I am not completely sure why.  Some things are harder to accept than others.  There is one visual cue that removes all my ability to keep things in perspective.  It takes me right up to the edge of my ability to cope, and then pushes me over.

There she was, half way across the bathroom, walking with her pants around her ankles.  I had stepped out for only moments to give her some privacy.  On the way out, I asked her to please remember to push the button when she was done and reminded her not to get up until I arrived to help her get up.  She did neither.

That visual cue seems to release my deepest fears that the next fall will be the last one.  It surfaces every feeling of frustration that comes when her choices seem to fight against the very help I am trying to provide.  That visual cue pushes me over the outer edge the confidence that I can care for her here at the house until the end.

I got her dressed, put her on the bed, and had to leave the room for five or ten minutes to gather my composure and try to regain perspective. I wonder if part of my reaction is a safety valve blowing off steam to keep the boiler from exploding.  I wonder if it isn’t a grieving process going on that I ignore until something like that visual cue shatters my illusion of control.  I wonder if part of it is my refusal to admit to myself just how hard this is.

Yesterday morning when I went outside to clear the drive and sidewalk of snow for the Volunteer, she tried to get up from her chair, fell and took with her the table in front of her, knocked the computer monitor to the floor along with a cup with some juice in it and a number of other things on the two tables around her.  She was lying in a heap among all of it. Gratefully, as always, she was not hurt at all.  I was upset that I couldn’t so much as go outside to shovel the sidewalk without her getting up, creating the vulnerability for a fall.  Then I felt responsible.  While she couldn’t remember why she got up, I had not gotten her a new box of Kleenex, I had not gotten her fresh water, I had not taken the audio receiver with me outside so that I could hear the electronic doorbell, which she would not have pushed anyway.  I realized again how hard it is to anticipate every impulse need and provide for it so that there will be no need to get up.  It is hard to anticipate and cover every impulse need of another person — one who cannot tell you those needs in words.

She has been having a difficult time keeping things clear the last couple of days.  There are flashes of lucidity, but most of the time, it the hallucinations have continued, verbal communication has been virtually gone, and there have been times of great confusion.  At supper tonight, after working on the baked potato on her plate for a long time, mostly with her fingers, I asked if she saw the meat.  She said no.  A large piece of meatloaf was there on the plate right next to the potato she had been working on. She has often been in eyes closed mode.  She will be acting in every other respect as if she is doing things normally, except that her eyes are slammed shut tightly.  Often when that happens and I ask her to open her eyes, she will answer that she can’t.  I have learned how to walk her from one place to another when her eyes won’t open.

I just came back from the bedroom.  Mary Ann had gotten up on the side of the bed.  She was trying to pick up needles that were not there.  As we were sitting there, a couple of times she told someone to stop pulling on the quilt hanging on the wall a few feet away.  She asked we how soon we would be getting out of here.  Then she asked how we were going to get all the furniture back.  I asked if she was thinking that we were in a different place from our home and that the furniture had been moved here.  She said yes. Like Capgras Syndrome, this is a Delusional misidentification syndrome.

I just went back again.  This time she asked me to take the girls out of the bedroom.  When I asked if they were our Granddaughters, she said no.

At the same time, earlier today when I mentioned the library, she suggested that we eat lunch there.  Since we couldn’t find a parking place, we at at Bobo’s Drive-in.  At the library, she managed to pick out two books from the large print section. We had sundaes at G’s after the library.  When we got home she ended up wanting a nap.  After an hour and a half, after taking medicine and using the bathroom, I took her out to watch television.  She got up and headed back to the bedroom to nap some more.I had to wake her up for supper.

Back again. She is just having a terrible time accepting that it is night and time to be in bed.  She wanted to get dressed this time.  It is about 12:15am at the moment.

I have just been with her a few more times.  The last time included a snack and a paper towel to wipe up something that was not there.  It is about 1am now.  I am wondering how much of the night will be spent with the delusions and hallucinations.  Last night we were up quite a number of times.  There has been very little sleeping in happening in the last week or so.  The interrupted sleep is not helping the coping skills, nor is it helping the delusions and hallucinations.

I am going to edit this now and get to bed in hopes that my presence will help.  There is no good reason to hope it will help, but I am too tired to stay up any longer.  I guess interrupted sleep is better than no sleep.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

Tired or not, it is a beautiful, frigid, but bright and sunny morning — a good way to start a new year.  I would like it to be on account of raucous partying, but this tired morning comes after attending to needs that continued until that midnight kiss last night. I finished editing last night’s post and got to bed at about 1pm.  Then every hour, on the hour, we were up with the usual, including two snacks, one at 3pm and one at 4pm. I should have known that a large bowl of ice cream would not suffice for supper.  That is all she was willing to eat — other than the four crackers and the handful of chex mix with a little Asti Spumanti at 8pm. The 2am and 5am activities were commode related.

