February 20, 2017

Our Story Chapter 6 -- A Slowly Changing Journey

After we celebrated our first wedding anniversary & the birth of our son, life decided it wanted to get even more interesting. Daron had another minor flare up (if you can call it that) in the spring of 2004. I think it was around this time that the doctor changed his medication. Some of the MS meds stop being effective after a few years.

In September of 2004 I saw my OB/GYN for a regular check up. That led to an ultrasound followed by a laparoscopy. That showed that I had severe endometreosis......it was recommended that I have a total hysterectomy. We had to spend a lot of time talking about this decision. I wanted to have another child, but it would be difficult with the endo. Daron was concerned about finances & saw this as a way to handle that. We decided that I would have the surgery & it was scheduled for a week or two before our 2nd wedding anniversary.The surgery went well & I accepted that this was God's plan for my life.

I loved being a mom to Taylor. Daron & I loved watching him grow up. Each day brought a new adventure into our lives & we couldn't wait to see what would happen next. We just carried on our lives as best we could. I started working part time at a local Christian bookstore to help bring in some extra income. That lasted about a year or so when Daron needed me home more.

I had to say goodbye to my Grandpa Orr in October 2007. That man was like a second father to me & I still miss him terribly. I am thankful the wonderful memories I have to time spent at my grandparents home while growing up. In February 2008 I had to say goodbye to my Uncle Jim. That one was completely unexpected.

In 2009 we had a crazy year. Daron's MS really flared up - twice. Having two flare ups a few months apart really took it out of him. If my memory serves correctly, Daron was hospitalized over Mother's day weekend during this time to help with the second flare up. We were able to get a walker, a motorized scooter & a van to handle the scooter through the help of the VA. We also received the blessing of a ramp for our home from a few guys from our church. From this point on Daron's health was never the same. He started seeing a new doctor at the VA in Ann Arbor who specialized in MS. He started getting PT at the local VA clinic. He started new medications to help with different issues the MS caused.

Daron stopped working in either 2009 or 2010 (I can't remember when exactly). He couldn't keep up with everything going on there & his health declining. That meant that I became a 24/7 spouse caregiver. I didn't mind though. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later - of course we prayed for later. Since he stopped working we had to get him on disability benefits which meant a lot of paperwork. When all was said & done, we were grateful to receive a check to help cover costs of living. We were even able to take a long past due honeymoon to Hawaii. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our time there in February 2011.....

We made flower lei's on our whale watching cruise.....it didn't quite fit over his head. 😄

We loved just sitting at the beach in Waikiki & looking at the ocean. So peaceful!

View of Diamond Head from the cruise. 

View from our hotel room balcony. We were just a short walk to the beach. He loved every minute we were there!

From our whale watching cruise!

We really enjoyed our time in Hawaii - even if it was just a few days. We didn't know it at the time, but it was the last time we would be able to do anything like that. On July 5, 2011 the rug was pulled out from under us & life hit us square in the face. I had to have Daron admitted to the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek, MI. His health - mental & physical - was to the point that I couldn't care for him at home anymore. The Daron I married was slowly slipping away because of the MS. Having him admitted led to some crazy visits. Because he was admitted for physical safety concerns, Daron was placed in the psych ward to start. That was a locked down facility & the only way Taylor could visit was under supervision from the staff. Our visits always had someone sitting right outside the door.

He was in that ward for the first month he was there. Then we had to figure out what the next step would be. I knew he couldn't come home for safety (his, Taylor's & mine) & talked to them about long term nursing care. At first they were reluctant until I basically told them they didn't have a choice. I could not care for him at home anymore. They agreed to admit him to the CLC ward (their long-term nursing ward) until I could find a closer facility that had a contract with the VA. I went back & forth with the staff over this for months.

In February 2012 Daron was finally moved closer to home! He was transferred to the Laurels of Kent in Lowell, MI --- a 30 minute drive from home. I was happy that he was closer & he was too. Taylor & I got to spend more time with him on the weekends. It was easier all around & he seemed happy with the move. At least I though he was. He started to stay in his room & never spent time around the other residents. Thankfully, that didn't last long. He was paired up with a great guy & the two became fast friends.

During this time, I started working at the end of October 2012. I have been a lunch lady ever since & I have enjoyed it. Granted, it does have it's ups & downs, but so does every job. Working during the school day did make visiting Daron tougher & it took away my alone time......but I was thankful to be working again. It helped get my mind off things & keep me distracted for a few hours a day.

In March 2013 Daron made a big decision. He decided to stop his medication infusions. This decision was made because the medication had a big side effect -- a brain disease that was lethal. We did talk through the decision & made it together, which I was thankful for. We knew that this would cause an issue with his doctor, but we didn't care. This decision had to be made for Daron's health.

In October 2013 Daron moved back to the VA in Battle Creek. He made this decision because they had more activities to offer. He enjoyed his time in Lowell & being closer to home....but he was bored. He needed more activities to do during the day. They found a place for him to work & earn a little bit of money that he could spend at the canteen store there. He had fun going to bingo, bowling, other activities that they took the veterans to. That was the last move that Daron made. Granted he talked about wanting to go back to Lowell, but that conversation never ended. Same with the wanting to come back home conversation. With his dementia the conversations repeated themselves almost every day.

To me it seemed like time flew by after this move. We entered 2014 in an odd way....Daron told me he wanted a divorce. I still think that he didn't know what he was saying, but he said it multiple times over a few month stretch. This did put a strain on me mentally. I wasn't sure what was going on & I could only cling to God & beg Him to help me deal with everything. After that life just wasn't really the same. I worked, Taylor went to school.....life kept going.

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