The Day After Thanksgiving

We had a good day yesterday. I can’t ever be sure exactly why some days are better than others. I believe that yesterday’s schedule was at least partially responsible. It was a day that was broken into several different segments. That is more typical of our daily routine when we are at home. It seems to be hard for Kate to do the same thing for an extended period of time. That is why we are rarely at home, Panera, or Barnes & Noble longer than two hours.

Kate was up earlier yesterday. They were still serving breakfast when we got to the dining room. They close at 10:00. We had our iPads with us and spent about an hour there before she felt tired. That is typical when she gets up earlier than usual. We came back to the room where she lay down on the sofa and napped another hour. Around the noon hour, Kevin and his family picked us up for lunch at a restaurant downtown. We followed that with a walk around the area and visited an historical site.

I was especially pleased that Kate was able to get in a little walk. Her life is very sedentary. She refuses to walk around the neighborhood or at a gym. She only walks to get from one place to another, and those are short trips. As a consequence, it is becoming more difficult for her to walk or even to get up from a seated position. She can do it herself, but she often wants to take my hand. Frequently, I put my hand under her arm and help lift her out of the car. Most of the time, she is quite accepting of that help. Other times, she refuses, saying she can do it herself.

One of the other challenges of walking involves her eyesight. I suspect it is her cataracts that present a problem. She is very sensitive to light and dark portions of the pavement as well as painted lines on the street or small pebbles in pavement of sidewalks. When we leave Panera at home, we sometimes exit by a side door that leads to wheel chair access to and from the parking lot. Although I tell her she does not need to step up or down, she is very cautious. When walking with a group as we were yesterday, it can be a challenge for others to walk as slowly as she does. Just walking across a street can take a while. As family, they were all understanding.

Kevin dropped us off at the hotel around 4:00. We had had a nice leisurely outing. Kate enjoyed herself although I would say that she was not as enthusiastic as she was six months ago when we were here. On the whole, her emotions are expressed with much less enthusiasm than in the past.

Kate and I relaxed in our hotel room for an hour and a half before we left to meet Kevin and his family for dinner at one of our favorite hamburger places. We had a good time and enjoyed our burgers. Knowing that Kate loves French fries, I got her a side order. I quickly noticed that she went for the fries before the burger. They were gone before she got down to the burger patty. I think I have mentioned before that she usually eats sandwiches including burgers in pieces. I haven’t identified a consistent pattern, but she normally takes off the top slice of bread or bun and puts it aside. Then with her hand, she picks off the individual ingredients (in this case, pickles and tomato) and eats them. I didn’t notice as she was eating but I believe the top of the bun was gone when I noticed she had eaten all the fries and had gotten down to the shredded lettuce and the patty. By then, the rest of us had finished eating. It took another ten or fifteen minutes for her to be ready.

As we walked back to our car, Kate was very cautious as we walked across the parking lot. It was lighted, but there were lots of shadows. She was concerned about possible uneven surfaces. I have heard that people with dementia often perceive patches of black to be holes and that a way to prevent walking away from home is to put a black mat in front of the doors leading to the outside. I’m not sure of the validity of this, but I wondered about that as we walked to the car. The position of the lights focused light on the front end of the cars where we had parked. This cast long shadows at the rear end of each car. I was holding Kate’s hand. As I turned to walk more directly to our car, we were about to walk into the shadow of the car next to us. Kate stopped. She looked at the shadow as if if it were a chasm. I told her it was all right, just a shadow of the car. She didn’t accept that. She pulled my hand and walked around the shadow rather than through it. Then I wondered how she would react when she noticed the shadow of our car. She ignored it completely. We walked right through it to the passenger side of the car.

She was in one of her appreciative moods as we drove back to the hotel. She thanked me for everything I do for her. This is not something that occurs everyday, but she expresses her appreciation often enough that I know she recognizes much that I do for her and is genuinely appreciative. That helps to keep me going. I know that some caregivers don’t hear such expressions as often.

Christmas music was playing in the lobby when we got back to the hotel. Kate said, “I love that.” That led me to turn on some Christmas music I have on my phone when we got to our room. We listened for an hour and a half while she worked on her iPad and I watched the Oklahoma/West Virginia football game with the sound turned down.

After a while, Kate lay down on the sofa and rested while listening to the music. I suggested that it was time for bed. She agreed but made no effort to get up. I finally got her up. In the process of getting her dressed for bed, she got irritated with me for pushing her. After we were in bed, she apologized and said, “You have to put up with so much from me.” She still seems quite perceptive in ways like this. I would love to know exactly what she notices and what she doesn’t.

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