Actually the 6am commode trip was at 6:20am, breaking the once an hour on the hour cycle.  At 7am, Mary Ann was up for breakfast and pills.  After an hour of watching television, she is now back in bed.  I, however, am wide awake and sitting here beginning this post!  I will continue later in the day.

It is about 3pm.  Mary Ann had a two and a half hour nap, then got up and ate lunch.  She has been watching television while I worked on a Christmas card list for this year or next.  Remember, it is the twelve days of Christmas.  I still have five days to go! 

Mary Ann changed the channel fifteen minutes before the end of the program.  I watched the end of it in the kitchen.  Just as it ended she got up and walked toward the kitchen, I presume to see what I was doing.  I came out to meet her and took hold of her to support her, then asked where she wanted to go.  We walked around the dining room table, and when we got to the other side, she asked where Pete was.  I reminded her that I am Pete, and she recognized me at the same time. 

Today she has been pretty disconnected with lots of little hallucinations.  At her request I gave her a dish of ice cream after lunch, and at one point she asked if the other one was mine.  She was seeing two dishes of ice cream in front of her.  Not realizing that the person helping her walk was me may have been a Capgras Delusion.  That is the delusion that a loved one has been replaced by an imposter.  It happened so quickly that it may not qualify as Capgras Syndrome.  A number of those in the online Caregiver Spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia have to deal with Loved Ones who are experiencing Capgras Delusions.  The bad news about this disease is that it is a roller coaster ride with some scary dips.  The good news is that sometimes there great vistas on the peaks in the ride.  The goal is just to hang on for dear life!

It is evening now.  There was a visit by a good friend of Mary Ann’s.  She brought a bag of Christmas goodies.  Mary Ann did not really participate in the discussion.  I probably should have left the room for a while to see if they could converse one on one.  Today has been such a disconnected day for Mary Ann, I did not think she would be able to respond.  In retrospect, I should have given them a little time to at least allow the possibility that Mary Ann might respond. 

She went to bed at about 7pm.  I will give her the bed time cluster of pills in a few minutes, about 8:30pm.  That is the usual time she takes them even if she has lain down for the night before then.  A couple of the night time pills have sleepiness as a side effect. 

As I have continued the online Ignatian retreat, the focus now is remembering events in my adult life and their impact, any gifts they may have given, gifts that have helped shape who I am becoming. 

One event of monumental significance was the day the diagnosis of Parkinson’s was received.  I had moved to Oklahoma City ahead of Mary Ann and the kids so that each could finish at their respective schools, one graduating from high school and the othercompleting the Eighth Grade in an eight grade school.  I left in February to begin serving a congregation there and the family came at the beginning of June. 

While everything was as welcoming as it could be in the new parish, it was just about the toughest time in my life.  It was equally tough for Mary Ann and the kids.  Just the separation was almost more than I could bear.  I had not realized fully just how important Mary Ann and the kids were to me until that moment I watched the plane take off from the Oklahoma City airport after a visit.  I could not even tolerate the thought of life without the three of them. 

During those five months, Lisa had the added pain of dealing with the murder of the Principal of the tiny Lutheran High School she was attending.  His Daughter was Lisa’s best friend.  He had been a great support for Lisa during her years at the Lutheran High. 

Micah had developed close relationships with his classmates at the large Catholic Parochial school he attended from the Fifth Grade year through Eighth Grade Graduation.  He was chosen by his classmates to speak at Graduation.  The prospect of leaving those friends behind was tough on him. 

It was that March that the phone call came.  Mary Ann phoned me in OKC with the news that she had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  She had to deal with that life-shattering news by herself without my support.  I had to deal with it while among wonderful people with whom I had not yet developed any history.  Mary Ann was not willing to share the news with anyone else, her or my parents, her or my siblings, her lifelong friends, the people in the parish with whom we had just spent fifteen years building relationship.  For the next five years, that secret was to be kept from all but two or three people other than the kids.   We honored Mary Ann’s request, but it took a toll on all of us, especially when the symptoms became noticeable.

It is hard to put into words the impact that the Parkinson’s has had on our lives.  There is no way to even begin to imagine what our lives would have been like without it.  It is actually a waste of time to try to do so.  Time is too precious.  It is needed to live the life we have as effectively and meaningfully as possible.  We can process the impact of the Parkinson’s and assess its role in who each of us has become.  We have grown and learned more than could possibly be written in one blog entry. 

There is a level of maturity and wisdom that our children have come to have through dealing with their Mom’s Parkinson’s.  Earlier posts include sections they have written, reflecting on their experience in dealing with the Parkinson’s.  I am a far better and more effective pastor because of it.  Mary Ann has wonderful relationships with dozens of people directly due to the Parkinson’s.

While I am grateful for all we have learned from Mary Ann’s Parkinson’s, we would gladly have read a book on it if we could have learned those things without the Parkinson’s.   

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.