Andy’s Story

It’s Now Two Years.

Two years ago I said farewell to my office and colleagues to begin a journey of caring, full time, for my wife. It will come as no surprise that a career as a full time carer wasn’t in my 10 year plan. Well, in fact, I’ve never had 10 year plans, or five year plans, or any long term plans. Oh, I’ve tried, but God always seems to take me on a different road.

There have been some big changes in our lives.

The Changes Come.

When we started this full time care thing, Julie and I had Julie’s sister living with us. Now Kylie has never been a problem at all. Even though she is a disability pensioner she has always been able to look after herself. But I was available to help with any issues she had. As Julie’s dementia got worse there was going to be a point where it would be better for Kylie to be somewhere else. That sounds terrible. I didn’t want to get rid of Kylie. I was concerned about what was best for Kylie in the long term.

God provided an answer that I would not possibly have seen. Kylie met a guy. A nice guy. In some ways it was two lonely souls that found each other. Kylie moved in with Peter. Despite all the scenarios I worried about, the relationship seems to be going okay.

Downsizing.

This meant Julie and I had to downsize. Again God’s provision was obvious. I won’t go into the whole story, but through a unique set of circumstances, which were totally out of my control, we are now renting a duplex in the Strathpine Gardens complex.

The Changes in Us.

Julie has changed a lot in the past two years. She can no longer be left alone. She often doesn’t remember friends and sometimes family (even me), yet, as we walk around the shops she thinks she knows everyone. She also believes her long dead parents live across the road.

Julie had started wandering. Twice the police have had to find her. Maybe she likes men in uniform! Once she went missing from my daughter’s place. My grandsons were upset that they didn’t see Grandma come home in the police car.

The OCD part of me struggles with caring for Julie. Julie fiddles with everything. She moves stuff all over the place: takes the bedding off the bed and puts it on the spare bed; won’t put used toilet paper in the toilet (puts it in some interesting places); turns up her nose at food I prepare her (but Mcdonald’s hotcakes are always fine); and so the list goes on.

Government Help.

Thankfully the National Disability Insurance Scheme (an Australian government disability support system) is working well for us. As I type this, a lovely young carer is out with Julie. We are in the process of looking for a day respite centre as well. And looking for a place where I can get the occasional overnight respite.

This quote (part of what Oscar Wilde once said) describes it well “You deprive me of solitude without affording me company”

The Problem.

Julie Coller, my wife, really no longer exists. The person who looks like her in my house isn’t the woman I married. There is no intimacy. I can’t go to the toilet in peace nor can I have a conversation.

Why is this happening to me? Well I can answer that theologically – trials develop perseverance so that the man of God is mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

But in the realities of life, that doesn’t seem too satisfactory. Yes, I know it could be heaps worse but that is of little comfort. But God is present in the dark valleys. I just have to hang on till I find Him.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Andy
    I resonate with your pain and also your disappointment with life. Yes, you did a pretty good job with hiding that, but it is there, clearly. At least, it is to me. My journey is somewhat similar to yours. Not dementia but cancer. Life can be pretty bloody at times, and you wonder what is going on. I share your strong Christian faith, and have never blamed God, but sometimes the sadness of what has been and what could have been is overwhelming.
    I don’t go much on empty church or fellow-Christian blessings that are not backed up with actions. But I reckon my wife and I have had a good life together and and there are lots who have it worse. I think you might have it worse than me! There’s a funny kind of perverse pleasure in finding out that someone else is worse off. The Germans call that schadenfreude. It doesn’t make you feel too good about yourself, either. Well, anyway if you want to touch base you’re welcome. I’m not sure how this website works but I’d be happy to somehow swap an email address but not in an open forum. I’m on the Gold Coast.

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