Medical solutions seem to offer no help, but instead worsen symptoms.  It may be too early to tell.  I hope so.  It seems as if the increase in the medication of choice for controlling the rampant hallucinations, made them worse for two days and nights.  Now it appears that the concerning side effect of lowering blood pressure resulting in the inability to stay conscious has surfaced with a vengeance.

Last night Mary Ann for the second night in a row, slept through the night.  On the one hand, I am very grateful.  She got rest raising the possibility of becoming more lucid with less intensity in the hallucinations.  I have been able to sleep.  Last night I got almost ten hours of sleep.

Mary Ann slept from around 6pm last evening to 10am this morning without moving a muscle or using the commode even once.  The time she has been up, she has not been hallucinating to any substantial degree, at least it has appeared that way.

So what is the problem?  I fed her breakfast and pills.  She was up for while, quite subdued, but awake.  She got hungry again and wanted to eat something.  I got her a sandwich.  At the second bite, she pretty much fainted just sitting in her chair.  I could get no response.  I tried to get her from the chair at the table into her transfer chair with the wheels so that I could get her to the bed.  She was completely dead weight.  I tried to do it, but she slid to the floor.

After switching the chair into a different position and trying to slide her body into a different position, I noticed a little dyskinetic movement, the movement that tells me that her Sinamet is kicking in.  I pulled her up the way I usually do, hoping her auto pilot would kick in.  That and the Sinamet provided enough help from her to get her into the chair.  She just hung in it, limp as a rag.  I managed to get her into bed, where she stayed for a couple of hours.  That happened just at the time we were to leave for an eye appointment to see about new glasses.  I phoned to apologize and tell them that she would not be coming.  It has apprears to me that there is little chance she could function well enough to answer all the “which is clearer” questions.  I did not reschedule.

She finally began stirring enough to allow me to get her to sit up and try again to eat something.  While we were doing that some Members of the congregation phoned, Gen and Dwight, to bring over a little something from the a group of older adults in the congregation.

When they arrived, they greeted Mary Ann and she responded.  She had chosen to stop eating after about half of the sandwich was eaten.  She continued with some more chips and Pepsi.  Gen and Dwight and I talked for a while as Mary Ann was sitting at the table.  After a time Mary Ann fainted again.  I went over and stood behind her and held her up in the chair as we finished our conversation.

After they left, I took Mary Ann’s blood pressure.  It was 95/65.  She was pretty much completely out.  I managed to get her into the transfer chair.  Again, she was dead weight.  with the same difficulty, i got her into the bed.  I have not been able to get her up since.  That was more than four hours ago.

If the increase in Seroquel does not allow her to stay conscious, it is not an acceptable solution to the problem of uncontrolled hallucinations/delusions/dreams mixed with reality.

At the moment, all I can do is watch and wait to see what tonight and tomorrow bring.  Depending on what happens, I will decide whether to phone the Neurologist tomorrow or Monday to talk about whether or not to continue the increased dosage of Seroquel.  It is tough to see options dissipate as we seek to make the best of this combination of problems.

…It is now much later in the evening.  At one point Mary Ann got up just long enough to change into her bed clothes.  She wanted to get right back into bed.  This time she did not fall back asleep.  After a bit, she pushed the doorbell button on the bed stand to call me.  When I came in, she said she had been yelling for me.  Since I was watching her carerfully on the monitor and the door to the bedroom was open, I knew there had been no yelling.  She said she wanted me to get her back into bed.  She was lying in bed when she said it.  I asked her where she thought she was at the moment.  She said “on the toilet stool.”  She had thought I had left her there and forgotten about her. I pointed out that she was in bed.

I asked her if she wanted something to eat since she had not had supper.  She agreed that she did.  I had made some chicken salad from a packet and ingredients given to us by Trudy and Coleman who visited last Sunday.  Mary Ann ate the half sandwich and chips followed by a bowl of ice cream.  She fed herself the sandwich and chips.

I am suspecting that the dementia will be returning tonight.  Oddly, it seems that when she is most verbal, able to walk and take care of herself (eat on her own), the dementia is beginning to fire up. She is back in bed now, but has called me two or three times for one thing or another.  She is no longer fainting.

