Still Having Good Times

I hope I’ve made it clear that Kate and I face more issues to deal with than at any other time since her diagnosis. I am also happy to say what I have said before. We still enjoy life and each other. This past weekend is an excellent example.

Saturday morning she was slow to get up. That meant we didn’t get to have our regular lunch at Andriana’s. Ordinarily, that would not have been a problem. We would simply have had a late lunch; however, this time I wanted to attend a virtual memorial service for a church friend who died unexpectedly. It started at 2:00, and I knew we would be unable to get home in time.

As it turned out, Kate hadn’t quite finished her lunch when it started. I had expected to have finished eating and that she would rest while I watched the service. Instead we watched it together at the kitchen table. She had no idea who our friend was, nor was she able to follow everything that was said. That didn’t keep her from finding the service to be meaningful. She was especially moved by the music and prayers. Periodically, she reached her hand out to me. When she does this, I put one hand on top of hers. She puts her other hand on mine, and I top it off with my other hand.

I have often attended services for other church friends but haven’t been able to do so for a while because they have always conflicted with my responsibilities for Kate. Before that, I had been touched by memorial services because they made me think of a time when we would have one for her. Given that, it isn’t surprising that I found both the service and Kate’s response equally touching. It was a special time for the two of us.

Thirty minutes later, we had a Zoom call with our son Kevin. That, too, was special. Most of his calls are on the phone, and often Kate has been resting or in bed for the night. The result is that she isn’t up for a conversation. To be sure, a Zoom call is a little confusing for her. Her vision problem is part of the reason. She has a hard time seeing anyone on a Zoom call. In addition, is the fact that she can’t quite comprehend that she could be seeing someone on a call. It took a while at the beginning of the call to get her to look at the computer screen and see Kevin. Even after that, she drifted away from the screen.

The good thing is that we were able to talk comfortably. Some of the time, she and I talked to each other. I felt that was a good thing in that Kevin was able to catch a glimpse of the way we relate to each other. It was very much like it would have been if he were not on the line. It was an hour of pleasure for the two of us and, hopefully, for Kevin as well.

The rest of the afternoon and evening went well, and we have added something new to our evenings. I ‘ve been reading a bedtime story just before turning out the lights. I started with The Velveteen Rabbit, but that is a little long. I learned about Love You Forever from a Twitter friend. His wife is in memory care now and still likes it. It is much shorter, and I found that Kate likes it as well. It is short enough that I added I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb who wrote it for her adopted daughter. Together the two books work out just right for a bedtime story. I plan to add a few more. It’s a nice way to end the day.

Sunday was also a good day. Kate was ready to get up at 8:30. That gave me enough time to get her breakfast, spend a little quality time with her, and let her rest before lunch. The highlight came while we were still at the kitchen table after breakfast. I’ve mentioned before that she often cleans up her plate, but I don’t believe I have said much more than that. She uses her index finger to pick up the final specks of food and put them in her mouth. There are always some things she doesn’t like. She puts those on the table or her placemat.

She did something different yesterday. She likes to arrange things and often changes the arrangement of items on her bedside table and dresser. Not too long ago I reported on her food art. That was when she spent time placing her napkin, utensils, glass, and food in various places on her plate and placement. Yesterday, she did something similar.

I made cheese toast for her using Dave’s “PowerSeed” bread. As the name suggests, it is loaded with seeds, and a lot inevitably fall on the plate or placemat. I noticed her carefully studying her plate. She was arranging the fallen seeds on her plate along with her fork and one remaining bite of cheese toast. I complimented her on her artistic eye as she continued to arrange and re-arrange. She enjoys things like this, and I enjoy seeing her entertain herself. This and other simple pleasures provide us with plenty of good times.

We Still Have Very Special Moments.

These days I write more about the challenges that Kate and I have than at any other time over the past 9 ½ years. For that reason, I feel the need to emphasize that we continue to have joyful moments and even joyful days. One of those occurred yesterday. The day was highlighted by one of the best tours we have had of the main living areas of our house.

(For those of you who may be new to this site, Kate rarely recognizes the house as ours and never remembers her way around the house or anything -and I mean anything – in the various rooms. Periodically, I give her a tour of the family room, kitchen, living room and dining room. I do so with a patter that is somewhat like that of a tour guide taking note of things that were special purchases of ours as well as items from her parents’ home.)

