This morning while Kate and I were seated on the front row of Scott Roselle’s talk radio show at Chautauqua, she got up and walked outside without saying a word. Knowing how geographically challenged she is, I got up and followed her. She appeared to be looking for something as she walked toward the front door of the bookstore. Before she got to it, she started up the steps to the post office. I called to her. She stopped and I asked her where she was going. She said she was going to the rest room. I told her the rest rooms were behind the library and took her there. I knew from past experienced that it would not be easy for her to find it. Before she went in, I pointed to the place where we had been and told her to meet me there. I said, “Just turn left when you come out.” Then I went back to where we had left our cushions and iPads on the front row of Roselle’s show. (BTW, he was interviewing Erik Larson.) I sat for a moment and then gathered our belongings and walked back to the restroom. I didn’t see her; so I waited outside the door. In a few minutes, a woman walked out. I described Kate and asked her if she had seen her. She said she hadn’t but went back in to look after I told her that Kate has Alzheimer’s. It turns out that Kate wasn’t there. That put me in a quandary. I looked for her for about 15 minutes, perhaps more, walking in the area near the restroom, the front of the library, the brick walk, and our apartment. I finally saw her standing in front of our apartment. She was looking at it as though she was confused as to whether this was the way into our apartment or not. I walked up to her. I didn’t say a word. I just put my arms around her. She rested her head on my shoulder. She didn’t say anything either. We haven’t spoken about it, but it was clear that she had been frightened and relieved to see me.
About 30 minutes ago, we came back to the apartment after the morning lecture, lunch, and catching part of a band concert on Bestor Plaza. Kate immediately went right to our bed and is still there. I am about to leave for the Hall of Philosophy for the 2:00 lecture. Afterwards I will return to get her for a 3:30 presentation by Amelia Arehart who has flown the flight of the original Amilia.
Lately I have noticed what may be an increase in Kate’s irritability. Here is an example from this morning. This is our third day at Chautauqua, and she put on the same clothes she has worn at least the other 2 days. Last night I had reminded her that her suitcase was in the closet. Earlier this morning I put it beside the chest of drawers in our bedroom where she would see it. When I saw that she was wearing the same clothes, I said something about it. She did not take offense. I said, “Here is your suitcase.” She said sternly, “Put it on the bed.” Then she added, “How am I supposed to get it there (meaning by the chest)?”
Something else that could become a problem is a habit she has developed. It has two variations. The first is simply a very audible yawn. This is most common in the morning after she gets out of bed. It also occurs when she is tired or bored. While we were waiting for the opera to begin last night, she started yawning with the accompanying audible yawn. I said something to her about how loud she was. She was very irritated with me. I don’t know where this leads, but I fear that it will become something that is a bother to people around us. I remember that Sharon Billings said she carried a card with her to give to servers and others in restaurants and other places letting them know that her husband had Alzheimer’s. I may need this in the future.
Since beginning this post, Kate has changed her top, but is still wearing the same slacks. I cut her a couple of pieces of zucchini bread. She ate a banana and is now resting beside me on the sofa. This continues to be a pattern. It is as though getting up and eating something wears her out. I would think that her desire to rest relates to the strain of being outside the confines of her familiar territory; however, she does the same thing at home. The difference is that at home she always has the yard in which she can busy herself.
All these things continue to cause me to wonder if coming back to Chautauqua next summer is a good idea whether for one week or two. I really want to come back. She enjoys being here, and it seems easier for me to guide her into more things to do than at home. So far I have been unsuccessful in trying to get her to walk around the grounds. That seems like it would be something she would enjoy, but she reacts quickly and negatively when I suggest it.
We are having a good day. We went to the Scott Roselle talk radio broadcast this morning. He interviewed David Harrison, our morning lecturer, who is a linguist and professor at Swarthmore. That was followed by the lecture itself. We were glad to have attended both. It was a great Chautauquq experience.
While at the Roselle broadcast, Scott asked the small audience if anyone would like to ask Harrison a question. The woman seated next to Kate raised her hand. He motioned her to come to the mike. Then they took a commercial break. As the woman started walking to the mike, another woman stepped in front of her and started a conversation with Harrison. In a couple of minutes, Kate decided she wanted to ask him a question; so she got up and positioned herself between the two women. When the first woman finished her conversation with Harrison, Kate jumped ahead of the woman who was the first one to want to ask a question. Then she talked long enough that it was time for Roselle to start up his interview again. Kate never realized what she had done. This is a good example of the effects of Alzheimer’s that do not directly involve memory.
