Last night Mary Ann told me that they were trying to trick her.  They were trying to convince her that she was not in her bedroom.  That is a Delusional Misidentification Syndrome called Reduplicative Paramnesia.  It is the belief that a familiar object is actually a substitute for the real one.

Those whom Mary Ann calls the Thursday people were back.  I think it was they who were trying to convince her it was not her bedroom even though it looked just like it.  At least one other time during the night, she asked if the people had settled down yet. As I have mentioned before, I do not want to reinforce the delusions and hallucinations, but I don’t want to dismiss them since they are real to her.  I try to explain that they are not real in a way that I can see them or do anything about them.  Gratefully, she is not terrified by them.  Hospice Nurse Emily confirmed that today when she asked Mary Ann about the hallucinations.

The problems related to what information her visual cortex sends to her awareness are one of the signature symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia and the Dementia that comes to some Parkinson’s Patients.  It is the problem with delusions and hallucinations that often force the issue of using residential care.  As challenging as they can be, with the help of Hospice, I am determined to avoid any residential care other than perhaps a respite day some time. So far the hallucinations are not so strong and so constant as to be impossible to handle.

Today, again, there were multiple events of syncope (fainting) associated with trips to the bathroom.  I suspect that I held her up on the stool upwards of a half hour adding together ten or fifteen minute segments.  When Hospice Nurse Emily took Mary Ann’s blood pressure this afternoon it was 118/68.  That would be good for a twenty year old.  When it starts out that low, it can, of course, go much lower when she stands up.  I have been trying to manage the fainting without resorting to the Midodrine that raises it.  The high BP is so harmful to her heart and kidneys especially.  If it remains that low, I may need to reconsider restarting the Midodrine.  The Cardiologist has given me the freedom to decide whether to give her the Midodrine based on our quality of life.  The preference is to avoid using it.  Those sorts of decisions place a lot of responsibility on my shoulders.  Yes, I am the one with the best vantage point for making the decision, but I feel the weight of that responsibility.

Gratefully the fainting spells were over just before Hospice Aide Sonya arrived at 11am to wash her hair, give her a shower and get her dressed.  Sonya said that Mary Ann did fine. After the shower, we headed out to do errands and to pick up lunch for Mary Ann.  It was a favorite of hers, steak soup and lemon meringue pie from the Copper Oven.

Again after Nurse Emily left in the mid-afternoon, we headed out for errands.  During that run, I picked up some flowers for Mary Ann.  Daughter-in-Law Becky had won a commitment from me to get Mary Ann flowers regularly in trade for adding our cell phone to their account. Do you see why we think so much of our children and the ones with whom they have chosen to spend their lives?

Of course that trip had to include a stop at Baskin & Robbin’s.  Those of you who have been paying attention will probably want to remind me that late afternoon ice cream treats ruin supper and make for tough nights including lots of snacks.  I know!  But the ice cream tastes so good.  She went to bed not too long after 6pm, and yes she has already gotten up to eat a sandwich and some applesauce.  That was around 9pm.  I hope that is enough to get her through the night.

Even with all the ice cream, I reported to Nurse Emily that Mary Ann weighed in at 113 pounds yesterday.  That is down from the last time, 114.5, but up from the time before that, 112.5.  That is about 10% less than she weighed not too many months ago.  At least she seems to be holding her own at the moment.

There is one way in which her weight is an advantage.  Most of those who post in the online Caregiver Spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia are women caring for their husbands.  A number of them in the last couple of days have talked about the predicament of having their almost 200 pound husbands fall, leaving them unable to get their husbands back up.  Most of them have had to call 911 to get their husbands back up.

I am grateful that Mary Ann is light enough for me to handle most of the time.  Reading those posts, I appreciate how easy I have it by comparison.  I feel a little wimpy when I have trouble getting her off the floor.  It all has to do with where she is located when it happens, whether I can get her in a position that allows me to pull her up and whether or not she is alert enough to help in the process.  When she is partially asleep or feeling very weak, picking her up from the floor with no assistance from her is almost impossible for me to do without risking damage to myself, thereby rendering our system unworkable.  We do have a Hoyer Lift to use if she is located in a position that allows me to get the sling under her.

It is getting late, and since i have had to get up fairly early each day to prepare for the workers on the remodel project, I am anxious to sleep in a little while tomorrow morning.  That will be up to Mary Ann.

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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.