Although Kate clearly wanted to know if she had Alzheimer’s, there have been times when each of us wondered which is better. I am now confident it is better to know. It has given us a higher quality of life together than we would have had otherwise. If we hadn’t found out, we would have continued on our merry way as we had been doing before knowing. This is strange because we both (especially Kate) felt for a long time that she had AD. But knowing took away the doubt and made us stop and take advantage of the good time we have together. In every respect, the days since diagnosis have been the best of our marriage. Even as I say this I know that the future will bring on the worst times. At least we will have made good use of our time since Jan. 21, 2011.
Last night we went out for pizza. As we entered the restaurant, we saw two former members of our church. They had been good friends of Kate’s when she was the church librarian. She didn’t remember either of them. When we see people we haven’t seen in a while, I am careful to let Kate know quickly so they won’t notice that she doesn’t remember them. I did so this time, and I am sure they didn’t sense any lack of recognition. This is the kind of thing, however, that I can see catching up with her at some point.
In our conversations, she often mentions that she can’t even picture certain people that she has known pretty well in the past.
I also continue to observe her forgetting things that have occurred in the very recent past. Yesterday, for example, I picked her up at Bruegger’s where she was talking with Shirley Hazel. We talked about the two couples getting together for dinner and a movie. Last evening before dinner, she told me that she and Shirley had discussed this. She didn’t realize at all that I was with her and was aware of the discussion. Of course, this could happen to anyone. It is just that this is a normal occurrence these days.
An hour ago I went outside to tell remind Kate that she needs to meet a grant recipient and Shirley Hazel at 11:45 and that we could get make a trip to Lowe’s before that. I suggested we leave at 11:00. I came inside and I thought she had as well. Ten minutes ago I was going to check on her and saw her coming in from outside. She was in her pajamas and had continued to work on pruning her plants. She had simply let time slip by which is very common.
The surprising thing is that I know she wanted to go to Lowe’s at 10:00. Now we won’t have time to go at all before her meeting.
Last night we had dinner at Emilia. It was a nice evening. We had a good meal, and a man we know from church played the piano. The night before I had reviewed our itinerary and lodging for our trip to New Zealand in February. We both got excited about this trip. I finally decided to travel on our own and travel by car within the country. I think this will work out much better than having to meet a schedule for a group as we would have done with OAT.
Kate found her driver’s license and ATM card this morning. I am sure she was relieved. I know that every time something like this happens, she suffers. After church today, we walked to our cars. She asked if I were taking her to my car first – that her car was in front of the church. I told her I thought I had seen her car in back near my car. She told me it must have been a similar car. When we got near the car, she still thought it belongs to someone else and started to walk away. I looked closer and saw that it was hers. She was surprised and hadn’t remembered parking in this spot at all.
As we drove away from the church, I noticed that she turned right instead of left. I followed her to see where she was going. The road took her back to the church parking lot. She then went the correct way home. When we got home, she looked at me without saying anything. I know she was saying without words, “I am getting worse. I am discouraged.” I gave her a hug. We embraced. Neither of us said anything; however, we each understood the other.
I just got home from the hospital visiting Dad. The first thing Kate said was that she couldn’t find her driver’s license or ATM card. Of course, we may find them. She said, “I don’t know, Richard.” I took that as an expression of personal frustration over her decline. We’re going to have to figure out a way to keep them in a single location. I thought we had done that this time by putting them in the console of her car between the driver’s and passenger’s seat.
I am with Dad in the hospital. I received a call from Mountain Valley at 6:00 am Friday morning saying they had discovered rectal bleeding and recommended that he go to the hospital. This morning they performed an endoscopy and discovered that he has 3 ulcers in his upper intestine. That’s good news as it can be treated with Nexium which they are doing intravenously now. He’ll probably go back to Mountain Valley on Monday.
This is the second time in a week that we have taken him to the emergency room. It is on these occasions that one becomes keenly aware of the multitude of people Who are here on a daily basis. Yesterday as I took a break to call Larry, a woman in the parking lot called to me. She told me her daughter was very sick and needed a wheel chair. I went inside, got a wheel chair, went to her car and brought her in. I noticed the mother was struggling from some type of foot problem and suggested she might need a wheel chair as well. After leaving the daughter with an attendant at the check-in desk, I took another wheel chair out to the mother and brought her in.
Two friends from Littleton, CO, visited us for 2 nights this week. It was good to see them. Kate enjoyed their company and was unusually talkative. She gives a fair amount of misinformation, but it doesn’t usually matter as the listeners don’t know and won’t have occasion to discover the mistakes.
