Considering Kate’s recent changes, it’s fair to ask how I’m doing. Let me try to answer that. By now, you know that I am bound to say, “remarkably well,” but it’s more complicated than that. Like Kate’s spirits, mine go up and down in about the same proportion as hers. As I have said before, “When she’s happy, I’m happy.” That implies there are times when she is not happy. That is true for both of us.
After Kate’s unusually happy day a couple of days ago, yesterday and the day before have been a little different. It’s not that she was sad or depressed. She wasn’t. It was that the symptoms of her Alzheimer’s seemed to be more evident. There wasn’t anything new. She just seemed more like she was drifting away, somewhat distant. That was particularly true last night.
At dinner, she asked my name several times and asked what I like people to call me. I said, “Richard.” She asked if that is what she should call me. I told her that would be fine. When she asked, she did so in the very natural way she usually does. What was different was that my name didn’t seem to register with her at all. It didn’t seem any more familiar than the name of the restaurant at which we were eating.
Our evening after dinner was also a little different. She was very tired and wanted to rest about 7:30. I suggested she could get ready for bed. At first, she just wanted to rest on the sofa. I told her it was getting close to bedtime, and it might be better to get ready. After getting into bed, she asked my name in much the same way she had done at dinner. After two or three times, I asked if she knew how we were related. She didn’t. When I told her we were married, she couldn’t believe it. I gave her a little information about our courtship and our wedding. That seemed to ring a bell, but she soon asked my name again. I told her and didn’t say anything more.
She has been gradually drifting way over the past few weeks. That means more moments of sadness for me. Like all things, I knew this would happen eventually, but it is the reality that has the greatest impact. I know that Kate’s condition will only get worse.
The good news is that I have a lot of things to keep me occupied. This blog is one of them. I am editing a book of emails I wrote under my dad’s name the last few years of his life. I am also writing an article for someone else’s blog. I am active on Twitter and with the United Way, Rotary, and the health foundation on whose board I served for nine years. In addition, I donate platelets every 3-4 weeks.
Of course, my primary role is that of Kate’s care partner. While that involves stress, it also incorporates a considerable amount of pleasure. I am thinking specifically of all the social contacts we have in connection with our meals and the many ways in which music plays a role in our lives. Beyond that, I derive satisfaction from helping Kate get through each day. She can’t do it on her own. I am glad to be here for her.
On balance, I believe that I am doing “remarkably well,” but there is no question that there is more sadness in my life as I watch her decline. I can work to minimize it, but I can’t escape it.