Late Night and Early Morning Activity

Kate continues to exhibit a variety of unusual behaviors. One involves her sleep. Yesterday, for the third or fourth time in a row, she was awake rather early. That has altered my routine of taking a morning walk and listening to audiobooks. In fact, it started Wednesday night when she awoke at 11:40 and wanted to go to the bathroom. That is a rare event at this time of the night. After using the toilet, she wanted to brush her teeth. Then she decided to wash her face. Those two frequently go together. In the process, she used one hand towel and four washcloths that I took to the laundry room for washing yesterday. It was 12:30 before I got her back to bed.

She was awake again at 5:10 and wanted to know what she should do. I told her it was early and she should go try to sleep a little longer. She asked about “the others.” I told her there was no one else here but the two of us. She asked where we were. I told her we were in our house in Knoxville. We circled through this same conversation three or four times. Then I gave her a 5 mg melatonin. Not long after that, she was asleep.

I got up at 5:50. Just as I was finishing breakfast, she started to get up. I went to her. She was ready to get up for the day. After using to the toilet and brushing her teeth, she started giving herself a sponge bath. I suggested she take a shower. She really didn’t know what to do and made no attempt to resist.

I have been getting her to use the shower wand recently, but getting started is always confusing for her. I ended up getting in the shower with her, fully clothed. (When we redid the bathroom two years ago, we enlarged the shower to easily accommodate a wheel chair. That gives me enough room to help her without getting too wet.) After I thought she had things under control, I started to step out. She wanted me to stay in order to make sure she was doing things the right way. Then she agreed to let me stand outside the shower in case she needed my help.

After the shower, we went through our drying ritual. We worked together to get much of the water off before she steped out of the shower. Then we adjourned to bedroom where I placed another towel over the chair on my side of the bed. She sits on it while I dry her feet and the lower part of her legs. I finish with the hair dryer. She likes this process, and I often joke by saying something like, “We’re glad to have you at Richard’s Spa today.” She is usually very relaxed after I finish and wants to lie down a little while. This was one of those times.

I let her rest for at least an hour and a half. Then I got her up to go with me to a doctor’s appointment. She was sleeping soundly, but I was able to get her up without too much difficulty. She was in a good mood though not excited about going with me to see my doctor.

Knowing that we would eat lunch later than usual, I was concerned that she would get hungry. I put a breakfast bar in the pocket of my sweater before leaving the house, but she never said a word about being hungry. It was 1:45 before we arrived at the restaurant. The place was almost empty when we arrived. As a result, we had more time for socializing with the manager on duty as well as a couple of our regular servers. Kate and I both enjoyed the meal and our conversation.

Kate wanted to rest as soon as we got home and did so for about an hour. Then we spent another forty-five minutes with Charlotte’s Web. She was still a little tired. Several times I asked if she would like me to stop reading, but she wanted me to go on. Finally, I stopped when it was time to get ready for opera night at Casa Bella. Everything was going well.

Change and Adaptation

Like most people, I tend to look for explanations for why “things happen.” I think that is part of our natural curiosity. In addition, I have spent a career looking for reasons that people do what they do, why they change, and what they might do in the future. Since Kate’s diagnosis, I have tried to understand everything that is happening as well how to prevent and solve problems. The most important thing I have learned is how difficult it is to know what is coming next and why.

I’m thinking about this while at Panera. It’s 8:37, and we’ve been here about thirty minutes. This is about the third time we have been here in the last few days. In some ways, this doesn’t seem unusual to those who have read my earlier blog posts or those with whom I have talked about our almost daily visits here. Those regular visits declined over a year ago. I related that to changes in her sleeping. In turn, I attributed her sleeping later to the progression of her Alzheimer’s. For months our visits have been infrequent. What has made her get up earlier recently? Is this something that will continue for a while, or are these a few isolated events?

The answer to these questions is “I don’t know,” and that is the answer I have given for most of the changes that have occurred during the past nine years. What I do know is that Kate’s changes mean that I have to change as well. My natural tendency, however, is to continue doing what I have done before. I admit to being a creature of habit. The only thing that saves me is my desire to provide Kate with the best care possible. If that means I need to make a change, I do it. I don’t mean that making a change is necessarily easy. Each one comes with a measure of psychological discomfort. I like routine and predictability.

