A Pleasant Surprise

It’s been six weeks since Kate’s cataract surgery, and I see signs that she can see much better than she did before surgery. That would be no surprise for someone without Alzheimer’s. It is quite different for Kate who does have that disease. It was difficult to get a good test after the surgery, but it appears that from a physical standpoint her eyesight is about 20/50. That is impressive considering that she was legally blind in her left eye before the surgery.

The most striking indication that her vision is better is that she more frequently picks up something to “read.” What I mean is that she looks through periodicals. We no longer have any magazine subscriptions, but we do receive magazines from TCU. We have two on the table beside the chair she uses most frequently when she is in the family room. Since she can’t remember having looked at them before, she picks them up regularly. She doesn’t just look at the front cover. She goes through a good portion of the whole magazine.

Before going to bed last night, she asked me if we had anything she could read. I had to think a minute before remembering a three-ring binder in the family room. I put this together almost a year ago. I was motivated to do this by two things. First, was her brother Ken’s working on the “Big Sister” album of photos for her. Second, she has talked about doing a family album that contains information of our family and the things we have done. Frequently, she says to me, “That’s going into the album.” Or “You’re going to remember this for me, you know.” I created the contents of the binder with some of the kind of information she might like to have, but she hadn’t shown much interest in it.

A brought the binder to her and let her look through it. She was quite taken with it and spent about twenty minutes looking through it before going to bed. During that time, she wanted to show me what was in it and kept asking me if I had seen it. Sometimes she asked for help reading it. I was encouraged that she was able to read enough of it to understand it was personal information about her and her family as well as the two of us. That is a real breakthrough that is a direct result of her surgery.

She couldn’t, however, read it as well as I had hoped. The brain is the control center for everything we do. Alzheimer’s damages the brain in a way affects vision as well as just about everything else. The result is that Kate continues to have trouble seeing. It is very spotty, and I don’t have the scientific expertise to explain it. What I know is that she sees (notices) some people in a photo and not others. She does the same thing with a string of words. For example, last night she saw her grandmother’s name, Mary Katherine Franklin. She only saw “Katherine.” The only way I could get her to see “Mary” was to put my finger under the word.

I don’t expect this to change, but I do believe I can make it easier for her to read the information in the binder by enlarging the font. That would be easy. I may experiment with that today. This should give her another option to occupy herself besides her puzzles that continue to be harder for her to work.

So all-in-all her cataract surgery has been a success. I am glad we did it.