Kate and I went to dinner and a movie tonight. The latter is a rarity for us now. I have not been scheduling anything at night beyond dinner for several months now. This time, however, The Flick, our favorite theater, had a Thai film that started at 7:00. It sounded intriguing, and I thought it was worth a try. During dinner, I was thinking about how well the visit with the sitter had gone. I also felt I should add another journal entry specifically about how good-natured Kate has been today. Right now I want to make it clear that she seemed remarkably agreeable and at ease. It was not only how she received the sitter but also how she responded to my help on getting her clothes to wear out this evening.
What I didn’t anticipate was how radically her mood would change as we left the movie. On the way to the car she mentioned how miserable she had been in the movie. I thought that was because she didn’t like the movie. It turned out that it was the result of not having paper napkins or some other paper product to Wipe the saliva from her mouth. I discovered this when I inquired as to why she had been so miserable. She let me know it was because she didn’t have any napkins. Then I made the fatal error of telling her that I wish she had told me because I had taken several napkins into the theater with me just in case she needed them. To my surprise that angered her because I had not offered them to her. I told her that I didn’t recognize that she had been miserable. She said I must not care for her very much if I didn’t notice her misery. I gave her a couple of napkins. “Too little, too late.”
In the car on the way home, she said in a very angry tone of voice, “And I have never exaggerated.” I told her I hadn’t said that. She said, “You certainly did just a little while ago.” I let it go because I could tell this was one of those instances in which she had had some kind of misperceptions (delusion) that I had done so, and it would do no good to argue. Later at home she expressed the strongest anger I have ever heard from her. Unprompted, she said, “I have never exaggerated about anything.” I told I knew that she never exaggerated. She didn’t say anything for a while. My impression was that she had gotten emotional over her salivation. She was burping and making other noises. In a few minutes, she came out of the bathroom with some toilet tissue that she was holding to her mouth. I told her I wished there were something I could do to help her. She looked at me and spoke in a gentle kind voice, “Oh, I’m fine.” She seems to be back to normal right now.
It has been a good while since I mentioned anything about Kate’s Deja vu experiences. I am only doing so now to indicate that they still continue. For example, as we sat at a stop light coming to Panera this morning, a man walked across the street in front of us. Kate said, “There he goes again.” She also continues to see people she “remembers” at the restaurants we frequent. I typically say, “So you’ve seen him/her/them before.”
Speaking of things that continue, Kate is still not swallowing her saliva, and I have not heard from her doctor’s office since I left an email message for the doctor. I have called the office and left a message for the doctor’s nurse. She called me about 3-4 weeks ago. I explained my attempts to contact the doctor. Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to the doctor who started her practice. In that letter I told him about the events that had transpired since the end of June. I have not heard from him or Kate’s doctor. Something is really wrong with respect to communication. I am only glad that it does not appear to be a significant problem. It was a year ago this fall that I first mentioned the problem to Kate’s original doctor who is no longer in the practice.
I have often said that we worry about lots of things that never happen while we are surprised by things that we never anticipated. That certainly applies to the first full visit of our sitter for Kate.
Kate went outside about ten minutes before the sitter was to arrive at 1:00. I told her that I was going to the Y and asked if she remembered Brittany who came to our house the other day. She didn’t remember at all. I would have been surprised if she had. Then I told her that Brittany would be here while I was gone. Kate asked why she was coming. I told her what I had said before her visit on Wednesday. I told her that I was just feeling bad about leaving her alone when I go out. Then without any coaxing she said okay. I was thrilled. It was so much easier than I had expected. I had worried about something that didn’t happen. At the same time, I interpreted this as another indication of the progression of her illness. I told her I wanted to give her a hug before I left. I did so and told her I loved her. I held her tight and tears welled up in my eyes. We kissed. Then she went outside to her yard.
The sitter arrived a little late (1:06 instead of 1:00). I started to tell her that I was a stickler for time, but I decided not to make anything of it. I could just wait and see if it is a habit. Kate was working in a flower bed in the back yard. I thought that worked out well so that I could show Brittany around the house and tell her a little more about my expectations. I reminded her that Kate has no short-term memory and would not remember her. I also told her that I thought the most important thing she could do was to make friends with Kate, “just get acquainted with her and also let her know more about yourself.” I told her that Kate could stay outside as long as she likes but to keep an eye on her.
