Mary Ann lay down after lunch for a nap.  The moment she is settled in bed, I start doing tasks inside or outside, confident that she is very likely to sleep for a couple of hours without stirring.  Not so this afternoon.

When I came back in, her eyes were open.  She said that her esophagus hurt and she needed a Tums.  It seemed to be hurting more than usual.  She used the bathroom and had a fainting spell immediately after I put the Tums in her mouth.

The pattern we use is that Tums comes first.  If it does not help, a Nitro pill comes next.  If that hasn’t eliminated the pain in five to ten minutes, another Nitro pill is taken.  She has to be lying down for that since Nitro pills lower blood pressure dramatically.  Since she had just fainted, it was apparent that her BP was already fairly low.

Hospice Nurse Emily came to the door for her weekly visit as we were waiting for the Tums to work.  Mary Ann said that it seemed to be helping.  The new twist was that when Emily checked her oxygen saturation level (98%, very good) and heart rate with the finger monitor, Mary Ann’s heart rate was 111, almost double her normal, which is about 59 or 60.  Nurse Emily took her blood pressure, which was in a reasonable range for Mary Ann, 150/96.  It is always a puzzle that it can be that high just minutes after she has fainted from a drop in blood pressure.  She had stood up and sat down when the fainting happened, but she was lying down when Emily took her BP. Blood pressure usually measures higher when lying down than when sitting or standing for anyone..

Nurse Emily measured her heart rate a second time, and it had come down to 85.  After Emily left, Mary Ann said it was hurting again.  I gave her a nitro pill.  Her heart rate was over a hundred.  After a little less than ten minutes, her chest/esophagus was still hurting.  I gave her a second Nitro pill.  About ten minutes later I checked again.  By that time she said the pain had subsided.  I took her blood pressure at that time and it was 110/50.  As expected, the nitroglycerin had lowered her BP.

The concern, of course, is an unexplained increase in her resting heart rate.  I just pulled out the three pages of information on Cipro.  One of the bullet points under “Other serious side effects of Cipro include” is “Serious heart rhythm changes”.   The next sentence is, “Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have a change in your heart beat (a fast or irregular heartbeat), or if you faint.”  Okay, Nurse Emily was here when the heartrate was almost double her normal.  It did not seem to strike her as significant.  As is so with anyone who has been a Caregiver for a while, I never give away responsibilty for Mary Ann’s medical care.  I will check with Mary Ann periodically tomorrow.  If there is any discomfort I will check her pulse.  If it is racing, I will call Hospice to check with their doctor about how to proceed.  Since Mary Ann’s and our intention is that she not be resuscitated (those words are hard to see appear on this page as I write), we have to be thoughtful in how we proceed.  (Mary Ann has not yet had a chance to sign the DNR form in front of a non-family witness yet — not sure whether procrastination or denial on my part.)

She has been fine the rest of the day and is now in bed, hopefully, for the night.  She went to Bible study this morning and, according to her report, stayed awake.  She had lamented when she first got up this morning that she sleeps so much during the group time, that it seemed fruitless to attend.  She then admitted that getting out with people was good, and that was the only regular time with others she had.

I had an especially good time during the Bible Study,  I had a chance to talk for a time with a cluster of the staff with whom I worked at the church from which I retired.  I realize just how much I miss having those folks to talk with.  When there was some experience or encounter, one of little consequence in the grand scheme of things, it was nice to have some place to report whatever it was.

I headed over to the coffee shop (of course, PT’s) and ran into one of the owners I have known for many years.  As usual, he had just returned from another part of the world where coffee is grown, this time somewhere on the continent of Africa.  He is always entertaining.  I followed that with a visit to the Wild Bird House.  There I could review the experience with the Mallards yesterday and hear some stories about rahabbing ducks.  I didn’t realize that bullfrogs ate ducklings — not a pleasant thought, but interesting to know. Melody rehabs the birds, and Todd is a sort of Renaissance man, who plays in a group and teaches guitar, creates websites from scratch, and builds decks, as well as running the store with Melody. He and I talked deck issues — my bowing crosspiece.

We headed for the store, loaded the car with gas and the back seat with half gallons of ice cream, as well as Mary Ann’s Sesame Chicken dinner.  That is the lunch following which the problems began.  She had the same for supper without any discomfort, at least yet.

