|Lounging at the pool in La Quinta, California 2012|
Friday, November 18, 2016
ALZHEIMER'S--LIMBO DANCING WITH AL
I’m old enough to remember Chubby Checkers’ recording of “Limbo Rock” which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 list. I was fourteen at the time and spent hours with my cousin bending my spine in half (which only a kid should do) trying to slide under the limbo bar just inches off the ground.
The dance originated as an event performed at wakes in Trinidad and Tobago but as we Americans tend to do, we made it our own and it became a true party game.
Today, when I think of the word “Limbo” it has a different meaning for me and it’s certainly not a party game. Well, I guess I could call it a game in the same sense “Russian Roulette” might be referred to as a game. Looking at it that way, we’ve been playing the “Limbo Game” with Al the Mind Monster for over four years.
We started the game when Al first joined our family. Back then, it was easy to get under the bar; in fact, as Joe’s caregiver I could almost clear it without bending my knees; I stayed balanced and slid right under.
Several months or even a year passed before Al lowered the bar again. Still, I made it under with little effort and the game went on.
Then in 2013, Al decided to change it up a bit and moved the bar significantly lower. I had to think about how I would get down under it. I strained but maintained focus, staying level, and just made it. I’d hit a new low, or so I thought.
But Al wasn’t nearly done with us. He kept lowering the bar. I’d think, “this is it, we couldn’t bend another inch, we’ve had enough.” But, something inside me would push me lower and lower, my nose just clearing the bar.
Then Al really mixed things up and sent Joe to the hospital. The game took on a whole new dimension, one that I hadn’t expected. I watched Joe’s health decline with every day that passed and felt helpless to make him better.
Yesterday, we stopped the game. I’ve gone as low as I can go and so has Joe. Now we’re in a new game. Oh, it’s still called “Limbo” but today that’s just another word for Hospice and our family worries and watches as Al makes a final pull to take Joe from us. And this time, we are truly in limbo.