That makes me think of something else that I observed that falls in this same category. While we were at breakfast at our B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, she spilled orange juice on the table as she was a pouring herself a glass. This could happen to anyone, but this kind of thing is especially common for Kate. Today as we were taking our food from the serving line to a table, she dropped her iPad. She had been struggling to carry her seat cushions and the tray on which she was carrying her food. Once again, this could happen to anyone. It is just far more common for her. It requires me to be on my toes, but I am always failing.
It is only our first whole day at Chautauqua, but I lost Kate this afternoon about 20-30 minutes after we had been to a play. After the play, we walked by the St. Elmo. She wanted to go in a couple of shops that are on the lower level. I took a couple of photos outside. When I finished, I went downstairs to the shops. I saw her in a shop and waited outside the door to connect with her when she finished. When she didn’t come out in about 10 minutes, I went in to find her. She wasn’t there. I asked someone who works there if she had seen her. She didn’t remember her. I then learned that there is another entrance and exit to the shop. I looked through the other shops and had someone check the ladies room. No sign of her. I went outside thinking that she might be waiting there. Still no sign of her. I went back to the shop where I had been waiting and told the person I was going back to our apartment. She wasn’t there. That didn’t surprise me. I didn’t think she would even remember the name. I went back to St. Elmo. She was nowhere to be found. I waited outside looking in all directions. Then I got a phone call. It was Kate. She had borrowed someone’s phone to call me. She told me where she was. I told her to wait right there. She had gone in a direction completely away from the St. Elmo as well as our apartment. She said she felt foolish. She hadn’t remembered the name of the place we are staying. I have now given her one of my business cards with the name and address of our apartment.
I am letting Kate sleep a little longer this morning while I check email, read the paper and write down a few thoughts on the last couple of days. As I was writing, she got up. This works well. We are not in a hurry this morning, but if we can get away by 10 or 10:30, we will get to the Italian Fisherman on Chautauqua Lake for lunch before the crowd arrives. We can have a leisurely lunch and then get to Chautauqua around 2:00 or 2:30.
So far it has been a good trip, but we have had a few challenging moments. As usual, I had some difficulty getting Kate started on her packing. The problem for me is that if I don’t try to get her started, she won’t get ready at all. On the other hand, if I do let her know it is time to get ready, she resents it and takes a passive aggressive stance. She usually says something like, “I’ll get ready. Leave me alone.” Her tone of voice captures her irritation with me. This is what happened the afternoon before we left. The morning we left, she still wasn’t dressed 30 minutes before leaving for the airport. When I told her how much time we had, she became irritated and asked me to leave her alone. She was quite upset when we left about 10 minutes later than I had planned. Fortunately, I try to allow plenty of time to permit short delays like this. On the way to the airport, she said, “You should just shoot me.” This is something she says periodically though not frequently. My interpretation of what has occurred is that she does in fact resent my efforts to get her ready, and she blames me for being anal. At the same time, she really does recognize her own role in these occurrences and probably links it to her Alzheimer’s.
She and I have both enjoyed our stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake. We saw three plays yesterday. All were well acted and staged. She enjoyed a long conversation we had with our neighbors in the room next door the first afternoon. Yesterday she seemed tired even though she slept well the night before. She lay in the bed after breakfast and took a nap after lunch. Then we attended another play at 2:00 that ended at 4:30. She was tired and took another nap. While she was resting (not sure if she actually went to sleep), I went out on the porch and visited with our neighbors again. When I came back in, she was sitting up in bed working a jigsaw puzzle. She looked a little irritated with me. I think she may have resented my having spent so much time talking with the neighbors. I asked if she wanted to get something to eat. She said she did but wanted to finish what she was doing. She then took another 10-15 minutes until I asked if she were ready to go eat. She got up. She acted very sleepy and did not speak much at all through dinner.
At intermission, she waited until it was almost time to go back in the theater before asking for something to drink. She started drinking it as they rang for us to return. She had done something similar at the earlier play in the afternoon. I believe this kind of thing occurs because she does not have a sense of time. She is simply unable to judge how much time she has and what she can accomplish in that time. I know it must be frustrating for her as well. In both of these instances She had to dispose of her drink before finishing it.
Addendum to Post Above
We are back from our breakfast. Kate immediately got into the bed and is resting. This, as I have mentioned in other posts, continues to be a pattern for her. While at breakfast she got up and sat at another table that she thought looked cozy. When our host at our B&B brought our omelets, she got up. I thought she was coming back to the table, but she walked through the garden in front of the porch where we had been seated and then stopped by another table and talked about 10 minutes talking with guests at another table. I wanted to get up and bring her back to our table but decided not to do so because she seemed to be enjoying herself. I just hated to interrupt her.