A Happy Day

I’m glad I’ve been able to relay so many good times that Kate and I have had since her diagnosis, but you must have noticed that sometime last year I began to talk about things that have been more challenging. These challenges seemed to escalate just before or during our recent holiday season. The good times were far from over, but I have had to work harder at problem-solving. Still, the balance between good times and trying times remains heavily tilted in favor of the good ones. I think that is a major reason for my lack of interest in adding more help, something I could quintuple without its costing me a penny.

There are also a few days that stand out because they are filled with happy moments. When they arrive, I think of each one as a gift. That is what is was like yesterday. It began at 5:15 in the morning. I was awake and considering whether or not to get up. It turned out that Kate was also awake. She moved closer to me and said with a slight chuckle, “Hello, how are you?” I told her I was fine. She reached across my chest, and we spent the next 30-40 minutes just enjoying being close. I don’t know whether she remembered my name or our relationship, but she conveyed her comfort and love that was very deep.

At 6:00, I told her I was going to get ready for the day and have breakfast. Just before 8:30, I heard her say, “Hey.” She often talks in her sleep. I waited a moment to see if she were calling me. She said, “Hey. I’m in here.” I went to see what she wanted. I found that she was quite cheerful. We chatted about ten minutes. I asked if she wanted to get up. She said, “I don’t know. What should I do?” Knowing this was earlier than usual, I told her it was up to her. I mentioned that if she got up, I could give her a blueberry muffin. Her eyes brightened, but that didn’t cause her to bounce right up. We talked a little more. She finally said, “Why don’t I rest a little more and you tell me when I should get up.” I did. Fifteen minutes later, I went back. She was ready to get up. She was confused about the usual things (where she was, where the bathroom was, what the toilet was, etc.) but not disturbed and needed my help with everything. More importantly, she happily accepted my help.

I warmed up her muffin and gave her a side of fresh blueberries as well as a few slices of canned peaches. I fixed myself some coffee and sat with her. She loved her breakfast, and each of us enjoyed the other’s company. When she finished, we adjourned to the family room where I picked up the photo book of Facebook pictures that I purchased two weeks ago. I wasn’t at all surprised when she said she was tired after only looking at a few pages. She lay down on the sofa while I got my laptop and returned to join her a chair across from her.

While she was resting, I received a phone call from a friend telling me about a popular lunch place that was serving takeout. We’ve eaten there before, but it had been a long time. I went to their website to look over the menu. I ordered a turkey melt for Kate and pulled barbecued chicken with a mixed green salad. We went to pick it up. She stayed in the car while I got the food. As I walked in, I saw homemade tomato basil soup and Brunswick stew to bring home as well.

After lunch, we walked from the kitchen into the family room. Kate immediately commented on the spring flowers in the back yard. The azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom. She delighted in pointing out the things she especially liked. When we finished, she wanted to rest. I walked her to her recliner. She asked if that was where I wanted her to sit. I said, “Yes, and I’ve got your Dr. Pepper right on the table beside you. She was childlike in her excitement and chocked up about my having her favorite drink. Once in a reclining position in the chair, she said mentioned something about her friends. I said, “I hope I’m one of them.” She gave me a gentle and sincere smile and said, “I think you’re going to be.” She paused and added, “What is your name?” I said, “That’s one of the things I like about you. You are so honest.”

The biggest surprise of the day came late in the day after she had rested a long time. She was enjoying the beauty from her recliner, taking in all the spring flowers and new leaves on the trees.. I had been sitting a while and decided I wanted to walk around inside the house a few minutes. She asked me something about it, and I casually asked if she would like to walk with me. I was shocked when she said yes. That was the first time she has done so. She asked where I was going to walk. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and told her I was going to walk down the street a short way and then come back. Off we went.

I wondered if she would back out before we got to the street, but she didn’t. The walk was short in distance (four houses down from ours), but very enjoyable. She was enthusiastic about everything she saw starting right outside of our garage. It took about ten minutes to get to the street. This continued down the street and back. She was like a little child at circus. As she does inside the house, she wanted to point out everything to me as though I couldn’t see it myself. Thirty-five minutes later, we were back in the house. I considered this quite a victory. I had finally gotten her to walk, and I enjoyed seeing how happy she was. It was a perfect day to be outside, lots of sun and temperature in the lower-70s.