Based on prior experience, it just seems as if she will be up much of the night tonight.  We will see.

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.

Things really fired up last night.  It wasn’t our worst night, but not too far from it.  Mary Ann bounced from one reality to another to another to another for most of the first half of the night.  It slowed to two or three times an hour between 3am and 6am and then started in again in earnest.

It was a very bizarre world she was in until she finally rested her head on the little table later in the morning.  She described in great detail a birthday party that was thrown for her — never happened.  She talked to her Dad.  She reported to Bath Aide Zandra that her brother from Wyoming made a surprise visit.  She was constantly seeing and talking with people, describing things that were happening right in front of her as I was there completely confused by the stream of apparitions.  She had to get up early to finish the Blueberry French Toast egg casserole that was not there.  She came back to that a number of times.  It is very good.  I may try to make it soon just so that we both can enjoy it.

As always, I was completely at my wits end throughout the night and morning.  The hallucinations were a constant presence when I was with her all day long.  This morning, she was in hyper-mode.  She was talking clearly and distinctly, walking pretty much on her own. I just held on to the gait belt for dear life as she moved quickly from one place to another either with clear plans in her mind for what she would do or no idea why she had gone there.  It is such an odd combination of dementia and energetic activity and strong communication skills that there is no way I can describe it adequately.  All I can say that from my perspective it is utterly maddening.

Gratefully, Friend Jeanne came over and gave us a break from one another for at least a couple of hours.  This evening Friend and Volunteer Shari was with her so that there was another break. I just sat and watched the sunset, half dozing.  I read a little from the book of devotional observations on the St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer.  Both the sunset rest and the reading helped some, but my brain is just very tired.

I plan to wait at least until Wednesday to phone the Doctor’s office to report on the impact of the increase in Seroquel.  As I said last night, the vagaries of Mary Ann’s symptoms makes it almost impossible to discern what has to do with that change and what is just another of the usual vacillations.  The med is supposed to reduce hallucinations.  The last time we increased it, the first three days of the increase had more and stronger hallucinations than ever.  That is what has been happening today.  I want to give this change at least three days just in case it becomes effective after that, as happened with the last increase.

This continues to be one of the tougher times in the years we have been battling the disease.  I expect tonight to be a difficult one.  I will know for sure in a few hours.

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.

Coleman and Trudy live in Oklahoma on an inlet of Grand Lake.  They were members of my first parish in the Kansas City area.  They have a beautiful rustic setting and appreciate wildlife, especially the birds, as do we.  They brought Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ (from Kansas City).  We ate and talked and mostly enjoyed the birds.  The birds were very active, busy all the while we were watching. It was rainy all day, but never really rained. It seems as if the birds spend more time at the feeders on rainy days.

Mary Ann started getting fired up for a hallucination day this morning.  She was up a cluster of times, especially toward morning.  We got up sometime between 6am and 7am.  I got Mary Ann dressed and fed, then washed her hair in preparation for the company.  She was doing a lot of hallucinating, not as intense as some days, but on her way to unmanageable.

After a time, she lay her head down on the table.  When we headed in for a bathroom trip, she sort of wilted and ceased to be able to do much to help in transferring from the wheel chair to the toilet stool.  I was concerned that I might not be able to get her back to the chair.  She was not completely limp, so I was able to get her into the chair and then into bed.  This was a bit of a new twist on her condition, although I tend for forget quickly what we have been through before unless it was particularly traumatic.  Forgetfulness is sometimes a blessing!

I was concerned that she might be down and unable to respond for the entire visit today.  As it turned out, after an hour or so of sleep, I was able to get her up in time for their arrival.  She did pretty well for most of the three hour visit.  Trudy is a good friend to Mary Ann and has been for decades.  She kept Mary Ann engaged as much as possible.  Coleman and Trudy are both valued friends to me also.  We seem to have a lot of interests in common (especially Grandchildren).

Mary Ann did lay her head down for a while, but perked up again until they had to get on the road.  While yesterday Mary Ann fainted every time she stood up, today she almost never fainted.  The hallucinations were not apparent during the time of the visit, but they have fired up again this evening.  Mary Ann decided she wanted a bowl of cereal since she only had an applesauce snack since lunch and chocolate cake, plus rhubarb pie later in the afternoon.  While at the table eating the cereal, she jumped and described an exciting sight.  She saw the flowering plant on the deck just outside the window, move and throw quills, as in a porcupine.  She has said more than once that she slept through the day.  Each time I reminded her about Coleman and Trudy’s visit — which she always then remembered. It is hard to imagine that there will be much sleeping tonight.  She just went back to bed, but I don’t expect her to stay there for long.

