Concerned About Not Doing What She Believes She Should

When Kate got in the shower yesterday morning, she got upset. At first, she was using the soap. I told her to use it. Then she got very teary and said , “Will you still love me?” I told her I loved her from the day the day we met and would always love her. She gradually calmed down .

As I was helping her into the car after lunch, she said she wanted to tell me something. Then she said, “You have told me a lot of things, but I know I won’t remember them. Promise me you won’t be mad at me?” I assured her that I wouldn’t get mad and was happy to tell her as many times as she needs to ask.  She said she knew I wouldn’t but some people would. She said, “I know you must get tired of me asking you all the time.” I found her concern about my reaction strange. I felt almost like she was afraid of me. It was hard for me to imagine that because it is so out of keeping with our relationship.

She went on to say something else but stumbled on the words. My interpretation was that she couldn’t understand why she has so many problems. I don’t know that I am correct though I do know this is an ongoing concern of hers. Earlier at Panera she wondered why she does so many “stupid things” when she is so smart. Periodically she talks about being smart. I think that is because she is aware of so many things she does that seem to contradict that. I don’t usually feel sad, but this is one of the things that does it. I don’t like to see her suffer.

More Restroom Issues and Our Visit with Ellen

I am glad to report that I was able to get Kate up with sufficient time to arrive at Maggiano’s fifteen minutes before our noon reservation. I want to say in passing that Kate did not want to get up but was in a cooperative mood and got up with a little urging. After going to the bathroom and starting to get dressed, she wanted to lie down again. She seemed quite tired, and I gave her a few minutes to relax.

Before arriving at the restaurant, I decided to use the valet. Previously, we have found parking easily at that time of day, but it is getting to be more trouble for Kate to walk. In the past, I tried to give her this opportunity to walk because she needed it. At this stage, my priority has shifted. Now I am influenced more by Kate’s convenience than her need for exercise. That worked well yesterday, and I will use it next time we are there.

Our meal went well. We had an appealing server, and the manager whom we have met on previous occasions dropped by our table to speak. Ellen’s memory care facility is located about forty minutes from there. I suggested that it would be good for both of us to use the restroom before leaving. As we arrived at the door of the women’s room, a lady was coming out and told me no one else was in there. I walked in with Kate and took her to the stall. Then I went to the men’s room and returned to wait for her just outside the door. In a couple of minutes, a woman came out and asked if my wife was inside. I told her she was. She told me it sounded like she may have been having some trouble and that no one else was in there. I went in to check on her. She was still in the stall. She said she was all right and was just coming out. She wasn’t sure how to open the door that she had locked with the latch. I was able to poke my finger between the door and the side of the stall. That enabled me to show and tell her how to lift the latch. That went smoothly.

She came out and I was about to walk out when she said, “Don’t leave me.” She looked a little panicked as though I were forsaking her. I remained with her and helped her dry her hands and arms. This may seem like a little thing, but when she washes her hands or brushes her teeth, she almost always washes her arms and, sometimes, her face. In the process she can get pretty wet.

We finished up and left the restroom before anyone else came in. Then we made our way to see Ellen. She was sleeping in her wheelchair in front of a football game on TV along with several other residents. She awoke quickly and was glad to see us.

The visit went well, but it was different that those in the past. During the past year and a half her speech has declined significantly. We could understand very little of what she said. We only picked up snatches here and there. Once in a while, she would say something in a short complete sentence. Then we wouldn’t understand anything that followed.

Ellen may have recognized the problem as well. I know she wanted to move around more than in the past. Previously, we have stayed either in her room or one of the other public spaces. This time we started out in the activities room. It wasn’t too long before she wanted to go to the main open area between five or six resident rooms on one side and an equal number on the other. From there we went back to her room. Then she wanted to go around the entire interior of the facility that consists of two other “neighborhoods” identical in design to the one in which she lives. She is wheelchair bound, and this may be her way of “walking around” the way other residents in memory care walk “around and around.” We ended up at the table where she eats her meals. It was about forty-five minutes before dinner, but she wasn’t the only resident who had taken a seat early.

