Relieving Confusion

Kate seems to be entering a new state of confusion. For months, I have noted that she sometimes forgets I am her husband. In the past few days she has more frequently asked if I am her daddy. I believe this represents a further step along the way to totally forgetting who I am.

It also requires me to think more carefully about telling her who I am. I believe when she asks, she really wants me to tell her the truth. I’m not going to correct her if she calls me “Daddy.” On the other hand, I will continue telling her the truth when she asks unless or until I see any harmful effects. Even though she is usually surprised to find out that we are married, she hasn’t seemed especially disturbed. Yesterday morning she even reacted positively. When I told her I was her husband, she had a funny look on her face. I asked if that bothered her. She said, “No, I like that. You’re a nice guy.” I intend to watch carefully for any change and make adjustments accordingly.

So far I have been encouraged by my ability to lead her out of confusion. This morning’s events are a good example. I didn’t see or hear her when she got up at 7:30 to go to the bathroom, but I heard her say, “Hey.” I found her in a hallway where she had just come out of the bathroom. She asked me what she should do. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Except for her reliance on me to tell her what to do, she seemed much more alert than usual. It looked like it would be easy to have her take a shower and get dressed. The fact that it was so much earlier than she usually gets up made me think she should rest a little longer. I suggested she do so. When I pulled the covers over her, she said, “What do you want me to do now?” It didn’t sound like she was ready to go back to sleep. I decided to get her up for a shower.

She got up right away and wanted to know where to shower. I walked her to the bathroom. In keeping with her previous line of questions, she wanted me to tell her each step to take.

After her shower, she went back to bed and fell asleep. I got her up shortly after 11:00 so that she would be ready by the time the sitter arrived at noon. Since she was waking up from a sleep, I wasn’t surprised that she was just as confused as she had been earlier. I went to the family room and brought back the “Big Sister Album” Ken had made for her last spring. She took one look at the cover picture of her and her brother. She smiled and commented on the smiles of the two children. She loves that picture. She asked if that was a picture of her. I told her it was. She wanted to know who the boy was. I told her it was her brother Ken. Then I suggested we go to the family room, and I would show her pictures of her mother and father. She liked that.

As we looked through the pictures, she seemed to gain a better sense of who she is. She still had trouble remembering the people in the pictures, but she recognized some of them. As she did the last time we looked through it, she recognized her grandmother, calling her Nana. In contrast, she repeatedly asked me her parents’ names.

This experience and others like it have made think once again about rational and intuitive abilities. Looking at the pictures didn’t help her identify the people (rational ability); however, it did eliminate her confused feeling (intuitive ability). She seemed to have a sense of connection to her family that was calming. She is especially sensitive to the smiles in all the pictures. As we move from picture to picture she says things like, “Oh, look she’s smiling,” “She’s not smiling,” or “Look at his smile.” The smiles have a real impact on her and bring smiles to her face.

My original intent was to let the sitter take Kate to lunch, but I didn’t have Rotary and decided to go with them. That gave me an opportunity get a little better acquainted with her since this was her second time. I had the same good feeling about her that I had last week. Kate did as well. Before leaving, I put in a DVD of Fiddler on the Roof for them. When I returned they were watching.

Kate was tired and wanted to rest a while. When she got up, she wanted to know what she could do. I told her she could work puzzles on her iPad. She didn’t know what an iPad was. She forgot the name of the iPad quite a while ago and often doesn’t know what it does when she sees it. I got the iPad and gave it to her. She sat down and asked me where we were. I told her we were in Knoxville. She said, “Good. I thought we were in New York.” I said, “I thought you loved New York.” She said, “I do, but I like it here. We come here a lot.”

An hour later we left for dinner. Friends we met at Casa Bella had invited us to dinner at an Italian restaurant near their home. We’ve gotten together several other times and enjoyed being with them. We had a good meal and pleasant conversation. As usual, Kate handled herself quite well.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for her to follow conversations. A number of times she stopped one of us to explain something she missed or didn’t understand. I think the problem occurs with the shift of conversation from one person to the next. It’s just too fast for her.

I’ve noticed other things like that. Increasingly, she wants me to simplify things I tell her. It’s confusing to say, “Here are your clothes. Put on your top and pants.” When I do that she says, “Tell me one thing at a time.” When looking at photos, I might say, “Look at this picture of your daddy.” It takes her a while to locate her father even if my finger is on the picture. It’s as though she sees a vast array of stimuli and doesn’t know where to look.

From the time the sitter arrived until we went to bed, Kate didn’t show any unusual signs of confusion. I don’t mean that she didn’t experience any confusion. For example, she never knows where she is and usually doesn’t know my name or hers. What I mean is that she didn’t show any signs of being disturbed by her memory problems. I didn’t specifically ask, but I think she knew I was her husband. I know that sometime during the late afternoon or at dinner she mentioned our two children. Her day was highlighted by her “Big Sister Album” and having dinner with friends. It was a good day.