Our family tree in a bit of chaos with a lot of love- courtesy of 3-year-old Keene (grandson).

What happened? Update 3-2024

Where I’ve been

Surprise! I’m back. I started the “Dancing With Dementia: blog a year ago, hoping to prepare myself for taking care of my husband Denny, since (1) he had been diagnosed with dementia, and (2) I figured we had a long road ahead of us as I stepped up to be caretaker. But Denny’s road through Dementia took a sudden turn.

What happened

A little over a year ago, on February 1, 2023, Denny fell out of bed and broke his leg. After an ambulance ride to Ivinson Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room in Laramie, Wyoming, the staff found many problems in addition to his broken leg. They wanted to transfer him to a nursing transitional facility, and let our family choose where that would be.

We chose a facility in Colorado Springs, since all three of my adult children and their families lived there. All the kids came home to transfer us back down to their locale the week of February 6, 2023.  Denny stayed in the transitional nursing facility in the Springs until they released him to home care on March 27, 2023. By then, I had rented a condominium and brought him there on Home Hospice. He died in that condo on April 30, 2023. So sudden, but in retrospect, so merciful. Our family came together and planned Denny’s funeral, saying goodbye to him in a special way in the church he had taught in, First Christian Church in Laramie, on May 23. We closed on our Laramie family home the next day. I bought a townhouse in Colorado Springs and moved in by the end of that summer.

Where did my mind go?

I don’t know where my mind went, but it left for a season, therefore NO BLOGGING took place. But brains must be fairly resilient, for my mind finally seems to be making a comeback. Phew. Welcome back, Brain!!! I was worried that I too was going into dementia, quite honestly. But the stress of the year–with Denny’s dementia diagnosis, his fall, his transport to Colorado, his death and funeral, and THREE moves in the space of 5-6 months—of course took its toll. BUT I believe I finally paid the toll bill and am envisioning a rosier future for my mental state.

Where are we going with this blog?

I have many aspects of dementia that I want to review in this blog, but I am still having a hard time processing my HUSBAND’s dementia and my response to it. So before I go down such an emotional path, I would first like to spotlight some other dementia cases I have witnessed, remembering some of the beautiful lessons I learned. Such reflection will hopefully help me embrace what transpired this past year in a less horrific light. Thank you for allowing me to work this through!

First we’ll talk about my dear father-in-law, Clinton Hitchcock, better known as “Grandpa”, followed by my daddy (Bill Engstrom); then my husband Denny; and might even add in my little 18-year-old doggie Grover.  And, as mentioned, at times I wonder if even I might be heading into dementia due to the stress of the past year. So I may add myself to the list of individuals and associated idiosyncrasies, and we can have a vote to see if you think I need to search out a doctor for myself!

I write about the topic of dementia with a different focus than you might expect. Dementia is terrible, I know we would all agree. It seems to steal away the person we love. But what I’ve found within my experiences is that even in dementia, there are prized moments when the real person comes through, where you get a glimpse of the sweet soul of the person, a glimpse into their past as they travel back in their minds through their time on earth. So this is a bittersweet story, hopefully taking away some of the sting from the word “dementia”.

Most importantly, I aim to encourage us all to keep alert for those precious times—times we will never forget—as a loved one sees something or speaks something beautiful. Treasure those moments. They are worth living for.

5 thoughts on “What happened? Update 3-2024”

  1. Mary Anne Loafman

    Claire, wonderful to hear from you! I’m so glad you’re back blogging about your continued dance through dementia. You are so brave and courageous, and smart! You go girl!!!
    Much love, Mary Anne

  2. Wow! I’m so glad you’re writing again, Claire! It’s really something to see everything that has happened in the last year or so laid out here chronologically–what a year it’s been–so many changes, and so many important moments, big and small.
    You are so strong and resilient!! Love, Tori

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