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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Saturday Morning Pondering

Life changed so much when I was diagnosed with Dementia, but I allowed myself and pushed myself to find new purpose, to find hope, to forge a new life, a different life, but it has become a good life. So very different for what was my life to what is my life, but I have settled into it, finding many reasons to be happy, to enjoy the simplest things in life.

Bring in Covid 19, everything I had set in place had to change again, lock downs meant further isolations, finding ways to manage and cope through those ( and continuing lockdowns, over a year and still the lockdowns continue). Finding ways to stay connected, engaged, hopeful and joyful, during a pandemic, brings the fight that is faced by those with dementia just in terms of living with their illness to a whole new level.

A compromised system, we all know and hear about how those living with Dementia are likely to have worse outcomes than others if they get covid 19, so keeping my house stocked so I can manage with the least amount of trips needed of going out in public for necessities. Yet still going for walks, going for solo drives, ( ok not totally solo, my little dog Pheobe by my side), she loves drives. She always walked a lot with me, but as she is approaching 17 in May, remarkable, she now mostly sleeps, especially this last little bit, in fact its 9 am she is still in bed. I watch and hover over her, she has been my world for so many years. After my husband died, I was a drift, losing him, I lost my whole family unit as it was, so when Pheobe came into my life, she filled me with love again, so know as I watch her slowly decline, sometimes I think she is trying to keep going for me.

my beautiful Pheobe

I know she sees and feels my decline and I see and feel hers, animals are so smart, so in tune and understand so much more than we often give them credit for. She has been such a blessing for so many years and through this Covid 19 Pandemic she for sure has been my saving grace.

Time is moving so fast or maybe it’s not, maybe it’s just that I am losing my ability to mange it. I feel like I have just lost a whole ten days, it was just March ending and somehow here we are at the 10th of April. Today I was looking at my new week of medications dropped of by the pharmacy yesterday, and I kept thinking this doesn’t seem right, he was just here delivering how can he be here again, another week gone, just gone, it made me go check to see in fact if I have been remembering to take the said medications, truthfully only missed a couple doses, so overall not bad.

The fact that time is disappearing or if it’s not then that means that I am disappearing more and more, not even sure which it is at this point. I think about all the things I still want to see completed my follow up book, completing my work with DAI, seeing changes take hold through advocating. So much I want to still accomplish, regardless of my dementia and regardless of Covid 19, but with the disappearing time, not sure if it’s possible. I can no longer manage without the help of my volunteer Angie, who without her help I would not be able to continue to do the advocating and things that bring so much joy and purpose to my otherwise stalemated life. I am so grateful to have her, and I encourage all who are living with dementia, yes do all you can for yourself but be brave enough to admit and get the help with the things you need help with, so that you can continue to live your best life.

But there is also the personal things, the people I would like to see, the trips I haven’t been able to take, the documentary I wanted to do, the backroads and small towns I have yet to visit, getting back to the ocean.

Somehow as Dementia robs us of so much, being hit with the added piece of Covid 19, seems to make it all more urgent, yet being stuck unable to get those things done, wondering if I will have the ability to hold steady until I can, or will I end up with a life incomplete?

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Oh What A Night

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Today started out on a good note, the air had cleared somewhat enough that it prompted Pheobe and I to go for a ten minute walk outside. We then even ventured out enough to do a short drive to have a change of scenery, but by then the heat was too much the smoke was returning and once again we were inside in a blacked out house trying to manage the heat.