Just before we left, another resident in a walker stopped by and told us she was having a bad day. She mentioned several things that had happened to her that day including losing her purse. I doubt if any of these things happened, but Kate and I sympathized with her. She seemed to appreciate that and said so when we left. We had another conversation with a resident as we entered. We had seen her on a few of our previous visits.

We were there almost two hours and around a lot of other residents as well. Sometimes I am concerned about how Kate is responding to being in a memory care facility. She could easily qualify to be in memory herself. Does she ever think about this? I don’t think so. I haven’t seen the slightest indication that she sees herself like any of the residents. Does she even understand that all the residents she sees have some form of dementia? Again, I think not. I doubt that she has a grasp of what dementia is. She knows she has problems, but I believe she still sees herself as normal. When Kate was at an earlier stage, I avoided taking her with me to visit friends in memory care. Now I don’t think she processes much about the nature of the facility itself or the residents who live there.

Despite the restroom incident, the day had gone well. Nothing happened that would make me think we should stop coming to see Ellen. I say that even though Kate can’t remember who Ellen is before we get there. While we are there, she seems to sense the connection. That, and the fact, that Ellen clearly remembers us is enough for me to continue our visits though I know we are approaching the end.

An Update on Eating Out

As I have expressed in other posts, a variety of things have played a role in how well Kate and I have gotten along through six of the seven stages of Alzheimer’s. I believe that nothing has been more important than our eating out for lunch and dinner. That has kept us socially active without having to depend on our friends. Of course, some of our eating occasions are with friends, but we almost always dine alone. There are notable exceptions like our three music nights a month at Casa Bella when we sit with two to six others. In addition, we met a couple at these music nights with whom we eat on other occasions at least once a month.

Now that she is in the last stage of Alzheimer’s I see more signs that her symptoms could ultimately be a bit of a problem with other people. For quite a long time, she has been a “messy” eater. She is even messier now. She regularly drops food on the table, the floor around her, and, of course, her clothes. When her meal includes items that she doesn’t like, she often takes them out of her mouth and puts them on the table. If we are sitting close enough, I reach over and put them on my plate, in a paper napkin, or another appropriate place.

I have gotten rather accustomed to her frequent use of her hands rather than a fork which is especially common when she eats a sandwich. She almost always takes it apart and picks up the various pieces (cheese, tomato, or meat) with her hand. Depending on the amount of sauce or other condiments, that can be messy.

At lunch on Saturday, she did something she hasn’t done before. Our server brought us a piece of cheesecake. After she placed it on the table, I asked her a question. She started to answer when I noticed that she was looking at Kate. I looked at her and saw that she had picked up the whole piece, taken a bite out of it, and placed it back on the plate. This was not a problem for either the server or me although the server was surprised. She is aware of Kate’s diagnosis and is very understanding; however, it is only recently that she has had the opportunity to witness some of her symptoms. Things like this do make me think about what might lie ahead.

There are also times when I say or do something that bothers Kate, and she snaps back at me. The other day at a restaurant she placed her sweater over the back of her chair. It apparently didn’t feel right when she leaned against it. I asked if she would like me to put it on the back of an empty chair beside us. She looked like she didn’t quite understand me, and I reached over and took the sweater from her chair. I don’t remember what she said, but she quickly gave me a sharp response as the server approached our table. I apologized to Kate and put the sweater back. It turned out that she was then embarrassed to have spoken to me like that. She had tears in her eyes and said to the server, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I want you to know that I am not usually like that.” That is very true, and I suspect the server recognized that as well. She has served us many times in the past few years and never observed anything like that before.

I believe that all our servers and the people with whom we eat are also understanding, but I wonder if there is a limit to which I should go in putting Kate in situations where some might not feel the same way. For the moment, I am optimistic that we will be able to continue eating with others for quite a while; however, I am going to be watching very carefully to sense what is best in the future.

