Another Unusual Incident

Kate and I went to opera night at Casa Bella this  past Thursday night. I approach each of these evenings with both anticipation and a small measure of concern. These nights (6:00 to 8:30) have played a significant role in our therapy for almost six years. There have only been a couple of nights when Kate didn’t enjoy herself as much as usual. Those have been within the past few months and have related to changes in our seating arrangement and sometimes being part of a larger group. Now I sit beside her. That allows me to help her more easily, especially in whispering to her when she has questions.

If I had thought much about it, I would not have been concerned at all. After all, it is the Christmas season. That meant we had a generous supply of music for the season including a “sing-a-long” with “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The crowd was caught up in the spirit of the season, and so we were.

We engaged in a little more conversation after the program ended. The result was our getting home a little later than usual. I was eager to help Kate prepare for bed and to take my shower. That shouldn’t have been a problem, but I didn’t anticipate what was about to occur.

I got Kate to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and she got caught up in the process. She always works hard to clean between her teeth even though I haven’t been unable to find anything. (I sympathize with her since I have a space between two of my teeth that seem to have nothing between but bothers me nonetheless. My dental hygienist believes it is where a crown meets the real tooth.) She took more time than usual, at least twenty minutes. She wanted me to watch what she was doing in case she wasn’t doing it the right way. This involved my watching her go from tooth to tooth using her fingernail like dental floss.

When she finished, she washed her face and arms. That wasn’t unusual except that wanted me to watch carefully. She wanted me to know exactly what she was doing. She put great emphasis on the upper portion of her forehead where her hair begins. During this process, she continually pointed her fingers toward me so that I could see what she was getting out. She sometimes refers to “them” as “thingies.” I’ve never been able to see anything but acknowledge that I have seen them.

When she got to the bed, it was time to work on the toes. She runs her fingers up and down between each toe and can repeat this process several times. That night was one of those times. Then she wanted me to do it. I complied. When she got in bed, she began to pull her hair. Several times I started to step away from the bed. Each time, she called me back saying, “I want you to see this.” This incident was not unique except for the duration. I finally got to shower almost an hour and a half after getting home. She seems to be getting more obsessed about pulling her hair, picking her teeth with her fingernail, and cleaning between her toes. I wonder how far this can go.

Morning Crisis

Yesterday, like a number of days recently, Kate was up at 7:30. That meant I didn’t get my normal walk, nor did I have time to upload a new post. This morning I was up at 5:20. I thought this would be a good opportunity to write a post about an experience we had last night. My plans changed quickly. I was about to walk out of the bedroom when I noticed that Kate was awake. I walked over to the bed to let her know I was going to the kitchen to fix my breakfast. When I reached the bed beside her, I recognized the look on her face. I said, “Are you afraid?” She nodded. I told her I could help her and that she was going to be all right? Then I said, “Would you like me to stay with you?” She said, “Oh, yes.”

She wanted to go to the bathroom. As I helped her up, she said, “You’re very nice to me. You’re the only one I can talk to.” I wasn’t sure if she knew who I was and said, “My name is Richard.” She said, “I know that. <pause> What’s your name?”

After using the toilet, she wanted to brush her teeth. I asked if she were still afraid. She said she was. I asked what she was afraid of. She said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what to do?” She talked a couple of minutes about that and said things like “I don’t know what’s going to happen to all of us.” “I just want to get out of here. I don’t really mean that, but . . .” (She didn’t finish.) “Thank you for helping me. You’re the only one I can talk to.”

I assured her that I could help her, that she could depend on me. I said, “Right now, I think you need to get back in bed and rest. We’re going to have a very nice day.” I started to leave for the kitchen for my computer, and she said, “Please stay with me.” I told her I was just getting my things from the kitchen and would be right back.

As you might expect, I turned on some soft soothing music and sat in the chair beside the bed. It wasn’t long before she was asleep.” I began to think about leaving to fix my breakfast, when she awoke and saw me. She had a smile on her face and said, “You’re here. How nice.” She seemed like herself, but now I feel I should stay a while longer. At least for now, the crisis is over.