I woke Kate around 11:00. Unlike the past two mornings, I was able to get her up and dressed quite easily. She was also cheerful though confused the way she usually is. We brought in a takeout lunch from a sandwich shop nearby. After eating, she wanted to rest and lay down on the sofa in our family room. An hour or so later, she started to sit up. I walked over to her. She said she wanted to walk “around.” I asked if she would like me to show her around.

She accepted my offer and we began with a few items on a shelves close to where she had been resting. There are four pie plates that we bought at a pottery in North Carolina when we lived there early in our marriage. I told her about our buying them and her using them for years afterward. They remain as a reminder of those days. She gave special attention to another item that is a salt-glazed pitcher that her father had bought as a gift for his mother. On the bottom Kate’ mother had pasted a typed note telling the story and her desire that it go to Kate and then to our daughter, Jesse. I shown her the vase and read the note quite a few times, but she was especially moved this time.

We went into the living room where I showed three chairs and a sofa that had belonged to her parents. She took great interest in everything, especially a collection of sixteen porcelain figures, each of which had been a gift from her father to her mother. Then I picked up a vase that had another note from her mother that said she had it as a gift from her father and wanted Kate to have it. She also delighted in a portrait of her mother when she was about fifteen.

I pointed out the chandelier in our dining room. It was also from her parents home. I told her there were two things I thought about when I looked at it. One is thinking about her parents shopping for just the right chandelier for the house they were building, I commented on how excited they must have been as they picked out everything for their new home. That was the one in which Kate spent most of her life from the time she was eight until we married. The second thing is that her mother was an outstanding cook and hostess. She entertained many family and friends over the years. I mentioned the names of all her aunts and uncles and some of their friends and told her I could envision their sitting around the dining room table under the light of that chandelier. At this point, I don’t think she can even recall those times when I tell her, but it gives her a good feeling.

She was tired before we reached the kitchen, and I took her to her recliner. There is a small table next to it and on the other side of the table is another chair, the one in which I usually sit. I took a seat there. That put me less than four feet away from her, but she said, “Can’t you sit by me?” I got another chair and put it right up against hers and took a seat. She was happy, and so was I.

In no time, she was asleep. She rested until time for dinner. After dinner, I had no trouble getting her ready for bed. She had been in a wonderful mood all day. It was a great day.

Four Good Days in a Row

Except for a few moments, Kate and I have had four good days in a row. She has been in a good humor. Saturday and Sunday she got up late but was not reluctant to get ready for the day. We had late lunches at the same restaurant both days. She rested part of each afternoon. Here are several of our notable experiences.

After getting home from lunch about 3:00 Sunday, she rested until about 5:00 when she began an extended conversation that started with “Who are you?” She wasn’t frightened. She just wanted to know my name. Early in our conversation she said something about her mother that evolved into a long “conversation” about young people and parents. It began by her saying something about things her mother taught her but soon she focused on young people who were beginning to get into trouble. This went on for at least 30 minutes during which time the emphasis shifted to ways she could help children stay out of trouble. It involved working not only with the children themselves but also with their parents. There were several things she wanted us to do together.

The only rough edge of the day came around bedtime. Everything was going well until she called me to her bedside and wanted my help but wouldn’t tell me what she wanted. She started running her fingers through her hair and said, “Think.” I said, “You want me to run my fingers through your hair.” She frowned. I told her I was going to take my shower and would return. Very sternly, She said, “You will come back.” It is not common for her to be as irritated with me as she was; however, it is common for her to believe I know what she wants without telling me. I think this arises from delusions she has had in which I was present.

After my shower, she had apparently forgotten what she wanted, but she asked me what she “should do now.” She said something about the other people. This is another frequent occurrence, especially after she goes to bed. I think that is a direct result of her getting in bed earlier than she used to and not being able to use her iPad. She really doesn’t have anything to do. I told her we were the only people here and that “they” would be here tomorrow. That didn’t help. Then I told her I wanted to read something to her and brought in The Velveteen Rabbit. As in previous readings, she was at ease when I finished and said she was sleepy and was soon asleep.

