Seesaw

Seesaw by Kim Campbell for CareLiving.org

When I was a little girl, I loved science and math just as much as recess. I guess that’s why I enjoyed the playground so much.

I learned a lot about both physics and life from something as simple as playing on a seesaw.

A seesaw is all about leverage, so picking the right partner is important! Going up and down with someone you are equally matched with can be a lot of fun, but if the person on the other end is bigger than you, you can easily find yourself helplessly suspended with no way to come down.

To be at the mercy of such science is scary enough – but what’s worse: being stuck 5 feet in the air … or crashing down with a painful thud when the playground bully suddenly jumps off at the other end?

I found that the best way to even the playing field when faced with a seesaw heavyweight was to ask some friends to hop on my side with me until we achieved proper balance and could regain some control.


When I became my husband’s caregiver, my life felt frighteningly ‘up in the air’ and I realized that I had to find my balance and get some help quickly! I needed people on my side to help me regain the control that Alzheimer’s had stolen away from our family. As the disease progressed and things got heavier and heavier, I found that I needed more and more people on my side to keep things balanced.

Alzheimer’s is never a fair fight.

When Glen passed, Alzheimer’s jumped off the seesaw and sure enough, I came crashing down so hard that I feared I might not ever be able to get up again. Amazingly, the same group of friends and family who helped me weigh my end down when I was a caregiver were the ones now lifting me up and helping me get back on my feet as I began to recover.

Ask for help. Grow your team. Care for each other.

Let’s beat this bully!

7 Comments

  1. Thank you. That was beautiful. You have done a great job caring for your husband when he could not care for himself. Now make sure you can care for yourself.

  2. Carolyn Knight says:

    Our seesaw ride began in 2011 with MRI’s, a visit to a neurologist then a battery of tests (for memory and cognitive skills) – my husband was 59 – then off to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN in 2012 -after a PET scan in 2014 – the colors were “indicative of someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s” – – so Early On-Set Alzheimer’s became a household term. The seesaw has crashed many times – – putting my high school sweetheart, the father of our 4 children in full time Memory Care the day after Easter (2018) has rocked our family’s world. Now I am starting over with the caregivers at Memory Care – it is extremely difficult but I am trying to feel blessed that I can still visit my husband. Most days he does not remember my name, but he still recognizes me as his wife. The seesaw ride continues – and we all know that the final crash is coming. I pray for strength to stay on the seesaw until the final crash.

  3. Richard Crane says:

    Thank you Kim for your inspiring story my mother died of Alzheimer’s several years ago and as I read your story all my memories came rolling back realizing what it really does take to care for a person who has Alzheimer’s I commend you for your great service and your dedication to your husband.

  4. william cummings says:

    Great advice. When my dad passed I crashed hard as well. It helped me to continue speaking to caregiver groups as I knew what they were going through.

  5. Ginny Fisher says:

    Our seesaw ride started officially in 2011 with my husband. After denial and then on to severe memory loss and paranoia I could not have ridden the seesaw without my friends and church family. My seesaw crashed down in November 2016. After months of hospitalization and moves to two memory care homes, I brought him back home for his last 10 days. Now picking up the pieces and moving on with life. I still am an advocate and run a Memory Cafe monthly. I treasure the friendships I have made along the way with others walking this journey. My husband’s brain went to research and we recently found out his Alzhiemers disease was severe throughout his brain. God bless all riding the seesaw.

  6. Leslie Basham says:

    Wow! That is so apropos. My husband has Frontotemporal Degeneration with Progressive Supra nuclear palsy. i know you will find this weird…but sometimes i wish I could just call it Alzheimers. No one really understands our world.”He remembers so much…” “He is so aware..” I just want to say…”Let me tell you what’s missing.” How we went through bankruptcy because he couldn’t manage finances. How he focused on crazy things that didn’t really matter with our kids but got to the point of near abusive behavior. The seesaw became a rollercoaster.But oh how many I have had on my side. I too am grateful and know that they will be there when i get off the ride.

  7. Beautifully written indeed. A long and terrifying road for many, and not a journey anyone will ever find easy

Leave a Comment