HONKING THE HORN
In addition to the ice skating a couple of times a week, we were also out on our bicycles. I think he enjoyed the freedom of it. At first I hesitated, and I know a lot of people in the Caregiver Group thought it unwise for me to allow him on a bike, but this is an activity we had both previously enjoyed doing together, and would frequently put the bikes in the back of his truck, and just drive off somewhere, then disembark and go for long cycle rides and picnics; something we both got great pleasure from. So it was something he had been used to, and he was very steady and stable, otherwise I would not have allowed it. I think one of the things with Alzheimer’s is the loss of self and independence and for someone as strong willed as Alan it was particularly hard, so I tried to give him as much freedom as possible. However, I did have to always make sure he was in front of me so I could keep an eye on him, and we only ever cycled on the trails or sidewalk. For his 70th birthday I had purchased him a new bike which had a horn – he had so much fun peddling along just honking his horn, and freewheeling or singing. He would honk his, and I would honk mine back. The only thing I did miss was no longer having his truck to put the bikes in, which restricted how far we could travel. I think it was also good therapy for me.
It wasn’t all happy bicycle rides and ice skating, but the brain has a way of blocking out the pain, you know you suffered and it was terrible, but you can’t actually remember that terrible feeling of overwhelming exhaustion and the permanent knot in your stomach or the haze in your brain from sleep deprivation – just trying to keep one step ahead of whatever was happening at any particular time, and the sheer fear of what is happening to the person you love, slowly disappearing before your eyes.