Monday and Tuesday were similar to the weekend except that Kate was up early both days. That meant I spent a little more time with her, but we had pleasant moments looking at photo books. On both days we took a break and sat close together on the sofa listening to music. It was unusual in that we hardy spoke a word. We simply enjoyed the music and being together.

Monday night after dinner, I put on some YouTube music for her. After 45 minutes, she wanted to know what she should be doing. I was concerned that I might be overdoing my reading of The Velveteen Rabbit, but I tried it anyway. It was close to a repeat of the previous nights. The difference was that after reading to her, I took my shower. Not long after I returned to the bedroom, she wanted to know what she could do. I read The Velveteen Rabbit again. She relaxed and went to sleep.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a special time listening to the music of the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. We sat on the sofa for almost an hour with my arm around her and her head on my shoulder . She didn’t go to sleep and seemed to be following the music. She frequently tapped her fingers on my leg in time with the music.

It is interesting that although we didn’t talk, she didn’t experience any delusions. That may have been because she was “living in the moment” and not letting her mind wander to other things. That was reinforced by an experience after the music. She was tired and rested on the sofa. Less than an hour later, she got up and was concerned about things she was supposed to be gathering to take someplace. This must have been a result of a dream she had had or simply that her brain was thinking about something she couldn’t convey to me. She wanted my help in finding things. We walked into the kitchen. Then she wanted to go outside. We walked around the back yard until she got too hot.

I suggested that she get back in the house and relax a bit. I took her to her recliner where she rested with her bear in her arms until it was time for dinner.

After being in bed about two hours, she asked what she should do. I told her I was about to come to bed, and I would read a bedtime story for both of us. She liked the idea. I read The Velveteen Rabbit again. I noticed that she seemed to be relaxing as I read. When I finished, she was already asleep.

Simple Pleasures

I’ve learned that predicting what Kate will be like from one day to the next is far from easy. That is not to say she has bad days. If any day has been a bad one, it would be one of the days she has slept/rested until late in the day. I would call those bad because they were so far from her happy times.

I was hoping that Saturday might be another day like Friday. I got my wish. She woke up in a good mood. Everything was fine. Unlike the day before, she was up before 8:00. That meant another time I was able to fix her breakfast and sit with her while I drank my coffee. Despite the fact that it interrupts my normal routine, I enjoy this time with her.

Both days, she was unusually childlike. Saturday morning, she asked permission or approval of just about everything she did. It started with the bathroom. That isn’t unusual. It is normal. A couple of weeks ago as she was about to sit on the toilet, she said, “You’ll have to tell me what to do. This is the first time I have ever done this.” Her seeking permission continued throughout breakfast and the balance of the day. She preceded almost every sip of juice and every bite of her fruit and cheese toast by asking if it was all right to do so. Although I have considered the possibility that she is worried about getting my approval, I think it is more likely that she does this because she is uncertain of what to do. She expresses that in many ways almost every day, but it was especially noticeable that day.

After breakfast, she rested a while and then spent some time looking through one of her photo books before lunch. She was very interested. I was glad to see that because she hasn’t been as enthusiastic recently. Like the day before, it was a day of simple pleasures. We interspersed moments with photo books with periods of rest. It was a very pleasant day.

That changed a bit after her last rest in the afternoon. I got out the “Big Sister” album and began by pointing out the cover photo of her and her brother. I immediately met resistance when she made it clear that she and her brother were not in the picture. She didn’t know who they were, but she was confident they were some other children. I flipped through a number of other pages, and she responded the same way about pictures of her mother and father. She wasn’t interested in going further.

The rest of the day went well. As I got into bed that night, I got a reminder of the difference between her rational and intuitive knowledge of me. She is almost always awake and glad to see me when I get in bed. That was especially so that night. She had a beautiful smile on her face. Then she asked, “What is your name?”

An Unusual Visit with Ellen

Sunday’s visit with our longtime friend Ellen Seacrest was different from those in the past. I’ve always expected that the declines in Ellen’s vascular dementia and Kate’s Alzheimer’s would ultimately change the nature of our visits. To a large extent it has, especially Ellen’s loss of speech. We can only understand a small portion of what she says. Our latest visit, however, was affected by our arriving at a time when the residents had gathered together for a program put on by a dance group from a local church.

