Earlier today, I realized that I haven’t said anything Kate’s deja vu experiences in quite a while. That’s because they are much less frequent than they used to be. They had become so commonplace that I’m surprised that it took so long for me to notice the change. Now that I think about it, I remember her mentioning having been to several of the places we visited while we were in North Carolina at the end of September but not since. For years, she had “recognized” people and places that she had never seen before. The only similar thing that occurs now is her thinking that our house is either a previous house in Knoxville or her family home in Fort Worth.
One other issue is her salivation. Over two years ago, she began spitting out her saliva instead of swallowing it. We experimented with several possible solutions recommended by her doctor. None of them worked. We even went to a gastroenterologist who felt the problem was a result of the collection of saliva in the throat which often happens as we age. Her dentist told us the same thing. I finally gave up. I started keeping a roll of paper towels in the car as well as a supply of unused paper napkins from places we eat. That had nothing to do with minimizing the problem. It only helped to prevent her wiping the saliva on her clothes. I bring this up now to say that the problem continues but seems to occur somewhat less frequently. I am still hoping it will disappear like the deja vu experiences.
It has been a good while since I mentioned anything about Kate’s Deja vu experiences. I am only doing so now to indicate that they still continue. For example, as we sat at a stop light coming to Panera this morning, a man walked across the street in front of us. Kate said, “There he goes again.” She also continues to see people she “remembers” at the restaurants we frequent. I typically say, “So you’ve seen him/her/them before.”
Speaking of things that continue, Kate is still not swallowing her saliva, and I have not heard from her doctor’s office since I left an email message for the doctor. I have called the office and left a message for the doctor’s nurse. She called me about 3-4 weeks ago. I explained my attempts to contact the doctor. Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to the doctor who started her practice. In that letter I told him about the events that had transpired since the end of June. I have not heard from him or Kate’s doctor. Something is really wrong with respect to communication. I am only glad that it does not appear to be a significant problem. It was a year ago this fall that I first mentioned the problem to Kate’s original doctor who is no longer in the practice.
I haven’t mentioned anything about Kate’s deja vu experiences in quite a while, but that does not mean they have gone away. I continue to see the same pattern as always. She will see people in a restaurant, on the street, or just about any other place and say something like, “There he goes again” or “See that woman (couple, family). She’s always there.” She also remembers places we’ve never been before. For example, two weeks ago we stayed in a Courtyard in Buffalo on the way to Chautauqua. She said she remembered some of the surrounding buildings and the room we stayed in although this was our first time there. Two days ago we visited someone we have known here at Panera. He and his wife moved into an assisted living facility while we were in Chautauqua. As we walked down the hall to their apartment, she said she remembered the hallway and the pictures on the wall. On the way back from Nashville a few weeks ago, a couple on a motorcycle passed us. She said she remembered them.
Frequently, Kate does things that I think are both cute and at the same time cause me to feel a little sad. For example, in the past few months she has occasionally taken the cable out of the plug that goes in the wall to take with her to Panera. It is unusual in that she doesn’t often do that much planning. Apart from that, of course, is that the cable will do no good without the plug.
More typically, she just comes into the kitchen and announces that she is ready. I know what she means. She is ready to go to Panera. I don’t really know exactly what motivates her to get ready for Panera. At first, I assumed that she thought we had talked about going there. Now I am beginning to think it relates to the fact that we go back and forth from home to Panera and back again so often. A related factor is that this often occurs right after she has come in from the yard, showered, and dressed. It seems a little like a stimulus/response pattern that has developed. This happened just before we came here about thirty minutes ago. It always occurs when I have gotten into something; so I stop and pack up our things to take to Panera. That is really no problem; it just means that I am regularly shifting gears after getting settled.
The sad part is knowing that her behavior is a direct result of Alzheimer’s, and that it just gets worse all the time. Even as I say this, I feel the need to add that she is usually in a good humor as she is right now. She is happily working on her iPad. Strangely enough, she hasn’t had a problem losing the puzzle because she hit the wrong button. That has been an issue for a while now.
I don’t mention it regularly, but Kate continues to have Deja vu experiences. They tend to be in the same places or situations. She says, “There he/she is again.” as we pass by someone while we are driving. The person is normally walking or running, but sometimes it is a person standing at a bus stop or something similar. By far the most typical experiences occur in restaurants where she very regularly says, “See that family?” or “Notice that man.” Then she will say, “You’ll see him/her/them again.”
She also experiences periodic false memories. This morning she came into the kitchen and said, “I’m ready.” I asked if she wanted to go to Panera, and she did. I told her I wanted to finish writing an email message and then we would go. I finished and then took a few minutes to get our things together (iPads, my computer, cups for drinks, etc.). On this occasion (a rare one), she seemed eager to leave and asked, “I thought you wanted to get me out of here while Libby (our cleaning lady) is here.” I hadn’t even discussed leaving the house or said anything to her about Libby except that she was coming this morning. Ah, it is just now coming together as I write this. Kate was in bed when I returned from my walk shortly after 8:00 this morning. I told her I was back and that Libby would be coming soon. She must have interpreted that to mean I wanted her to get up so that we could go to Panera.
Before leaving Kate brought out a few things to give to Libby. She often does this. This time I noticed that she had put out a pair of her shoes. She saw my look of surprise and asked, “Is something wrong?” I told her that those were shoes we had recently bought. She said, “You told me they were too small.” She took the shoes back to her room.
It also looks like she has come to see me as the person responsible for washing the clothes. Last night she brought some dirty clothes into laundry room and dropped them in the washing machine. I was in the kitchen. She called out to me, “The washing machine is full.” I took this to mean that she was letting me know it was time for me to wash. I said, “I’ll take care of it.” Then I did. She never said anything. To her it must have seemed like an everyday occurrence.
