Blog 35: Yea, though I walk…

One of the reasons why I was able to continue caring for Bill over all the time of his deterioration was that he remained mobile almost to the end.  Right up until his last weeks, he was able to walk and get himself from place to place.  If he had not been able to do that, I don’t think that I would have been strong enough to manage.

An article in The Sunday Mail  (16-09-2012), written by Rosie Squires and titled:  Exercise Good for the Mind, tells us that:    

Staving off dementia could be as easy as a walk in the park,

and urges all Australians to:

Keep the brain active with physical exercise.

Bill and I both agreed with this thinking and, though health problems often intervened, we regarded daily walking as important, particularly for Bill’s wellbeing.

At the beginning of 2010, we walked slowly and not very far.  Bill was not well, not strong, lagging behind and dragging his feet as we made our ways back from our destinations.  But we persisted with our daily walks, believing that the exercise was essential for Bill, believing that he needed it each day to ensure that his blood kept pumping through that old brain of his.

Eventually, though, when Bill was hospitalised for severe constipation and oesophageal and duodenal ulcers, we understood why he had been so slow.  Thankfully, after courses of Nexium for the ulcers and Coloxyl for the constipation, Bill became much better and we were able to lengthen our walks and walk more briskly.

We had experienced, in fact, all through the winter of 2010, some very pleasant walks. We lived in a beautiful area that boasted flat walking paths and great scenery and on most days we could walk, not only through the park, but also along the waterfront. Occasionally, we met friends and neighbours and said “Hello”, Bill would chat to his reflection in those glass gates (c.f., BLOG 23), we would talk to birds and dogs, spot aircraft and generally have a nice time.

Then, in September, I contracted Shingles and our daily walks had to be curtailed for the month. Bill, however, was still quite energetic as he moved around the house, both in the daytime and at night, so I was content that his blood was continuing to pump anyway.

In October 2010, with me fully recovered, we walked again, but by November, our walking program was hitting snags once more.  This was because Bill’s ankles started to swell.  They were swelling, the doctor said, because Bill was no longer sleeping in a bed (c.f., BLOG 25).  Because he was sleeping in his recliner chair, with the footrest down, the doctor explained, his feet were on the ground twenty-four hours a day and, since they were never elevated, fluid was having a hard time getting away.

We followed our usual path of trying to fix the problem.  We gave Bill fluid tablets, I tried lifting the footrest of the chair, I tried putting him to bed at night in the little, green bed in the study, but nothing really worked.  Bill was determined to sleep in his chair, with footrest pushed down, and fluid tablets could only do so much.

Nonetheless, even with swollen ankles, we kept on walking, albeit for much shorter distances.  It was becoming hard work for Bill, though, and often, on our return lap, he would want to go up Number Ten’s drive, rather than our driveway further up.  I think that he had had enough by the time we reached Number Ten and thought to himself:  Any drive will do!

Here are some photos of Bill, taken in late August 2011 on the occasion of the Christening of our granddaughter.

Blog 035 Image 1

Blog 035 Image 2

Though very stooped and stiff and wearing sandals because of his swollen feet, you can see that, six months before his death, Bill was still mobile and, astonishingly, able to attend functions such as this.

Before I finish with the topic of walking, I want to tell you one more story.  It happened on 2nd September 2011, as we walked back from the little post box.  We had just entered the home straight when Bill, grabbing his left leg, called out:

Oh, No!  Oh, No!

and started to fall.  I knew he was having a stroke and raced in front of him to hold him up.  I didn’t want to sit him down because I knew that, if I sat him down, I’d never get him up again.  We were only eight houses away from home but we might as well have been a thousand.  We were never going to make it.  It was two o’clock in the afternoon.  No one was around and I wouldn’t have been able to sit Bill down then, anyway, even if I’d wanted to. He was too heavy and everything was too awkward, standing as we were on the sloping edge of the paved road.  He would have certainly fallen and injured himself. What could I do?  Holding Bill up was taking all my strength and I couldn’t yell for the tears that were streaming down my face.

Luckily, at that moment, Dave, from the end of our cul-de-sac, rounded the corner in his four-wheel drive, bundled Bill into the back seat of the car and drove him home.

To this day, I’m forever thankful to Dave and, looking back, I have to say that I believe this:

That, though I was able to look after Bill for all of that time because he remained mobile, it was not only because of his mobility.  It was also, I believe, because something else ……  maybe a Guardian Angel….. was looking over us and helping me.

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