I had the opportunity to meet and FaceTime with someone from New York, who is undergoing diagnosis for young onset. It was truly humbling that she reached out to me, to know that in some small ways the purpose of my book is realized. Truly a delightful lady and one who I am looking forward to getting better acquainted with as we continue to meet. Offering support to others is truly a very special privilege to be able to do and in all honesty I think I gain more from each of them than they from me.
The rest of day saw me attempting many things, starting many, leaving one to pursue another things unfinished, what I call my squirrel moments in full force, skittering about from one thing to another as they enter my mind, no focus, it’s more the norm now. So eventually after having to drain the water from the sink three times in an attempt to actually do the dishes before something else took me in a different direction, I decided or actually Pheobe was wanting to go to bed, so in attempting to get ready for bed I took my wrong pills in my blister pack, so ended up taking a double doze of medications, my dementia medication, my blood, pressure medications, my heart medications… yikes, no wonder it’s the middle of the night and it’s like I’m wired, I am thinking that tomorrow may not be very promising for me.
The other thing I was thinking about was how I really don’t cook anymore, or what little I do, it’s most basic at best. It’s more of a struggle. I’m eat more things like yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh fruit and veggies. I can’t imagine what it would be like to make dinner for two or three others at this point. I actually have no idea if I could do it, but know if I did, it would be very challenging. From my love of entertaining in days before dementia to shuttering at the idea now. Oh how things have changed, and maybe some of it comes from so much isolation as well, not sure at this point. I just know that I do things so much differently.
I was supposed to have a new volunteer come tomorrow, that will be put off until next week, tomorrow will be a no go for me, no use trying to pretend otherwise.
Many more evacuations happening tonight, so many being effected, I am still safe, I guess one of the bonuses of living in the centre of town, at least for now, but I worry about all those family and friends who are directly impacted. It’s a stressful time for all in this area, you, we, I am effected in one way or another.This may be why I’m struggling more with other things, it’s how my brain manages things now.
Another day will start soon, I have to try to find a way to rest, my whole system is haywire from the overload of medications, I’ll forgo my meds in the morning and talk to the pharmacist about how to get things levelled out again. Let’s hope I actually do remember not to take them…..ugh

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Is It All About Dementia

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I started to write my blog a number of years ago in an attempt to help not only myself but my doctors and others who may be working through a dementia diagnosis, or their families, so that people would know they were not alone.

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Much of my blog has been focused on my dementia, the health complications, the interactions with medical professionals. The lack of resources and help available for those living with dementia. I have also spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of peer to peer support, and the importance of those connections. The importance of finding hope and purpose is also something I talk a great deal about, and being involved, finding things that bring you fulfillment. Working with organizations and research groups are two ways that help one feel valued.

All of these things are equally important steps in staying well, living well with dementia, and more emphasis should be put on helping people find those resources to help them stay engaged. Living with any type of illness is not easy, being willing to share with others somehow helps make the hard days easier, and the good days a lot more fun. Yes we do learn to find the joy and fun in life again after diagnosis.

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It can be frustrating down right maddening sometimes when we are constantly fighting against an all to still 30 year old believe in what dementia is and looks like, and breaking down the stigma surrounding dementia at times looks and feels no matter how much we try the stigma remains, but it was years in the making so will be years in the breaking. One must not stop trying, or if it’s time for you to stop then hopefully you will have been able to mentor others to pick up where you leave off. Passing the torch is important it helps ensure progress. Put advocating and working with others can not only help us regain self confidence and self worth it can truly make a difference in the lives of others.

So taking those steps to find those groups and people that will work with you, encourage you, will bring personal benefits as well, with friendships, with creating courage within ourselves, helping us discover things about ourselves we never new were locked away.

Something else I realized lately was that although my blog was started to document my journey with dementia and for the most part it still is, at times I have been told and or questioned why I write about other facets of my life and things happening directly or indirectly in my world that impact me.


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It is quite simple really, so often when people are diagnosed they are seen as their dementia or a dementia patient, and on and on the list goes, but the fact is I am still me. I am not who I was pre diagnosis, it would be impossible to be, just like people with other illnesses, it changes elements of who we are, how we see the world, our prospectives shift and change, things that mattered no longer do, other things take on more of an importance. However at the core of all of it I am still me, a kind, caring, very quirky individual. I love, I laugh, I cry. I am human.

To write only about my dementia is not a true or real view of someone living with dementia. For in living with my dementia I like all other people still live, I have heartaches and breaks, sadness and happiness, worries and troubles, fears and dreams. Life at times throws more at me than I think I can handle, other times it showers me with such joy and happiness I think I’ll explode. The things effecting my world, the world, my community, my family, still effect and impact me. All of these things have a great impact on my dementia, and managing it takes a lot of work and energy. So not to write about those things would not be a fair or accurate look at the life of someone living with Dementia. So although some may not see that, for me, it’s all an important part of staying true to who I am, to being real, the good the bad and the ugly and allowing people to have a glimpse into a life that is complicated by a dementia diagnosis. And I truly hope this blog will help people have a different or better understanding that people with dementia are people who live with a terminal and often invisible illness, but they are individuals who all aspects of life are still very much a part of, and impacted by. I am so much more than my diagnosis.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

August Arrives

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We have arrived in August, what a spring/ summer this is. More people in our area evacuated last night as the fire has become a monster. I woke last night, startled, jumping up, the smell of fire so strong. Even though we had a sprinkling of rain fall, not enough to even dampen the ground under the trees, it brought the ash and smoke even lower, then the word that people on the west side road area where being evacuated, a lot of those people, friends, one of them messaged me that it was raining white ash as he drove it.

