I realize that much of my conversation may have a negative tone to it and want to present the other side for a change. It’s not that something especially good has happened to us in the last day or two but that overall we have much for which we are grateful. Perhaps I was prompted by a conversation I had with our banker the other day. I initiated steps to become power of attorney for Kate’s financial accounts and explained to the banker that she has AD. Last week I spoke with him for the first time in 6 months or more. He asked how we were doing. I told him that all-in-all we were doing quite well. Then I explained that one of the benefits of knowing early about her AD enabled us to place more emphasis on our relationship and making the most of the time we have together. Even with the natural frustrations that I experience with Kate’s inability to do or remember things, I have become decidedly more patient and understanding. That has made all the difference in our relationship. Even though we have had a strong relationship in the past, it is at its strongest now.
Beyond this, we are not under the financial pressures that might prevent our doing many of the things we enjoy. In addition, her diagnosis came at a time when I am able to take time away from my business and invest more personal time Kate.
When we consider everything, we are incredibly blessed, and we recognize it.
Last night our dinner with friends went well. The woman who mows the lawn came earlier in the day, the weather was pleasant, and everyone showed. No disasters occurred in connection with our preparations. Kate stayed out in the yard until 90 minutes before the guests arrived, but I had already settled on taking care of all things that I could. It worked. The sad part is that she thanked me for taking care of everything both last night and again this morning. It makes me sad for her to recognize her dependence on me.
When I left for the office this morning, she was pulling weeds in the front yard. I know that one reason she likes to work in the yard is that it is something that she can do. There aren’t as many “rules” that she has to follow or things she has to remember. She can just pull weeds, plant plants, and prune shrubs. It troubles me (and I know it troubles her) that she is so unable to do so many things.
I can’t recall whether or not I said this in an earlier post, but she told me the other day that next year she is going to ask Shirley Hazel, the PEO sister with whom she works on the scholarships, to do all the computer entry and letters of recommendation. She does still want to go with her to interview the candidates. I had been wondering about her telling Shirley that she didn’t want to continue, but this is much better that she chose this direction for herself and that she can maintain some involvement though minimal.
I think she needs to do the same with the responsibilities for the neighborhood newsletter and directory. Perhaps she will come to this conclusion herself without my saying anything.
It is now 2 ½ hours before we are having 3 other couples over for a light dinner. We are doing this informally. We hope the weather will cooperate and permit us to eat outside. If not, we’ll simply adjourn to the family room. Despite the informality, we have a good bit to do. I cooked pork tenderloin last night. We are going to thaw some shrimp and have shrimp cocktail. In addition, we will have assorted cheeses, fruit, and caprese salad. All of these are things we need to have in order by the time everyone arrives. At the moment Kate is outside working on plants. Some of this work has been pruning behind the shrubs on the side of the house where no one can see anything. How should I respond? Do I push her? That will annoy her. Do I let her go and just let the chips fall where they may? It is the latter that I am tending to do more and more often. I do believe we are very near the time when I will simply do everything except what she may want to do to make her feel a part. I don’t mean tonight although that is where we are headed. Thus far she has done very little except for the yard. It looks great, and I appreciate her work. However, I consider it secondary to the things that must be done to serve dinner.
Another issue is her weight. She loves eating snacks and treats like Wendy’s Frosties, candies, etc. She is frustrated over her weight gain. I am only 10-12 pounds heavier than she, and we found on our trip to South America that she can comfortably wear my jeans. I can understand she wants to enjoy herself while she stills knows and understands what is going on around her; however, I also know that she is troubled by her weight. She decided to go to Weight Watchers before we went to South America. She decided to start after our return. She went to one meeting and never returned. Again I have decided for the moment that I will not put any pressure on her. I feel like she needs to enjoy herself.
Several things have happened since my last post. I don’t have much time right now, but I would like to jot down some events that I may come back to later. The first involves the neighborhood association newsletter. This is something she started working on early last fall. We just got the printed newsletter back from Staples. A week ago Friday or Saturday, she asked for my help with two things. The first was to get her newsletter out. The second was to help her take care of her obligations for her grant applicants for PEO. I told her I would do so. She had a terrible time both comprehending and remembering what it is she is to do. She asked me to listen in on a phone conversation with the woman who chairs the grants committee so that I would know what she is to do. We did that. Then she got confused again and had to call her back another time. We got it straightened out. She has to write two letters of recommendation. She’s already done one and still needs to do another.