Ellen was already seated in the middle of group. One of the staff helped to seat us next to her. We didn’t get to talk much before the program began. The pleasure Kate experienced came from the afternoon activities. The dancing was followed by ice cream that the dancers dished up and delivered to each of us in the audience.

We had only a thirty-minute break to talk with Ellen, but being in the middle of the audience made it challenging to talk with her. Several others around us joined in. In some ways that was helpful since we can’t understand Ellen; however, it also meant that we didn’t get to focus our attention on her the way we have in the past.

We had a big surprise when Ellen told us about someone she wanted us to meet. We couldn’t understand all that she said, but she was enthusiastic about him. In a little while, she rolled away in her wheelchair to greet a man. Then I began to understand. She had found herself a boyfriend. She called to us and told us his name is Mike, but we didn’t get up and go over to them because we were in the middle of the crowd, and the “Music Lady” was about to begin her music program. One of the staff told us that Ellen and Mike had established a relationship, but Mike’s wife hadn’t yet been informed. I know this is not unusual in memory care of skilled nursing facilities, but I hadn’t thought much about Ellen’s establishing such a relationship. I think that is because I felt that most of the residents are significantly further along in their dementia than Ellen. Mike, however, is a new addition. He was among the few not in a wheelchair and did not appear to be much different than Ellen.

We enjoyed the music for about forty-five minutes before we departed. Kate thoroughly enjoyed herself, but I regretted not having more time with Ellen.

Kate was talkative on the way home, especially during the latter part of the trip. She expressed her appreciation to me for caring for her. We talked about things we had in common that had made our relationship strong. For that reason, I was somewhat surprised when we got out of the car for dinner. She said, “I want you to know that I think we will get married sometime.”

Most of the time when she doesn’t know my name or our relationship, I am not very surprised. I realize these moments of recognition come and go all the time. The nature of our conversation and, more specifically, her own comments about our relationship made it seem like it was one of those times when she clearly recognized me as her husband. Of course, it is quite possible her recognition of our relationship was coming and going all the way home. That’s another thing I will never know.

Each time we have these out-of-town trips, I am sensitive for any signs that suggest its time to discontinue them. Nothing happened on this trip that would prevent our going back again. Kate and I had a good dining experience on Saturday night and Sunday for lunch. She also enjoyed the dancing, ice cream, and music even if she didn’t get much of a visit with Ellen. Considering everything, the trip was clearly worth it. We’ll be back.

Reflecting on Our “Good Days”

At this stage of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, I think a lot about the amount of quality time we have left. I don’t mean that I bask in sorrow. I don’t, but I recognize she is in the last stage when we are likely to make more adjustments to our lives than we have done before.

At the moment, however, I am particularly struck by the “Good Days” we have. It not only surprises me; it keeps my spirits up. We had two of those days this weekend. I would like to be able to take credit for them, but I think the fundamental cause was Kate’s mood. She was in very good spirits both Saturday and Sunday.

I might also expect that her good mood was accompanied by a lack of confusion, but that isn’t so. Saturday, she appeared to be rather clear-headed except for wondering where she was. I don’t recall her asking my name. That happens off and on. Sunday morning, she was very confused. She didn’t know my name or hers and couldn’t remember them well enough to repeat them. What made me feel good was that she didn’t seem disturbed at all about not knowing. I am thankful that is typical.

In addition to her good mood, our time together seemed special. Our obligations were minimal. The only official commitment was our dinner reservation Saturday night. She was up earlier than usual both days. We didn’t have to rush. That kind of schedule is the best for her and, thus, for me as well.

We also had a couple of special moments on Saturday. Both occurred after resting in the afternoon. One of those was my reading her a portion of a book about her family’s wedding veil. I’ve read it to her multiple times in recent weeks, but she is always taken with it. She did get tired and wanted to rest before we got well into it.

The second experience was after her second rest. She commented on a few things in the family room that led me to suggest that I show her some of the other rooms. On the way to the back of the house, we passed several photos and stopped to look at them while I told her a little about each one.

The next stop was our guest bedroom. Of course, she had no recollection of it at all and liked what she saw. She got tired of standing and asked if she could sit in a rocking chair. I saw a photo album of our children during their earliest years. We spent quite a while looking at it and never got to another room.

