A Short Day for Kate

Yesterday Kate was tired and didn’t want to get up. At 10:30, I asked her if she would like me to take her to lunch or let her sleep longer. She opted for sleep. I decided it would be a good chance to let her get accustomed to Mary’s helping her. I kept poking my head in the bedroom thinking that she might wake up before I left. She didn’t. I did bring Mary into the bedroom and told Kate she was here if she needed anything.

After leaving, I began to wonder how long Kate would sleep, but I didn’t call Mary to check.  I decided it was best to leave things up to the two of them. I got home a few minutes before 5:00 and found that they weren’t at home. I knew that meant they were at Panera. My immediate thought was that she had gotten up very late and was eating a late lunch. They were back home a few minutes later. I discovered that I was right. Mary said she had tried to get Kate up a couple of times but didn’t want to force her. She finally got her up at 3:15. It took almost an hour for her to get ready. They got to Panera at 4:15.

I hadn’t eaten a regular lunch. I ate a banana and snacked on some granola before leaving for the Y. I was ready for dinner when I got home. Kate is sometimes ready to eat shortly after eating a meal. I decided it probably wouldn’t bother her if we went directly to get our Friday night pizza. I was right about that. On the way to the restaurant, I asked her about going to Panera with Mary. She told me they had just stayed at home. She ate her half of the pizza just as easily as she usually does.

The next question I had was “Will I have trouble getting her to sleep?” That turned out not to be a problem at all. We got in bed about our usual time, 9:45. I went right to sleep and was unaware that she had any problem. She slept through the night and is still sleeping at I write this blog at 8:50. Will she get up earlier this morning? I don’t know. I have an idea that she may not have slept as much yesterday as it appeared. She was in bed, but lately she has been staying in bed longer after waking up. It makes me wonder if she wakes up but doesn’t know what to do. This is something I will pay more attention to in the days ahead. She may actually need me to get her up.

Another Success with the Sitter

I have previously mentioned that Kate’s Monday sitter, Valorie, has been able to help Kate get up, showered, dressed, and to lunch. That was a great step forward for me in that it meant I didn’t have to do that before the sitter arrived. I could let her sleep and know that Valorie would be able to handle everything. There is another benefit for Kate in that I don’t have to rush her to get ready. Neither of us likes that.

Until yesterday, I had not had the opportunity to see if Mary, the Wednesday and Friday sitter, might also be able to assume a similar role for Kate. I wasn’t concerned about Mary’s ability, but I wondered if Kate would be willing for Mary to help with these personal matters. I received a call from the agency on Wednesday asking if we could change the time of Mary’s visit yesterday to 11:00 to 3:00 instead of 1:00 to 5:00. That presented a good opportunity to see how well it might go.

The next step was to see if Kate slept late. She usually does, but she sometimes surprises me by getting up as early as 7:30. As it turned out, Kate slept until thirty minutes before Mary arrived. I got her to the shower. Then she went back to bed. When Mary arrived, I took her into the bedroom to let Kate know that she was there. Mary told Kate to let her know if she could help with anything. Kate said she would. I gave Mary some instructions and left it with her. When I got home, I discovered that everything had worked without a hitch. I specifically asked Mary if she had helped Kate dress. She said she had asked Kate if she would like help, Kate said she did. Then I went back to Kate and asked if Mary had helped her dress. She said, “No. Why should she? I can do that myself.” Although it is possible Kate didn’t want to say that she had help, I believe she just couldn’t remember. After all that had been almost four hours earlier. She often forgets things in seconds or minutes.

Even though it worked well, I may not be calling on Mary to play this role often. The reason is that she doesn’t arrive until 1:00. On most days, Kate is up and dressed before that. On the other hand, she sometimes sleeps until 1:00. There are also times like today when Kate has gotten up and showered, but she is not dressed. Whatever happens I feel good knowing that I can rely on Mary for help.

More Success with the Sitter

About three weeks ago, we got a new sitter on Mondays. She replaced the previous one who was experiencing her own health issues. I asked the agency to send the new sitter an hour earlier on her first day so that I could get acquainted with her and give her instructions about Kate and her care. I liked her immediately. When Kate met her, she felt the same way.