She has had the additional half tablet of Seroquel the last two mornings.  She takes one and a half pills at night.  The purpose of the Seroquel is to diminish the hallucinations.  It has the side effects of causing drowsiness and sometimes low blood pressure dizziness.  The last two days have not yet produced any behavior that can definitely be connected with the additional Seroquel.  Mary Ann’s dramatically varied manifestations of her stable of diseases, makes it very difficult to discern what might be the result of a med change unless there are either new symptoms or a very obvious change in symptoms that goes on for a number of days.

The complex and difficult task of figuring what to prescribe, how much to give and when to give it, makes me wonder how it is possible for a physician to make such a call in ten or fifteen minutes at an office visit.  I will wait another couple of days before calling the doctor’s office with a report on the impact of the new dosage of Seroquel.

Here eyes are still open.  I wonder what the night will be like?

Well, it wasn’t wild and crazy partying, but given our circumstances, it was okay.  After sleeping well last night, Mary Ann got up some time after 10am.  For some reason, when we were finishing with her pills and food (she was already dressed). I remembered a couple of music CD’s we had gotten when Occupational Therapist Karen was working with Mary Ann using rhythmic movements in her therapy.  It is a CD of big band music from the thirties and forties.  Even though we were not born until the early 1940’s, the music was part of our very early history.

I put the CD’s on and invited Mary Ann to dance.  As I have admitted before, I don’t dance.  I can, however, sway.  She laughed at me, as usual.  We stood for a minute or two of swaying/dancing before she fainted from the Orthostatic Hypotension (drop in blood pressure when standing) that has come from a combination of medicines and a compromised Autonomic Nervous System (due to both the Parkinson’s and the Parkinson’s Dementia).

Today did not include the option of going out anywhere since Mary Ann fainted every time she stood up — that is every time!  There was some intestinal activity, which always included a cluster of fainting spells.  I just hung close to her at all times.  If she just stood up in front of her chair to stretch her legs, she fell back into the chair and was out for a time.

In spite of that, the day went better than I thought it might.  She was awake most of the time.  She did not seem to be hallucinating very much at all.  She got good, long phone calls from both of the kids.  Daughter Lisa’s crew sang happy birthday, and both of the girls (5 and 7) had stories to tell about what was going on with them.  Mary Ann was able to respond a little to both Son Micah and Lisa.

My Sister, Gayle, phoned and sang happy birthday also, so Mary Ann got lots of attention.  There have been lots and lots of cards.  She now has a bank envelop with the words “for ice cream only” filled with a total of $60 in cash.  The bank teller wrote that note on the envelop in accord with the note on a $50 check.  I believe there will also be some Graeter’s ice cream from Louisville delivered when Lisa and her crew come to visit in June. That has to rank as one of the best in the world of ice cream.

Don and Edie came over again to deliver some flowers and visit for a few minutes.  Volunteer Coordinator Mary had brought over a bouquet yesterday.  Friend Jeanne called, widhed Mary Ann happy birthday, and arranged for a visit on Monday.

After eating a slice of Glory Days Pizza for lunch (left over), we each had a piece of rhubarb pie (Volunteer Coordinator Mary made it a couple of days ago using Mary Ann’s recipe).  Mary Ann’s piece, of course, had a couple of scoops of ice cream on it.

Mary Ann dozed for a while with her head down on the little table in front of her, but was awake most of the time.  The big band music was on for much of the time.  Later she lucked out and found a couple of episodes of “House,” followed by an NCIS marathon.  We went through birthday cards.  She was not as alert yesterday when I read some to her, so we went through them again.  She was much more alert today.

The wildlife was entertaining to both of us at various times.  Three very colorful Baltimore orioles were in and out of view for much of the day.  It was rainy outside, but only occasional sprinkles.

