From St. Kitts

Yesterday we had a good day in Martinique. We did get off to a rough start. Once again, we had an early morning excursion (8:45). Kate was awake early, but didn’t get ready until I told her it was time for her to do so. Then she took such a long time that I had to push her. She was furious with me. I decided right then not to do another early morning excursion. I have signed up for nothing today or tomorrow when we are in St. Thomas.

Despite the rough start, we had a very good 4-hour tour that took us to several parts of the island. The focus was a visit to the Batala Botanical Garden. It is a beautiful island – very lush with vegetation. The garden highlighted that beauty. We also had a good guide. The tour also involved a bus ride through a rain forest with several views of Mont Pele, the volcano that erupted in 1901 or 1902. Everyone (30,000) but one person living in St. Pierre was killed except an inmate in an underground prison. He later became a part of Ringling Brothers.

We got back to the ship around 1:30 and had lunch in the Lido, the more casual alternative dining venue. After lunch, she had a facial at the spa while I walked on the treadmill in the exercise room. She finished around 4:45 which gave us just over an hour to get to dinner. We ate at a table for 6 at the stern of the ship. One couple was from Dayton, OH. The other from Portland, OR. Coincidentally, the woman from Dayton is named Kate and a retired educator/librarian.

Kate did not feel up to going to the evening’s entertainment; so I went alone again (the sixth our of seven nights on the cruise).

Too Tired for Evening Performances

One of the things that Kate and I have enjoyed on previous cruises is the nightly entertainment following dinner. We have now had 5 nights, and she has attended only 1 show. She has just felt too tired. I have not pushed her. I had wanted the trip to be as leisurely as possible. To force her would serve no purpose at all. I still feel comfortable leaving her alone in the cabin. I am not sure that I will feel that way next time (May). If I can’t leave her, I will just remain in the room with her and miss the shows myself.

Leaving St. Lucia With Pleasant Memories

We pulled away from the dock in St. Lucia about thirty minutes ago. I am glad to report that we have had a nice day. As I mentioned in my post this morning, Kate had done a good job getting ready. She has had no complications associated with her fall yesterday. That is a relief. That would have had quite an impact on our pleasure for the balance of the trip and potentially after returning home.

This morning we took an excursion called “The Essence of St. Lucia.” It was a leisurely van tour (10 other passengers) with a terrific guide. We got to see a variety of plants, sampled some fruits and sweets, tasted local rum, and heard a lot of tales about the area and its people.

We came back for lunch at the Lido. Kate got a little peeved with me as we went to lunch. I think it involved her thinking I was rushing her. She cooled down after we had eaten. Then she wanted to go someplace where she could work on her iPad. I took her to the Observation Lounge while I used the treadmill in the exercise room. After I was through, I joined her for about an hour. Then we went back to the room where she wanted to take a nap. She was worn out. I came to the Lido where I have been catching up on email and watching the scenery as we cruise along the island. When we get to the end of the island, we are going to pick up some passengers who had taken an excursion that left them at a town there. They will join us via tender boats.

Escaping a Potential Problem

I am optimistic about another good day. My alarm went off at the correct time (6:15) which enabled me to have plenty of time to get myself ready for breakfast and to see that Kate is ready for our shore excursion that leaves at 8:30.

When I returned from breakfast, she was up and had had her shower. I brought her a muffin, smoked salmon, and yogurt. She finished about half of that and is now lying down under the covers. I will let her take another 15-20 minutes before getting her up and dressed.

Last night as we were returning from dinner, she took a fall down the circular staircase in the central atrium of the ship. She screamed and drew a lot of attention. She came down head first on her back. Fortunately, she does not seem to have been hurt. Several ship staff rushed to her aid and encouraged her to see the doctor. We agreed. As we waited, she indicated that she felt all right and moved her arms and legs to show that she was all right. Ultimately, we came back to the cabin without seeing the doctor.

