John: Living With Alzheimer’s Part 2

LOSING your spouse to dementia was often a slow, emotionally painful process.

All the symptoms started right after a bleak phase in our life. An unscruplous builder left us high and dry, with unfinished house. Our saving depleted. With only my wages keeps us going.

The stress was building up.

Times like that I was really thankful that Adam lives with my family, less worry for me as I know he would be in good hands.

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My husband the love of my life was still physically there but I have lost my friend, my lover, my partner and my companion.

Alzheimer’s Disease may have robbed him of his cognition, judgment, reasoning, old personality, and memories. But it could not rob him of his love for me. He never forgot who I was, never forgot how much he loved me.

As his memory faded, he proposed to me several times. He thought it would a disgrace and scandalous for me as a Muslim lady to be caught in a close proximity with him, a Scottish guy from Britain.

How sweet and loving of him even as his memory failing, he still determined to protect me from any harm.

I showed him our identical (his and hers) wedding rings and told him that we were happily married and nobody was going to bring me any harm with him around. And his eyes lit up. He said, “You mean we are married? We are really married? Oh God I am so happy. I love you darling,” and I hugged him trying in vain to hide tears rolling on my cheeks.

My work took the backseat and I was very grateful that my bosses really trying their best to understand my situation. Must be really hard to be in their shoes. Trying to tell me that its okay to attend to my husband’s need at any given time without pressuring me to finish my allocated assignments on time.

Despite the treatments, his condition was deteriorating.

One of the damning signs was seizure.

The first attack caught me unaware. We had just completed our little walk in that afternoon. As we entered the front door he just collapsed but I managed to catch him from hitting the floor hard. I was screaming for our gardeners outside and instead of being panic, I called the ambulance.

He was warded overnight at Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban and discharged after lunch the next day.

We reached home around 4pm and while he was in the washroom he had another seizure. I couldn’t catch him in time and he was bleeding a lot with a few cuts on his face. I remember holding him close, crying, couldn’t move him on my own. He was a big size guy. I remember crying on the bathroom floor while whispering to him to wake up and begged him not to leave me…

I managed to call our gardener and he came around quickly and I called up ambulance again.

I took leave for the following days. I was thinking of leaving him with my family. At least my brother and wife can watch him 24/7. But quickly changed my mind because John wouldn’t have it. He refused to touch food or even drink if its not me who fed him.

We drove back to our home in Nilai but John developed fever. I worried sick because he refused to eat and drink. I decided to take unpaid leave and drove home to Muar and under a doctor’s advice I took him to hospital. He was lucid but hardly response to anything.

John was admitted at emergency unit. The doctor told me the dreaded news. John had heatstroke and it was severe due to his AD. The third day we were there, he was showing improvement. We had a little chat. First time in the long time.

I remember that afternoon, I told him that I need to pray and had to leave him for a little while. He smiled and said to me, ” Okay darling. Please don’t go too long.” And I said, ” No, I won’t,” and smiled back at him. And he said ” I love you.” And I said “I love you too” before kissing him and left.

How would I know that was the last sentence he would say to me…

That it would be the last time I would hear him uttered any word…

If I knew I would have stayed then as long as I could and delayed my prayers. I would have talked to to him until he was too tired to talk.

How would I know that a few hours later John was having complications and the doctor had to feed him through tube…

The next day or two went in blurry motions. I just remember the doctor told me to take John home where he would be more comfortable.

At home, I never left his bedside, except to take a shower and meals.

All I can feel was numb. I want this to be over for his sake, but I selfishly don’t want to never feel the warmth of his skin again. It didn’t matter what I want or do not want. It will be when it will be, and I would have no control over it.

It was Thursday as I sat, watching him and cried silently, as I replayed our life together in my head. If he was to die tonight, I told myself through my tears, it would be as it was meant to be. He would be free.

I leaned over him, and told him that I had loved him my whole life, that he had been the best husband in the world, that he had given me a wonderful life, and I would never stop loving him, and it was okay for him to let go and rest. I would be okay. His son Adam would take care of me.

Adam came in and sat beside John. Telling John in tears that its okay if John had to go and he promised to take care of mommy. Adam was sobbing. I was near hysterical in tears and John was crying. Due to the feeding tube in his mouth, John couldn’t say anything except making sobbing noise while tears rolling down his cheeks.

That night instead of sleeping on the chair beside him, I decided to sleep with John on the bed. Hugging and holding him close despite the discomfort of tube and drip all over him.

Something woke me up in the middle of the night and I knew instinctively that my husband was about to leave me…

Holding him close in my arms I whispered to him that I love him and I would be strong for him. He whispered faintly…”Allah…” and my lover, husband, partner, best friend, protector, supporter was gone… returned to his Maker…

When he breathed his last I couldn’t breath. Almost passed out that my brother took me out and sat me on the sofa. I was dying inside… My life have practically ended that moment except for Adam.

But they said time heals…

Four years on I still love and miss and think about John, but I am also ready to be moving on with my life… A