It was a night from Hell.  We have plenty of them.  I went to be early in hopes that my presence would help her sleep.  Not so.  She wanted to go home more than once.  Often she would get up and when I asked, admit that she didn’t know why she had gotten up.  Once she woke up and said she had swallowed a snake.  I have no idea from where that thought came.

It went on through the night.  Once there were only seven minutes between times of getting up with some need.  The next one was twelve minutes.  Then came a couple about twenty minutes apart.  I am just tired enough that I went back to sleep during each of those short times, only to be wakened again.  I am not sure what words to say to communicate the level of frustration with that behavior.

One of the times she got up, she agreed to go to the table and eat some applesauce.  We started toward the dining room, and soon it was apparent that she just couldn’t walk well enough to make it there.  I asked her not to move, while I ran a few feet to get the transfer chair.  Of course she fell.  My level of frustration was enough that while I was complaining about her not staying still, instead of patiently working out how to get her off the floor in a way that was safe for me and her, I just picked her up off the floor and seated her in the chair.  Yes, she is only a little over 120 pounds.  No, a small 66 year old man with a family history of back issues should not try to pick up someone from the floor, someone who is not able to help in the process, essentially dead weight.

While it hurts, at the moment (six or seven hours later), it is not excruciating.  I am hoping only minor damage was done and that Advil, ice and a call to Chiropractor Tim will eventually take care of it.

Last night, all I wanted was for her to go to sleep!  She got up early again.  I just insisted that she stay in bed so that I could get another hour of sleep.  Gratefully, she did stay in bed for a while.

When she got up, things were pretty difficult.  I, of course, was not in a very pleasant frame of mind having been up and down every few minutes during most of the night.  She was able to get some of her food eaten by herself.  After breakfast she sat by the television in her PJ’s.  She was in popping up mode.  While at the moment, she is not fainting, her weakness and balance are making her vulnerable to falls.  I got a phone call.  Just as I got into the conversation, she hopped up and headed across the room.  I was frustrated by the timing of it, but after determining it was a bathroom need that precipitated it, I got off the phone and got her into the bathroom and seated.

I have not mentioned this much in the last three days, but there has been intestinal activity verging on diarrhea.  Sunday morning when I was gone, she had some major activity.  That activity required a later cleanup that involved removing the toilet seat, taking it to the large basin I had installed in the basement storage area for things like this, soaking the toilet seat in water with lots of Clorox Bleach, scrubbing the hinges with a toothbrush, rinsing, drying, disinfecting the stool itself and replacing the toilet seat.  This is all taught in Caregiver school.

The good news is that the activity does not come often.  It is just takes some extra effort to keep her and whatever else clean.  We have dealt with much worse in this area.  This morning’s trip to the bathroom was not an easy one.

When she returned to the living room, the popping up continued.  She was almost always getting up to look around at the floor.  I don’t know exactly what she was seeing, but it was some sort of mess that needed cleaning up.  Just going into the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal had to be done in short segments of time, often less than a minute in length so that I could check on her and get her seated again.

I had not yet gotten my morning shower.  I could not trust her to stay seated for the ten to fifteen minutes it takes for me to get ready.  She often agrees that she will stay seated, but pretty much does not do so.  I finally realized that the only way I was going to get ready myself, would be for her to be napping.

There is such an conflict of wants and needs that converge on this simple process.  I want her to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.  I want her to be sleeping even during the day so that I am not dealing with the popping up, the constant needs, the hallucinations, not knowing what will come next.  I should keep her up in the daytime, but when she moves into her need-for-sleep mode, she ends up hanging her head and sleeping in her chair, if not in her bed. There is a sense of relief when she is sleeping during the daytime hours, but a dread for the horribly frustrating nights that come when she can’t sleep then.

I suppose I could sleep during the day while she is sleeping.  I don’t want to shift days and nights for both of us.  I want to be tired enough at bed time that I can go to bed and sleep, if she will allow it.  When she is asleep, I have the freedom to do things that nurture my own well-being both for my own sake and so that I don’t lose the capacity to care for her.  These posts have been long and detailed lately because she is sleeping enough during the day that I am free to write.  These posts have been long and detailed these last days since we are almost entirely homebound now and the task is frustrating enough that I need the outlet of writing these posts as therapy.

