I need to find some synonym for “confused.”  I wonder how many of the posts I have written over this almost year now of writing that have the phrase “hopelessly confused” in them.  Again today I am hopelessly confused.

Mary Ann settled last night after a few signs of restlessness. Oddly, in one of those restless moments, I came in because she had been moving around in bed, seeming to be ready to hop up (as seen on the monitor while I was at the computer).  She asked me something about where I was going to go.  I don’t remember the exact words.  I told her I wasn’t going anywhere and asked what brought her to ask that question.  She said that she had been thinking (or dreaming) that I was going to divorce her.

I told her that she was not getting rid of me that easily, and that it was not even a remote option.  I wondered from where the thought had come.  Even in my most frustrating moments, when my words were far from sweet, that was never a word used or even implied.  As different as we are in some ways and as many times as we were not pleased with one another in our 44 years of marriage, that was never a realistic option.  I make no judgments on those whose circumstances became so difficult that divorce was the best option in a bad situation.  Our conflicts and frustrations never reached the level of raising that as an option.

What causes me to be hopelessly confused at the moment is that, after working on the sheet to fax to the Neurologist about changing meds to control the bouts of hyperactivity and streaming hallucinations, Mary Ann has been subdued and sleeping a lot.

After our conversation eliminating divorce as an option, she settled in for the night, and the morning and into the afternoon!  She has gotten up seldom to use the commode.  She slept until almost 10am (okay with me!).  I helped her to the commode and got her dressed.  As soon as she was dressed (while we were finishing) she started trying to lie down again.  I took her blood pressure (210/120), and then she just lay back down in the bed.

At about 1:15pm, she was moving a bit, so I asked if she wanted to sit up.  She half-heartedly agreed that she did.  I got her to the bathroom and out to the dining room for pills and yogurt.  As soon as she was done with the yogurt, I asked if she wanted cereal or lunch food next.  Then I asked if she was still hungry at all.  She said that she was tired.  She wanted to lie down in bed again.

It is now 2pm and she is resting peacefully.

It is now 3:30pm.  I sat her up to take her mid-morning (I know!) pills, take her to the bathroom, change her pad (disposable underwear), and get her jeans on again.  I asked if she was hungry.  She said no.  I asked if she would like to come out into the living room and watch some television.  She said she wanted to go back to bed.  That is where she is.

It is now 8:30pm.  I got Mary Ann up (she was reluctant) at about 5:30pm.  She was not hungry, but after sitting up for a while, she agreed to eat some supper.  I cooked and sliced up a bratwurst for her.  She likes them and they are easy to eat in that form.  She managed to spear them with the fork and get them to her mouth on her own.  She had a chip or two and some Pepsi.  Then she ate a dish of ice cream from the freezer with very minimal help from me.  She had some fairly normal intestinal activity.  She then sat in the chair in front of the television, but after a short time of sitting up, began leaning forward on her lap again.  At about 8pm she decided it was time to go to bed.  I cannot imagine that she will sleep the night after sleeping most of two full days and nights.

I now have no idea what I would write on the sheet to fax to the Neurologist.  What I wrote Wednesday does not reflect what is going on now.  If meds are changed to calm her down, she hardly needs that.  If meds are changed to perk her up, the wild hallucinations and hyperactivity might return with a vengeance.

By the way, I expect the hallucinations and hyperactivity to cycle back in at some point. I dread that time.

She hasn’t been fainting but seems likely to do so again judging from the past.

Everything she is experiencing, including the vacillations from one extreme to the other are talked about frequently by those in the online group of Lewy Body Disease Spouses.  That does not prove that Mary Ann’s current vacillations don’t have to do with medications, but it does suggest that all this is just part of the deal. It also helps take the pressure off, suggesting that what I do or do not do as problems arise probably does not have all that much power to change things either for the better or for the worse.  This is outside my power to fix.

For someone who has been a planner who struggles with changing quickly from workable patterns, this is madness on steroids!  At the moment, as long as I accept that things may change in a heartbeat, Mary Ann sleeping a lot and remaining fairly subdued when awake makes caregiving doable.  I lament the loss of having more time that she is alert and communicative, but I am grateful for being able to continue to care for her here without going crazy.  If/when the hyperactivity and streaming hallucinations return, it will take about fifteen minutes for me to conclude again that I am in over my head.  What a ride!

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Only three months ago we went on a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  We stopped in Oklahoma City on the way to help John celebrate his 60th birthday.  We had a wonderful three days, even though it rained part of the time.  The trip back home included an overnight stop in Eureka Springs, where we visited the Thornton Chapel.  It was a very enjoyable trip.