Little Things from the Past Two Days

Each day brings with it a variety of little things that characterize our lives. For example, Kate is losing more of her vocabulary. That leads to her saying things I may understand but are not precisely what she meant to say. Yesterday morning as we walked through the family room, she once again took note of her ceramic cat. I had walked ahead of her a few steps and heard her say, “Kitty Pat. Kitty Pat.” I looked back and said, “What?” She pointed to the cat and repeated enthusiastically, “Kitty Pat.” This is just one example of changes in her speech. She continues to forget common words like salmon, steak, and sweet potato fries. There are many more. By the way, when she stops to look at the cat, she seems to understand that it is not real. Other times I’m not sure. As she looked at it yesterday, she said, “He’s looking at me. Now he’s looking at you.”

At the same time she loses certain skills, she continue to amaze me with her self awareness and, especially, her insights about me. She was a little uneasy when we went to lunch yesterday and asked me to sit beside her in the booth rather than across from her. In a few minutes, I said, “It looks like you are relaxed now.” She said, “Not quite, but I’m getting there.” Then she surprised me. She put her hand on mine and very gently said, “If I were really upset, you would say, ‘You’re going to be all right. Just relax. You’re going to be all right.’” These might not have been my exact words, but they were pretty close. Her tone of voice was “right on.”

Later in the day, she asked where we were. Before I could answer, she said, “I must make you miserable asking you the same question over and over.” She forgets many things, but she clearly remembers things of which I thought she was unaware. It’s not only that she remembers, but she also grasps that it could be irritating. Of course, I told her it doesn’t, and it’s true though I’m not sure she believed me.

She is often concerned about what she should do or say in social situations. This usually comes up before we are going somewhere, but other times it is out of the blue. That happened yesterday as we got in the car after lunch. She said, “It’s really good to see you.” She wanted to know if that was correct. I told her it was. Then I said, “As a former English teacher, you could appreciate that there are different ways you could say the same thing. Some could have slightly different meanings.” I went on to say, “For example, you might simply say, ‘It’s nice to see you.’” I explained that it wouldn’t convey the same degree of pleasure or emotion. Then she asked what she had said. I said, “It’s really good to see you.” She immediately said, “Or I could say, ‘It’s so good to see you.’” Because there is so much that she doesn’t remember or understand, it is easy to think that she wouldn’t be able to grasp something like this. That would clearly be wrong – at least this time.

There is something else that has occurred regularly for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it. She has ridden with me a lot over the eight years since I bought it. We’ve had only one car since December 2013. For the past three or four years she has been unable to identify it at all. The fact that I point and say, “That white car is ours.” doesn’t help. In addition, she doesn’t know which side of the car she is to enter (even when I take her, and I always do.) or whether to get in the front seat where I have opened the car door or the back seat with the door closed. It’s a good reminder of just how much her rational thought processes have diminished. I should add that she has never had any interest in cars. That was long before Alzheimer’s. I know that she knew she drove a Volvo station wagon for a few years, but I’m not sure she ever knew what kind of car I drove.

There is one other thing I should add. I’ve mentioned a lot about her poor eyesight. She frequently will not see specific food items on her plate at meal times. She has salmon and sweet potato fries every Saturday for lunch, but she often doesn’t see the salmon. When the server put her plate in front of her, I am careful to turn it so that the salmon is right in front of her and the sweet potato fries above that. I feel certain her love of fries is part of the reason she sees them. When I point out the salmon, she has great difficulty seeing it even when I use a knife as a pointer and touch it. The surprising thing is that she frequently sees small specks on the table or floor or in the car. They must stick out because there is usually nothing around them, but it is a reminder that her eyes are working. It is the brain that has trouble differentiating different items that are close together.

Let me close with something I’ve said before. We still enjoy ourselves. Yesterday and Friday were especially good days. These days may be waning, but, obviously, it is possible for a couple “Living with Alzheimer’s” to derive pleasure even at this late stage of the disease. I know that everyone’s experience can’t be like ours nor would I deny the low points that are a part of everyone’s journey. From the memoirs of other caregivers, however, I know that our experience is not unique. That should be encouraging to people who have recently received their diagnosis. It’s good to know that life after Alzheimer’s is possible, at least for a while. For us that has lasted almost nine years.

Alzheimer’s Doesn’t Know It’s a Holiday, But We Do.