Yesterday was a strange day when around 9 am the daylight went from this smokey yellow grey we have been in too dark, needing lights on during the day. This morning will require the same it is dark. It feels like you are in this sort of mist, except the mist is not mist it is smoke and particles in the air from the fires. It has been effecting everyone, emotional, physical, mentally.


In many ways this has been harder for me than the covid, it has restricted me more, during covid ( yes I know it is still here, yes I know it’s getting worse again), but during covid although isolated, I could go for a walk alone, I could ride my bike, I could go for a drive, I could go out into the beautiful forests that are know burning, yes a lot of restrictive living, but not anything that felt so bad that I couldn’t find ways to manage it.

The heat dome that started in June, forced me indoors, my system can’t manage the heat., my house blacked out, but able to enjoy the very early morning sunlight. Then the fires started, the smoke rolled in along with heat, as of today more than half a million acres have burned in BC.

The red heart is placed right in the area I live

The impacts for me have been many, social isolation is becoming the norm, not sure how I will manage to reemerge into the world. And yes that is a real thing. My headaches caused from all the inflammation created from the heat and smoke are becoming unbearable, the pain pills also are not good for me, one thing compounding the other, concentration mostly gone, tired, not the fatigue I normally am challenged with but tired, its the lack of light and sun and oxygen getting into my lungs and breathing all the really bad air. I wonder what all this prolonged breathing of smoke particles are going to do and surface as going forward for people living here. They said this morning our area here in Vernon has the worst air quality in the country.

So as we move into August, and the province I love so much burns, on this BC Day a holiday here in BC, I am saddened by the what I see or more accurately don’t see, I wonder what the remainder of this year holds. I have to hold out hope that things will improve, that as 2021 heads to the ends stretch, that a new found hope and light emerges for the coming years.

I was just talking to my landlord, she is worried, so in trying to do something positive, we earlier had put out water bowls for the animals, we are now planning to find places to place seed/food for the birds as well, normally its not good to feed them, but the food sources they normally have, are all but gone, we have to try to help get them through this season. It may not be much but if feels good to try to do something. Working to stay positive and focused on the future, grateful that everyone I know who is evacuated is safe, praying they will all have homes to return too. Grateful for all the hard work of those fighting these fires in tremendously difficult terrain and conditions. Hoping people can maintain being kind and generous during these stressful days.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Rich In All The Best Ways

Last night and for most of the morning, I have been lost in thought about how very rich I am. Those riches may not come in the ways most people measure wealth, financial, status Etc. Nonetheless my life is rich beyond what I would have ever imagined. Yes, even living with Dementia my life is rich. Oh its not that I have not had my share of trauma and tragedy, goodness knows I have. But had it not been for all those things I may not be in this place where I can look at and recognize how rich my life is and on and in so many ways. From adventures that have seen me in Europe, many areas of the US, Mexico, Alaska, most of Canada, and I say most because there is still many highways and byways that I want to travel and explore. I don’t want to be done yet, and most of my excursions have seen me explore areas that are off the beaten track, where I could mingle with the locals, explore their neighbourhoods, eat in the places they eat, instead of following the tourist trail. It has created in me a richness, for people, for culture, for the natural beauty to be found in each of those places, each different, each unique, all very special.

Many of those trips were further enriched by the person or persons who traveled with me. They helped create memories that will stay with me throughout my life, despite my dementia, I will look at photos, it will take me back to how I felt in that place with that person, in that moment, those feelings can never be erased. They all bring a richness to my life that I will always be grateful for. From the tops of mountains to the ocean shores, the rain forests, the deserts and grasslands. I was fortunate enough to have my beautiful little car, which I sold when I was not allowed to drive, I could not bear to look at it sit there, to being grateful when I was again allowed to drive and learning to love the little car I know drive my little Mazda 3. My Mini Cooper was a special edition, iced chocolate with teal flecks in the paint, it was a lot of fun, I had a lot of great adventures with it, richness, because I had it, richness because again I can drive and have a little car in which to do it.

