A Good Day, But Not Without Confusion

At 7:45 yesterday morning, I heard Kate make a sound and went to the bedroom. She was awake and smiled at me when I entered the room. I sat down on the bed beside her. She was wide awake, not at all groggy. She was also in a cheerful mood. It was a great way to begin the day.

I assumed that she just wanted to get up to go to the bathroom, but I soon discovered that she was ready to start the day. As I helped her dress, she wanted to do as much as she could and said, “I’m smart you know.” That began a conversation in which she said that women are as smart as men. She questioned whether I believed that. I told her I did. She said, “Good. You gave the right answer.” She said, “Someday women are going to be doing the same things as men.” I told her there were already changes being made. I told her about the enrollment numbers of women in college and in several different fields like medicine, law, and business. She was surprised and pleased. This was not the first time she has brought up the topic of the roles of men and women and specifically the discrimination women have faced. It comes up periodically.

We got ready leisurely and arrived at Panera at 9:00. As we walked in, we stopped to talk with several friends who regularly come for coffee and conversation after morning mass. Because we don’t get to Panera very often, it was especially nice to visit with them. Kate was unusually chatty and funny. One of the men said something about himself. A woman seated a couple of seats from him quickly contradicted him. Kate said, “You must be his wife.” Then he said something to which Kate had a funny comeback. I wish I could remember what it was. It was the kind of thing you might expect from someone who jokes frequently. It was clever and so quick. We all laughed. It was especially funny coming from Kate since it was something unexpected. She didn’t sound at all like someone with dementia.

After an hour, she was ready for home. That didn’t surprise me. She had missed at least two hours of her normal sleep by getting up so early. I also expected she would rest when we returned home. That proved to be correct.

It was a day for the sitter and my day for the Y and to have coffee with my friend, Mark Harrington. We arrived home from lunch a few minutes before Mary arrived. She came in and greeted Kate while I brushed my teeth and got myself ready to leave.  When I told Kate I was leaving, she said, “You’re leaving?” This is now a common question, but she doesn’t seem as concerned as she often does. I told her I would be back. I left with a good feeling.

Upon my return home, Mary was seated in the family room. I usually expect to see Kate resting on the sofa, but she wasn’t in the room at all. Mary called to Kate to let her know I was home. She was in the back of the house. I assumed she had been resting in one of the other bedrooms, but Mary said that she had been up a while and had been walking through all the rooms in the house. She told me that she had also gone outside on the patio. Then Kate walked into the room and said, “Isn’t this a great room?” I recognized right away what was going on. For well over a year she has often thought our house belongs to somebody else and that we have been staying here. For most of the past two or three days, however, that sense has been almost constant. Her going from room to room yesterday reminded me of the one-hour “tour” she and I took of the house about a year ago when she didn’t recognize it as our home. We went to dinner right after Mary left. As we pulled out of the garage, Kate said, “Is this the first time you’ve been to my school?”

She did a little better on her iPad last night but still had problems. She didn’t get into the store as much because she asked for my help before hitting the button that takes her there. Although I spent as much time helping her, I felt better because she didn’t experience the frustration that she had the previous night. I am better able to take the demands on me to help her than I am to see her discouraged.

It was also a day when I felt she recognized me as her husband. I could be wrong. I never asked, but she never said anything to make me think she didn’t. On the way to lunch, she said, “I like you. I like being with you. I even love you.” She called me by name once in the afternoon. She also expressed her appreciation to me for being patient with her. This reminds me of something she said at lunch the other day. She had torn a paper napkin into three pieces and placed her glass of tea on one, her knife and fork on another, and her bread plate on the third. I said, “It looks like you’re all ready for your meal.” She said, “Thank you for being so understanding of all the funny little things I do.” I wonder, “Does she recognize these things really are unusual?” I would love to know all that is going on in her brain.

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