I have to accept responsibility for my part in the mess we got into yesterday. There is a certain irony that the guy who sets out to minimise his wife’s distress becomes complicit in adding to it: in no small way. When I think of what I took part in I shudder with disbelief. In fact words fail me when I look back on what I acually did.
I took part in a charade that gave Maureen the opposite message that I convey day after day. We all told her in no unceratin way that: ‘you are not capable of looking after your husband when he is ill’. What on earth were we doing? I think it requires some examination to salve all our consciences, and put things into perspective.
In our defence I would argue that we were following a medical model based on Prescribed Disengagement as Kate Swaffer so eloquently describes it. So we conveyed to a nurturing wife that she is no longer capable of looking after her ailing husband. In fact he is so ill that you need to be taken away to ease his burden. Maureen kept saying at the Day Centre: ‘my husband is ill and I want to go home to look after him’. She has spent a life-time nurturing others and we were telling her she no longer has the capacity to look after her ‘old man’. We were all wrong.
It took a while for me to get things back to normal at the ranch. Hostility about me getting ‘my friend’ to take Maureen to a Mental Home took a while to abate. She played her cards well and hit me where it might have hurt. I don’t blame her one little bit, and she continued her attack on the social worker by phone. Her line was strong and she left the social worker in no doubt that she would pay for her actions. I will back Maureen in her complaint if she continues in this vein. She needs to know I am behind her, and will support her in raising concerns. No-one likes being ‘dumped’.
What all of this has proved to me is that the medical model and Prescribed Disengagement is not the route for us. It is up to all of us to find our own way on our journey with dementia. This came home to me following a chat with our chemist yesterday. Evonna has helped us to develop our approach to dementia based on a mantra of: ‘Maureen is not ill she is recovering from stroke’. I forgot that yesterday and became infected with the ‘medical model’. I hope that doesn’t happen again: Maureen deserves better than that. It’s amazing how you can lose your way when you are under the weather!