My dementia has also brought many riches to my life, from the experiences I had, to the people it has brought to my life, people who I would not have likely been to meet, to form friendships with, to share parts of each others journey, those are gifts, those provide a richness money can’t buy. So although dementia takes much, it provides gifts that enrich our lives in ways we never could have expected. Beyond the devastation and gloom of being diagnosed life becomes good, in some ways better, maybe I had my career taken away, maybe I have had to endure many losses and changes and challenges. but it has also brought new perspective on life and living, on being grateful.

It brought wealth beyond what I could have thought, wealth in those experiences, from speaking at the United Nations in New York and at the Alzheimers Disease International Conference, to finding the courage to write my blogs, and to write a book, with a second on the way.

My life is lived in large part in isolation, partly because of the changes since my dementia diagnosis, some just by nature of life. But in that isolation there is also richness and things to be grateful for. Within the isolation I have learnt more about myself, because without the business of life, the noise of life, I have learnt to listen to my thoughts, to be in touch with my emotions and my feelings. I have learnt to like wait no love who I am today.

I like that I am no longer afraid to speak my truth, that I am no longer afraid to hide the things that I am passionate about. I like that I have room in my life to try to help others, to be kind and compassionate, to try to make a lasting impact on things that matter, or at least matter to me. I no longer feel less than anyone else, I have learnt we are all walking through this life, some of us are forced out of and off of the hamster wheel, I am grateful I was one of them.

Life is lived more in the moment, with more presence, with a greater sense of feeling and gratitude. And I am not saying that others don’t, I am just saying that for me it comes from a deeper place within, I stutter, I stumble, I make mistakes, I don’t try to be perfect or do perfect, I am the most real I have ever been. That came from having life, a life my life, stripped away without any say, from one day to the next forever altered. Maybe I won’t like and don’t want the end stage of my illness, but living with it, letting it be part and parcel of me, it doesn’t control me, I don’t control it, we just walk together, forever one, but we have formed a sort of friendship and respect for each other, it kicks my butt, I kick back, then we both settle into whatever it is for know. Right know it’s kicking my butt, but in all fairness, its triggered by the smoke and heat from all the fires, it’s creating a lot of inflammation and inflammation is the bad monster in my dementia world.

2021 has challenged me in ways that have been much harder than the year prior, even though 2020 was a year full of changes and adjustments because of covid 19, this year the year 2021 has been much harder. With Covid 19 still running rampant, with fires, heat domes, smoke, the effects are staggering, but again knowing that it too will end and change my focus is getting to other end of it all. The heat will end, the fires will end, the smoke will disappear, covid 19 will eventually settle into a part of our lives that is not quite so disruptive, I cannot control any of them, I can only try to manage the ways in which they impact me and do my part to ensure what I do does not impact others in a negative way.

I may not know what the full richness this year has bestowed on me until it is long past, but I do that that the richness I have already felt from in, from those near and far doing what they can to be supportive, to check, to share laughter and tears, to all of those people they make me rich, rich in the friendships, rich in the kindness shown and deeply grateful to them all for being part of my life.

Right know I can honestly say I am in survival mode, trying to get through the smoke and heat and fires with as little ( although the impact on me and my dementia are increasing daily), damage as possible. Feeling like another level of richness comes from the team of doctors who keep a close eye on me, who know the situation we all find ourselves can quickly put me into a full crisis, so they monitor and I do what I can.

Happy that I am able to see and recognize all this richness that embodies my life.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Going back to a place that filled my soul with Peace