I put on an album of Peter, Paul and Mary while we ate dinner. Kate and I enjoyed hearing so many songs that were popular just before and during the early days of our marriage.

The only rough spot of the day occurred after dinner. Thinking she was somewhere other than home, Kate was ready to leave. I explained that we were home and that we would spend the night here. She accepted that. It wasn’t long, however, before we ran into another problem. She got the impression that people were coming to our house. I mentioned that people were not supposed to gather together like that. She asked why. I told her about the coronavirus pandemic. It was impossible for her to understand. I could see that was a losing cause and tried to divert her. I was successful briefly, but the she would remember again that people were coming to see us. That is when I turned, once again, to music for help.

Most of the music we play on YouTube is either classical or Broadway. Hearing Peter, Paul and Mary during dinner prompted me to see what YouTube had. It was no surprise that there is a lot. The rest of the evening was devoted to PP&M. It was another happy moment and a perfect way to end an almost perfect day.

Another Successful Experience with Music

The first time I looked to music for therapeutic purposes with Kate was over eight years ago. We were getting ready to attend a concert by the Knoxville Symphony. Kate was very slow getting dressed. I reminded her several times that we needed to leave right away. This was not long after her diagnosis, and I hadn’t learned how important it is not to rush her. She had a panic attack. That meant I had to calm her. That helped, but she was still experiencing the attack when we got to the car. The first thing I did was put on the second movement of Brahms’ Violin Concerto. It’s a very peaceful movement, and I hoped that might calm her. It worked. After that, I developed a short playlist of the second movements of violin concertos of Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky. We never had another severe panic attack, but she did have milder ones.

That playlist came in handy, and it motivated me to select a broad range of music to play in the car wherever we went. I still play music anytime we are in the car, and I’m careful to select music she especially likes. From there I expanded music at home. Now I rely on it all the time, and I am always discovering new applications. One of those occurred yesterday.

The recent Covid-19 pandemic is affecting everyone. I had been to the grocery store to get a few things in case we weren’t able to eat out. I returned home an hour after the sitter arrived. Although I knew I might run into trouble, I came back just to unload the groceries, some of which needed to be refrigerated or frozen.

As I walked into the kitchen, I saw that Kate was lying on the sofa with her eyes open. I felt I couldn’t leave without speaking to her. I sat down beside her and saw that she was disturbed. I asked what was wrong. She said, “I don’t know. I’m just not myself.” I talked to her very calmly for a few minutes but could tell this was going to take more time.

I told the sitter she could go and turned on “Send in the Clowns” sung by Barbra Streisand. This song has long been one of Kate’s favorites. It is usually very soothing. Not this time. It is a sad song, and, for the first time, she felt the sadness as opposed to the song’s beauty. I knew she needed something much lighter and thought of “A Bushel and a Peck” by Doris Day. I sometimes use this when I am trying to get her up in the morning. She recognized the song very quickly, and the two of us sang it together. She became more cheerful. We, accompanied by Doris, sang it two more times.

This had been successful but had only taken a few minutes. She and I sing together, at least for brief periods, periodically, but it is usually in the car. I decided it might be good if we sang more and streamed a 3-disc album of 100 children’s songs. We started with “The Alphabet Song.” Then we moved to the “Eensy, Weensy Spider.” For the next hour we sang songs we hadn’t heard since our own children were young, some not since we we were children ourselves. They included songs like “Polly-Wolly-Doodle,” “If You’re Happy,” “ The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” “Bingo,” “This Old Man,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Old McDonald,” “Do Lord,” “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain,” and many others. We must have sung 30-40 of the 100 and had a great time.

Music is powerful. It has saved us many times, and is always a source of great pleasure.

Our Roughest Day, But, Again, a Nice Finish

Yesterday, as I walked out of the bathroom to get dressed, Kate said, “Hello.” I went over to the bed. She was uneasy. It turned out that she had awakened while I was in the bathroom and didn’t know where I was. Several times over the next ten minutes or so, she said, “I didn’t know where you were. I thought I had done something wrong.” (She is very sensitive about doing the right thing.) I took her to the bathroom. She was very unsure of herself and needed my help even more than usual. She was still emotional when I took her back to bed.

It was no surprise that she wanted me to stay with her. I got in bed with her and stayed for another thirty minutes. She seemed calm though not asleep. I told her I was thinking about getting dressed and having breakfast and then returning to the bedroom and working in the chair beside her side of the bed. She said that was fine. I was encouraged.