This afternoon, while Mary Ann was having problems and then napped, I took on the task of taking up the Snap-Lock mesh flooring in the bathroom to spread out on the driveway, spray with a fungicide, clean with a broom and bathroom cleaner wih bleach in it.  It is  a dreaded job.  The ceramic tile in the bathroom beneath the mesh gets the same treatment.  Tomorrow, Kristie will come and do her monthly cleaning.  This time she will also clean the ceramic tile now that it is uncovered. (The mesh is on the floor to avoid Mary Ann being hurt badly when she falls.)

This evening, Volunteer Jolene came to stay with Mary Ann.  I used the time to do a few things here at the house and then headed to Dairy Queen to take advantage of this week’s special — buy any size Blizzard at full price and get the same or smaller sized second Blizzard for 25 cents.  They are celebrating the 25th birthday of the Blizzard.  We are happy to help them celebrate.  After eating the Blizzards, I headed out again to check on getting a roll shade for the east end of the deck.

It was a full day for both of us. The central concern is Mary Ann’s heart rate.  Since she had a number of silent heart attacks that we missed seven or eight years ago, I do not take this lightly.  Those heart attacks were masked by what we thought was esophagus pain.  It certainly never gets dull around here.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

Advertisements

One night and day like this are about all I am up to.  Last night the hallucinations fired up.  When I say that we got less than half a night’s sleep, I mean that if the night were to be sliced down the middle, lengthwise, there was sleep that totaled less than half the available time.  In other words, there was about twenty minutes out of every hour that may have included some sleep, at least for me.  As I write that, I suspect that I am exaggerating some.  I doubt there there was twenty minutes in any hour that was not spent trying to explain away hallucinations and convince her to lie down and go to sleep.

Once after I had pointed to her quilt on the wall and the family pictures on two other walls in the bedroom.  She stared me in the face and said in a very belligerent tone: “All right, now just take me home!”   At one point she was crying uncontrollably during a dream.  Almost immediately after I hit the publish button on last night’s post, she got up and then fell down in the corner of the bedroom. When I got there she was talking utter gibberish in a loud voice like the sounds she makes sometimes when she is starting to faint.  They are awful sounds.  They may have been some sort of wailing that was part of a dream that was going on when she fell.  I was afraid she had had a stroke, but when I got her up, she seemed to have awakened from whatever form of dream she was having.  She was still not at all lucid.

After having clear and healthy looking urine all day, up until the time she went to bed, she started showing some blood in her urine. I phoned Hospice, grateful to have someone to call.  The Hospice Nurse said she would bring over a kit to gather urine so that she could be tested for a urinary tract infection [UTI].  We agreed that it would be okay to wait until morning to bring it over.

After an entire night of getting up and down again and again, trying to get her to settle, she got up very early.  I had set the alarm early so that I could get a shower in before the nurse came.  Mary Ann was up before the alarm went off.  She was in hallucination streaming mode.  I simply cannot endure that for very long.  She hops up immediately after sitting down, needing to go somewhere, not always sure where.  She was in fainting mode, so each time she insisted on getting up and walking somewhere, she ended up on the floor.  I was with her each time, so I had to let her down to the floor, sometimes dead weight, so that she would not hurt herself.  Then I got the transfer chair beside her, pulled her up on to her feet and back into the chair.  As soon as I moved her back to her spot, she would pop up and the procedure would start again.  I could not begin to count how many times that happened.

I did manage to get her fed, no small task since she was hallucinating and paying attention or talking to whatever or whomever she was seeing.  I am utterly helpless to do anything about problems created by people or objects that have no corporeal presence.  They just don’t exist outside of Mary Ann’s plaque laden brain cells.  Whether or not they are real, they are so to Mary Ann.  They elicit the full range of feeling and frustration and fear that they would if they actually were real.

I had to sit two or three feet away from her every minute, or she would get up and move someplace where she could be hurt.  I could not so much as get in a fifteen minute shower.  The Hospice Nurse had to be late, since a client had died and she had been up with them all night.  I followed Mary Ann around, picking her up again and again for two or three hours, until just minutes before Nurse Emily arrived when Mary Ann simply crashed and had to go back to bed.

Nurse Emily dropped off the urine gathering kit for me to use later, but she was also willing to stay for fifteen minutes extra so that I could take a shower.  During that time Volunteer Edie came to stay with Mary Ann.  As always Edie brought lunch. This time it was a favorite of both Mary Ann and me, a Greek style meatball and veggie soup.  Mary Ann slept about three hours, beginning before Nurse Emily and Volunteer Edie arrived and ending just after Edie left.