Early on, I thought that a writer like Neil Simon could have a field day writing about a couple like us, one with Alzheimer’s, the other with OCD. It really could be comical. On the other hand, I am pretty sure that even if a caregiver were not driven by a desire for order and routine, he or she would ultimately find it challenging to deal with the unpredictable changes that take place with this disease. I feel for those who can’t. I have read many posts on Facebook and Twitter and online forums in which caregivers rant and rave over the behavior of their loved ones. I know it can be very hard. My own situation is much easier because the relationship that Kate and I have now is a pretty good extension of what it was before. The major change would be her dependence on me, but she is generally cooperative and loving.

This morning was a good example. I keep a close eye on the video cam so that I can get to her quickly if she calls me or is getting up. I don’t, however, keep my eyes on it every moment. Today, I went outside to check the water level on our pool that has a leak. When I got back inside, Kate walked into the family room. She was looking for me.

It turned out that she had waked up and was ready to get dressed for the day. Of course, she didn’t know where to go or what to do. She was glad to see me, but she hadn’t panicked and was in a good humor. I apologized for not being there as she got up. It hadn’t bothered her. She just wanted her clothes. I told her I could help her. Then I took her to the bathroom to get the process started. When she started to brush her teeth, she asked, “I sure am glad you are here. <pause> Who are you?” When I gave her my name, she wanted to know “Who are you to me?” I told her I was her husband. She was surprised. I said, “Would you rather think of me as a friend?” She said no. During the next twenty minutes, we repeated this exchange several times. She was always surprised, but comfortable, with my answer. When I helped her dress, she said, “You know, you’re a pretty nice guy. I think I could like you.” I think that captures well what her attitude is like.

Now what does this have to do with change and adaptation? I’m about to tell you. This is the third day in a row that Kate has gotten up early. Each time it has been before or during my morning walk. I like that walk. It is not simply a time for a little exercise. I also listen to books. For me it’s a nice way to start the day before my responsibilities with Kate begin. After my walk, I work on my blog. When Kate is up early, it leaves me to find another time to write.

My point is that I like routine, and changes like her getting up much earlier change that routine. I’d rather not change. On the other hand, she was so nice this morning that I want to take advantage of the time we have to enjoy ourselves. That is a higher priority for me, especially at this stage. I may be having a harder time getting other things done, but it is a pleasure to have time like this.

An hour has passed since I started this post. We are still at Panera, and Kate is still working her puzzles. That’s an unusually long period of time without her getting frustrated. I have been helping her throughout, but she is doing better than she has done in a while.

BREAK

Whoops, it is now 10:45. As I was in the middle of the previous sentence, Kate hit a roadblock with her puzzles. We came home where I will now close and upload this post.

Despite her having trouble and wanting to stop, she was still in a good humor and wanted to help me gather our things together to go home. Once here, she hit her recliner where she is resting. That’s a good thing because I have a noon lunch meeting at United Way. That’s an hour earlier than the sitter comes. I arranged for a church friend from to take Kate to lunch and get her back home for the sitter at 1:00. I have done that once before, and it worked well. This is a person who used to be on the staff at church when Kate was the church librarian. They ate lunch together frequently and have always had a good relationship though we don’t see her often these days.

While Kate has rested, I took care of a number of household chores. Those never end, and I am always behind. It’s been a nice morning. I am glad she got up early even if it meant no walk that I didn’t finish this post until now. Until next time, have a nice day.

A Strange Experience Last Night

As I reported in a previous post, Kate and I had a great time yesterday morning. Reading and taking a tour around the house was fun for both of us. When the sitter arrived, Kate acted glad to see her. Although she did want me to go with them to lunch, she didn’t show any uneasiness at my leaving for Rotary.

When I arrived home, I expected to see her resting on the sofa. Instead she was seated on the sofa across from the sitter who told me that Kate had been very talkative while I was gone. I don’t know how long they talked, but I got the impression it was a long time. I didn’t ask what they talked about. Last night I got a taste of this myself.