After some more leftovers for supper, we each had a big piece of the three layer melt-in-your mouth chocolate cake frosted with thick layers of whipped cream and coconut frosting.  I made a pot of Sumatra Badak Rhino Blue Tawar coffee from PT’s. It is a moderately dark roast that fit my taste perfectly.  Mary Ann is not much for the strong coffees that I enjoy.  She prefers Pepsi.

Today, I included the additional half tablet of Seroquel in the morning cluster of pills.  The Neurologist is suggesting we try that addition to see if it might help reduce the hallucinations.  It can cause her to sleep more of the time and increase the fainting, but the fainting had already started before she took her meds and long before the medicine could have gotten into her blood stream. She didn’t sleep as much as usual during the day today.  It is way too soon to draw any conclusions on the effect the increase in Seroquel might have.  Today she seemed to have minimal trouble with hallucinations and more fainting, but the medicine may have had no part in those characteristics of the day.

Mary Ann slept well and for a long time each of the last two nights.  I also have had two full nights of sleep.  I have absolutely no clue whether tonight will be a night of sleep or a night of hallucinations/delusions/dreams mixed with reality, up and down with no sleep for either of us.  I do know which I would prefer.

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.

After she settled around 9pm last evening, she slept soundly until 2pm this afternoon.  There was one interruption as the Hospice Aide tried to get her up for a shower.  She told the Aide she was too tired.  I agreed that she needed the sleep more than a shower.

When she got up at 2pm, after getting dressed, eating something and taking pills, she sat for a while.  After lying in bed so long, the Orthostatic Hypotension (fainting due to low blood pressure when standing) was really creating problems.  She had some healthy intestinal production, but fainted numerous times before, after and during that activity.

Every time she stood up she fainted.  Even so, she kept standing up again and again.  Eventually, she was fainting so much, I put her back into bed.  She slept for another hour or two.

This morning, shades for the sun room were installed (three of the four — one needed to be remade to fit better).  The activity did not bother Mary Ann.  Also, while she was sleeping, Volunteer Coordinator Mary, brought over some flowers for Mary Ann’s birthday tomorrow.  Mary arranged the flowers and put them in a vase.  At the same time that was happening, Landscaper Sheila, who had smelled leaking gas at the meter when she was working outside the last couple of days, phoned the Gas company to check for a leak.  The truck arrived and the Gas Service Worker checked and found a leak that will need a substantial repair. He put some tape on it for a temporary repair until the full repair is done in a couple of weeks. A new meter will be put in also.

Of course the new landscaping will be torn up and a Forsythia bush removed in the process.  Sheila will prepare the area and replant the bush when the time comes.

After Mary Ann’s nap, she got up in time to enjoy the meal that friends and former parishioners Don and Edie brought over at about 6pm.  Don was the cook.  It was a great meal.  Mary Ann was very tired and struggled to eat, even with my help.

During the afternoon, former parishioners John and Marilyn phoned and then brought over Marilyn’s traditional gift for Mary Ann.  It is a three layer chocolate cake with thick fluffy white frosting covered with coconut.  Because of the frosting it needs to be refrigerated.  The cake looks as if it would be almost too rich to eat, especially with frosting so thick.  On the contrary, it is very light, melting into wonderful waves of chocolaty gentle sweetness.

After the cake, Mary Ann seemed to drift into what looked almost as if she had fainted.  While Don and Edie cleaned up the kitchen, I got Mary Ann into bed for another nap.   Don and Edie and I talked for quite a while.  After they left, I got Mary Ann up to get her pajamas on and take her pills.  She is now back in bed.

The Parkinson’s Specialist’s Nurse and I connected this morning.  She reported that Dr. Pahwa suggests trying an additional half of a Seroquel pill in the morning in addition to her evening dose.  We are to try that for just a few days and call in to let him know what is happening.  The last time we increased the Seroquel, the dementia got very much worse for three days before there was the hoped for improvement.  From the way the suggestion was reported, I inferred that there is not much hope this will help and maybe some fear that the dementia will worsen — if that’s possible.

Last night because Mary Ann slept so well, I was able to get a full night’s sleep.  It sure felt good.  I am feeling greedy enough tonight to hope and pray for another night of sleep.  Whether or not that hope is realized and prayer answered remains to be seen.

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.

