Covid Still Affects Our Lives

During the early stages of the pandemic, people talked about getting back to normal. By now, all of us are getting accustomed to making further adjustments to our lifestyle. That may be especially true for those us living in retirement communities. Kate and I have enjoyed the many benefits of community living, but the potential for the spread of Covid results in quite a few changes over time. Significant changes were in effect before our move fourteen months ago. They have continued off and on since then. The latest was last week.

For a year, menu service had been discontinued and replaced with a buffet. As the threat of infection had decreased, the rules had loosened. One of the most welcomed changes was returning to menu service in the dining room. We were informed last Thursday that our regular menu had been temporarily discontinued and replaced once again with a daily buffet. The decision was based on an increase in positive tests for residents and the food service staff.

Kate and I had Covid two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2020. Since that time, we have had our vaccinations and boosters and avoided any potential infections. This didn’t prevent our being among those affected. No, we didn’t test positive, but we were in contact with a member of the food service staff who did. As a result, we were “semi-quarantined.” That meant that we could go outside our apartment, but we had to wear a mask. All large-group activities were canceled. More significantly, we couldn’t eat in any of the dining facilities. We returned to carry-out meals.

In the scheme of things, this was a minor change, but our primary social engagement is in the afternoon when we get ice cream and have our evening meal in the dining room. The policy here is that one must remain as isolated as possible for a period of ten days after contact with someone who tests positive. As it turned out, we didn’t learn about the contact until four days later. That meant we had a shorter period of isolation and are now back to our regular routine except that, like all residents, we will continue to have buffet meals rather than ordering off the menu. That isn’t a problem for us. The meals are generally good. The downside is that the food is not as hot as it is when we order from a menu.

We weren’t cooped up for long. After eight days, we were still symptom-free. And we reinstated our routine afternoon trip for ice cream as well as evening meal in the dining room. The temporary removal from social engagement made me more appreciative of the benefits we have of living in a community like this. In addition, the benefits are not just for Kate, but for me as well, probably more so.

Another Bump in the Road

It’s been three months and one week since Kate’s stroke. She has made a good recovery except for her speech and her right leg, but Friday, we hit another bump in the road. She had a TIA. Just before leaving for lunch, I walked over to Kate to tell her goodbye. The caregiver, who was feeding her, told me that she wasn’t eating. It didn’t appear to me that anything was out of the ordinary. Sometimes she rejects a bite of food or a drink but takes it if offered to her again. I told the caregiver to try again, and I left.

When I returned, I went directly to Kate who was in her recliner. She smiled at me, and I took her hand. She tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand her. That’s not unusual, especially since her stroke. Then, I noticed that her mouth was drooping slightly. As she talked, the droop went away. I immediately thought that she might have had a TIA. I called her doctor and told him about it. I also conveyed that it appeared that she was all right now.

Since she seemed to have recovered, we went downstairs for ice cream. She was quiet but she ate all her ice cream. While we were there, I asked the caregiver to tell me more about what happened as I was leaving. She told me that Kate didn’t eat her lunch and that she had fallen asleep. I probed a little and discovered that what she observed was very similar to what I had observed when she had her stroke. She just drifted off, and that lasted about 10 minutes. When I heard that, I felt sure she had had a TIA and was beginning to recover when I got home.

We also went to dinner in the dining room. During that time, she began to get sleepy and didn’t finish her dinner. We bought her back to the apartment and put her to bed. She went to sleep right away, slept through the night, and most of the day Saturday. She ate all her lunch and dinner. That was a good sign. She went back to sleep shortly after dinner, but she awoke for about an hour before I called it a night. She didn’t say a word during that time, but she held my hand and stroked my arm with her other hand. That was a good way to end the day.

Sunday was another day of recovery. She was awake early but went back to sleep a few minutes later. The caregiver arrived at noon, and I went to lunch. When I returned, the caregiver had gotten Kate up and dressed and in her recliner. She was quiet but not asleep. We got our afternoon ice cream and dinner without any problem.

She went to sleep quickly when we put her to bed but woke up less than an hour later. We spent the rest of the evening watching music videos on YouTube. She never said a word, but she gave me a big smile, the first one since Friday. She also held my hand and stroked my arm. Obviously, she can communicate her feelings without words. That makes me feel good.

She’s awake early this morning. I am beside her in bed finishing up this post. I’m not ready to predict what, if any, lasting effects she will have, but I am hopeful that she is going to make a good recovery. She is very resilient.