I got Kate ready for bed before I took my shower. Just after I got out, Kate opened the door to the bathroom. I was surprised that she was up and asked if she needed to use the bathroom. She said she was looking for the girls. I had no idea what she was talking about. I do know that once in a while she believes we either have company in the house or that someone is coming to visit us. I told her we were the only people in the house.

Then she began a conversation that last more than forty-five minutes, fifteen in the bathroom and another thirty in the bedroom where she asked me to sit in a chair while she took a seat on the bed a couple of feet away. She stumbled over her words so much that I couldn’t everything she said. I was able to make some sense of what she was communicating but not what motivated her to do so.

She thought she was in Texas and a member of a group that apparently had been all women but now included men. She talked about being on a committee that was charged with identifying women who might become new members of this “group” (club?). I gathered that the group might be a “leadership” organization of some type because she talked a lot about the quality of the women who had recently joined and the prospects who were being considered.

As she talked, she asked me if I knew “Richard.” I told her I did. She said, “He’s a nice guy. You would like him.” She went on further to talk about him. She said, “You might say ‘He’s my . . . She paused as she looked for the right words. I was eager to see if she would say “husband.” She said, “guy.” Then she added, “He might even be the one I marry.” She continued talking about her club and mentioned “Richard” several other times but couldn’t recall the name and didn’t for the remainder of the conversation.

She only stopped her conversation because I mentioned that I was going to get ready for bed. I got her in bed and told her I would be in bed beside her. As I said this, I wondered how she would react to that since she obviously didn’t recognize me as Richard. Would she think it strange that we would now go to bed together? Not at all. We got into bed as we always do except that we didn’t snuggle. I was afraid that would seem too abrupt for her. We slept well without any further conversation except that we had had another good day. Now I wonder what she talked about with Sandy. Was it the same kind of conversation? If so, that must have seemed especially strange to her. It seemed that way to me.

Morning Crisis

Yesterday, like a number of days recently, Kate was up at 7:30. That meant I didn’t get my normal walk, nor did I have time to upload a new post. This morning I was up at 5:20. I thought this would be a good opportunity to write a post about an experience we had last night. My plans changed quickly. I was about to walk out of the bedroom when I noticed that Kate was awake. I walked over to the bed to let her know I was going to the kitchen to fix my breakfast. When I reached the bed beside her, I recognized the look on her face. I said, “Are you afraid?” She nodded. I told her I could help her and that she was going to be all right? Then I said, “Would you like me to stay with you?” She said, “Oh, yes.”

She wanted to go to the bathroom. As I helped her up, she said, “You’re very nice to me. You’re the only one I can talk to.” I wasn’t sure if she knew who I was and said, “My name is Richard.” She said, “I know that. <pause> What’s your name?”

After using the toilet, she wanted to brush her teeth. I asked if she were still afraid. She said she was. I asked what she was afraid of. She said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what to do?” She talked a couple of minutes about that and said things like “I don’t know what’s going to happen to all of us.” “I just want to get out of here. I don’t really mean that, but . . .” (She didn’t finish.) “Thank you for helping me. You’re the only one I can talk to.”

I assured her that I could help her, that she could depend on me. I said, “Right now, I think you need to get back in bed and rest. We’re going to have a very nice day.” I started to leave for the kitchen for my computer, and she said, “Please stay with me.” I told her I was just getting my things from the kitchen and would be right back.

As you might expect, I turned on some soft soothing music and sat in the chair beside the bed. It wasn’t long before she was asleep.” I began to think about leaving to fix my breakfast, when she awoke and saw me. She had a smile on her face and said, “You’re here. How nice.” She seemed like herself, but now I feel I should stay a while longer. At least for now, the crisis is over.

A Terrific Morning

Yesterday morning before Kate was up, I posted a tweet that said, “Feeling grateful today. At Stage 7 #Alzheimers, Kate often fails to remember my name or hers, doesn’t know her way around the house, needs help with everything, and is losing her ability to speak, HOWEVER, we still enjoy life and each other.”

I thought a while before posting it for two reasons. First, I don’t want people to think we have escaped all the negative aspects of Alzheimer’s. We haven’t. Second, I don’t want other caregivers whose situations are much different than ours to think they must be doing something wrong or they would also be enjoying life the way we have. From the start, I have wanted to provide an accurate description of our lives. It seems like being able to enjoy life while living with such a devastating disease needs to be told.