[Too tired to edit — publishing as is.]

There seems to be no end in sight to the constant hallucinating.  It continued last night until about 3:30am or so, and fired up again some time in the 6am to 7am range.  When she is awake, she demands constant attention since the her mind is driving her this way and that.  She is anxious to tell Daughter Lisa about the girls bringing a wagon from the downstairs to help her when she fell.  Mary Ann even described the worried look on Ashlyn’s face.  They are still at their home ten hours away in Louisville, Kentucky.

As usual, gratefully, she did lay her head on the table and settle there after getting dressed, breakfast and pills — hallucinating all the while.  The position she was in looked so uncomfortable.  After a time she decided that she did want to go in and lie down.

During her rest time, I finished moving all the firniture out of the way for today’s carpet cleaning.  I also managed to get hold of the Neurologist’s office.  The call was a little frustrating since the Nurse saw that we had not followed one of the Doctor’s suggestions in the chart from our last visit.  She was not aware that in that visit, the Doctor indicated that the suggestion to get a Psychiatric Evaluation of Mary Ann, was only an option if we were not satisfied with Dr. Pahwa’s choice of medications.  Since I am very aware that Dr. Pahwa is one of the best Parkinson’s Specialists around, I opted not to try to find someone less knowledgable in the area to suggest other drugs.  The other meds for hallucinations are more dangerous and less effective for the kind of dementia Mary Ann has.  Dr. Pahwa confirmed that he was only making the suggestion to provide a sort of second opinion.

The Nurse seemed quite frustrated that I had not done what the chart indicated had been one of the suggestion for us.  The chart listed the suggestions, but not the result of our conversation at the appointment.  She did agree to talk to the Neurologist.  Since we were away from the house on account of the carpet cleaning, I missed the return call.  Somehow I also missed the call on my cell phone.

I got Mary Ann up to get in the car and head out when the carpet cleaner came.  We met former parishioner Jay for lunch at McFarland’s Restaurant, where Mary Ann feels especially secure — and the food is good.  There are lots of folks our age and older who frequent the Restaurant.

We had a great conversation.  Mary Ann was really struggling to stay alert and functional.  Even with my help she wasn’t able to eat very much.  We sure seem to have lost a lot of ground.  It continues to appear that it is not a temporary decline, but a new location on the ride.

After lunch, we tried to go home since Mary Ann was so tired.  The carpet was still too wet for us to go into the house.  We went over to the church from which I retired to use the bathroom, since I thought it would be quiet enough that I could take her into the women’s rest room without fear of interruption.

Then I broke down and took her for ice cream to Baskin & Robbins.  It was uncomfortable, but I will get over that.  The ice cream was good.

The next stop did not go well.  I drove to the grocery store.  We went in and gathered a number of items.  When we were about two thirds of the way done with our list, Mary Ann said she had to go to the bathroom for serious business.  They have no family bathrooms, but very active Men’s and Women’s rooms.  Since it was major business, I could not just ask someone to take her in.

It would have taken too long to try to check out with what we had before leaving to go home and use our well-equpped bathroom.  I took the cart to the Service Desk, told someone there that I would be back for it, and we high-tailed it home.  Things went fine there, but afterward, Mary Ann had to lie down and nap.  There was no way I could get her back to the store.  With the potential for bathroom needs and a store because of construction almost fifteen minutes away, I could not leave her there while I drove back, got the rest of our items, checked out and drove home.

In our world, nothing is easy.  Volunteer Coordinator Mary came to our rescue.  She has helped with groceries before and offered to help whenever she could.  I called her and asked her for help.  She immediately offered to pick up the groceries, stopping by the house to get the coupons and the rest of the list.  She quickly called back to offer to stay with Mary Ann while I went back and finished shopping if that would work better for me.  That is the option I chose.  It turned what had felt very frustrating and distressing into a few moments away to in a relaxed way get the task completed. At the store they had been thoughtful enough to put in a cooler the items in the cart that needed to be refrigerated.

When I returned, I thought Mary Ann would still be sleeping, and just need to be changed for bed to complete the night.  She wanted to get up for a while.  She needed something to eat.  All through the time she she was up and then eating she was lacing her reality into the reality visible to me.  Since going to bed, she has been hallucinating some.  There is not clear evidence yet as to whether this will be a night of sleep or of multiple interruptions by the hallucination/delusions and dreams mixed with reality.