We ate lunch, and afterward, Mary Ann started the same pattern as the one that had almost driven me crazy (short drive) before her nap.  A number of times when she popped up in the afternoon, she was irritated that I didn’t get her into the car to go to the Evening Service at Church.  The service is at 6pm (ten minutes away from our house) and she started popping up around 2:30pm.

The afternoon pop-ups included four or five of them beginning a trek to the bathroom, where the fainting and intestinal production ending up in the wrong place happened a number of times.

We did manage to get to the Evening Service, but I was wasted and worn out, and Mary Ann was not able to participate much in the service. There is enough structure to the service, that we could at least make it through the service.  Church and supper did not change the pattern.  We ate supper, Mary Ann sticking her spoon in the Pepsi and her napkin in the soup, often seeming to try to eat the napkin with the spoon.  Sleepless nights wreak havoc on her dementia.

I won’t deny that I had been hoping all afternoon and evening that she would go to sleep again.  She did not.  Now finally she is in bed.  She has been continuing to pop up and down, sometimes thinking it is morning.  I have had to talk her out of getting up and dressed.  I don’t know that I have another night like the last one in me.  I guess I don’t have a choice.

What I have written may make no sense, I am so wasted that my eyes keep shutting.  I need to get to bed. (Too tired to edit. It goes out errors and all.)  [I am adding this sentence to indicate that I have now edited this post, and Mary Ann and I did get some sleep 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.

“Do you remember anything about last night’s bathroom ordeal?”  She answered, “I remember you saying there’s poop everywhere.”  I asked the question because Mary Ann so often has little or no memory of times that have included lots of fainting.  In fact, Mary Ann seems to remember very little of the difficult times.  What a blessing! I, however, do remember.

The night did not go well for the first few hours after the bathroom debacle.  Mary Ann was up every few minutes, sitting on the side of the bed, not sure why.  As a result, both of us were exhausted this morning.  Mary Ann was especially confused about most everything.  The fainting continued.  When she ended up in bed after breakfast, I decided to lie down also.

Both before and after our naps, the fainting was constant.  Every time she stood up, she fainted.  That meant that I needed to be within a few feet of her all the time.  It is interesting that even though she fainted every time she popped up, what would seem like a natural deterrent did not work.  Since she has no awareness of the fainting, it does not work its way into her consciousness when she feels the need to stand up.  Most of the times she stood up and started to try to get around the front of the chair, seemingly headed somewhere, she could not tell me why she stood up and where she was going.

As the day wore on, the fainting began to subside.  I suggested that we attend the Evening Service at church tonight.  While, as usual, there was no verbal response, a little while after I asked about church, she stood up.  When I asked where she was headed, she answered that she was going to get her shoes.  That was her way of answering my question about church.  It is hard to explain just how frustrating it is to have no verbal clues to help discover her thoughts or intentions.  I have to wait for some physical movement to determine what she has decided.  What is more frustrating is to ask, get one answer, and then seconds later discover by her movements that she is actually doing the opposite of what she said.  She said, “no,” she is not interested in doing whatever.  Then she immediately gets up to do what she just said “no” to.  It is just the nature of the misfiring that goes on due to the Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, but it is nonetheless frustrating.

We did go to church.  She did very well.  It was sort of odd to realize that those who saw us, had no idea what we had just gone through with the fainting and bathroom nightmare.  It would have served no purpose to do anything other than just say, we are doing okay.  One commented on this blog.  She may have been aware of what we had gone through last night.  It does help to know that there are some who track how we are doing.  Caring enough to read about our days is a precious gift to us.

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.

This morning she said, “Let’s go some place and have some fun.”  Further interaction confirmed that she meant some sort of major trip this summer.  As we talked, she said, probably nowhere high [in elevation].  We had begun arranging through friends the use of a condo in the mountains of Colorado a couple of years ago.  After consulting with the Cardiologist, it seemed unwise to tackle a high elevation, putting stress on Mary Ann’s heart.

In the movies, a bucket list makes all the sense in the world.  Who could argue with doing anything and everything you have wanted to do before dying when death seems to be coming in the near term?  In the movies, whatever stands in the way can just be written out of the story line.

