Understanding What’s Going on in Kate’s Head

You might think that by now I would have a pretty good grasp of what Kate is thinking and feeling. I spend almost all of my time with her. I try to be a careful observer. I’ve read a good bit about others experiences and their insights, but what strikes me most is how little I really understand. I often relate my impressions and my guesses as to why she does what she does. I hope, however, that I never suggest that I have a firm understanding of everything. I don’t. Yesterday morning I had an experience that illustrates how wrong I can be.

Kate got up for the day about 8:15. She was happy and seemed very clear-headed. I didn’t see any sign of grogginess. She called me by name at least twice after getting up. I never asked, but I was confident that it was one of those times when she knew my name and hers and that I am her husband. Except for helping her dress, it seemed like a morning we could have had pre-Alzheimer’s.

On the way to Panera, we talked a little about our marriage. As we drove up to the restaurant, she said, “And what is my name?” I told her and she repeated it. She quickly forgot and asked me again. Then she said, “If someone should ask, how should I introduce him?” I said, “Who?” She said, “Him sitting across from me.” I said, “This is Richard Creighton.” It turns out that’s what she wanted, my name, but she was asking in what she thought was an indirect way. All the while she behaved as though her memory was perfectly normal. She fools me like this on a regular basis. No wonder she can be with other people without their sensing how far along she is or that she has Alzheimer’s at all. How many people with dementia do you suppose we confront during the course of our daily lives without suspecting a thing?