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.

Advertisements

We are now into the later stages of Parkinson’s and moving into Parkisonson’s Disease Dementia (a Lewy Body Dementia).  Traveling is tough.  We can’t really plan much of anything since we never know from one hour to the next whether Mary Ann will crash and fold for a couple of hours of napping, have a major intenstinal event, or need a trip to Baskin and Robbins, or Sonic, or DQ or Sheridan’s.  Getting very far from medical facilities that can handle the complexities of her convergence of medical problems, provides a strong disincentive to venturing very far. 

To a certain degree, we are trapped by the Parkinson’s.  The dream of that train trip across Canada appears to be left to the world of fantasy.  My dream of a log cabin in the country is not an option, although I doubt I would be willing to do the work necessary to take care of such a place anyway.  That trip to the Snowy Mountain region of Australia is out of the question. 

There are all those other retired folks who travel and dine out and go to shows and concerts.  We have never so much as seen the Grand Canyon.  Just watch cable television for a while and look at the beautiful, exciting places to go and things to do.  There will be no dinner-dances (gratefully, since I can’t dance).  There will be no treks into the woods or wetlands for rare bird sightings. 

What are you missing?  What are the things you planned to do before the Chronic Illness joined your family?  Are you going stir crazy looking at the four walls of your home, or the inside of your car as you make short local trips, or the waiting rooms of multiple labs and doctors offices?

I have to admit that at the moment, I do not have identifiable feelings of resentment about what I am missing.  I can only speak for myself on this.  I will not presume to speak for Mary Ann. 

We have had some adventures in our life together, however low key they may be.  We have toured England, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium.  We have cruised the Virgin Islands and traveled to Denali in Alaska and cruised the coast to Vancouver.  We have skiied in Colorado.  There was also that trip to DesMoines — the notorious diversion from Colorado triggered by uncooperative children in the back of the station wagon. We have made it to see Santa Barbara and the Carolinas. 

All that is not to impress you with our travels.  For over forty-three years of marriage, that is nothing to brag about.  That is not the point.  The point is, as much as we were in awe of the beauty we saw, it did not give our life meaning and purpose.  What we saw was interesting greenery, colorful flowers, varied topography, beautiful structures.  Sometimes we stayed in rooms with nice looking decor, sometimes in very ordinary accommodations. 

When a Volunteer comes to stay with Mary Ann for a couple of hours, I sometimes head to a nearby lake with some of the most beautiful gardens imaginable, filled with ponds and waterfalls, colors dramatic enough to take my breath away.  I can head out to places where Eagles are nesting and water birds are migrating by the tens of thousands.  Within an hour and a half of here we can find restaurants as good as any anywhere and take in the occasional show.  When all the pieces fall in place, I can travel to a spot a few hours away and spend two or three days in utter solitude, hiking and reading, observing wildlife, feeling the warm sun and the soft breeze on my face, the rustle of the leaves, sunsets that fill me with wonder. 

Yes, I am missing wonders that are spread all over the world.  What I am not missing is the capacity to experience the marvel of all there is to see as the sun and the moon and the stars illuminate the part of the planet in which we live.  The topography (admittedly, pretty flat in this Midwestern location), the flowers, the birds, the trees, the wildlife, restaurants and stores and movie theaters are here to be experienced. 

More than that are people of all sorts, with stories to tell.  In fact, through the wonders of technology, I can interact wtih people from all over the world.  In our online group of Spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia, there are people from New Zealand, from Italy, from Wales, from Canada, from all over the this country.  There are children and Grandchildren to be celebrated.

I guess I am just not sure I am missing anything so important that it needs to make me sad.  Sure, if circumstances allowed it, we would take that train trip across Canada or see the Grand Canyon, I would venture off to Australia, live in a log cabin in the country, but if none of that ever happens, I will not despair at all that I have missed in life.  Life has been full to the brim.  More than I ever thought to dream has come to be in one way or another. 

Again, I have to ask, what would you like to experience were it not for the commitment to Caregiving that shapes your life now and limits possibilities?  How does it make you feel no longer to have the option to realize those dreams as you had imagined them?  What do you do with those feelings?