Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can't stop laughing...

My son and his family are here from Birmingham for a few days and joined us with my daughter and her partner for the early church service on Sunday led by Rabbi Deborah Schloss (what can I say...we are Unitarians/Universalists) who led us in some wonderful Hebrew songs and liturgy.  I am sure this was all a new experience for my grandchildren but a good one.
After the service we all gathered in the Fellowship Hall for coffee and visiting.  A couple who are members were making a real effort to welcome my son and his family.  We don't know this couple well but appreciated their warm greetings.  My husband was eager to introduce our son to the man and said, "This is my brother.  We are twins but he is 5 minutes older than me which is just great.  It made my path much easier."  The man looked at Ken and my son who just turned 50 with a strange look on his face and said. "Must have been paternal."  My son is still cracking up over this.  I don't know if the man ever realized what was going on.  Maybe he is still pondering the birth of twins 30 years apart.
This happens frequently with Alzheimer's.  The patient can get the category (in this case, a relative) but can't find the right word.  But using the wrong word can bring up a whole other set of memories and they are off and running on another track and it is up to the listener to figure out where they went.  I like to call it a game of sorts.  Any suggestions for a game title?  Hearing is believing?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

Well, the Christmas tree is up, thanks to my daughter's good help but hubby hasn't participated in any of the Christmas doings.  You know when you live with someone with Alzheimer's the changes become so gradual that it is difficult at times to evaluate what is the big picture and how the disease is progressing or not progressing.  Throw in some days when the patient seems clear as a bell and it can get a little fuzzy.
     Last week held a series of doc appointments including our primary physician and the geriatric team at UTMB/Galveston.  The primary nodded as I gave a run down and refilled some prescriptions.  But the new resident, Dr. Chala, at UTMB ran him through a battery of memory tests and he pretty much blew it.  It took him a very long time to say what year it is but somehow he knew the day.  As far as remembering the 3 objects she asked him to repeat in five minutes, he had even a hard time repeating them right after she said them.  Wow, 4 months ago he answered nearly all of the questions.  So here we are.  There is no other medication, no increase in meds they said they can offer.  The doc's only suggestion was to give him coconut milk and turmeric which I'm doing.  So I guess we are just in a wait and see and watch.
     Sometimes life with Alz gets hilariously funny.  The other day he got out of bed at a decent time, got showered and dressed and then ran in to me in the kitchen just frantic.  He said he had lost his hearing aids. OMG...I got more than a little discombobulated as those suckers cost thousands and we had finally got them paid off.  I raced into the bedroom thinking he may have gone to bed with them on or laid them on the night stand.  I tore the bed apart.  Nope, nada.  On to the bathroom where he usually keeps them in a covered container.  I went over it with a fine tooth comb.  No results.  I called my daughter in tears and she offered to come look.  Just then my girlfriend who wears them phoned and went over a list of where she thought he might have left them.  Phone in hand I looked.  Nothing.  Then she said, "See if he is wearing them."  I couldn't find him anywhere in the house.  My daughter arrived and found him in the driveway going through the garbage can looking for them.  She took one look at him and said, "Now really, Dad."  The missing hearing aids were in his ears.  I wonder if he showered with them.  Who knows but oh my, I was relieved.
     He continues to read diligently the Wall St. Journal highlighting it and cut out articles.  He wants to go with me on errands but ends up sitting in the car waiting listening to NPR or reading his paper.  Sunday he went back to bed saying he didn't feel well right after we got home from church and I left him there while I went to a meeting.  He didn't answer the phone when I called to check on him so I left the meeting and came home.  He was up and in the backyard cutting the heck out of the crepe myrtles and had not eaten any of the food I had left for him in the fridge.  He complains of being tired frequently.  It has been explained to me that patients are tired, that it takes a tremendous amount of energy just trying to keep their world together in something they understand.  I can accept that.
    The next day he seemed confused when I woke him at 11 am.  He wanted to go with me to the post office and the bank but stayed in the car.  As we were driving, I watched him staring blankly out of the window with that kinda glazed look that I have seen on too many nursing home occupants.  It felt to me like he was "going down the rabbit hole" and it made me really sad.  Sad and thinking we are closer to needing some help and sooner than I anticipated.
   But today he was great.  He woke up, got dressed and wanted to know when we were going to go for batteries for his hearing aids and he has been fine nearly all day...hallelujah.  The rabbit was out of the hole, for today anyway.  And his mate is going to bed now.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Another day in paradise

I managed to seen this amazing sunset the other afternoon on one of my mini-escapes to have a cup of peppermint tea at my friend's house.  Geez...what a treat!  Things are getting a bit tense around here with the holidays approaching and granddaughter staying with us for a while.  I am finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit and then get mad at myself for being such a humbug.  Part of me wants to do it up gloriously as this may be the last Christmas in this house and the other part of me is just trying to keep up with doc appointments and getting meals on the table and the laundry done.

Hubby is not having a good day today.  I want him to have as many successes as possible so I try for little tasks around the house like taking out the garbage and the recycle.  But then this morning we spent half an hour going over the schedule for the pick ups of the above which happen on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The wringer in the schedule is that the recycle must go to the curb on Tuesday night so as not to miss an early pickup on Wednesday morning.  Oh my, even after writing it all down, it was hard for him to get it.  So I guess we will see what happens tonight which is Tuesday.

This morning we went to JSC to renew his badge which went well.  But then he starts in about how is he going to go visit his friends in their offices.  (I'm wondering if at this stage of his illness if they really want him to visit).  I explained and explained the procedure for making it happen but he continues to be very disgruntled. 

He diligently reads the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal and cuts out articles and highlights others.  He came in my office all upset about an article discussing the increasing costs of hospitals and saying that he doesn't want to be taken to a hospital because it will just bankrupt the family....saying that we shouldn't call an ambulance because it will just cost too much and it is a scam, etc.  I tried to assure him that we have excellent coverage through Medicare and our insurance company and that so far hospital visits have not cost us anything.  He would have continued the argument had I let him.  I feel sad that he doesn't have anyone else to argue with about politics, the state of the nation and the world but sometimes he just doesn't make much sense.  The granddog is back and he so enjoys walking her and so far is not lost.  This is great for both of them.

In a few minutes I will go to the library for my volunteer job in the book store.  It is quiet, we are seldom busy and I will continue to read The Book Thief, a great story about Nazi Germany during WWII.  I will come home refreshed and ready to cook dinner for however many folk show up.
And maybe, just maybe there will be another glorious sunset to celebrate another fine day in paradise.  It really is paradise, you know, in spite of tribulations.