After posting the tweet, I realized that my grateful feeling could be easily followed by something that would bring me down from my perch. That could have happened. It is not unusual for us to experience such swings from high to low and back again. I am happy to say that our morning turned out to be a confirmation of our good times.

Kate was up at 7:30, in a cheerful mood, and ready for the day. We were at Panera before 8:30 and back home before 9:30. I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to rest. While she did that, I did a few household chores.

At 10:00, she had rested enough. I asked if she would like me to read a little of Charlotte’s Web. We spent the next hour reading. We both had fun, but I found my voice was getting a bit hoarse. For the better part of the day yesterday and the day before she didn’t recognize our house as ours. I’m not sure whose she thought it was. I suggested that I show her around the house. She was ready.

We spent the next hour walking first through the kitchen, then the dining room, through the living room, and back to the family room. Along the way we made numerous stops as I told her the stories behind many of the pictures, furniture, and other items some of which had come from her parents’ house. She was enthralled. As I expected, she was particularly excited about the variety of things that had been her parents. You might think that because we had so many things of her parents and that I talked about our having them in our home she would have come to realize that she was in our home; however, I never got a sense that she recognized it as ours. In fact, three or four times she asked, “Who owns this house?” Each time I told her that we did, but it never seemed to stick.

Once again, we had had an experience that can be looked on with sadness – sadness that she doesn’t recognize her own home or the many things that should be treasured memories for her. I am just glad that with my help she can experience them in the moment. Yesterday morning was a very Happy Moment for her and for me. I am grateful.

Little Things from the Past Two Days

Each day brings with it a variety of little things that characterize our lives. For example, Kate is losing more of her vocabulary. That leads to her saying things I may understand but are not precisely what she meant to say. Yesterday morning as we walked through the family room, she once again took note of her ceramic cat. I had walked ahead of her a few steps and heard her say, “Kitty Pat. Kitty Pat.” I looked back and said, “What?” She pointed to the cat and repeated enthusiastically, “Kitty Pat.” This is just one example of changes in her speech. She continues to forget common words like salmon, steak, and sweet potato fries. There are many more. By the way, when she stops to look at the cat, she seems to understand that it is not real. Other times I’m not sure. As she looked at it yesterday, she said, “He’s looking at me. Now he’s looking at you.”

At the same time she loses certain skills, she continue to amaze me with her self awareness and, especially, her insights about me. She was a little uneasy when we went to lunch yesterday and asked me to sit beside her in the booth rather than across from her. In a few minutes, I said, “It looks like you are relaxed now.” She said, “Not quite, but I’m getting there.” Then she surprised me. She put her hand on mine and very gently said, “If I were really upset, you would say, ‘You’re going to be all right. Just relax. You’re going to be all right.’” These might not have been my exact words, but they were pretty close. Her tone of voice was “right on.”

Later in the day, she asked where we were. Before I could answer, she said, “I must make you miserable asking you the same question over and over.” She forgets many things, but she clearly remembers things of which I thought she was unaware. It’s not only that she remembers, but she also grasps that it could be irritating. Of course, I told her it doesn’t, and it’s true though I’m not sure she believed me.

She is often concerned about what she should do or say in social situations. This usually comes up before we are going somewhere, but other times it is out of the blue. That happened yesterday as we got in the car after lunch. She said, “It’s really good to see you.” She wanted to know if that was correct. I told her it was. Then I said, “As a former English teacher, you could appreciate that there are different ways you could say the same thing. Some could have slightly different meanings.” I went on to say, “For example, you might simply say, ‘It’s nice to see you.’” I explained that it wouldn’t convey the same degree of pleasure or emotion. Then she asked what she had said. I said, “It’s really good to see you.” She immediately said, “Or I could say, ‘It’s so good to see you.’” Because there is so much that she doesn’t remember or understand, it is easy to think that she wouldn’t be able to grasp something like this. That would clearly be wrong – at least this time.