When I got her situated in the room, I left to attend the evening show. I caught the last two numbers and then bought excursion tickets for this morning. When I got back, Kate told me that a nurse had come to the cabin. Kate had reassured her that she is all right. She just told me that she is not sore at all. It looks like we escaped a potential problem

It’s Good To Be Flexible

Fortunately for me, I am flexible. I think this is a good thing for Kate as well. This afternoon we had an experience that illustrates this. We planned to go to a movie at 4:00. Just before we left the cabin at 3:55, she asked if she would be able to get something to drink. I told her she couldn’t do that and get to the movie. She seemed to accept that, and we walked to the theater. When we walked in, she said, “I don’t see a place to get anything to drink.” I told her they didn’t serve drinks in the theater. She wanted something to drink and to eat. We left the theater to find a place. I knew as we did this that we would not see the movie, but that was not a big deal. I had originally selected the movie because I thought she might be tired of being in the room all afternoon. We ended up in the Lido which is the casual dining option that is open virtually all day. It turned out to be a good place. She got a Coke and a slice of pizza. One of the on-duty staff made some origami roses for her. She was pleased (although I don’t see them now. She may have forgotten them.) After finishing her pizza and Coke, she wanted to get her iPad from the cabin and find a place to sit and work jigsaw puzzles. We went back to the room and got our iPads. Then we went to the Observation Deck lounge. It was crowded because it was now the cocktail hour, but we found two seats. It was warm, and Kate was uncomfortable. I suggested we locate another place. We came downstairs to the third level (we had been on the tenth) where we are right now. The early dinner group is walking by us. Since Kate had pizza about an hour ago, I know we need to wait a little before we go to eat. I am getting hungry though; so I don’t think we will hold out later than another 30 minutes.

Although I am flexible and can deal with these kinds of changes in plans, I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t give me a jolt each time I need to shift gears. My left-brain tendency is to decide on something and to see it through. Changing really is a frustration. If I didn’t know she has Alzheimer’s, it would drive me crazy. Knowing makes all the difference in the world, but it doesn’t remove the moment of frustration that occurs when we have been heading in one direction and have to change.

More Confusion

We have had a good day. This morning was an experiment in a morning excursion leaving at 8:30. I had my alarm set for 5:15 thinking it was really 6:15 because when I went to bed the time on my phone had not changed. Unfortunately, the clock reset during the night; so I actually got up at 5:15. I went to breakfast about 5:40 which is 20 minutes before the breakfast opens. I took a walk to pass the time. I woke Kate at 7:00 and did not rush her. I brought her some breakfast to the room. We were able to disembark for our excursion on time without a problem.

She has seemed happy and not too tired today. When we returned from our excursion around noon, we went to lunch. Upon returning to our room, she immediately got into the bed and pulled the covers over her. It is now almost 3:00, and she is still in bed although awake and using her iPad. I asked her if she would like to go to a movie at 4:00. She said she would. A few minutes after saying that she said, “The nice thing is that we can go home anytime if we want.” I gave her a puzzled look. Then she said, “Where are we?” I told her we were in St. Martin. She said, “I knew that. I was confused.” At least one other time she has asked me where we are and said something that led me to think she thought we were in Knoxville. To me one of the interesting things is that she can be confused when she can see that we are on a ship. When she asked me where we are, she was looking directly at me. I am sitting in front of the glass door leading to our balcony. Directly through the door, it is very easy to see a very large cruise ship that is docked behind us.

Panic Attack

Kate is in the midst of a panic attack as we get ready for our formal dinner tonight. I had left her resting to take a walk and then stop by the Lido for some water and to write the previous post. When I returned, she was taking a bath. When she got out, she was hot. It was getting time to get ready for the evening. I picked out her clothes and put them on the bed. I showed them to her. Then she went to the closet and got another outfit. I said, “Here is what you can wear tonight.” Surprisingly, she accepted that. She was at the beginning of her panic attack at that point, and I believe she was willing to accept a suggestion that would make things easier for her. Somewhere before this she had asked me what we were doing and where we were going. I told her that this was formal night and that we were going to get our picture taken, go to dinner, and then to a show.

