New Year: So where are we? How is she? How am I?

I started to entitle this entry “Emotions change quickly” but thought that since it is the beginning of a new year some reflection is appropriate. Both things are intertwined.

Just yesterday I sent the following email to Tom and Carl, two email buddies whom I have kept up with since college days at TCU. Neither of them knows about Kate’s AD.

As I suggested in my previous post, each of us is approaching the stage of life with a different set of experiences and situations. I have never been a workaholic, but my job has necessarily required time apart from Kate. I used to travel a lot. I was reminded of this the other day when I noted that I have travelled only 23,000 miles this year. At one time I was travelling over 100,000 miles a year. That’s how I got to 3,000,000 with Delta. I must have flown 500,000 with US Air. Kate never complained. She actually likes alone time, and I think we were together just about as much as she wanted. Now that we have reached this stage, I just feel the need to make the most of whatever time we have left. That is why I have put as much emphasis on our 50th anniversary as I have done. I have also tried to attend as many social and cultural events as possible. We do about as much as we are comfortable doing. Sometimes it is just nice to be at home.

For me this is as much about attitude change as it is about just being together. I mean there is a difference when we are together. For example, as I finished the paragraph above, she came in to ask if I could build a fire. In the past I would have done it, but I might have thought, “Gee, we just had a fire each of the last 2 days. Do we really need another one today?” Instead I immediately started working on a fire that she will enjoy the rest of the afternoon until we go to dinner. Another way of expressing it is that I make more of an effort to make her happy than I did for a good bit of our married life. The great news is that I find that we are enjoying each other more than we did in the past. That’s saying something because we have always had a good marriage. Now it is almost like we are on a honeymoon. We don’t take each other for granted. Enough said.

Of course, this leaves a lot unsaid because I don’t want them to know just yet about Kate’s diagnosis. It also emphasizes how quickly my feelings can change. Yesterday I sensed that Kate was somewhat depressed. When I got home from visiting Dad, she was almost asleep on the sofa in the family room. We talked a little before dinner, ate at home, and went to bed. During the night she had some problems with diarrhea. This has been a chronic issue for her for some time; however it has gotten worse in the past 6-12 months. This made me think about her continuing inability to function effectively when doing a lot of tasks and what things will be like as she gets worse. It also made me think about our upcoming trip to Peru and Ecuador. I understand that almost everyone gets diarrhea on this trip. Will this be especially difficult for her? I don’t know. I hope that we will be able to take medicine that will help us. She has two doctors’ appointments coming up soon. One is with Dr. Reasoner, the other with Dr. Edwards. She also had a bad bout with acid reflux night two nights ago. I ended up calling the doctor on call at Dr. Reasoner’s office. He recommended she take Gravascon or Mylanta which we have bought subsequent to my call. My point in going through this is to say we can be up at one moment and down at another. My mood depends heavily on how I believe she is feeling.

So how is she doing? On the whole, I would say she is doing well. I think she would say the same. On the other hand, we both see signs of greater difficulty doing lots of things. I get the impression that she is sometimes just in a daze. On simple tasks like entering a new name in her contact list or an item on her calendar, she asks me to give her just one thing at a time. I can’t say, “”We are going to the Bijou on Thursday at 8:00.” That is too much information at one time. Another indication of how difficult it can be for her to do things involves her hair appointment. She missed one while we were in Tom for Christmas, and her hair dresser asked her to schedule a new appointment when we returned. I have been asking all week if she had done it, and she hadn’t. Last night I asked her if she would like me to call and make the appointment. She quickly said yes as though a load was lifted from her.

At dinner on New Year’s eve, she made a gentle reference to her AD, but we did not discuss it. It is clear, however, that she sees herself having more trouble. She does not believe her time is as short as I believe it is. She continues to talk about taking each of the grandchildren to NYC when they are 13. That would be the summer of 2014 for Heather and 2016 for the twins, and 2017 for Taylor. I am not even sure 2014 will work out. Kate certainly would be able to travel, but based on our recent trip to NYC, she requires a lot of help. (I have even thought we might consider taking Heather to NY this summer instead.) That said, I believe it is good that Kate does not believe the trips won’t work out. This would depress her.

Going to have to close now. I will deal with how I am doing in the next post.

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