Then there is the question, how is Mary Ann dealing with this new place in our experience.  She is stuck with the frustration of not having the mobility and mental acuity she has had, and she is stuck with Grumpy Caregiver who gets frustrated with things she cannot control.  She vacillates between days when she is exhausted and just wants to sleep, and nights when she can’t sleep, wants to be up while the person on whom she depends is scolding her and insisting she stay in bed.  She needs food but often not what is in front of her.  She hates the feeling of needing to be fed but often needs to be fed.  She wants to do things for herself but is constantly being asked to sit down, being reminded that she can’t do them.

I wish I were better at this caregiving task.  On the positive side, I think that most of the time I act in ways that are caring and helpful and affirming of who she is.  I try to treat her with respect, recognizing that my words are not always respectful when I am frustrated with some difficult behavior that seems still to be under her control (probably most often a result of the disease more than her willfulness).  I work hard at keeping her neat, hair washed, dressed appropriately, the house in order, beds made, kitchen in order.  I work very hard at determining what she needs or wants and if it is possible, trying to provide whatever it is.  With that said, in fairness, my assessment is based on who I want to be, not necessarily who I am in her eyes.  In the area of this sort of self-awareness, my propensity to feel guilty when I have been unkind provides some internal metrics.  My self-centeredness drives me to do things that allow me to feel good about myself.  My batting average in that task is probably just that, painfully average.

Back to our day: When med time came after she had been sleeping for a couple of hours, I decided not to make yesterday’s mistake.  After I took her to the bathroom, she stayed up for us to head to Glory Day’s Pizza to bring a couple of slices home for her (lunch and supper).  Her mobility was very poor, and she still would not open her eyes, so the trip out to the car and back afterward was pretty difficult.

She insisted on eating the slice of pizza without help.  She only managed to eat the topping (cheese only) from a little more than half of the one piece.  Then she was done.  After refusing once, she finally agreed to a dish of ice cream.  She is about five pounds lighter on our scale than she was the last time she weighed herself before the trip and the hospital.  She has been eating so little it is no wonder.  When I took her to the bathroom after the pizza, as I was getting her clothes down so that she could sit on the stool, she stopped me, asking what I was doing.  She thought we were still in the dining room.

At about 4:45pm, she wanted to get her bed clothes on and get into bed. She got up again when a paid worker from Home Instead to stay for a few hours while I honored a commitment that was important to me.   She was still up when I returned and went to bed at about 9:30pm.  Let’s hope for some sleep tonight.

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I think not!  We made it through today, but it took much coaxing and insisting and endless activity. She did not sleep very well again last night.  There were about as many trips to the commode, changes in position, drinks of water as have been so for the last few nights.  She was up at 7am, laid back down while I showered and got up for the day immediately thereafter.

I got her hair washed, got her dressed and delivered her to the circle meeting well before it was time to begin.  On the way home after the meeting, I suggested getting a movie or two for the late afternoon or evening to keep her awake.  When we got home she wanted to nap.  Since it was lunch time, I was able to keep her up for that.  Then she wanted me to leave her home while I took the car in for an oil change.  I thought about doing so, but since she was still up we just got in the car and headed to the Honda place.

When we got home after that, the television kept her attention for a while.  We ate supper,  watched one of the movies, and now she has just gone to bed.  My goal has been to keep her up during the day until finally she will sleep soundly through the night (with just a few commode trips) and we can return to a more manageable sleep pattern leaving both of us better rested and reducing the hallucinations.

Colleen commented on last night’s post: “Your comment about sleep reminded me of children.  The more tired they are, the more hyper they get, and the less likely they are to sleep.”  Before I read that comment, I had decided that tomorrow, if she wants to nap, I will not try to keep her up and busy, but just let her sleep.  Colleen’s observation may very well explain what is happening.  Keeping her up may actually be making it harder for her to sleep through the night. It is far too soon to determine if this will be a sleepless night or a sleep-filled night.

