This was one of the difficult days in the cycle we are in.  As much as I want her to be present with me, I was grateful when she took a couple of naps.  I don’t really know how to explain how difficult it is when Mary Ann is weaving hallucinations/delusions/dreams with moments that seem lucid, at least on the surface.

This mode demands full and constant attention.  Since she can’t differentiate what is real from what is not real, I am expected to deal with things that are not there.  Every task demanding my participation is multiplied exponentially in difficulty.

Of course she started trying to get up between 5am and 6am.  Then she was in the intense sort of mode that has a bit of an adversarial tone.  On days like today, she may be mobile on her own one minute and then weak and confused with her eyes shut the next moment.  When she is in that mode she often can’t connect with the simplest things.  If I ask her to sit down to put her pants on, she may stand up.  She may think we are in the bathroom when we are in the bedroom.

Eating is a nightmare.  When she will allow me to help, she often moves her hands in the way of the food as if she has food in her hands, or put her head down in a way that won’t allow me to put the food in.  She tried to drink the chips from the little pyrex dish, then she tried using a fork on the chips.

In this mode she will often not answer a question or say a word that doesn’t fit, then get angry with me for asking her again.  Sometimes she will say no to a food, but eat it when I put it to her mouth.

It is almost impossible to find out what she wants or where she wants to be.  At one point, she wanted to write a thank you note to a fiance’ from fifty years ago whom she decided had come by to visit.  Another time she just said she wanted her chip autographed.  I said back to her those words, and she confirmed that is what she said.  I, of course, have no idea what that was about.

It was a difficult day also because I find it physically very taxing to lift, move, twist her into the transfer chair or the chair at table when her eyes are closed and she has no spatial awareness to help.  Constantly getting her into and out of bed, turning her from facing one side to facing the other, demands physical strength that is right at my limit.  So much of the time in days like today, she is minimally helpful in that moving.

I tried to nap this morning during her first nap, but it was a restless one for her, so I needed to be up, helping.  Very soon she was up again.  Finally, this afternoon, I was able to rest in bed for about an hour while she was napping more soundly.

She has been incontinent in bowel activity and having bouts of mild diarrhea.  The tasks that are associated with that problem have been increasing and were included in today’s struggles.

I am disappointed in myself that it takes so little time when she is in this sort of mode for me to feel as if I am at the limit of my capacity to cope.  It would seem as if I should recoup when she has the sleeping days or a good day, and then be able to keep things in perspective, dealing with great patience on the bad days.

What seems to happen instead is that as soon as there are even signs that one of these especially frustrating times is coming, the dread emerges.  When the day comes, of course, it is after a challenging night.  With the difficult day comes the awareness that this is what is likely to be the norm more and more as the days and weeks and months and years go by.  As much of a struggle as today has been, it is only a taste of what is likely to be in store, judging from the experience of others.

I understand that the difficulties today are just for today.  Tomorrow may be better or worse, but that will be for tomorrow.  Were I perfectly rational and dispassionate, I would be able to take each moment as it comes without feeling the weight of past struggles and ones yet to come.  I am not perfectly rational and dispassionate.  I am alive, able to feel the frustration and helplessness and sadness to the core of my being.  With that comes the capacity to experience the full range of what it means to be alive, feelings of joy and exhilaration.  I guess the trick is to retain the capacity to experience fully the extremes that come with truly being alive without getting lost in one or the other.

Mary Ann’s friend, Jeanne, phoned today and will come tomorrow for part of the day to be with Mary Ann.  She came a few days ago to spend time with Mary Ann while I met with a friend, but Mary Ann slept the entire time Jeanne was here. Tomorrow’s visit will give me a chance to get the van serviced.  I was having difficulty figuring out how to get that work done given Mary Ann’s current condition.

Needless to say I am hoping for a better night and a better day tomorrow.  I can hope.

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The lack of sleep finally caught up with Mary Ann.  Last night, it took her a while, but finally, she settled.  She slept through the night with only a couple of commode trips.  She got up early.  I was hoping she could sleep a little longer since Wednesday is the weekly 7:30am Spiritual Formation group. 