Tonight after a very difficult day, hoping to get some much needed sleep, needing to relax I went looking for pictures to find the ones of a very special place, one very very few humans ever get the chance to see.
I was very fortunate to have this very special trip arranged for me, by the owners of the Cassiar Cannery, in Port Edwards. The Cassiar Cannery itself is a place that is full of good energy, such a peaceful place, where the tranquility over takes you. It is place that offers something so special it defies words. So on my second visit to this magical place, a fishing excursion cancelled, and instead a trip of a lifetime in to the deepest throws of the untouched beauty of this our province. I am going to try to put it into a slide show for you, not sure if I can manage it, if not the pictures will tell the story. Grateful to my hosts, who had to move logs, to make way for the boat into this area, this truly makes me take a deep breath and exhale every time I look at the pictures.
This is me finding a bringing the joy into very difficult days by remembering all these very incredible moments, and how fortunate I have been that I have ventured into many unknown places and spaces and found I received more gifts than one could imagine, from nature, from the people who I met and got to know on these adventures and to share many of them with anyone brave enough to go along with me.
I dream and hope that I will get the opportunity to have many more of my adventures, for it is in them that I find the greatest peace and the most joy. It is in them that I am transformed, where peacefulness washes away stress and anxiety. It is in these adventures that I am more myself than at any other time. It is where I feel complete and whole.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy sharing it this is the Gitnadoix River Area, truly untouched unspoiled, pure magic, and it’s magic worked on me once again today. The Cassiar Cannery is calling, seems when I am struggling the most it calls out to me.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

DisOrientated

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It’s a very strange feeling, waking up and looking outside trying to decipher if you’ve been a sleep for two hours or eight. Not knowing if it’s morning or night because it looks the same as when you went to sleep, there is no daytime or night time it seems, there is just this very uncomfortable orang/ grey, not dark, but not light, unlike anything I have ever lived in, oh I’ve had smoke filled skies before, but I like many feel that somehow it feels different, and it’s been prolonged, and we’ve never experienced this type of heat as well. The sun and the moon look the same, they are too somehow disfigured by the smoke that fills the air.
it feels heavy, it feels dark and ominous. The heat dome building again, holding your breath and praying the lighting forecasted for Saturday doesn’t come. It confuses your body, and brain, I never thought it would be so disorienting, but it is. Trying to focus or concentrate gone. I haven’t been able to complete some meetings, I get dizzy and nauseous from the computer screen, knowing and wanting to do these things to be fully participating but totally unable. Even trying to write this is challenging. I am wondering if this kind of disorientation is what people feel at later stages of their dementia journey. It doesn’t feel good.
Yesterday I was trying to change my brain by working on some little projects, sewing some decorator pillow, trying to get my. Brain using other parts, since the parts I want to use seem to be so challenged by the symptoms my body is feeling for the effects of the fires. It goes to show how much and how severely environmental conditions can and do impact us and our abilities and also goes to make one understand that maybe part of the reason our abilities change so often has a lot more to do with environmental conditions than we give heed too.
The air quality so very bad, breathing is hard, headaches are the norm, I have them everyday all day, go to sleep with them and wake with them, they a not my brain pain from my dementia they are severe headaches from the environmental triggers. A tight chest, and fatigue, sleepy., this is my days at the moment, living in the fire zone, everyone is stressed and scared, grumpy and short tempered. I have been staying tucked indoors, but the smoke permeates in, even with doors and windows closed.
My specialist called me on Monday to check on me, they have recently had to increase my heart meds, he said he’s ordering tests he’s concerned with how much damage is being sustained due to the prolonged heat and smoke, to my heart, lungs, vascular system. I am feeling a level of frustration with myself for not being able to do the advocacy work at the level I like to work at, but am trying to offer myself a little kindness and remind myself that perhaps just getting to the other side of this challenging time is enough for know.
This year feels so much harder than last year, I’m trying to remind myself that people without any illnesses are struggling so I need to be gentler with myself. We also have the added impact of our covid numbers increasing, it’s causing people a lot of stress again, more restrictions, it keeps going on it seems.
I keep telling myself I will get back into working as hard at my advocacy when the time is right, that when the environmental impacts lesson, then I will again be able to participate my fully. I guessI and most of us have always understood that the environmental impacts on us with dementia were very real, this is the first time outside of just things in day to day life that cause us stress, how much it does impact us. And how it impacts us not only cognitively but our physical well-being too. My dementia feels quite manageable in comparison to what the environmental triggers create in it.
For now trying to stay positive, finding small simple things to provide a sense of joy, and because I can’t be out in nature which has always been so vital to my well being spending time looking at photos of the many beautiful places and spaces I have been fortunate enough to spend time in. They bring a sense of calm, so I will spend time in nature through them.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Sunday Morning Thoughts

