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.

No Serious Consequences, Just One of those Little Things

Last week while we were in Memphis, Jesse took us to a restaurant located in an old gas station. As we were leaving, Kate wanted to stop at the restroom. The rest of us waited in the reception area. It is not unusual for her to take a long time, so I didn’t worry when she didn’t come out in, what for most people, would be a reasonable time. In a few minutes, another customer approached the door. Discovering it was locked, she wited for her to come out. She got tired and went in the men’s room. Finally, I decided to check on her. I knocked on the door and asked if everything was all right. It was difficult to hear her through the door. She began to jiggle the door knob. I heard her say it wouldn’t open. I saw that it was the type of knob on many home bathroom doors. It had a pinhole in the center of the knob to allow a sharp object to go through and unlock it. I went to an employee who gave me a spindle that I thought would work. I was on the way back to the women’s room when I saw Jesse and Kate. It turns out that Jesse had been able to communicate to Kate and explain how to unlock the door.

We have a similar lock on a laundry room door that leads to our garage. Kate often locks it when we come home at night. In addition, she obviously locked the door when she went in. For this reason, I was a little surprised that she couldn’t figure out how to unlock it, but this is a good example of the kinds of inconsistencies that occur with great regularity. It is also a good example of my own misjudgment in not trying to explain to her how she could unlock it. My first thought was what can I do to get the door open. I believe I was influenced by my past experience in which explaining things can be very difficult. Jesse came at this with a fresh eye. She did the straightforward thing. She asked Kate if she could see the “thing” in the center of the knob. Kate said she could. Jesse asked her to turn it. She did. It was that simple.

It is always interesting to me how at ease Kate is under somewhat trying circumstances like this. I have lost her a number of times over the past few years. She has never panicked but responded very calmly to the situation. In this particular case, one might have thought she would bang on the door or call for help. She did neither. I’m just glad that the restrooms were right off the reception area where we were waiting. If we had remained at our table, we might have let more time pass. Then she might not have been as calm.

Our Clothes Saga

This may say more about me than about Kate, but I believe that issues involving clothes have been among the most frequent issues with which I have dealt during her 7-year journey with Alzheimer’s. In the early years, the problem centered on the fact that she didn’t hang up or put away her clothes. At one point, we had three bedrooms with her clothes stacked on the beds, furniture, and floor. For quite a while, I didn’t say or do anything to change her behavior. It was frustrating for her and for me. She couldn’t find anything to wear.

At the same time, she was eating more than she used to and gaining weight. That meant a lot of her clothes no longer fit. My response to that was to buy new clothes. What I didn’t count on (but should have), was their getting lost as quickly as the old ones. During one year, I bought her almost 20 pair of pants. She still couldn’t find something to wear. (Yes, I’m a slow learner.)

I decided the way to tackle the problem was to take pictures of the new clothes. I thought that would at least enable me to find them more easily. It worked for her tops, but her pants looked alike to me. They were either black, tan, or brown. I still had a hard time identifying the new (the ones that fit) from the old (the ones that didn’t). Gradually, I got better at identifying the different labels and sizes.

That prompted me to start getting rid of the clothes that didn’t fit. As Kate tried these clothes and tossed them aside, I would come behind her and take them to my closet. Little by little I gave them to our housekeeper whose church collected old clothes for those who needed them.

My problem was still not solved. Clothes were still scattered among our two guest rooms and a bedroom we call “Kate’s room.” That’s when I decided to reorganize her closet. I began to locate clothes that fit and started hanging them up. I put all of her tops on the left as you enter her closet and arranged them by color. On the right, I put all of her pants, also arranged by color. That has proven to be useful to me, and at one point, I think it helped her as well. I’m not so sure now.

To make my system work demands that I regularly pick up clothes that she has thrown on the floor or furniture and replace them on hangers in the closet. I frequently do this in the morning before she gets up. That way I can make sure that there are things she can wear that day.

One day a strange thing happened. Kate must have gotten so frustrated with clothes scattered everywhere that she started picking up her clothes and putting them in her closet. That was about two years ago. Since then, she has done a remarkably good job of not letting the rooms return to their previous unkempt appearance. That does not mean that she puts her clothes away after she wears them although she often does. Typically, she takes off her clothes in our bedroom and throws them on the floor or the chair on her side of the bed. They often stay there a day or so before I pick them up and put them away. At any rate, we do much better keeping her clothes straight and having clothes that fit.