Since she got up at about 7am, I assumed that since there was no morning Volunteer I would need to stay with her upstairs, eliminating my attendance with the group in our downstairs.  While it did take a long time to get her needs met, pills and food and television in the bedroom set, I was able to get downstairs.  I had to head back up a few times.  I take the monitor downstairs with me so that I can see if she is secure in her chair in the bedroom.  That way I know when I need to go up and help her.

The hallucinations were less intense, and, while she was up from her chair a few times, she finally settled there and just put her head down on her lap as has been so when she is awake, but not in hyperactive mode responding to hallucinations. 

When Bath Aide Zandra came, she had some difficulty getting Mary Ann to sit up enough to get her through the bath and hair wash routine.  When I came in to put on her Exelon patch, she could not sit up at all and was hanging on the edge of her chair.  Zandra had tried to use the seat belt on the chair, but that was not working well. 

As soon as they were done, I helped Mary Ann back into bed.  That was at about 9:45am.   Mary Ann slept for six hours!   There was a new Volunteer who had asked that I stay while she was with Mary Ann since she was unsure of being able to handle her physically.  Doris ended up looking at magazines for the entire time of her stay from 11:30am to 2pm. 

I managed with great difficulty to give Mary Ann the mid-morning pills.  I gave up on the next set.  I had not caught Zandra early enough to ask her to put a nighttime disposable on Mary Ann.  I knew that there would be leakage to deal with by letting her sleep so long.  First of all, she was sleeping so soundly that there would have been no way to get her up sooner.  I talked with her, urging her to get up and go to the bathroom a couple of times.  She just couldn’t.

Given how hard it has been to deal with her current level of confusion and the intensity of her hallucinations, I was grateful to have a rest from it.  I hoped that the combination of the a night and day of sleep might help diminish the hallucinations and hyperactivity. 

When she finally got up a little before 4pm, she was able to function better, hallucinations somewhat subdued and relatively calm.  The hallucinations were still active, just not as intense. 

I was able to help her eat a half sandwich.  She ate a few chips and drank some Pepsi.  She sat in the chair by the television for a while, bothered some at first by the hallucinations.  Then she put her head on her lap for a time.  I reminded her about some left over B&R ice cream she had not finished yesterday.  She ate some on her own and then let me help her finish. 

She headed to bed at about 7pm.  It is hard to know whether tonight will be part of the catching up time, or a restless one since she has slept so long in the last twenty-four hours.   She has been up a number of times already, responding to hallucination/dreams, once intending to get up for the day.  The time then was 8:50pm. 

I spent some of the time Doris was here working on a fax to send to Dr. Pahwa, Mary Ann’s Neurologist at KU Medical Center.  I want to see what tonight and tomorrow bring so that I can add that to the informaiton on the sheet.  I am asking him if it would be appropriate to do a review of her meds with an eye toward adjusting them — hoping, of course, to reduce the hallucinations. 

One side note: while it was good that I also got a little more sleep last night, I did not manage any daytime sleeping to do some catching up of my own.  The next three days do not include any time with Volunteers here.  If the next few posts seem to be written in Na’vi (a tribe of the native population on the planet Pandora in the movie Avatar), you will know that sleep has been elusive, and hallucinations intense. 

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This is the person whose Autonomic Nervous System has not been able to maintain a consistent level of blood pressure for the last few years.  It has vacillated up and down and down and up again.  Now the pressure gauge in her body seems to be stuck on high.

After consistently high blood pressure readings yesterday (see last night’s post), this morning at 2am I decided to take her blood pressure.  We spent a couple of hours up most of the time between 1am and 3am.  At 2am it was 200/105.  I decided to take a reading this morning when she first got up so that I could decide whether or not to give her the morning dose of Midodrine.  The Midodine raises her blood pressure to keep her from fainting from the Orthostatic Hypotension — sudden drop in blood pressure when standing, resulting in fainting, what the doctors call syncope.

Her blood pressure reading at 8:45am was 220/120.  Needless to say, I chose not to give her this morning’s dose of Midodrine.  I will keep track of her blood pressure and phone the Cardiologist tomorrow if it is still stuck at such a high level.  Actually, I will call no matter what to report this long stretch of high BP and ask if there is something that would be safe for me to give her to lower it when it is this high.  I also need to try to take her BP when she is standing to see if it lowers then or remains high.  At the Cardiologist’s office last Thursday, her BP was consistently measuring higher than yesterday and today’s numbers here at home even when we stood her up and ARNP Angela measured it.

