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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?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Life Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Trying to write

Things have been shifting for a while, late fall, early winter, I could feel it, I wrote about it, I talked about it. I had no idea what kinds of changes or what direction the shift would take but I could sense it and feel it with every part of my being.

I stayed in the moments letting it and things unfold as they were meant to, not trying to force any type of changes, just letting things unfold as they wanted or were supposed to without my interference. So often we try to control all the who, what’s and whys of our lives that we end up mucking them up. It is our nature, but we really are supposed to let things unfold and they usually unfold in a better manner for us if we do. I set out to do just that.

This has proven to mean that 2023 came at me at a hurricane force speed. The events that have been transpiring are heartbreaking and devastating one one side and life changing incredibly beautiful on the other side. There is it seems good with bad, bad with good, happy with sad.

I am a complete mix of unbelievable sadness and complete joy and happiness, emotional overload is an understatement. I will write in more detail to all of this at a later date. Today I just wanted to remind people to try to take a breathe let things unfold instead of forcing. It’s amazing at how transformative it can be.

I am taking time for myself at this time. I am not sure what happens next, that too will unfold as it needs to and wants to, I will be open to receiving what comes.

So if you don’t hear from me, I may not be writing as much for a bit, I may not be in attendance for a bit, this is time for me . I want you to know I appreciate the messages and emails, they have all warmed my ❤️. Don’t worry about me I will be fine maybe even better than fine.

Love to you all

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

A Heavy Heart

It is with the heaviest heart that I am writing this blog to let you all know that my precious Pheobe has gained her wings. She has been my faithful companion for so many years, my travel partner. She has brought so much joy to my life, she has got me through so many hard times, and although I rescued her, I actually believe it was her that rescued me. She has been the easiest little dog to love, to care for. The laughter, and fun on our many adventures out in nature or on our many road trips are memories I will cherish forever.

She was always in tune with me, if I was sick she did everything she could to comfort me, if I was sad to cheer me up. She brought happiness every where we went, people talking to her, her showering them with love. She never barked, whined or complained. She was just happy to be with me. She loved others just as well, friends who she would ( holiday) with if I had to be away. Thats what I would tell her that she got to have a holiday, she always understood me and I her.

My life forever changed today.

Over the past year, well shit, in all honestly ever since we rescued each other we have been through so much, her life about me, my life about her, but in this last year it has been becoming more evident that she was getting tired, big job looking out for me, but she has been determined not to leave me alone, but the last two days have shown that it was my turn to look after her and let her now that she can know lay down her guard and rest.

It is going to take me some time to get through losing her, but I promised her the day I brought her home that I would not ever let her suffer and I made sure I maintained my promise to her. I could just write forever about all the joy she brought me, but instead I am going to share some photos and take some quite time for myself.

Rest easy my beautiful little girl. Thank you for the beautiful Memories, I will miss you forever and a day my little Pheobe.

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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

Three days into 2023

Hard to believe we are already closing in on the end of day three of this New Year and what a year it’s already shaping into. So much and so many unexpected turns of events. At the end of 2022 and the start of 2023, another round of missed medications, a blister pack that looked like a mouse had travelled through taking bites from here and there, it was within that blister pack that the explanation of why I felt so out of sorts on the 1st day of the New Year, but fast forward to getting all those things back on track, nitroglycerin patches on, heart meds on board, makes the blood flow, makes the brain happy. Oh I hate when I screw those things up.

I started back in early December with what was almost an urgent need to purge and clean out my space. This became a daily ritual, and gifting all those things to someone else. I have been told you shouldn’t give it you should sell it, but life is about much more than money, at least for me, so day after day, drawer and cupboard and closet , one after the other the stuff went, a cleansing.

What I got from it was not just but creating space for other things to make room for in my life, it cleared my mind, it fed my soul, each piece a memory came, some made me laugh, others made me cry, some made me smile and think of someone or some other place. They say we need to declutter our minds, so that our brains can rest, I believe that. I went to bed each day exhausted from the work of doing the work, and although in truth it was a pleasant type of work, it somehow still left me exhausted. I learnt about myself during the process, I am continually learning about myself, I am always evolving, I have learnt to adapt throughout my life. During this and today on this final day of giving, I reflected on the last few days, much of what I gifted away was going to help get two new families established here, families that had to flee their homes in Ukraine, who arrived here with nothing. So gifting, giving back, I met incredible people, got to hear some incredible stories about why something in particular I was giving meant something to them. People and stories, shared hugs, no amount of money provides that, giving for the sake of giving without expecting anything in return, does more for your spirit, your heart and your soul.