Last night at Casa Bella we encountered an entirely different kind of situation that was a lesson learned for me. Two months ago, we learned they were sponsoring a special Italian dinner that occurred last night. It sounded like the kind of event we would enjoy, but I was concerned about two things. First, all seating was to be outside in the street in front of the restaurant. Kate is very sensitive to heat, and September can still bring hot weather. Second, I wasn’t sure about the seating. Big crowds are confusing for Kate, and I didn’t want to be seated with a group of strangers that might add to her confusion. On the other hand, I wanted to support the owners whom we have come to know the past few years. I talked with them and learned that we would be seated with the same people with whom we normally sit. I decided to take a chance and attend.

As it turned out, I wish I hadn’t. It was 90 degrees when we arrived and didn’t drop a lot during the meal though it felt better after the sun went down. The gnats were there in abundance as well. The benefit of being seated with our regular couples was offset by the noise level. The tables were under a large tent to protect from the weather, but I think that contributed to the noise. It was very difficult to converse. Everyone was asking everyone else to repeat what the other person said. Kate remained quiet except to make noises associated with gnats that periodically flew in her eyes.

Given all of this, Kate took it quite well, but I could see I had made a mistake in deciding to come. I was glad we hadn’t shown up for the cocktail hour that preceded the dinner. We were the first ones to leave shortly after finishing our meal. I have been very careful to avoid situations like this in the past. I should have done that this time.

And More Emotional Experiences

When I arrived home to relieve the sitter on Friday, Mary heard me open the door and told Kate I was home. I walked into the family room. Kate had been resting on the sofa and gotten into a sitting position when she saw me. She had a big smile on her face but immediately burst into tears. She couldn’t stop and continued until after Mary had left. I sat down with her and we hugged. She said, “I’m so glad to see you. I was so worried.” This was the way she had reacted when I returned two weeks ago. There was one big difference. She didn’t recover as quickly. Over the next thirty minutes, she continued to express how happy she was to see me. It wasn’t until we went to dinner that she had fully calmed down.

Last night Kate had a very traumatic experience involving a delusion that I had had a fight with her mother who died in 2005. The way she described it this was something that she had just overheard. She had been in bed for about an hour, so I suspected that she had had a dream. After reflecting on it, she probably had never gone to sleep. On several previous occasions, I have noticed that she has had similar experiences, but this one was definitely the most intense. She was angry with me. As I tried to calm her, she shifted her story. Then it sounded like the fighting was between her mother and father. A few minutes later, she settled into its being between our neighbors.

Several times she said she wasn’t going to talk about it anymore. Then she would continue. She kept talking about the “foul” language they were using and how sorry she felt for the children. She was so upset that she said she wanted to move out of the neighborhood. Trying to calm her, I played along as though I believed what she said and suggested that we might talk about moving in the morning. I knew that it would all be forgotten then. I also diverted her attention by talking about how fortunate we have been to have a marriage that has been free of the kind of fighting that she had observed. That seemed to work. She settled down, and we called it a night. The entire episode lasted about an hour and a half.

On the way to lunch today, I played some music. She cried during “Try to Remember.” This is a song she likes, but I don’t recall its leading to tears before. Then at lunch our server approached the table to give Kate a hug. As she did, she said, this is a day when I really need a hug. Then she proceeded to tell us that her neighbor’s dog had killed her cat this morning. That was all Kate needed to hear. She was in tears, and the server felt bad about having said anything.

It’s not just the tearful emotions that are elicited so easily. This morning as well as other times recently, Kate has responded to me with anger when I tried to help her with something that she wanted to do on her own. She is very much on edge now.

Kate’s Insecurity

Last night, Kate and I ate a sandwich at Panera. As we prepared to return home, she wanted to take her cup of iced tea with her. She started to pick it up when she asked if I would carry it for her. She said, “I don’t want to spill it.” I told her I didn’t think she would spill it but that I would be glad to carry it for her. She thanked me and said, “I just don’t want to do anything stupid.” I tried to assure her she wouldn’t, but she wouldn’t believe me.

I put her drink in the cup holder between my seat and hers. Before I backed out of the parking space, she wanted a sip of tea. She started to pick up the cup but decided against it. Again she mentioned that she didn’t want to do anything stupid. I said, “You won’t do anything stupid.” She said, “I do all the time.” Once again, I tried to boost her confidence. She dismissed what I said and said, “I could think of some things, but I can’t remember them right now.”