Kate’s Recovery Continues

Our lives are not back to normal since Kate’s stroke nine weeks ago; however, she continues to improve in significant ways. In addition to the changes noted mentioned in previous posts, she does not always go to sleep right after we put her in bed for the night between 6:30 and 7:00. You might think that’s a small thing, but it’s a big one for me.

In recent years, our evenings have been the best part of our day. It’s the time when the obligations of the day are over, and we spend quality time together. Music, of course, is always a part of that. For several years, our habit has been to listen/watch music videos on the TV. At first, that meant DVDs, but I soon learned about the wealth of music on YouTube. That expanded the variety of our musical entertainment, and I looked forward to this nighttime ritual. We didn’t talk a lot. Our focus was on the music and each other. Kate’s stroke changed that, and I have missed those evenings together.

At first, I thought these moments were gone forever, but there are signs of their return. Four nights during the past week Kate was awake until after 9:30. More importantly, she was very much like she was before the stroke. She was very relaxed and at ease. That is what I had come to expect for several years. It’s as though she feels the pressure of the day has been released. I know I feel that way. The combination makes for a good evening for both of us.

I have grown accustomed to the many changes that accompany Alzheimer’s, but when something new occurs, I always wonder if it will be a new pattern or just an isolated variation from the new norm. I’m far from concluding that Kate’s four nights of being awake longer in the evening is going to be the custom in the future. Like so many other Happy Moments, I’ll just appreciate and savor them when they come.

This morning when I was about to upload this post, I noticed that Kate was awake, alert, and smiling. I had to take advantage of that moment and got in bed beside her. I turned on YouTube and brought up a short series of singalong videos of songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain When She Comes,” and ends with Elvis singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Kate loved it so much that we went through the series twice. She even tried to sing along with two or three of them. What a great way to begin the day. Her recovery continues.

A Week to Celebrate

As I have recently conveyed, Kate’s stroke has had an impact on our daily lives over the past 8 weeks, but last week was a very good one. In fact, she had a few moments that were every bit as good as those she had before the stroke. That doesn’t mean she has fully recovered. On the other hand, she has experienced moments of cheerfulness and clarity of mind that I hadn’t seen in a while.

The first occurred while we were having ice cream Monday afternoon. A retired Methodist minister, Tom, dropped by our table. During our conversation, he told us a few funny stories of experiences he had during his ministry. One of them involved a baptism. Methodists don’t typically baptize by immersion, but a new member wanted that, so he contacted a local Baptist minister for help. He agreed to let them use their church.

When the day came, the family gathered at the church. I don’t recall the details, but Tom asked where they should change clothes before getting into the baptistry. The minister pointed to an area beside the baptistry with a wire draped by a curtain and said, “Right behind this curtain.” As Tom performed the baptism, the curtain fell and exposed a man standing there stark naked.

The caregiver and I laughed, but what we noticed immediately was Kate. She was laughing as well. I don’t think I’ve seen her laugh so hard in years. Because she doesn’t say much, we often assume that she isn’t following conversations like this. Clearly, we were wrong in this case. As he regaled us with other stories, she continued to laugh as did we. It was a beautiful experience.

She was in a cheerful mood throughout dinner and actually responded to several servers and residents while we were eating.

During the past few years, I have had some success reading to Kate. As with so many other things in my caregivers’ toolbox, it hasn’t been as reliable in the past year or so. She has responded more favorably recently, so after lunch on Tuesday, I picked up The Velveteen Rabbit and sat in a chair beside her. Typically, I sit facing the same direction as Kate, but this time I turned the chair facing her. That enabled me to watch her facial expressions more closely. I am so glad I did.

Before reading to her, she was smiling and seemed more alert than usual. From the very beginning, she was engaged. As I read, I think each of us was attentive to the other and responded similarly. I try to read somewhat dramatically to emphasize the feelings of the rabbit as he encounters the various situations in the story. She loved the story, and I loved watching her.

She has also been awake more during the morning and evening. That has given us a little more time together. I have especially enjoyed that. After finishing my morning walks this past week, there have been a few times that I picked up my laptop, put on some music, and got into bed beside her. She didn’t talk much, but I enjoyed being with her.

She generally goes to sleep soon after we get her to bed, but the last two nights she has been awake until almost 10:00. The fact that I had the TV tuned to basketball may have had something to do with that. Whatever the reason, we enjoyed our time together.

I had intended to post this yesterday morning, but I got tied up in a few other things. That gave me a chance to add a couple of other events from yesterday afternoon. The first one occurred when Kate had finished her ice cream. The caregiver had bought something that looked like an antipasto salad. Kate looked over at it and said, “What do you have there?” That may not seem like much, but it would have been unlikely for her to ask that even before her stroke.