It was 1:30 before I left for the Y. I left there at 3:45 and went to a Panera store in a different location from the one we usually visit. I did so to buy a gift card for the sitter to use if they went there sometime while I was gone. It was almost 4:30 when I got home. Brittany was sitting in the family room watching TV. She told me Kate was still outside. I looked and noticed that she was in almost the same place as when I left. That is the longest Kate has spent outside since the spring when the weather was cooler. Today is one of the most pleasant days we have had.
I went to the bedroom to take my gym clothes out of the bag and put them in the clothes hamper. Then I went to the closet and opened my top drawer to return the Y membership card that I had taken out of the drawer right before I left for the Y. I noticed that the top drawer was in more disarray than usual. I can’t claim that it is usually or ever neat, but I know where things are and can see them pretty easily. At first, I wondered if I could have messed up the arrangement of things in the draw that much when I took the Y card out. Then I opened the top draw to the right of the one where I keep my keys, wallet, and some cards. When I opened that drawer, I immediately saw that the contents were very differently arranged than usual. I use a microfiber cloth to clean my glasses. I keep it on top of the other things. It is a good size cloth and covers almost the full width of the drawer. I could only see a trace of it under several envelopes and cards. It was obvious that someone had gone through the contents. The last time I opened the drawer was yesterday morning. I went into the family room where Brittany was watching TV. I asked if she was sure that Kate had not come inside while I was gone. She said she was. Then I asked if she could have gone into two of my dresser drawers. She said she hadn’t. I didn’t push it. I didn’t expect her to say she had. It was still about 15 minutes before time for her to leave. I told her she could go. Then I went back to the bedroom to see if there were any other unusual things. The only thing I noticed was that a top drawer to Kate’s dresser was pulled out slightly. I think Kate has completely forgotten about having anything in it, and I have never opened that drawer at all.
I can’t be sure that Brittany was the one who got into the dresser drawers. It is possible that Kate had done it. I just think that is very unlikely. I have known her to go into one of the other drawers that has socks in it, but not the top two drawers. Despite not being sure that Brittany did it, I just didn’t feel comfortable having her back again. I called the agency immediately. They apologized and jumped right on a replacement for Monday. They seemed very pleased with this person who has worked with them a while. They said that everyone has liked her, and the person for whom she had been carring had died and would probably be available on a permanent basis. I shall look forward to meeting her on Monday.
I am still in a quandary concerning Kate’s salivation problem. I have new information that gives me another slant on things but no solution. Yesterday at lunch and again at dinner, Kate had the “reflux/salivation” problem. At dinner, as she was trying to calmly wait it out, she said, “There it goes again. I asked her what she was talking about. She told me, “A hiccup.” I was surprised at the answer because I wasn’t hearing any noise that would suggest a hiccup. That led to my asking, “Do you mean that it was like a hiccup, or did you really have a hiccup?” She told me she really had the hiccups.
To me this really sheds a different light on the situation. Even though I have felt she wasn’t showing clear signs of reflux, I have given her omeprazole and Gascon which are intended to address reflux. No wonder they haven’t stopped the problem. I noticed something else last night. She had only taken only one or, possibly, two bites of food before encountering the problem. That alone made me question whether it is reflux.
As was the case on Sunday night, Kate went to bed after taking her evening medications. She seemed rather calm and went right to sleep. She slept well and is fine this morning. That makes me wonder if the hiccups induce some measure of anxiety that makes it hard to stop it.
The real question is what is causing the hiccups. I did an online search about it. Although hiccups are an annoyance, it doesn’t appear that they represent a serious medical issue. I noticed some of the old home remedies for hiccups. I got her to hold her breath as long as she could. I also got her to drink some water. Those didn’t work.
This morning I sent another message to her doctor telling him about the hiccups. Maybe he will have a thought about it.
Now I am wondering if the salivation and the hiccups could be a result of a common cause, or are they unrelated. It seems to me they are different issues altogether. I say that because she seems to have the salivation at all times of the day. The hiccups only seem to appear at meal time.