When we got home, she continued to be concerned about doing “stupid things.” She wanted me to tell her everything to do or, at least, ask my permission to do things like taking her shoes off and lying down on the sofa. I told her I was going to brush my teeth. She didn’t want me to leave her and said, “Just so that I can see you.” I told her I would get my toothbrush and bring it back to the family room. When I got to the bathroom, I just quickly brushed and went back to her. She hadn’t worried, but she mentioned that she felt better when I am with her, that I keep her from doing stupid things.

Because her memory is so poor it is easy to think that she doesn’t understand anything about what she is doing. This particular experience is just one of many that remind me that she understands a lot more than it may appear. I don’t think it is something that lingers. She doesn’t think about it all the time, but she definitely has some knowledge of how hard it is for her to do the simplest things. She is right that she is inept at doing many things that were previously easy tasks for her. Now everything is a challenge. The other night at Casa Bella she knocked over a full glass of water. I am sure she was embarrassed. I think the people at the other end thought I had done it, and I was glad to take the blame. In fact, it could have easily been me, but it is the kind of thing that piles on top of other experiences that let her know she does not function very well at all.

Kate’s Last Pedicure

Kate has always enjoyed manicures and pedicures, and I have periodically taken her for both since her diagnosis. Now, however, she no long remembers the procedures and the little things she is supposed to do. The last couple of times I have stayed with her the whole time just in case she needed my help. It has worked out, but her insecurity on the previous visit made me more cautious. I made an appointment yesterday afternoon.

When we entered the salon, a different person was at the reception desk, so I pulled out one of my Alzheimer’s cards and slipped it to her. Although that was in advance of any problems, it turned out to be a good thing. I walked her back to the chair to help her get seated. Existing customers were in the seats on either side of her. It turned out getting in the chair was an ordeal. That was partially due to the fact that she had to go up a high step to get into it. The other part involves her eyesight and difficulty understanding directions. She apparently couldn’t see or didn’t recognize the chair itself. Despite my efforts to direct her by putting my hand on the seat of the chair and trying to get her to face it, she struggled to understand what we were asking. I should add that the woman who was to give her the pedicure and the woman sitting in the chair to her right were also trying to instruct and guide her. Although we were all trying to help, I suspect we added a measure of confusion. During this process, Kate let out a scream that was easily heard throughout the salon. All eyes were on her. That was just the beginning.

As luck would have it, the woman next to her was a retired nurse and very understanding. She introduced herself and explained the procedures Kate experienced. That began with the warm water running into the tub at her feet. She was frightened at first. The nurse had a very soothing voice that put Kate at ease at least as much as she could in what had to be a strange situation for her. I thought that at some point she would have some sense of familiarity with the process, but that never happened.

I brought Kate’s iPad to her chair; however, I put it down on a step to her side in our effort to get her seated. She didn’t realize it was there. It wasn’t long before she wanted it. The nurse gave her a magazine. I realized she was looking for her iPad and went over and gave it to her. I think the nurse was surprised that she was able to work an iPad. I wasn’t in a position to explain that she has only minimal capability to work her puzzles and that, with some difficulty. It didn’t take long for her to see that for herself. Kate finished one puzzle but didn’t know how to get to the next one. As usual, she made her way into the store. The nurse looked over at me and said she didn’t know how to help her. I intervened and showed her.

We had been there quite a while, when I noticed that Kate and the nurse were talking. The nurse mouthed that she was looking for her “mother.” I am sure she was looking for me and just said mother. She frequently mixes gender and relationships. The nurse showed Kate where I was sitting. She waved to me, and I waved back. A little later, the nurse called me again. This time Kate had taken her feet out of the tub of water. The nurse explained that the water was to soften the skin on the bottom of her feet so that they could smooth it out. Kate didn’t understand. I went to her and explained that she needed to put her feet back in the tub. She did, but it was only a minute or two before the attendant began her work.

