Yesterday afternoon we went to a performance of Five Guys Names Moe at a small local theater. We were seated on the front row and the entire audience numbered about 20. During the final number in the first act, the actors invited members of the audience including Kate to join them in a conga line and they danced around the room. She joined in with little hesitation and seemed to enjoy it. During the first part of the second act, a member of the cast grabbed her hand and walked her up to the stage. Other cast members brought two other women up as well. Then the three were asked to take a seat in chairs set up on the front center of the stage. Kate sat in the middle. A cast member asked each one two questions: “What is your name?” and “Are you here with your husband or a date?” Kate spoke right up and in a loud (not too loud) voice said, “”Kate.” To the next question she said, “”My husband of 52 years.” We have actually been married 51 years, but I know where she got 52. We were in a discussion several weeks ago. I had said we had been celebrated our 51st anniversary in May and were now in our 52nd year. In an email earlier today, I mentioned this account to my friends, Tom and Carl. They wondered whether she had been more at ease because of the small audience. I told them I didn’t think so but that I do think she is a little less inhibited now which I believe is a function of her Alzheimer’s.
Last night as we were driving to dinner, Kate said she had counted 8 people walking along the street. This is a habit she has gotten into the past year or so. She started do this after noticing that she sees more people walking along this street than she does other streets. She then told me that she had counted the walkers while listening to me. I joked about her being a multitasker. She then looked at me and said, “”Don’t count me out yet.” This is not the first time she has said this though it is not something she says all the time. I have heard her say this as many as 5 times (an estimate). This is another example of our light-hearted way of recognizing her situation but not dwelling on it or approaching it with sadness.
Yesterday we got Kate a replacement driver’s license. This is the second time in two weeks that we have done so. We have now placed the driver’s license and her ATM card in a small change purse and put it in the storage area under the console between the two front seats. I hope this works.
I know this has been hard on Kate. She has been stuck at home. Monday she was particularly cooped up. She was glad to have her license back for the psychological boost it gave her. One of the ways I notice she is down is that she pays no attention to dieting which she talks about for a few days and then goes off. While we were in Jackson Hole, she said she was going back to Weight Watchers as soon as we got home. She has made no effort to do so. She did take a stab at watching her diet a few days, but then gave in. I have not worried about this much since I feel that I want her to be able to enjoy herself as much as possible.
It is so hard for her to do much nowadays. She continues to devote herself to the yard. I think this is because it is one thing she can do. Everything else requires more thought than she wants to give. She even asked me to answer an email from the treasurer of our neighborhood association. She had offered to reimburse Kate for the newsletter she distributed in May or early June. All Kate needed to do was tell her how much to pay. She asked me to write it for her.
Before leaving for Dad’s yesterday afternoon, I could tell that she was down. I told her I would take her to dinner when I got home. I headed for a nearby Thai restaurant when she asked where I was taking her. When I told her, she didn’t react positively. I suggested another place, and she was happy about that. We went and had a good time as well as a good meal. It’s just that we spent more than we usually do for a weeknight dinner. Although someone might think we spend too much eating out, I feel that it is worth it. Before we started eating out for all our meals, I spent time preparing food by myself. Then I cleaned up by myself. Now we can spend that same amount of time together. Of course, I know that we won’t continue this forever. How long is the real question. I feel confident it could go on for more than a year and perhaps as long as 3-5 years.
Dad has continued frequent calls yesterday and this morning. At 3:00 yesterday afternoon he called to say he didn’t know where he was and that his phone was not working. When I was there for dinner, I asked him about both of these things. With respect to not knowing where he was, he said, “”Oh, I knew where I was, I just didn’t know what else to say.” As for the phone, he told me that it said it was Tuesday, July 9. I told him that was correct. He said it hadn’t moved all day.
This morning he called twice while I was at the Y. He said he didn’t know where he was but he was in a real nice restroom. It had bars on the wall that you could hold and everything. He went on to say that he was sitting on the side of his bed at Mountain Valley. I told him to stay there. I told him what time it was and that I would be there this afternoon. I got a call back in about 30 minutes. He asked if I were looking for him. I told him know. He said he was still in bed and that he was all right. I told him to stay there, and I would be there this afternoon.
I can’t help noticing similarities between some of the things he does and those that Kate does. They both get confused and don’t like to be questioned for explanations. Kate regularly says, “Let’s not talk about it now.” Dad says almost exactly the same thing.
