It began with yesterday’s “Surprising Conversation.” The rest of the day was filled with strange incidents. I’m sure I would have noticed more if I had been home during the afternoon instead of the sitter.
The first thing I noticed happened as we were walking in the door at Applebee’s for lunch. Kate said she wasn’t sure she would be able to eat anything. That remark and the expression of concern on her face made me think that she might be sick. She walked very hesitantly into the restaurant and took an unusual amount of time to walk up the two steps to the booths where we always sit. She seemed very confused. I asked her if she felt all right. She told me she didn’t feel “all right,” but she wasn’t sick.
She could never explain the problem very well, but it turned out that she thought two people that she and I know were out to get her. When the hostess put the flatware wrapped in a napkin on the table, I unfolded the napkin, placed the knife and fork at her place, and handed the napkin to her. She refused to take it. It seemed she thought “they” had contaminated it in some way. Later when the food arrived, she picked through everything and put some of them on the table beside her. She shredded some of the chicken and said, “See that. They got this too.” She put it on the table as well. It took her a long time to finish her meal, and she didn’t eat all of it. That is unusual, especially recently. I suppose it was her belief about contamination.
Before the sitter arrived, Kate went to the bathroom. Since that is the bathroom that the sitter usually uses, I checked to see if any clean-up was required. I discovered that she had taken one of three artificial tulips out of an arrangement on the counter, torn off the leaves and all the petals of the flower itself. She left them in the sink where it appeared she had washed them.
When Mary arrived, Kate was picking up two ceramic containers that used to have small cacti in them. She filled them with water and started looking for a place to put them. She and Mary had gone outside to find a place as I was preparing to leave. I left, so I don’t know what happened after that. When I got home, I found them in the laundry room sink.
After Mary left, I sat down on the sofa beside Kate. She said, “Is my mother still upstairs?” (We have a single-story house.) I told her that her mother wasn’t here. She said, “Well, where is he?” I said, “Who do you mean?” She said, “You know.” I never figured out who “he” was.
We went to dinner at our regular pizza place. While we waited for the pizza, she diligently tried to tear her paper napkin into multiple sections. She carefully attempted to make each tear a straight line. As you can imagine, doing that with a paper napkin is almost an impossibility, but she gave it her best effort.
As for eating her pizza, she ate almost every bite of it. I know that doesn’t seem strange, but she has never liked pizza crust or crust on any bread. (She also has a distaste for the peel of fruit like apples, grapes, or tomatoes.) All our servers know that when she eats bread, she eats from the center out to the crust. Recently, I have noticed that she has been eating much closer to the pizza crust. Last night, however, she ate everything. She only left specks on her plate.
As we were preparing for bed, she started looking through the drawers in her bedside table. She also picked up a coaster on top and asked what it was. I explained it to her, but she didn’t understand. When I got out of the shower she had 8-10 things from the drawer spread out on the bed. She was trying to figure out how to use them with the coaster. She wanted me to look to see if she was doing it the right way.
Before calling it a day, she said something about having a big day “tomorrow” and would be leaving early for church. A few minutes later, she asked me what time she should leave. I told her 10:30 would be fine. She said that was later than she wanted and would probably leave by 9:30. I feel sure she was living in a “flashback” to the years she was our church librarian. She gave that up in 2009 because she was beginning to have trouble doing the work the way she knew it should be done. That was a year and a half before her diagnosis.
What I have reported above is just what comes to mind as I write this post. She made other comments throughout the day that indicated she was experiencing delusions or hallucinations. Like so many things, I don’t know how to explain what she was experiencing. I do know that these symptoms are not unusual for people with dementia. For that reason, I don’t feel any sense of alarm. She has had periodic experiences for several years, but this was the first time so many different things have occurred over the course of a one day. I take it as a further sign of her overall decline.
What is in store for today? I am eager to see.