Kate and I talk a lot about the many things for which we are grateful. We’ll do more of that today. Let me say first that I am grateful to those of you who take time to read my often rambling accounts of our lives. I hope it provides an accurate glimpse of what “Living with Alzheimer’s” is like for us and that you may be gaining a little insight into the world of Alzheimer’s. The overriding message for us is how well we have gotten along. That easily claims first place among the things for which I feel most fortunate. I only wish that could be true for everyone who lives with this disease, but I am very mindful that others face far greater challenges than we have.

I am grateful for the kindness of family, friends and acquaintances who provide support, often without realizing it. I have also been touched by those who serve us in restaurants and customers in places we visit. Just this week I took Kate to the restroom at lunch. I’m always a little concerned in these situations because she has on several occasions locked a door to the stall or the restroom itself and been unable to open it. Sometimes she doesn’t know where to go once she is in the restroom or how to find the exit door. That day I opened the door and peaked in to see if anyone else might be in there. A lady was washing her hands. I pointed Kate in the direction of the stall and told her I would be right outside the door. It wasn’t long before the door opened and the lady who had been washing her hands invited me in. She told me she was a nurse and would stay with Kate. That wasn’t the first time people have helped in that situation. Little gestures like that have made the road smoother for us, at least emotionally.

It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining, and the today’s temperature will be in the low 60s. I look forward to this day with Kate. It will be the first we celebrate alone. Now don’t feel sorry for us. We will certainly miss being with family, but it will be easier on both of us that we are not traveling or hosting this year. I have an increasing recognition that our time together is limited, and I treasure the good times that we have when it is just the two of us.

Now let me segue to another aspect of our lives. Although we have many “Happy Moments,” they vacillate with more trying ones. Thus far, we have been able to handle each one of those. That includes one we had early this morning.

At 3:00, Kate said, “How do I get inside?” I said, “You’re inside right now. You’re in your own bed.” She wasn’t buying that. She asked again. I said told her I would show her but that it was the middle of the night and thought it would be better to do that in the morning. That wasn’t of any help. Then I told her I would show her. The first stop was the bathroom. Then we walked hand-in-hand through the bedroom, down the hallway outside our room, into the family room and kitchen, stopping in the laundry room. During our walk I tried to comfort her. She kept asking if we were going inside. I assured her that I was taking her inside. I turned her around and we walked back to our bedroom where I helped her into bed.

As I pulled the covers over her, she said, “You’re not going to leave me, are you?” I told her I would never leave her and that I would be right there on the other side of her. When I turned around to walk to the other side of the bed, she must have thought I was leaving. She said, “Don’t leave me.” She seemed very frightened. That didn’t stop immediately. I got into bed, moved close to her, and put my arms around her. She gradually felt at ease. By that time it was about 4:10. She was quiet until 4:30 when she asked again not to leave her. I assured her I wouldn’t, and I didn’t hear anything more from her. I think I went to sleep pretty shortly after that. I know I slept until 6:50 which is unusually late for me, but I know I needed it.

My best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to each of you.

The Velveteen Rabbit

One of the major themes running through “Living with Alzheimer’s” is change and adaptation. That has been continuous since Kate’s diagnosis. Of course, it really started before that, but I can’t pinpoint a specific date. I can for the diagnosis, so I always use it. At first, our lives changed very little. The primary difference was a focus on the bad news and how we were going to handle it.

Over time, we dropped many things that we had done in the past. Most recently, that has involved Kate’s difficulty working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. For several years that has taken up 6-8 hours a day. That is now less than an average of an hour a day. This past week there were three days when she didn’t use it at all.

That has put me in the position of creating more activity for her. The sitters and I have been doing that with the aid of her family photo books. That is going well, but I felt the need for something else.  She tries reading magazines, but she doesn’t see well enough. Since she enjoys my reading the text that accompanies the photo books, I began to think about reading other things to her. Several things increased my motivation. One of my Twitter friends reads to her mother and said her mother enjoys it. I also have a colleague at the office who read to her mother in the latter stages of her life. It meant a lot to both of them.

In addition, our Rotary club has recently adopted a new project that involves placing children’s books in public places frequented by children. It made me think of buying several children’s books and trying them out with Kate. Two weeks ago, I took Kate with me to Barnes & Noble to browse the children’s collection. It was right after lunch, a time when she almost always wants to rest. I didn’t have much time to do any serious looking.

