The past two days with Dad have been super ones. On Monday he was up when I got there. Yesterday he was still asleep but awoke easily. This has been a pattern for 3 weeks or so. Prior to that he had always complained that “I’m still asleep.” I am beginning to wonder if the change in his medicine might have made a difference. That’s the only reason I know of.
Both of the past two days he has been alert with no delusions. In fact, he entered into a conversation with the daughter-in-law of a woman who eats at the next table from Dad. I turns our her father was from Rogersville where Dad lived while a boy. They chatted about familiar things. He was amazingly clear headed. He also has continued to eat well. I think they are following up on my concerns about his diet and giving him things that don’t choke him as easily. For the most part, however, he has generally been eating well for several weeks starting about 2 weeks after coming back from the hospital.
There are several things to report about Kate. First, I hurt her unintentionally last week. It was a Monday night, and I had brought home something for us to eat. It was a beautiful afternoon; so we decided to eat outside. She wanted to eat at the table, but when I went over to the table I notice that it was messed up with potting soil that she had spilled while potting plants. Some of the soil had spilled over onto our new cushions. It had also rained earlier so there was a slight mess on the chairs. I said something to her about her having promised that she would watch out for the news cushions so they wouldn’t get messed up. I didn’t want them messed up so quickly, especially since we had done this in preparation for Dad’s birthday party.
I thought that I had made my remark as gently as I could, but it hurt her deeply, and I felt miserable. One of the things I have discovered is that she is very sensitive. I also believe a major part of this is that each event like this is another sign of her inability to do certain things. She is finding fewer and fewer things she can do well.
One example of her difficulty doing things is posting a message on Facebook. She asked me to show her how; so I brought up the screen with the space to enter her message and left the room. I’m not sure what happened, but she let me know it didn’t post. I set it up again, and she ran into another problem. Finally, on the third try with me by her side, she did it.
The really good news is something that I have mentioned before. In most respects, people would never know that she has Alzheimer’s. She is good in conversation. She only slips up on remembering who people are, but it is usually easy to get around that by being pleasant and acting like she knows them. The other day a neighbor, pulled up in the driveway when she saw Kate working in the front yard. Kate didn’t recognize her at all. She asked Kate for a copy of our neighborhood directory to give to 2 new families that have moved to our street. Kate told her to see me and that I would give them to her. When she asked me about the directories, I told her I was unaware that we had any remaining directories. I did this because Kate had been unable to locate any several weeks ago when we were working on the information for a new directory.
The directory is another of those tasks that is a problem for her. I have taken that over, and she hasn’t said a word. There are many things like that. She takes most of them very naturally. Other times she is bothered by my trying to help her with something she feels like she is able to do.
I am re-listening to a book by Barry Peterson called Jan’s Story. It is an account of his experiences with his wife who had Alzheimer’s. One of the things he mentioned is the change in conversations that he and his wife used to have. That is definitely happening to us. Kate cannot follow anything that is the least bit complex. I am quite accustomed to her saying, “Let’s not talk about it.” Often it doesn’t leave much that we can talk about except to reminisce – past experiences, places we have been, special moments shared together.
I am also noticing more memory loss. That is something that most people see as the key problem with Alzheimer’s, but I have felt that in the early years it is the inability to function well on everyday tasks that is the real problem. Before I really believed she had Alzheimer’s, I thought she was having a problem with depression. I have no doubts now that the problem was Alzheimer’s.
I continue to believe we are better off for having learned of her diagnosis. It has given us the opportunity to take advantage of our time together. I think we have both been committed to this end, and it has worked. We continue to enjoy ourselves. When we go to dinner as we did last night, it becomes a special moment for us even though it was just a Tuesday evening dinner. I am optimistic that we will have many of these times ahead even as she declines further.