When we finished, it was time to get ready for dinner. This was the only moment in the day that could have become a problem. I had planned a nice Valentine’s dinner at one of the restaurants we usually visit for lunch. I suggested we change clothes and had picked out exactly what I wanted her to wear, but she didn’t want to change. I told her we were going out for a nice dinner, and I was going to put on something a little nicer. She was fine with that but wasn’t going to change. I didn’t push her.

A few minutes later after I had changed, she asked what I wanted her to wear. I told her I would get something and brought her the clothes I had picked out. She had apparently forgotten the conversation we had just had a few minutes before. I helped her change, and we were off.

The dinner itself went as I had hoped. We were welcomed by the manager, our server, and another server who sometimes works as a hostess. They had selected a corner table that was perfect for the occasion. The meal itself was quite good. In addition, a couple we know from our music nights at Casa Bella were seated at the table next to us. I don’t recall our talking about Valentine’s Day at all or anything else especially romantic. We just had a good time together.

Kate was up early Sunday morning. We spent a little less than an hour at Panera before returning home where she rested an hour before leaving for lunch. The restaurant was unusually busy. Consequently, it took longer to be served, but we had a good time. I haven’t said anything in a while about her asking Sinatra’s name when she looks at his mug shot, but that hasn’t let up. She is well-aware that she repeatedly asks and wonders why she can’t seem to remember it, but she doesn’t appear to be very disturbed.

She rested after we returned home with music playing as usual. She awoke about an hour before dinner. I suggested we take a look at a few things around the house. We began with some photos in the family room. As often as she has looked at them, I am amazed and happy that she enjoys them just like it was the first time to see them.

From there we went into the living room and dining room where I showed her a number of things that came from her parents’ home. I enjoy telling her the stories behind each of the items, and she was entranced. It was another special moment.

We are both fortunate that repetition has not diminished the pleasure for either of us. She can’t remember, so it is always new. I like telling her things she can’t remember and seeing her reaction as I tell her. I read a lot about other caregivers’ experiences and know that many of them are bothered by so much repetition. I wish I knew how to help them. My experience is different. Whatever the reason, we have been able to maintain a relationship that has been important in helping both of us adapt to all the changes we have had to make. She feels dependent on me and is normally responsive to the things I want her to do. I want to deserve her trust and work hard to make her life as happy as I can. One of the ways I can do that is to answer her questions and do the things she enjoys so much. I believe each of us loves the other more now than at any other time in our marriage. I think that carries us a long way.

I continue to be mindful of the pleasure she and I can experience through her intuitive abilities. I like to think this is something from which other caregivers could benefit to make their loads lighter. At the same time, I recognize the likelihood that many of them are facing other challenges that we have not faced. Among those would be health and financial constraints. I feel for them and am grateful that at this late stage of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, I see little, if any, loss of pleasure that comes from music, beauty, and associations with family. How long will this last? We will see. I am hopeful that it will continue for some time.

What makes for a good day?

It is far from unusual for me to say that Kate and I have had a good day, but what are the elements that make it so? Number one on the list is Kate’s happiness. My contact with other caregivers suggests that I am not unique. Whether caring for someone or just living with someone who is perfectly healthy, one’s happiness is vitally linked to the feelings of the person you love. Fortunately, Kate is typically happy.

There are a number of other things lead me to say we’ve had a good day, and they all play a role in Kate’s happiness. They include my not having to wake her, getting up early enough to make a trip to Panera and return home for a rest before going to lunch, having a rest after lunch, and having time for other pleasures like looking at photo books, reading, social interaction with friends/family, and events like our music nights at Casa Bella.

That is exactly what happened yesterday. Kate woke up on her own before 8:30. She was in a cheerful mood, and we were at Panera about shortly before 9:30. She was tired from getting up early and ready to go home at 10:00. She rested for an hour. Then I told her I would like to take her to lunch. She thought that sounded like a good idea. We went to one of our favorite lunch places and came back for another rest for about an hour and a half.

When her rest was over, I suggested we look at her “Big Sister Album.” While we were going through it, Ken and Virginia arrived. The flew in from Texas for a long weekend visit. It was our first time to see them in a while. We enjoyed visiting with them and then went to Casa Bella for Broadway Night. It was an excellent program featuring music from the 1940s. We were familiar with every song. To top it off the singers and accompanist were quite good. We don’t normally pack in this much in a single day, but it was all done at a leisurely pace. It was a good day.

