Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Identify the Need

This past weekend was tough.  Billy's anxiety was beyond what I remember it ever being.  He started the day with pacing and questions, and doing everything quickly and jerkily (is that even a word?).  My patience was wearing very thin, and he sensed that, so along with anxiety, he was apologizing constantly which makes me feel guilty and irritates me at the same time.  His dependence on me increases weekly it seems.  He's forgotten how to turn the water to hot in the shower, so I get that started for him, or I just leave it running after I finish my shower.  He puts shaving cream on his face, picks up the razor, gets distracted, rinses off the shaving cream, and starts the whole process over again.  He turns the water on full blast and forgets to turn it off.  I put toothpaste on his toothbrush, and he does pretty well with brushing as he paces around the bedroom.  I put mousse in his hair for him because when he puts it on his hand, he can't remember if it's shaving cream or something else.  I hand him his deodorant, and he puts it under his arms.  I signal for him to put it in the drawer after that, or he puts it on his face. 

Today I took him to the dentist for a check-up with my own anxiety because Billy's teeth have always been bad. Many people with Alzheimer's have dental issues, and I've neglected that for Billy.  I've been so engrossed in dealing with the behaviors and the progression of the disease, I've just put the dentist on the back burner.  Not a good thing.  Billy has many cavities, including some underneath crowns.  He has an exposed root - don't know where that tooth is.  He needs root canals, crowns, extractions, and fillings. Insurance covers 50% up to $1000 a year.  The first procedure takes care of more than half of that.  Merry Christmas to the Knowles!  And the dentist mentioned his dire need for flossing and an oral rinse that is to be the last thing in his mouth at night.  That should be fun to add to the nightly ritual.  

When I reflect on the weekend, I know we had too much going on.  Friday night we had family at the house, and I'm sure he was as tired as anyone.  Saturday, we had something to attend in the morning, I needed to run errands, so he stayed with our son-in-law for a few hours in the afternoon, and that evening we went to a wedding.  This may be the last wedding I take him to. Social situations add anxiety for both of us.  Billy has lost his filter in many situations.  After the wedding ceremony, he looked at me and started to say something...."Do you think they have.....a...a...a...a place to pee?"  A bit crude, but he did get his message across.  We spend a lot of our time looking for restrooms no matter where we are.  This wedding was in a tent, and I was so thankful it was attached to a building that had a restroom.  He needed me to go with him, so off we went.  He was about the fourth person in line for the facility, so we had a few minutes to wait.  While we stood there he asked just about anyone who walked by if they knew where a restroom was. But he stammered around about it, so they would stop, and I would try to redirect him.  When we returned to our table, he introduced himself to the couple sitting next to us ... again. He ate his food, and when he finished, it was time to go somewhere else! It's sort of like he has severe Attention Deficit Disorder.  He's distracted easily, even in the middle of a sentence.  He'll start out talking about one topic, see something in his line of sight, and the sentence changes to that topic.   

When we attend social events, I spend a good amount of the time worrying about what he's going to say, whose clothing he'll point at and tell me something about it,  or he might just stare rudely.  His filter is broken or missing.  

As anxious as he was on Saturday, he was worse on Sunday.  He sat at the edge of his seat the entire day - just waiting to jump up anytime I got out of my seat or asking where we were going.  I did plan to attend a birthday party with my daughter while my son-in-law stayed at the house with Billy.  We went out for a late breakfast that morning, and when we started home, he kept saying he wanted to go to my sister's.  I assured him he could go there to watch the Dallas Cowboys game at 3:00. Andrew took him to my sister's around 2:00 because Billy was wanting to go so badly.  Around 3:45, I received a text message that my sister's house was Anxiety Central....could I please call and try to calm Billy.  I called and assured Billy I would be there by 4:30.  He called me at 4:00 to see what was taking me so long. 

I keep replaying things from the caregivers seminar I attended a few weeks back, and she kept saying that negative behaviors can indicate an unmet emotional or physical need.  This weekend, I tried to identify the need, and I truly couldn't identify a specific need.  He is a little less anxious when I'm with him, but it certainly doesn't go away completely.  He follows me around the house when I go from place to place, and that is just part of the disease.  I contacted the doctor on Monday, and she's making some changes with his medication to see if it helps.  I'm at that place where something has to change....I keep having thoughts that I can't keep doing this, and I don't really have too many choices.  Billy needs supervision and full time care like people receive in assisted living.  We don't have the means for that, and a skilled nursing home doesn't seems appropriate for him.  God is faithful and will provide relief and answers.  I need them. 

While listening the the young couple repeat their vows at the wedding we attended, I thought about our vows.  When you stand before God, friends, and relatives at a young age and promise to love and care for this person until death, you don't think of all that lies ahead.  And that's a good thing.  If we knew what we faced, we might all bail out! I don't regret making those promises.  I love Billy with all my heart, and I want what is best for him. I'm just conflicted on what that is.  Love and peace to you all.  

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