So I have no idea what 2023 holds for me, and I wrote in an earlier blog that I was having no expectations on myself or 2023, but that’s not entirely true I have come to realize in this first three days. My expectation is that I will make the most of and take as much joy and happiness out of each and every day I am offered in 2023. I am here, doing well, not what was expected, nor predicted, but here I am, so every moment counts, every moment matters.


Strangely As I moved into day three of this year another turn of events, again one I am grateful that it has transpired. I am not sure of why, or why now, maybe I never will, maybe it doesn’t matter just that it has happened.

Today, the man I married 47 years ago, my first husband and I spent a good amount of time talking and reconnecting, and yes the marriage ended, doesn’t matter about the why’s, there is no fingers to point blame, there is no room for anger, bitterness. The fact is we were both young, I’ll prepared, I’ll equipped to deal with the life that unfolded. It was a different time. I am grateful that this happened today, maybe there was room for it after I de cluttered my life, my home and my mind.

A phenomenal way to start the year, the new becomes old the old becomes new. We will meet in person, there is much to say to each other. The how’s of how this transpired really doesn’t matter other than to say my sister had a little something to do with it, even though she isn’t here to know this finally happened, I believe she is seeing it from above and I believe she along with some other Angels made it happen, as and when it was meant to.

We are both different people now, yet still the same in many ways. Just equipped now to understand and see things we couldn’t years ago.

One thing that I am truly proud of through this time is that it has shown me that as much as I have tried to live true to my beliefs and philosophies is that in, fact I do. I often say that I had to learn to forgive others, even if they didn’t know it, that I also had to forgive myself for things in life, that if we forgive and yes we do that for ourselves, so we can heal, so that we can have the ability to have power over ourselves, carrying, anger, bitterness, guilt, it just keeps you stuck. Forgiveness allows you to evolve, grow, find joy and happiness.

You learn that life is hard, it hurts, sometimes so much you don’t think you will ever feel, or trust, or love, or be loved, or feel happiness or joy. Yes life is so damned hard, it’s tragic, it’s so riddled with traumatic events, some we don’t even realize that in fact they were traumatic. But it is in all of that messiness of life, all that hurt and despair, we can find, love, compassion, empathy, understanding. It is the way to having a better understanding of love. It propels us to grow, it pushes us to become who we are, or who we are not. Some times people want to stay in the familiar, in the hurt and pain because it is and has become comfortable for them, others don’t know or somehow can’t find their way through it, so it causes them to live a life of bitterness, resentment, always looking for someone, something to blame for the pain they carry.

So I am very proud that I have always said being able to find forgiveness for myself, and for others which has allowed me to grow, to evolve, to become who I am today. I am grateful that a reconnection of something from 47 years ago reminded that I am in fact living life to my truths. I alike who I have become as a person. It feels like a great start to year 2023.

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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

Zero Expectations

It seems as though 2022 decided that it was not or is not going quietly, you would think we would have learnt but it seems that 2020 and 2021, only left people feeling and deciding that they were going to do and have everything they feel they were jilted out of during the previous two years.


The pressure and expectations people put on themselves that they were doing this or having that or going here or there, only to have Mother Nature say otherwise, doesn’t seem to matter where you lived, Mother Nature created a nightmare of weather events that left people, who were already life tired from 2020&2021, exhausted, stranded, expectations of what and how they were going to do things disrupted Trains, planes, highways, it didn’t matter, people were not able to change Mother Natures plans. And if it wasn’t Mother Nature stirring things up it was supply issues, crazy high inflation. So many things out of our control.


Maybe a lot of the airlines/ airports/ trains/ highways people could have done better jobs, but we can’t blame them entirely, they cannot control Mother Nature, and when Mother Nature throws things into high gear it has an instant snowballing effect across the country and beyond, it’s a domino effect. It is not unlike living with dementia actually, and maybe that’s why so many of us living with Dementia live without the expectations others pile on themselves. We have already learnt that like the weather, dementia unleashes itself when and however it chooses, so we have become very adapt at plan B, because we know fully well putting an expectation that things will happen as we want them to will only lead to frustration for ourselves and those around us, because when the storm of dementia stirs things up, we have either had to learn to ride the wave, change gears, change plans, be swallowed up and drown in it or ride it. I no longer live with the expectation that anything will happen as planned, if it does great if not it’s ok. It’s a much simpler and easier way to navigate living with dementia, and has really helped me manage through the last few years and most especially this last year.