That was when the “fun” started. Not knowing what was to come, Kate screamed again and responded audibly while the attendant rubbed the bottom of her heal. I went back to her and helped to calm her and then went back to my seat. In a few minutes, it was time for the other foot. Once again, she was surprised by the experience. I stayed with her for a while. When she was calm again, I took my seat in the waiting area that was about twenty feet across the room and clearly visible to Kate who waved to me periodically.

Finally, it was time to leave. It turned out that getting out of the chair and descending the step was a bigger problem than getting in. Anticipating that she would need my help, I was in place when she was ready. The first problem was standing up from a sitting position. That has become increasingly difficult at home and restaurants. This was a little more frightening for her because the chair was elevated so far off the floor. Kate is very insecure about going down curbs and stairs. To her this must have seemed like jumping off a cliff. All this was accompanied by a variety of audible sounds. As with other moments during the process, all eyes were on Kate.

As we walked out the door, Kate said, “Let’s get out of here.” I think most of the other people in the salon thought of their personal experience as a treat. Far from it for Kate. In the car, I apologized for putting her in this situation and mentioned that we might go back for a manicure sometime. She quickly said, “I don’t ever want to go back there.”

The personnel and the nurse next to Kate were very understanding. I don’t know how the others took it. I only gave my Alzheimer’s cards to the receptionist and the nurse. In my haste to leave, I didn’t think to give one to the woman on the other side of Kate and ask her to pass it around. I wish that I had because I did notice soft laughter among the group. I admit that from their vantage point, it was funny, but it was a sad moment for me. It’s been almost two months since I had to discontinue her bi-weekly massages. Now the mani-pedis. I wonder what is next.

An Experiment and Unintended Consequences

The word “experiment” means a trial of some kind. For those of us with a background in research, it usually suggests a rather formalized methodology to determine the relationship among a set of “variables.” Most experiments are not of this nature. They are much less formal (and, therefore, less controlled) experiments that all of use to solve problems we face in everyday life. Caregivers do a lot of this. I am no exception. Let me tell you about an experiment I conducted two nights ago.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m concerned about Kate’s sedentary lifestyle. She doesn’t exercise, and over the past year we have become less active. Now it is getting harder for her to get out of a seat of almost any kind, especially a low one. She walks slowly as though she might be in pain. She tells me she is not feeling pain. I think she is just becoming stiff. We know that she has arthritis in her knees. I’ve been looking for ways to keep her more active physically in order to postpone the day when she needs a wheelchair.

I thought she would enjoy and benefit from some time in our spa. Over the past two years, she has shown no interest in getting in the pool or spa. It’s actually stronger than that. She has resisted the idea, and I haven’t pushed her. I decided I needed to try a different approach. Knowing that she can no longer fit in her old swimsuits, I ordered one online last week. It arrived on Friday. Now all I needed to do was find a way to get her to put it on and get in the spa.

As we arrived home from dinner Sunday night, I told her I wanted her to help me with something when we went in. She said she would. Once inside, I gave her the swimsuit. I told her I had bought it and wanted her to try it on to see if it fit. She agreed. I felt a small measure of success, but the bigger problem might be getting her in the water.

She put on the suit, and I told her I wanted to put on mine as well. I explained that I wanted to experiment with something in the spa and needed her help. She didn’t protest. Getting in the spa required care, but was not too difficult. At first, I tried to help her step down to a step about ten inches from the surface of the water. She was quite nervous. I gave up on that and suggested she sit on the edge of the spa. From there I was able to help her sit on the step and then slide over to the seated area.

Once she was in the spa she was relaxed and started talking. She loved looking around her backyard where she used to spend much of her time tending to her plants. The water was also a comfortable temperature. I showed her how she could move her legs as though she were riding a bicycle. I commented about its being an easy way to exercise her joints. She agreed but only moved her legs for a moment. We spent about an hour talking. Any number of times she said that we ought to do this more often. My experiment was working better than I hoped. I was thinking that next time I could get her to move a little more.