Less than an hour later, she started to get up. She wanted to go to the bathroom again. This time she took a shower and then rested in bed for almost another hour. I don’t recall anything unusual until just before we left for Panera. She said she felt a little sick. Then she said, “Maybe I’m just hungry.” On the way, she was talkative, but she had much more trouble than usual speaking her words correctly. In addition, I was clear about the content of what she was saying. She was delusional. She mentioned people we were meeting or had been with. I really couldn’t make sense of what she was saying. At Panera and on the way home, she exhibited the same symptoms. They were noticeably more severe than in the past. Before finishing her muffin, she took it off her plate and set it on the table. Then she picked up every crumb that was on the plate until it was spotless. This is something I have seen her do a few other times. Occasionally, she does the same thing with the table top.

I began to wonder if she might have had a TIA, but the only symptoms she had were ones that she has had before, and they didn’t seem to be like those we generally associate with a stroke. Nevertheless, I gave her four baby aspirin as soon as we got in the house. She was very tired and lay down on the sofa.

Only minutes later, the sitter arrived. I met her outside and explained what was going on and encouraged her to call me if she needed anything while I was gone. I didn’t hear from her and felt that was a good sign. Generally, by lunch problems like these would be gone. When I returned, she was resting on the sofa. Cindy told me she had eaten a good lunch and had been resting since they returned home.

After Cindy left, I asked Kate if she would like to look at one of her photo books or read something. When I mentioned Anne Frank’s diary, she expressed interest. I picked up the book and sat beside her on the sofa. I read several entries before she said she was tired. She rested about thirty minutes before I suggested that we go to dinner. She was still very tired but got up without a problem.

She was talkative on the way to the restaurant. Once again, however, I had difficulty understanding what she said. I know it involved other people that she thought I knew. She also had trouble with her words. At one point, she said something about “blee.” I finally realized she meant blue.

We sat in a booth at the restaurant, and she wanted me to sit beside her. That happens much more now. She had two cheese burritos. She still had one remaining when I finished my meal. I had cut the first one into bite-size pieces. She tried to do the same with the second one. I offered to help. Instead of eating them, she started moving them around on her plate using her fingers. It soon became clear that she was creating a “work of art.” She tried to explain, but I couldn’t fully understand except that she wanted me to take a picture of the plate of these pieces. She wanted one picture of the plate and piece alone and one with her in the photo. I obliged her.

When we walked up to the counter to pay, there were two other people in line in front of us. Kate was restless. She didn’t understand what they were doing and wanted me to go ahead of them. I explained a couple of times that we needed to wait until they were finished. The woman immediately ahead of us had opened the door to leave when Kate called to her. The woman stopped and looked around. Kate asked her if she would take a picture of the two of us. By now there was another waiting behind me. I started to tell Kate that we should let the woman go. Then I agreed. I told the man behind us to go ahead, but he said he could wait. The woman took our picture. I paid the check, and we headed home.

Typically, I would turn on the news after we are home, but I didn’t last night. It had been an unusual day for Kate. She seemed very tired. Her speech might have been a little better than it was in the morning but not significantly. I thought it was a good time to refocus her attention. I went back to YouTube. We watched a playlist we had seen before and liked. As it did the night before, the music captured her attention from the time I turned it on until I turned it off.

Even better is the fact that today (as of 2:45), I haven’t seen any of the same symptoms that she displayed yesterday.

Music and More

Not long after Kate and I returned home from dinner Sunday night, Kate started working on her iPad. She quickly found it too difficult and directed her attention to her hair, her toes, face, and legs. I’m not sure exactly how to describe what she does, but it reminds me of a cat that preens itself. She began by pulling her hair. I turned on the TV to one of the NFL games with the sound muted.

I didn’t watch much of the game. She wanted me to watch what she was doing. That is becoming increasingly common. A couple times in the past, she has said she wants me to make sure that she is “doing it right.” I don’t know what that is, but she thinks I do. That’s what matters. After half-heartedly watching as I also tried to catch some of the Steelers/Ravens game, she wanted me to be an active participant. I had the distinct impression she wanted my help this time to keep my attention on her. Several times, she sternly said, “Are you watching me?” One time she caught me when she said, “Tell me what I just said.” I hadn’t really had a chance to get wrapped up in the game, but I admit to giving both the game and Kate my divided attention.