2022, appears to have been harder in many different ways for people, and as Christmas approached listening to so many who were determined to make it what it was pre2020, it seemed like an expectation that just the thought of was exhausting, others were deciding to opt out of a lot of things and do something different and simpler, they dropped the expectation bar down, and who and who did that bar ever get that high. Commercialism and consumerism, $$$$$, nothing else, and we bought into it for years, piling on bigger expectations every year, it was not and is not sustainable for most. Another gift of my dementia was that it forced me to opt out of all of that, not just at Christmas but all year long.

My brain is happier, it functions better, less stress = happier better brain days. I much prefer a nice coffee, visit and a chat than all the chaos that most pace themselves through for the holidays, well even if I wanted too my dementia would not manage it, I would pay a far to high of a price to even consider trying too. So I have no problem explaining to people what works for me, if it fits into a bit of their holiday time great if it doesn’t I don’t have any expectation on anyone or anything so I am still o.k. It’s a peaceful bliss, calming time. Which watching the chaos that was created by Mother Nature this Christmas, I am grateful that I along with my dementia had a peaceful and calm Christmas.


It is also a sad time for a lot of people yet somehow they still feel they have to try to meet expectations, do this, do that, be here or there. No one should ever do anything more than they can manage, over the years, and yes I had my years of it to, especially but not limited to women, they run themselves ragged because they think everyone expects ( I have come to dislike that word immensely), baking up a storm, up till after midnight to get stockings stuffed and under the tree, up at the break of dawn to get the Turkey in before everyone wakes, and then working all day for an elaborate dinner,, days and weeks of prep, run run run, go go go. Maybe it’s ok to rent a cabin and have an old fashioned Christmas, or stay home and have one.

Anyways I believe we are being forced to think and do different and I am not sure being in the last couple days of the year we have seen all it wants to show us, but I was paying attention, I get it, I am grateful that I have a little place to call home, that I am safe and warm and I have food. I spend this Christmas season in-quiet reflection, Thinking about people who are no longer with me, well not in the physical sense, I feel their spirits, I sense when they are here. I enjoy chatting with them, reminiscing, it’s peaceful, I allow tears and laughter to flow freely, as a memory hits.

Yes 2022 feels like it was harder in many many ways than 2020 or 2021, it has also left me feeling like going into 2023 without any expectations, just letting it unfold, will allow me to take each moment and what it offers. I have learnt that I am enough, that I am ok just as I am Dementia and all, I don’t have to meet any bars that are set, and I don’t have to set any, I can just be and that is enough.

I wish for each of you 2023 is kind, is gentle, that blessings abound for all. I hope you get to rest more, take time to breathe, take walks, take naps, days to do nothing and feel good about it. I hope you all find peace within in 2023 and that we all focus on helping each other, being kind to others, that in kindness we find love and love is what matters. May 2023 be this and more for each of you, and mostly that we all learn that we are enough, just as we are.

I want to Thank you all for your support and encouragement over this last year, for the lovely messages, emails, etc. I don’t know what will happen in 2023, but I hope to be able to continue sharing my journey with you and you with me. Each of You truly are another of the wonderful blessings that I have received with my dementia.

Happy New Year Everyone

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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

A Peacefulness

There is something about sitting in the wee hours of the day with all the lights twinkling that somehow bring such a sense of peace and calm. I am not sure what it is about sitting with that first steaming cup of coffee, the fire place going, the lights twinkling that leave one feeling that way, but I know for me it is one of my favourite times of year for that very reason. Is it that it makes everything feel warm and cozy, is it something more? I don’t have the answers, what I do know is that it brings with it many warm and happy memories of years gone bye.

In our house I grew up celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, the big turkey dinner, my Grandmother and Uncle with us, having a great family dinner, with many of the German Dishes, that I still love today, along with some traditional type foods. We never had Christmas Stockings, rather we had a Christmas Plate that appeared at our bedside, restocked in the night, we always believed it was Santa’s Elves hard at work. I loved that Christmas Plate filled with Christmas Candies and chocolates and Oranges and baked goodies, I never understood the Christmas stockings and it took until I was an adult too, although, I still prefer those Christmas plates, to stockings.

Just as I still prefer celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, and having a Christmas day that is totally relaxed, where no one cooks, leftovers come out, you eat and snack as you like, it seems to be a much more stressless type of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, after dinner everyone gathered, around the living room, gifts exchanged, kids went off to play and discovered with their new found gifts, usually things like a new book, pjs, and socks, maybe a new game that everyone had fun playing. Visitors popped in and out and adults visited and shared laughter. Christmas morning everyone slept in, and then the day of playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying time with each other.

