Today was a respite from the hyperactive hallucinating with me tagging along hanging on to the gait belt.  For most of the last two days, Mary Ann has been sleeping or resting but certainly calm even when awake.  Her speech has improved even though she is saying very little.

Yesterday, she was almost completely unresponsive.  This morning she refused her shower.  Monday and this morning she seemed not to know her Bath Aide Zandra of whom she has come to be very fond. When I came in after the morning Spiritual Formation Group on the deck, she was sitting at the table with Volunteer Maureen trying to feed her some yogurt.  Mary Ann was crying.  I guess she had been since Zandra got her up.  I assumed she had had one of those sad dreams that sometimes come.  When I asked her about it, she said she couldn’t remember why she was crying.  She might have forgotten or she might not have wanted to tell me about it.  I think it was the former.

As the day has worn on, the short times she has been up have gone pretty well. She has seemed calm and lucid and connected.  I haven’t seen her that way in over a week.  It seems reasonable to conclude that the addition of a morning dose of Seroquel ten days ago made things worse rather than better.  I expect the hallucinations to begin firing up again, probably tonight, but I hope they will not be as intense as they were before we removed the morning dose of Seroquel. Whatever comes next in our relationship to a physician, I will be asking lots of questions about the Seroquel she is still taking, the night time dose.

The last two days have provided me with a little more rest.  Even if still tired, I feel better and seem to have regained the ability to experience moments of respite.  Last evening while Volunteer Patrice was at the house with Mary Ann, I went to my favorite local spot to enjoy that wonderful view and a spectacular sunset.  The sun was a huge ball with the light refracted enough so that it was possible to look at it as it passed behind a horizontal band of cloud, showing above and below the cloud before reaching the horizon.  As I was looking toward the sun the sky and clouds were glowing as if on fire.

Then I saw something I have seen in movies on rare occasions, but never in person.  I took the binoculars and pointed them in the direction of the sun, providing a view as if through a movie camera lense.  The air was filled with Cottonwood seeds, carried in those tufts of white fluff.  The sunlight caught them in a way that made them look just like the embers that fly up from a bonfire when the burning wood is stirred.  The air was full of those firey embers being blown gently across the scene provided by the binoculars.  It was sort of entrancing as I watched them floating through the air.

The weather allowed this morning’s Spiritual Formation Group to meet on the deck.  It was a beautiful morning in spite of predictions of storms.  The birds were loud and busy. The sky and clouds were in stark contrast of deep blue and bright white.  There was a breeze that cooled us periodically as we were warmed by the bright sun.  The conversation was thought provoking and satisfying as we caught sight of the power of community and the need to have reverence for others and the setting in which we live together.  As always, I am struck by the commonality that we have since we are all made of the same stuff, earth.  The first person in the Biblical account of creation is named Adam.  That name is the Hebrew word for earth, dirt, adamah. We call ourselves human, from the word humus, the dirt from which plants grow — fertile soil.  Whether one happens to have a spiritual view of reality or one without a spiritual dimension, the same is true.  We are made of the stuff of earth – all of us.  No one can claim to be better or more valuable than another and still speak the truth.  We may do things that when measured by others have greater or lesser value, but we are at the core, the same.  That seems to me to be the key in this hostile world to any path that might lead to real peace — no winners and losers, but full participants in our common humanity.   Such peace is only a dream in a broken world of imperfect people, but possibilities start with dreams.

Later this morning, I experienced a mini-retreat with fellow group member, former parishioner and friend Paul as we walked some property that reminded me a bit of my favorite place of Spiritual Formation, St. Francis of the Woods in Northern Oklahoma.  A friend of Paul graciously gave him permission to bring me out to this remarkable spot that provided an expansive and secluded field of wild flowers and native grasses completely surrounded by trees.  For me it was a bit of a step back in time to my childhood days of wonder over weeds and bugs and birds.

The deck and the area surrounding his friend’s house were filled with birdsongs.  There were wrens singing so loudly that it almost hurt my ears.  Other birds joined in.  Flowers in various stages of the growth cycle were to be found in bed after bed.  The trees were even dramatic in shape and texture as they reached into to one another, displaying varying shades of green. One large tree next to the deck had multiple gnarled trunks providing lots of play areas for the birds to entertain as they hopped from branch to branch.  There were art pieces, small and large, metal sculptures, everywhere I looked near the house.

Afterward, I was out of breath and hot and sweaty with boots wet from walking through the weeds but refreshed by the experience.  I am grateful to have felt good enough last evening and today to enjoy those experiences.

As I said, I am expecting the hallucinations to begin firing up today and tomorrow, based on past experience.  I am hoping that some of the contacts and calls will begin to bear fruit as we look for good medical care for Mary Ann for the rest of this journey.