I tried to be obedient when she asked me to do the things she had been doing, but she sensed my lack of enthusiasm. She wasn’t happy. I was ready to take a shower, but she wanted my help. I needed something to redirect her attention and shift her mood. Not surprisingly, I thought about music. I suggested that I look for something on YouTube.

One of the first things I saw was a video entitled “Saint Paul’s at Christmas.” I assumed it was one of their Christmas concerts. I reminded Kate of our celebrating Easter Sunday at Saint Paul’s on a trip to England quite a few years ago. I told her how much we had enjoyed the music that day and suggested this might be fun to watch.

It took only a few minutes to discover that it was actually a documentary that focused on the preparations required to manage all of the different Advent and Christmas events. That led me to tell Kate that it wasn’t a musical performance (though there was some music in the program) and asked if she would like me to find something else. By the time I asked, she was already engaged and didn’t want to change. I watched with her a short time. Before leaving to take my shower, her eyes moved periodically between the TV and me. She made sure that I was watching. When she saw me on my iPad, she told me to watch the TV. It was an interesting documentary that included the beauty of the Cathedral itself and the preparations of the choir, but I finally got up to take my shower. By this time, she had gotten in bed to continue watching. She was sitting up. That was a good sign that she was interested in the program. I know it was far too complicated for her to have understood, but she enjoyed it. Her mood had changed significantly.

It was just ending when I finished showering. The video that followed it was an Andre Rieu Christmas concert, most of which was filmed at his home in Maastricht. It is a magnificent home that was beautifully decorated. The concert was outside with abundant and colorful decorations and lighting. I thought the concert itself was the best I have seen in a while. Kate and I watched the whole program sitting up in our bed. Both of us loved it.

The video ended at 9:40. It was time for me to say good night and past time for Kate; however, the next video was the New York Philharmonic playing Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World.” It has been a favorite of mine since playing it with my high school orchestra. Kate and I have attended many symphony concerts in the past, but she is not generally as taken with orchestral concerts. I started to turn it off. Then I suggested we just watch a portion of it. To my surprise, Kate was immediately taken with it. We watched to the very end forty minutes later. I suspect the video enhanced her appreciation of the music. Of course, the music was also familiar to her. That surely helped, but knowing why she was so enraptured doesn’t matter. She had just spent almost a full three hours enjoying a documentary, a Christmas concert, and a popular symphony. She was happy. Once again, music played a key role recovering from what started out to be an unpleasant evening.

Feeling Grateful at Christmas

It’s 8:30 this morning. I’ve been up and had breakfast and a morning walk. Kate is still asleep. If she doesn’t wake up before 11:00, I will wake her. I don’t know what to expect, but I do know that we had a great Christmas Eve, the day and the evening. I am grateful.

Following the previous morning, I was relieved that she greeted me with a smile when I woke her yesterday. That set the tone for the whole day. Getting dressed and ready for lunch went smoothly. We were a little later than usual for our lunch. The restaurant was packed and noisy, but we got the last available table. The hostess had made miniature pecan pies and gave us a small bag to take home.

We were back at the house around 2:30. Kate rested while I took care of a few household chores. Then I read her a few chapters of Charlotte’s Web. This is our second time to read it, and we have only a couple of remaining chapters.

We had dinner at Bonefish Grill and were surprised when the hostess took us to a table with a Poinsettia and a present our server had brought for Kate.

From there we went to a Christmas Eve service at our church. I think it’s been about twenty years since we attended this service because we have been with our children for Christmas. It was good to see people we hadn’t seen in a while. We took a seat beside the man who served as director of music for over thirty years. I re-introduced him to Kate and seated her beside him. She couldn’t remember him. As we waited for the service to begin, she said, “I know I’m supposed to know you, but what is your name?” A few minutes later, she she said, “What’s the name of this church?” She didn’t understand his answer, and I told her. The music was beautiful, and Kate was moved by it. There was a part near the end when the congregation joined the choir in singing several carols. She sang along enthusiastically.

Once we were home, I turned on one of the many Christmas concerts that have been on televised. That turned out to be a fitting end to what was a very good day.

