Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Maybe it is me

There have been any number of times that I have questioned myself over the years.

Once Dad and I were standing in a parking lot and his home of 50 years was clearly visible. Dad had no idea where he was and could not point out his home. But a few hours later the water quit running in the house. Dad knew immediately that the cause was the filters on the well and also knew exactly how to replace them. I thought maybe I had just imagined him not finding his house.

Take his collection of used (but well rinsed) ice cream containers. He explained he might need them and they were just too good to throw out. I could understand possibly needing one or maybe a dozen. But a few hundred?

I have to admit he kept them neatly stacked and organized. That level of organization and even his ability to argue with me made me wonder. He was so logical and methodical - and relentless. It actually made sense to me for a while that we should have hundreds of empty ice cream containers. In hindsight I wonder about myself.

Then there would be the occasional visits with friends and family. Usually if they were dad's friends I would try to be quiet and out of the room. It was, after all, his home and his friend and not mine.

The friend would invariably talk about old times and would provide the context and the details of whatever event. Dad would join in with generalities and assurances that he certainly did remember. And in the early days he would laugh and smile and be every bit the charming host.

Only I would realize that he knew nothing about the subject. But the friend would tell me as he left that he really didn't think there was much wrong with dad. Maybe it was all just a mistake after all.

And sometimes I was just like the friend, too. Because really one doesn't want to believe that Alzheimer's or any other dementia exists. I think because if it really doesn't exist then I can't get it. So it isn't so hard to lose objectivity.

I was reminded of those times today because he was so much improved. He could stand and even walk a short distance unaided. He fed himself and used both hands. He did sleep all day. But the improvement made me wonder if we had just imagined the weekend and it really never happened. Or maybe somehow I was in some other dimension for a couple of days.

I wonder if we will ever again sit on the porch together. It does not seem likely now.

I reported all that had happened to my hospice nurse though. She thinks the disease is just progressing. She is always very encouraging and tells me we did all the right things and so on. And the personal aide came and the chaplain. And they both were very encouraging.

I will tell my brother. He was afraid that dad might die Friday night. I want to be with dad when he dies. I think my brother wants me to be with him, too.

The nurse thinks he will probably continue to sleep more. I am not sure it is possible to sleep more. I know I will have to watch for the pressure sores.

She told me to feed him only as much as he really wanted. That's not hard because he may be weakening but his determination and will are still as strong as ever.

She said there would be ups and downs.

I have that part down pretty well.


~Betsy said...

I wish I could somehow make this better for you. I think of you and your dad often and keep you both in my prayers - your dad for peace and you for strength.

This disease causes even the strongest of us to doubt ourselves and our caregiving. The ups and downs are so difficult because just when we think we have it figured out, we are thrown a curve.

Just know I am here for you anytime you feel alone. I can't offer much concrete advice, but I can be a friend.

nancy said...

i had to chuckle about the ice cream pails. my mother in law collects plastic bags, must have over 1000. it must be a carryover from the depression.

this disease is so strange. i'm glad to hear that your dad seems to be a little stronger. it will make it so much easier if he can get up and stand and walk just a few steps.

take care of yourself. you both are in my thoughts and prayers.

Lori1955 said...

With Helen it used to be empty butter containers. It kind of makes you wonder if this type of behavior is some type of precursor to AD.
It must be so hard having your dad go up and down like this. You never know what each day will bring. Let's hope today is a good one.

~Betsy said...

Oh my gosh - my mom saved all the empty butter/margarine containers, too. When I cleaned out the house for sale, I swear there were thousands!

flintysooner said...

Dad saved Wal-mart sacks, any kind of glass bottle, and all plastic containers. He kept them very neatly organized. Before he was diagnosed he would spend hours working on his various collections and even more hours on the trash.

When I first came we still had a "burn barrel" if you can imagine. Fortunately that didn't last too long.

Really appreciate you all. My image didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. Just from my phone camera anyway. Will try some more though.

nancy said...

thanks for posting the picture. your dad looks very peaceful. that's the most we can hope for them, that they are comfortable, not in pain, and as happy as they possible can be. you are a wonderful son.

steflovesnonna said...

I found Ann Morrow Lindbergh's book today and read almost half of it in the bookstore. I was going to even buy it when I realized I needed a new journal and thought it would be better not to spend the extra money on it. BUT from what i read she has some great idea's about life and about women in particular. Thanks for recommending her to me. Next time I am in a library I will check the book out to read in full.