We didn’t have much as kids, but mom new how to fill the house with love and laughter and could make us feel like we were the luckiest kids alive. I am grateful for all those wonderful memories, things like collecting bottles and taking them in every week with my toboggan, so that I could get a special gift for my mom, dragging that toboggan into town loaded with the bottles, we lived a long spell out of town so it was quite the job to get them there, then taking my money and putting it on my little account the people at the store let me have until, I had added enough to pay for the item, I remember how I felt leaving the store with that gift. Experiences few if any get to have today. It was a simpler time, one I am thankful for.

This year will be spend, going through old family photos of Christmas’s past, the first year without my sister, I will allow myself to smile and think about all the fun we had through the years as kids, then as adults, sharing many many Christmas’s and Christmas shopping together, or a desperate phone call that would find me driving from Campbell River to Victoria, to find her the much sought after perfect gift for her daughter. To the years when we were young when she got into trouble for peaking into presents under the tree to see what was in those beautifully wrapped packages, and she couldn’t help but tell us what we were getting. We talked about that so often over the years.

My more recent years I have spend mostly on my own with my dog, I have had invitations for spending Christmas with others but, am happy to pop by for short visits or having someone stop by here for coffee or meeting for coffee, but I like to leave all the noise and hustle bustle to others and spend my time in a quieter fashion, with my lights twinkling and enjoying a lovely hot chocolate or tea or coffee. I have recently seen many things posted about how to manage the holidays with and for someone with Dementia, and lots of it is great advice, but I somehow feel that if we all just respect each other and allow the room and space for people to celebrate in the way that is best for them, in does’t really matter if you have dementia or not, its just about respecting that we are all different and however we want to do the holidays is how we should do it. For some it is a joyous time, others its a sad time, for some the more the merrier, for others a quiet gathering is better, so no matter how you decide to spend the holidays, I hope you find your heart filled with peace and calm, and that it is exactly what you need it to be. My biggest hope is that you make room to spread love and kindness.

For many it is a time of missing those who are not with us, but I prefer to believe they are here, I feel their presence, I talk to them, I let the tears flow, I laugh, remembering silly and special things, special moments, special gifts exchanged. The first Christmas gift I ever received from my husband, something I still have today. Holidays with family and friends. So I make room for them, for they are still with me in my heart, and they will remain with me forever. So as I remember them I invite them in to spend time with me over the holidays, they are no longer here in the physical sense but they are still here, still part of me and I them.

So from my little Pheobe and I wherever you are, spread love, kindness, and compassion, and I wish you all the very best of the Christmas Season. Merry Christmas Everyone.

Hoping that as 2023 dawns, it showers you all with many blessings, a heart filled with peace, and that you will have a year filled with joy and happiness.

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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

On Being Normal

So I can’t speak for everyone, I actually can’t speak for anyone, the only thing I can do is speak from my experiences, my perspectives. There is no right or wrong in them, you can have your own thoughts about my perspectives, which are then your perspectives, again no right or wrong, just yours, as mine are mine.

We should not judge one’s views, for we are all individuals, we all view and take things in from our own unique lens, which is influenced by how we and how the world around us as an individual impacts us. What is traumatic to one is not to another, what inspires one causes another to crumble. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think about things we see and hear, we absolutely should, but we should not judge. I recently really put this to work when and here is what I am not sure of in part because of my short term memory issues, in part because of my inability to frame things in any kind of time frame, and perhaps also due to being I’ll for several weeks with the flu. All in all, I still took the time to think about something, I read, heard, or saw recently. It was that “ people with dementia just want to be normal”. I have mulled this over for a while now, and I have some thoughts on it.

My first thought is “ what is normal”, my second thought is where did or would that come from, it’s a generalization at best, but it is also someone’s perspective, so it doesn’t mean it’s wrong it’s just their perspective on what people want or think they want.

I live with Early Onset Vascular Dementia, I don’t view myself as “ not normal”, I guess if others do that’s their right to have their own opinion and perspective. For me I don’t want to be “treated” like I am Normal, that indicates that I am somehow not normal. What I want is to be treated like a person, a person who yes lives with an illness, just like people live with diabetes and many other illnesses, I too live with an illness, this does not automatically make me “un-normal”. I want people to treat me as the person I am, and admittedly I will say I am likely in many facets anything but “Normal”, I am quirky, eccentric, passionate, somewhere just off of centre. That is my Normal.

