Thursday, March 5, 2009

About Butch

I am going to try to finally tackle the subject that I just haven't yet been able to put into words. It's honestly part of the reason for this blog and that is my relationship with my husband and Jessica's father, Butch.

As I have posted previously Butch lives in a nursing home. We have been married almost twenty years. We lived together for two years prior to our marriage and actually we met a little over twenty-seven years ago. Gosh, that's over half of my life!!! It seems like it was just yesterday though.

First a little understanding as to why Butch lives in the nursing home. Butch has been having health problems since January 1990, about three weeks before Jessica's birth. He had his first two strokes then and has continued having strokes since, due to a blood clotting disorder. He also was diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, two bulging discs in his back, heart disease and finally a form of vascular dementia called Binswanger's Disease in the ensuing years.

What is Binswangers Disease (aka BD)? Binswanger's disease or Subcortical Leukoencephalopathy is a rare form of multi-infarct dementia (multi-infarct meaning multiple strokes) caused by damage to white brain matter. It is characterized by loss of memory and intellectual function and by changes in mood. (credit goes to Wikipedia for this). Binswanger's disease is a slowly progressive condition for which there is no cure. The disorder is often marked by strokes and partial recovery. The most characteristic feature of BD is psychomotor slowness - an increase in the length of time it takes, for example, for the fingers to turn the thought of a letter into the shape of a letter on a piece of paper. Other symptoms include forgetfulness, changes in speech, an unsteady gait, clumsiness or frequent falls, and changes in personality or mood (most likely in the form of apathy, irritability, and depression). (from NINDS Binswanger's Disease Information Page).

After several months of dealing with massive personality changes, violent outbursts, and psychotic episodes, Butch was placed in a nursing care facility about sixty miles from where we lived in May 2008. This was the only place that had a bed for him at the time and looking back I don't think I could have found a nicer place for him to be. It is a small facility in a rural area. Jessica and I go to see him about every two weeks. The staff there is just wonderful. Words cannot describe how kind they have been to not only Butch, but also to Jessica and myself. At Christmas, they had purchased gifts for Butch to give to us. Valentines was the same way. If Butch hasn't been eating well (a recent problem) a staff member will go get him something he might want so that he will eat. (McDonald's Double Cheeseburger was the most recent request) Every so often a few staff members will even take him out to lunch if things have been going well, so that he can get out.

I am not going to lie and say that this is a sad love story, and that other than these diseases that we were the perfect couple, because we weren't. There have been great times, good times, and downright crappy times. When you are in the middle of it, it is very hard to be objectionable. We have both been at fault for causing problems. We did what we could, when we could, with the information that we had. We also both had a mutual love of our child and I think for the most part we put her first, which is always the best thing to do when you have a child together. No matter what, we will always, on some level, love each other because of Jessica. I think she got the best of both of us.

In the future, I will be telling our story in some of my memory posts. I want to be as honest as possible without hurting anyone. I want Jessica to understand a little more about her mom and dad. That we are people, and that we made some mistakes in the past and we will continue to make mistakes even now, for that is part of life and learning.

This is hard. I won't lie. Looking back at pictures brings back so many memories, but it also brings me the realization that although things have at times turned very dark, there were also times that were very happy. Until I posted the picture on last weeks memory post of the day that Jessica was born, I had almost forgotten the love and great joy that he had the day our only child was born. I have looked at that picture many times this week and I know deep in my heart that if nothing else, I gave him the daughter that he always wanted. For all of the pain, that alone is worth it.


  1. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that Butch has always been crazy about his daughter, Jessica, and rightfully so. She is an amazing young woman that he can be very proud of, much to the credit of her mother. I, also know that Janice has done the very best by Butch even through these incredibly difficult circumstances. I can only imagine how hard it is to suffer through the "long goodbye" with someone you have shared so much with. ~Sarah

  2. This post made me cry, because I can somewhat relate to this. My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years and he has DID (dissociative identity disorder) and has been in and out of the mental hospital- occurring more and more frequently and for longer stays as time goes on. I don't know if he will ever recover enough to live a full life. But I am afraid that one day in the future I am going to be faced with the decision of whether or not to place him in a full-time care facility. *hugs* To you.