Another clothes issue has been keeping them clean. There have been two separate parts of this problem. The first involves what she wears when she works in the yard. For three years or so after her diagnosis, she continued to wear her “yard clothes” when she was working outside. As her Alzheimer’s progressed, she started wearing her “good” clothes to work in. That was, and is still, not a problem for her, but it was for me. I wanted to know that she had clothes that she could wear to the various places we go on any given day. I didn’t want them messed up. That was especially true if they were brand new. I responded to this by giving up my efforts to get her to wear her yard clothes. That means her clothes get more messed up than I would like.

The second aspect of the clean clothes problem is keeping them clean with ordinary wear. It seems that it is next to impossible for her to wear something for even a short time during the day without getting it soiled. Almost every time she brushes her teeth she gets toothpaste on her clothes. When we are eating, she often drips food or drink on herself.

One of the things I have done that seems to have worked with these issues is to buy multiple pairs of LL Bean pants with an elastic waistband. I keep them on hand in different colors, and I can easily wash them at home. They have helped me a lot. Nowadays, I buy virtually all her clothes online. That has been a great convenience, and I have spent less money than what I was spending going to the local dress shops where she had shopped for years.

There are still other issues involving clothes that come up. They are ones that I simply accept. One of those started within the past year. For some reason, she started wearing 2 tops with her clothes, not always but most of the time. I know that layering can be a trendy thing, but Kate seems to pick tops that don’t match or complement each other. For example, this morning we attended church for the first time in quite a while. I have regretted this because we have both been so active in the church for as long as we have been members and believe it is an important connection to maintain. At any rate, I picked out something appropriate for her to wear. It is a very nice heavy knit shell and sweater combination and was pricier than things I usually buy. After we returned home from lunch, I suggested that we brush our teeth, change our clothes, and go to the Barnes & Noble Café. She liked that idea except that she didn’t see why she needed to change. I told her she was a little dressed up for a casual afternoon at Barnes & Noble. What I didn’t say was that I didn’t want her to get her good clothes messed up. She agreed to change and went back to her room to do so. When we she was ready to go, I mentioned that she hadn’t changed clothes. She said, “Oh,” and once again returned to her room. When she came back, she still had not changed. She had taken off the outer sweater but was wearing the shell with a casual tee shirt over it. The tail of the shell extends below that of the tee shirt. She was still wearing the same slacks and the shoes she had worn to church. I decided not to push it.

It turns out that she also was carrying two additional tops. She had taken one of them with us when we went to Panera the other day and simply put it on the table. She brought both of them with her in the car and took them into Barnes & Noble. She put one on the table and dropped the other on the floor.

Considering everything, I find that we have fewer problems with clothes now than in the past. I think there are three things that have made the difference. First, some of my organization has helped. Second, Kate has been more compliant when I suggest she wear something different. Finally, things are better because I don’t work hard to achieve my own goals regarding her clothes. I mostly let her wear whatever she wants. That is probably the most sensible thing I could do.

Difficulty Using the iPad

October 14, 2017

I have mentioned several times that Kate is having difficulty when she works on jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. At first, she tended to think there was something wrong with the iPad itself. Over time she has come to realize that “operator error” is involved.

The problem she experiences is that hits a button on the screen that takes her to options to buy more puzzles. She seems to recognize this is not something she wants to do. Her initial response was to close the iPad and put it down on the table when we are at Panera. Then I ask if I can help. She doesn’t answer. I pick up the iPad and get her back to the puzzle she was working on or a new puzzle if the problem occurred after completing her puzzle.

For months, I have encouraged her to simply ask me to help, and I would be glad to do so. This morning, for the very first time, it appears that she may be giving in to that. It occurred when she encountered a slightly different problem. She had almost completely finished a puzzle when she couldn’t see any more pieces. That was because there is a button at the bottom of the screen that removes all the unused pieces from the board when you hit it, something she had obviously done. When you hit it the next time, the pieces reappear. I showed her the button. Then I said, “But I want you to feel free to simply ask me to fix the problem if it happens again.” She said, “I will.” I said, “That makes me feel good. It makes me feel needed.” She smiled and went back to her puzzle.

I know that this doesn’t stop her from incurring any future problems. I do hope that it is one small step in strengthening her view of me as a willing helper when she encounters problems.

A Bad Experience with the New Sitter

As I probably conveyed in my earlier posts, I have been elated over the new sitter who has been with us twice. Today she failed us. I had planned two meetings this afternoon specifically because we would have a sitter. The first was with my friend, Mark, who is serving as an editor of my journal and uploading it to my blog. The second was a meeting I had arranged three weeks ago with our accountant.