By the way, supper tonight was a treat for both of us, even though I did the cooking.  It was a meal simple enough even for me to prepare. When Edie came to stay with Mary Ann on Sunday (providing a meal, as she always does), she mentioned that they had just picked many green tomatoes.  We sent with her Mary Ann’s Mom’s recipe for green tomato relish.  I mentioned that it made the best glaze for a ham known to humankind.

Guess what was delivered to our house last evening while I was at the local Audubon Society presentation?  There were a couple of jars of freshly made green tomato relish and a huge slice of ham about an inch thick, ready to be cooked.  I wrapped a couple of sweet potatoes in foil and baked them until they were soft and moist, ready for the butter and brown sugar, spread the relish on the ham and broiled it (per instructions on the wrapper), opened and heated a can of peas, and the feast began!  The only moment of concern came when the relish under the broiler began to smoke.  I had visions of alarms sounding and fire trucks gathering.  Gratefully, the newly cleaned smoke detector was no longer too sensitive [see earlier post].

The movie we rented was The Soloist.  It was is engaging account of someone who managed against seemingly insurmountable odds to make music.  While our situation is far less dramatic and hardly compares to what the character in this true story encountered and, apparently, still does, the movie encourages the idea of living meaningfully, no matter what.  That is precisely the goal toward which we are drawn.

On that note, the Alien presence from planet Pedometer Prime had its way with me again.  I walked once outside at Cedarcrest and once in the mall while Mary Ann was at her Circle meeting.  Then came a powerful attack by the Alien.  Before it was over, I committed to a five week exercise and weight reduction program at Rebound Physical Therapy.  This lack of sleep must be getting to me also.  My resistance is down.  There is confusion from synapses that have not had time to connect as they do during that deep sleep that is so important to us.  Have I finally simply gone completely mad!!

One last note:  She has already been up for a couple of drinks of water, saltine crackers and a snack-sized container of applesauce.  Is it possible that she can have still another restless night?  The answer to that question will come soon enough.

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

The Domino Effect is just beginning to lean away from the good days we have been having.  Last night Mary Ann did not sleep as well as she has the last ten days or so.  Yesterday morning the signs were there when she got up very early.  She had had a little trouble getting to sleep that night.

Our lunch out with a friend and the trip to check out the birds at a lake in a nearby town kept Mary Ann awake through the entire afternoon.  She had not napped in the morning.  I have mentioned before that while common sense would suggest that being up all day would result in sleeping better at night, with this version of Dementia with Lewy Bodies (Parkinson’s Disease Dementia) common sense is pretty much irrelevant.

Last night she also had some trouble getting to sleep.  There were more trips to the commode, and restless times, especially in the very early morning hours.  This morning she got up at about 6:45am and stayed up.

The hallucinations have had a pretty steady presence today.  While I haven’t really asked the rest of the group, I suspect that she either doesn’t have them or doesn’t reveal she is having them when she is at her Tuesday morning group.  The time I have been with her today, the hallucinations have been present and she has seemed out of touch, having lost the mental sharpness of the last week or so.

I was determined to keep her up today in hopes that sleep would be better tonight — hoping that the common sense approach might actually work this time.  I think it was our Daughter, Lisa, who said she thought we might enjoy the children’s movie “Up.”  Mary Ann had mentioned that as one she would like to see.  So, off we went to see to the $2 theater to see “Up.”

It was not what Mary Ann expected.  I am not sure what she had understood it to be like, but I don’t think she realized that it was an animated feature.  Oddly, we were not the only adults there without children or grandchildren.  It seemed to me to be a movie that might scare or be too sad in places for little children.  The movie was well done — Pixar alwsys seems to do creative animation.

She went to bed about an hour ago and does not seem yet to be completely settled.  I hope by being up all day today, we have kept the cycle of daytime sleeping and night time waking from getting a strong foothold.

She will be up early tomorrow so that I can get her ready for a Circle meeting at church.  Our bath aid has an in-service meeting and can’t come in the morning, and there is no Volunteer able to come.

