Last night Kate and I returned home after 9 nights away. Our timing was good. Unfortunately, we found that the HVAC is not operating at all. I called the service company. They are sending someone to the house between 4:00 and 6:00 this afternoon.
This was a relaxed but busy trip. We first stopped in Nashville where we had lunch with our friends, the Davises. Then we went to Memphis where we spent three nights with our daughter and her boys. Then we drove to Helena, Arkansas for the wedding of Kate’s cousin’s granddaughter. We spent one night there. After the wedding reception we stayed three nights with our longtime friend Dorothy Hinely and her husband Mitch. We came back to Jesse’s house for one night. Yesterday morning we left for home. We stopped in Nashville to visit with Ellen in her new apartment (assisted living). She looked great but is still have difficulty with her speech. We visited for an hour and then drove on home.
All that description is a preface to my observations regarding Kate’s adjustment during the trip. First, I should say that she had a great time. We repeatedly talked about what a good time we had had seeing all the people and enjoying the scenery and the home and grounds of the Hinelys. Seeing Ellen was also a special pleasure, not to mention the excitement of the wedding and the pleasure of seeing our daughter and her boys.
The downside is that too much happened too quickly. It led to a bit more confusion for Kate though it did not seem to diminish her pleasure. Some things were similar to what we experience while at home. For example, I pointed out a stone wall near Dorothy’s house. Kate immediately said she noticed it every time we went by it. This was the first time we had driven by this area.
Other things were somewhat different. Here are a few things that were evidence of her confusion.
1. The day before the wedding and the day of the wedding we were with a lot of people we had never met. Kate got quite confused by who is who. By itself that wouldn’t be anything unusual. I had trouble with the names myself. I was surprised that she had great difficulty with her relationship with Tina, her cousin, and the relationship between Tina and the bride. She asked me repeatedly to explain this to her. More startling, was the fact that she asked me to tell her Tina’s name at one point. We had good conversations with Tina’s son and who is the father of the bride. Immediately following one of those encounters, Kate asked, “Now who is he?”
2. We were moving from one place to another so much that she couldn’t recall where we were or when or where we were going. Several times she asked if we were going home today.
3. The second morning we were at Dorothy and Mitch’s she left Dorothy and me in the kitchen after breakfast. We talked an hour or so. Then Dorothy wanted to go upstairs and get her shower, and I wanted to check on Kate. When I got upstairs, I looked in our room, but she was not there. I walked out of the room and saw Dorothy who was coming up the stairs. I looked in Dorothy’s room and noticed that Kate was in Dorothy and Mitch’s bedroom resting in their bed. We lowered our voices so as not to disturb her. She heard us and said, “You don’t have to lower your voices. I’m awake.” She continued to rest. Dorothy asked Kate if it would bother her if she went ahead and showered and dressed. Kate said no. In a few minutes Kate came into our room and got into bed. I don’t know if she ever realized that she had been in the Hinely’s bed. Dorothy and I never said anything to her. She never said anything herself. It would not surprise me if she had not realized it.
4. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch yesterday. When the two of us went to the receptionist’s stand, she told us there would be a few minutes wait. I gave her our name, and she said she would call us. I told Kate and the hostess that I would be in the men’s room. Kate looked as though she were going on into the dining room. I motioned to her to wait and went to the men’s room. I figured she would walk around the store to look at the various items for sale. When I returned, I didn’t see her. Then the hostess called us. I asked if she had already seated my wife. She said that she hadn’t. We walked in the dining room and I saw Kate standing at a table waiting for me. It turns out that she had simply gone in and taken a table when I left for the men’s room. The hostess, who had planned to take us to another table, then told Kate she shouldn’t have taken a seat without going through her. As she walked away, I tapped her on the shoulder and explained that Kate has Alzheimer’s. Then she felt bad. I was afraid she was going to make a big deal about it. It was the first time I have felt the need for a card like the one that Kate’s cousin had. It said something like, “My husband has Alzheimer”s. Please understand if he says or does something that you think is out of place.” I may have to start preparations for such a card.
There were numerous other examples of confusion that occurred during the trip. I felt sad for her in that she must have felt tossed about without knowing where we were going, who we would be with, what we were going to do, how long we would stay. It must have been overwhelming.
On the other hand, I really believe she had a good time, but it makes me think I will need to be careful in planning our trip to Texas in December. I know, however, that we need (I want) to see several people before she declines any further. I may just have to take the risk.
I should also add that she did take rest breaks whenever it was possible. Even at Jesse’s, she went up to the room and stayed there for a couple of hours when she could have been downstairs with the children. That says a lot about her need to get away from situations that may be taxing her brain.