Despite these kinds of things, I still say that we are getting along well under the circumstances. I am trying to keep us busy. We still go to as many movies as we can. The believe the number she will like is smaller than I would want it to be.
I haven’t said anything about Kate’s Déjà vu experiences in a while, but they continue with regularity, mostly in restaurants. The next most frequent mention of having seen the same person or people. These occur when she sees people from the car typically in our neighborhood. Apart from that she occasionally has the feeling that she has seen something on TV or a movie that she couldn’t have seen. We are sitting here in the family room watching a Masterpiece Theater production. It was recorded just 2 weeks ago and was the first episode in a new season; so we hadn’t watched it before. Three times now in the first ¼ – 1/3 of the show she has commented about remembering “seeing this part.” This occurred even though we had had no conversation about seeing this program before. She just felt that she had.
We caught a taxi into Charlotte Amalie around 11:00 this morning. We went to a small local restaurant recommended to us by a woman working a tourist information kiosk. Shortly after we were seated, Kate asked, “What do I usually get here?” I told her that we hadn’t been to this restaurant before. Moments later she saw a waitress passing by and said, “I remember her from yesterday.” When the waitress walked by again, Kate waved to her and said, “Nice to see you again.”
We sat next to a couple from Sacramento whose son is on the faculty at the UT. It turns out their stateroom is on the same deck as ours.
After lunch we walked around for a short time but decided we would be happier back at the ship. We caught a taxi back to the port where we went into a gift shop where I bought a ceramic coffee cup that I want to use for Dad’s ashes when we scatter them on this Friday afternoon. I told Kate I was going to the register to pay for the cup. She was still in the shop at that time. When I left the register, I didn’t see her. I then looked around the shop and still didn’t see her. That led to my going outside. A man from another cruise ship noticed that I was looking around. He jokingly said, “Lose something?” I told him, “My wife.” He went on to say that wasn’t so bad. I could always get another one. I didn’t try to explain but as I moved around the gift shop and looked outside, he kept talking. I told him that in this case, I was really worried, that my wife had Alzheimer’s. He and his wife then helped me look for her but they had to meet a group for a shore excursion of their own. After 15 minutes or so I decided to walk toward the ship thinking that because of its size, she was bound to see it and might go there. When I reached the check-in gate, she was there waiting for me. She did not seem disturbed. We haven’t discussed it at all, but it was quite a scare because she violated a rule that we have had a long time: “Stay in one spot so that I can find you.” That would have been the gift shop.
Today as Kate and I were on the way to lunch, she said, “”Are you going to notice that woman (or was it a couple?) and her (their?) child?”I said, “”Is this somebody you have noticed before?” She gave me a disgusted look. I said, “I’m not good at remembering these things.” She answered, “”Well, you don’t pay any attention to the things I say.” I started to say something in response, but she didn’t want to “talk about it.”
Shortly after we ordered, she commented that the mother and her child were not there. She pointed to the place where they usually sit and asked me if I remembered that she had gone over to the table and told the mother how cute her child was. I told her I didn’t remember. She went on to tell me that when she told the mother that her child was cute, the mother told her she remembered her saying that. Kate said she asked, “Have I told you that before?” The woman answered, “”Two times” and seemed a bit annoyed. She said that when she told me about it, I said, “”If it happens again, I am going to go over to the woman and tell her that you have Alzheimer’s and can’t help it.” Then I said (that is, today when she told me this story), “”I wouldn’t have said that.” She said, “”You just don’t remember. You remember everything, but when it involves me, you don’t remember anything. If it’s somebody else you remember, but not when it’s me.”
While I have mentioned other occasions when she has imagined I had told her something, this is the first time I recall her having such an elaborate description of something that had happened and my reaction to it. I don’t know that this signals anything of significance, but it is something different.
Kate just walked into the kitchen and thanked me. I asked what she was thanking me for. She said that I had suggested that she edit black and white photos by converting them into color photos which gave her the ability to control saturation much better than if they were simply black and white. After she edits, she converts them back to black and white, and they look much better. The only thing is that I never made a suggestion that she do this. I told her she should give herself credit. She acknowledged that but said she would never have done it without my suggestion (which I never gave).
Last night we went out for pizza. Kate told me she was thinking about telling Angela and Marvin Green about her Alzheimer’s. She said she wasn’t going to do this right away, but that she felt comfortable doing so with them. She indicated that she felt she could trust them to keep it to themselves.
Today we had lunch with Angie and Mark Harrington. About a month ago, we talked about going to lunch at one of their favorite restaurants, The Olive Tree. Last week Mark and I decided that today was the day to try it, and we did. After dropping the Harringtons off at their house, Kate said, “Weren’t you going to take me some place?” I said, “Lowe’s?” She then said yes. That led to my turning in the direction of Lowe’s.
As we were driving, I said something about how much we enjoyed the lunch with the Harringtons. She agreed. The she said, “I remembered having been there before. I didnt remembered until we walked in. Then I recognized it.” I said, “So you’ve been there before.” She said, “You were right. You told me we had been there, but I didn’t remember it.” The truth is that this is another Deja vu experience. Neither one of us had been there before.
This morning we spent a couple of hours at Panera. As we were walking out, Kate pointed to a table with 8 college-age women and said, “They sit at that table on the time.” I said, “So you’ve seen them before.” She nodded yes. The interesting thing is that I saw them get out of a van and noticed they were wearing warmup suits. When they came to the table, I saw the the University of Arkansas on the back of their jackets. This was obviously a team that was traveling to or from Arkansas.