Friday, April 22, 2016

Socializing the introvert- Claustrophobia

I have always loved small spaces, like John from Ally Macbeal, I need a hole where I can crawl in to get away from the rest of the world.

When my little cousins came to live with us, I looked for a bed sheet and draped it across the room to separate-MY side from HER side. In high school; my aunt, her child and nanny moved into the same bedroom. To me, I had been kicked out, there was no room for me.
Uncle cleaned out a store room and said we might use it as an extra room. I found a mattress and relocated right away, but he said the room could fit two beds. I put a padlock at the door.
Mean, right?
And selfish too
But I can explain.

I need space and not in the true sense of the word. I could be in a big room with only one other person but it still feels crowded, especially if the other person loves the sound of his voice.
When there is two of us in a room, this is how the space is shared out.

And I cannot write, think or pray when other people or other person is too close.

I will
Either have to leave the room
Start talking non-stop
Walk about doing nothing in particular, just collecting lint from the atmosphere
Or sit cross legged and read a single page for two hours

The discomfiture of seeing boundary lines puts me right in a tense mood
But I realise I might be claustrophobic and this can happen anywhere.

A few years back I was living near a bunch of people who needed people about them for them to think. They would be very offended that I turned down yet another cook- out that week.
We later became inseparable but there was always the question they could not get round, ‘why did I like to be so lonely?’ and made efforts to have my house warmed by guests at every opportunity, and I resented it and became quite cold towards them.
Many times I could have burrowed into the floor for privacy.
I would not have minded another two cats or five, but people around meant

I had to be on all the time.

On deeper thought, it might be genetic. My mother is happy in her own company. While uncle spend, 95% of his waking hours , I mean 97%.
He spends it inside the napier grass plantation and only comes out when the moorland is clear.
Granny, on the other hand loved crowds before ALZ hit. She was a public speaker and a good percentage of the families take after her. There might be a psychological explanation to this.
I’ll know some day

Meanwhile, I try to go against this by inviting people to hang out with me against my inner will.
It turns out well most of the time.

I get soaking with people-talk and have little time to think. How did I do? How did it go. One of my mother’s sisters understood me and kept me supplied with newspapers, magazines and reader’s digests and told people to leave me alone. But she died.
So really, these are my first steps at human interaction. I’ll get there.
(ONLY one sketch belongs to me. the rest are borrowed thank you very much)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Alzheimer's Patient Priorities

When a family member has Alzheimer’s disease in Kenya; often times it seems as though a bomb as been dropped into the family to scatter everyone. People vanish. And only the very strong ones; and those that have no choice, who tiptoe back to view how matters stand.
Truth is, if the person with Alzheimer’s is the family pillar; which is often the case(mothers, fathers, grandparents, older siblings), woe to the bystanders. Those that used to receive command from this one stand listlessly waiting for direction on what next.
Those that have their wits about them and have more heart than all of us cowards; stagger at the new responsibility of finding out just how different, how difficult the foreseeable future seems to be.

How not to Reel Over
Remember you are not the first to ever give care to an ALZ patient. So listed are a few pointers gleaned from the support group meeting, to help you find balance in your new capacity as the care giver.
  1. Pray
Psalms 18:6.Ask for help from the one that understands stuff which no one else can. He will give you wisdom which will prove to be an asset in the coming days.
  1. Involve other concerned members who genuinely want to assist.
Call that meeting, don’t postpone it. But you will need to be firm; unless you like to put up with rubbish without going insane. Suggestions are welcome but interference in your care methods are a no no. Are they ready to take over? No? Then may they kindly SHUT UP and let you do your job.
  1. Get a backbone (borrow, lease, buy, or make one out of lead).
You will be with the patient every day, they will tell tales and prefer some family members despite you constant care. You know how much; emotionally, financially is required every day. A backbone will also be also useful when dealing with friends who will think:
  • Your family member is bewitched
  • Has lost their mind
  • Meddled with someone’s property and now facing consequences.
If they have nothing positive to say, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings by explaining how unnecessary their visits are.
  1. Spare your money.
You will need to stretch your money longer. Find an accountant to value the patient’s property and help you budget. Avoid impromptu buys or treatment expenditures. Constant cash will be required for cleaning detergent, helpers, proper diet, transport and drugs.
  1. Get a caretaker.
There is comfort in knowing your are doing your sick family member service by being their sole caretaker, but you need help. You need breaks and rests and get-a ways. A trained caretaker will even do a better job than you could accomplish with all your other responsibilities.
  1. Open your heart wide and love your dear one.
They will thank you in their own way. In spite of downtime, you will get the satisfaction of doing all you can, and you will know you have their confidence by the trust and value they will show towards you.

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

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