I am not sure, but I think I have seen signs of Kate’s becoming more emotional that may be linked to AD. At the moment, I cannot recall any past incidents that have made me feel this way. Yesterday, however, she called me while I was visiting Dad at Life Care. She asked if I could come home right away. I told her I would and asked what was up. She told me that an orange cat that has been around our neighborhood recently had been found in the street and that she had taken the cat, who was warm but appeared to be dead, around to our patio. Before I got home, she called me once again to ask how long it would be before I got home. I told her I was just turning on to our street and would be there in a minute.
When I got home, I found her sitting on the loveseat on the patio holding the cat in her arms just as if she were holding a baby. She was not wildly emotional – just sad to have lost the cat that she had recently befriended and to which she had felt attached. I told her I thought we might contact the neighbors across the street to see if they knew whose cat it was. They did. It belonged to our next door neighbor. We called and left a message, and he came over when he got home. We had put the cat in a basket in our garage.
Even when we went to bed, she was still moved by the loss. This may have nothing to do with AD, but it seems to me that this was a somewhat different emotional behavior than I have observed in the past.
Last night after leaving the visitation for a church friend, Kate and I planned to meet at Panera Bread. This followed a terrible thunderstorm during the visitation. As we came back toward Panera, she and I got separated (we were in separate cars). The power was out along the street leading to our home. I went home to wait and then went back out to look for her. Before going too far, I got a phone call from Kate saying she was at Chalupas; so I went to join her. I discovered that she had thought I had said we would go to Chalupes if Panera was not open (which I had not said at all). When I got there, she told me she had accidentally gone past the restaurant and realized it sometime down the road and had to turn back. In turning around she had run over a curb and thought she might have damaged the car (though I don’t see any signs of damage).
Over dinner she told me she is beginning to lose confidence. I assured her that the confusion of the night and weather conditions made it difficult to see (which was true) and that it could have happened to anyone. She understands that, but I could tell she still thinks part of the problem is AD. She is seeing more and more signs of it as am I.
This Wednesday it will have been 8 months since our meeting with Dr. Reasoner when she diagnosed Kate with AD. We have both adapted well, although we continue to have our moments of melancholy. I am convinced, and I believe Kate is as well, that she is declining more rapidly than we had hoped given that Dr. Reasoner described her condition as early onset AD. There are little things like operating the TV that seem to be more confusing than in the past. She has to ask me to help her with many routine tasks. Yesterday, she asked me how to operate the TV in our bedroom with the new DVD player that permits us to stream movies from Netflix. I think she would have had trouble with that without the AD. Then after I had shown her, she asked if I would show her how to turn on the TV in her office. Before I could do that she had done it herself. I can’t recall the exact conversation but in the latter part of the process of showing her how to operate the TV (which I know she will not remember) she said, “Well, remember I do have Alzheimer’s.” I said that I know but sometimes forget. She said, “Most of the time I do too.”
There are 2 other recent illustrations of her asking for help. She misplaced her shovel someplace outside and asked me to help her find it. We walked around the flower beds in the backyard. In a moment, she saw the shovel right after I had walked by it and didn’t notice it.
Yesterday afternoon she asked me if I would help her find a new plant that she had purchased on Saturday but couldn’t remember where she planted it. I walked around the flower beds again and found it. A little later she asked me where the plant was. I told her, and she remembered.
These are the kinds of things that don’t get noticed by most people since normal interactions involve such routine things that she can do almost reflexively. I think this is fortunate because I don’t want a lot of people to know about her condition, and, as I have mentioned before, she doesn’t either.
The fact that her deterioration over the past 8 months is noticeable makes me concerned about the future — for example, a trip to New Zealand in the winter of 2013. I am beginning to think that we will want to make the most of 2012. I don’t really think we will have to stop traveling after 2012, but it will be different if her condition continues to decline at the present rate.
I do find that I feel a greater need to be with her and to enjoy our time together. We both enjoy snuggling in bed and taking moments together with a glass of wine out on the patio. Without saying it, we both want to make the most of the time we have remaining. I am hoping it is longer than I am presently thinking. I recall a friend’s saying a good while after his wife had been diagnosed with AD that they were able to enjoy conversations together.