The overriding response to AD is sadness, anger, depression, etc. – all things that we think of as negative. We’ve had our share of those things right from the beginning. I still remember the tears that came to my eyes when the doctor told Kate the diagnosis. Much of what I have reported involves the negative even though it is simply a report of something she has done that illustrates her condition.
On the other hand, we experience funny moments, or perhaps I should say, we don’t always react with sadness or depression. For example, yesterday Kate called me from her GYN’s office to say that she was through. We decided to meet at Bruegger’‘s for lunch. Her GYN’s office is on the same street as Bruegger’s. I had worried about Kate’s getting to her doctor’s office since she had not been in a good while. I had offered to lead the way for her. She declined and was able to get there without any problem. After we hung up, I thought I should have asked if she could get to Bruegger’s without any trouble. I didn’t; however, since we go there so regularly and it is on the same street as her doctor’s office. Nevertheless, I did worry a little and thought I might hear from her. I left home to meet her at the restaurant and noticed that she was not there when I arrived. I had a bad feeling but went in a started placing our order. While I was doing so, I got a call from her. She was frustrated. I asked where she was. She told me she was downtown near UT. That meant that she not only did not simply drive on Taylor to the restaurant but that she had gone the opposite direction from the restaurant.
Anyway, I guided her over the phone, and she arrived at the restaurant 10 minutes later. When she arrived, she laughed about what she had done. This is not an uncommon reaction when she does something like this. I told her I was glad she could laugh about it. She then told me she had seen Ellen that morning. Ellen asked when we were going to South America. When she gave her answer (which she wouldn’t even tell me), Ellen said, “Oh, that’s right away.” Then she realized she had given the wrong answer. This is a very common occurrence. She has no idea when she has appointments, when or where we are going, etc. She and my dad both forget times and dates within moments of my telling them. They simply don’t register.
My point here is that sometimes we just laugh. I find that is good for both of us. We have enough of the more negative reactions. I am wondering what how we will react as time passes and things become more serious.
This morning after returning from my walk I saw that Kate was dressed and dressed more nicely than she would be on a Saturday morning. Typically she wouldn’t get dressed until 10:00 or 11:00, and then she would be more casual. When I said something, she dismissed my remarks and indicated that she wasn’t dressed up any more than usual. I just let it go. A little while later she asked me if I could help her with her medicine. (I changed the container for her medicine last Sunday, and it has confused her greatly. I was surprised by this because it is laid out the same way as the previous one that she has bought for herself and used for at least 2 years. It is designed so that you can put pills in it for 4 different times of the day for a 7-day period. The only difference in the new one is the color and the way you open the sections that actual contain the pills. Nonetheless she can’t get it. I had told her I would get another one, but she was trying to relabel the places that say “noon” and “evening” with tags that say “morn” and “bed.”) She had taken out the medicine from several sections and didn’t know what to do with them. I fixed that. Then she said something about Sunday, and I realized that she thought today was Sunday not Saturday. We both laughed, and I told her at least the bright side was that now she has an extra day before Sunday.
Just a brief comment today on something I have mentioned before; however, it seems so common now that I chuckle when it occurs. Frequently when I tell her something she says, “You told me that.” Of course, it is quite possible that sometimes she is correct. It happens so often and in instances when I know that it would be impossible for me to have told her because I just learned about it. It makes me wonder if she says this because she forgets so frequently the odds are that whatever I say is something she has forgotten. Another possibility is that it is something akin to a deja vu experience.
I am not sure, but I think I have seen signs of Kate’s becoming more emotional that may be linked to AD. At the moment, I cannot recall any past incidents that have made me feel this way. Yesterday, however, she called me while I was visiting Dad at Life Care. She asked if I could come home right away. I told her I would and asked what was up. She told me that an orange cat that has been around our neighborhood recently had been found in the street and that she had taken the cat, who was warm but appeared to be dead, around to our patio. Before I got home, she called me once again to ask how long it would be before I got home. I told her I was just turning on to our street and would be there in a minute.
When I got home, I found her sitting on the loveseat on the patio holding the cat in her arms just as if she were holding a baby. She was not wildly emotional – just sad to have lost the cat that she had recently befriended and to which she had felt attached. I told her I thought we might contact the neighbors across the street to see if they knew whose cat it was. They did. It belonged to our next door neighbor. We called and left a message, and he came over when he got home. We had put the cat in a basket in our garage.
Even when we went to bed, she was still moved by the loss. This may have nothing to do with AD, but it seems to me that this was a somewhat different emotional behavior than I have observed in the past.