It has just turned into an impossibly frustrating night.  Mary Ann is in hallucination mode.  We were on hands and knees with her face within inches of one of the wheels on a leg of the bed, and she said, there it is, the baby raccoon.  Not long before that, she told me a raccoon had “taken a dump” on the sheet at the foot of the bed, and asked me to clean it up.  It took a long time of looking at that sheet for her to accept that the poop was no longer there, although since then she has not allowed me to pull the sheet up over her.  For the last half hour she has been picking up needles with thread in them from the floor.  I turned on the overhead light with four 60watt bulbs burning brightly and put her glasses on her face so that she could see clearly what was and was not there.  She still kept picking up the needles fearful that someone would get them stuck in a foot.  

I am now at the computer looking at her on the video monitor as she is leaning over the side of the bed busily trying to pick up things from the floor.  I am helpless to do anything about it!  I can only hope that at some point she will get tired enough that she will lie down and go to sleep.   She went to bed at about 9:30pm, it is now 11:30pm.  This could go on for hours. 

Tonight there was a Volunteer here with Mary Ann so that I could be at the computer attending an online Webinar provided by the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) online support group.  PSP is in a family of diseases that overlaps with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).   Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD) is a Dementia with Lewy Bodies. 

While the specifics of PSP are somewhat different from PDD, the Caregiving dynamics are pretty much the same.  The primary presenter tonight was Janet Edmunson, whose husband, Charles, was diagnosed with PSP.  After he died, the autopsy revealed that a more accurate diagnosis was Cortical Basal Ganglionic Degeneration (CBGD) which is another in the family. 

One of the characteristics of PSP that she mentioned certainly rang true for Mary Ann (who is now up and at it again in the bedroom).  She called it impulsivity.  That means the person remaining convinced that he/she can still do things he/she is no longer able to do. 

I just made another trip into the bedroom to see if I could do anything to help her settle.  This time as I was trying to get her back into bed, she told me that she was cold and wanted to go home.  When I asked her where she was, she didn’t know, just that she was cold and this wasn’t home.  I asked her to lie down for a while under the covers so that I could finish writing and come to bed.  As she was starting to lie down, Mary Ann commented that the girl was going to fall on her head, but then the girl didn’t.  When I asked who it was, she said, Lisa (our Daughter).  When I asked where Lisa was, she said she was on the wall.  When I asked her if it was the real Lisa or a picture, Mary Ann said something about “the pick of the litter.”  She did recognize when she said that that it made no sense. 

Back to the Webinar.  Janet Edmunson listed some suggestions for Caregivers. 

  • Determine what you are passionate about and find a way to spend at least a little time regularly, keeping it in your life.
  • Explore life’s adventures, store up memories while you and your Loved One are able. 
  • Give yourself credit, affirming just how strong you have been even when pushed to the limits.  She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt’s comparing people to tea — we don’t know how strong we are until we are in hot water.
  • Give yourself grace (forgive yourself) when you blow it.  If you seem to be “blowing it” extremely often, get help. 
  • Accept that some friends will no longer visit, especially when your Loved One can no longer communicate.  It doesn’t mean they no longer care.  Suggest that they come in pairs so that they can talk with each other as your Loved One simply listens. 
  • The personality changes in your Loved One are not your Loved One, but the disease.  One of the consequences of the disease is that the filter, the value system, gets eroded. 
  • Consider using Hospice sooner rather than later.
  • It is normal to grieve even before your Loved One dies.
  • Look for gifts that only this type of tragedy can afford.

She concluded with this wish for Caregivers: May this make you better, not bitter. 

Well, I think I had better get into the bedroom and see if my going to bed helps any.  Her head has stayed still for the last few minutes.  By the way, when she was first getting into bed tonight, for some reason she asked me to take her blood pressure.  It was 110/70.  Can’t ask for better than that.  Her pulse is usually 60 or less, but this time it was 89.  I suspect the excitement of the hallucinations may have increase her heart rate.

It is now 12:30am.  Here is hoping and praying that she can stay settled for the night. 

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