September 20, 2008

Accepting the Failings of Age and Disbilities

Today we went to the sight-in day for disabled deer hunters. The two year old program is run by a small army of volunteers who help people in wheelchairs get out in the woods during hunting season. They use specially made blinds and each disabled person is assigned two hunting guides who stick with them and are not allowed to hunt themselves. The group also puts on a weekend long deer camp where the disabled guys can all sit around doing guy things, something that is often missing in the lives of men who use wheelchairs.

Don went on the hunt both years and he was looking forward to going this year but today he didn't pass the gun safety test. Cognitive issues. After the three gun safety teachers made their ruling I had the job of telling Don. It was hard on the guys to fluke him. They all like Don a lot but it's not fair for him to tie up two guides and a blind in the woods if he's not going to hunt. They have a waiting list to get into the program because they can only take 30-32 hunters into the program.

On the way home, I asked Don how he thought he did on a scale of 1 to 10 and he said a five. Then I asked him if he would be surprised if I told him that he flunked the safety test. He answered, "Don't know." He took it pretty good when broke the news---sad, of course---but he's always been a stickler for gun safety so I was able to use that fact to explain it to him so he could accept it. I told him that he's hunted a lot of years with a good, clean record and it's better to leave the sport that way than to take a chance on marring that record with an accident. He got two bonus years after his stroke that we never would have dreamed possible and I told he has to celebrate that fact.

It hasn't been a happy evening and it won't be a month filled with anticipation like it's been the last two September/Octobers. But he does have a consolation prize. They asked me if I'd like to volunteer at the deer camp so Don can come along and hang out as the hunters and their guides come in and out and at after dark for the bonfire and dinner. He seemed to like that idea today but who knows if he'll feel the same way tomorrow or the next day when this all sinks in. I'm a little worried about depression catching up with him someday as little chucks of his freedom and personality get chipped away like this. Of course I say this every time there's another little loss like this but somehow he manages to keep getting up every morning happy and singing at the top of his lungs. How does he do that---find acceptance of the failings age and serious disabilities? ©


September 11, 2008

Life Goes On......

Life hasn't changed much for us this summer. Don is still happy and singing the words "Jesus loves me" and "boom, boom, boom" over and over again each morning and sometimes in the afternoons. Recently I told him if we were sharing a room in a nursing home I'd ask for a room change. He laughed and for the next hour he sang the scales using just the syllable "la, la, la, la, la, la, la." He wants to talk. He can't, so he sings. So I use my ear plugs to keep my sense of humor from falling out of my head and to keep his happy tunes from getting in.

It seems a little weird not to be in back-to-school mode i.e. for Don to be starting speech therapy classes now that the colleges are in session again. We could actually go back to group class but with Don's hearing loss making it so hard for him to know what is going on in large, noisy rooms it would be a waste of time. And individual classes are not available to him anymore. He's not unhappy about it, though. Every time we go past the college Don hums the "Pomp and Circumstance" graduation song with much gusto and volume in his voice.

I've been very active on the political sites the last few months---like a crazed lady debating other crazed people out there in cyberspace. Don and I used to enjoy the political back and forth each election year but now it's just me venting to him and him agreeing with me. I tell him what the buzz is in cyberspace and he seems to enjoy living vicariously through me as I have all the fun. If I'm especially upset over something or on an extra high, so is he. It's kind of nice having this tiny connection with the past and how we used to like to talk politics late into the night.

We're lucky that we've been able to get out every other day all summer. The local Starbucks people know us as Mr. and Mrs. Caramel Macchiato, Decaf Coffee Tall. Even the puppy gets to go there and get a tiny cup of whip cream. He keeps his blog up better than I am keeping this one up. If you ever wonder what happened to us, check the dog link in the right hand column and he's sure to have something to say about life on the Planet Aphasia. ©