I felt so comfortable with her that the following week I left before getting Kate up. That left Valorie to get her up and help her with her shower, dressing, and taking her to lunch. That has taken a big psychological load off of me. Prior to that I sometimes had to rush Kate to get up and ready for me to take her to lunch before the sitter arrived. Now I don’t have to get her up at all.

I have been surprised and pleased by the way Kate has handled this change. In fact, I don’t think she has been aware of it. That’s the sad part. On the other hand, she likes Valorie. When I told her this past Monday that I was leaving and that Valorie would help her with her shower and getting dressed, she was perfectly at ease. That makes me feel comfortable about leaving.

Now I am beginning to wonder how Kate would respond to Mary who comes on Wednesday and Friday. Would she feel as comfortable accepting her help with those same things? I think so and am willing to try it. The difference is that Mary arrives at 1:00 instead of 12:00. That means Kate is more likely to be up and showered by the time Mary arrives. Whatever the future holds, I feel good about both of our sitters.

It began with a scream and ended with music.

About 4:30 yesterday morning, I was awakened with a loud scream. Kate had a bad dream. She was unable to tell me about it but was very frightened. This was a time to comfort her. I held her and told her she was all right, that she was safe and that I would take care of her. She calmed down and dosed off within fifteen minutes.

This was not the first time she has had a bad dream. Fortunately, they don’t happen often. Most of the dreams I have been aware of have been good ones. Until the past couple of years, she would talk while dreaming. They were always in a situation in which she was teaching children. I could easily see this as an outgrowth of her years as a school teacher and librarian/media specialist.

I stayed in bed until 5:10. I decided to let Kate sleep. She had responded so well to Valorie’s getting her up, showered and dressed last week that I felt comfortable letting her take care of her again. Before leaving, I told Kate I was going and that Valorie would take care of things. She seemed perfectly comfortable with that, and I left feeling good.

When I returned later in the afternoon, Valorie and Kate were in the family room having a serious conversation. They were talking about students and teaching. At least Kate was. Valorie appeared to be listening. I was pleased to see they were getting along well. They were talking as two friends might do. I am still surprised, but glad, that Kate is willing to let her help with her shower and getting dressed.

We ended the day with an annual Christmas dinner with music at Casa Bella. It was a wonderful evening. The meal was outstanding, and the conversation lively although it was hard for Kate to keep up. She couldn’t hear or understand much of what was being said. She frequently asked me to tell her what people had said. As I have been doing lately, I cut her meat (a very tender beef tenderloin) for her. That is something new within the past couple of weeks.

This was another bitter sweet occasion for me. I can’t predict the future, but I know that next Christmas will be very different from this one. I am glad that it went well. Kate and I both loved the music, and we ended the evening singing Christmas carols. We don’t know most of the sixty or guests who were there, but we are accustomed to seeing them for these musical nights throughout the year. It was a beautiful shared experience for everyone.

A Good Experience with a Sitter

Next week it will have been a year and three months since I first engaged the services of an agency that provides in-home care. I arranged for a sitter to come for four hours three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Things have gone pretty well for the most part. The first couple of weeks we had a couple of sitters that didn’t work out. Since that time we have had the same sitter on Monday and the same one on Wednesday and Friday until recently when our Monday sitter had her own health problem. We had someone who took her place for two or three weeks before she also had health issues and won’t be back.

The agency sent a new person today. She is to serve on an interim basis until they can locate someone to be with us regularly. I didn’t get word about this until just before leaving for Thanksgiving, so I was a little uneasy about having someone new without my having met her previously. I suggested that they send her an hour early so that Kate and I could get to know her a little before I left for Rotary. I was prepared to skip Rotary if I felt at all uncomfortable.

My next concern involved getting Kate up in time for me to help her dress before the sitter arrived. She had gotten to sleep late last night. That made me think she would sleep late this morning. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered she got up early. She was still getting ready when the sitter arrived. That gave me time to give her a brief orientation to Kate and her needs and routine. When she walked into the family room, Kate reached out to give her a hug before I could introduce two of them. Kate and I liked her very much.

Since it was time for Kate’s lunch, I suggested that the three of us go over to Panera. We went in two cars so that I could go directly to Rotary from there. I ordered Kate’s lunch while the two of them took a seat. When I got to the table, the sitter told me she liked the name Jesse. I was surprised that Kate had remembered our daughter’s name. That doesn’t happen often. I left for Rotary, and they were talking just like they had been longtime friends.

