More On Coordination

This afternoon we had planned to go to a movie at 4:30. After lunch, we came back home. I came inside, and Kate started to do some things in the yard. Very shortly, she came inside. It was too hot. We called Jesse who had called us last night while we were attending an event honoring one of my major clients. We talked about an hour. At 3:00, I told her we had an hour before we would leave for the movie. At 3:45 she walked into the kitchen dressed for yard work. I told her we would leave in about 20 minutes. She asked me to give her 5 minutes in the yard. I did just that, and she came in. At 3:05 I checked to see how she was coming along because it was time to leave. She was in her bathroom getting reading but not dressed. I told her it was time to leave. She asked me to leave her alone. I followed her instructions as I have learned to do. When she hadn’t come out at 4:25, I went back to check again. She was in bed working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. It was obvious to me that she had forgotten we were going to the movie. I said, “Why don’t we go to dinner in a while and forget the movie.” Then she started to get up to get dressed. I told her the movie was getting ready to start. She felt badly. I made the mistake and said, “I hate for you to suffer.” She immediately and sternly asked me “never to use that word with her again.” I will remember that. She doesn’t want to be treated as a patient.

Our 52nd Anniversary

We are on our summer schedule at church. That means a combined adult Sunday school class at 9:00 and worship at 10:15. One of Kate’s favorite pastors is teaching the combined class. Kate had wanted to go last week, but she didn’t get ready until it was too late. Last night I asked Kate if she wanted to go this morning. She said she did. I got up about 30 minutes before her. She came into the kitchen while I was eating my breakfast. I wished her a happy anniversary. She gave a look that indicated that she had forgotten.

We hugged, and I asked her once again if she would like to go to go to Sunday school. She confirmed that she did. She asked me how much time she had before leaving. I told her about an hour and a half. In a short time she came into the kitchen again. She was groggy. I walked over to her and gave her a hug, and said, “Happy Anniversary.” She said, “Oh, it’s our anniversary?” and hugged back.

I went out for a walk 15-30 minutes later. When I returned, she was resting on the bed. I asked if she still wanted to go. She said she did. I went into the kitchen to check my email. A little while later, I went to our bedroom to check on her. She was resting. I asked if she wouldn’t rather skip Sunday school and just go to church. She said yes.

I left her again while I watched a video of a Rotary meeting I had missed while we were in Switzerland. About 40 minutes before our church service was to start, I went back to the bedroom and found that she was asleep. I decided to let her sleep. About 20 minutes ago, I checked again and found her in bed working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. I asked if she were hungry. She said yes, and I said, “Well, let’s get ready for lunch.” She said OK. I can’t be absolutely sure, but I am sure she doesn’t remember that we were going to church.

Challenges to Coordinating

We got home from Switzerland a week ago this evening. It has been a week for catching up. I have had only one meeting, and I have not pushed myself. Part of me says this is a good thing to do. The other part says it would be better to be focusing on other things than Kate and myself. I feel a slight sense of anxiety over her changing condition. I sense that it makes it hard for me to focus.

Our 52nd anniversary is tomorrow. Last night we went to a dinner that I considered our anniversary celebration. I had told Kate the day before that I had made dinner reservations. When I tell things I have planned, I know she won’t remember them, but I find it is a natural thing to do. An hour before we were scheduled to leave for the restaurant, I told her how much time we had. I believe I also reminded her where we were going to dinner. I know I had told her earlier in the day. In fact, I had mentioned our celebrating our anniversary, and she thought it was yesterday. I told her it was not until Sunday but that given other things we would celebrate tonight. When it was about 35 minutes before we were to leave, she was still in bed. I told her I thought it was time to get ready. She asked how much time she had. I told her 35 minutes. She said that was a lot of time and started to relax in the bed again. I asked if she knew what she was going to wear. She looked puzzled. Then she asked where we were going. I told her. I mentioned it was our anniversary dinner. She said, “Oh, is it today?” I told her that it was Sunday etc. This is just another example of the deterioration of her memory. Life is changing for both of us.

Short-term memory problem

About 45-55 minutes ago I told Kate that we should dress for the funeral of a church friend before going to lunch. She had been outside working and was a mess. She thought my idea was a good one. When she had dressed, I told her that I thought we should go to Panera to save time before the funeral. She had completely forgotten that we were going to the funeral. She said, “Well, I can’t wear this to a funeral.” Then she went back to her room to change. Now we have even less time to dress before the funeral. It is now 1:07, and the service is at 2:00. This is the kind of thing that is becoming a daily occurrence. Even though I know that her short-term memory is going fast, it never crossed my mind to remind her.