Our Thanksgiving

Like so many other things, Thanksgiving has come and gone. Despite the rough beginning in the early morning hours, it was a nice day though it was bitter-sweet. There was no denying the dramatic change in Kate since last year when we were in Texas with our son’s family. I predicted then that it might be our last Thanksgiving with family, and it was.

I’m not at all sure what next year will be like, but I know Kate’s changes will not be for the better. Kate is unable to grasp this, but I am convinced by the things she says that she recognizes her condition is not good. She was essentially saying that when I went in to get her up for lunch yesterday morning. I said, “It’s Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful that I have you.” She reached up and grabbed both of my arms and said, “And I am thankful for you.” I said, “I know that.” She said, with emphasis and with a slightly sad expression on her face, “I want you to know I really mean it. I mean it.” She knows she couldn’t make it without my help and is very appreciative. I continue to be amazed at her self-awareness.

Since we eat out for lunch and dinner, finding a place to eat on Thanksgiving is a challenge. We did, however, have a good Thanksgiving meal at Ruth’s Chris. For a long time, Kate has been able to get along quite well without anyone’s suspecting she has Alzheimer’s. That is one of the big changes that has occurred in recent months. It was evident yesterday.

As the hostess walked us to our table, she was walking rather quickly. Kate is always very slow. The hostesses at our regular places are well aware and take their time. I decided to let this one know. We hadn’t gone far when I looked behind me and saw that Kate had stopped to talk with a woman at another table. I walked back and discovered that she was complimenting the woman on her hair. She was overdoing it, and I know the woman thought it somewhat strange. When we got to our table, we went through something with which I am accustomed. I am sure that our hostess was not. She was, of course, supposed to wait until we were seated and hand us our menus. It took what must have seemed to her an interminable amount of time for Kate to realize which seat was hers and to be seated. I was glad I had informed our hostess. She was very understanding.

After Kate’s making a few initial comments to our server, I handed her one of my Alzheimer’s cards. I was glad that I had although she might have guessed anyway. Both when I ordered and when the food arrived, Kate asked, “What is that?” She was referring to the sweet potato casserole. She also asked the same question when I ordered a filet for us to split. I think she was confused about the whole situation. We are not regulars at Ruth’s Chris, and it had an air of formality that we don’t experience at most other restaurants. She was very concerned about doing something wrong and asked my advice a number of times. That is not something unusual, but the way she asked sounded like she was more uneasy about this situation.

Despite these things, the lunch went quite well. There were two other couples seated at the tables beside us, but the sound was quite muffled. We felt a certain measure of privacy even though the restaurant was packed. We had a good conversation and talked about the many things for which we are thankful.

Once we were home, Kate wanted to rest and did so for about an hour before getting up. I asked if she would like me to read The Velveteen Rabbit to her. She did. She was more enthusiastic this time than before. Once again, I was also touched. It is so good to see her enjoy herself in this way.

It didn’t take long to finish. Then I asked if she would like me to read some of the Diary of Anne Frank. In spite of her previous interest, I was a little afraid this would sound like too much for her. I am glad to say I was wrong. We read another 20 pages. As I did before, I asked if she wanted me to continue after each entry. We only stopped because it was time for dinner.

It was another good day for us. The meaning of this holiday did not fall on deaf ears. Each of us experienced the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Problems with Toes, Teeth, and Hair

Kate’s “hair-pulling” is an old story, but I’ve said less about her toes and teeth. They are beginning to play a more prominent role in her personal care. Let me tell you about an episode earlier this week.

It was a very good day. Kate got up to go to the bathroom around 5:30 and went to bed. She got up around 7:30, and we went to Panera shortly after 8:00. We came back to the house and relaxed until lunch. She was in a good mood. We had a nice conversation at lunch. The sitter came at 1:00. Kate received her warmly and didn’t seem disturbed in the least when I left. She was happy to see me when I returned but didn’t express any sense of relief as she has on a few occasions. We had a good experience at dinner.