Last night was not an easy one at least for part of the night.  I went to bed very early for me.  By around midnight or a little later, she started getting up, disturbed by the people.  At one point she wanted to get up and out of bed for a while to get rid of the people in her head.  I was encouraged by the way she said that, realizing (or saying for my benefit) that they were in her head, not actually in the house.

I reacted differently from the past when I have gotten irritated and insistent with her.  I encouraged her and helped her lie down, reminding her that staying awake would make them worse instead of better.  Each time she lay down, I returned to my bed but stayed awake, listening intently to her.  Whenever I heard her mumbling or moving around, I asked if I could help.  In some cases I went over at talked with her a bit.  At one point when I was in bed, she asked what the man was doing in my bed, meaning me.  I reminded her who I was.  It was odd that she seemed to be talking to me but at the same time about me as if I was someone else.  I assume it is a version of the Capgras Delusion I have talked about in earlier posts — the perception that a person has been substituted for another (as in the body snatcher movies).

I stayed awake most of the time for about an hour and a half as we interacted off and on.  Then she settled and slept through until morning, other than the usual commode trips.

I got up earlier than usual this morning so that I could get ready for going to the 11am worship service.  When Mary Ann got up, she asked what we were doing today.  I helped her tune in to the fact that it was Sunday, and that I was planning for us to go to the 11am service, then out to eat at the Brick Oven, and watch the Super Bowl later in the day.

When eating the yogurt, drinking juice and taking pills, she was in eyes-tightly-shut mode.  I needed to feed her again this morning.  When I offered the usual options for cereal, instead of picking one, she said she was tired and wanted to lie down.  She was pretty unstable from the time she got out of bed.

I did make a point of weighing her to see if she is retaining fluid.  Her feet have been swollen the last couple of days, including this morning. Her weight was almost exactly the same as it had been the last time she weighed herself on that scale.  I will continue to monitor that as long as her feet remain swollen.

After she made a trip to the bathroom, when I asked her if she still wanted to lie down, she said her stomach hurt and, yes, she wanted to lie down.  She was concerned about lying down, knowing that I wanted to go to church.  Those words and actions, stomach hurting and wanting to lie down, usually asssociate with intestinal activity at some point. I knew that major intestinal activity would be far easier to deal with here at home than at church.  There would have been no way to manipulate her into going at that point, nor would it have made sense to try given those circumstances.  It is now well past the time church would have started and she is still sleeping.  I am sitting here at the computer with my suit pants on.  I guess it is time to change into stay at home clothes.

She slept for about four hours.  I should have gotten her up at some point to go to the bathroom.  Even though she had a night time disposable, it leaked. The bedding needed changing anyway.  The PJ’s and bedding are in the washer. I waited a little longer than I should have to give her a pill and get her up since I had ended up sitting down and reading, listening to the waterfall and birds in the back yard through the speaker made to bring outdoor sounds in.  Last night’s time up with Mary Ann caught up with me and I wanted to have some extra time just to rest.  She called for me soon after the time her med timer had gone off.

I took her blood pressure when she got up.  The reading was 165/105, not good but better than earlier in the day.  I cooked a bratwurst at her request.  Bratwurst and chips sounds like good Super Bowl Sunday food.  She handled the bite-sized slices of bratwurst on her own, as well as the dish of ice cream from the supply we bought at the store yesterday.

After lunch I asked her if she was willing to let me check her blood pressure while she was standing.  It was considerably lower, 130/80.  It was a little harder to hear clearly through the stethoscope since she was moving some.  It may have been a little higher than that, but certainly not lower.  When she has had problems with fainting, her BP has been very much lower than that when standing, and sometimes sitting.  Both numbers have been under a hundred.  The time she took the Tilt Table test at the hospital to verify that she had Orthostatic Hypotension, as soon as the table moved her from a lying position to 70% of a standing position, her BP dropped from a high reading, to 50/30.  A few minutes later she fainted.  I will keep checking her BP, but I would rather have a little fainting than allow it to stay as high as it has been the last few days.

