The State of Our Lives

Yesterday Andy Griffith died. His passing took both Kate and me back. His show was in its heyday when I was a student at UW in Madison. We always love him and the characters around him. The way I expressed it to Kate he was a “marker” in our lives, one of those people and events that were significant to us.

At the moment we are in a period where we have both settled into recognition of Kate’s condition and do not belabor it, but it isn’t that we don’t think about it. In fact, it still hangs over everything we do. Not a day goes by without multiple times thinking in some way of Kate’s diagnosis. For me, in particular, I find myself both remembering and forgetting (or acting as though I have forgotten). Let me clarify this last comment. Although I know she can’t remember things, I find myself asking her things that require greater memory than she has. For example, yesterday she couldn’t find a pair of shoes she wears when she is working in the yard. This morning I noticed that she was wearing them and said, “I see you found your shoes, where were they?” She answered, “I don’t remember.” I don’t believe that this comment alone creates a problem, but it occurs so often that I feel it is a constant reminder to both of us that she is losing her memory. It is amazing how many times we ask these kinds of questions in the course of a normal day. “How did you . . .” “What did you do . . .” “Why did you . . .”

On Tuesday of this week I received a call from an attorney that State Farm has provided for us in a lawsuit against us for an accident that I had coming back from Memphis in March 2009. I am to give my deposition on July 13, and the attorney said that the plaintiff’s attorney had requested that Kate be deposed as well. I said ok somewhat hesitantly. After hanging up, I had 2 concerns. First, is that Kate is uncomfortable being pressed to explain herself. For example, when I ask her how she solved a computer problem, she will usually say, “Don’t ask me” which I take to mean it is stressful for her to try to explain, and she probably is not able to do so. The result is that I try not to press her to explain anything. My earlier comments above acknowledge that I often fail at this. She is quick to tell me when I am pressing her, and then I stop quickly.

The second concern is that in her attempt to explain herself, she gets confused and gives inconsistent information. I was afraid that the plaintiff’s attorney would take advantage of this. That led to my talking with Kate about the attorney’s request. She suggested I tell the attorney about her Alzheimer’s and that we could provide a doctor’s statement if needed. I called the attorney back, and he accepted my suggestion although he did indicate that we may need the doctor’s statement.

One question one might ask is, “Is her condition getting noticeably worse?” The answer is it depends on the period of time with which you compare her present condition. I would say she is noticeably worse than she was a year and a half ago when we got the diagnosis. I can’t say that I notice a difference in the past 6 months. What I do see is her working harder to minimize her frustrations. For example, she had agreed to solicit our neighbors for contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association. She hasn’t done it and told me yesterday that she would need my help to get her started or she would never do it. I also interpret her growing interest in tending to her plants relates to the fact they don’t talk back, ask her questions, or provide other frustrations. She is simply able to do what she can. If she does less than she intended, there are no great negative consequences. The only critical thing is to keep everything watered.