The Therapeutic Value of Music and Reading

Kate and I have always enjoyed music and, especially, live performances. They have been fully integrated into our lives since her diagnosis. To start with I didn’t think of this as therapy. We were simply enjoying ourselves. A year or two later Kate experienced several panic attacks as a result of my rushing her to get to events on time. One time she hadn’t calmed down when we got in the car to leave. I turned on the second movement of Brahms’ violin concerto. We didn’t talk while it played (about ten minutes) When it was over, she was calm. Since that time, I have used music a good bit to put her at ease even if she isn’t having a panic attack. It makes her happy.

This past Sunday we attended a Christmas show that achieved the same effect. I think she must have been tired because she had gotten up early and did not rest after lunch as she usually does. I know she was a little grumpy when we walked into the theater from the parking lot. We didn’t walk far, but it was too far for her and also chilly. We sat in our seats for ten to fifteen minutes before the show began. She doesn’t like waiting and complained most of the time. I assured her she would like the show, but she was not convinced.

Her mood shifted immediately when the show started. The cast was large and included a number of young children and teens along with the adults. The music, of course, was the key factor. She audibly expressed her enthusiasm after each song. That set the stage for a very nice dinner experience.

It may well be that reading will be another tool in my arsenal to lift her spirits. I looked at my reading to her as a way to occupy her time when her use of the iPad dropped to a few hours a week after years of six to eight hours a day. That night I was looking for something more than amusement. She was grumpy again after dinner. As she began to get ready for bed, she pointed to the ceiling fan and asked me to “turn that thing off.” I told her it wasn’t on. She said, “Well turn it on.” I did, but she didn’t like it and told me to turn it off again. I started to help her with her nightgown, and she said, “I can do it myself.” As she does so often, she apologized for the things she had said, but she continued to be grumpy.

After she got in bed, I asked if she would like me to read The Velveteen Rabbit. She said she would. She didn’t say a word while I read. That was unusual. I wasn’t sure that she was listening and wondered if she might have fallen asleep. When I finished, I said, “Did you enjoy that?” She told me she did, but it was the tone of her voice that was the clearest indication she was all right. She also said that she remembered some parts from the “other time” I had read it to her. I felt good about that because she didn’t recall the book at all previously. I suggested that it made a good bedtime story and that we might do that again sometime. She liked the idea. I was glad. I found it to be a nice way to end our day together. Reading, like music, is a “Win/Win” for both of us.

A Special Christmas Moment

I was mid-way in my walk Saturday morning when I saw that Kate was stirring in her bed. I went into check on her. She was lying there quietly pulling her hair. I went to her bedside and said, “Good morning. What are you up to?” She smiled and said she was “learning.” I asked about what. As she began to tell me, I sat down on the bed beside her. She began what turned out to be a one-hour conversation (and concert).

She started with a question, “Have you ever wondered how all these people around here (raising her arm and pointing around the room/neighborhood) got here?” I told her that would be interesting to know and that everybody has a story just the way we do. Then I started to tell her how we met in college. I didn’t get far before she took me in a different direction.

She talked about how difficult life would have been long ago and how hard people must have had to work. I picked up on that and mentioned how things must have been when the first settlers arrived – clearing land, building houses, hunting for game, and farming the land. She asked a number of questions related to the history of the US and the people who came here.

We had talked about fifteen minutes when I redirected the conversation back to our story. I told her about our first date and that we had attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah. She said, “What’s that?” I explained that it was a choral work composed by George Frederick Handel. She asked about the word “messiah.” I gave her a less-than-a-CliffsNotes concept of the word and explained that Handel’s work begins with the story of the Hebrew prophesy of a messiah and then the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Then I took my phone out of my pocket and played the London Philharmonic and Chorus performing Messiah. She recognized the music right away and could anticipate some of the words and phrases but had trouble with most of them. I went to my phone and googled the lyrics to the different songs and sang along with the chorus or just spoke the words that she couldn’t understand. She loved the music and wanted to understand it better. Off and on I explained the message and sang or read the lyrics. Realizing how long this might take, I eventually skipped to the “Hallelujah Chorus.” When it ended, I skipped again to the last two, “Worthy is the Lamb” and “Amen Chorus.” As the chorus ended, Kate said, “They should have included women.” She didn’t intend to be funny, but I thought it was. With little rational ability, she relies on her intuitive skills which are often wrong.

