NOT Saving Jacquelynn

I haven’t posted here for a while, and there’s a reason for it.

The title of this page, “Saving Jacquelynn” was more than a title; it was an overriding goal. It was the sole focus of my existence; to bring her back from the brink of obliteration from the most terrifying and fastest-growing threat to the human mind.
But it was not to be.
I did not “Save Jacquelynn”. I no longer believe her path was one from which she could be “saved”, and I’m just now struggling to embrace the concept that this may not be my failure. It feels like my failure, though. When Sky (our rescue dog; more on him in a later post) and I visit her at the nursing home for breakfast and she only gets halfway through the meal before she flips her internal switch and starts shouting that she hates us and wants us to leave NOW, I know it isn’t really her…
…but it still feels like my failure.
Jacquelynn’s condition has plummeted dramatically since the beginning of the year, when I was so confident and so excited about the improvement and progress she was making. She struggles to speak at all, with only a tiny percentage of her utterances being actual words. She recognizes us most of the time, but often dismisses Sky, asking instead for her “pupup”. She may be looking for one of the dogs she so loved from her youth, as we’ve only had Sky for a few months.
In the six weeks she’s been in the home, she’s turned an initial (and very welcome) weight gain into another drastic loss, coming in under 90lbs now. The only things she’ll eat reliably are her yogurt and the “Magic Cup”, a supplement-laced ice-cream-like dessert. The initial issues with frequent falls have been mostly overcome with large bumper-like pillows on either side of her, tucked into the fitted sheets so she can’t kick them off. She has regained enough strength, however, to get most of the way out of the bed on her own again, so I’m hoping falls won’t become a problem again. She can almost stand on her own, and can, with support, walk a few short steps from her bed to the wheelchair. While any resurgence of vitality is wonderful, it also carries an elevated risk as she begins to decide to act on her own again, before her body is truly ready. Also, since she can “flip her switch” from pleasant to violent in an instant, any increase in mobility comes with a commensurate increase in likelihood she’ll try to leave there as she did here so many times.
But for now, as she faces yet another bladder infection and we make plans for a procedure which will hopefully help to limit the occurrence of such infections moving forward, for now, Sky and I visit for breakfast every day as I bring in her fresh laundry and take yesterday’s clothes home to wash. We also visit for dinner most days, unless I have afternoon commitments (doctor’s appointments for me, of Sky’s AKC classes, for instance). Some days are loving and fun, others (particularly during an infection) can be traumatic for all involved.
And we will continue to visit. I will advocate for her and oversee her care, holding the facility to the highest standard possible. I will eventually fully embrace, both intellectually and emotionally, the understanding that this whole vile mess isn’t in any way my fault. Meanwhile, I will cry myself to sleep and lose my composure at the slightest provocation. I will cower in loneliness and continue in my counseling as I pray and meditate each evening.

And I will take great comfort in Sky’s companionship.

2 thoughts on “NOT Saving Jacquelynn

  1. Hi Matthew,
    Let me say first that your sharing this difficult experience helps so many others. Sky came to help you and support unconditionally with the love that only furry babies know how to do. My grandma,who was my best friend , also chose Alzheimer’s as her path to transition. Abraham Hicks explains so well about this. When I heard the message that “she chose to no longer talk”, it really sunk in. Here is a link that may help your understanding. Blessings to you, Sky, and Jacquelyn.

    Maureen

    Like

    • Maureen, I’m grateful for the link. I’d not heard that one before, and it honestly does help to look at it through a fresh set of eyes. Jacquelynn, Sky, and I all three thank you.

      Like

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