Last week, I had a conversation about reading to Kate with my colleague. She mentioned The Velveteen Rabbit and The Giving Tree as good possibilities. I went back to Barnes & Noble on Wednesday and looked for them along with other possibilities. They have a pretty large collection, but I didn’t see either book. The next day I checked Amazon and got them along with two other books.

Prior to their arrival on Friday, I looked on some of our book shelves to see what I might find. I saw a book by Erma Bombeck, Family: The Ties that Bind . . .and Gag! I read the two short introductory chapters to her Friday morning. In her humorous way, she first relates what her own birth family was like when she was growing up. Then she describes her present (present being some time ago) family as they take their annual Christmas photo. It’s a funny contrast of the generations. I wasn’t sure how Kate would react, but she enjoyed it, and I plan to read more at another time.

Sunday morning she was up a little earlier than usual. I didn’t want to go to Panera for a muffin and the quickly go to lunch, and Andriana’s wasn’t going to be open for almost an hour. I didn’t want her to feel my reading children’s books to her was, well, too “childish.” I explained about our Rotary project and that she might help me decide if the books I had bought would be suitable for me to give to our project. She, of course, was happy to do that. My first experiment was reading The Giving Tree. It didn’t take long for me to discover that she liked it. She audibly expressed her feelings as I read. I was encouraged by her reaction.

We still had plenty of time before we needed to leave for lunch. I picked up The Velveteen Rabbit and read it. This was a blockbuster. She was touched the whole way and in tears before I got to the end. I admit that I was touched as well, especially by her response, and shed a tear or two myself.

When I finished reading, I put the book down in my lap. We were seated side-by-side on the sofa. She picked it up and started to look through it from the beginning. She looked at the title page and the page of illustrations. I hadn’t paid much attention to the illustrations as I read, so we looked at them. Then I suggested we go to lunch. She held the book up to her chest with both arms around it and asked if she could take the book with us. I told her she could. She said, “Should I take it into the restaurant?” I said it would probably be better to leave it in the car. Then she decided it was best to leave it home. I mentioned that we could read it again if she would like. She said she did.

It was a beautiful experience for both of us. I was hoping she might enjoy my reading to her since she has enjoyed my reading from her photo books, but I wasn’t at all sure she would understand the stories well enough to appreciate them. I feel sure that she missed a lot, but it was clear that her intuitive skills were working. She was clearly moved. Her reaction encourages me to try more. Wouldn’t it be nice if her love for reading that seemed to have been lost could be rekindled in this way? How appropriate for someone who was a lifelong reader until Alzheimer’s entered our lives.

Friday Lunch Conversation

In my previous post I commented on how talkative Kate was this past week. We had another good conversation on Friday. It was an ordinary lunch at Applebee’s, but it was a time when we both felt the impact of the words we exchanged. We talked about how much each means to the other. We briefly touched on the subject of re-marrying if one of us died. At this point, that is something neither of us can imagine. Each of us expressed our feelings about the other and the difference that made in our lives.

Kate asked me about a number of things. She was soon overwhelmed with information and asked me to stop. She said, “You know I won’t be able to remember. I will have to ask you again.” I told her I would always be there to answer any of her questions. I also reminded her of a nickname she had given me in the early years after her diagnosis – “MM” for “My Memory.” It was no surprise that she hadn’t remembered. I would have been surprised if she had.

It was a moment when each of us spoke very candidly. She was clear about not remembering. I was equally clear in my commitment to be with her whatever the future holds. That commitment is an important source of strength for me. I believe it keeps me from dwelling on the sad aspects of living with Alzheimer’s. There is no doubt that caregiving is stressful, but it has its rewards. I think of it as a privilege to care for Kate during this last chapter of her life. Overall, I still believe things are going “remarkably well.”

Ups and Downs This Week, Mostly Ups

It’s been a busy week. My daily schedule has been interrupted more frequently than in the past. That means I’ve been less regular with my posts. Several times I have started one and not been able to finish because of something else I needed to do. Kate has required more attention than usual, but that doesn’t explain everything. The other things have involved household chores.

Tuesday was one of those days about which I didn’t say anything. I was especially interested in writing about the events of the day as a follow up to Monday when she had a rough beginning. Fortunately, I jotted down a few notes so that I can cover the highlights.

The day started like the day before. Her brain seemed to be “blank.” She was very dependent on me; however, she didn’t appear to be disturbed the way she was on Monday.