This resonates deeply with me, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the feelings and emotions that have been surfacing in me. Looking at them acknowledging them, allowing myself to feel them, finding ways to understand them and why they are surfacing at this time.
For example I have at this time zero tolerance and I actually get quite angry about selfish people. Being selfish at times is necessary and needed for your well being, but being selfish and unwilling to do the right things ahead of your own desires and wants when your actions impact others is not and totally different. That is the part that finds me angry,

I am normally a very forgiving person someone who is willing to overlook those things in others, presently I am not. So I have had to look at why. Partly I believe it is because the pandemic has gone on for so long and for those of us living with dementia and other illnesses who are more vulnerable and at risk it means we have been isolated and impacted to a greater degree than many. And even know that things are starting to open up, I along with many others must continue to be vigilant because we know even though we have had our two vaccines, the Delta variant, which is not fully protected by the vaccines are at a greater risk, so we continue to feel the impacts.
Second to that is the heat wave, fires and smoke, which has found me for the most part even further house bound. My love of nature and time in it halted again.
Yes a lot of people are still trying to get out and about and do some things, they are happy to put themselves at risk of the damage to their systems from the smoke. For me the heat and the smoke both impact my vascular system, creating inflammation, which impacts all ready challenging blood flow issue which directly impacts my dementia. I could still further damage and further hurt my ability for a quality of life, by putting myself into the danger zone of trying to be outdoors, but I have worked hard since my diagnosis to give my self the best chance of quality of life for as long as possible, so tossing all that to the wind at the moment is not an option for me. I am looking forward to the days when I can ride my bike again, when I can go for walks, when I can go to sleep without severe headaches and wake up without one.
In the meantime I have to deal with the emotional elements that come with the current situation, I cry more readily, I am much more sensitive. Yes I am angry, I am angry at those that think they should still have the right to go out into the back country, that they should still be allowed to be on the lakes,and having “their holidays”, with little to no regard for the overall impact and strain they add to a system struggling to manage. I am angry at the people who go out onto the forest service roads and toss bottles and cans and garbage, thinking they have the right to totally disregard this earth, yet think they can use it without having to give anything back or at the very minimum not do damage. Every area I go into I spent my time picking up those cans, bottles and garbage, bringing it out, other people’s mess, because I care about the animals, the rivers and streams, I care about the forests, so I can readily identify that that’s where my anger that I am feeling stems from because I can’t control the selfish ignorance or others. If we only had the fires started by natural occurrences we would have a much easy time to manage them, but when half are caused by the reckless and careless selfish acts of humans, it makes me angry, it makes me angry that people think it’s ok to go out into the waterways, lakes, oceans, rivers, because they enjoy it, but then think it’s ok to toss their cans, bottles and garbage out the side of the boats. Yup I’m angry and I’ll own it. I won’t try to understand and accept people’s justification for the behaviour, because people know right from wrong, it’s a choice. All I can do is my part, which one day when it is safe for me I will go and attempt to clean up other people’s left behind mess. I will acknowledge the sadness, the anger and all the other emotions it brings, so that I can come out the other side of it all and still be a kind and caring individual. For now, looking after my health, emotional, mental and physical is what I need to do and am doing, trying to remain hopeful and positive. My dementia has definitely been effected, and I’m hoping that once I no longer have to fight the impacts of the inflammation caused by the smoke and heat perhaps I will see some of those impacts improve.
Today I’m going to focus on my little dog Pheobe, who is sleeping in today, I’ve been let her tear up and down the hallway of the building so she can get a little exercise, she doesn’t manage the heat or smoke either, we are a good team and she is definitely my silver lining.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Realizations

