I have been writing these posts with a certain bravado about our meeting the challenges and choosing to live with meaning, refusing to let the Parkinson’s rule.  As is often the case, saying it is far easier than doing it.

Every two or three months, I take up the shower mesh from the bathroom floor to scrub it with Lysol Cleaner.  We put the interlocking mesh squares on the bathroom floor to protect Mary Ann from experiencing serious damage from the ceramic tile floor if she falls.  An earlier post includes the gory details of the time she fell on that unprotected floor and ended up in the Emergency Room.

The mesh lets the water through so that what doesn’t run down to the drain dries fairly quickly.  The mesh is made of a pliable plastic material that is impregnated with some sort of mold resistance material.  It remains clean other than in some places having a thin layer of residual soap from multiple showers.  The scrubbing I do just makes me feel better about the cleanliness of that floor.

I was outside for a few minutes checking on the tiles drying in the sun on the driveway, talking with a neighbor.  When I went inside, Mary Ann was on the floor in the dining room. She was not hurt at all.  She could have been hurt, but was not.  In the process she had knocked over some coffee demanding some spot cleaning on the carpet.

With the addition of the video monitor, we have reduced the number of falls dramatically.  This relatively minor matter, the fall, reinforced that being out of sight of Mary Ann either by not being in the room with her or not having the monitor in sight is risky.

I struggle to write about being trapped by the Parkinson’s as a Caregiver when Mary Ann is trapped in her own body.  I have no right to feel sorry for myself when she has fought with her own body for over twenty-two years.  A number of years ago, I remember her saying through tears (she seldom cries) that she wished she could get a new body.

She is trapped in a more comprehensive way than I am.  She cannot get a Volunteer to come and give her a break from her own body.  She is trapped, and to a lesser extent, so am I.  The Parkinson’s has come to live with both of us and has become a constant presence in the lives of our Children and Grandchildren as well.

Speaking only from the vantage point of the Caregiver, at times I find it very frustrating that I cannot simply immerse myself in something that takes me out of visual contact with Mary Ann.

A few days ago, I needed to have a Volunteer with Mary Ann so that I could go out and clean the gutters.  The Volunteer had to leave before I finished.  There was at least one fall while I tried to complete the task.

The solution of having Mary Ann outside with me for anything I need to do is not as workable as it may sound.  Due to the Parkinson’s and medications, she does not handle heat well.  She does not enjoy just sitting outside.

Going outside to feed the birds has to be planned for when she is either early in a nap, when it is less likely she will need to get up, or in the first hour or so when she goes to bed.  After an hour or so there is more vulnerability to her needing to use the commode.  Watering the flowers is equally challenging.

Sometimes I just head out the door and walk up to the corner three houses away and look at the sky for a moment, check for nighthawks if it is dusk, or just enjoy the sunset for a few minutes.  There is sometimes a feeling of being tethered to Mary Ann and her needs.  On occasion as a full time Caregiver to someone who needs help to do most of the things she does, my movements are governed by her needs, almost like a marionette’s movements are controlled by the puppeteer.  She doesn’t want it any more than I do, but nonetheless, that is how it sometimes feels.

Gratefully, there are also lots of times when I feel good about being with Mary Ann, able to be close to her so much of the time after years of being away at work sixty to seventy hours a week.  I hope that Mary Ann feels good about my being here some of the time also.  She is not able to express such feelings, but hopefully, they are there.

With all of that said, Mary Ann and I are living lives of value and meaning with joyful times as well as frustrating times.  We are free to do what we are able to do when we are able to do it..  We are experiencing life fully, taking each day as it comes with the bad and the good — pretty much the same way any of us lives, no matter what our circumstances.

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