To Explain, or not to Explain?

There is a tension in our life together, the husband and I. He is less aware of it than I am, but even he feels it at times. The tension arises for me when I see him talking to people, as he often does when he’s out and about. Knowing that it is good for him to express himself and socialize, I usually just watch. But I also know that eventually I will have to decide whether or not to step in and rescue.

Rescue who? Usually it’s the kind person who has decided to engage him in conversation.

Before Dennis had the diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia, I didn’t feel responsible to rescue anyone, well, hardly ever. Before Lewy, he would often get in his “teacher” mode and give long lectures complete with multiple rabbit trails. Since I had heard it all before I would let him and his audience fend for themselves. His topics were still reasonably interesting to a lot of people, hearing them for the first time. Others knew not to get him started.

But now, I have his reputation and his dignity to defend. His topics are much more narrow and not always interesting to others. He’s not good at reading body language and knowing that he’s losing his listener’s attention. Sometimes his discretion is not in play and he says things he shouldn’t. We talk when we’re alone about these times and he is thoughtful and serious about doing better.

Other times he listens as well as he can to conversations but doesn’t hear or understand important parts of them. I’m often surprised to find out what he thinks he has heard.

He is still doing very well cognitively and cares about his interactions with people. He often wants to go over and talk with Mom. He loves to go to church activities. He listens to his favorite people on YouTube and other social media so regularly that they seem like family. His personality is still intact and recognizable. He is still himself, and what a good thing that is! I’m more than thankful.

The fact remains. I spend quite a bit of time explaining Dennis and his intentions to others, and a lot of time explaining others to him. I feel like the gateway to his awareness of the world, and somehow that bothers me.


Endless Discussions


Yesterday, because I was visibly sad, the husband and I had several conversations about our relationship. I tried to tell him, without being harmful, why it is that I have trouble deciding to take him seriously, or relying on his decisions and assessments.  I know it must be hard to hear that kind of thing. I don’t think he understood and he still thinks that I am wrong in taking his LBD diagnosis into consideration. He thinks everything points toward his recovery.

We had discussions about the CO alarm at 4 am, which he is sure is because of variations in the power grid.  We should call the power company and have them do something about it – I don’t know what.  We had discussions about tithing the proceeds from the sale of the house, about how to identify where the Lord wants tithe administrated, about who can decide these things. We had discussion about the supplements he ordered and wants to return, thinking he doesn’t need them because he is no longer on blood pressure meds. There is no trace of who to get that money ($250) back from that I can find, and he is useless in tracking things on his phone or computer.

He went to church – two services – yesterday to hear piano player Huntley Brown. He sang his heart out and greatly enjoyed the music and worship, but was totally worn out by the effort.  He got tired in the morning just making one side of the bed.  Somehow the tiredness became my fault for helping him do it.  Aunt Lois is also tired all the time because I help her too much, keeping her from getting stronger.

In many respects he is like a child in an old man’s body.  I can tell when he is coming by his slow, shuffling sound.  He always appears very old and slow.  He does unusual things, like standing up in church and directing the music, waving his arms but he is innocent and entirely abandoned in his actions – no shame, but joyful and unaware of strangeness. He doesn’t care what others think or how they perceive him and that is the child part.  I don’t want to take that from him, but it puts me in the position of being a caretaker over someone who is not quite “with it”, rather than a partner in an equal relationship. I have to be the one who considers all sides of an issue and whether to affirm or deny his course of action.

In all our discussions, I primarily wanted to be understood but I don’t see that it happened.  To his credit, he was always sincere and soft spoken, which was helpful.  I took a walk late in the evening and encountered Den and MP, who joined me.  They listened to me and I was comforted just to know that someone cared about my tears and would let me talk.

I struggle right now with a sense of displacement.  The house has been sold.  We are to leave Mom’s condo and set ourselves up in the other one. We need to decide whether to get our stuff in Greensboro transferred up here.  We need to start paying rent.  Everything about our situation seems to have changed and I’m trying to sort it all out.  I need God to reassure me that we are here for a reason and that we are still in his will and plan for us.  I have attitudes and feelings that I’m not comfortable with but don’t know how to dispel.

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