For two years I have been praying that other caregivers will benefit from the comfort the Lord provided me as Mom and I began our journey through Alzheimer's.
I began the writings that would eventually become a book manuscript in 2004, the year Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Those first journal entries were therapeutic and necessary for my emotional health as I transitioned into the role or caregiver. It was spiritually cathartic to fight out those battles through writing with the Lord at my side; analogous to laboring and giving birth. However, each subsequent reading is like laboring to deliver the same child again; rather than allowing the memory of the pain of the travail to fade, I am forced to relive it. This is one reason that I was so exhausted at the beginning of summer. I’d completed a marathon rereading of the manuscript, necessitated by the time delay caused by the economic crisis and my publisher’s subsequent indecision over whether to go ahead with the book. When they decided to publish the book in fall of 2009, I had about three days to zip through the manuscript and make needed changes, and it was beyond wearing, beyond exhausting; it was devastating emotionally. I wrote the book one day at a time, one pain at a time, one issue at a time, but this desperate reliving of the travail of moving into the role of caregiver was like two year's labor being forced into three days time; in a word, awful. And now I’m beginning another review of the manuscript in order to prepare for a web radio interview in late November. I can go slowly and prayerfully this time through.
It is a part of my ministry on behalf of other caregivers to offer myself to this labor once more. The Lord has allowed my caregiving burden to be relatively light; I have not thus far suffered the 24/7 physical labor that occurs for some caregivers. My mom’s particular set of Alzheimer's symptoms have just happened to be things that generally made it easier for me to take care of her rather than more difficult. I have been so blessed, and it seems to me that something is expected of me in return. As I suffered through each phase of the emotional toll of caregiving, I had the luxury of time to bring those issues before the Lord and to record His guidance. It is my prayer that people who do not have the time to wrestle these issues out before the Lord can benefit from the fruits of my labor. I believe that the Lord wants to bring rich comfort and guidance to those who are undergoing that terribly difficult transition into the role of caregiver for a loved one who has dementia. It’s an especially difficult life change to accomplish when there is a role reversal; when the patient is the one who in the past fulfilled the role of caregiver in the relationship.
I have been posting at the Alzheimer's Association's message boards. The boards offer a wonderful opportunity to exchange helpful information and to share joys and sorrows, but reading other people's stories has broken my heart. I pray that my book will help those poor caregivers who need encouragement and hope so desperately. By God's grace and through His guidance I have been given real help for the emotional and spiritual suffering caused when a loved one is fading into dementia. Pray with me that My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers reaches those who need it.
Scripture: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).