A good portion of that hour we held hands. Periodically, she squeezed my hand tightly during parts of the music she especially liked. It was a very moving experience for both of us. I was captivated by her enthusiasm as well as my memories of Christmases past. Kate no longer has those memories, but she was moved by the music as well as asking questions and getting answers even though she would never remember them. It was an especially interesting conversation since it involved her desire for information and appreciation of the music were so intertwined.

As in the past, we are celebrating the season with music. We have already been to opera night and jazz night at Casa Bella. Both of these featured Christmas music. This coming Thursday they will host a special evening of Christmas music. Yesterday afternoon we attended another Christmas music special at one of our local theaters. Of course, we have played music of the season at home. Although this will be our first Christmas without family, we are making the most of the season and Saturday’s conversation will be a highlight.

There is no way for me to know what Christmas will be like next year, but I am sure it will be very different. Whatever happens, I am grateful for so many great memories and the ability to create new ones this year.

Music Continues to Provide Needed Therapy

Kate and I have relied heavily on music as a form of therapy. Unlike so many other things, that is something that has not yet become a thing of the past. I would have to say though that the way we have used music has changed over the years. At the beginning, we entertained ourselves by attending musical events . These included opera, musical theater, and a variety of concerts. Over time, I included more music at home and in the car. Unlike the early musical events, I chose music for its therapeutic benefits rather than just entertainment. Initially, I used music to calm Kate when she had a panic attack. Those occurred exclusively when I rushed her to get ready to go places. I would play the Second Movement of Brahms Violin Concerto and similar movements from other concertos. That seemed to relax her.

Before we stopped going to evening events, I expanded our music at home with a wider variety of music. A year and a half ago, I bought a number of DVDs of musicals that were a good way to end the day. Kate especially liked Les Miserables which she watched seven times in seven weeks. Ultimately, she tired of videos of musicals, and I have since relied on YouTube videos of concerts or portions of them for our evening time for relaxation before going to bed. Among those, I have found the Andre Rieu and the BBC PROMS concerts particularly good. Often, however, I have done a search on a particular singer. Then I let YouTube follow with whatever their algorithm selects for us. The best thing about YouTube is that they always have new videos and a wide diversity of musical genres.

The musical programs at Casa Bella stand out for the way they combine both music and a social occasion that Kate has been able to appreciate. Music is clearly the greater draw, but the fact that we have sat for years with essentially the same people has made it easier for Kate to enjoy each evening. Over the past six months or so, I have had an increasing concern that she is becoming less comfortable with the social aspects of these evenings. That is largely because we more frequently have been seated at a table with as many as six or seven other people, some of who we haven’t known. That makes it more difficult for Kate to follow and to participate in the conversation. That has made me think about requesting a table for two rather than sitting with a group. Recently, however, we have had some evenings that have given me reason to believe we may be able to continue somewhat longer at our regular table.

This past Thursday was one of those times. There were six of us, but we have sat together with one another for several years now. Of course, Kate can’t remember that, but she is comfortable when she is with them. As I suggested earlier, it is music that is the primary attraction, and last night was the best night of jazz that we’ve had. The singer and the man on the keyboard were superior to others we have heard previously. The crowd responded enthusiastically. Kate was, perhaps, the most enthusiastic, and that may be an indicator of an ultimate problem.

She has always been more expressive of her pleasure than others sitting around us. Off and on throughout most of the songs she likes best, she says both “Wow” and “Oh.” She seemed to be louder this week than in the past. That would fit with her other expressions of emotion lately. This wouldn’t be a problem at all when the audience is applauding, but it seems a bit “over the top” during the music. She can be heard easily at our table and those next to us. The people with whom we sit are very understanding, but I occasionally wonder if this is ever annoying to them. At some point, I may speak with our friends at our table and gauge what I think is best. It may well be that the combination of Kate’s feelings about being with others and emotional behavior will be the thing that leads me to sit at a table for two. Whatever we do music is no less important for either of us today than it was at the beginning of her diagnosis, and I am optimistic that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Two Happy Moments

As Kate continues to decline, I expect that we will experience more sad moments than we have had in the past. I hope that I will be able to say that we still have happy ones as well. That is certainly true right now. Two days ago, for example, she got up early. She seemed to be in a good mood. She did ask my name and our relationship multiple times before she got dressed. Each time I mentioned that I was her husband she was surprised but accepting.