The dilemma in deciding what to do in response to the request for a major trip for fun, is that there are conflicting realities.  Each has validity.  One reality is Mary Ann’s view that is no longer reasoned through the executive function of her brain.  To her, the fainting, bathroom issues, problems with eating, falling, sleep problems, access to appropriate medical care, all are of little or no consequence.  She lives in a world in which she is constantly protected by those of us around her, taking care of whatever problems arise.  In that reality, there are no barriers to traveling wherever and whenever, just having fun doing all sorts of things.

There is validity in that view.  The various assessments of her physical/mental situation suggest that there may not be many years left to do all sorts of entertaining and enjoyable items on our wish list.  Assuming that is so, we need to get out and do anything and everything we can, as soon as possible.

The other reality is that we are on a roller coaster in which there is no telling if Mary Ann will be alert or completely out of it, whether she will be able to stay awake or will crash suddenly, whether she will be able to stand and transfer to the toilet stool or will crumple in a dead faint.  We don’t know if she will be able to eat or sleep or discern reality from hallucination/delusion/dream.  In the other reality, I am the one who has to figure out how to deal with whatever comes when it comes.  Not having the resources that are easily accessible here at home when problems come is a real issue.  This is not a movie.

The question is, how do we balance what is actually so in our little world with what we would like to be so.  My problem is determining how many of the barriers that I see are more my own concerns over what might happen rather than real barriers.  Now that we have made decisions associated with the transition to Hospice Care, the fear of not making it to a hospital in time may be unsettling, but it is no longer the primary issue.  We have already faced that demon and stolen its power.

I don’t want to stand in the way of Mary Ann having as good a quality of days as possible in these next months or years.  I also am not infinitely good and capable and strong and filled with limitless endurance for whatever may come.

In a recent thread of posts by members of the online group of Caregiving Spouses of those with forms of Lewy Body Dementia, there were some who talked about the struggle to do enough to provide adequate stimulation in their Loved Ones’ lives.  Some in that group have seen how others can draw the best out of their Loved Ones as they respond at a level referred to as “showtime.”  We have just come off three weeks of visits by friends and family.  Mary Ann has been at her best much of that time.  She has been engaged in conversation, she has laughed, she has connected and initiated interactions.  As Caregivers we want to provide that sort of quality all the time.

We can’t do it.  We can’t provide enough to compensate for their limitations.  Last night Mary Ann did not sleep well.  Today she made it through lunch, then crashed, fainting so much that she just had to lie down.  That was at about 12:30pm.  I tried to get her up two or three times, but it was 5:30pm or later before she got up.  We got some Dairy Queen, she came home and crashed again.  No matter how romantic it sounds to check off items on a bucket list, there are some parts of our reality that we can’t change.

For now, my intention is to think as creatively as possible about options for places that might be fun for Mary Ann.  I am willing to stretch beyond my comfort zone what we try to do.  She has mentioned the Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky as a possible destination in the past.

…I have just been “scared straight!”  My comments above about two realities have just ceased to be a balanced weighing of conflicting views.  I have spent the last hour (not sure, lost track of time) in an intense battle with active intestines, in a fainting, jerking stiff body, fighting against every move to try to keep what was coming out off clothes and into its designated receptacle.

Mary Ann is only 113.5 at last weigh-in, but it took every ounce of strength I have to try to manipulate her into position, hold her up while trying to clean her up, while she would stiffen in a sort of mild seizure, or go completely limp becoming dead weight, all happening while trying to take clothes off or put them on or wipe off her body where it had spread or the toilet seat so that it didn’t spread again when she fell back down on it in a faint.

This was about as tough a time as we have had with that activity.  I describe out loud the difficulty I am having and my frustration with it as it is happening.  That is part of my getting out what would be tougher to handle if I tried to keep it in.  A couple of times when she happened to be conscious she told me to calm down. My most frustrating moments are the times her body is fighting against what I am trying to do to get her seated so it will go where it should go.  Once, she even said I should put her some place, to which I immediately responded, “I am not putting you anywhere!”

I have now rinsed the matter off Mary Ann’s pajama tops and bottoms in fresh toilet water, put them in and started the washer.  I have washed my hands fifteen times.  Cleaned the stuff from under her fingernails, gotten her in clean clothes and into bed.  There was one aftershock that included the fainting and all the rest except (gratefully) for the “stuff.”  She is again in bed.  I have taken a couple of Ibuprofen to take the edge off the back and muscle pain from the physical exertion.