This morning early 4 am, the sky was actually quite clear, the smoke haze appeared better, the shift in the winds helped, but it is now 6 am and that is rapidly changing again, more evacuation orders new fires. During all of these recent events it has become apparent that it has created more changes for me. My ability to navigate and do some things which I had done for years diminished, requiring help, forms, information for claims to blue cross etc, now require help, it overwhelms me, I can’t decipher all the steps and parts. My ability to do one thing while listening to someone else, no longer possible, my level of frustration with myself has been high, yes these are expected changes, but settling into them not that easy. It has to do with pride, it has to do with sense of self. Aging is not easily accepted by most add in dementia and the changes it brings and it’s another added layer. I’m grateful that there are real life angels ( friends ) who step in and just do without trying to tell you “ if you just did”, as those kinds of statements only worsen things and further erode your sense of self and your confidence.
My ability to manage outings have changed as well, life has changed yet again. Arranging outings and seeing people in ways and settings is another set of changes.
settling into all these new normals, wondering how much all this last two years has contributed. Yet somehow I am although very emotional these days, ( but that is due to the situation in our province with the fires, speaking of, yesterday talking with a friend having a cry over what’s happening, I realized, just about every area I went to early this spring to enjoy my picnics and nature to hug trees, watch the wildlife, almost everyone of those areas are now blazing with fires. I picked up cans, bottles, everything I found and brought it out for the very reason that they can cause fires, people are so disrespectful tossing stuff out. So I clean up the forest while there. It feels like the universe sent me there to go see all the natural beauty before these fires started raging. I will go back if and when I can, to see the destruction, I think about the moose that I had interaction with, I cry thinking he’s likely had to run for his life. So this has caused high emotional responses for and in me. I have always operated from an emotional place, that as been amplified, that also is changes with my dementia. These amplified emotions are often hard for others to understand sometimes I try to help them understand but often I no longer try.

I’m grateful for those who show up who help me navigate the hard days, not just the easy ones, who allow me to express my frustrations with myself with my abilities and loss there of. That gift of having those friends are beyond anything else one could ask for. Recently that gift has been and come at a time I didn’t even know I needed it. I’m also grateful for those who have reached out checking in for the support and kindness during these unprecedented times. Some messages from friends far away, and a couple video calls and zooms have really helped me through these days. It feels like I’ve been living under a state of emergency here first with covid know the fires, heat and drought, for two years. Today they say while air quality is better today and the temperature better, that tomorrow the heat and wind returns. As much as I know winter will come and I will get through this still smiling at the other end, I can’t help think about what I will see when I next can go out to hug a tree or talk to a moose, and I’m praying we all have learnt and heed the lessons we are being given. Staying Strong with the help of my connections to others.






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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

My Motto “ I’m Not Done Yet”

This is the motto I have used since I received my diagnosis, however there are many days in this year 2021, that I have repeated that motto to my self only to then ask myself “ or am I”? The reality is life has changed a lot again this year for me, it’s hard to explain the changes, some are subtle, but they are there. This year has been far more difficult than 2020, and it’s only half over. One of the things that I am struggling with and trying to navigate is my newly found aversions to people, going out into public causes a lot of stress, I’d rather not, before it was the noise of places of not being able to focus if to many people were talking, but know it’s moved into something else that I’m not even sure how to explain it. Maybe it’s from being so isolated for so long that trying to navigate in the everyday world just somehow feels very odd. Venturing out has become a go only if absolutely necessary and time it so you can have the least interactions with others as possible.

It’s such a contrast to who I once once, miss social butterfly, the one who loved to entertain, always bringing people together, to now being the one who is most comfortable in the quiet and peacefulness and safety of my four walls away from people.


So I’m trying to navigate it, trying to get myself to be able to go out a little but small steps, inch by inch. I wonder how many others with dementia are feeling or seeing the impact of all the isolation or even able to recognize it. My cognitive abilities are a mess too, but I navigate those bits and pieces, and hoping once the smoke, and although the wind has cleared a lot of the visible smoke out during parts of the day, it drifts back in, the particles are still in the air, it gives me headaches everyday, somehow I think my brain pain and lighting bolts are preferable, as odd as that sounds, but this heat wave and the smoke, have and is causing me to be so tired, to have headaches everyday along with the fires, and the underlying stress that puts on my system, maybe once I navigate to the other side of all this, everything will settle into some kind of new normal.

In the mean time, power going on and off, internet going down intermittently, I will and am still pursuing my passion of advocating. It’s been hit and miss to attend things with everything going on, but I’m going to be trying depending on how I’m feeling and our situation with fires etc.

I do have irons in the fire and some exciting projects I am working on, along with working on my second book, but it does feel like like everything has been stalled but along with everything else I have to believe it’s all happening for a reason and as it’s meant too. Things will unfold as they should. And we just lost power again, hopefully the fires haven’t taken out the power stations. So till next time


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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Staying Strong

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes staying and being strong means you have to find the tiger within. It’s been a long haul for everyone, we are 14 or 16 months into the pandemic, many areas are having another wave hit with the new variant, you wonder if they will ever get enough people vaccinated to get the world through this.
We were then hit here, with the unprecedented heat in June it is still here, then arrived the fires, and the smoke, it’s testing my reserve, it’s taking every bit of tiger that’s left in my tank to manage it all, you can’t escape it, you can go outside without chocking on the smoke, I wasn’t out for eight days because I was sick, but regaining strength, my dog needs to go out, the early early morning hours are best 5 am till about 8 am.

