I Want to go Home

A recurring theme in Cheryl’s head is “when are we going home?” I try at first to answer this by saying that’s good because we are already there. This rarely works. Sometimes it merely makes her angry with me.

The conversation is confusing when we reach this point. I can say to her, okay put on some clothes and we will get some lunch and come home. So, how would you find clothes for you in a place where you did not live? This is the first confusion but she accepts the fact that she has all her clothes here without accepting the truth of “home”. Even I am confused.

Later today, she is dressing now, we will go find some lunch somewhere and come home again.

Physical therapy is on the schedule for later this afternoon. Hopefully she will be tired after this activity.

Carpe Diem.

Who am I?

Last night was a peaceful night. Cheryl laid down in the big new bed at 10:30 or so. I finished up a couple things and joined her at a quarter ’til 11. It was a restful night. I awakened to go to the toilet at 6:30 am and so did she. Cheryl laid down again but I got up.

At about eight I went to check on her. She was awake laying in bed. The creaky door had startled her. I apologized for wakening her from her dreamy state. As I closed the door to return to the living room this conversation ensued;

Cheryl – Who am I?

Me – You are Cheryl.

Cheryl – And who are you?

Me – I am Paul. We’ve been married for about 50 years.

Cheryl – Well, happy anniversary!

I do not know what to make of this conversation. As I left the room she added, I love you.

I can understand that in the early morning hours she is a little more confused than normal. She is still tired. I do not know how well she slept. I can report that the couple of times I got up overnight she was in the same position. She moves little when she sleeps during the night. At about 5 am she was having a conversation with someone in her sleep but she often has these conversations. I do not always hear them.

We will see what the day brings. So far, my youngest son has invited us to dinner on Father’s Day which is Sunday.

Carpe Diem.

God Makes a Way Out of No Way

Sen. Warnock from Georgia and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta says this often when he preaches. He found inspiration from his father who told him every day, get your clothes on, put on your shoes! His dad’s point was only you can do it. No one can do it for you. It is up to you and your attitude.

He is a pastor of southern Baptist convention. I am not a Baptist but the lesson is not lost no matter your faith or lack there of. It is up to you to make a difference in your own life and the lives of those around you. No one can do it for you nor should expect for someone else to do it.

We have to start with ourselves. Let God in. He will make a way if you let Him.

Today is a good day to start.

Carpe Diem

History of Overnight

It occurs to me this morning after another overnight of strange behavior that discussing her actions overnight has no useful purpose. So, I have not this morning. I will wait and see if I need to discuss it with someone else.

Part of Carpe Diem is to stay in the present. The past is the past and while it gives me a hint as to what is coming, it is a very dim view with poor illumination.

Carpe Diem.

Observations of Lack of Sleep

Scott was here last night to be with Cheryl while I visited my stock club meeting. The fourth Monday of every month is the meeting of our little stock club. We started this little club in 1984. Over time we swelled to 20 members but the past few years attrition and death has shrunk our number to eight. And over the past few years the meetings are more social than business. Where else can eight old men get together and trade war stories about getting old, fortunes missed, grand children achievements, the proper temperature of beer for drinking, Parkinson’s disease, prostate problems, cataracts and hearing issues, but in the backroom of a local watering hole near a railroad track? It is always fun and over the years I have rarely missed it.

Before I left for the meeting Cheryl’s stomach was bugging her a bit as happens occasionally after her 4 pm meds. When I returned I asked her if she had eaten anything. She said yes but behind her Scott shook his head no. She answered my question how she thought I wanted her to answer it.

Eventually about 11:20 pm we went to bed. Over night she was fidgety and got up at 2:30 a.m. to make a list so she would not forget something. I sat her at the kitchen table with subdued lighting and with paper and pencil she worked on her list.

Her list is a business memory. I sat with her and about 3 a.m. she decided to sleep some more and finish later on. Buzzing around in her mind these days is the thought of creating a database of birthdays for the people in her family. Many times and in many instances she has started this task. Just like engineers this thinking starts with a pad and paper. Often sketches are made to indicate data flow and information input. Just like an engineer Cheryl’s notes switch back and forth from cursive to printing. And although she had an urgency about this activity in the very early morning hours, she had no ideas about what it was or what it was for in the daylight hours.