You have just had a peak into something that is routine in the lives of many Caregivers.  Others in the online group have to do what I just did but with someone who outweighs them by a hundred pounds.  I have no idea how they do it.

Mary Ann will be fine; I will be fine.  It is just another day on our roller coaster ride.  This encounter with one of our realities has certainly suggested that traveling a long way may not be a very good idea.  It is hard to imagine doing what I just did, but in a motel bathroom.  At the moment, our bucket has no room for a list, it is full of poop.  Tomorrow is another day!

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.

He looks at his reflection in a window panel at deck level and attacks, again and again and again.  It is a wonder he hasn’t knocked himself out.  Coincidentally, just last week the Kansas Birders discussed this problem in a thread titled “Crazy Cardinal.”  An explanation on the Audubon site said that Cardinals and Robins are almost the always the culprits when this happens.  There is so much testosterone flowing at this time of the year that they will even fight with themselves for territorial dominance.

When I watched this strange behavior going on, I couldn’t help but remember the quotation by Pogo, which ended up the title of a book,  Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.

If I have read this correctly, there is a paragraph quoted in the forward to
The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-3, that comes from “Quimby’s Law (passed by the Town of Quimby after the Trouble with Harold Porch in 1897) on which the quote was based.  Whether or not I am correct, the paragraph includes an expansion of those words.

“There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.”

Watching that Robin expending so much energy fighting against his own reflection struck a chord with me about some of the battles I fight, battles that I suspect other Caregivers fight.  I have little doubt that this painful truth lies in the experience of most of us, Caregivers or otherwise.

It seems to me that sometimes I expend more energy and experience more frustration dealing with my reactions to problems than the problems themselves.  The problems themselves are just facts of our circumstances.  I have no control over them.  They just are what they are.  They have no sentience.  They aren’t seeking to make me miserable.  They are just the harsh realities of living with any other human being, let alone one with Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia.  Some of those realities are just stuff that comes with daily living.

We have been impacted by Parkinson’s for over 23 years now.  That is just a fact of our lives.  Everyone has something to deal with, most often lots more than one something.  It is a waste of time to try to determine whose trouble is worse.  The issue is not who has more or who has less to deal with, the issue is, what will I do in the face of my problems.  I have a finite amount of time and stamina.  I can’t afford to waste a whole lot of it battling my own reflection.

Let me try to make sense of that.  When something happens, Mary Ann falls, I can pull the transfer chair over, pull her up, see if she hurt herself when she fell and then get on with whatever is next.  That takes some time and physical effort but nothing of major consequence.

Other alternatives for responding include the response just described plus wondering what possessed her to get up in the first place when she knows she is vulnerable to falling; is she just trying to make it difficult for me; why is she so stubborn, how many times do I have to do this; what if she hurts herself badly, that will mean hospital or rehab or nursing home; she will hate it there and so will I, will I have to spend my days at the nursing home doing all the things the staff doesn’t have time to do, should I have changed the dosage on a medication to help reduce the falls, is there something that I should have done to anticipate the fall and stop it from happening, if she would just stay in her chair, I could get something else done, Volunteers would be more willing to stay– the more she falls the less likely they are to keep coming to be with her.

I don’t go through all that every time she falls, but when anything happens, there can be all sorts of reactions that use up precious energy that would be better used just doing what needs to be done.  Too much time gets wasted fighting against imagined enemies that are created in my own mind.

Mary Ann slept well last night, and we both ended up sleeping late this morning — much needed.  Hospice Aide Sonya came and helped Mary Ann with the morning prep tasks.  There was some fainting later that resulted in a nap, but it was a fairly short nap.  We ate out at McFarland’s.  She allowed me to help her after a while.  We had some of Maureen’s spaghetti and Kroger’s brussel sprouts from the freezer.  Next came the promised trip to Baskin & Robbins.

Mary Ann is in bed now, but I am not sure yet how well she is sleeping.  There seems to be some restless movement.  Hopefully, we will both rest well enough to enjoy the beautiful day predicted for tomorrow.

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.

It has been a very long time since there was so much fainting in one day.   Anyone who is not okay with explicit talk about BM’s should probably pass on this post.  I was grateful for a three or four hour nap in the middle of the day and more grateful when the ordeal was over this evening and bedtime arrived.

I am a seasoned veteran in what I call waste management.  It is just part of helping someone who no longer can handle those duties on her own.  I am used to the fainting spells.  They no longer scare me.  It is when the two intertwine for all the hours she is awake that it calls into question my physical capacity to do this task.

