Kate’s Cold and Her Pre-Operative Appointment for Cataract Surgery

I had hoped Kate’s cold would have improved significantly yesterday, but it didn’t. I am glad that it didn’t get worse. She had a good night, no coughing until the morning. Even that didn’t last long. That has been the pattern since her cold began five days ago; however, when she coughs, it is quite loud. Because of that I called the agency that provides our sitters. I arranged for someone come to the house this morning. I am attending a luncheon and need to be there at 11:00. I had planned to take Kate with me. Under the circumstances, I felt it was best that she stay at home. Our regular sitters were already committed to other assignments. This will be the first time that I have had a new sitter without having interviewed her before hand and letting Kate meet her. She will be here at 10:15. I will give her instructions and introduce her to Kate before leaving. If this is like most days, Kate is likely to be asleep when she arrives and continue to sleep after I leave. Kate needs help dressing now, so I will be eager to see how well she accepts the sitter’s help. I am already a bit uneasy about leaving her. The good thing is that we may be approaching the time when I need to add another sitter. It will be good to have someone else who might be able to fill in from time to time.

Speaking of sitters, yesterday was my day for Rotary. Kate was still sleeping when Valorie arrived. She walked into the bedroom with me when I told Kate goodbye and that Valorie was here to help her get dressed. She said, “Thank you.” Then she closed her eyes, and I left. Kate had a 3:40 pre-operative appointment with her ophthalmologist in advance of her cataract surgery scheduled for February 12, so I asked Valorie to take her to the office where I met them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a time when I could talk to her privately to see how things had gone after I left for Rotary.

I was waiting for them in the lobby when they arrived. I stood up and walked over to Kate. She didn’t recognize me from a distance. When she got closer, she looked somewhat puzzled and said, “What’s your name?” I said, “Richard” and stopped to see if she said the rest of my name, “Lee Creighton.” She does that sometimes, but not this time.

Valorie left, and we took our seats in a separate waiting area for the pre-op patients. There were several other patients waiting and Kate waved and said, “Hello-oh” to them before we sat down. She didn’t do it in a natural way. It was more like someone with some kind of mental problem. I may have imagined it, but I thought several of the people gave her strange looks. No one returned her greeting.

We did not see the ophthalmologist on this visit. First, we saw her assistant who explained what we would need to do in preparation for the surgery and gave us prescriptions for three different types of drops we are to use several days before the surgery. Kate was unusually active in our meeting. I think she felt too much of the conversation was between the assistant and me. At one point, she said something that indicated she was the one to get the surgery and would need to know what to do. I was amazed at how well she understood that. She also stopped the technician a few times to ask her to tell her what certain words meant and re-explain what she had just said. It was an interesting combination of wanting to be on top of the situation but not being able to. It reminded me of her continual attempts to remember names, where she lives, or to understand the news she hears on the radio of TV. She wants to know but can’t remember.

When we finished, one of the technicians took us to a room where they performed two different scans of her eyes so that they can properly size the implant. Having tried to give various instructions to Kate since she got her cold, I took particular note of the challenges the technician had with her. The first issue was getting her to sit on the stool in front of the scanner. I suspect there were two issues. First, was her eyesight. As with many people with dementia, she often overlooks things that are right in front of her. Second, this was a short, round stool. It didn’t look like a typical chair. After she was seated, the technician asked her to “put your chin right here.” It took a little more coaching for Kate to know where to put her chin. The technician was very sensitive to Kate’s situation and treated her just the way I would have wanted.

The scans didn’t take long. We were soon on our way. As we walked out the door, Kate said, “I have no idea where I am.” I told her we were in Knoxville, Tennessee, where we live and were leaving the eye doctor’s office.” Although I had told her about the cataract surgery and the appointment, I know she can’t remember. Thus, the entire process must have seemed strange. I can’t imagine what it was like for her.

We went directly to dinner from the ophthalmologist’s office. When we got home, Kate started to work on her iPad while I watched the news. It wasn’t long before she encountered problems with her puzzles. She said, “What can I do?” I said, “I have an idea. Why don’t I put on some music on the TV while you get ready for bed?” She liked the idea. I selected several brief choral videos and then an entire concert by the Wartburg College Choir. She enjoyed it while lying in bed. At the end of the concert, I turned off the TV, and she gradually went to sleep.

Several times during the night, she coughed but not for long. She is still sleeping. I don’t intend to wake her before the new sitter arrives. I will introduce the two of them and then let Kate choose whether to get up or stay in bed. I would be very surprised if she wants to get up.

I feel like a parent leaving his child with a new sitter. I will be occupied while I am gone, but I am not going to be comfortable until I return home and find that everything went well.