medicine.
Now it is early autumn. 
  • Then she often did not know who I was. Now she always knows me.
  • Then she hadn’t been married for years.  Now she speaks of her love for me and our marriage.
  • Then she often asked me “take her home” .  Now she never makes this request.
  • Then she often wanted to visit her mom and dad.  Now she knows they have passed away.
  • Then her children were her siblings.  Now she always identifies them correctly.
  • Then she misplaced common objects.  Now she brings them to me for help placing them.
Daily I tell Barb the story of the last five years and of her changes in the last few months.  She loves to hear it and I love to tell it.  It is not uncommon for Barbara to come to me holding a bottle of curcumin close like a litlle girl with her doll.  More than once each day, she says “Thank you for taking care of me.  Thank you for keeping everything going.”  I always tell her she’s precious treasure and that I protect this treasure because of its immense value.  I tell her she is my inspiration.
When Barb gets tired, she easily becomes confused and disoriented.  Then again, so do I.  She has very little short term memory, is easily confused, and has trouble following a direction, but I see changes in these areas every day.  I see changes in her awareness, changes in my attitude.  But the biggest change is the return of Hope to both our lives.  –larry

To See or Not To See

My dog Biscuit went completely blind for two days.  I’m having severe eye trouble.  Only Barb can see well.  Thank goodness for that. 

I recently had cataract surgery on my left eye.  I had put it off for years, and now felt I could go ahead.  Besides, the new lenses will correct my severe astigmatism.  However, life has been a living hell since the operation. 

In the midst of eye patches, fifteen drops a day, my regular duties as caregiver, household pharmacist, grocery shopper and chef, Biscuit developed a bladder stone and required surgery.  Then my left eye developed acute herpetic keratitis which is being treated with zirgan.  This left eye feels like it has a small stone in it which won’t go away.

Meanwhile, I gave Biscuit an overdose of one of his medicines.  He went completely blind, requiring two days of emergency treatment to get it out of his system.  His eyesight has recovered and he has returned to being extra pampered.  He has been quite the trooper through all of his trauma.  Out-of-pocket costs so far exceed $4K.

I’m wearing these ½” thick magnifying glasses just to be able to see this document.  These are the same glasses I wore before the cataract surgery.  I feel like I’m playing monopoly and keep landing on all the wrong spots.  Still ahead of me lie all the follow-up visits and additional instructions which will come with them.  I grow weary.

I seem to have patience for work, but not for long talks with Barb.  I’ve revived the languishing orange tree beside the house, thanks to some excellent online instructions.  A couple of times a week, I construct a new “lily pad pool warmer” out of hula hoops, polyethylene and plumber’s goop.  I’m surprised at how soothing it is to watch them navigate the flows of the pool pump.  I owe my sanity to these litlle guys.

I try to pick up at least one half-gallon ice cream when we grocery shop.  I prefer getting two of them to avoid that late night requirement to eat yogurt because it’s the only thing left.  Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine a long soothing drag on a cigarette.  Do they really cause cancer?  Does it really matter what they do at 70 years of age?  I’d go back to those little cigarillos, but soon I’d be buying them by the case.  I simply love the taste of tobacco.  Nah, I have enough on my plate to add one more thing. 

My Barb is holding her own since she added curcumin to her cocktail of pills.  I see improvement in specific areas and keep a daily journal to help in my reports to Dr. Grant.  I’m astonished at the progress she is making.  She may never fully recover from AD, but she has returned to being a life-companion in so many ways.  Almost daily, I tell her The Story of her turnaround and her progress back to normalcy since the cleansing process in her brain rebooted.  She listens with rapture at each telling.  I will put The Story together in a blog as soon as I can see again.  –lg