Tap Dancing


Me and the hubby dancing away the Alzheimer's Blues.  Not.

Me and the hubby dancing away the Alzheimer’s Blues. Not.

Don’t know how true this is for the rest of you, but this little red hen is a creature of habit.  I like my routines.  I like knowing when I’m going to do something and how it’s probably going to proceed.  Don’t get me wrong, I like surprises as much as the next person, it’s just that I feel a certain, well, security in routine.

In childhood, little routines were the only way I felt any sort of safety.  I was a bit like Sheldon Cooper in “Big Bang Theory” — specific tasks occurred only on specific days and it really threw me if that needed to change for some reason.  I felt off-kilter, out of synch with my life until the routine could be re-established.  I’ve gotten better as the years have passed.  Saturday no longer HAS to be cleaning day.  (Shit.  These days the house is lucky if it gets cleaned once a month.)  I don’t need to follow a specific order when it come to doing a task.  I can even (on occasion) mix whites with colors in the laundry and not feel like I’m about to hyperventilate.  (I blame this last one on my mother, the former laundry Nazi.)

Nowadays, there’s no such thing as routine.  With Alzheimer’s all bets are off.

Time was when I’d get up around 5, make tea, have a bit of breakfast, take the dog out for a long walk, come home, sit down to the computer, write for four or five hours, take a break, do something with the dog, maybe run some errands, make supper, wind down, and go to bed.  Now anything might happen at any time.  I’m still up around 5 (unless I haven’t been able to sleep – something else Alzheimer’s interferes with – when it might be 6 or 6:30 or (if I sleep in really late) 7.  Of course, it’s just as likely to be 3 or 4 in the morning…or earlier still.  Occasionally, there’s no sleep at all.)  The dog gets taken out, the pets get fed.  I make tea.  By that time the pinball machine that is my life is primed to go off – BING-A-TA, BONG-A-TA, RING-A-LING-LING, and (of course) BAZINGA!  Mom gets up at 6…or 7:30…or 9.  I try to stay home until she’s settled in her chair with toast and tea (I’m still fortunate in that I can leave her for a couple of hours at a time without anticipating trauma), but often I don’t make it onto the trail until nearly 10 or 11, which throws everything off because by the time I get home it’s time to make her lunch, run a few necessary errands, and think about what’s for dinner.  Writing?  Don’t even talk to me about writing.  The blog helps keep me sane because it’s something semi-regular.  My own writing . . . well, it’s getting done because I shoe-horn it into place, but it ain’t fun and it’s no way to court the Muse.

Still, maybe this is a good thing.  (I’m writing that sober, can you believe it?)  I’m no longer so tied to routine, to what must be or else.  I’m learning to balance on one leg, pirouette and plié with the best of them, ha-cha-cha and jazz-hand, and tap across the floor like Gene Kelly on crack.  It ain’t pretty, but I’m doing it.

Right now, that’s enough.

 

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About Melissa Crandall

A million years ago--round-about the first Ice Age--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and science fiction media tie-in novels. I'm happy to say that I've since branched out to include fantasy, horror, essays, and narrative nonfiction. This site will keep you up-to-date on my adventures in writing. I live in Connecticut with my husband--who frequently wonders what he got himself into by marrying a writer--two cats named Tuna and Gypsy, and a semi-neurotic Australian shepherd named Holly.
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