I don’t know that my own behavior played a role in the way she responded. I do know that I tried to be more careful in waking her than I had done the previous day. I played a full 20 minutes of relaxing music before going to the bedroom to wake her. When I entered the bedroom, she was awake. I said hello and sat down on the bed beside her. This wasn’t planned or intentional, but I think it may have played a role in conveying a relaxed morning, not a moment when I was eager to get her up.

She didn’t know her name or mine nor our relationship. When I said I was her husband, she couldn’t accept it. As I have done on other occasions, I suggested she think of me as a friend. She liked that. I mentioned a shower, but she didn’t want it. I didn’t push.

I told her I loved her. Though a bit unclear, she responded with what she meant to be “A Bushel and a Peck.” I pulled it up on the audio system, and we sang it together several times. Then I suggested she get up so I could take her to lunch. She got up easily. I had started to wake her with plenty of time for her to take a shower. When she didn’t shower, we were left us with additional time to get ready.

As a result, we got to lunch earlier than usual. She was very talkative and initiated a conversation as though we had never met before. She asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I had started out as a college professor. She wanted to know what I taught. When I told her sociology and social psychology, she asked me to explain. I did, and she said that sounded interesting. I went on to say I ended up with my own market research company. She didn’t know what market research is. I explained that, and she also thought that was interesting.

When I finished, I said, “Why don’t you tell me about yourself.” I knew this might put her on the spot but thought my question wasn’t especially threatening. She handled it well and said, “There really isn’t much to tell.” I told her I knew a lot about her. Then I recounted her academic background and teaching career. I pointed out that she had been a good student and had earned two masters degrees. Then I told her about her volunteer career as our church librarian. She was quite interested and added her own comments.

It had been almost a year and a half since she had had a cortisone shot for the arthritis in her knee. Over the past couple of months, she has complained about it periodically, so we went directly from the restaurant to the orthopedic clinic. She was very childlike throughout the visit but handled herself well. We waited in the lobby for about fifteen minutes. Assuming we might have to wait a while, I took along her “Big Sister Album.” I thought that would occupy her for a longer period of time than her iPad. She enjoyed looking at it and made a lot of comments. There were only a couple of others in the room. I am sure they wondered a bit as they heard me identify all the people including Kate herself as she responded much like a child listening to a parent read a book.

We didn’t wait any longer after going back to one of the examining rooms. We met with two different people. Kate didn’t understand a lot of what was said and asked for clarification. I helped interpret what they said. She never understood, but she was satisfied. As we left, she thanked everyone including those in the waiting room.

The most important thing I should say about the day was that it was one of the nicest days we have had in a long time. I think that relates directly to her mood. She was very happy and quite at ease. Her memory wasn’t any better nor was she any less confused about things like whether we were in Texas or Tennessee, but she enjoyed herself. I couldn’t understand everything she said in our conversations, but she was surprisingly sharp in terms of her understanding about the importance of values and the role of parents in teaching them to their children. She has lost so much of her rational ability that I really enjoy hearing her express her opinions, beliefs, feelings, and values that remain intact. It keeps me in touch with the Kate I have always known.

Recently, especially this week, our lives have vacillated between highs and lows. The highs have been very special, and we experienced them every day. They far outweigh the lows. I know greater challenges are on the way. I am counting on the Happy Moments to sustain us.

Another Morning Surprise

It was just a few days ago that I reported on the unpredictability of our mornings. That continued this today. Kate was awake, or woke up, when I got up at 5:50. I thought she might want to go to the bathroom, but she declined. I had been in the bathroom only a few minutes when she opened the door. I walked over to assist her to the toilet but found that it wasn’t the bathroom she wanted. She said, “Is she all right?” I did what I should know not to do. I said, “Who?” She gave me a dirty look. Often she says, “You know who.”, but just as often she gives me a look that communicates the same message. Fortunately, she asked “Is she all right?” several more times. That gave me a chance to say the right thing. Each time I said, “She is fine.” That seemed to provide her with momentary relief, but she continued to be concerned. During the next few minutes, she made other comments like “Are you sure she is all right?”  “I love her so much.” And “Could I see her?” I feel sure she must have been thinking about her mother but never found out.