A few minutes ago she showed me her glasses.  The ear piece on one side had come out of the hinge completely.  It will need to be reglued — hopefully possible.  We will take it in tomorrow.  I can only guess that spending so much time with her head down on the dining room table or the little table in front of her chair has resulted in loosening that ear piece.  I finally found an old pair of glasses she could use in the mean time.  It was almost comical in a sad sort of way that I found two old pairs that were not useable since she had fallen on them, in each case scratching one of the lenses so that it is completely useless. One of those falls took her to the Emergency Room with a giant hematoma on her forehead the size of her fist.

At suppertime Mary Ann’s blood pressure measured 165/95, again, too high, but not as high as this morning.  She struggled to eat supper and refused to allow me to help.  The last time I offered and she refused, I asked her why she wouldn’t let me help.  She was completely shut down, her face almost in the plate, getting nothing into her mouth.  Her answer was, “It is all I have left.”

She went to bed at about 7pm, watched the game from there, took her pills.  It was not long after that that she needed a snack — no surprise since she had eaten very little at supper.  She seems to be sleeping at the moment.  That, of course, can change at any time.

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I am not sure how many there were sitting on the ice at the lake, but certainly fifteen or more.  It is a huge lake, so I could barely see some of them.  There were adults and juveniles in many stages of development.  They sat on the lake waiting for frozen fish to work their way close enough to the surface of the ice that they could get to them.

Many of them flew from one place to another.  At one point a beautiful black and white adult American Eagle flew right overhead, low enough so that I could practically count the feathers without using the binoculars.  Later a juvenile did the same thing.  The mottled brown and cream were bright and beautiful in the sunshine.

The Eagles interacted with one another.  They would land near each other.  At one point there were a cluster of four, two adults and two juveniles hopping toward each other, then flying a few feet away.  A while later there were two standing on the ice so close to one another that they were touching.  One was a juvenile and one an adult.  It looked like a parent and child (same size as parent) leaning on one another, both looking straight ahead in the same direction.  I suppose it could have been a May-December thing.  I don’t know enough about eagles’ behavior to be able to make an intelligent guess.

The most spectacular sight was of two eagles flying into each other, almost grasping talons in mid-air.  At one point one of them did a complete sideways somersault, a roll. “Contrary to traditional belief, eagles don’t copulate in the air but rather on a branch near their nest or on the ground.”  That is a quotation from a website named Birdhouses101.

It took a while for me to settle after the excitement of what I was seeing.  Once settled, I spent some time reading an article from Weavings, the Spirituality Journal that I read.  It was the second reading of the same article.  Many of the articles in the journal are a little like fruit juice concentrate.  They need some time thinking, some contemplation, to get the best and most satisfying flavor from them.

The third week in the online Ignatian Retreat I have been doing has provided Scripture passages and articles on a theme that has been reinforced by the online Prayers and exercises provided by Fr. Ed Hayes (through the National Catholic Reporter website).  The theme is appreciating God’s imprint on and activity in all dimensions of life, especially the natural environment, a little like the movie Avatar, but without crossing into Pantheism.  I haven’t yet seen the movie, but would like to see it on the big screen rather than waiting for the DVD to come out.

The time at the lake provided the perfect setting for contemplation of God’s presence.  It is a theme that provides respite and strength for the day to day demands.

Mary Ann had a reasonably good day.  Elaine spent time this morning with her while I headed to the lake.  Elaine always reads more pages in the book they have been working on for months.  When Elaine reads, she immerses herself completely in the story and the characters come to life.

Lunch was a grilled sandwich, none too exciting, but then the football playoffs were on television today. Mary Ann enjoys watching professional football.  When we went to our first Chief’s game in Kansas City, she wondered what the ten yard business was about.  Not too many years later she reached the point that she knew the names of most of the quarterbacks on the various teams.  She would yell out loud when the games were on.  She has become much more subdued, but sitll enjoys watching the games.

There have been some mild hallucinations today.  She only had a short nap on the couch today.  I prefer that she nap in her bed, since it is outfitted to deal with disposables leaking.  I put a chux on the couch for her to lie on just in case.

She is in bed now, but I don’t know how the night will go — whether or not it will be filled with raccoons and people and any other unwanted guests remains to be seen. Actually, I went in to see what her movements were about.  There were children again.  Then she looked over my shoulder as I was helping her to the commode and said, “What am I going to do with all those sponges?”  That is a new one.  I checked again and she was checking the children who she said had found their spots.  She asked for some tapioca.  As i was feeding the last of it to her, she jumped because the raccoon was nibbling her foot.  Then the bedding was moving.  I saw no movement.  I am anxious for the new order of Seroquel to come so that I can titrate from 100mg to 150mg per day.  Then we will see if there is any reduction in the hallucinations.