There is something else that has occurred regularly for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it. She has ridden with me a lot over the eight years since I bought it. We’ve had only one car since December 2013. For the past three or four years she has been unable to identify it at all. The fact that I point and say, “That white car is ours.” doesn’t help. In addition, she doesn’t know which side of the car she is to enter (even when I take her, and I always do.) or whether to get in the front seat where I have opened the car door or the back seat with the door closed. It’s a good reminder of just how much her rational thought processes have diminished. I should add that she has never had any interest in cars. That was long before Alzheimer’s. I know that she knew she drove a Volvo station wagon for a few years, but I’m not sure she ever knew what kind of car I drove.

There is one other thing I should add. I’ve mentioned a lot about her poor eyesight. She frequently will not see specific food items on her plate at meal times. She has salmon and sweet potato fries every Saturday for lunch, but she often doesn’t see the salmon. When the server put her plate in front of her, I am careful to turn it so that the salmon is right in front of her and the sweet potato fries above that. I feel certain her love of fries is part of the reason she sees them. When I point out the salmon, she has great difficulty seeing it even when I use a knife as a pointer and touch it. The surprising thing is that she frequently sees small specks on the table or floor or in the car. They must stick out because there is usually nothing around them, but it is a reminder that her eyes are working. It is the brain that has trouble differentiating different items that are close together.

Let me close with something I’ve said before. We still enjoy ourselves. Yesterday and Friday were especially good days. These days may be waning, but, obviously, it is possible for a couple “Living with Alzheimer’s” to derive pleasure even at this late stage of the disease. I know that everyone’s experience can’t be like ours nor would I deny the low points that are a part of everyone’s journey. From the memoirs of other caregivers, however, I know that our experience is not unique. That should be encouraging to people who have recently received their diagnosis. It’s good to know that life after Alzheimer’s is possible, at least for a while. For us that has lasted almost nine years.

Ups and Downs This Week, Mostly Ups

It’s been a busy week. My daily schedule has been interrupted more frequently than in the past. That means I’ve been less regular with my posts. Several times I have started one and not been able to finish because of something else I needed to do. Kate has required more attention than usual, but that doesn’t explain everything. The other things have involved household chores.

Tuesday was one of those days about which I didn’t say anything. I was especially interested in writing about the events of the day as a follow up to Monday when she had a rough beginning. Fortunately, I jotted down a few notes so that I can cover the highlights.

The day started like the day before. Her brain seemed to be “blank.” She was very dependent on me; however, she didn’t appear to be disturbed the way she was on Monday.

I don’t know that my own behavior played a role in the way she responded. I do know that I tried to be more careful in waking her than I had done the previous day. I played a full 20 minutes of relaxing music before going to the bedroom to wake her. When I entered the bedroom, she was awake. I said hello and sat down on the bed beside her. This wasn’t planned or intentional, but I think it may have played a role in conveying a relaxed morning, not a moment when I was eager to get her up.

She didn’t know her name or mine nor our relationship. When I said I was her husband, she couldn’t accept it. As I have done on other occasions, I suggested she think of me as a friend. She liked that. I mentioned a shower, but she didn’t want it. I didn’t push.

I told her I loved her. Though a bit unclear, she responded with what she meant to be “A Bushel and a Peck.” I pulled it up on the audio system, and we sang it together several times. Then I suggested she get up so I could take her to lunch. She got up easily. I had started to wake her with plenty of time for her to take a shower. When she didn’t shower, we were left us with additional time to get ready.

As a result, we got to lunch earlier than usual. She was very talkative and initiated a conversation as though we had never met before. She asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I had started out as a college professor. She wanted to know what I taught. When I told her sociology and social psychology, she asked me to explain. I did, and she said that sounded interesting. I went on to say I ended up with my own market research company. She didn’t know what market research is. I explained that, and she also thought that was interesting.

When I finished, I said, “Why don’t you tell me about yourself.” I knew this might put her on the spot but thought my question wasn’t especially threatening. She handled it well and said, “There really isn’t much to tell.” I told her I knew a lot about her. Then I recounted her academic background and teaching career. I pointed out that she had been a good student and had earned two masters degrees. Then I told her about her volunteer career as our church librarian. She was quite interested and added her own comments.