So I am not wanting to take away from someone’s idea of what people want but I think we all need to be careful of generalizations. Life, whether due to illness, or just the transitioning from one stage of our lives to the next mean what is or was considered our “ normal”, will and often changes. Just like we see or hear often that some of us are “living well with dementia”, it’s not unlike those who mark that they have lived, 1,3,5 or more years cancer free, it’s marking and acknowledging something that for them is significant in their life.

I often have been heard to say that my dementia has brought many gifts and blessings to my life, others don’t understand how that is possible, others feel that dementia is a horrible disease, which in many ways it is and can be, especially because the type of dementia the way your body manages it, can and often does put people into becoming, behaving, and enduring wraths of the illness far more quickly than it does others.
This is also true of other illnesses. As in all things each person will have their own journey, no one should compare ones to another. No one wants to be I’ll, whether dementia or any other illness, but we learn to live with what we are dealt.

We choose how we view it, we choose how we live with it. I have chosen to share my journey, it is not something everyone is comfortable to do, but it is also healing, caring and sharing. I often have said that it is those who have reached out through reading my blogs or my book that have brought so much to me, inspired me. They truly have been a huge part in my maintaining as well as I have, something I am eternally grateful for. I have chosen to be involved in advocacy, in using my voice to try to make a difference, it is not at all anything I ever had a thought about when I was what society would have seen as“ Normal”, so no I don’t want to be Normal, I want to be me, Chrissy, weird, quirky, adventurous, spontaneous, kind, caring, compassionate. I want to be uniquely Chrissy, who at 63 lives well despite living with dementia. This piece bellows says it all for me, and I hope that I have and continue to blossom, in ways that can make a difference.

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Advocating

Rest and Recovery Mode

Rest and Recovery Mode is the only way I can describe myself at the moment. This is day 9 or 10 since getting this flu bug, and it is a nasty one. But I didn’t get up until 815 this morning which for all who know me is so very out of character, normally I am up between 5 and 530 am no matter when I go to bed or whats happening. So to be in bed till after 8 is a clear indication to me that my system is recovering, or at least thats what I am hoping. I do believe I am on the mend, hoping by weeks end I will see much improvement. Funny how different things are now, in the past I would have been pushing myself to still do and manage more, but one thing my dementia has taught me is that when my system needs attention then I need to do as it is telling me. I paid a very high price with my health by not doing that years ago, even though I do and will always say my dementia has brought about unexpected gifts, and blessings.

The Christmas season is upon us and with that comes added pressures for all, and for those living with Dementia it may be about trying to meet expectations of others that we no longer actually are able to or comfortable trying to meet. For many others this season brings about great sadness, sometimes depression and loneliness, it is not and can’t always be about happy and gleeful joy, sometimes we need to allow room for moments of joy and sadness and whatever other feelings come along. I hope this season many will make room for others to do and spend Christmas in ways that are best for them even if we don’t understand it. If what they need is a quiet cup of tea away from all the festivities then I hope they are offered that. Make space for others to talk and share to whatever degree about whatever they may need or want to, be present with them is the best present. Not everyone celebrates and thats ok to, everyone has reasons and it is not always our place to try to change or fix or do anything other than just support them in however they need to manage this season. It has so many meanings, in so many ways too so many.

For me, you may or may not receive a Christmas card, don’t be offended if you did in the past and now don’t, not sure how much energy I will have to put to that stuff, this has been a hard year for myself like so many others, so be gentle to all you see, be forgiving and understanding and I hope as the year winds down we all bring a new found gentleness into 2023. I found this write up and it really struck me so thought this was the perfect place to share it.

A gentle reminder about why you are utterly exhausted… 

No one I know began this year on a full tank.  Given the vicious onslaught of the previous two years  (let’s just call it what it was) most of us dragged ourselves across the finish line of 2021… frazzled, spent, running on aged adrenaline fumes… 

We crawled into 2022 still carrying shock, trauma, grief, heaviness, disbelief… The memories of a surreal existence… 

And then it began… The fastest hurricane year we could ever have imagined. Whether we have consciously processed it or not, this has been a year of more pressure, more stress, and a race to “catch up” in all departments… Every. Single. One. Work, school, sports, relationships, life…  

Though not intentionally aware, perhaps hopeful that the busier we are, the more readily we will forget… the more easily we will undo the emotional tangle… the more permanently we will wipe away the scarring wounds… 

We can’t. 