Kate was tired this morning. She got up and had some juice and went back to bed. When she was still sleeping at 10:00, I was not worried and decided to let her sleep as long as she wanted. By 11:00, I felt I had to wake her up in order to permit her time to get ready for lunch and for us to go to lunch before we came back to the house in time to meet the sitter at 1:00. I try not to rush Kate and have found that this prevents problems. I checked on Kate shortly after 11:30. She wasn’t ready and asked me not to rush her. I went back one more time which irritated her. We finally got to lunch at 12:15. We had our meal at 12:28. I had to rush her to eat, and we left for home at 12:50. We were home at 12:55.

The sitter had arrived on time on her previous two visits. Today she was late. When she hadn’t arrived by 1:15, I called the agency. They tried to reach her unsuccessfully. I told them I could easily cancel the first meeting but that I really need to make the second one. They arranged for a replacement who arrived about 2:20. That gave me a short time to brief her before I left.

Kate had gone directly outside after we returned home from lunch. When I saw her working in the driveway about the time the sitter was to arrive at 1:05, I asked her to move to another location because I didn’t want to risk the sitter’s driving in the driveway in a hurry and hit her. Kate decided to come inside and got in the bed. She was resting when the replacement arrived. After giving her a short briefing, I got Kate up and introduced them to each other. Kate was just a little big groggy and not as awake as I would have liked, but I had to go. Kate decided she would go outside and was headed there when I left.

When I returned close to 5:00, the sitter was in the family room. Kate was in our bedroom working on her iPad. I thought that was fine but was a little disappointed because she had remained in the family room with the previous sitter even though Kate was resting on the sofa. It made me think that she had not been enthusiastic about the new sitter. After the sitter left, I was eager to hear what Kate thought about her. I went back to the bedroom where she had picked up her iPad. I said, “She seems nice.” She said, “Very nice.” That was all we said, but that was enough. I had feared that she might have had a negative impression. Even if she was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped, it was a positive response and definitely not negative.

I actually like the new sitter. Her name is Mary, and she is older than the one she replaced. Her husband is retired from the UT Medical Center. She has a daughter in college and a daughter in high school. She has been working for the agency since 2004. She is scheduled to return on Friday, but she is not available on Mondays at all. That means we may end up with at least two different sitters, one for Monday and another for Wednesday and Friday.

I will call the agency in the morning to discuss where we go from here, but it was a great disappointment that the original sitter did not show up. The agency told me that they would have to let her go for that. I have mixed feelings about that because I really liked her, but I also understand that the agency cannot accept “no shows.” It is a good illustration of what happens when trust is broken. I hope we can soon work out the kinks we are running into.

Salivation Problem

This afternoon Kate and I went to a movie, Columbus, at The Flick. This is the second time at there this week. Two days ago is when I made the entry about her being angry with me over not recognizing her salivation issue that lasted for the entire movie. Today I went with a minor concern over whether or not she would like the film, not thinking about salivation. After picking up our tickets and ordering soft drinks, we started to enter the theater when Kate asked for a napkin. I went back to the lobby and picked up several of them knowing that one would never be enough.

We went through the introductory video with recognition of the donors and some advertising as well as the previews. She used one napkin and asked for another about the time the film started. That left me with only one. At that point I knew she would not have enough to get through the movie, but I didn’t worry because she doesn’t usually have napkins throughout a movie. Today I was more sensitive to her salivation than two days ago. She was obviously struggling. She burped out loud a number of times and had used up her last napkin. I was getting concerned about burping and the possibility that it was loud enough to be annoying to others. I asked her if she thought we should leave. She nodded. We got up and left. As we walked to the car, I asked if she could explain what she was feeling. I asked if it seemed just like ordinary saliva. She said it was. I then asked if it was coming up from the throat or within her mouth. With her hands, she indicated that it was coming up from the throat. I then asked if she were able to swallow the saliva. She tried and was successful. I told her to keep doing that and see if that helped. She did. I didn’t say anything more.

She continued to have the problem all the way home but did not burp again. She did stop swallowing the saliva and kept a napkin to her mouth until we reached home. When we got home, she wanted to know if she could work outside. I told her that would be fine. As she is accustomed to doing now, she asked if she could use the clippers. Then she asked me where she could go. I told her she could choose to start any place she would like. She said the thought she would start out front and looked to see if that were all right. I told her that would be fine. We were now back to normal.

I should comment on what I mean by normal. It still appears that she doesn’t swallow her saliva most of the time. As I noted a week or two ago, she does periodically stop. I suspect that when for some unknown reason she thinks about the salivation, she stops swallowing. In the case of the movie, she is very inactive and, perhaps, that heightens her awareness of salivation. Then she has a reaction like many I have witnessed before. The interesting thing is that she uses paper products to wipe away the saliva all the time; however, she doesn’t always have the negative emotional response that she had on Wednesday and today. I don’t yet have an explanation for that.