She seems so fragile to me in the morning lately. She is still working on the remnants of some dream as she awakens. This morning she got up and went into the bathroom. I got up also and put clothes on, got some coffee for myself and turned on the CBS news to see if any new wars developed or any movie stars got divorced overnight. About 20 minutes later I went back to check and see if any help was needed or if there were any special breakfast requests. She was seated on the closed toilet waiting for someone to bring more toilet paper. I showed her where the extra rolls were and asked if she wanted cereal for breakfast. Yes was her reply. I returned to the living area.

About ten minutes later I went to check again and she told me she was still waiting for someone to bring toilet paper. The thirty minutes of database design time in the middle of the night messed up her waking pattern.

More and more she seems to have a slow switch from early morning confusion to present. I have not found a solution to any of this confusion and delusion. I listen to her conversation and make a lot of rapid decisions about how to respond. If it seems like she is getting ramped up about someone coming (that I know is not) I try to gently steer her toward the correct thinking. If she is getting fired up about having a family gathering I merely agree with her plans.

On this particular morning she was concerned about whether David was going to show up any minute to cook the Thanksgiving turkey. It took several repeated conversations about date and time but eventually she seemed okay that Thanksgiving day was not today. Over several hours she came to the conclusion that she should take a shower and get ready for her exercise class. Over those same several hours I planted various seeds of the idea about taking a shower and looking for exercise clothes to wear.

Me and how I feel – It is wearying for the care partner to both console and encourage and direct and deflect her delusions and my own background anger (too strong a word – disappointment?; discouragement?; vexation?) with her brain and how it is operating with PD. My question – Why can’t she have the movement issues without the mental disability? (God are you listening? Why her? She has always been a sweet person. Why did you dump this crap on her?)

Observations about my reaction to her needs – (Shit! Not again. This is the same conversation we had 15 minutes ago. whiskey tango foxtrot.) How can I help dear? Cheryl – you can’t help. Perhaps not but let me hold your purse for you while you get out of the car.

Is this genuine love? … To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse… Those where part of the original agreement. Too late to back out now. She looks so sad and distraught when she realizes that she needs me to help her up from the chair because her scoocher is busted. It is heartbreaking.

Carpe Diem.

I Have to get the Article Written

With that thought she got up at 1:30-ish in the early morning. It has come to me that when her dreams become real, I have to just go with the flow. I tell myself that our experience has shown that this episode will last about two hours, so be patient and helpful during that time. Some might to this as a prayer but I think of it as description of what I need to do to help her get through this nuanced dream she is experiencing right now. (And Carpe The Damn Early Morning Diem. 🙂 ) I suggested that she should have something to eat and she would be more alert, her mind would work better while she was writing the article. She agreed with that and asked what we had.

I suggested cereal with a banana cut up on top and some o.j. She took her vitamins. Later after she decided a piece of coffee cake from yesterday morning would be good also, we discussed how she could get started. She looked at the two-day old paper on the kitchen table for I bit. Maybe she was thinking about what to write? She did not tell me.

I suggested we watch TV for a bit while her thoughts gelled. We watched a couple TV shows that were previously recorded. After a few minutes as was our previous experience she became tired again and we returned to bed at 3 am.

The alarm went off at 7 am and I fetched her morning meds and we returned to bed for a little longer as we usually do. Twenty to thirty minutes is usually enough for her to get moving. I fell asleep a little more soundly than ordinary.

I woke up and realized I could not hear her. I got up and put some clothes on. I searched the condo and could not find her anywhere inside. The front door was unlocked. This morning when she got up, she left the house.

Did the rapture happen? It scared me. It is my greatest fear, not the rapture, the fact that she had wandered off looking for something she could only see in her mind. Fortunately she was just outside the front door to our building and it was not raining.

Later as she was laying down to rest she told me, she was looking for anyone awake. She was scared that no one was here. She had decided to go look in the next building for anyone. She asked me if that woman who runs things here was around – whoever that may be. I left, “What are you thinking about?”, unsaid and suggested we go out and get some sun. Take a walk. Maybe we could have lunch.