I am not grossed out by it.  I am not pushed to a high level of frustration by it.  I am just tired and sore, grateful for a break from it now that she is in bed.  Yesterday, I mentioned that Mary Ann’s blood pressure was a very low normal when the Hospice Nurse took it.  I observed that resting blood pressure that low did not bode well for what might be so when she stands up for a while.

I meant to take her BP this morning, but did not remember to do so.  As a result, I am not sure yet about whether or not to start the Midodrine, which raises her BP and reduces the fainting but keeps her BP dangerously high.

Mary Ann got up fairly late today.  It was apparent from the morning trip to the bathroom that the fainting was a problem.  We managed to get her breakfast done.  Then the bathroom trips began.  She felt that she needed to go, but there was little production.  Each time she got on the stool, she fainted.  Each time she stood up from it she fainted.  My role, as I have mentioned before, is to hold her upper body back so that she does not fall forward off the stool.

She was fainting so much that she couldn’t even sit up in her chair when I got her back out into the living room.  I just took her into the bedroom and got her into bed.  She slept for three or four hours.

After she got up, I fed her lunch and the bathroom trips began in earnest.  There was more production during the afternoon.  Once down there would be a some activity.  Then I would pull her up, hold her up and do clean up, almost always including (sorry) getting out some that would not come on its own.  Then as that was going on, she would faint again.  Trying to get her into the sitting position when she is only partially conscious and holding herself stiff, takes all the strength I can muster.  The torso has some pretty powerful muscles.

Each time we went in, there would two or three repeats of that same pattern with occasionally a few minutes of just sitting there holding herself up. During those times, I stayed close to her so that I could get there immediately when she popped up.

Most of the next couple of hours contained those trips, each about the same in terms of my role.  When Mary Ann was not in the bathroom, she was in pop up mode.  She has absolutely no awareness of the risks of getting up no matter how often she faints or how much I remind her not to get up without my helping.  At one point, I had to click the seat belt on her transfer chair to slow her popping up so that I could finish folding the clothes from the dryer.

What I have described above is a very normal activity for Caregivers of those with Lewy Body Dementia.  I can hardly complain.  Others have a far more difficult time than do I.  I write in such detail first of all for selfish reasons.  It helps me to put into words and sort of “get off my chest” just how difficult a day can be.  I hope that the detail also provides a point of contact for those who are experiencing the very same thing but have no one to talk with about it.

I also hope that those of you who have friends or family or acquaintances who are caring for someone, will realize what they are going through and cut them a little slack.  If they are whining, they are doing so for good reason.  You don’t have to try to fix their situation, just listen patiently without immediately changing the subject to something that is going on in your life or tell them about all the other people who have it worse than they do.

Tonight, I am wondering if there is a direct correlation between the low blood pressure fainting issue and Mary Ann’s ability to keep on track mentally.  Shortly before going to bed, she stood up and called me over.  I asked what she was doing.  She seemed distressed and said she was leaning against a wall.  Her eyes were open, not slammed shut as happens sometimes.  She was in the middle of the living room, in front of the television.  When I said there was no wall, she responded, “Did they take it down?” (Probably a memory of the removal of walls in during the sun room construction.)

Moments later in the bedroom, she asked what day it was.  I answered, “Saturday.”  Then she asked me if I was preaching tomorrow.  I asked her when the last time I preached was.  She said, “Last Sunday.”  I asked her if she remembered that I had retired almost two years ago and had not preached since.  She just looked puzzled.

While she does get confused and have delusions and hallucinations and dreams that she cannot tell from reality, those interactions tonight, seemed a little extra odd.  That raised in my mind the question of the impact of so many times today that her blood pressure was too low to keep an adequate supply of blood flowing to her brain.  I am wondering what sort of cumulative effect that has.  If that is the case, it complicates the current decision not to give Mary Ann the Midodrine that raises her BP to harmful level.  There is nothing easy about dealing with this combination of diseases and debilities.

f 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 was sitting up in the chair in front of the television.  Her head started jerking forward and back up.  Her arms fell to the sides of the transfer chair.  She was out.   She had not stood up, she was just sitting there when it happened.  Medical folks call it Syncope.  You and I call it fainting. passing out. 

Why did it happen?  Her blood pressure dropped until it was no longer high enough to fight the pull of gravity.  There was no longer enough blood pumping to adequately supply her brain. 