When we got back to bed, I asked if she would like me to stay with her. Of course, the answer was yes. Unlike the other recent times when she has wanted me to stay, I hadn’t already dressed. I put on an album of very soothing music and got back in bed with her. I stayed there until just before 7:00. She was still awake but relaxed.

I knew she was likely to go to sleep and expect I wouldn’t hear from her until I woke her at 10:45. I was wrong again. I saw her on the video cam at 8:10. She was sitting up. When I reached her, she was wide awake and ready to get dressed. This was another day when she wanted me to take her “home.” That has become more frequent in the past few weeks. I told her I would. Strangely, she wasn’t persistent this time. She mentioned going home a couple of other times but seemed to have forgotten before we left for Panera. We got here about 9:15. She is just now finishing her muffin. I suspect it won’t be long before she will be ready to leave. How long depends on how well she is doing with her puzzles.

Mornings Are Unpredictable.

Predicting what Kate will be like when she wakes in the morning is challenging. Some mornings she is cheerful. Other days she seems disturbed. Recently we had experienced several especially good days in a row. That came to an end yesterday.

I went into the bedroom about 10:15 when I noticed that it looked like she might be getting up. She was awake, but I quickly recognized that it was one of those times when she didn’t know anything. Her mind seemed to be a complete blank. I spoke to her very calmly and explained that I could help her. I began to tell her a little about her mother and father and mentioned that we had some photo books I could show her. She didn’t want to get out of bed, so I brought in her “Big Sister Album.” I showed her a few pictures, but the light was too dim for her to see well as she was still lying in bed.

We went through our usual routine of her asking and my telling her my name and hers, but nothing sounded familiar. Very early I told her I was her husband. She didn’t take to that, and I said, “Just let me be your friend.” That worked.

She told me she didn’t know what to do. I suggested that she get up and go to the bathroom and then get dressed. She surprised me by taking my suggestion. She was a bit insecure as we headed to the bathroom and held my hand all the way. Once there, she depended on me to tell her what to do.

When we finished in the bathroom, we went back to the bedroom where I proceeded to help her dress. She had everything on but her shoes when she wanted to lie down. About twenty minutes later, I told her I would like to show her something that I thought she would like. She got up without a problem. She put her shoes on, and we walked to the hallway outside our bedroom where I showed her pictures of her mother and grandmother. She wasn’t as interested as usual but did enjoy seeing her mother’s photo. Things were getting better. Several times she asked, “Who are you?” I gave her my name without indicating our relationship. That seemed to suffice.

Once in the family room, I picked up the “Big Sister Album” and showed her the cover photo of her and her brother. She sat down in a chair to look at it. She took interest in the photos of the little girl but didn’t know who she was. I pointed at one in which she had taken special interest and said, “That’s you.” She said, “What’s my name?” I told her. She was elated and said, “Now I have a name?” It was a special moment of joy for both of us.

A few minutes later, the sitter arrived. I met her in the garage and explained what had been going on. She asked if she should still take her to lunch. I told her I thought that would actually be helpful for her. Then we walked into the family room. I said, “Look who’s here. Your friend Cindy, and she is going to take you to lunch.” Kate received her enthusiastically and said a loud “Yippee!” I was relieved and left for Rotary. Kate didn’t express any reservations about my leaving. She was happy, and so was I.


An Example of Kate’s Self-Awareness

Over the past few days, Kate has snapped at me several times. As in the past, she quickly apologized with tears in her eyes and said, “I shouldn’t have said that.” I’ve been struck by her awareness that she has spoken to me in a way she hasn’t done before Alzheimer’s entered the picture. Two nights ago, I was even more surprised.

We had just finished a very pleasant dinner at Bonefish Grill. I started the car, and she said, “May I tell you something?” Her tone of voice made me think she was going to say something nice about my caring for her as she often does. I was surprised when she said, “I know I’ve been hard to deal with lately, and I want you to know I’m sorry.” I was both touched and stunned. Here she is trying to adapt to the changes taking place in her brain, and she feels bad about the way she has treated me. Apart from that, I was amazed that she said this “out of the blue.” I think it had been more than twenty-four hours since she had last snapped at me. That tells me this is something that really disturbed her. That matches her other concerns related to not knowing “anything.” To me it is a remarkable example of her kind heart and self-awareness. It also increases my desire to see that she gets the best care I can give her.