Delusions, Paranoia and Other Things

Yesterday, Kate woke up on her own before 10:00. I took her to the bathroom. After that, she wanted to lie down again but didn’t go to sleep. I got her up and dressed in time to have lunch at noon. Prior to that I didn’t observe anything much different from any other day. She wasn’t especially cheerful, but she wasn’t depressed. As on other mornings, she expressed her greatest enthusiasm for the photo of our daughter, the flowers, the backyard, and the photo of our son.

At lunch, everything was going along well. She asked multiple times about the Frank Sinatra mug shot. Then late in the meal she looked at a large poster of a bottle of Cinzano. She had asked about it only two or three times before. When she asked, I explained that it was a brand of Vermouth and often used in Martinis. That led to explaining a Martini. I told her it was gin with a very small amount of Vermouth, sometime so small that one could hardly tell it was there.

That may have sparked something. She said, “Sometimes somebody could try to slip that in your drink.” We went on with our meal. Our server brought her another Dr. Pepper. Kate took a sip and had a look of suspicion on her face. She said, “I think someone in here is trying to get me. I’m not going to drink it.” I asked if she knew who “they” were. She said, “No. I think they’re working with her (our server), but she doesn’t realize it.” In another minute, she showed me a small piece of tomato that was in her orzo. She said, “See.” I said, “Is that something they planted?” She nodded.

She continued to talk about the need to be careful and that they might get me as well. It wasn’t long before our server asked about dessert and mentioned they had pumpkin cheesecake. I discretely let her know that Kate doesn’t like pumpkin. Then I told her that sometimes “we” eat things that “we” didn’t like in the past and to bring us a piece. When she bought it out, she whispered in my ear that she had added extra whipped cream on top because she knew that Kate likes it. As it turned out the problem wasn’t the pumpkin itself. She took one bite and liked it, but she said “they” had gotten the cheesecake as well as the Dr. Pepper. She took one other bite, but I ate the rest.

I know that paranoia is one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but this was the first occurrence for Kate. I’ll be interested in whether or not we have a repeat.

The other experience occurred at a local theater. We went to see Into the Woods. We had seen this quite a few years ago on Broadway and were not taken with it; however, I know that it received a lot of awards. That made me think about going. We have a season subscription, so it didn’t cost anything extra. I went prepared to leave at intermission, if necessary.

It turned out that was a good plan. The only thing better would have been to have stayed at home. It was simply too complex for Kate to enjoy. In addition, much of Sondheim’s music is not melodic. She just couldn’t get into it. Throughout the first half she gave me lots of dirty looks as if to say, “You are the one who brought me here. Now get me out.” Several times she gave me an angry look when I applauded.

When intermission came almost ninety minutes later, I said, “Let’s go.” The irony for me is that I thought the musical itself was very creative and well-done. In fact, it was the best cast I have seen at this particular theater, and we have attended off and on for thirty-five years. The quality of the singers was excellent. When I said that to Kate as we walked to the car, she agreed the cast was great. It was interesting that her displeasure did not affect her evaluation of the production itself.

We didn’t talk much on the way home. I decided it was a good time to play music that I know Kate likes. I learned a lesson today. We have always been willing to take a chance on theater productions. Most of the time, we are glad we went. At this stage of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, however, I need to be more careful in what I choose to see.

We relaxed at home for an hour before going to dinner. I played a Barbra Streisand album that she likes while she rested on the sofa. Our son called during that time, and she enjoyed his call. She spoke a little more than usual and gave him a sincere thank you for calling.

After Kevin’s call, we went to dinner and then back home to watch a portion of Fiddler on the Roof. We had watched about an hour the previous night. Last night she just couldn’t get into it and wanted to go to bed.

At 2:00 this morning, I felt Kate move. She was sitting up on her elbows. I asked if she needed to go to the bathroom. She said, “No. Where are they?” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “My notes. I can’t find them.” At this point, I knew she must have been dreaming. She started feeling around the bed with her hands. She asked me to turn on a light which I did. Then she got out of bed and looked around the room. When she didn’t find them, she looked in the bathroom. Of course, she didn’t find them, but she did bring back two photos she likes. One was our daughter in her wedding gown. The other was a photo of my mother and me on Mother’s Day two years before she died. She put them on her bedside table.

I thought she was going to spend a good bit of time looking around. It was only after telling her several times that I thought she should get back in bed and wait until morning to look any further. All this took about fifteen minutes. When she got back in bed, she couldn’t get the notes off her mind. She kept talking about trying to find them. I promised her I would help her search this morning. We must have been awake another thirty minutes before dozing off. I am counting on her not remembering any of this when she gets up.