I opted out of the Spiritual Formation group that meets every Wednesday morning here so that I would have time to help her with the morning prep.  My hope is that in the future, I will be able to manage both the group and getting her to the Circle meeting.  The Spiritual Formation group has come to be an important element in process of maintaining equilibrium.  This shift in the direction of the Domino Effect is a reminder that no amount of will power or commitment or planning will change the harsh reality that we are on a roller coaster with no controls to which we have access.  We can only react and make the best of whatever comes.

On that note, I did manage to get in a walk early this morning while Mary Ann sat watching television. I got in a second one while she was at her group.  This evening, there was a Volunteer wtih Mary Ann.  For the first time ever, I attended a local Audubon Society presentation.  An hour long video of birds and their songs was a wonderful treat.  The videographer was there to comment and answer questions.

Well, tomorrow is garbage day, so I had better get the garbage out, and I need to be up early to get MA ready for her meeting.  Here is hoping there will be some sleeping tonight!

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Warning!! The return of the body snatchers has begun!  Aliens from a newly discovered hidden planet just outside the orbit of Pluto, a planet named Pedometer Prime, have snatched both Mary Ann and me and replaced us each with one of their own, beginning the invasion.

Actually, the invasion has already begun. You can see them everywhere.  They are walking the sidewalks with a telltale look of superiority on their faces that seems to say, “I am walking and you are not!”  They threaten to take over by the sheer weight of their numbers as they outlive the rest of us.

My only hope is that a rainy day will come, breaking the power of the alien with which I am possessed.  However, I have heard that some of the aliens just move indoors to malls and gyms when it rains.  Frightening!!!

Actually, I am virtually immune to a long term stay of my resident alien, since the power of my laziness and lack of discipline is likely to drive him out soon, probably within hours.

Yes, it is true.  Yesterday when we were returning from the library and the requisite trip to G’s for Turtle Sundaes, I asked Mary Ann if she would be okay sitting in the car at Cedarcrest (a park that surrounds and includes the Governor’s Mansion) while I walked for bit.  There are many paths including one that is fairly level, in an open area including some picturesque ponds, a path about a mile in length.

The day was spectacular.  It was cool and crisp and clear.  The sky was the crystal blue of the approaching winter.  There was much pleasure just soaking in the beauty of the fall colors and the scents of Autumn.  I suspect there may have been a trickle of endorphens assisting since that comparatively short walk got this little exercise averse body pumping blood to every extremity including my brain.

If that is not enough — and this is what assured me of the alien presence — I got up this morning, earlier than usual, put the Lifeline around Mary Ann’s neck so that it would be within reach as she remained in bed, layered a shirt and jacket for the thirty degree morning and walked a little over a mile in the neighborhood.  I hope this is not a sign of some cataclysmic event bringing all life as we know it to an end.  Let’s hope not.

And now, here I sit at the computer writing this post and it is still morning!!!  Having spent a week in another time zone, our body clocks shifted just enough to make it possible to get up and hour earlier without so much effort.  Another odd but pleasing quirk is that Mary Ann has been sleeping well at night.  Understand for us a good night’s sleep still includes a couple of trips during the night to the commode and a couple more very early in the morning.  Mary Ann slept well every night during our trip and has slept well the last two nights.  That could, of course, change tonight.  If it does, it does.  If the good nights continue, we will just enjoy them.

Added hours in the morning create both a challenge and an opportunity to get out of the house a little more.  I have inferred from Mary Ann’s sleeping so well on the trip that staying awake all day does help the nights go better.  That, of course, seems obvious, but in the past staying up all day has not necessarily correlated to sleeping well at night.

Well, we had better get out of the house before we return to our usual vegetative state.

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.

We asked for sleep, got sleep.  Then got no sleep.  Almost as soon as I hit the publish button after writing last night’s post, Mary Ann woke up and a restless night ensued.  She had been up all day, she was up most of the night last night, up all day today.  I was worried that my decision to increase the Seroquel had initiated a cycle of too much sleep???  No more worries on that front.