Once she had put on what I had picked out, she came from the bathroom with her toothbrush, iPad, and puzzle books in her hand. I suggested that she wouldn’t need to take those with her. She asked where we were going. It turns out that she had forgotten what I had told her. She thought we were going to the house. Then she started panicking. She started breathing harder and shed tears. It turned out that she didn’t bring any shoes except the ones she has been wearing since we left on Sunday. They are casual shoes that look a little bit like tennis shoes. I think this caused more concern. I don’t think it was because she didn’t have the right shoes. I think it was because she had forgotten to bring any other shoes. That was yet another reminder that she makes one mistake after another.

After this, we were ready to go. We got our picture taken, had dinner, and saw the show. Things turned out fine. Still, I have to believe this kind of issue will only get worse until she lets me take charge of packing everything for her. This will also affect our travel in the future. I am wavering on the cruise from Rome to Amsterdam in May.

Problems Sleeping

I’ve always been a good sleeper, but over the past 2-3 years I have had occasional times when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. In the past 6 months or so these have occurred somewhat more frequently. Several months ago at a routine doctor’s appointment the doctor asked me if I wanted something to take that would help. I told him no. Last week at another appointment neither of us mentioned it. I still feel the same way right now; however, I am reaching a point where it is something that I might consider if this gets any worse. I don’t usually have a problem while on vacation, but this is the second night in a row when I do have awakened and been unable to go back to sleep easily. Last night I woke up at 1:00 a.m. It was about an hour before I drifted off. This morning I woke up at 3:16 a.m. My mind began to think about Kate and our planned cruise in May. I asked myself if I am crazy. The reason for taking this cruise was to give her a chance to counter the boredom she is facing at home. I felt being with a people and being on board an interesting ship might minimize her periods of boredom. Thus far that is not the case. To be more specific, it isn’t boredom on the ship that is the problem. It is seeming so tired and uninterested in things. Yesterday she enjoyed sitting in the Observation Lounge and working jigsaw puzzles. She also enjoyed the movie we watched after lunch. She also enjoyed her spa treatment though she came right back to the cabin and got into the bed. It seems like the bed is becoming her security blanket.

All this is making me question if I am doing this for myself or for Kate. I clearly understand that change is not necessarily a good thing for someone with AD. I have been thinking it is easier for me to keep her entertained on a cruise than at home. Perhaps, it would really be easier and better for her if we stayed at home. At the same time I fear her vegetating there as well. The one thing that she still seems to enjoy is visiting with friends. We could continue to see the Greenleys, Robinsons, Davises, and Ellen in Nashville. We might even make a trip to see another friend in Birmingham.

There is much to consider now. As I think I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Kate’s deterioration is becoming more pronounced now. This is the first time I have been convinced of that. Typically, I am more guarded in saying that the signs are as clear as they seem to be right now. I know we will get through this, but I am just now beginning to face the reality that I am losing her. I feel sad and scared.

First Full Day on Cruise

It has been a reasonably good day today. For me it has been better than for Kate although even my enjoyment of the day has been lessened by her being so tired. I am hoping that is a result of my giving her a Dramamine this morning to prevent seasickness.

Yesterday we had gotten to the port for embarkation just before 1:00 p.m. We quickly learned that the cruise ship had gotten in some five hours late as a result of the Coast Guard’s having told them to help in a search and rescue operation. A boat with at least 10 passengers was missing or in trouble. As dawn came, the Coast Guard let our ship go and started using planes. They ultimately found ten men.

We waited with the other passengers in a hangar-like structure that seemed anything but what you would imagine for people going on a dream cruise. Many, if not most, of us had not eaten lunch. Finally, they brought in cookies, cheese and peanut butter cracker, and other snacks.

We boarded shortly after 4:00. Then we had to go through the safety drill. After that, the ship discovered an electrical problem. We didn’t leave until 9:00 or so. Kate was asleep by the time we left. We are in open seating on this trip. We went to eat at 6:00 and got a table with a couple (father and daughter) from Cincinnati and Maryland.