I felt bad that I fell asleep again.

Carpe Diem.

Last Night I Tried Something Different

Last night was one of those sleepless nights for Cheryl. I think I am learning when she will have a sleepless night or sleep fitfully overnight or sleep for a bit and then be awake for a couple hours. And the next day she has no memory being awake or thinks she slept soundly.

She went to bed a little early at nine but she had complained of being tired at eight while we were playing Uno. I got her bedtime meds and we played another round of cards. (I am losing this marathon game.) She insisted she was tired, so, I helped her find pajamas and opened the bed. I kissed her goodnight and read my book for a bit. Nine o’clock is too early for me to go to bed.

I went to bed at about eleven and slept for about an hour. At twenty minutes or so after midnight, she was up. I thought initially for a trip to the bathroom but she was up with conversational gibberish about work and school and children. I left her to put on clothes and I put on a sweat suit to go read some more and wait to see if she needed my help. (Her motion is good and she seems steady with no hint of Parkinson in the middle of the night.)

When she came out of the bedroom dressed for work, I got her some cereal and orange juice. She also ate a piece of coffee cake. She wanted to look for the morning paper and pointed out to her that the paper would not appear for several hours. She seemed to accept that and sat back down to re-read the Sunday paper. After breakfast we played a couple more rounds of Uno. In conversation before and during our card playing I was able to convince her that we had no appointments today. After a while she decided that she was very tired again and we went back to bed at about 2:30 am.

In previous episodes like this I admit to being Mr. Cranky-pants. Rosie showed me a different way to respond to her at night. We both fell asleep quickly and the LOUD AND ANNOYING alarm clock woke me at seven for her morning meds.

I would like to report that she is okay today and I am rested but I am not. I am a little tired but coffee helps. She is still a little confused but not any more so than normal lately.

She has a rash that appeared a couple days ago. This afternoon I made an appointment with our primary care physician to look at it. Hopefully it is nothing other than hives. I wish I knew what new thing is irritating her skin. She does not complain about it. (Update: Shingles. She has shingles. In some people it does not hurt. Damn. Another reason to not get old.)


In writing this little piece I googled “a different way” in the hunt of an image to use as a header picture. This hip-hop song popped up DJ Snake. I am not a consistent listener of hip-hop music but much of it is very good and has a happy beat. This video is very creative.


A Different Way – DJ Snake, Lauv


Could you believe I could be different?
I’ll be the difference, I’ll lift you high
And I understand your hesitation
Our reputation, it’s no surprise
So let me redefine you
And you can see the tide move
Just like tears in the eyes do
And when you’re feeling alone
Oh, baby, I’ll be right here
Between the sea and silence
So breathe easy my dear
You can find sunshine in the rain

I will come running when you call my name

Even a broken heart can beat again

Forget about the one who caused you pain

I swear I’ll love you in a different way

I know that love is so unforgiving

You’ve been a victim too many times

And I’ll be the thread, hold you together

I’ll be forever, will you be mine?

So let me redefine you

And you can see the tide move

Just like tears in the eyes do

And when you’re feeling alone

Oh, baby, I’ll be right here

Between the sea and silence

So breathe easy my dear

You can find sunshine in the rain

I will come running when you call my name

Even a broken heart can beat again

Forget about the one who caused you pain

I swear I’ll love you in a different way

Hey, hey, hey

I swear I’ll love you in a different way

Hey, hey, hey

I swear I’ll love you in a different way


Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Edward Christopher Sheeran / Ilsey A Juber / Jonny Mcdaid / Lindy Robbins / Steve Mac / William Grigahcine

A Different Way lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Spirit Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group

There is always something to learn on the road of life.

Carpe Diem.

Recently I Read a Book on Dementia

Recently I read a book entitled – Dementia Reimagined by Tia Powell MD. It was a disappointment to me personally because I believe that I judged this book by its title. I was hoping for some sort of expert thoughts on how I can deal better with my personable anxiety, emotion and smoldering anger with Cheryl’s disease of Parkinson and her accompanying dementia. I was hoping for; when this comes up, do this. Life is not that easy but my engineer training wants to make it so.