When we were ready to go in, I got out first with the intent of extending my hands to her and helping her get out. She was frightened again and unable to follow my instructions. I finally got her in a seated position on the step inside the spa and on top of the seating area. The problem then was her not having enough strength to get up on her own and my not having enough strength to pull her up without a little help from her. She was too frightened to do anything. I got her to roll over onto the deck of the pool. That is when I discovered how hard it is to get her up when she is flat on the floor and emotional as well. I had another idea. I thought it would be easier if I took it one step at a time. I got on my hands and knees and asked if she could do that. If so, I might be able to lift her. She couldn’t understand what I wanted her to do. I can’t remember exactly what worked, but I got her up after several tries. So much for my bright idea of the spa for exercise.

I haven’t given up totally on the idea. I think it might be easier and safer if we used the pool instead. We have four steps at the shallow end. It should be much easier for her to walk down the steps with my assistance. We could do the same on the way out. I’m going to think about it a little more. I’m not quite ready to try again.

A Rough Start Getting to Our Routine

Yesterday I woke Kate at 12:15 so that we could have lunch before picking up a church friend to attend an operetta concert in the afternoon. It was one of those mornings when she is quite confused and didn’t come around very quickly. She didn’t know anything. Who I am. Who she is. Where she was. She felt very insecure, but it was similar to the last time in that it was not a full anxiety or panic attack. Fortunately, she responded positively to me. She wanted me to hold her hand going to the bathroom and didn’t want me to leave her. Just before leaving the bathroom, I did or said something she didn’t like, and she snapped at me. Then she apologized and started to cry.

After she was dressed, she wanted to hold my hand as we walked to the kitchen to get her meds. She continued to whimper a little. She kept asking me if I were her daddy. I told her I was her husband. Each time she couldn’t believe it. When we got to the kitchen, she called me daddy and then said, “Are you my daddy?” I said, “Would you like me to be your daddy?” She responded enthusiastically that she did. I said, “I would be happy to be your daddy.” She asked if I really were. I told her the truth. She accepted that but not with enthusiasm. I believe we are going through a transition in which she often thinks of me as her father. As that happens, I will be much less likely to tell her the truth. Right now, I sense that she still wants the truth and is able to handle it. This is one more thing that demands taking it one step at a time and making an informed judgment as to what is best.

While she was taking her meds, I brought her the “Big Sister” album. She reacted the way she usually does. She commented on the smiles and the children’s eyes. Then she asked if she could take it with us. I told her she could. We took it to the restaurant where she continued to enjoy the photos until the food arrived. By that time, she was herself again. Leaving the restaurant, she said she wanted to rest as soon as we got home. This now seems an established habit. I explained that we were going to a concert. She didn’t complain.

When we arrived at the concert hall, I let Kate and our friend out and then parked the car. When I met them in the lobby, I learned that Kate felt sick. She couldn’t explain what it was. She just didn’t feel right. She seemed relieved that I was there and didn’t want me to leave. She was willing to go ahead and take a seat in the concert hall, but I decided that we should leave. It just wasn’t worth the chance. Our friend said she would leave as well. I told her I would be happy to come back for her. She didn’t want that. Just then, a mutual acquaintance walked up and spoke to us. She asked if he and his wife could take her home after the concert. He was happy to do so, and we went home. As we walked to the car, she wanted a bathroom. I asked if she could wait until we got home. She said she could. Once we were home and she had been to the bathroom, she felt better. That was when she finally got to rest and did so for two and a half hours before we went to dinner.

I think her problem was twofold. First, she was having abdominal action and was uncomfortable. Second, I think she felt insecure being with someone who appeared to be a stranger to Kate. Once I arrived in the lobby, she did not want me to leave her, not even to get the car. When we got home, it was the same. I held her hand all the way to the bathroom. She didn’t want me to leave her.

She was fine from the time we went to dinner until we went to bed. Having heard stories from other caregivers, I suspect we might see more days like this. The good news is that our track record for late in the day is quite good. I only remember one evening when she had a panic attack. Otherwise, it has been the most consistently positive part of our day. I often wonder if that is because it seems to be the most relaxed time of day.

Delusions and Hallucinations

A friend of mine recently asked if Kate ever had any hallucinations. I told him she has, but they had not been frequent. I also mentioned that they had not been disturbing ones. When I answered, I wasn’t thinking about the technical definition of hallucinations. I was really thinking about delusions. They are often confused. According to the National Institute of Health “Hallucinations involve hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling things that are not really there.” “Delusions are false beliefs that the person thinks are real.”