One thing is certain.  I need to get to bed soon so that I at lease have a chance of getting some 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.

She finally stopped sitting up with a new hallucination/delusion/dream filling her reality some time before 3am.  This was my 6:30am morning to arise and get ready for the 7:30am Spiritual Formation group, so I didn’t gain a full half-night’s sleep. It still helped some.  The Group conversation is always very helpful in the matter of maintaining some sort of equilibrium (a hard thing to come by lately).

Mary Ann slept through until Bath Aide Zandra came to do her morning prep.  That allowed me the full time in the group conversation without needing to leave to do a support task for Mary Ann.

By the time Zandra left, Landcaper Sheila and a helper came to so some major work around the street side, as well as the entrance area at the side of the house continuing to the back deck.  She is constructing it to provide a rich palette of color and texture with an eye toward winter scape elements.  Since we are not in a position to get out much, we are bringing a stimulating environment into view from every window of the house.  There are plants that will invite butterflies and hummingbirds in the mix, many that bloom all season long, some that mark the movement of the seasons, some that strengthen the sense of seclusion in the waterfall area.

Having something very engaging drawing attention that used different psychic muscles from those tapped in the caregiving tasks seemed to help.  Mary Ann was not experiencing the same level of intensity in that has made the last couple of days so difficult, and she rested in her chair without hopping up as much as has been the recent pattern.  I was able to go out and check on the project, enjoying the prospect of seeing all the flowers blooming in months to come.

Mary Ann rode with me to get Glory Days Pizza slices for lunch.  Just before Volunteer Coordinator Mary came to stay with Mary Ann for two and a half hours, she lay down for a nap.  While Mary was at the house, I was able to spend time over a cup of coffee with friend and former parishioner John in conversation.  It was helpful just to have the time away, as well as having a listening ear to bend.  John does a good job of listening, and giving appropriate feedback without presuming to be able to fix the situation.

While I was gone, Mary made that rhubarb pie that Mary Ann and I both love very much (mentioned in an earlier post).  It was great to enjoy a piece of that pie after a supper of Lasagna from the freezer that Daughter Lisa had prepared one of the last times she visited, along with fresh asparagus from the country market. Mary brought a beef, potatoes and veggie dinner that we can heat up tomorrow.

Sometime in midday, we received a reminder phone call that our annual carpet cleaning is tomorrow.  We had gotten a reminder post card a week ago, so it should have been no surprise.  Since my mind has been so dominated by the escalating frustration of reaching and passing for a time the ability to handle the intensity of Mary Ann’s needs, it just didn’t register that I needed to get the furniture out of the house, and figure out where to go while the carpets are cleaned and then given time to dry.  In fact I had accepted the offer of a very caring former parishioner who has treated us with great respect, to bring us coffee tomorrow afternoon for a visit.

Gratefully, Jay was willing to meet us for lunch at McFarland’s Restaurant, a place where Mary Ann feels very comfortable.  That alternative also provided a place to be during the carpet cleaning.  We still need to figure out where to go for a while as they dry.  The issue is always finding an accessible place with a bathroom situation that allows me to help Mary Ann.

While I am certainly not at my best at the moment in terms of stamina, I was able this evening to get much of the furniture moved out of the way (downstairs or into the garage).  I am hoping that the one who comes to clean will be willing to help move a table a few feet off the carpet and into the sun room area.

There has been no progress today on contacting the Neurologist about the possibility of increasing dosage of the medication that is supposed to reduce hallucinations (while unfortunately increasing the daytime sleeping and the vulnerability to fainting spells).  The day was active enough that I just didn’t get it done.  I have not yet received a report from the Hospice Social Worker about the possibility of some paid help to cover a morning or two in the week.  Those two things are important since they offer the possibility of actually making a difference in our situation.

I hesitate to say it for fear things will change any minute, but so far tonight, Mary Ann has just had a few needs for turning in bed and using the commode.  She has been in bed for about two and a half hours.  It has been storming loudly off and on for most of that time.  The storms are expected to last almost until morning.  Right now they are noisy but not dangerous. They don’t seem to be bothering her.