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Have aliens come and stolen my Mary Ann, replacing her with with a look alike imposter???  She ate the whole thing!  Mary Ann ate the chicken salad that I made from scratch with my own culinary-challenged hands. 

On three or four different occasions in the last few days, I put a couple of spoonfuls of that home-made chicken salad on her plate.  It is shredded chicken (from the freezer, prepared by our Daughter Lisa when she was here), grapes, pecans, celery, Miracle Whip, some fresh dill and a little onion powder mixed together.   She ate every bit of it every time I put it on her plate.  Potato chips and Pepsi rounded out the meal each time. 

If that is not enough, when I listed the options for supper tonight, she chose the beef, potatoes and carrots I had cooked in the crock pot the other day — and she ate it!!!  Now do you understand why I have posited the alien imposter theory?

On another matter, last night I asked three questions of the people in the online Caregiver Spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia: 

The first question was about Mary Ann’s hair.  It seemed as if there was more hair than usual coming out on the brush when washing and combing her hair recently.  I asked if others’ Loved Ones had experienced hair loss.  Some Loved Ones have lost their hair, with no explanation from their doctors.  Group members mentioned the dry air at this time of the year, stress, too much washing, thyroid problems, and Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE).  Since the problem seems to have subsided, I suspect it was just a natural occurance with no long term implications.  Needless to say, I will pursue it if there is more evidence warranting it.   Mary Ann’s hair is thick and dark with some gray mixed in.  She routinely gets compliments on how nice it looks. 

The second question had to do with disinfecting items in need of washing.  At the risk of being indelicate (I have been painfully explicit many times before), when there is need for cleaning matter (euphemism) off clothing before putting it in with other wash, I use Clorox in the water in a downstair sink we had put in for such things.  The last time I used the Clorox to disinfect some clothing, it was new red plaid pajama bottoms from LLBean.  I moved very quickly in the task of putting the pj bottoms in the water, swishing them around to get all the matter off, then rinsing and squeezing a number of times to get the Clorox water out of them.  Needless to say, they magically turned from red plaid to pink plaid pajama bottoms.  The suggestions from the group included OxiClean and Vinegar.  After some checking, it appears that OxiClean may and Vinegar certainly does disinfect pretty well.  I will probably substitute a 5% vinegar solution for the Clorox water when this need arises again. 

The third question had to do with disposable underwear.  The latest marketing tool is to replace unisex disposables with disposables specifically for men and for women.  The problem is that the women’s are made to be more comfortable for daytime use by enlarging the leg holes.  The net result is that  while they may be fine when up and walking, they leak badly if there happens to be a daytime nap.  Daytime naps are routine for many who need disposables.  I asked the group for suggestions of disposables that work for them.  I have had no responses to that one yet.  I suspect one reason is that the vast majority of those in the online group are women caring for their husbands.  The needs in this area are gender specific. 

One other note concerns a member of the congregation that I served before retiring.  He has had Parkinson’s longer than Mary Ann, over thirty years.  He fell and ended up in the hospital.  He has a strep infection that is interfereing with the healing of the arm on which the skin was broken when he fell.  In Emailing back and forth with his Daughter, I noted that people in her Dad’s and Mary Ann’s circumstances live in a narrow margin of functionality.  This fall and infection are taking Norm to the Rehab Unit of a local nursing home for a while.  He has been declining for the past few weeks.  Apparently, the treatment for the infection is helping him regain much of what he has lost in the last six months.   

In a sense, we are living on the edge.  In reality, all of us are living on the edge.  Anything can happen at any time.  Those who are in circumstances like Norm’s and Mary Ann’s are just more aware of it.  We can choose to live in terror of what might happen, or we can just choose to live. 

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.

Last night Mary Ann contiued her confusion.  While lying in bed, she asked about the group of people somewhere behind me or in her view in the living room — was it the Thursday group.  She asked if it was time to get up a couple of times, once at 9:20pm and again at 10:30pm.  She said something explaining what she was thinking, something that just did not compute, something about her relationship in location to others.   Once she got to sleep, she slept pretty soundly.

