“Allen, the guy you were engaged to when we started dating wishes you well,” I told her this morning.  One of her long time friends from those years mentioned in an email that he had asked about her.  I waited to mention it until she had come out of the worst of the steady stream of hallucinations.  In a very matter of fact way, she said “that was from the past.”  Later I asked her what year in school he was in relationship to her.  She said he was in her brother’s class in high school, two years ahead of her.  By the way, before tongues start wagging, I didn’t know she was engaged, and she was already planning on sending the ring back.  He was in Florida and she was in Northern Illinois.

Last night began as I had expected after Mary Ann napped for over six hours during the day.  She was up many times during the first part of the night.  Most of the times she was up, she just sat on the side of the bed.  I came in to ask if she needed anything each time.  She asked if we could go home, almost every time.  I pointed out her quilt hanging on the wall and tried to convince her that she was in her bed, it was night time and she could lie down and go to sleep.  

I went to bed pretty early.  She continued to get up for a while, but finally settled and slept the rest of the night reasonably well (with the usual interruptions).  Just once she ended up on the floor next to the bed.  She did not try to get up early, as she had most of the last few mornings.  When she did get up. the mild hallucinations were still there, picking up things, pulling threads (or the thin gold chains) off her hands.  She was not having the steady stream of hallucinations that included people, and her mind seemed clearer.  

I will admit that I have been getting more and more concerned about my ability to continue this task as the intensity and frequency of the hallucinations has been increasuing so steadily.  This morning’s clearer time was a tremendous relief.  It may only be momentary, but it provides some hope that the roller coaster ride still has the capacity to go back up for a time. 

Jacki came to stay with Mary Ann and spend lunch time with her.  I had another lunch out with a friend.  As far as I know, Mary Ann did fine while I was gone. 

By the way, I made a very important discovery as I drove back from the lunch.  I stopped to see the progress of the newly remodeled space that had been the Baskin & Robbins that served as our regular supplier before the owner retired.  It is now an enlarged space that will open this Monday, a brand new Baskin & Robbins.  And some say there is no God! 

Back to the day.  Parish Nurse Margaret stopped by with a request that we help dispose of some box lunches left over from a meeting.   We graciously agreed to help her out in her dilemma of what to do with them.  We are such good people!  I asked Margaret if she would take Mary Ann’s blood pressure.  It was 170/90.  Apparently, the Midodrine is working to keep her BP high enough so that she does not faint.  We continue to accept the slow damage being done by the high blood pressure in trade for a better quality of life resulting from reducing the fainting spells (Orthostatic Hypotension).

Mary Ann was obviously tired this afternoon, but she was willing to go to the grocery.  We ran into a neighbor and friend, Ann, there, always a treat.  After we got home we ate the box lunches.  Mary Ann was in bed about an hour later.  She got up moments ago to tell me about a dream.  When I got her back to bed she looked out the bedroom door and said the people were back, this time with a baby.  After a time sleeping, she sat up again.  When I went in, she said the family how has a horse.  Then she asked if she was in Topeka.  She said in the dream she was just having, she was in Alaska, and the family was there with the horse.  I told her that I was glad they were in Alaska, maybe they could stay there and not bother her here.  She is back in bed.  I have no doubt the family will return to Topeka and be back in our house.  We will see how the rest of the night goes. 

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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. 

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.