I did work at keeping her up today.  She had Small Group Bible Study in the morning, followed by a trip to the library.  This afternoon when she started to doze in her chair, I made the sacrifice of taking her for ice cream — just to keep her awake you understand.  She went to bed a bit early, slept for an hour, and woke up.  She has now taken her night time meds.  She seems to be moving a bit, but at least at the moment, not getting up out of bed.  We will see how the night goes.

Ev commented on last night’s post, reminding me to enjoy the gift of a good night whenever it comes, since folks with LBD or PDD often have bad nights.  It just comes with the territory.  Well said! Our task is to accept that we can’t control or manage this disease.  Very little of what happens can be predicted or impacted by what we do or don’t do.  We need to learn to take what comes, make the best of it, sometimes whine a little about it, and then move on to deal with whatever comes next!

Tomorrow afternoon we will head off for Kentucky to visit our Daughter, Lisa, Denis and the girls, Abigail and Ashlyn.  The girls have a few days off school.  We are taking two days to drive there.  For us, at best it takes about ten hours when done in one day.  Hopefully, this will make the trip a bit easier.

Since this summer’s decline, even though there has been some improvement, we are not going to try to stay in the downstairs room, requiring a trip up the stairs each morning and down again at night.  We will stay in a motel.  That will impact dramatically the cost of the trip, but will be much easier on both Mary Ann and me.  It will be a treat to see the girls especially.

I should have access to a computer while we are in Kentucky, so there may be a post or two while we are on the trip.  Here is hoping the trip goes well for Mary Ann especially.  We have another trip to the Bed and Breakfast ini Hot Springs, Arkansas scheduled for the last week of the month.  It is a lot to tackle, but we have to do what we can while we can.

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.

First there was little sleeping, then there was a lot of sleeping.  Not only did she nap for over five and a half hours during the day yesterday, she went to bed earlier than usual, slept through the night, and was slow in getting up this morning.

The question in my mind this morning was, have we increased the Seroquel too much.  Will she now be sleepy all the time and move to a lower quality of life on account of it.  Is my decision to add another 25mg of Seroquel hurting Mary Ann?  When we saw the Neurologist last, he increased the dosage by 25mg and said that if the increase was not enough to deal with the hallucinationa and restlessness at night, I could raise the dosage another 25mg.  That is what I have done.

While I don’t yet know the answer to my question about whether or not the increase is too much, today she has stayed awake.  Tonight when I asked about it, she said she was tired all day.  Her tiredness could be the result of the Seroquel.

It is so very difficult to adjust the medicine to just the right amount, what the doctors call titrating the dosage.  The variables are many and complex.  Sometimes it takes a while for a change in dosage to have effect.  Different people don’t always react the same way.  Seroquel is a potent drug.  There are risks, serious risks.  Probably the most serious problem that can emerge is Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome [NMS].  If I understand correctly, that problem very quickly can cause death.  It is an uncommon side effect of the drug, but nonetheless a risk.  Again, if I understand correctly (disclaimer: I am not a doctor), stopping Seroquel suddenly can also trigger serious problems.

Starting new meds, stopping meds, changing the dosage is like running through a grove of thornapple trees.  Someone might get hurt.  Mary Ann is always involved in the decision-making on the meds, but generally, she trusts my judgment on what she should take and when.  She is pill averse, so she takes as few as possible.  She will on occasion simply refuse to add more.  Most of the time she accepts what the Neurologist prescibes, and what I recommend.  That is not a responsibility that I relish, but, like it or not, it comes with the territory.

Caregivers often have a great deal of responsibility for how their Loved One does.  We are the ones who have a daily awareness of how things are going. Good doctors listen to us and take into consideration what we think is needed.  Again, that is a lot of responsibility to have.

I asked for help with Mary Ann’s (and my) sleepless nights and the disturbing hallucinations.  I asked.  The answer was to increase the Seroquel. I may have gotten more than I asked for.  This morning I was very concerned, actually, I was scared.  At the moment, since she was awake all day, I my concern has been mitigated a bit.  We will see how tonight goes.  The information on Seroquel suggests that the drowsiness that comes when it is first taken often diminishes.

What we both long for is for Mary Ann to be awake during the day, and asleep at night.  Is that too much to ask?  Probably, but we can hope.

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.