Some Days are Better Than Others, and Some are Very Special.

I’ve commented many times about Kate and her variations in mood and behavior. Many other caregivers report the same thing with their own loved ones. I’ve also heard stories about people who have been unresponsive for an extended time and suddenly experience a moment when they are more alert and talkative. Some families describe it as a miracle. Earlier this week, we experienced a moment like that.

First, let me provide a little background. Although I’m pretty good at accepting Kate’s unpredictability, I do get a little stressed when I make a commitment but am unsure how her mood might affect my plans.

Two weeks ago, our retirement community announced they are conducting video interviews with residents who would like to participate. The idea is to provide the residents and their families with a record of relevant aspects of their lives. Although they provide a list of questions the interviewer might ask, the format is not rigid. The residents or couples can modify or redesign the entire interview to suit their preferences. I liked the idea and was the first one to sign up. I created an interview focused on our marriage from our first date to the present under the title “Love, Discovery, and Adventure.” Our interview was Tuesday afternoon at 2:30.

Having set the appointment, I realized that I had also scheduled lunch at 12:45 to celebrate three anniversaries with my colleagues at the office. Two of them have been with me 40 years and the third 35.

In addition, the previous week I had been contacted by a nurse representing the insurance company that provides our long-term care insurance. Periodically, the company sends a nurse for an assessment interview to determine Kate’s eligibility for in-home care. She suggested three times last week, but I had conflicts for each one. She indicated that Saturday afternoon might be a possibility for her but would call me back. It turned out that didn’t work, and she suggested Tuesday at 10:30. I didn’t like the idea of having another commitment right before the other two, but I decided to accept it. That meant I was going to be distracted for all three of the day’s events. On top of that, I had no idea how Kate would do in the interview. Knowing that I needed to focus my attention on both commitments as well as my normal caregiving responsibilities, I felt a little stressed.

As so often happens, my concern was totally unnecessary. The appointment with the nurse went well. Sometimes the person assigned to make the visit tries to put Kate through the traditional dementia-related questions (Who is President? What is today’s date? Draw a clock showing that it is 2:00?) The past several visits I’ve requested the person not put her through this because she can’t do it and hasn’t been able to do so for years. This time the nurse said she felt it was unnecessary based on what I had told her about Kate.

Not long after the nurse left, our caregiver arrived, and I was off to our luncheon. That went quite well. Although we have worked together professionally more than thirty-five years, this was the first time for all of us to meet face-to-face since before the pandemic began in 2020. We had more to talk about than the time allowed.

Our video interview was icing on the cake. Kate was in a cheerful mood and more self-assured than usual. I told our interviewer that I would do most of the talking but would try to elicit some response from Kate. I won’t say she was talkative, but she was comfortable responding when I addressed her. In fact, she was the same way with the interviewer before and after the interview. Kate’s caregiver was in the room during the interview. She was as amazed as I. The entire process had been successful, and I am optimistic that the video will be something we can share with our children.

The rest of the day also went very well. We had a very pleasant dinner in the dining room, and we enjoyed our time together after the caregiver left.

It’s been a week, and Kate has had a streak of good days with special moments. I don’t have an explanation for these especially good times, but I will continue to savor them and be grateful.

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