Kate’s use of the iPad continues to be a smaller part of her life as she declines. It wasn’t long ago that I mentioned the amount of power left in the battery at the end of the day used to be from 25-50%. Yesterday for the first time, I took a look at her screen time over the past seven days. It was very instructive. Her total time on the iPad was 3 hours and 19 minutes (an average of 28 minutes per day), and almost half of that was on Tuesday, one week ago. She didn’t use it on Saturday or Sunday. As of this morning, her screen time was 2 hours and 10 minutes for the past seven days (an average of 18 minutes per day).
I don’t have the data to prove it, but I know that at one time her screen time must have averaged as much as 6 hours or more per day. That was her major activity. She was on it most of the time she was awake and not eating or involved with some other activity I had planned.
This causes me to reflect on the progression of change that has occurred over the past eight years and ten months since Kate’s diagnosis. At the start, she was actively working on her computer. It was challenging for her, but she was able to check her email and work on a photo book that she is still planning to create. She never got beyond editing photos and did that for many hours every day. She also enjoyed working in the yard. She pretty much filled her day between those two activities. As it became increasing difficult to use her computer, she started working much more in the yard. She could easily spend six to eight hours there. It was her “happy place.”
When I saw that she wasn’t using her computer as much, I introduced her to the iPad. I thought that would be an easy way for her to keep up with her email and Facebook. She never got into that. It was only when I showed her the jigsaw puzzle apps that the iPad became an important source of entertainment.
She continued to spend a lot of time in the yard until about two years ago. She “pulled leaves” until there were almost none left. (That killed almost eighteen shrubs. I gave them a year to come back and had them taken out a year ago.) That is when she was left with the iPad as her only self-initiated activity, and now that is going away.
The consequence is that I am playing a more direct role in keeping her occupied. Her photo books have become more important. At the same time, she is resting more. That helps to balance my load. On the whole, there are other things that also require more attention. I am washing a lot more now. Each of the past three mornings I have had to change the sheets on our bed. That doesn’t demand much of my time. It’s just one more thing.
Having said that, I don’t want people to be overly concerned. I don’t feel overworked or stressed out. Before that happens, I will bring in additional help. We still enjoy being together, perhaps even more now. I know our lives are likely to change significantly – and sooner than I want. Kate can’t think about the future. As a result, she has no idea how little time is left for us. She does recognize her dependence on me and counts on me for everything. I won’t let her down.