And attempts to re-create some semblance of “normal” on steroids while disregarding that for almost two years our sympathetic nervous systems were on full alert, has left our collective mental health in tatters. Our children and teens are not exempt. The natural byproduct of fighting a hurricane is complete and utter exhaustion… 

So before you begin questioning the absolutely depleted and wrung-dry state you are in- Pause. Breathe. Remind yourself of who you are and what you have endured. And then remind yourself of what you have overcome. 

Despite it all, you’re still going. (Even on the days you stumble and find yourself face down in a pile of dirt). 

Understanding brings compassion… 

Most of the world’s citizens are in need of a little extra TLC at the moment. Most are donning invisible “Handle with care” posters around their necks and “Fragile” tattoos on their bodies… 

Instead of racing to the finish line of this year, tread gently. Go slowly.

Amidst the chaos, find small pockets of silence. Find compassion. Allow the healing. And most of all… Be kind. There’s no human being on earth who couldn’t use just a little bit more of the healing salve of kindness. 

With love ♥️

Powerful and poignant words of insight by

Naomi Holdt – Psychologist and Speaker

I don’t have any wants or needs at this point other than to simply enjoy those who stay in touch and enjoy quiet visits. I hope to maintain being able to work on my advocacy for at least one more year, that is yet to be seen, but I will continue to fight to continue my work, especially with the CCNA and AGE-Well, they are places where I feel I am valued and contributing to the work they do makes me feel like I still have a purpose. Spending the winter with my little Pheobe, hoping as springs unfolds that I will once again be tackling some things on my bucket list. There is people I want to see and spend time with, places I want to go, things I want to participate in. Yes even those of us with Dementia still have hopes and dreams.

I hope wherever you are you feel supported and loved and I hope you share your stories, to inspire others. I am grateful that once again I have rallied, even knowing each illness becomes a harder fight. Be well, Be still, know that is ok to just BE..that is enough. I am off to rest now.

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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

And Here We Are

Thanks Emily Ong for sharing this message so relevant needed to share it here. This quote is interesting and as someone with cardiovascular disease and dementia, all one can do is manage between the two for as long as possible, until one decides to overtake the other.

I am not sure how I got to Saturday, the last day that was in my thoughts was Tuesday. I have been really really I’ll, not sure what got me, tested negative for Covid, but apparently there is some really bad bugs out there this year. One decided to sneak in and get me, sometimes no matter how careful we are we can still end up catching something.
Living alone, the increased effects of being sick on my dementia symptoms, it gets harder with each bout of illness to manage it alone, trying to stay hydrated, in between the episodes of soaking through everything including three sets of bedding one night due to fever, still trying to care for myself and my little dog, one day drifted to the next, not sure what I all missed in the last week, meetings etc. I remembered this morning I need to do a video they are waiting on, I am hoping that tomorrow I will be well enough to put it together, with the help of a lot of makeup, and hopefully enough voice to do it. There are times when just taking care of yourself is all you can manage, a little Angel named Brenda Child’s tapped on my door late yesterday and put a bag of supplies inside, I could not, let her in, I cannot and do not want to risk getting anyone sick, as this is a nasty one. I am grateful for the care package. She has access to my building so that she can check on me if she ever feels the need or desire and often I forget that. I had given her keys when I first moved in, so I am grateful that she has never forgotten. It is the fever aspect that is the most concerning, well that and my lungs being impacted, so I am monitoring myself well. It is these moments when I would give anything to have and feel the touch of my husbands hand, he was so gentle and caring, in all the outer gruffness that most people saw, he had the biggest kindest heart, and he always took such care of me when I was ill, something I will always be grateful for. But it does bring into clear focus, the challenges of living alone, of being alone, dealing with the ever changing environment of living with dementia to the added complications something like a flu bug can bring about. It is in those moments when you’re disoriented from fever, when your so weak you can barely stand that you question how long do you fight to stay independent, because it’s Saturday, I have no idea and will have to look and see if I have managed to stay on track with my meds through this. Another side effect of illness becoming more complicating with dementia. I am hoping that as I am awake, sitting in bed having my first coffee in, well days? Not sure actually,, that perhaps this is a turning day of things improving, at least I have figured out it’s Saturday. So if you live alone try to keep a supply of things to help you, Gatorade to keep electrolytes up, Tylenol for fever, ice to chop and chip for chewing to help with hydration, lemons, honey, ginger, cinnamon, oranges, soup in the pantry, don’t need yo keep a big supply but at least enough to get you through a week. I am starting to couch up a lot of stuff this morning hoping that is also a good sign , having it settle in my lungs as someone who has had pneumonia many times, it or I would likely not fair well if it decides to take that route. So my apologies if I missed, meetings, or attending things, hoping perhaps by the end of the weekend things will be much improved, but if not you will know it is not intentional it will be because I am just not well enough. So please if you live alone make sure someone can get to you, house keys should be given to someone, think ahead so that when another illness hits you can hopefully manage it. I am trying desperately to not end up on the admissions list of the local hospital. Take Good Care and I hope you all enjoy a peaceful and happy first weekend of December.