The other event happened after we returned from dinner. I hadn’t turned off the music before we left, and a Charles Lloyd album was playing as we walked in. Almost all the music is very relaxing, and Kate quickly took an interest. I pulled up a chair beside her and faced her. I took her hand in mine, and we sat there for thirty minutes listening to the music. With her eyes closed, she stroked my hand and arm and moved her head with the music. I spoke very little. She said almost nothing, but words weren’t necessary. We were connecting just the way we always have.

So, it’s been a great week. She’s been awake more, talked more, and displayed signs that she not only hears us but can respond appropriately. I realize that the coming week might be quite different, but, as always, I am grateful when Happy Moments like these occur.

Kate is Making Progress, But Life is Not the Same.

As I’ve said before, I’m encouraged by the progress Kate has made since her stroke almost three weeks ago. She is awake more. She’s beginning to use her right arm again. Her eyes no longer appear to be frozen to the left. We have taken her to the dining room seven times, and Wednesday we took her for ice cream, (As it turned out, the freezer was down, so there was no ice cream, but she ate a muffin.) I’m amazed at how well she is doing. I also recognize that recovery is a process. She is likely to improve even more in the days or weeks ahead.

Nevertheless, Kate’s stroke is having a significant impact on us. Like her original Alzheimer’s diagnosis and her hospital experience with COVID, it is another challenge in our journey, “Living with Alzheimer’s.”

Several signs suggest the stroke might push her several steps further along this road. One is that she is less emotionally expressive than before. This is most noticeable when we are getting her dressed and in and out of bed. That makes it easier for the caregiver, but Kate has lost a little spark that we respected. In many ways, it seemed appropriate for her to protest.

She is also more neutral in her verbal and facial expressions. She smiles, but her big smiles occur less often. The good news is that she has another smile with her lips closed that I find endearing.

You’ve heard me say many times that she often awakes in the morning without knowing where she is, what she is supposed to do, and even who she is. That experience still occurs, but it seems that she’s more placid in her response rather than being puzzled or afraid.

Along with these things, there are more times when she doesn’t know who I am although she almost always senses she can trust me or does so within a reasonably short time.

I’m particularly concerned about her speech. Although her aphasia made it hard for her to communicate, we were able to converse. It is much harder now, not because I can’t understand what she says. It’s largely because she speaks so little, even when asked a simple question like “Would you like something to drink.” I have a litany of things I say to her about our dating, marriage, children, grandchildren, and travel. They often bring smiles and comments. That isn’t as true now.

I’m very happy to say that we continue to have our Happy Moments. A couple of mornings ago, she was awake early, and I took advantage of that opportunity to spend more time with her. I put on some music I thought she would like, but she didn’t show much interest. I shifted gears to see if I could perk up her spirits.

I put on an album of 100 children’s songs that I had downloaded several years ago when she was disturbed about something after waking from a nap. It saved us that day, and we sang together for at least thirty minutes. She quickly forgot about whatever had disturbed her. I’ve used that album periodically since then, but it had been a long time. I discovered it still works.

It was different this time because she doesn’t speak much. She tried, however, by mouthing the words. She’s good at following the rhythm. It didn’t take her long before I could see expressions of happiness on her face. She got a special kick out of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” I stood at her bedside singing, clapping, stomping, and saying “Amen” when called for.

That night we had another Happy Moment. We’ve always had great evenings, but the stroke has made those different. Sometimes, she goes to sleep right after the caregiver leaves. Often, she doesn’t wake until the next morning. That particular night she woke up after an hour or so, and I turned to YouTube and selected a series of songs that I know she likes. I caught her at a good time. For over an hour, we held hands and enjoyed the music. Off and on, I talked to her about our marriage and children. She didn’t say much, but she said a lot with her facial expressions.

Yesterday afternoon, I didn’t have any special plans except a brief visit to the grocery store. I spent the extra time with Kate even though the caregiver was here. I pulled up a chair beside her recliner and talked with her. At first, she wasn’t in the mood for conversation. As I spoke, she loosened up a bit. We spent almost two hours together. She dozed off and on, and I did most of the talking, but she was very responsive with her smiles and facial expressions. We both had a great time.

The other day when we were out, the woman in the apartment next to us stopped to visit for a few minutes. She spoke to Kate who didn’t respond. Our neighbor commented that she missed her smile. Me, too, but they haven’t disappeared altogether. And moments like those described above give me an emotional boost and hope that we’ll have more of those to come in the days ahead.

