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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I am going to get whiplash!

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

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Maybe that will be the formula, chocolate Boost and vanilla ice cream blended together.  We now have both in the house — just this afternoon — haven’t tried it yet.  She let me feed her the yogurt at breakfast, so she had that and some juice.  After a long nap, we headed out to Perkin’s and ordered the usual, for her three buttermilk pancakes and a half order of bacon.

The last time we were at Perkin’s, I seem to remember her letting me put the bites of pancake into her mouth.  This time she refused.  I suspect that the number of small pieces that made it to her mouth could be counted on one hand.  Finally, she let me at least hold the bacon up to her mouth so that she could eat most of the two pieces she was served.

We went to the grocery after leaving Perkins.  I bought lots of ice cream (bad for me, good for her) so that no matter what she did not eat, there would always be that choice.  I had posted a request in the online Caregiver Spouses group for a good tasting supplement to use for Mary Ann, one their Loved Ones had enjoyed.  Two of the three responses mentioned Boost.  We had tried Ensure a few years ago and at least at that time, it tasted very chalky to us.  Mary Ann was not interested in that option.

Even though we had eaten only an hour or so before, I asked if I could get her some Sesame Chicken from the Chinese food counter at the grocery.  I just wanted to get something, anything, into her stomach.  She decided that she did want the Chinese food. At first, she would not let me help her with the food.  Finally she did let me help and she got a reasonable amount down.  Later when it was time to go to bed, she wanted a single serving Tapioca pudding, even though I offered ice cream.  That seemed a little bizarre.

As to how last night and today fit into the sleep versus hallucination days and nights, it was almost constant hallucinations.  Last night, she was up very many times early in the night with all sorts of the usual hallucinations.  It was not a good night at all.

She got up early, as usual after a bad night.  At one point during that early time, she just began talking as if we were in the middle of a conversation, saying that I could begin calculating the rent.  On pursuing what she was talking about, she said, “well we know where this is going.”  I assumed she was talking about some option for full time residential care for her.  No, she was referring to the rent for a place for her, since I was moving out.  (Don’t expect consistent logic in hallucination/delusion thinking.)

I recognize that these are hallucinations/dreams/delusions and come from random thoughts firing.  What I am concerned about is how sad and scary it must be for her to have moments when she is convinced that she is being abandoned.  Oddly, in the last weeks, since that one especially powerful Sunday morning experience at the lake, I have been consistently more thoughtful and patient with her.  Maybe losing Grumpy Caregiver has unsettled her world — as in when the normally thoughtless husband suddenly brings flowers home for no obvious reason.

As usual, she lay down shortly after morning juice, yogurt and pills for a nap. This time, I went into the bedroom to lie down also.  I decided that I had better use the time to get some of the sleep missed last night.  (Yes, I am listening!)

After a couple of hours, she was crying out loud as she was dreaming.  When I went over to talk with her, this time it had to do with a conference one of our kids and spouse were having working out their divorce.  I never found out which of the kids was in the dream. I got her up, dressed and hair washed — then to Perkin’s.  Both our kids and spouses have the sort of marriages any of us would want for our children.  There is nothing floating in the air to trigger Mary Ann’s fears.

Hallucinations were pretty constant when she was awake.  Tonight they are continuing.  She fell once while I was not in view of the monitor screen to get to her fast enough to keep it from happening.  She said she was up to brush her hair.  She wanted to put her jeans on.  Again, even though it was 9:30pm and dark, she thought it was the morning.  She wanted me to whisper when I talked to her so that the people would not hear.

I am hoping for two or three good nights, since she usually has much less problem with the hallucinations when she is sleeping well.  When the sound sleeping comes, it tends to steal from us the days as well.  When she is sleeping during the day, I am grateful to have relief from the intense and constant needs, and I am also very grateful to have her here with me in the house, but there is a sense of being trapped and alone.  Since I thrive on solitude, it is not a major issue, just a sometimes uncomfortable awareness.

In March, it will be twenty-three years since her diagnosis with Parkinson’s.  The Parkinson’s has been joined by the major heart blockages with a hospital stay that unraveled my ability to cope, the life-threatening pneumonia on a trip to Tucson with phone calls to the kids to come since she might not survive, the stroke that came a couple of months after that, now the Parkinson’s Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

This has not been an easy journey for Mary Ann especially but also the kids and me.  I am grateful now to have only the challenge of doing a good job of supporting Mary Ann as she deals with all of this, rather than at the same time having the challenge of serving a parish responsibly as Senior Pastor.  With that said, the journey now seems at some level to be still more difficult than much of what has gone before.  What’s more is that what we are experiencing now seems to be just the beginning of much more difficult times — at least judging from what others have gone through with their spouses who are experiencing some form of Lewy Body Dementia.

Gratefully, whatever comes will come one day, one hour at a time. We need only the strength to deal with each moment as it comes.  That is the way it is for all of us whether we know it or not.

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.