As I finished that last paragraph, she started moving.  When I went in, she wanted to get up and go home.  Then I offered her a snack, since she had eaten very little for supper other than the pie.  As I fed her she moved into a very odd sort of mode that made it very difficult to feed her.  She was bouncing as if she was starting to get up.  She did that a couple of times when I had the spoon at her mouth.  At a couple of points it seemed as if she was partially fainting.  After I finally got the last of the applesauce into her mouth, she started bouncing as if trying to get up.  When I asked what she was going to do she didn’t know. I laid her back down and she began talking about everyone getting up and leaving.

Clearly, I spoke too soon.  Judging from her current state of mind, it is reasonable to expect another difficult night.  It is just not getting any better.  I keep thinking we will make it through this round of hallucinating and have a couple of days of sleep with minimal hallucinating interspersed with lucidity.  She is moving back into a pretty intense mode of hallucinations and delusions.  I just hope I can keep her in bed as much as possible, again hoping and praying that she will just fall asleep for the rest of the night.  It is now about 12:15am.

I had better finish this and get bed on the outside chance that there will be some sleeping fitted in before morning.

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.

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.

Almost every moment Mary Ann was awake today, I was never sure who she was seeing or where she thought we were.  She talked to people, the little girl, her Mother.  She whispered to me that there was some woman standing “right there” inside the van when I was trying to give her some medicine.  In the car after coming out of Perkin’s Restaurant, she asked why “he” gave directions to Laramie (Wyoming, the state in which her estranged brother lives).

That is the rock.  The hard place includes two things.  One is that she has continued to faint often.  There are times during the day when it seems more likely, but it can happen any time.  They often result in a subsequent nap.  That is the second thing of the two things in the hard place.  She has slept during much of the day many days.

The medication of choice to control hallucinations is Seroquel.  The most prominent side effect is that it causes drowsiness and can result in lots of sleeping, day or night.  Another concern the Neurologist mentioned is that Seroquel increases the vulnerability to fainting due to low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension).  By increasing the dosage of Seroquel, the other problems worsen.   If we reduce the Seroquel, the hallucinations would be likely to increase.

As I have mentioned many times before, the medicine that is used to keep blood pressure up, reducing the fainting keeps her blood pressure at a dangerously high level.  Today in the Dermatologist’s office her BP was 208/93.  That is without taking the med to raise her BP so that she faints less often.

We turn one way and face up against the rock.  When we turn the other way, we face up against the hard place. It is a difficult spot in which to remain for very long without beginning to tire of it.

Because of the unique character of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia/Lewy Body Dementia, there is a sensitivity to sedative type medications that precludes the use of any but a very few.  The choices are very limited.  The problem with trying other meds for hallucinations to see if they will work is that the sensitivity of LBD and PDD results in losses that cannot be regained.  We can’t just try things for a while.  Mary Ann is now on the medications that are most recommended for treating the problems caused by PDD/LBD.

This spot between a rock and a hard place seems to be the place we will be living for the indefinite future.  We choose to live in an intentional state of denial, but it is not easy to maintain it.  While I always hope that the latest sign of decline is transitory and better times will return, it is beginning to seem that the better times are long gone.  The Neurologist of someone in the online LBD spouses group told her that some time her husband would have one of his fainting spells and just not come back. Sometimes having a support system that includes lots of information about the disease one is dealing with includes too much information.  Some things are better not to know.

I have rushed to the bedroom a dozen or two times as I have been writing the last few paragraphs.  Mary Ann is hallucinating and pretty adversarial and angry that I don’t respond appropriately to things that simply make sense to me or have no corporeal existence outside of Mary Ann’s mind.  I can only wait until, hopefully, she just wears out and goes to sleep.  She has been in and out of fainting most of the times I have gone to the bedroom to get her back into bed.  In fact she has been vocalizing some while fainting, sometimes acting in a belligerent way while in that state.

This morning I knew problems were beginning.  She was up a number of times very early, and when she could no longer stay in bed, she had that intensity that signals the beginning of the streaming hallucinations.  There was some fainting early on, but Bath Aide Zandra didn’t have problems with her.  After Zandra left, I got her breakfast and pills.  She sat in her chair for a while in pop up mode, but soon put her head down.  Finally, she wanted to lie down.