Downward Spiral

I am feeling like Kate is in the midst of a more serious downward spiral than she has experienced before. Her short-term memory is becoming weaker and weaker. The biggest issue with this is time. She seems not to have any sense of time. I am trying not to push her to get ready for things like our Y breakfast this morning. I do my best not to push her, but it is never easy.

Yesterday at 11:55, I got her to come in from outside so that we could get a bite to eat and go to a 12:50 movie. There was also a 3:45. I gave her the option of going to the later showing, but she chose the earlier one. At 12:35 I went back to check on her. She had just gotten out of the shower and was not dressed. She sternly told me not to say anything. I didn’t and decided to wait until she was ready.

Finally, at 2:00 (an hour and ten minutes past the start time for the movie) I went to check on her. I found her on the bed in the large guest room. I asked if she were getting hungry. She said, “yes.” She got up slowly, and we went to Panera. While there, I told her the movie would start at 3:45 which gave us time to go back home for a while. She never realized that she had forgotten about the 12:50 movie. In this case that was just fine. In other situations, we don’t have other options. For example, going to the symphony, Sunday school, a theater production, etc.

I have mentioned previously that I am only now seeing how important short-term memory is to daily functioning. This seems like the kind of behavior that we commonly associate with someone with dementia. I must admit that this scares me a bit.

The Flight Home

Kate’s iPad’s battery ran down with a couple of hours to go. I let her use mine. Then they served a snack and she gave my iPad back to me. After the snack she wanted to work more jigsaw puzzles. She reached over to my lap and got her iPad. When it wouldn’t turn on, I reminded her that the battery had died. I gave her mine again. After a while she decided to try to sleep. Then she got her iPad and discovered the battery was dead.

As long as I have known her, she has avoided eating anything with coconut in it, but today they served coconut cake. She ate it without even thinking what kind of cake it was. I have observed similar things back home.

She has continued to have deja vu experiences while on the trip. At lunch in Bern yesterday, she noted having seen the photos on the wall.

Our waiter set two places across from each other at a table for 4. After I took my seat, she sat down diagonally across from me. When I mentioned that she might want to join me, she said, “We can each choose individually.” This is also something she has done when we are eating out at home.

Friday Morning At The Zurich Airport

The first thought I have about the trip is that it has been just what I had hoped for. We went to a nice variety of places (Geneva, Interlaken, Lucerne, Zurich), engaged in quite a few diverse activities from city tours, to mountain heights, to paragliding, and opera. I am aware that emotionally I have felt up most of the time but also discouraged a few times. The most negative aspect of this or any other trip we might make is the responsibility of planning and executing daily activities while at the same time caring for Kate. It is not that she has presented any serious problems. It is more like the responsibility a parent has for a child. In fact, I believe that is an excellent comparison. Like a young child, she often is confused, forgets things, loses things, spills things, is unaware of clothing that is soiled, gets hot and wants to take off her coat, gets cold in a moment and wants to put it on, etc. Some of the more discouraging moments have occurred when she gets frustrated with me. She realizes she needs my help but often resents my stepping in to help. This means I am always working to determine what I should and what I shouldn’t do.

We are ending the trip as I expected. I believe this is the last such trip we will take. We have several domestic trips between June and December. I cannot imagine my planning another international trip after that time. I continue to believe that 2015 will mark a significant change I her condition. It already has, and I suspect this will continue.

As I write this journal entry, Kate is writing an email on her iPad. She seems to be having difficulty. She believes she is online, but I doubt it. Normally This is something I would have to help her with. No matter. She can save a draft and send when she is online. We only get one free hour in the airport; so it seems wise to work offline until ready to send.

Several times she has asked me to take a picture of her with a Coke to send to her cousin in Fort Worth. She then thinks that taking it with my camera means it has been sent. Sometimes she realizes this is not the case. This is a good example of the kind of confusion that goes on regularly whether on a trip or at home.

Thursday Morning In Zurich

It is now 10:16 a.m. We came back from breakfast about 20-25 minutes ago. Kate immediately got back into bed and appears to be asleep though she may just be resting. She was unusually groggy when I got her up for breakfast. I had gotten up at 7:35; so I was ready for breakfast. I had held on by eating some dried fruit that we bought at the train station yesterday morning before taking a city tour at 1:00. We met a family from Boca Raton, FL who were on the same tour. It was a worthwhile tour, but when the guide pointed out things along the way, it was difficult to see them, and they passed so quickly.