She continues to spend time in the yard which I have noted on several occasions is her therapy. The plants don’t complain or give suggestions and neither does anyone else. For me it does occasionally present a problem. That is usually when we are scheduled to go someplace, and she gets caught up in the yard rather than getting ready. That occurred this week as I was focusing on getting the house ready for guests. She had brought in cuttings from the yard and put them in a small vase around the sink in the laundry room. While it was a nice touch, she didn’t notice that there was dirt all around the sink. If I hadn’t specifically suggested cleaning the area, she would probably not have noticed.
Recently Kate has become more sensitive about being corrected. I am having to learn not to say anything that might make her feel bad. One of my bad habits is asking, “Do you remember . . .” Because there is less and less she does remember, this is not a good thing to say.
Kate was with me when we met with Dad yesterday afternoon. She also knew I was out late at the hospital with him last night. This morning I spoke with her by phone before going out to see him. When I got back home, she had been working out in the yard. When she came in, she didn’t ask me about Dad at all. If it were not for her AD, she would have asked me right away about him. As it was, I simply told her. I am confident she would have asked at some point, but at that moment she had completely forgotten about him. I see this kind of thing all the time. While this incident has no negative consequences, there are times that it does because I will assume she has remembered something when it turns out she hasn’t.
Last week she missed a neighborhood association board meeting because she had forgotten. She hadn’t told me about it. That reminds me she hasn’t told me about her next hair appointment. She generally does this shortly after coming back from her previous appointment.
Yesterday morning about 11:15 I got a call from Mountain Valley telling me that Dad had not slept all night, had been agitated all morning, and had fallen. I got out there by noon and was able to calm him down. When I arrived, he was trying to get in another resident’s room where he said there was some blue spaghetti. Kate was with me. We distracted him and took him to a private dining room where we were able to talk. We were able to carry on a conversation; however, he was talking about things that happened the night before. Those things had not really occurred. In addition, he was seeing people and things in the room with us. At the recommendation of the director of nursing, we took him to the hospital where we spent 6 hours in the ER. They could find nothing wrong except for his delusional behavior which continued the entire time. An ambulance to him back to Mountain Valley at 10:00 pm. I called the nurse on duty, Leslie, and told her he would need a sedative in order for him to get some sleep. They did so, and he slept all night. I went out to see him after leaving the Y this morning. They said they had been unable to get him up. I told them I wasn’t surprised and to let him sleep through the morning. They are going to try to give him some lunch. To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t eaten since Wednesday night when I was with him. I know he didn’t have lunch or dinner yesterday and was missing breakfast this morning.
The doctor’s diagnosis was simply that this is a part of the progression that dementia takes. I want to believe this and can accept it, but it came on so suddenly that it makes you wonder if something more specific occurred to bring it on. I do know that I see other residents on Dad’s hall that seem to have delusions, but they are at a more advanced stage of dementia than he is. I am anxious to see what he is like when he wakes up.
Each day brings numerous examples of AD. Here are two. Yesterday afternoon I arrived home from visiting Dad. When I came in I heard Kate on the phone. She had her computer in her lap. I thought she might be handling some details concerning our neighborhood directory for which we requested updates yesterday afternoon. I busied myself with a few things on my computer. When she hung up, I discovered that she had forgotten about a commitment she had made to prepare a flyer announcing an annual fundraiser for her PEO chapter and that she needed to have it. She ended up stressed, but together we got it done.
This morning she has her PEO meeting. I planed to drive her and told her we would leave around 9:30. Around 8:00 she was dressed in her yard clothes and said she was going out to take the yard trash to the curb for pick up this morning. At 8:45 after I had dressed for the day, she had not come inside to get ready. I went out to let her know it was time to come in. When she came in, she asked me if I could get the second wheelbarrow filled with trash and take it out. I hesitated and said I would have been happy to do it if she had asked me before I got dressed. Of course, I went out and emptied the wheel barrow on the curb. My point is that she loses track of time so quickly and then doesn’t do the things she originally started to do even though may have been the more important things she wanted to do.
Because of the flyer for PEO we had a late dinner – almost 9:00 at Hathaway’s. While there she commented that she is relying more on me for help than in the past. I told her I understood and recognized that I find myself trying to take more initiative to do so but that there are times when she wants to do things herself. She acknowledged the situation. We both then indicated that we thought each of us is handling things pretty well.