Making Progress and Speculating on the Future

It’s been a little over a week since Kate’s stroke. Although it was a mild one, it has made its presence felt. Clearly, she is making progress. The first four days she was asleep. Her doctor had told us to expect that. On Monday, she was awake almost all day with a few short rests in between. Between Friday and Monday, she was more alert and made a little effort to speak.  Tuesday was more of a day of rest.

She has continued to eat and drink well, and she hasn’t lost her smile. Music also retains its appeal. She often moves her body (feet, hands, or head) to the rhythm. and attempts to mouth the words.

I contacted her doctor on Monday and asked when we might get her out of bed. He said to use our best judgment. He also indicated that getting her out of bed would be good for her. The next day we got her into her recliner for the afternoon. That went very well. She rested most of that time, but it was good to see her dressed and out of bed.

Yesterday was an especially good day. Our regular caregiver had a doctor’s appointment, so we had two different people come in, each for two hours. The first was very experienced, and we were able to get Kate up and dressed and in her recliner. The second one was a person who had been with us two times before. She has a special touch with her clients. She immediately pulled up a chair beside Kate’s recliner and started talking to her. I made a trip to the grocery store. When I returned, I was surprised to see she was still sitting by her, and they were actually having a conversation. Most of what Kate said was unintelligible, but the caregiver was able to converse anyway. It reminded me of the way she and I converse.

When our regular caregiver arrived to take her place, we decided it was time to try taking Kate to dinner in the dining room. We agreed that if we encountered any problem along the way, we would come back to the apartment. It turned out that wasn’t necessary. We had brief conversations with other residents as we entered and left the dining room as well as at our table during the meal. Everyone spoke to Kate, and she responded remarkably well.

Despite how well she is doing, I can’t help wondering about the long-term consequences. The stroke affected her right arm and leg. She also has a slight droop on the right side of her mouth that has an effect on her speech. Initially, her right arm was totally limp. She can now move her arm a little although she strongly favors her left. I am hopeful that she will continue to improve.

I am less optimistic about her speech. She was already experiencing aphasia as a result of her Alzheimer’s. The stroke itself has had its own impact. Although she sometimes says a few words very clearly, her speech is more garbled now. She also speaks far less than she did before the stroke.

What is most important to me is that the Kate I’ve always known shines through it all. On Saturday, I was sitting up in bed beside her while we played music videos on YouTube. She was moving her head to the music of an Irish instrumental group. I leaned over and told her I loved her. Then I said, “You’re the greatest. You’re my Kate.” She smiled and said, “Yes, I am.” After five days with little attempt at speaking, those were three beautiful words to me.

About seven o’clock on Valentine’s morning, I noticed her eyes were open. I walked to her bedside and took her hand. She pulled my hand to her lips and kissed it. Yesterday afternoon, I told her I loved her and said, “I’d like to give you a kiss.” She puckered up, and I did.

Regardless of what happens in the days ahead, I think, “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

A Bump in the Road

Many people use the word “journey” when talking about Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I sometimes hesitate to use the term because it seems trite. On the other hand, it really captures a relevant aspect of “Living with Alzheimer’s.” It connotes something that is long in duration and involves a variety of experiences. How apt that is in our case.

Like so many other aspects of life, there are things we expect and those that surprise us. This past Monday we got a surprise, one that potentially may have lasting consequences. Kate had a mild stroke.

We almost always have good nights. That was true Sunday night. We spent the evening watching YouTube videos. A lot of them were choral favorites like “Danny Boy” and “Shenandoah.”

We had a very nice Monday morning as well. She awoke around 8:00, and I spent almost the entire morning beside her in bed. I turned on an assortment of YouTube videos focusing mostly on Broadway favorites. She wasn’t talkative. That’s normal at that time of day, but it was obvious that she was enjoying the music. Several times she commented that it was “wonderful.” I told her how much I enjoyed being with her. She indicated the same to me. Off and on we held hands. The day was off to a good start.

Not long before the caregiver arrived, she went back to sleep, and I went to Rotary. The caregiver let her sleep until 1:00 when she got her up and gave her something to eat. She said that Kate didn’t finish her meal. She kept chewing but didn’t swallow.

After getting back from Rotary but before reaching our apartment, I received a call from an old college friend. When I walked in, I greeted Kate the way I usually do. She gave me a big smile, and I told her I would finish my call and come back to her. About twenty minutes later, I got down on my knees beside her recliner, enabling me to look directly into her eyes, and told her how glad I was to see her.