I called the agency from the car letting them know that I was pleased. I told them I would like to have her on a regular basis if that were possible. They are going to let me if if they can work that out. I certainly hope so.

Another Day Without a Sitter

For the second Monday in a row our sitter is sick and not able to be with us. I am sorry she is sick, but I am happy to spend the day with Kate. Rotary is taking a Thanksgiving week break, and I have no other special obligations. If I had anything, I could have arranged the agency to provide a substitute.

The good news is that I don’t have to be concerned about getting Kate up and dressed and take her to lunch before the sitter arrives. That seems to be an increasing challenge as she sleeps a little later. I am thinking about changing the time the sitter comes on Wednesday and Friday from 1:00 to 1:30 to give me a little extra time. I can’t do that on Monday since Rotary starts at 12:30.

I am glad to say that we ended on a high note yesterday. We went to dinner from Barnes & Noble and then came home. I watched a portion of the Monday night NFL game. I put the sound on mute and turned on some music that both of us could enjoy. Kate worked on her iPad until time for bed. I hope we start off as well this morning as we finished last night.

A Different Kind of Monday

So much of my attention is focused on Kate and the changes she experiences that I often overlook the fact that change us occurring for everyone on a daily basis. I think of that now because Kate hasn’t even stirred yet, and I know this Monday will be different for us. Last night, I received a phone call from the agency that provides the sitters for Kate. Marilyn, who was supposed to be here from noon to 4:00 is sick and will not be able to come. They were quite willing to send a new person, but I declined. I would rather change my plans for the day than bring in a sitter that Kate has never met. Actually, I am rather glad to have another day without a sitter.

Kate’s morning routine continues to be erratic. After thinking that she was settling into getting up late, she got up early several days in a row. The past few days she has gone back to sleeping late. Yesterday was another day when I had to get Kate up earlier than she wanted. Fortunately, she was very cooperative, but I felt bad about it. She has been very tired in the morning. I thought it might be good to let her sleep this morning but knew that the sitter comes at noon on Mondays, and I didn’t want her to wake up after I had left for Rotary. It’s not that I don’t think she could handle it. I just know that she often needs my help when she gets up. Of course, at some point, I will probably have a sitter to help in the morning. I don’t think either of us is ready to do that right now.

I often mention that Kate either sleeps late or surprises me by getting up early. She has experienced one other change in the past week or two. She doesn’t seem to go to sleep as quickly as she used to. There are some nights when she hasn’t gone to sleep as long as an hour or two after going to bed. I don’t ever recall that before. Of course, that could easily play a role in her needing to sleep in the morning. At dinner, she frequently tells me that she is going to “crash” early; however, she seems to get her second wind after we are home. When she was on Trazodone, she went to sleep rather quickly, but I don’t want to go back to that just yet. On the whole, I think she has been more alert since we discontinued it six or seven months ago. Her only groggy moments occur when she wakes up in the morning. Trazadone could exacerbate her confusion.

At any rate, I don’t plan to go to Rotary today. I also had a United Way meeting scheduled at 2:00. I will skip that as well. Kate and I usually have nice days together. I’ll take advantage of this change in the sitter’s schedule to enjoy the day with her.

I should add that yesterday was another good day. Since Kate got up late, we went directly to lunch. That gave us a brief time at home before going to see the musical Buddy at one of our local theaters. We had a good time. From there we went to dinner and then back home to relax the rest of the evening.

A Good Experience with the Sitter

As you may recall, I have expressed some concern about Kate’s recent response to our sitters. My guess is that as her dependence on me has increased, she has felt less at ease when I leave her with a sitter. As with other behaviors this varies, and I am always glad to report the good experiences as well as those that fall short. Yesterday was a good one.

We arrived at Panera later than our normal time. I am not sure why I say “normal.” We haven’t had a normal time in several months now. We were early enough for Kate to have a muffin and then lunch before I had to leave for Rotary. Kate was in an especially cheerful mood, so I was hopeful that she might be more receptive to the sitter. I didn’t say anything about my leaving for Rotary until twenty minutes before Marilyn arrived. Kate’s only concern was Marilyn’s name. Several times before and once after she arrived, Kate asked me to repeat her name. She showed no concern other than that. I may have facilitated things when I set up the TV to play a series of videos of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Both Kate and Marilyn were interested in watching.