This morning I got up shortly before seven. I had breakfast. When I came back Kate was getting ready. She had slept almost 11 hours. I continue to notice her need to rest and am trying to see that she gets it on this trip. She wanted some breakfast; so I took her up to the breakfast buffet where we sat with a couple from Cincinnati. They were both interesting people. He was a retired counseling psychologist who had spent a large part of his career as a forensic psychologist working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. His specialty was in hypnosis. He had some interesting stories.

We got back to the room at 9:28, and Kate immediately got into bed and pulled the covers over her. We had planned to go to a 10:00 presentation on the shore excursions. She was resting so well at 9:55 that I asked her if she would like to stay or go. She nodded that she wanted to stay.

When I got back, I knew she might be hungry and asked her if she would like to go to a café on the Observation Deck where she could get a bite and something to eat. She seemed very lethargic and walked unusually slowly as we went to the other end (bow) of the ship and up two flights. She seemed a bit in a fog when I was trying to determine what she wanted. She had a Coke and a small piece of lemon cake. She found a place to sit, and I brought the Coke and cake to her. She ate the cake quickly and asked for “another muffin.” I went back and got her a small cupcake. By the time I returned with it, she seemed to be perking up. I had planned to go upstairs and use the treadmill while she worked jigsaw puzzles on her iPad and crossword puzzles. I felt a little uncomfortable leaving her because I thought she might be experiencing seasickness. In a few minutes she seemed to be better. I decided not to go to the exercise room but to walk around the ship instead. After each trip I came back to check on her. That seemed to work. After walking 45 minutes, I went back and got her for lunch.

She seemed in a daze as we looked at the various options in the buffet line. She ultimately got blackened Mahi Mahi and rice, nothing else. I got a salad. When we finished, we went to a movie. It had already started and we could only find single seats. I sat on the front row, she in the back. It was quite warm; so I worried about her comfort the entire movie. I was concerned that she might need to leave, not recall where I was seated, walk out, and get lost. As it turned out, she was warm but had been interested in the movie. She said, “I can’t wait to read the book.” She frequently says this after a movie but never does. In fact, she reads almost nothing.

I am quite interested in seeing how things go tomorrow. We have another day at sea before reaching Sint Maarten day after tomorrow. One of the things I am considering is eating lunch in the dining room. That would make it easier for her and for me. We could simply give our order to the server and he would bring the food to us. I am still thinking about shore excursions. Several of the ones seem interesting, but I don’t want to rush her in getting up in the morning. Most seem to depart at 8:30 or 9:00. Anything before ten seems too early for her. I may try one just as an experiment. If it goes well, I might try another.

She has two symptoms that are of significance at the moment. One is being tired. She needs plenty of rest. To me this seems a bit of a sign of her drifting away. It is sad. The other is an inability to focus. Mostly, I am thinking of visual focus. It is as though she sees a thousand different things in front of her and can’t pick out the thing that she wants (for example, a good item) or that I want to show her. I believe this also involves auditory focus as well. I don’t think she hears a lot of what is said in conversations around her. She just doesn’t notice things that she would noticed in the past.

For example, I bought her a pair of slacks and two tops for the trip. I did this on my own without her and didn’t tell her. I packed them in my suitcase. When I unpacked last night, I hung them in the closet. This morning as she was getting ready to dress, I point out the two tops. She picked one of them to wear today. I didn’t tell her they were new or that I had bought them for her. She acted as though they were clothes she already had. For the first time, I am really seeing more dramatic symptoms of her illness. They are not surprises, but I find it very saddening because her decline has been so gradual that I almost expected it to last forever. Of course, not really.

Something Strange

I neglected to mention in my earlier post that my pillow was missing when I was ready for bed last night. Kate was already in bed. I looked in all the rooms, but didn’t come up with it. I suspect it is in Kate’s office. Usually it is something of hers that is missing. It is strange that it is my pillow. I have to believe she moved it someplace. I know I didn’t. In normal situations, I would ask here if she knows where it is. That doesn’t work with a person who has dementia. She never knows.