When she was dressed, she asked if she could lie down. I told her she could and then said, “I love you.” As I said it, I remembered the old song “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck.” When I mentioned it to her, she also remembered it. Then she said, “We could sing it together.” I took out my phone and searched for the song. Then I played it through our audio system. We forgot most of the lyrics, so I pulled them up on my phone. We must have sung the song five or six times. It may have been a little silly, but it was fun. Kate really got a kick out of it. I think it also made it easier for her to get up since her already good mood got better. I just know that right after our singing, I said, “Now, I’d like to take you to lunch.” She got right up.

We had another Happy Moment at dinner that night. We were having dinner at Chalupas when I mentioned how nice it was that we enjoy the simple pleasure of being together. She picked up on that and began a conversation about how fortunate we are in so many ways. From there, she gravitated to talking about the people who are not as fortunate as we are in our marriage and many other aspects of our lives.

I enjoy hearing her speak so naturally. She didn’t seem to have a care in the world. She is often concerned about what she should or shouldn’t do or say. She isn’t that way a lot of the time, but she does frequently ask me to watch her or to keep her from doing “something wrong.” She knows she does a lot of things that aren’t right. It’s good to see her at moments when doesn’t have those concerns. They make for quite a few Happy Moments for both of us.

Trying to Get Back to “Normal”

About 10:45 yesterday morning, I put on some music to wake Kate. Ten minutes later, I approached her bed. She looked up at me and smiled. I knew it would be a different day. I didn’t test her, but she appeared to recognize me. She was still very relaxed and not ready to get up. I chatted with her for another few minutes before telling her I would like to take her to lunch.

She still didn’t want to get up, but finally, with a little encouragement, she did. It was a shower day, and she wasn’t enthusiastic about that. Again, she delayed a little but agreed it was good to get one. Then it was back to bed for another twenty minutes before I got her dressed.

It was a morning when she wanted to exercise her independence and let me know it rather sternly when I tried to help. This is a tough situation for her because she always ends up recognizing that she needs help even though she wants to do everything for herself. I really felt for her. I am always struck by her self-awareness when she responds so harshly to me. She apologized several times before going to lunch. I may say more in another post, but I want to emphasize something I have said before. I don’t interpret her irritation with me to be a direct symptom of her Alzheimer’s. It appears to be result of what is a symptom – an inability to understand what I want her to do and/or my intentions. In her confusion, she strikes back in defense then intuitively recognizes that is not the way she has traditionally acted or wants to act.

Our walk through the family room was not as long as it often is, but she did react positively to the usual things that appeal to her. It was the drive to lunch with music she enjoyed that brought her back.

We didn’t get to the restaurant until 12:45. They were “slammed.” As a result, we didn’t get home until almost 3:00. She was ready to rest and did so for the next two hours. I was on a phone call with my brother fifty minutes of that time. She appeared to sleep a while, but she was awake most of the time. She often mentions the trees outback, especially the tops of the trees she sees through the skylights. She didn’t talk at all yesterday. A half hour before we left for dinner, I thought about looking at some of our old photos, but that didn’t seem to appeal to her.

Throughout the day, she was confused about a variety of things. Most of them were the usual ones I have mentioned before. I had a hard time getting her to understand about using soap when she showered. When I attempted to show her by putting the soap on her, she said, “Don’t touch me.” I think that was a moment when she didn’t recognize who I was. She is also beginning to get confused about the use of her toothbrush and toothpaste. At dinner, I brought her an extra napkin. She didn’t know what to do with it. I explained it was just an extra one she could use if she needed it. (She always does.) She said, “Where should I put it?” I showed her a place on the table to the left of her fork. She couldn’t understand what I meant. I finally placed it for her. She still looked confused.

The best part of the day, and it was really good, came after we got home. I turned on the TV to a YouTube video of a concert version of My Fair Lady with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jeremy Irons. I have played this several times before, but she was never as taken with it as she was last night. She sat in her chair and devoted her attention to it for almost an hour. That is unusual. It is more typical for her to lie down in bed and listen without watching. When the video was over, I got her ready for bed. I had intended to stay up a little longer as I usually do, but she wanted me to come to bed as well.

Ending the day on a high note is one of the most predictable times of the day. The morning continues to be the most unpredictable; overall, however, we still have more happy times than sad ones. I am grateful.