We returned Friday night.  Saturday afternoon, Mary Ann woke up from a nap with her chest hurting.  We went to the Emergency Room and ended up spending three days in the hospital, getting fluid out of her system to relieve a relatively mild problem with Congestive Heart Failure.

Even though there had been no problem medications given to her while she was there, nothing other than lack of sleep and the distress for Mary Ann of being in the hospital, Mary Ann went home very confused and weak.  She spent the next four days sleeping.  Slowly she regained some alertness, the ability to feed herself again (most of the time) and returned to maybe 75% to 80% of where she had been before the hospital stay.

Three months later, she is hallucinating most of the time she is awake.  She is either awake half or more of most nights, confused about where she is, reacting to dreams and hallucinations, unable to distinguish between them and reality. She has not been able to sit up in a chair.  Even with the safety belt on the chair she hangs almost falling out of it.  She was finally willing to lie down in bed and watch television.  For the last hour and a half or so she has been lying in there mostly awake, taking things not visible to me and putting them in her mouth.  She can only on occasion feed herself.

This morning she told me about the hippopotamus.  She admitted that it was probably just a dream.  I was encouraged a bit that she spoke as if she knew it wasn’t real.  We were trying to find a Kleenex that had fallen in the water, and a hippopotamus appeared.  Then there were eight, she counted them then told me the number.

It is hard to absorb so much change in such a short time.  I am certainly not done challenging the medication regimen to see if there are changes that might help.

The afternoon today has gone a little better.  The hallucinations have continued but at a less intense and distressing pace.  She has had her head down most but not all of the time.

Lunch surprised me in that, while she said she did not want me to help her eat, she accepted my help anyway.  I had made a boxed pasta salad I found in the cupboard.  We happened to have some of the suggested optional additions in the house.  I did not expect her to eat it, but she was interested in tasting it.  She ate a large quantity of it.

At supper, after she allowed me to help, she ate a reasonable amount of Mary’s pork chops from the freezer and some of an Uncle Ben’s wild rice side dish.  Immediately after supper, we headed out to get my coffee refill (Mary had delivered a cup earlier today), and we got some B&R.  She managed to eat part of the two scoops on her own and then let me help her get the rest.  She had begun spending more time with the hallucinated food and the ice cream was melting.

The Cardiologist’s office called in response to the information sheet and questions concerning Mary Ann’s high blood pressure.  One question I asked was: Is there any medication that is safe to use PRN (as needed) to lower her BP when it is far too high?  The answer was, no, nothing that would not risk causing the BP to either bottom out at too low a level or rebound to too high a level.

The other question concerned the use of Midodrine when she started fainting or her BP got too low (both numbers lower than 100).  I wanted to know if I could give that to her PRN as long as the dosage and timing were in the range we have used in the past couple of years.  To that, the Cardiologist said, yes.  Those were the answers I expected.

I shared with Angela, ARNP, who made the call to me, that I was not very concerned at the moment with the fainting.  Mary Ann is almost never walking on her own any more, so the risk of hurting herself in a fall is lower.  At the moment, the seat belt on the transfer chair is most often connected to keep her from falling forward out of the chair, or she is at the table in the heavy chair with the arms, very difficult for her to get out of on her own.  If the fainting occurs on the commode, as has often been the case, she usually remains there, and I am always close, able to get to her and hold her up.  Her BP was high again this morning.

Today went all right from the perspective of my ability to handle the situation as a Caregiver.  For a time, probably between one and two hours last night when I first went to bed, the hallucinations and energy level were pretty tough to handle.  She could only lay back down sometimes for a minute or so, getting up again with no awareness that we had just been up and worked her back to lying down.  That would not be bearable on a continuing basis.

She did not have a long nap in which she was sound asleep today.  My hope is that she will be tired enough to sleep through the night tonight.

One matter that cropped up on Tuesday may demand some rethinkning of the use of one of the tools we use for creating a safe environment.  The Lifeline speaker phone sent the recorded message asking us to test the Lifeline button.  I brought it out for Mary Ann to punch.  She simply could not get it punched.  The coordination needed to get her thumb in exactly the right spot and the strength to push it hard enough to set it off just were not there.  She would never have been able to get the button pushed on her own.  I guess I need to check to see if they have something that is easier to use.  I am considering the other alternative of wearing it myself.  That way if something starts happening to me, I can push it myself, and, of course, I can push it if something happens to her.  My memory is the problem with that idea.  Remembering to put it on is one problem.  The other is remembering to take it off when I leave the house while a Volunteer is with Mary Ann.

At least today, I have not had to resort to the language of the Na’vi (see last night’s post).

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