This morning, when she got up and was eating breakfast, I was looking through the Christmas card list.  I mentioned one couple at one point and she reminded me where they lived and that their daughter had twins.  These are folks with whom we have not interacted in decades, whom we remember mostly just at Christmas Card time.  I did not remember about the twins since it happened a year or so ago (I think).  Mary Ann asked about a former parishioner, whether or not she had died.  About a month ago she had gone into a Hospice House here, but had since stabilized and gone back to her Assisted Living apartment.  That Mary Ann remembered her situation was a surprise.  Mary Ann’s Bible Study about three weeks ago may have talked about it.   She said she wanted to go out to lunch today.   When I asked where we should go, she immediately said, “the Irish place.”   What a contrast to yesterday!  The place is called O’Dooley’s.  She always orders bangers and mash there.  Since she has never been an adventurous eater, it surprised me the first time she ordered it.  It actually is pretty straight forward, mild sausages and cheesy mashed potatoes. 

After an hour or so of alertness, she fell (while I was taking a shower), but as usual was not hurt at all.  After I finished showering, I got her back in the transfer chair — she fainted.  It was apparent that there had been some intestinal activity during or after the fall.  She became tired and asked to lie down.  There was some more intestinal activity and some major fainting on the stool.  She is now napping.  This was a particularly speedy trip down, up and down again on this roller coaster ride.

After her nap, we did go out to O’Dooley’s.  She had the Bangers and Mash.  I enjoyed the Portobella Mushroom sandwich with home made potato chips with a very tasty cheese dip and a Black and Tan (Guinness Stout and Bass Ale).   And I wonder why I am 25 pounds overweight.  When exactly is it that those New Year’s Resolutions go into effect?

What was sort of entertaining about the time at the restaurant was that when I asked the waitress if we had met, since she looked so familiar, she reminded me that during the five years she worked at G’s Frozen Yogurt she had often waited on us.  She remembered our usual order of two Turtle Sundaes, one in a larger cup so that Mary Ann could handle it better.  More reason for the extra twenty-five pounds.  It is still not fair that Mary Ann eats those good things and refuses to gain a pound.  That she brought half of her meal home and they didn’t even have to wash my plate since I licked it clean, might have something to do with that apparent lack of fairness. 

In addition to knowing the waitress, a young man from the kitchen caught me.  I recognized him as a former member of the parish I served before retiring.  He came over to the table, and we talked for quite a while, mostly about his future plans.  Both of the two were within a few years of high school.  It always pleases me when young people take the time to talk to us Geezers.  He also made a point of acknowledging Mary Ann by name as he left to get back to the kitchen.  That was a very thoughtful gesture, since so often someone in a wheelchair gets ignored.  Now that I think about it, I guess I am complicit in that problem, since I did not make a point of introducing him to Mary Ann. 

We rented some movies and watched one this afternoon.  After the Law and Order Marathon yesterday, I was grateful that we had been given a gift card at the local Family Video.  The movie was not very entertaining to us.  We were grateful when it was over.  Mary Ann was tracking well enough to recognize that she wasn’t impressed with the movie (“He’s Just Not That Into You”).  A customer in the video store had recommended it. 

Mary Ann went to bed very early again tonight.  I was in the living room when I heard the telltale thump of her falling to the floor.  She did not hurt herself, but she was pretty confused and seemed unable to come out with any words that made sense.  She was willing to lie back down and has been sleeping since.  That was about an hour ago.  By the way, she has had a stroke in the past.  This fall seemed like a pretty ordinary one.  The confusion afterward did not include the kind of speech pattern that is a telltale sign of a stroke.  She had no weakness on one side of her body.  Of course there are no guarantees since the range of some of her reactions often overlaps stroke symptoms.  We live in a narrow range of functionality.  There is a vulnerabilty we have just learned to live with.  Most folks who have lived very long are not unfamiliar with that vulnerability.

One especially pleasant phone call was one from Mary, who schedules Mary Ann’s Volunteers.  There are already ten slots filled for January, beginning tomorrow morning.  Those slots vary from two to three hours in length.  The weather may interfere with those visits, but it is a help to both Mary Ann and me that they are scheduled.  We have not had much time away from one another in the past week or so due to the blizzard and its aftermath. 