After lying down, I got her up to go to the Dermatologist appointment she has been asking about for a couple of weeks, often thinking it was the day of the appointment. She was concerned about some bumps she felt on her head.  There were no problems discovered.  The nurse asked Mary Ann what she was doing at one point.  Mary Ann said she was separating her fingers.  It was the thread or gold chain hallucination.

I just headed back to the bedroom again.  She asked if they served breakfast and lunch.  I confirmed that she thought it was a motel.  I tried to convince her that she was in her bedroom.  She responded angrily that I kept moving her from house to house.  I asked if she wanted some applesauce.  She said yes.  Then while I was getting it, she got up, walked around the end of the bed to the area between the beds and fell.  She did not hurt herself, but that spot is one from which it is almost impossible to extricate her.  The only alternative was to lift her straight up and on to the bed.  My back reminded me just how risky that move is.  That  area between the beds is too small to get the lift in and manage to put the sling around her.

I got her around to the side of the bed and started feeding her the applesauce.  She fainted, completely falling into me since I was sitting next to her.  Even when finally she was awake and ready to eat again, I had to hold her up and try to keep her hand away from her mouth so that I could get the applesauce in.  Sometimes when I am feeding her, she moves her hand to her mouth as if she is feeding herself.  I have to try to figure out how to get the food around her hand and into her mouth.  She gets irritated when I push her hand out of the way to get to her mouth.

I finally got her back into bed.  I am sure she will be up again soon.  Needless to say, this has not been one of our better days!  Here we go again — again demanding lifting and shifting and adjusting her in bed. Each time I have gone to help her there has been the same need for the physically demanding help.  This is another one of those times I am wondering how long I will last.

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.

Mary Ann slept reasonably well after settling last night.  She got up and had breakfast, but afterward opted to remain in her pajamas.  After a time, she just started fainting in her chair.  We managed a trip to the bathroom once, but the second time she fainted in the transfer chair before I could get her on the stool.  She just needed to get back in bed.

While she slept, I did a bunch of simple household chores.  It struck me how much effort is necessary just to do the most basic tasks to maintain a household. That is hardly news to anyone who has had responsibility for those basic tasks.  Having grown up in a household in which Dad did outside stuff and Mom did inside stuff, it has taken a while for me to catch on.

I did manage some time watching the large screen nature show at the back of the house.  I need to correct the pronouns in my last post.  That Oriole is “she” not “he.”  I should have known since she was more yellow than I expected of a Baltimore Oriole.  Mr. Oriole appeared at the waterfall this morning.  He has not ventured to the jelly yet, at least when I have been watching.  Mrs. Oriole has spent a number of times there today.

Mary Ann got up in the early to mid-afternoon.  Given the choice of waiting an hour for me to make a bigger meal or having a sandwich then, she opted for ice cream. You will note that ice cream was not one of the options I suggested.  We both had some ice cream.  I put the baked potatoes in the oven, and after about an hour, I George Foremanned a couple of pieces of sirloin from Omaha Steaks I had marinating in the fridge and steamed a bunch of Asparagus. By the way, I absolutely HATE cleaning the George Foreman Grill!

After eating, Mary Ann watched some television.  Daughter Lisa phoned to wish Mary Ann a happy Mother’s Day and report that some items produced by our Granddaughters would be coming later.  Since we had eaten so late, it was not long before it was time to go to the Evening Service at church.  Mary Ann had forgotten that it was Sunday.  I got changed and we headed over to the Service.

Shortly after we got back, Mary Ann was ready to go to bed.  It is a very cool and gray evening.  I have stepped outside a few times just to take it in.  I prefer the days when Mary Ann is subdued and sleeps a lot to the ones when she is so intense and streaming hallucinations, delusions and dreams confused with reality.  At the same time, on occasion when she is sleeping, there are pensive moments during which I get a glimpse of what it might feel like to be alone.  There are lots and lots of people who have faced that challenge before me.  As any will testify, that there are others does not lessen the impact when it is you.

I choose not to remain long in the pensive times.  We live in a state of intentional denial.  We have enough to deal with in the present.  We will deal with future possibilities when they become the present.  For now, we have each other.  That is our reality.  It is enough.

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.