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What a ride!  Mary Ann was ready to get up at 7:15am today.  This time I did not ask her to stay in bed until the alarm was due to go off at 7:45am.  She had been sleeping for 36hours straight.  I decided I did not want to risk her falling asleep again for a number of hours.

I got her dressed right away; then washed her hair. She took pills and ate a good breakfast.  She let me feed her.  She did not seem to be hallucinating at all.  She was very lucid.  There was a some fainting, so after checking her blood pressure, I gave her a half tablet of Midodrine to help keep her blood pressure up.

Volunteer Elaine came to stay with Mary Ann this morning while I had my usual Sunday morning quiet time at the lake.  Elaine engaged her in conversation.  At some point while I was gone, she began reading to her, which Elaine was doing when I returned.  Mary Ann was leaning forward some, but Elaine just moved her back up regularly.  As a result, Mary Ann was awake all morning.

Mary Ann picked scrambled eggs and bacon from the options I gave her for lunch.  She ate every speck of it on her own.  By the time she was done with the small amount of Baskin & Robbins ice cream that was left from a few days ago, Volunteer Jan arrived.

This is the first of the monthly Beginning Birders’ field trips I have been able to make.  While I did not get a detailed report from Jan about how things went, Mary Ann was awake when I left and awake when I returned.  As far as I know they had some good quality time.

Jan brought food to heat for supper.  Since Mary Ann had been up all day, we decided to stay home rather than go to the Evening Service.  That way I was able to prepare what Jan had brought.  Again tonight, Mary Ann let me feed her supper.  She ate a full serving and followed it with one of two scoops of Baskin & Robbins ice cream that I had gotten for her two days ago.

You can do the math.  She ate three full meals today.  She also had part of an apple as a snack when Jan was here, and a snack of some coffee cake with Elaine just after I left for the lake.  Her body must be in shock from all the food!

If a person only had today as a reference point for Mary Ann’s health, they might wonder what all the fuss is about.  My gut has been yanked from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours.  I guess that is nothing new.  I felt good today also, knowing she was doing well.

There is a certain level at which there is frustration that today seems to make yesterday’s grieving a meaningless waste of time.   I remain convinced that feeling the feelings when they come is better than burying them, in case things might change.  In our situation, they will change.  The grieving I did yesterday still counts.  I know where this is going.  I probably know too much having read emails written by folks in the throes of the worst this dementia has to offer.  I know too much from forty years of ministering to people going through terrible times of pain and loss.

Yesterday provided some preparation that needed to be done.  There will be more that needs to be done as we move to new and still more difficult stages of the disease process.  Having gone through the reality therapy yesterday, having grieved more the anticipated losses, today is all the sweeter.  She got to have today.  I got to have today.

This morning’s time at the lake offered great entertainment in all the displays by the birds.  I read a very meaningful devotional piece in the Spirituality Journal called Weavings.  The sky was crystal clear and the air crisp.  All of it combined to lift my spirits.

There were American Bald Eagles to watch again.  I saw a drama unfold, as a juvenile Eagle spotted a Canada Goose with a broken wing, walking across a road less than a hundred feet from me.  The drama happened about 150 feet away.  The Canada Goose managed to ward off the Eagle as he tried to make lunch of the goose.  While the goose did not have the weapons the eagle had (talons and powerful beak) the goose was bigger and heavier.  Later I watched from fairly close range two Red-Tailed hawks fighting over a kill.

Then there were the White Pelicans.  They are huge and have a magnificent wing span.  Their wingspan can exceed nine feet, much larger than an eagle.  One Pelican circled around and around until it was almost overhead.  They are blindingly white (especially in this morning’s sun) with contrasting black on part of their wings.  It was quite a sight. There were a variety of waterfowl coming an going.  It was quite a treat.

This afternoon, the time with the birders at a different lake was another treat.  I learned more about identifying a few birds and enjoyed talking with other folks with like interests.  We spotted an eagle, some Mergansers, Redheads, Ring-necks and Golden Eye water birds – along with the ubiquitous Canada Geese, American Coots, Mallards and Ring-Billed gulls.

After such a good day, I must add that I just went in to check on Mary Ann.  The hallucinations have started again.  She agreed to manage a treasury of come sort and was afraid she had messed it up.  So much of the time there is nothing I can think of that even remotely connects with the hallucination or dream.  Then she fainted two or three times as we tried to get to and from the commode.  I will take her blood pressure in the morning to see if some Midodrine seems warranted.

I think I am going to get whiplash!

Tomorrow is the appointment with the Neurologist.  The report will be in tomorrow night’s post.  I am anxious to see how the appointment goes.

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.