The ride the last couple of days has taken us up and down with rapid changes between the up and the down.  We continue to hang on for dear life during the down times and celebrate the up times. 

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She watched the director, knew the music, sang with her mouth open wide just as she should, and brought some joy to her Grandparents (and, of course, her parents).  This Grandpa loved every minute, since singing was in the center of my life during most of my first two decades of life, and has remained a love until now.

We drove a little over an hour to the church at which Chloe’s choir performed.  Her other Grandparents made a trip more than twice that length to come to the concert.  The choir is sponsored by the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC). Auditions are required to be able to sing with the choir.

Then logistics needed to accomplish the day’s activities were not always easy.  Churches try hard to be accessible for the handicapped, but old buildings often will simply not cooperate in the task of becoming welcoming.  We thought it wise to make a bathroom stop before the concert.  There was an accessible bathroom inside the ground floor doors near a handicapped parking spot.  The doors were locked to force the attendees to use a door that would allow entry to the room from the back.

Gratefully, we got the attention of then attendant who let us in and waited while we used the restroom.  The need to change the pad due to incontinence resulted in removing shoes that are difficult to get on and off.  We used an elevator to get to the floor on which the concert would be held.  As a result of the time spent in the bathroom, we barely made it in through a door in the front of the room, the same door through which the choirs entered.  We were directed to the indentation in the pews for wheel chairs, but all the seats around it were filled.  Gratefully, a family offered to split up with Dad moving the pew behind so that I could be right behind Mary Ann.

After the concert, to get to the reception area, we had to return the same way, take the elevator to the lower level, pass through the kitchen, and then arrive at the reception area.

Before the concert, we ate out together.  The handicapped parking spaces were a block from the restuarant.  To get to the booth, we had to go through the serving area.  Booths are always a bit of a challenge.  Ordering was pretty difficult, as it always is, since a compromised executive function of the brain is among the first of the problems to emerge with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (Lewy Body Dementia).  She really struggled to track and then decide what to order.

Again, getting the food to her mouth, coordinating the straw so that she could drink did not go very well.  Then twice, she just fell to the side. [See an earlier post on leaning to the left.]  After the second time, I moved from sitting in the chair that had been added for me, to sitting right next to her on the booth bench, with my body supporting hers.  When we ate at BoBo’s earlier in the week, she had fallen to the right twice while sitting in the booth.

After the concert we had a nice time with the kids at their house, along with Daughter-in-Law Becky’s parents.  Mary Ann was sitting off to the side a bit since she needs a hard, straight-backed chair to keep from being trapped in the chair, unable to assist when she needs to get up.  I stood near her so that the conversation would include her, even though she said only a few words.

I need to ask the kids to confirm, but today seemed to indicate that Mary Ann has lost ground in the recent past.  I am beginning to accept the possibility that this is just the way it is now — that we have moved to a new normal.

When we left their house, we headed down to see the Plaza Lights.  Kansas City is a beautiful place for the most part.  The Country Club Plaza, built in the 30’s with all the buildings done in Spanish Architecture, is a wonderful spot.  There is a huge fountain on one end.  There are parking garages built with the same architecture.  There are horse drawn carriages, people walking the sidewalks.  There are lots of exclusive stores, most having very expensive merchandise.  The lights outline all the buildings and have been put up from Thanksgiving through Christmas for many decades.

We lived in an area a mile or so south of the Plaza for fifteen years.  Our children grew up there.  It felt wonderful tonight to be driving those same streets that had become so familiar.  I realized how much I miss the feel of a metropolitan area that has people walking about, families, young people, folks out walking their dogs, local ethnic restaurants, curved streets, tall trees everywhere.  I guess we just fell in love with Kansas City during those years there.  As we drove, Mary Ann admitted that she would still like to move back to KC.  There are a number of reasons that pretty much eliminate that option, but this is not the first time she has said that.  One of the reasons moving back is unlilkely is that the house we bought for $22,500 in 1972 was on the market a couple of years ago, listed at $310.000.  What is it they say, “location, location, location.”

All in all, today was a good day.  While there were signs of Mary Ann’s apparent decline, the joy of getting out, hearing Chloe sing, enjoying conversation, and seeing beautiful Christmas lights more than compensated.

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.