Just a brief comment today on something I have mentioned before; however, it seems so common now that I chuckle when it occurs. Frequently when I tell her something she says, “You told me that.” Of course, it is quite possible that sometimes she is correct. It happens so often and in instances when I know that it would be impossible for me to have told her because I just learned about it. It makes me wonder if she says this because she forgets so frequently the odds are that whatever I say is something she has forgotten. Another possibility is that it is something akin to a deja vu experience.
The past week has been a full one. We celebrated Valentine’s Day by attending a concert by the Knoxville Symphony on Saturday night, the Symphony League’s Valentine’s Ball on Sunday night, lunch at Casa Bella on Valentine’s Day, and the UT Symphony that night. These were good times for both of us and serve to remind us how much we can continue to enjoy despite Kate’s Alzheimer’s looming over us. We continue to put a special emphasis on our relationship which seems more precious to us with every passing day.
On the downside, on Tuesday morning Kate took a walk around the neighborhood with one of our neighbors, Lucy Grayson. During that walk Lucy commented on another neighbor and her husband, Barry and Mary Jane Winters. Mary Jane also has Alzheimer’s which we have been aware for 2-3 years. Lucy indicated that she felt sorry for Mary Jane and then said, “I feel especially sorry for Barry.”
These are the kind of things that occur routinely, but they have a special meaning when you also are plagued with the disease. It makes me think once again that people need to be more careful about what they say.
Kate and I had lunch together and then she left in her car to run a couple of errands before returning home. I received a phone call from her a little later. She left a voice mail as I was in a meeting or phone call at the time. The message was a bit garbled but I could tell she had had an accident of some type. I sent her a text and asked if she were all right. She answered quickly that she was; so I called to find out what had happened. She told me she was pulling into a parking space and misjudged the distance to the car on her right and had knocked out her front headlight. When I got home that night I discovered that it had not only broken the right signal light but had also damaged the front fender, the right front passenger door, the right back door which will not open, and the right rear fender.
We sat down and had a glass of wine and discussed the events of the day. That is when she told me about Lucy’s comments that morning as well as how she was feeling about the accident. We didn’t say much. It was obvious to me that she was shaken by the experience. It is just one further sign of her inability to do anything right. I try to reassure her when these things happen, but we both know her situation is getting worse and affecting lots of things besides memory.
Last night at Kate’s suggestion we built a fire, had a glass of wine, and brought in Chinese for dinner. It was a good time for conversation. We find a lot of our conversation relate to things we are thankful for. I think this is our unconscious way of counterbalancing the trauma of the Alzheimer’s. It was a very nice evening. One of the things she said when we talked was that she had lied about something and wanted to explain. She went on to say that she had indicated on Tuesday night that she had not been bothered by Lucy’s comments, but the truth was that she had been bothered by the comment that Lucy felt even sorrier for Barry than for Mary Jane. She didn’t say this, but she doesn’t want to be a burden on me.
On a slightly different note, many decisions are influenced by Kate’s condition. For example, I have been planning to buy a new car next year and thought that I might even delay a little longer. My idea was that Kate may not be able to drive much longer and that I might trade in both cars when I buy a new one. This changed this week when I have significant repair bills on my car and have decided that I should buy a new car now. Kate asked me if I were planning to pass her car along to me. I told her I was not as it had so much more mileage than hers. I got to thinking later that she might have been thinking that her station wagon was getting to be too much for her and that she might do better with my car. Now I am beginning to wonder if getting her a smaller car might be an intermediate step. At the moment, I have decided against that.
During this week Kate continues to feel some frustration over her AD. She has said “I am a disaster.” Also “I am a basket case.”
Our pastor called me on Thursday afternoon, and we had a lengthy conversation. He was calling related to a personnel matter (a replacement for our church organist) but also asked about Kate. I gave him a rundown on the situation which corresponds rather well with what I have written within these pages.
Last night Kate and I had a conversation related to our desire for travel in the years ahead. We also talked about our 50th wedding anniversary in 2013. Her priorities are to go to the Galapagos and New Zealand and then Russia. We also agreed that we would like to have a family celebration for our 50th. I am going to look into a beach house somewhere along the Gulf coast of Florida or Alabama. I didnt tell her, but I am especially interested in this experience in connection with her Alzheimer’s and decline. I can’t help wondering now if the children will know by then. I have to believe that if we spend a week together, they will have to suspect.
Last night Kate and I had a good but very saddening evening. When I got home from seeing Dad, I sensed that she was upset. She was working on our pictures from Vienna. She is making an album similar to the one she and her did for the her mother’s family. I asked her if she would like me to get us a glass of wine and go over what she had done so far. She accepted enthusiastically.
I got a glass of wine for each of us, and she continued working for a short time while I sat on the sofa for her to bring her computer to me. She started to express her frustration. She simply can’t remember names or events that she needs for the album. She had called me twice while I was with my dad to ask the names of two operas we had seen in Vienna. She was still having trouble with that and where we had seen them.
This led to a brief, but much a longer and honest, conversation on how she feels about her AD. She told me she wishes she would rather have cancer, a heart problem, or anything else but AD. She talked about the frustration she has about not being able to remember anything. She talked about her anger over my spending 2 hours a day with Dad when she needs me. We talked together about my spending more time with her. I told her that I had already been thinking that the change in our office arrangements might be a good time for me to spend less time at the office. She then mentioned the possibility of her coming to the office to be with me because she feels she needs to ask me so many things. She seems to feel lost when she is alone. At the same time she talked about her continuing ability to do things. She mentioned specifically that she often finally figures things out even if she struggles to do so.
I have said it before, but I now want to SHOUT it. People say that at least the person suffering from AD doesn’t know it. How wrong this is. Of course, in the much later stages that is certainly true. However, there are years before that when the person does know something is wrong even if the condition has not been officially diagnosed. In a recent conversation, she said, she wasn’t so sure now that she was glad to know.
At any rate, she can see herself declining. It is not just my own observation. Still, I don’t think many, or any, people other than I know her situation.
I continue to be sometimes feeling panic as I see that we are moving toward a time when our lives won’t be as idyllic as they have been. We still want to travel, share good times with friend, etc. I feel like that may be affected within the next year or two. I am going to have to work hard to plan things in order for us to do as much as possible. This comes at the same time that I have to worry about the future of my business and taking care of Dad.