When I returned home, Kate was resting on the sofa in the family room. Marilyn was in a chair nearby. Everything appeared to go well. They had watched the choir for two hours before taking a break. I had left earlier with a good feeling and glad that nothing happened while I was gone to diminish it.

Good News for Me

If you have been following my recent posts concerning Kate’s acceptance of a sitter, you know of my concerns. In a nutshell, as she becomes more dependent on me, it appears that she has also felt less secure when I leave her. I am glad to report that her response today was very different. I should add that she got up in a cheerful mood this morning. I hoped that was a good sign, and it was.

Usually, I don’t say anything about a sitter’s coming until shortly before she arrives. Today, I decided to give Kate a little preparation. While we were at lunch, I told her this was one of my days to go to the Y and that Mary would be with her while I was gone. I mentioned that they could stay at the house or go to Panera. She seemed to like the idea of Panera which is typical. Then she asked what she should do for money. It is interesting how often she asks this since she has never had to pay at all. I told her that I had a card that Mary could use. She accepted the news without any further questions.

When the Mary arrived, I told them they could watch a DVD of one of our musicals and mentioned Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables or one of the others. They liked the idea and were both very agreeable regarding which one. Mary had never seen Fiddler, so I chose it. I explained that it is almost 3 hours in length and that they might want to take a break at some point. I also pointed out to Kate that she could go to Panera any time she wanted. As I left, the movie was playing, and Kate seemed happy. I left with a good feeling. Now, I’m eager to see how they got along during my absence. Since they got off to a good start, I suspect it is going well.

Reaction to My Leaving Her with the Sitter

Sometimes there are dramatic moments that one can recall as a point when life changed. The moment Kate’s doctor delivered the news of her diagnosis was one of those. It was mid-day on January 21, 2011, exactly one week after Kate’s 70th birthday. That was a clear marker in our lives. Most other changes are less defined. They just creep up on you. That has been the pattern for Kate and me the past 7 years and 8 months.

Although our changes have been very gradual, I frequently wonder if we are entering a new phase when I notice any difference in Kate’s normal pattern. The changes in her sleeping late in the spring made me think that a signal of an important change. Of course, I couldn’t be sure at the time. Looking back, it appears I was right. Since then, Kate’s changes in memory and confusion have increased more significantly than at any other time since her diagnosis.

One of those changes has been her behavior in connection with the sitters. For months, she happily greeted them. That made me feel good as I left her. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed less enthusiasm when the sitter arrives. On several occasions, Kate has asked if she could go with me. She seemed disappointed when she couldn’t. Along with that reaction, there have been some occasions when she and the sitter didn’t go to Panera. She is also spending more time resting while the sitter is here.

During this same period of time, she was growing more dependent on me. I have mentioned several times, once in the last day or two, that Kate has told me she likes being with me, that she feels safe with me. She hasn’t said this around the time the sitter has been here, but I have always wondered if there might be a connection. An experience yesterday strengthened that suspicion.

We arrived at Panera for lunch a little later than I had wanted and called the sitter to meet us there rather than at home. A few minutes before Mary arrived, I reminded Kate that I would be going in a few minutes and that Mary would take her home. She gave me a big frown. I said, “Do you feel like I am deserting you?” She said sternly, “Yes, and I don’t like it.” All of a sudden I felt like a parent leaving her young child on the first day of school.

When I got home, Kate was resting on the sofa in the family room with the sitter who was watching TV. I walked the sitter to the car and asked if they had stayed long at Panera. She told me they stayed “a little while.” She said Kate had wanted to go back home where she rested for a while. Then she got up several times and returned to the family room. She worked on the iPad a little but also rested a good bit.

In our conversation, I suggested that if this happens again that she might take her back to Panera. She seemed a little surprised. I told her it is not uncommon for us to go back more than once in a day or to Barnes & Noble. I also told her that Kate gets bored staying at home for long stretches and that we are rarely home for more than 2-3 hours in a day. I will convey this to our other sitter the next time she is here. I am hoping to work with the sitters to address the issue. I feel that is a better direction than reducing the sitters’ time.