It didn’t just happen once, or twice, or three times.  I lost count.  It was probably five or six times, one right after the other.  It has happened before, but never that many times in a row.  Only two or three times before has it happened while sitting down, unless it was right after standing up or walking or trying to get up — not just sitting down.

There is no explanation of which I am aware as to why the blood pressure is too high sometimes and too low other times.  It has been high almost her entire adult life.  That is called Hypertension.  She also has Orthostatic Hypotension.  That means, when she stands up, sometimes the Autonomic Nervous System [ANS] does not trigger the smooth muscles surrounding the arteries quickly enough to constrict to compensate for the additional gravitational pull down on the blood in her circulatory system.  Read the side effects on very many of the common medications we take.  They warn that there may be dizziness when standing up while taking the med.  That dizziness is a moment of Orthostatic Hypotension, low blood pressure when standing up. 

It sometimes happens to folks who have had Parkinson’s Disease for a long time.  It very often happens to those who have a form of Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  Parkinson’s Disease Dementia is one of those forms.  Little bits of material called Lewy Bodies form on brain cells in the part of the brain that runs the Parasympathetic System of the ANS. 

What all that means is that there is an insidious process that makes life still more difficult to some who are already in a very tough battle.  I know what the explanations are for high and low blood pressure in Mary Ann’s circumstances.  What I don’t know, nor does anyone else, is why for many weeks it has hovered at a frighteningly high level with no fainting spells, and now it is running high at times during the day and plummeting at other times. 

She had fainted some earlier this morning when she was up and down, using the commode. When it happens there, I have to hold her up with my shoulder to keep her from slumping forward.   Then after maybe ten or fifteen minutes of multiple times fainting while sitting in her transfer chair in front of the television, the Hospice Aide Sonya arrived for her first time giving Mary Ann a shower, washing her hair and dressing her.   I thought there was not a chance that Sonya would be able to handle her, even with the new shower chair with arms. 

Mary Ann did not faint once during all the ups and downs of getting into the shower chair, transfering back to the transfer chair she sits in during the day.  Why not??  Why does she faint one time and not another.  This is such a nasty disease, refusing to submit to patterns that can be anticipated. 

Now comes the question, do I resume giving her the Midodrine, a medication that raises blood pressure?  Her heart and kidneys are being damaged by high blood pressure.  I will take her BP in the morning and decide what to do.  If it is exceedingly high, I will not give her the Midodrine.  If it is exceedingly low, I will.  Of course, it is not as simple as that.  If her BP is normal, what should I do?  Normal is not high enough to guard against moving too low when she stands.  It often changes from way too high when she first gets up to way too low in an hour. 

This is an old story heard many times by those who have reading these posts since I began writing this blog just about a year ago now.  You have heard me talk about this many times before.  Here it is again.  It no longer scares me.  It just makes it harder to deal with Mary Ann’s penchant for hopping up and heading off, especially when she is hallucinating.  I have to actually sit a few feet from her every moment she is awake and alert, since she will stand and may fall soon thereafter.   She is completely unaware of any concern.  She doesn’t know she has fainted after she has become conscious again. 

She surprised me and slept fairly well last night.  She did all right at breakfast, fainted for a while, had her bath, ate lunch as Hospice Nurse Jennifer filled out some forms and took her BP.  It was 100 over something, still very low.   Mary Ann sat for a while and then headed to the bedroom and slept for four or five hours. 

I got her up for supper.  We went out again to pick up ice cream and a tankard of PT’s coffee to reheat in the morning (I’m a hopeless fan).   Since she was again in pop-up mode, I needed to get her in the car, seat belted in, so that I could relax and know that she was secure.   The ice cream was just an excuse for getting her into a secure place for a while.  You believe that, right?

Not long after eating the ice cream, she headed off to bed.  In spite of the long nap, at least at the moment she is sleeping.  It may not last. 

One of the people in the online Lewy Body Spouses group lost her husband today.  She described in detail the rapid decline and the process of dying.  My words to her were these:

You have been a mainstay in this group for a long time.  You have put words to what we have been experiencing.  You described what awaits us.  My condolences are laced with anticipation, as a result, I feel vividly what you have just experienced and pray for the peace Charlie now has to free you to find peace here, understanding that the peace does not void the pain you feel.  That is the price of love. 
Peter”

Our turn will come.