On Thursday, I reminded her that she had an appointment to get her hair done. Although I had reminded her several times, it slipped her mind. She left in the car. I got a call a short time later. She couldn’t remember exactly where the hairdresser’s salon is located. I talked her through it, and she finally recognized where she was going. This reinforced our intention to get her to use the GPS when she is going places. We both agreed that I would enter a number of places into the GPS to make it easier for her each time she needs to go someplace. I used it today to help her get to a neighbor’s house. It looks like it is not as user-friendly as she needs; so I will look for something simpler.
All these things tell me that a year from now she is bound to be in a situation where people begin to recognize her condition. I will be especially interested in the children when we are together next month.
Late yesterday afternoon we returned from a trip to see Jesse in Memphis and Dorothy Hinely in Jonesboro. In the car I reminded Kate that she had a PEO meeting tomorrow morning. As I expected, she had forgotten. She couldn’t remember where they were meeting. She called someone and found out it is in Collierville, southeast of Knoxville. She called a couple of people to see if she could get a ride. That was a relief. I couldn’t have let her drive alone.
We went to Hathaway’s for dinner and had a special time. She went right to bed on our return home.
This morning I could tell she was somewhat disturbed. It turns out she had misplaced her PEO bag with all of her PEO information that she apparently is supposed to have at each meeting. All I know is that she takes it with her. Then she couldn’t find her credit cards and driver’s license. After taking her to meet her ride, I came back home and found her cards except for her driver’s license. In addition, she misplaced her ATM card a week or so before we went to Memphis. She had only had the replacement card a couple of weeks before losing it. She still has not found it. That was at least the third replacement ATM card she has had in the past year. If we don’t find it, we will have to get another one.
This continues to reinforce what I have said so many times. The person with AD really does recognize the problem and suffers dearly from it. It is just as frustrating to her as it is to me. We are reaching a point at which I need to take charge of everything. This is a challenge for me. For example, I really need to make sure she has her purse when we leave a restaurant or some other place; however, I just don’t think about such things. I will have to learn.
The other thing that still holds true is that her biggest problem is not in the kinds of things she has to remember when she is with people. She can handle ordinary interaction without people suspecting she has AD. The big problem is how well she functions throughout the day. She simply can’t get things done. I have to believe that within the year she is going to need to give up her work with the neighborhood association. I have a hard time imagining that she will get the directory done, and newsletters will be harder and harder to complete.
Two days ago on Wednesday, we had another unpleasant experience. Dad was to receive his 65-year pin and certificate from the Masonic lodge. They went to Mountain Valley to present it. We were scheduled to meet at 3:00 pm. I left the house before Kate in order to get Dad dressed for the occasion. As I was driving out of the driveway, I realized it had been a while since she had been to Mountain Valley. I called her to make sure she knew how to get there. I gave her instructions. While Dad and I were waiting for her and the Masons, I received a call from her. She was lost though pretty close. I gave her instructions again. When she didn’t show up on time, we went ahead with the ceremony. After the Masons left, I called her and got no answer. I called several times. I even texted her to call me. She finally called me. This was now about 3:30 or later. She was located further away than when we spoke earlier. I told her to wait for me, and I would get her.
I got there and asked her to follow me back to Mountain Valley. I also set the address in her GPS but didn’t realize the sound was off. Just before getting to back to Life Care, I made a right turn. There was one car in between us. She didn’t see me turn. I called and called her but got no answer. It turned out that she had put her purse with her phone in my car thinking that she would drive back with me instead of following me. (I don’t know what she thought about how we would get her car back.) Finally she called me from a phone at a car wash that was about 2/10 of a mile from where I was waiting at a gas station. I told her to stay put and I would walk to her and drive her in her car back to where I was. I did so and then she followed me back to Dad’s where we visited with him while he ate his dinner. When we left, she was feeling quite low. I told her I was going to take her to dinner at Hathaway’s, something we do frequently on Wednesday nights. She was pleased. We had a nice evening together, but it was a frustrating afternoon for both of us.
The experience makes me concerned about her driving anywhere. She can get lost at any time. She has resolved to start using the GPS more regularly, but I am worried she will not be able to remember how to use it. This is just a small sign of what lies ahead. It’s going to be a rough road.