Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Who Are You?

I’m back from three weeks in California visiting my sister. It was a real vacation and I so needed it. I feel refreshed and ready for work and to face Alz World again, a world that I never really leave. But gaining distance from it gives me a chance to think more clearly.

I went to see Bob right after I returned. In just three weeks he’d gone deeper than I’d expected into the well of Alzheimer’s.  For the first time he didn’t know who I was. He was friendly but I could see his mind struggling to figure out who this woman was standing before him. Finally he asked, “Who are you?”.  “Susan,” I answered and watched as this kernel of information seeped in.  He didn’t get it right away but by the middle of our time together he knew me.  He held my hand back when the recognition came.

I massaged his shoulders as he sat in the warmth of the late afternoon garden. His voice was thinner as was his body, now clearly showing ribs. His formerly muscular upper arms are almost the same diameter as mine. 

Bob eats well and enough although now he has to be fed. He forgets what food is for and plays with it if left to feed himself. So the caregivers patiently feed him and he ends up finishing everything on the plate. Where do the calories go?  It seems to be a common symptom with Alzheimer’s.

Bob's Garden
A lot of work had been done on his garden while I was away, with major pruning to let in more light. In tropical Bali the greenery takes over if it isn’t contained. We sat next to each other gazing at the flowers and lush leaves. It didn’t seem necessary to say much. Bob held my hand and stoked it. And then he said, “I think I’ll go to the whorehouse.”  “Hmmm,” I replied, “what will you do there?” After a long pause he said,  “I don’t know.” 

My husband always had a bawdy sense of humor and it seems to still be there. Maybe he meant warehouse. I’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when I told him I love him he said, “I love you too,” and he looked right into my eyes.

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