It had been almost a year and a half since she had had a cortisone shot for the arthritis in her knee. Over the past couple of months, she has complained about it periodically, so we went directly from the restaurant to the orthopedic clinic. She was very childlike throughout the visit but handled herself well. We waited in the lobby for about fifteen minutes. Assuming we might have to wait a while, I took along her “Big Sister Album.” I thought that would occupy her for a longer period of time than her iPad. She enjoyed looking at it and made a lot of comments. There were only a couple of others in the room. I am sure they wondered a bit as they heard me identify all the people including Kate herself as she responded much like a child listening to a parent read a book.

We didn’t wait any longer after going back to one of the examining rooms. We met with two different people. Kate didn’t understand a lot of what was said and asked for clarification. I helped interpret what they said. She never understood, but she was satisfied. As we left, she thanked everyone including those in the waiting room.

The most important thing I should say about the day was that it was one of the nicest days we have had in a long time. I think that relates directly to her mood. She was very happy and quite at ease. Her memory wasn’t any better nor was she any less confused about things like whether we were in Texas or Tennessee, but she enjoyed herself. I couldn’t understand everything she said in our conversations, but she was surprisingly sharp in terms of her understanding about the importance of values and the role of parents in teaching them to their children. She has lost so much of her rational ability that I really enjoy hearing her express her opinions, beliefs, feelings, and values that remain intact. It keeps me in touch with the Kate I have always known.

Recently, especially this week, our lives have vacillated between highs and lows. The highs have been very special, and we experienced them every day. They far outweigh the lows. I know greater challenges are on the way. I am counting on the Happy Moments to sustain us.

Another Morning Surprise

It was just a few days ago that I reported on the unpredictability of our mornings. That continued this today. Kate was awake, or woke up, when I got up at 5:50. I thought she might want to go to the bathroom, but she declined. I had been in the bathroom only a few minutes when she opened the door. I walked over to assist her to the toilet but found that it wasn’t the bathroom she wanted. She said, “Is she all right?” I did what I should know not to do. I said, “Who?” She gave me a dirty look. Often she says, “You know who.”, but just as often she gives me a look that communicates the same message. Fortunately, she asked “Is she all right?” several more times. That gave me a chance to say the right thing. Each time I said, “She is fine.” That seemed to provide her with momentary relief, but she continued to be concerned. During the next few minutes, she made other comments like “Are you sure she is all right?”  “I love her so much.” And “Could I see her?” I feel sure she must have been thinking about her mother but never found out.

When we got back to bed, I asked if she would like me to stay with her. Of course, the answer was yes. Unlike the other recent times when she has wanted me to stay, I hadn’t already dressed. I put on an album of very soothing music and got back in bed with her. I stayed there until just before 7:00. She was still awake but relaxed.

I knew she was likely to go to sleep and expect I wouldn’t hear from her until I woke her at 10:45. I was wrong again. I saw her on the video cam at 8:10. She was sitting up. When I reached her, she was wide awake and ready to get dressed. This was another day when she wanted me to take her “home.” That has become more frequent in the past few weeks. I told her I would. Strangely, she wasn’t persistent this time. She mentioned going home a couple of other times but seemed to have forgotten before we left for Panera. We got here about 9:15. She is just now finishing her muffin. I suspect it won’t be long before she will be ready to leave. How long depends on how well she is doing with her puzzles.

This Morning at Panera

Kate was up this morning at 7:00 to go to the bathroom. She took a shower and then went back to bed. She was up in time for us to make a trip to Panera. As we got out of the car, she said, “Help me. Why do I do stupid things when I’m so (stumbles on the word) I said, “You’re smart.” She said, “Tell people that when I do something stupid.”

We walked in the front door, and she said, “What’s the name of this place?” I said, “Panera.” She repeated it as we were about to walk by a woman working on her laptop. Kate stopped at her table and asked, “Do you know the name of this place?” The woman nodded. Kate started to say the name but forgot it and turned to me. I told her again, and she told the woman. She said this in a childlike way but also very outgoing.

After I had gotten our drinks and her muffin, I took a seat across the table from her. She was unusually talkative. She said, “What’s your name?” I told her. Then she said, “What do people call me when I am with you?”  A short time later she asked again and then said, “Am I your nephew?” When I told her I wasn’t, she said, “You’re not my ____?” I said, “Yes.” She frowned. She brought up our relationship several other times. At least two times she was happy about our being married. Other times she wasn’t.