The closest thing to a hallucination Kate has experienced is deja vu. For years this was a very common experience. Over the past year or so it has almost disappeared. This happened most commonly in restaurants. She often pointed to other customers and would say something like “See that couple over there. They always sit in that same place.” That might have been so in a restaurant we frequented on a regular basis, but she had these experiences in places where we had never been before. It also happened in hotels where we hadn’t stayed before.

Although rare, she has also had experiences that I would definitely call delusions. These have usually been a belief that someone was coming to our house for a visit or that we were leaving the house on a trip. On arriving or leaving our home, she has often thought our house was a hotel, a B&B, or a former home in Texas.

When she got up a few weeks ago, she appeared anxious and asked me if she had to to go to a meeting. I told her she didn’t have any obligations that morning, and she was greatly relieved. That was all there was to it. Something happened yesterday that was quite different.

When I got home to relieve the sitter, I walked into the family room. As I did, Mary told Kate she would see her next week. Kate looked frightened and said, “You’re not coming back?” Mary repeated that she would be back next week. Kate said, “Good, because I need you.” I was surprised at the emotion she expressed. She may have thought Mary was leaving her alone right then.

I walked over to Kate. She was very relieved and said, “I’m so glad to see you.” I sat down beside her and put my arm around her. She repeated, “I’m so glad to see you.” Then she added, “I didn’t know where you were. I thought maybe I had done something wrong.” I said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. I just went to the Y and picked up some prescriptions at the pharmacy. Then I had coffee with Mark Harrington. And now I’m going to take you out for pizza.” She was still emotional and said, “That sounds nice. When do you want to go?” I told her to let me put away the prescriptions, and we could leave. When I had done that, I went back to her. She was lying on the sofa. I asked if she would like to get a pizza. She said she wanted to rest a few minutes before leaving. I kneeled down beside her and told her I was glad to see her. She continued to be emotional and teary. I told her I loved her. With a sad expression on her face she said, “I don’t even know your name.” I said, “I’m Richard.” Her eyes lit up with delight, and she started crying. Through the tears she said, “I knew that. I just couldn’t think of it.”

That didn’t end the emotions she was feeling. She continued to say she thought she had done “something awful.” It went on for at least thirty minutes until after we were seated for pizza at our nearby pizza place. I was surprised that her memory allowed her to remember for so long, but feelings last much longer. As she talked, I tried to concentrate on comforting her and didn’t push her to explain. Normally, she can’t explain the way she feels and doesn’t want to try. Not this time. She wanted to explain what she was feeling. She said she didn’t know what it was, but it was terrible.

After we were seated at the restaurant, she gradually began to calm down. Several times I said, “You seem more relaxed now.” She said, “I’m getting there.” I said, “It takes time when you’ve had an experience like this.” She agreed. Before our pizza arrived, it was over. I’m glad we escaped anything more serious than this but wonder what else we may encounter in the days ahead.


I checked on Kate about 9:30. She was still in bed, but awake, and looking a little confused. I walked over to her and ask if she were getting up. She said, “I don’t know.” I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was confused. She seemed a bit calm, but she was similar to other times she has had an anxiety attack. I got into bed with her and asked if I could hold her. She nodded but didn’t say anything. I told her my name, that I was her husband, and would take care of her. I also said, “You are Kate Creighton. You and I have been married 55 years.” Not wanting to overwhelm her, in bits and pieces I also told her the names of her parents, her brother, and our children. I also mentioned our courtship and my working at the funeral home. Nothing clicked. Periodically, she asked my name and hers.

Then I put on some soft music. She said, “I like the music.” She didn’t say anything more and went back to sleep. I got out of the bed and told her that I would be back in a few minutes. I let Kevin know that I was going to be with her a while longer. It is approaching 10:30. She seems to be sleeping soundly. I have turned up the volume on the music. I’ll give her a little more time to sleep. Then I will see if I can gently wake her up.