Maureen lived by herself for eight years following her divorce. During that time she slept with a hammer, very similar to the one below, beneath her bed:
After the events of last night, I’m wondering if I should retrieve it from the garage and put it in a place where it is accessible to her. Around 2.30 am I assisted her to find our downstairs toilet. It took her a while to find her shoes that had clearly been ‘stolen and worn by someone else’. After relieving herself she made her way upstairs declaring ‘she wouldn’t stay here much longer’. Then the hammer entered into her thinking.
As she slipped into bed she said ‘she was fed up with men messing with her against her will’. She wondered ‘why they didn’t mess with their own children or wives? Then she said ‘she would be ready for them the next time as she would hit them with a hammer!’
I think the events of early this morning add substance to the <ARTICLE> by Susan Macaulay on memories being far from linear when you have dementia.
One of my reasons for blogging is that through sharing my experiences I might get a better understanding of Maureen’s presentation. In my blog yesterday I tentatively suggested that Maureen had been ‘hallucinating’ about wild animals and her mother being unwell. That led to Susan Macaulay commenting and sharing her video that we need to look at memories in an entirely different way:
I find Susan’s ball of yarn model very helpful: memories are far from linear when you have dementia. It might well be risky to use words like hallucinations as I’m sure there is a tablet for it. Why on earth would we want to give anyone with dementia medication that destroys even more of their memory?
Some really good news: we had a new carer yesterday and she was excellent. I will contact our Agency tomorrow and thank them for sending yet another great carer. Now I’ve seen her in action I will make it to the Leisure Centre this morning. I need to get down to some serious training as I’m now pushing 14 stone. It must be contented living that has led to me putting on three stone since I ran off to live with Maureen!
We had a lovely time on my birthday: just the three of us. When I danced with Suzie to Stevie Wonder, as Maureen lay in bed she declared it was her birthday as well. Suzie either sits on a chest of drawers or the windowsill of our bedroom. She is really special to us as she belonged to Maureen’s late daughter. There is a lovely picture just behind Suzie (pictured below) of Maureen and Denise’s daughter: Maeve played with her many times when she was younger.
This morning Maureen has been troubled by hallucinations. Very early on, she was concerned that we were going to be eaten by animals. However, she assured me that if they came for me she would chase them off. Later on, she woke up worried that her mother was ill and she needed to get to her urgently. On both occasions, I did my best to reassure my dear wife- not easy when you have been woken from a deep sleep!
I often wonder where Maureen’s troublesome thoughts (hallucinations?) come from. It is possible that her dreams become reality when she wakes up in the night: every couple of hours at the moment. The dangerous animals were in the Arboretum in Nottingham; somewhere that Maureen passed through daily on her way to High School. Her mother was suffering from a sore throat something which Maureen had been troubled with earlier in the week.
Maureen is going into Ashgrove Care Home for a couple of weeks on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to getting some much-needed rest and catching up with lots of people.
As it’s my birthday today I decided to stick with one of our rituals by giving Maureen one of my favourite cards to regive to me:
When I returned home from my Buddhist Meditation Class last night Maureen gave me short shrift. If looks could kill I would not be Blogging this morning. How fortunate that Neil had been teaching on the delusion of anger and the importance of patience: he couldn’t have chosen a more relevant topic!
There is no point in getting angry that dementia is a constant in our lives: nothing good ever comes from such a delusion. The Buddhist message from last night is to accept what comes your way as karmic seeds ripening and then decide if there is anything you can do about it. I eventually decided that there was little I could do about Maureen’s focus last night: nothing seemed to shift her from my shortcomings. In the end, I made sure she was safe, went to bed and left her to rant.
This morning Maureen has been obsessed with looking for her friend to accompany her to the cinema. It took ages to shift her reality with music once again opening the door to a change in focus. Once I called up one or two of her favourites on YouTube her presentation temporarily became a little more favourable. Unfortunately, she is currently struggling to know who I am and wants to go home.
Girl Thursday will be here in a couple of hours and that will give me a chance to progress some things I can do something about. I need to urgently sort out my next Respite Break: patience is not easily accessible when you are worn out!
Footnote: As much as we loved having a baby in the house yesterday we have decided we don’t want any more additions to our family. As I’m 72 tomorrow we have decided it is sensible to call it a day on that front!
Maureen has been in great voice this morning, singing this one:
It was lovely to see the joy on her face as she remembered the words of the Carpenters songs when I called their music up on YouTube. Music is so important in our lives. How reassuring it must be to be able to sing along to your old favourites; being able to remember the words when you feel that your memory about most things is so poor.
I have a surprise in store for Maureen this afternoon. A carer who is on maternity leave is calling around with her little one. It will be interesting to see how Maureen reacts to seeing someone who was here almost daily for a couple of years. My guess is she will have that baby in her arms within minutes of her being in the house!
The Carpenters were a welcome relief from a familiar song. If I followed Maureen’s theme of an hour ago it would be with the Beach Boys ‘I Want To Go Home’: she doesn’t sing that one she howls it in floods of tears. I’ve tried to shift her thinking by singing ‘I Like A Nice Cup of Tea In The Morning’ and delivering her morning tipple. If things go well this afternoon I might add ‘Baby Come Back’ to my repertoire!
Maureen woke several times during the night in distress. I spooked her after a toilet break when she let out a deafening scream fearing someone had come out of the cupboard to attack her. A little later, she was concerned about the whereabouts of her mum. A short while afterward she was complaining that they were wanting her to sleep with horses. Then she was crying for her dad so I sang her a song he used to sing for her:
On Friday I bit the bullet and cancelled our forthcoming trip to Thoresby Hall to celebrate my birthday. After a lot of consideration, I decided it would be unkind to subject her to a long car journey and three days in a strange place. Perhaps, the time has arrived to find a way of celebrating every day!
Lorrie B warns us in her latest BLOG that Big Pharma is preparing to market the latest treatments for dementia. Her advice is to be wary!
There are many times during the day and night when I feel exhausted with the constant struggle to know how to deal with aspects of Maureen’s presentation. Listening to the teachings of Dekyong; particularly the one above always help my motivation to seek new ways to support my dear wife. I’m really grateful that we now have a carer on Wednesday evenings so that I can attend meditation classes in Grimsby. I am also about to book another few restorative days at Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre early in March.
The visualization of the sign at the entrance to Madhyamaka helps me to cope in the middle of the night when Maureen wakes up distressed wanting her mum.
As you will see Maureen was delighted with her Valentine’s Day present this morning:
Seeing the joy on her face this morning has persuaded me to go ahead with my birthday plans for next week. I have had a chat with Thoresby Hall and they assure me they will do all they can to support us during our stay. Positive risk-taking remains the way forward here we will never subscribe to ‘Prescribed Disengagement’.
N.B. I hope my editing of the photograph has shared Maureen’s joy without compromising her independence.