While we were eating, she told me she was likely to get to bed early. I didn’t think much about it since she often says that but doesn’t get in bed. I have to admit, however, that she has been getting into bed earlier lately now that she hasn’t been occupied with her iPad. That night was one of those times.

First, she went to the bathroom. She spent 20-30 minutes “brushing” her teeth. She didn’t really brush them all that time. Much of the time she was rinsing her mouth with water and using her fingernails like dental floss. She always feels like she has food caught between her teeth. I often help her with flossing, but that doesn’t seem to work. She finally gave up and came back to go to bed. I got her nightly meds and helped her get into her night clothes.

She was disturbed about her teeth. She mentioned she hadn’t been able to get all the “bees” out. She followed that by other words that didn’t fit what she meant. She was talking about something in her teeth. She also talks the same way about things between her toes and in her hair. Sometimes she refers to them as “these little things” and says they are “smart.” She says they know when you’re trying to get them. I was able to calm her by talking to her softly and telling her I would help her. That is when she focused her attention on her toes. She wanted me to get a towel or wash cloth and get “them” out. I followed her instructions, and she felt better.

Then she got in bed and started pulling her hair. It wasn’t long before she became frustrated. She said she was tired and hadn’t been able to finish and would have to do it tomorrow. A few minutes later, she asked me to come over and pull her hair for her. I did that for a couple of minutes before reminding her she was going to rest and work on her hair in the morning. She said I was right that she needed the rest and thanked me for helping her. She was fine after that; however, I don’t expect this to be our last episode with “them.”

A Very Good Day with our Son

Our son, Kevin, arrived Thursday morning from Texas. Weather wise, it was the best day we have had since last May. We took advantage of it by eating lunch outside on the patio of a sports bar a short distance from our house. It was a good start to his visit. Although Kate often has difficulty remembering that we have children, she responded to Kevin as though she knew exactly who he is. We had a relaxing conversation. The fact that it was just the three of us and that it wasn’t noisy added to the pleasure of the moment. There were times then and later in the day when she asked him his name as naturally as she asks mine.

She had a routine dental appointment at 2:00. Kevin went along with us. I thought it was good for him to be a part of the experience though he remained in the waiting room while she saw the hygienist and dentist. For the first time, I went in with her. I did so because of her experience on the previous visit six months ago. At that appointment, she was frightened when the hygienist cleaned her teeth, and they had to cut her visit short. This time I gave her a Xanax before going and went in the room with her. Everything went smoothly. I didn’t think that had anything to do with my being in the room with her, but the hygienist felt it was helpful and suggested we make this a habit in the future. Both the dentist and the hygienist commented that her teeth and gums were in excellent condition.

Once we were home, I picked up Kate’s “Big Sister” album and suggested that she show it to Kevin. They sat down on the sofa and started going through it while I went to the grocery to pick up a few things for Kevin’s breakfast. In just the few minutes before I left, I could see that they were having a good time.

When I returned, they were still enjoying going through the album. Kate continued to relate to Kevin very comfortably. He had a beautiful opportunity to see first hand the kinds of things I have noted in the blog. Since most of the pictures are of family, Kevin was able to tell her all or most of the names. I joined them in the room with the intention of just listening to their conversation. Kate asked me to sit with them, and I did. There were a few things I commented on, but I let the conversation between the two of them continue. At one point, Kevin pointed to a photo of Kate and me and himself. She asked his name. He told her, and she asked his last name. Then she said, “Who are your parents?” After two hours or longer, Kate said she was getting tired. It was also time for us to prepare to leave for dinner, but this conversation, like others she has had with her brother Ken, was a beautiful thing to watch. I love seeing her enjoy herself. That is especially true when she is engaged in conversation with someone with whom she is so comfortable.

We finished the day with a good evening at Casa Bella for Broadway Night. Kate enjoyed herself as usual although she was a little lost in the conversation. The other two couples were there ahead of us which left us with minimal choices about our seating arrangement. Kate and I sat across from each other. We could have sat side by side, but she would have been seated with her back to the singers. Everything worked out well until late in the program when I saw her looking around the room for me. She had forgotten where I was seated. I was able to catch her attention and reached across the table to take her hand. She was relieved and teary but recovered nicely. I doubt that anyone else noticed except the woman seated next to her.