Back to Panera

Increasingly, I find that I am no good at predicting what each morning will be like. Thankfully, we haven’t had any bad mornings. I’m mostly thinking about what time we will start the day. Overall, Kate gets up later than she did a year ago; however, she periodically surprises me like she did this morning. She was up at 7:30 to go to the bathroom. That’s not unusual although she usually does that a little earlier. This morning’s surprise was that she got up again at 8:30 and was ready to start the day.

Like the two previous mornings, she seemed alert, not groggy the way she often is. I asked if she wanted to shower. She did. I was glad as she hadn’t showered in two days. I thought I would have to coax her, but we avoided that. I left her after she was in the shower and went back to the kitchen. My next surprise was that she didn’t take as long to shower as usual. She often showers for fifteen minutes or so.

I went back to show her the clothes I had put out for her. It seems that no matter where I put them she doesn’t see them and has to asked me for them. That was the case this morning. I was fully prepared for her to get back in bed, but she didn’t. She was ready to dress.

As I helped her dress, she said, “What’s your name?” That was the first sign of any memory loss or confusion. Otherwise, she seemed perfectly normal except for needing my help finding the bathroom and getting her clothes. It made me think again about how easy it is for someone with dementia to get by in brief social encounters without anyone’s suspecting the diagnosis. As usual, she asked my name in much the same way that she might have asked, “What’s on TV?” She is perfectly natural and doesn’t appear to be bothered in any way by not remembering.

After I told her my name, she tried to repeat it but couldn’t. She tried to say “Creighton.” I repeated it for her, and she tried again. She got it on the third or fourth try and repeated it several times in succession. Then I said, “Do you know who I am?” She hesitated and tried to think but didn’t say anything. I told her, and she smiled. I said, “Don’t you believe me?” She said, “I believe you.” She seemed comfortable with that, but didn’t express any special enthusiasm.

We got ready more quickly than usual and arrived at Panera by 9:30. We haven’t done that many times in the past 8-10 months. She is working happily on her puzzles as I write this post. That reminds me of another surprise. This involves her puzzles. Last night she asked me for help. When I looked at the puzzle, I noticed that she had completed all the edge pieces and was starting to place the others. That struck me because I have suggested for weeks that she start by finding the edge pieces and putting them in place. They are easier to identify. Once placed it is easier to place the others. That is especially true when you are working with 16-piece puzzles.

A little later, I was also surprised when she needed help finding the last remaining piece. This time it was because she couldn’t find the piece itself. She was able to see the “hole” in the center of the puzzle where the piece should go. I frequently show her the piece and the empty space, but she has never been able to see it. That has been a big “puzzle” for me. I can only chalk it up to her Alzheimer’s.  Both of these surprises tell that she is able to learn some things that I thought she couldn’t. Her rational ability has not totally vanished.

Unfortunately, it’s a quiet morning at Panera. We haven’t see anyone we know except the staff, but Kate enjoyed her muffin and is now enjoying her puzzles. It’s also a nice break from our regular routine. It looks like another good day.

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