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Voyage for Susan

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$1,105 Raised

Our Team Story

My boat is back in the water after 5 weeks of major cosmetic work and some minor tweaks. This summer I was able to take a 140 mile trip with my son and an old friend.  We went from the top of the Potomac River into the Chesapeake Bay. I also took out a family of Kurds, yes from Kurdistan. They brought 12 people.  They were Christian Kurds who hate the Muslims and vice versa.  The father told me stories of having to man a machine gun to keep the Turks and the Russians away when he was 13 yrs old, fascinating.  I hope to pull off a long cruise at the end of September to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association again: Voyage for Susan lll.  I now sit on a fundraising committee of volunteers at the Alzheimer’s Association. Feels good to be able to do something positive.

I saved Susan for last.  She has now entered what they call  end stage dementia.  As dramatic as that sounds, she is not actively dying ( a phrase my Hospice group uses which is creepy).  They say this stage can last two days long or three years.  She can only say maybe five words now.  What end stage also means is that she now needs help with every day activities: they bathe her, dress her, walk with her, feed her.   

Her facility had a Roller Coaster trip through Covid. Of the 50 residents 6 died as did one of the great  nurses.  However, they were quick to build a quarantine ward at the end of the building and if you had any symptoms, they tested you and tossed you in the Quarantine ward for 14 days or for a 14 day period after your symptoms went away in some cases. Susan caught it but had a very mild case.  Because of the strict protocols they put into effect I was locked out of the facility from March 13 to mid August.  Now I get 3, 25-minute face to face meetings a week where I have to wear a mask, but I can hold her hand and give her a hug from time to time.  For the first three weeks of these face to face visits she was very angry with me. I think she didn’t understand why no one in the family visited her for 5 months.   She may not remember how to speak but she can still smack you arms, or smack your stomach. And if she is particularly angry some day and you try to lead her somewhere she doesn’t want to go she will dig her fingernails into your arm. All of the senior staff have walked up to me rubbing their arms saying Susan is having a rough day.  So she has found an effective way of non verbal communication.  I have only had to abandon one visit on a day when she walked out of the family meeting room six times, and wouldn’t sit down. The person on duty to supervise the meetings said today is not good day let us take her back upstairs.  She has periods where she clearly recognizes me, Jason, Claire and our grandson Nate. I would say the majority of our visits she knows exactly who I am.  A couple of days she walked up and given me a nice hug.  Then the next visit she might walk over to me and start slapping my arms.  What I think this means is we had dinner for 17 months every night. Then when Covid hit,  it must have been like I just disappeared. One night we had dinner and the next night I didn’t show up, and then I stayed away for five months.  She also smacked the kids arms when she saw them because she doesn’t understand why they didn’t visit either.  She does not understand how Covid has messed everyone up and shut things down.

We are making the best of it.  I moved in January to a small community in western Alexandria.  It is very close to where Susan lives. So I can be there in 14 minutes.  I don’t see the facility going further than letting families have these short face to face meetings this year.

So that’s  life in a nutshell.  I am enjoying retirement.    Jason bought a new motorcycle and took a long ride through the Smokey Mountains.  I did not tell Susan on the off chance she was having a good day and would beat on him the next time he saw her for buying another Motorcycle.  Claire has visited with Susan and is coming for a second visit Friday.

Hope all is well in your world and you guys are enjoying life. Hope the Kids and progeny are doing well . 
Hey if you ever want a ride on a 55’ motor yacht let me know.  Always looking for someone to entertain.

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