Sunday, February 13, 2011

I love/hate weekends!

I do look forward to being away from work on Saturday and Sunday, and overall I enjoy the weekends, but they are more difficult than they once were. Billy does fairly well with his regular schedule, and we don't have much of a schedule on weekends. He really cannot remember what day it is when he wakes up, and he wakes up very early - sometimes before our usual 4:45a.m. alarm. No matter what time it is, he feels he should wake me up to get ready for the day. Saturday morning it was 12:33a.m. when he first told me the time. Then it was 12:35, and I'm sure you get the picture. I did tell him it was Saturday, and he remembered that for about 90 seconds. Alzheimer's destroys short-term memory, and then it starts eating away at the long-term memory. Billy finally went back to sleep, and I believe he slept until about 5:30, and that's great. If I can get him to wait until 7:00a.m on the weekends, I can turn on the Today show for him to watch. That seems to keep him somewhat engaged, and I can continue to sleep.

Shelley and Andrew were out of town this weekend, so we were looking after the family dog, Bailey. Bailey was Billy's dog, and when we moved in with my sister and her family, we couldn't take Bailey with us for many reasons. Shelley and Andrew took her in, and I am so grateful we didn't have to give Bailey away. We made many trips to Shelley and Andrew's apartment this weekend to take Bailey out and feed her. The 20 minute drive goes something like this...

Billy: Where is Bailey?

Me: At Shelley and Andrew's apartment.

Billy: I hope she didn't get out.

Me: She can't get out. She's in their apartment.

Billy: I know, but I worry about her getting out.

Me: I think she's okay.

Billy: Do we have her leash?

Me: Yes, it's in their kitchen. We need to leave it where Bailey is.

Billy: Do you have a key to their place?

Me: Yes, I do.

Billy: Do you know how to get there?

Me: Yes, I do.

Billy: Do we have a leash?

Me: The leash is at their house where Bailey is.

Billy: Red light. (In case I didn't see it.)

Billy: Do you have a key?

Me: Yes, I have the key.

Billy: It's green now.

Billy: Do you have a key?

Me: Yes, I have a key.

Billy: We just need to take her out and feed her?

Me: Yes, that's pretty much all we need to do.

Billy: Good, because I'm really tired today.

This is all repeated until we arrive at Shelley's apartment and take care of Bailey.

I do pretty well in the mornings with the questions, but by later in the day, I start getting shorter with my answers. Billy is very sensitive, and he recognizes any slight change in my intonation that might hint of my irritation. Then he apologizes, and I feel guilty. Sometimes, he is offended and reminds me that he can't help it. I feel more than guilty at those times.

Billy seemed to be very anxious this afternoon, and more than once, he asked when we would be leaving. No plans to go anywhere I told him, and he said we had to leave sometime. I reminded him that we live here now, and he said, "Just for now, though." Yes, just for now, but we won't be moving out anytime soon. Then he said, "I just worry about her." He has mentioned his mom frequently lately. She is on his mind often, and he does not remember that she passed away over two years ago of Alzheimer's Disease. I tried to reassure him that his mom is okay. A few minutes passed by, and he told me he would like to call his mom, but he wasn't sure of the number. He asked me what our home number was, and I told him that we use my cell phone as our home phone. I sat down beside Billy on the couch, and I looked at him, and I asked him if he remembered that his mom had passed away a few years ago. He said he had seen her in her bed this morning, and he knew I thought he was hallucinating, but he wasn't. I assured him that she was doing great where she is, and he didn't really ease up. I suggested we call his sister, Cindy, who was his mom's main caregiver. He seemed relieved that we could do that. I called her on my cell, and I spoke with her for a bit before handing the phone to Billy. She assured him that his mom is doing well. That seemed to be what he needed, and he let it go for the rest of the evening.

Weekends always present some odd behaviors and more anxiety for Billy. As much as I get frustrated with Billy, I cannot imagine what his frustration must be when he asks for my help, and I can't produce the person he wants to see, or worse yet, I tell him that person has passed away. This disease slowly and surely robs people of their dignity. I want to help Billy maintain his dignity for as long as possible. If it means we make phone calls to others to help in my role play, then so be it. I love the man I married, and I will love him no matter the changes that occur. His personality hardly resembles the outgoing person he was before this disease struck. But no matter how bad he is at this point, he tells me daily how much he loves me, and I don't question that at all.

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