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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

November Winding Down

As November winds down and we head into the least month of 2022, which for so many seems to have been a difficult year. I think back to 2020 and then 2021, and how often we heard I can’t wait for this year to be over, and yet somehow 2022, seems to have been harder, more difficult for so many on deeply personal levels, so for many heading into the end of 2022, seems to be welcomed. I do however like to acknowledge how difficult the year has been, but I also like to sit and reflect on the beautiful and special moments. On all the ways so many people touched my life and brought joy to 2022 for me. I like to think about the people who made a difficult year by being part of my life, for things like an unexpected visit, an unexpected card in the mail “ just because”, phone calls, video calls, walks and talks, to travelling with me to help me honour my mom and my sister. These are all incredible moments shared, incredible gifts from the hearts of those who provided and took part. Those made the difficult and sad days of 2022 manageable.

It is about learning to honour both the good times and the board times, we were a generation taught to bury the hard and difficult and only focus and remember the good and happy, but if you learn to embrace both, with kindness to others and yourself, find ways to cherish and honour that both the good and the hard brought, our lives become richer.


Having Dementia, and I must say that somedays I marvel at with a lot of hard work, how stable and how slow I have managed to keep my progression. Vascular dementia usually goes in steps and you can maintain in any step for long periods of time ( years in fact), but it can also progress quickly, so I truly believe that with everything I have learnt by being involved in advocating and in research it has helped me remain as well functioning as I am. Although on a bad day, on a day where comprehending and communicating aren’t working I will tell you that those days when my brain is to fatigued to function well, that I hate my Dementia. But again, I try to focus on the many wonderful blessings it has brought me. Connections with others, who together we share so much, and although each one of us with our dementia is effected differently, many times we have many effects that are almost universal among those no matter the type of dementia.

So the gift of being able to share our journey with each other is such a blessing. My wish for 2023 is that no one has to sit at home feeling like they are the only one, that there is nothing they can do, my wish is that we can reach those people and open up this incredible place in the advocacy world, and in the peer to peer support, that all can feel the incredible blessings I have felt, that they can have the opportunity to learn as I have. As this month closes down, I am filled with hope, I am filled with the deepest gratitude. None of us know when or how long before our dementia means much of what we do will no longer be possible so I am trying to maintain as much as possible, busy stretches interspersed with restful periods. Staying connected, staying involved. I think that it is perhaps not unlike most people.

I was feeling as though I couldn’t manage the Christmas season this year, to many losses, but I actually am, I am just doing it differently, I do so much differently because of my dementia, so doing Christmas differently is something that is ok for me, it is about not focusing on “ Christmas “ so much but rather focusing on the people who I miss, honouring their memories, giving room to think about them and all the special ways they filled my life, “ making room for them at the table”, as the saying goes, rather than being sad, yes their will be those moments, yes there will be tears, but those will come by allowing myself to celebrate them. I thought I wouldn’t / couldn’t bring myself to decorate this year, but changing how and what and doing it differently has allowed me to spend this weekend decorating, in a much more simplistic way, lost in beautiful thoughts, the first gift I ever received from my husband, the laughter of shopping with my mom and sister. The moments shared decorating, baking and cooking. Yes the decorating is scaled back, it is reflective of the time I find myself in. I have not committed to anything in particular for this Christmas and that’s how I want it to be, I will let it unfold as it is meant to, no pressure to be any certain way or place, just going to let it be. I think sometimes we think we have to force ourselves In order to get through it, I have learnt sometimes the best things to do is forget what everyone else thinks you should or shouldn’t do and just follow your instincts follow your ❤️, that can be the most healing thing we can do for ourselves.

I hope as we head into the last month of 2022, we all stop, breathe, reflect. So that maybe 2923 will unfold into a gentler, kinder, softer, year for all.