People are being evacuated from many areas, I am still safe at this point but for how long? This is mid July, we still have all of July and August to get through. I think of all those evacuated, I think about all the animals struggling to find food, shelter and places to go that are safe. I can’t imagine the fear running through them, displaced from their surroundings, heat, fire, food sources dried up from the heat, running dazed and confused.

My own brain is not functioning well, it is strange, it does not feel like how I feel when I get my typical dementia brain fog, yet it is acting in the brain fog way without the fog. I forgetting things as fast as I have them, like what day it is, I can orientate myself to what day it is minutes later its gone again and I’m mixed up. what week is it? Did I eat today? I believe much of the state of my brain at the moment is from the strange way of day to day due to the situation unfolding. This is what is classified as the bodies response to unusual and prolonged traumatic event.

Yes this unprecedented heat and these very unusual fire situations, ( yes we have fires every year never have we seen this so many the whole province being effected), we have had fires where homes have been lost where communities have to be evacuated, losing complete townsites, no rain, it is causing trauma not just for me but for most. People with dementia are adversely effected by stress, and my brain is definitely feeling the effects. Our sleep is effected, the light we are taking in has changed because of the smoke covering the sky. I am much more emotional, shed a lot of tears lately. It’s not that I am living in fear, it is not that I am consumed by it, but I am living in it and feeling it. You can keep busy doing other things inside the house but it is still always there at some level. So even if you think it is not effecting you at the subconscious level it is there, creating that underlying stress. You wake up every hour or hour and half at night, either from the smell of smoke seeping into the house, or because somehow your body wakes you and tells you have to go and check out side. When you get up about 4 or 430 in the morning for the day, your skin is sticky and feels like its covered in a film, it’s the smoke in the air. I take pictures and record the sky at different times, because history should be recorded. I know that so far we are still very lucky, we have not had to be evacuated. But for most of us we have friends and families that are in those situations, so it is effecting most people at some level.

I also admittedly have discovered that I am feeling somewhat angry, and that I have at this time no tolerance for selfish people, and selfish people are making me angry. People who feel they should still be able to go out into the back country and camp and play, people who think that well I don’t care this is my summer and I’m having my holiday, people that don’t care that throwing their cigarette buts or beer cans out while driving down the road, can cause a fire. People that somehow think this is everyones problem but theirs and that someone should do something as long as it’s not them. I have zero tolerance at this time. I know I must practice being forgiving and tolerant of these people but at the moment I am struggling to do that. I cry, I pray, I talk to my angels, I ask the universe to help. Maybe that is in part how my underlying stress is coming out, with less tolerance, maybe that will get better as we get through this cycle we are in.

I hear more people mentioning climate change, many mentioning that somebody better do something. Everyone thinks climate change is about the vehicles on the road and the plants and the oil and gas industry, yet if you really understand climate change, you will understand it is about how each of us live every day. We are and all do have a responsibility to do our parts, it we want to continue to live on this planet. People need to start within their own communities, and homes, plant shrubs, and bushes in place of lawns, get the community planners to plant wildflowers and shrubs and even vegetables on all the boulevards. Planting plants helps feed the soil, helps it retain moisture, helps it cool the earth, provides clean air, yes we can all do our part. I know everyone wants easy, everyone wants less work, but once those things are done they are actually easier and less work to look after than traditional lawns etc. Farmers must adapt to different ways of farming, we are not longer at a place where we can study it, we need action and every small action taken by each person and each family, is what will change the cycle and stop the climate change. But for me hearing that somebody should do something that somebody is each and every one of us. Ok my rant about that is over.

I hope that the coming days and weeks, see much relieve for not only my people here in my province, but for those in other countries and places facing these unprecedented times, we are going to have a lot of people struggling with the effects of truama’s, from the pandemic, to the situations being created by the unusual weather patterns.

I’m closing with a some pictures of the last couple months the changes are drastic, oh I long for those beautiful adventures, maybe this fall.