We came back to the hotel after the tour. We stopped off at a shoe store beside the hotel and bought a pair of shoes for Kate. The best deal we have made in Switzerland – $20. She rested a little when we got back to the hotel. Then we dressed for the opera. Neither of us had brought along anything that was dressy, but it didn’t matter. We saw all kinds of attire.

We took the tram to the stop that was nearest the opera house – 1 block away. Then we looked around for a place to eat. We found a place named Weissen Wind. It turns out that it is in a building constructed in 1434. We had a very good meal. Kate had poached salmon with mixed vegetables and rice. I had a veal and mushroom dish with rosti.

The opera house and La Traviata were wonderful. We had seats on the second row. We both agreed that this was the very best opera experience we have had.

It was a good day. I have been keeping a close eye on Kate. She has been on me about not doing so. She tells me I will never change. She has no idea how hard I work at doing so, but she is right in that I am always missing things. I am far from perfect. Yesterday I dropped my napkin on the floor at a restaurant. She pointed it out to me. I said, “you take such good care of me.” She immediately started laughing because she is always saying the same thing to me. It was one of those moments in which we both know that each of us recognizes her AD, but we don’t say anything specific about it.

Today is our last full day in Switzerland. Tomorrow we fly to London. We are taking a train to Bern to see it before returning to Zurich for dinner tonight. I can still say it has been a great trip.

Wednesday Morning In Zurich

We caught an 11:10 train from Lucerne to Zurich. We arrived at the Bahnhof Oerlikon which is directly across the street from our hotel. We could see immediately that we had moved from the beauty of Lucerne to the big city. Quite a contrast. After a quick lunch at Burger King, we went directly to the TI office downtown and got information on several things we could do. From there we caught a boat on the river that took us to several spots on Lake Zurich. We got off at the pier where we could have caught a big boat for a longer boat ride around the lake. We chose, however, to walk to the opera house to get tickets to La Traviata tonight. Then we walked along the river and saw the Grossemunster (the exterior) and Fraumunster (inside as well as the outside). From there we looked for a place to have dinner. We saw an Italian restaurant named Contrapunto and decided to try it. Great decision. Food, service, and ambiance were terrific. This was our second great meal after the Café de Paris our first meal in Geneva.

Once again I would say that our trip is going well. I find that it places a load on me, but so long as I avoid rushing, we can simply enjoy being here. Despite the fact that Kate likes to rest in the hotel room, she is able to go long periods away from the hotel. I don’t see any signs of getting tired while we are out that are different than I would see for most other people.

She was excited about getting tickets to the opera. She also enjoys walking along the neighborhoods. She has taken an interest in seeing Reformation sites like Calvin’s church in Geneva. Both Grossemunster and Fraumunster fall in that category.

It is going to be rainy and cool today. We have overcast skies right now. I can see that the pavement outside is wet, but I don’t see anyone using an umbrella. It is 9:00 am. She has just had a shower and is dressing for breakfast. There is a walking tour of the central city at 1:00. I think we will eat and make our way downtown before then.

Just a moment again while I was writing the paragraph above, Kate said, “Do we have to go home?” I think that captures her feelings about the trip. That makes me feel good. Periodically, she has mentioned wanting to live here (Switzerland). It has been a very good trip.

Monday Morning Lucerne

It is 8:45 a.m. We woke up shortly after 6:15. Not to much later we dressed, and went to the dining room for breakfast. We have been back in the room for almost an hour. Kate has been asleep about 35-45 minutes. She continues to enjoy resting after getting up and eating.

It is a beautiful day on what is our last full day in Lucerne. Museums are closed today; so I think we will take a combo boat, cogwheel train, and cable car trip to Pilatus, one of the mountain peaks around the city. This is the clearest day we have had; so we will try to make the most of it.

Kate seems to feel much better than she did last night. I am hoping her cold does not get worse.

I see that I did not comment on yesterday. We took a walking tour of the city yesterday morning. Our guide was the best one we have ever had. It was almost 3 hours. Then we went to lunch where we sat next to a table with a couple from New Zealand. We had a great conversation that included the waiter/proprietor (?). After lunch we walked to the old wall surrounding the city and walked up the old clock tower. We rested at the hotel for a while. Then we got some ice cream at a spot along the water front. Then walked to see the Lion Monument. Kate’s nose was giving her fits. We came back to the room where she relaxed and remained until this morning. I was full and snacked on apples and dried apricots. I went down to the terrace overlooking Lake Lucerne and then came back to the room for the night.

It was a good day in every respect except Kates catching a cold.