This is my tree this year. The Angel that sits atop the tree was given to me by my mom many many years ago, it is something I treasure.

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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

Retrospective

I have been home for 3.5 days, coming home is always welcomed, there is truth in ” there is no place like home”. I came home to a dog that was grieving, I was gone to long she had thought I wasn’t coming back, so she lost interest in all things, including food, the last three days of here stay with two of here favorite people where difficult, and they could not provide her with the one thing she was needing, which was me. I knew from past experience when my blue Russian cat Mootchie died that animals grieved, for Pheobe really grieved the loss of Mootchie, but I thought she would be fine, as she has stayed with Brent and Kay many many times, its like her second home, she loves them to bits, I am normally only gone for 2 or 3 days though, this trip was much longer. She is declining overall as it is and maybe thinking that I wasn’t coming home was enough to make her decide she didn’t want to keep trying. I am happy to say that since being home, she has returned to eating better than before I left, sleeping more, which she was increasingly doing anyways, but she is happy and has her moments of sheer joy bouncing around the house. Going anywhere now would require someone being here in her home know, fortunately I have no plans barring any emergencies to go anywhere until spring, hopefully by then she will have forgotten this episode. I felt terrible for Brent and Kay and the worry it placed on them as I know to how they love her.

Yesterday was an early start for me with meetings here in town, I sit on the VSAN ( Vernon Seniors Action Network), for round table meetings with community stakeholders as we work towards a age/dementia friendly community. It was a great meeting with great turnout, and I look forward to working towards a better community for all. I was tired but it was important for me to attend. There seems to be no end to the work that needs to happen. Luckily I can home feeling greatly inspired from my CCNA EPLED meetings in Toronto, such a great group, love working with them and all the researchers, some great things happening and its wonderful to be part of it.

During those meetings one of the researchers was explaining how she worries about how much “hope ” we place on things and you could tell it weighed on her heavily. It was good to hear from her perspective the impact we have on them in this regard, it is not something often talked about. This was something I said to her about it, my quote, “I will feel bad if you try and fail, but I will feel devastated if you never try.” (Christine Thelker 2022).

I explained that most of us living with dementia understand there is a great chance that many, in fact most things that have come to the attention of everyone have in fact failed. But we must remain hopeful that some ( and this particular research, Bio med), are looking beyond what was the traditional ways to try to help people with dementia to finding and looking at it through a new lens, that the one size or one pill fits all is not feasible for dementia. I wanted to reassure her not to let it weigh on her too heavy, that we the people living with dementia must have a clear understanding of the boundaries of the hope we carry and where we place it.

This event was days filled with a lot of inspiration coming from everyone who attended and in many different ways on many different levels. These are the things that help me continue to push myself to be as well as I can. Rest is required, trying to ensure everything is set up so that I can manage it. Advocacy work is hard, exhausting, exillirating, rewarding in ways I never thought or had imagined, having a purpose, value, connections. Life changing. Why would I give in to my dementia, why would I not fight to be as well as I can when I have learned and gained so much because of it? It is not a disease I would wish on anyone, it causes many challenging, difficult days, but the blessings far outweigh those at least to this point. the end stage will be the end stage, hopefully I will be gone before I have to live that piece for now I am beyond grateful.

The other great thing that happened and this was the big one, meeting Janet in person, after becoming friends for over 4 years, to having her travel to Toronto and then to Niagara Falls with me, (Janet lives with Alzheimers), to help me in my quest to honour my mom and sister. What a beautiful gift to my life she is, Kind, fun, generous and I absolutely can never thank her enough for all she has brought to my life, not only during the trip but over the last 4 years. I hope we get the opportunity to spend more time together in the future and share more memorable moments. I came home feeling a great sense of peace finishing something that was important to both my mom and my sister and Janet was a huge part of helping me through that. We never know where life is going to take us or what it is going to present us with, but my dementia has brought many great people into my life, that I would have otherwise never had the opportunity to know. More to be grateful for. I have been blessed throughout my life to know so many great people, sometimes friends come and go, sometimes, life itself creates those things to happen, it doesn’t mean those people are any less important today than they were then, life is just ever changing, just like every day is different living with dementia. So I hope I can always just be grateful for what is, what was and what will be.

A reminder if you know anyone living with dementia, get involved, research is a wonderful place to be involved. Reach out if you would like to learn about opportunities in how you can be involved.

Off to Physio have a great Thanksgiving to all those in the USA and to everyone everywhere remember to spread kindness, and enjoy the day you are in and may the weekend be filled with blessings for you all.