While there, she asked my name almost as many times as she asks Frank Sinatra’s name at Andriana’s each Sunday.

At one point, she said, “I’m learning my colors.” Then she looked at her gloves and said, “Look. They’re black.” I pointed to the lid of her cup and asked, “What color is this?” She wasn’t sure. I told her it was blue. The lid has a small plastic part on the top of the lid that slides over the hole. I pointed to it and said, “If the lid is blue, what color is this?” She hesitated a moment. Then she said, “Light blue.” I told her she was right, and she was as excited as a child might be.

Throughout our conversation she made references to growing up as though. Once she mentioned her age. I said, “How old are you?” She thought a minute and said, “Thirty or forty. Forty. I’m more mature than thirty.”

We left after she finished her muffin. We walked by a table of women who were there for a meeting of their book club. We know one of them from church and spoke to them briefly. Kate was very talkative. She would have continued talking longer if I hadn’t encouraged her to move on.

As we got in the car, she said, “What would I say if I were introducing you to someone?” I said, “This is my husband Richard.” She didn’t want to accept that I was her husband. I said, “You could say, ‘This is my very good friend, Richard.’” She wanted to drop the word “very” and just say good friend.

On the way home, she talked about our marriage and mentioned my name at least twice. She also commented on my being nice to her. She said, “You’re nice to me. You take care of me.” “You have taught me a lot of things. You’ve taught me to be polite.” Again this was said the way a little child might have said it.

When we walked into the house, she asked my name. It’s a good example of how quickly her brain works and then doesn’t work. It had been no more than two or thee minutes since she had called me Richard. Continue reading “This Morning at Panera”

Mornings Are Unpredictable.

Predicting what Kate will be like when she wakes in the morning is challenging. Some mornings she is cheerful. Other days she seems disturbed. Recently we had experienced several especially good days in a row. That came to an end yesterday.

I went into the bedroom about 10:15 when I noticed that it looked like she might be getting up. She was awake, but I quickly recognized that it was one of those times when she didn’t know anything. Her mind seemed to be a complete blank. I spoke to her very calmly and explained that I could help her. I began to tell her a little about her mother and father and mentioned that we had some photo books I could show her. She didn’t want to get out of bed, so I brought in her “Big Sister Album.” I showed her a few pictures, but the light was too dim for her to see well as she was still lying in bed.

We went through our usual routine of her asking and my telling her my name and hers, but nothing sounded familiar. Very early I told her I was her husband. She didn’t take to that, and I said, “Just let me be your friend.” That worked.

She told me she didn’t know what to do. I suggested that she get up and go to the bathroom and then get dressed. She surprised me by taking my suggestion. She was a bit insecure as we headed to the bathroom and held my hand all the way. Once there, she depended on me to tell her what to do.

When we finished in the bathroom, we went back to the bedroom where I proceeded to help her dress. She had everything on but her shoes when she wanted to lie down. About twenty minutes later, I told her I would like to show her something that I thought she would like. She got up without a problem. She put her shoes on, and we walked to the hallway outside our bedroom where I showed her pictures of her mother and grandmother. She wasn’t as interested as usual but did enjoy seeing her mother’s photo. Things were getting better. Several times she asked, “Who are you?” I gave her my name without indicating our relationship. That seemed to suffice.

Once in the family room, I picked up the “Big Sister Album” and showed her the cover photo of her and her brother. She sat down in a chair to look at it. She took interest in the photos of the little girl but didn’t know who she was. I pointed at one in which she had taken special interest and said, “That’s you.” She said, “What’s my name?” I told her. She was elated and said, “Now I have a name?” It was a special moment of joy for both of us.

A few minutes later, the sitter arrived. I met her in the garage and explained what had been going on. She asked if she should still take her to lunch. I told her I thought that would actually be helpful for her. Then we walked into the family room. I said, “Look who’s here. Your friend Cindy, and she is going to take you to lunch.” Kate received her enthusiastically and said a loud “Yippee!” I was relieved and left for Rotary. Kate didn’t express any reservations about my leaving. She was happy, and so was I.