Kate and I just returned from a local theater where we left another performance at intermission. This is only the second time we have ever left a performance. Yesterday’s Live in HD at the Met was the first. The interesting thing is that they had something in common. Both were farces, something that Kate does not enjoy. In each instance, they were “bedroom” farces. I do enjoy farces when they are done well, and yesterday’s and today’s performances were quite good. The Met, of course, was especially good. Neither was good from Kate’s perspective.
This makes three performances in three days that she didn’t care for, and I know she couldn’t follow. I can’t help believing that it also may be a sign that Kate’s further decline. I don’t intend to immediately discontinue trying to find things that she will like, but I will be more careful in my selection of things we attend.
I must admit that this also has an impact on the way I feel about the way things are going. Right now I am feeling a bit discouraged. It is interesting that this occurs the day before I make my first public presentation about being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s. I had been a little concerned that I was going to be overly optimistic. I wonder if this will cause me to be more balanced.
When I hadn’t heard from Kate to pick her up from her PEO meeting, I drove over to the house where the meeting was held. I waited for about 40 minutes Then she came out to the street with two of her friends. I wasn’t sure whether she had arranged for one of them to take her home. I started the car and moved up to where she was entering the street. She got in the car with me as though we had arranged it along. In the car I asked her if she had planned to call me. She said yes. That may have been the case. I’ll never know.
When I had dropped her off earlier, I gave her my business card with my cell number written on it. She was offended. I was just remembering that the last time she was confused.
She seemed tired on the way home. I asked her how the meeting went. She said, “Fine.” She was not talkative. I didn’t push it.
She came home and rested for about an hour before we went for haircuts. She was tired on the way home and rested for another hour before getting up for us to go to dinner and a play at the Bijou. She dressed in something unusually casual. She told me that I had told her she could wear anything she wanted because we wouldn’t see anyone we know. I told her I couldn’t guarantee that and that we were going to Bijou. When I said that, she immediately decided she was too casual and has gone to change.
This morning Kate has her monthly PEO meeting. Last night when I mentioned it to her, she groaned. I recall that she has shown less enthusiasm about going to PEO over the past 6-12 months, but this is the first time that her response made it sound like a chore. A few minutes ago I got back from my morning walk. I went into her room to remind her that this was her PEO day. She groaned again saying, “I know.” I said, “You’ve always enjoyed going.” She went on to say that she wasn’t enjoying it the way she used to. Then I went back to my computer to see if this is a day when they have lunch. It turns out that it is. I went back to Kate and told her this was a day when they are having a lunch at the home of the hostess. She said, “That’s even worse.”
For some time I have felt that there has been a change in the way she fits in with the group. Sometimes she is waiting outside for me to pick her up. Typically she would remain in the house socializing until I arrived. She also hasn’t appeared to have enjoyed the meeting. They have taken in several new members in the past few years. They have also lost a few that she really liked. I suspect Kate is feeling like she is a stranger in her club. She doesn’t know the new people, and she can’t remember all the older members. I feel sorry for her. I am especially concerned because it would be the loss of another social contact that could be good for her. On the other hand, if she isn’t enjoying herself, why keep it up.
This morning Kate was still sleeping/resting in bed when I reminded her that this is the morning of our monthly Y breakfast. She seemed very groggy. I told her she did not need to go, but she got up. In a few minutes the called for me. When I got to her, she said, “I don’t have anything to wear.” I gave her 2 pair of black slacks which she immediately took to her room. In a minute or two she came into the kitchen and asked if we were going somewhere this morning. I told her we were going to the Y breakfast. She again said she didn’t have anything to wear. I told her I had given her 2 pair of slacks. She asked where they were. I told her I had given them to her. She got into our bed and said they were probably on the bed in her bedroom. I checked. That is where they were. I gave them to her. In a few minutes, she came back and asked where we were going. I told her again. She told me she thought she would stay home. I told her that would be fine. I reminded her that our housekeeper would be coming around 8:30 and that the Robinsons would be here around 11:15. She groaned and got into the bed again. She asked what she could wear. I told her she had the 2 pair of slacks I have given her and I also had a pair of cream colored slacks we had recently bought. She asked that I put them on a chair in our bedroom.
