Sorry I’ve been scarce for so long! The past couple of weeks have been rough ones. My old laptop gave up the ghost so I had to sink my tax refund into a new one, my internet has been going out the past week more often than I do (another call to Comcast is in my future—thankfully, unlike some of the horror stories I’ve read, they have been very nice and helpful whenever I’ve needed them) and mom has been particularly challenging.
Her behavior is really kind of odd, to me as a therapist; she doesn’t act like any of the types of dementia I’m familiar with. Most of the time, people with dementia can’t remember recent events, but their recall for the more remote past is relatively intact. Mom, as usual, has to be different. Her short-term memory is indeed bad; just now, I spent an hour explaining what two pills she takes at 3 PM (every darn day), then she took them, and literally as they were going down her throat she started insisting she had not taken them. It’s been more than an hour now, and she’s still saying she didn’t take them. I’m not sure even videoing her in the act would make an impact. But her remote memory isn’t great either. In a more lucid moment over the weekend she admitted she was unsure what my daddy looked like, and they had been married for almost fifty years when he passed. BUT last night she remembered there was cheesecake in the fridge, left from supper Thursday night, and asked for some. So there’s no pattern. It’s weird.
Anyway, circumstances like these call for sanity maintenance in a big way, and my RV dream is part of that. I promised a little backstory on that, so here goes. I have an online friend, who I’ll call Stacy, who was having some security concerns (creepy stalker type), so she bought a camper, packed up her kids and pets and hit the road. Her tales of her travels were fascinating, especially since, as I noted in a previous blog, traveling is such an integral and joyful part of my life. I began to read up and research, and found that RVing is not just for retired couples anymore. All kinds of folks spend weeks, or months on the road, and some even live full-time in their recreational vehicles.
The big bus-like RVs called Class As are a little too much for me. The trailers that hook onto a truck or SUV to tow are nice, but you have to get out of your vehicle to get into them, and it occurs to me that if I were traveling on my own, I might not always want to do that. The Class Cs are a good in-between compromise, that looks easier to navigate. Understand, this is all in my head so far. I haven’t even been able to get a sitter for mom long enough for me to go visit a lot to actually set eyes on any of these rigs! But I’ve joined several groups online and keep reading and watching videos (youtube is the best!). Some groups focus on women who RV, and they are the greatest. They actually gave me part of the impetus to start this blog, in fact. When I confided that I don’t own a rig yet, I was surprised to find how many other members call themselves ‘virtual RVers’ or ‘RV dreamers’. Many of the women in the discussion groups either took to the road after being caregivers, or are caregivers now with hopes for an RVing future. Makes me not feel quite so alone.
Here's how big a dork I am. I got myself a notebook, inked up a fountain pen (oh! That’s another thing I want to talk about in a future blog. I love old-school fountain pens! Yes, with bottles of ink and all. Stay tuned!) and started keeping notes for my someday-maybe-RV-life. I write down the pros and cons of the various types of rig, things I need to get, places I want to go, maintenance and technical information, and so on and so forth. I even (blush) got a tote bag that I set in the corner of my craft room, and called it my RV hope chest. It is a place to tuck little things I pick up that I would want: some newly knitted dishcloths, a little stick-on solar-powered light to put above the door, a sturdy multi-tool for tweaking and making repairs, and the like. I know, pathetic, right? But they are small concrete things to hang on, to give me reason to believe there is life after caregiving.
I hope this makes sense; I’ve had to write it in between jumping up and taking mom to bathroom, checking her blood pressure, getting her snacks (since she doesn’t remember eating lunch and thinks I’m starving her sometimes), repeating when she takes her next pills, and reminding her who I am. That’s the hardest part, really, I think, that she does not always recognize that I am her only child. Yesterday my last name was Cunningham. What? We don’t even know anybody by that name. I didn’t even date anybody by that name, LOL. Now she wants to go upstairs and look for my cousin, who doesn't live with us and never has. Oh, well, guess I better walk her upstairs and show her. Talk to y'all later. I hope not to be gone as long before our next meeting!