She didn’t say much, but she looked pleased that I was there. She smiled. As I continued to talk to her, she closed her eyes, and her breathing slowed down. I had a flashback to being with my father and Kate’s mother when they died. Kate looked the same way. I felt she was drifting away from me. I mentioned that to the caregiver. She had the same thought. I told the caregiver that I didn’t want to lose her, but it would be a beautiful way for her to leave me. The precious moments we had the night before and that morning passed through my mind, and I said, “I love you. I always have. I always will.” To me, it seemed like she was trying to respond, but nothing came out.

I called her doctor. His office is in the building next door, one of the advantages of being in this retirement community. He and his nurse came over. By this time, she was in a deep sleep, but her vitals were normal. He checked her eyes. They appeared all right. He lifted each arm and found that her right arm was completely limp while the left was normal. He said he couldn’t be sure but thought she had a stroke. He asked whether I wanted to take her to the hospital. We talked briefly. He and I agreed that it wouldn’t be good to put her through the hospital routine, so we kept her here.

She slept well except for two events, one around 9:30 when her breathing seemed labored. I called the doctor. I described what was going on and let him listen to her breathing. He didn’t think it was serious and suggested that I continue to let her rest. She fell asleep while we were talking. Around 11:30, she screamed and held her right hand against her stomach and then her chest. I felt her left arm. It was warm. I checked the right arm, and it was cold. I pulled the sheet and bedspread over her arm. I didn’t hear a sound after that until the next morning while I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day. She screamed again, but, whatever the cause, it was over before I got to her bedside.

The next morning the doctor returned to check on her. He didn’t notice anything new except that the muscles in her left arm were twitching. He didn’t say that indicated anything special, but I have since learned that this kind of reaction is not unusual for people who have had a stroke. That occurs when the damage to the brain occurs in the part that controls body movement. That might also explain the limpness in her right arm and the fact that her eyes tend to focus to her left.

I told him I felt this was might be a dramatic change in our lives. He acknowledged the likelihood of that though he stopped short of saying she wouldn’t recover. That’s what I expected him to say. He also said that we might observe periods of improvement mixed with more of what we are seeing now.

Since then, she’s been making a little progress each day. Until yesterday morning, she was asleep most of the time, waking periodically for just a few moments, but she has regained some of the strength in her right arm. For a period of time on Thursday, she was more alert although she didn’t speak. She is also eating and drinking much less than normal.

Yesterday (the fourth day since the stroke) was her best day by far. She was awake an hour at one stretch that morning. That’s the longest she had been awake since the stroke. She smiled more and laughed. She responded to several YouTube music videos, mouthing the words to “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She was especially animated during the chorus, clearly remembering the word “Glory” in “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.”

She’s coming to life again. I know we may see some permanent damage. My biggest concern is her ability to speak. Aphasia was already a problem, something often experienced by people who have strokes. Still, I am hopeful we may eventually be able to get out for our afternoon ice cream as well as our nightly dinner in the dining room. At any rate, I think that’s a reasonable goal. Time will tell.

The Final (?) Update on Kate’s Reflux

Yesterday was a good day for Kate. I gave her omeprazole in the morning and three doses of Mylanta during the balance of the day. I am glad to say that she had no recurrence of the episodes that had bothered her (and me) over the past week. Mylanta did the trick.

Tomorrow I’ll report the news to her doctor. I’ll see if she wants us to continue the Mylanta or simply rely on her omeprazole once a day. I suspect it will be the latter now that the crisis is over.

I will also speak with her about a transition to the physician’s practice right here, in fact, next door to our building. She had suggested this would be a good option for us at one of Kate’s recent appointments. I really like her present doctor, but I believe having her doctor next door would be an asset in the future. He makes house calls, something that would be of great benefit to us. I should add that I have known the doctor since at least 1998 when my mother became a patient at the geriatric practice with which Kate’s doctor is associated. The doctor here is the one who started that practice and was a neighbor of ours. I feel sure Kate would be comfortable with him, and I know I would.

I’m glad the mini-crisis is over. We can get back to settling into our new home.

Update on Kate’s Reflux

A few minutes ago, I read a column in the New York Times that focused on the changing views of COVID-19 by the scientific community from the beginning of the pandemic to the present time. Although the time frame is so much shorter, I could relate to my own thoughts about Kate’s recent coughing episodes reported below. The story took an unanticipated turn yesterday. Having read the Times article, I feel a little more cautious about any conclusions I now hold. With that in mind, let me tell you more.

