I suppose last night ranks as one of the worst nights we have had.  Mary Ann kept sitting up and responding to hallucinations and delusions and dreams that were her reality at the moment when she sat up.  Each time it was brand new and  real to her.  She seemed to have no awareness that five or ten minutes before there had been a completely different reality to which she was responding.

It just never stopped.  When I saw 3am come around, I hoped that then she might finally let go and sleep, as has happened in the past.  It just never stopped.  I suppose on occasion I slept as long as fifteen minutes when there was that much time between new encounters with her world.

Finally, not long after 6am, I simply could no longer convince her to stay in bed.  I gave up trying.  I turned off the alarm that was set for 7:45am to get her ready for her Bible Study and tried to figure out how to get her to stay secure while I showered.  I knew she wouldn’t stay put in her chair, but I got all her basic needs met, the television going, water nearby and just took the shower.

She was, of course on the floor when I came out.  I checked to see if she was hurt.  She was not.  I put a pillow under her head and let her stay there while I finished.  That way I knew she would be safe and secure.  She said she was comfortable.

Then I got her dressed and fed and ready to go to her Tuesday morning group.  Since she got up so early, she was ready about an hour early.  She continued to hallucinate, but finally lay her head on the little table in front of her chair.  It is hard to describe the sense of relief that came with Mary Ann dozing and ceasing being driven by hallucinations and delusions and living dreams., constantly demanding my full attention.  I was able to get my own breakfast, the wash started, clean the commode, make beds and get things in the van so that I could awaken her and get her to her group on time.

I have admitted before, and I do so again, that this expression of the Parkinson’s Disease Dementia puts me in direct contact with the outer limits of my capacity to endure this Caregiving role here at home.  I am disappointed that I can’t handle it with grace and endurance.  Actually, this expression of Mary Ann’s disease puts me in contact with those outer limits from the other side of my capacity to cope.

There was a last minute bathroom trip, but we did make it to her Bible Study group. She apparently rested some but did all right at the group meeting.

After the meeting we stopped to pick up her favorite steak soup and lemon meringue pie.  I wasn’t sure she would be able to eat, since she had her head down and seemed to be dozing all the while we were in the van.  I did feed her some of the soup and pie.

As soon as that was done we had to get to appointments I had made for us with the Optometrist.  Considering the Hospice trajectory and the fact that a recent visit to an Ophthalmologist (M.D. eye doctor) had revealed that her vision problems are neurological, not mechanical, I wondered about how appropriate it was for Mary Ann to get new glasses.  I decided to ask her if she wanted the appointment so that future possibilities did not determine present action.  Whatever she wanted to do was fine with me.  When we got there, she was just too tired to keep her eyes open for an exam.  She slept with her head on her lap in the waiting room, while my eyes were examined.

My prescription had changed quite a bit in the five years since I last bought glasses.  The cataracts are just in the beginning stages.  My Dad had glaucoma, so I was interested that the eye pressure had increased — not enough to be certain it is a problem.  There was one unsettling observation.  One eye has a hint of the possibility of Macular Degeneration beginning.  I know too many who suffer much from that mostly untreatable condition to look forward to that potentiality.

We got home just in time for Hospice Nurse Emily’s weekly visit.  For her records and my need to share, I describe the last couple of days and admitted that I need help.  I asked her to help me come up with alternatives.  She said that she would call Hospice Social Worker Kristen, since she is the one with the resource information.  Emily took Mary Ann’s vitals, blood pressure at 200/108 — relevant information when considering whether to resume the medication that raises BP to help reduce the fainting spells (see yesterday’s post on our dilemma in that regard).

While Nurse Emily was taking Mary Ann’s vitals, the phone rang.  It was Hospice Social Worker Kristen asking if she could come over to do her monthly visit.  Emily had not yet phoned her.  Interesting timing.

Shortly after Emily left, Kristin arrived.  She got the full and detailed description of the last two days and our medication dilemma.  I was, of course, doing my usual opening of the verbal safety valve by which I survive.  I told her that I planned to phone the Neurologist to see whether he recommends increasing the Seroquel.  I can handle the sleeping (of which she does too much) but I cannot handle the streaming hallucinations for very long, especially when they remove the option of sleep.  The Seroquel’s purpose is to help diminish hallucinations, but it increases the sleep time.  Again, it is a matter of survival.

For her part, Kristen said she would check with a team of four who do some private pay help for other Hospice clients.  The cost per hour is significantly less than the Agency help we now use sometimes.  Because of the unpredictability of the night time needs, we talked about the possibility of one or two mornings a week on a regular basis.  I could use the time to sleep, if that is what is needed, or just get away.  Adding that to the wonderful gift of Volunteers from church who fill slots of time when they are available to do so, might help bring this task back into my range of ability to handle it.

Even at the lower rate, the cost will be challenging.  After the last couple of days, it doesn’t seem to be an option to try to continue without more help.  This evening already, Mary Ann has been hallucinating, requiring trips to the bedroom to explain again and again that it is not morning but evening, it is Tuesday, not Wednesday, there are no painters here.  As I said in last night’s post, I say again tonight, I hope at some point she wears down and goes to sleep for the rest of the night.  She may have napped enough today to gain a second wind.  I have not napped and have no second wind, or, for that matter, any of the first wind left.

It helped to talk with the Hospice folks this afternoon, as well as some of the church Staff this morning after I took Mary Ann to her group.  One thing has become apparent to me.  I do a lot of talking and blogging and meditating and celebrating the natural beauty that is now in view at our house.  Those things help me process what is going on, keep things in perspective, vent some of my feelings.  All of that is very good.  It does not, however change the harsh realities of the difficulty of this task.  None of those tools magically creates super human powers that allow me to handle whatever comes.  I am still a painfully ordinary someone, far too selfish, irritable, whining way too much, with limited stamina and strength.  It is time to figure out a way to get more help.  I am still committed to doing this here at our home.

For now, it continues to appear that tonight will be a repeat of last night.

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