When I got home from breakfast she was still in bed. About an hour before the Robinsons were scheduled to arrive, I told her it was time to get up. She asked what she could wear. I got the cream colored slacks and gave them along with a top she had worn for the first time yesterday although we had bought it a year or so ago. It was nice one and still had the tags. When she came out dressed she wasn’t wearing the top I had given her. She couldn’t remember that I had given it to her or where she had put it and asked me to find it. I did so. What disturbed me most about all of this was how upset Kate had gotten. She was just so confused and could see it herself or she wouldn’t have asked for my help with her clothes. What I sense is that when she looks at her clothes, she just sees a lot of “stuff.” Nothing specific jump out at her. It is overwhelming, and she doesn’t know what to do. It is so very sad. I am always hurt to see her like this, and it is getting worse. Clothes have been a central issue for us from way back, but now it is continually leading to greater frustration for her and for me.
As it turned out, the day went well. I haven’t had a chance to communicate with the Robinsons since they left, but I suspect they did not see much if any difference in Kate from the last time we were together. We had a good lunch and good conversation at the restaurant and at home. The day ended beautifully. We had dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. When we got home, I asked her if she would like to watch one episode of a BBC series I had recorded. She said she would rather relax, got her iPad, and sat in the family room working puzzles until a few minutes ago.
I can’t remember if I reported that I found her computer late Saturday. I had been considering buying her a new one but decided to make a more thorough search of the house before doing so. I found it in a corner of her room behind a table with the printer on it. I have a hard time believing she had put it there. I think Libby must have done that 2-3 weeks ago. I had thought Kate was simply losing interest in the computer (that may be correct) but now I am wondering if she just didn’t know where it was. I charged it and put it where she would see it. I wanted to see if she had remembered it was missing because she was very disturbed that she might have left it at Panera’s. I haven’t seen her using it since she has had it back. It may be that she is losing interest in it meaning that it is becoming more difficult for her to use.
From my standpoint the big issue we are facing is Kate and her clothes. She is turning to me to help when she can’t find anything to wear, but it is hard to prevent the problem. I knew this was coming, but it is a little sooner than I thought it would be.
Kate and I got to Panera a little later than usual today (11:15 am). She had been quite bored and down this morning before coming. As I mentioned in my previous post, she has not been using her computer in the past few days, perhaps a week, and she hasn’t spent but very little time in the yard. That has left the iPad as her only source of activity.
I told her that we could come to Panera and then go to lunch and then visit a member of our Sunday school class, who is now living in a dementia unit at local facility. She accepted my suggestion without enthusiasm.
The funny, and pleasing, thing is that once we arrived at Panera, and she was seated at Panera, she smiled and told me that she felt better. We have now been here for an hour. She has been engaged with her jigsaw puzzles on the iPad. It is unusual, but she hasn’t suggested that I get her anything else to eat beyond the normal blueberry muffin that I ordered when we first arrived. This seems to suggest that she got a lift simply by getting out of the house.
I had planned to call a friend whose wife has Alzheimer’s about our getting together this afternoon. We have met before, but it has been a long time. Now I am hesitant to schedule anything until I feel comfortable that Kate is all right. These are the kinds of challenges one faces. I am in that in between time when Kate is not ready for a companion to stay with her, and I feel the need to be with her as much as possible.
Kate finally decided the new computer is not for her. The big factor is the size of the screen. It is to small for editing pictures. I have spent hours getting everything on the new computer. Tomorrow I will spend less time taking things off and preparing to return it to Dell. I may explore giving it to a grandchild first, but I think Kevin’s children are so used to the Apple that going to a PC would not be appealing to them.
Once again, Kate was in bed quite early last night – around 7:30. She did not seem especially depressed, but I think her being tired is related to her discouragement. This morning she left a pot boiling on the stove. It had a peach in it. She was intending to loosen the skin to remove it but forgot about it. I could tell this was another blow for her. She just keeps running into things that make her feel she can’t do anything right. It, of course, saddens me as well. This is just a further indication of the changes that are taking place.