When I finished the previous post, I was reasonably comfortable that Kate’s problem was reflux and not an issue with her heart. During the night, she coughed two or three times with an accompanying yell of discomfort. The next morning (yesterday) I was not so comfortable. I realized that the medication needs a little time to work, but I began to feel that her symptoms were more like a sharp pain than that associated with reflux. I intended to call her doctor again, but her nurse called me first. I discovered that I was supposed to have given Kate Mylanta as well as omeprazole. As soon as the caregiver arrived, I went to the pharmacy to get it. I gave her three doses between then and the time she went to bed. The doctor said that if this didn’t stop the episodes, she doubted Kate was experiencing reflux. It could be a cardiac issue, and we should go to the hospital.

She had only three episodes after the first dose of Mylanta. The first one occurred almost immediately after the first dose. That could have been related to a swallowing issue and not reflux. Only one of the other two was like the episodes that concerned me. I was hopeful that she would have a good night, and she did. She coughed three times over a couple of minutes, but it was not the kind of cough she had had before. It was more like clearing her throat, something that is common for her. She showed no signs of pain although she said, “That hurt.” following one of the coughs. It sounds like the Mylanta may have taken affect. I’ll give her omeprazole and another dose of Mylanta as soon as she wakes.

Once again, it looks like “All’s Well That Ends Well” is an appropriate title for this story. I  hope to corroborate this conclusion in another post.

“All’s Well That Ends Well”

Day before yesterday, we had our first potential crisis in our new home. It actually began late last week when Kate had periodic episodes when she coughed and/or yelled “Oh, Oh, Oh!!!” Sometimes her yell was quite loud. She also looked troubled. When I asked what was wrong. She said, “I don’t know.” I asked if she were in pain, but she was unable to answer the question though it certainly sounded like she was. The surprising thing was that the problem didn’t last long and didn’t occur again for hours or even a day later.

During the afternoon three days ago, she had several of these episodes in rather close proximity. Just before dinner, the caregiver noticed that she put her hand under her left breast. We both thought that might indicate the source of the pain. She got along all right until about 10:15 that night when she woke me with her “Oh, Oh, Oh” and a cough. I gave her some Tylenol, and she was soon back to sleep.

The rest of the night went well, but around 7:00 or 7:30 yesterday morning, she had the same problem. At 8:30, I called her doctor’s office and left a message describing the symptoms. About 9:45, I received a call from her doctor’s nurse who relayed a message from the doctor that we should consider calling EMS and going to the hospital to be checked for a heart problem.

Before calling EMS, I called one of the staff who handles residents issues as they move in. Since our building is new and requires key entry, I wanted to know what I should tell EMS. Then I placed the call. Less than ten minutes later, the first crew (with the fire department) arrived. One of them got basic information from me while another checked Kate’s vitals. In another ten minutes a crew from EMS arrived.

Not too much later, the leader of the EMS crew asked to speak to me. He said all her vitals indicated that she was not having a heart attack. All her signs were normal. He wanted to know if I still wanted her to go to the hospital. I told them about the trauma of her hospital experience with COVID and said I didn’t want to send her to the hospital without more evidence of a serious condition. I called her doctor but knew they wouldn’t be able to get back to me to help with the decision. I left the message that I was keeping her at home.

When they called back a short time later, the doctor agreed with my decision and suggested this might have been a problem with acid reflux, something that has been an issue for several years until the pandemic. Previously, we had eaten out twice a day, not counting trips to Panera where she got a blueberry muffin. During the pandemic, our diet was more normal, and I had discontinued her reflux medication and had informed her doctor. Since our move two weeks ago, she has eaten heavier meals than she had previously. Sometimes the servings are quite large, and she eats everything. Two times last week, I felt she might be eating too much and suggested the caregiver not give her any more of the rice or pasta and focus on the meat and vegetables. I think the new eating habits might have brought on acid reflux.

Of course, we don’t really know for sure that reflux is the problem, but the more I think about it, the more I think that’s it. In particular, the coughing sounds more like reflux than an ordinary cough. The episodes themselves are periodic, and she appears perfectly fine most of the time. She is back on her medication, and it should take affect in a few days.

Apart from the morning, the day went well. We had a visitor from the agency that provides most of our caregivers during the afternoon, and Kate was in rare form. She even called me back this morning to say how glad she was to meet Kate and how struck she was by the way she handled herself.

So, “All’s well that ends well.” I am relieved.