Dr. Powell’s book is a good argument for changing the way government programs, insurance companies and the like perceive and fund help for those with dementia. I know that the funding albeit private or public is screwed up. A few months ago I met with a lawyer to discuss end of life issues especially since I felt certain that Cheryl’s chronic illness would eventually bear a heavy toll on our family finances. He asked why I still lived in Ohio.

All states are different.

No Help There

That does not really help me. These tips on dementia (copied from a website somewhere) do seem to be useful:

Always approach from the front.or do that as much as you can. When I first read this it was not meaningful to me but I have noticed that Cheryl startles easily. Her startle reflex shows itself at seemingly random moments. If we are traveling somewhere in our car, she will react to other drivers with jerky motions or a surprised little noise from her lips. I used to point that out to her and she reacted with both embarrassment and a little anger. I have learned to ignore these little things but it is hard for me to do.

She no longer drives a car having given up her license several years ago.

I have noticed that she will jump if approach her while working on something in her office which causes her to face away from the doorway so that she does not see me coming. I am not moving quietly when this has occurred but I may be mistaken about that idea. I may be more stealthy than I think myself to be. We are both older. Our hearing may not be as acute as in our youth.

Watch your body language and tone in addition to the words you use. – frustration or surprise at the immediate situation may easily be interpreted as anger. This is the hardest concept for me personally to deal with. I am concerned for Cheryl’s safety and I also hate to clean up messes. I apologize a lot and she apologizes a lot for making a mess even though I tell her that no apology is necessary.

I recognize that I am perceived as angry by her when one of these situations occurred. The aweshit reflex is strong in students and practitioners of engineering. So far I have been able to tone it down to oh-poop but it is a work in process with some small progress. I keep telling myself it is anger with this disease and what it has taken from her. I cannot tell you if there is truth to that statement but I keep repeating it to myself quietly at night when a combination of sun-downers and dreamy illusions and hallucinations creep into her perception of the world.

Sometimes I merely lose it, however. I can be mister cranky pants in the middle of the night.

Smile and wait until they acknowledge your presence before touching them. – Hugs are always welcome but Parkinson’s patients may be unsteady, so be prepared to steady her and accept some weight change. Hugs are always smoother from the front than from the rear. (see startles above)

Regardless of acknowledgment touching, hand holding, hugging are preferable to distance. The combination of Parkinson’s and dementia are frustrating, depressing and scary. Cheryl has expressed this to me often in moments of perfect lucidity. Those moments are still there. Savor them like fine wine or life as it used to be.

Validate their point when they are upset even if they are wrong. – and be aware that it is not important to correct anyone’s perception of things. Never start a response with; you are wrong, dear. … and continuing with the rest of it.

Let’s face the fact that “you are wrong” is a manifestly stupid way to start with no dementia present. Relax and take a deep breath and decide between two things, is it important to correct her perception or do you merely have a need to be right. Try, yes, that could be true… and go from there if concepts are way off and you want to help her find the way back. Or just ignore it, after all, her memory is not very good any more. She will not remember that you are right but she will remember that you angrily corrected her.

Say you are sorry at the first sign of their frustration to keep situations at a minimum. – I say I am sorry a lot because I am sorry that I tread on her heart. This disease is frustrating for us both.


Cheryl sees a nurse practitioner a couple times a year. Maureen is pretty practical when it comes to nuanced care partnering. These are her words;

I get lots of questions on how to deal with dementia. I could give you a list of resources to look up on the internet, workshops to attend, books to buy. All of that takes time which most of us have too little of. A great caregiver website, caregiving.com, offers these 5 tips for dealing with dementia.

PRACTICE PATIENCE – This can be incredibly difficult to do. Try to remember when you were dealing with your children when they were young, especially the toddlers. You probably had more patience then, than now. Remember those days of taking a deep breath before saying something. With practice, it will get easier.

PROMOTE PHYSICAL HEALTH – This is for both the care giver and the care receiver. The care receiver can benefit from practicing chair yoga, dancing, gentle stretching. Since the pandemic there are abundant resources on You Tube which can be helpful for both the care giver and the care receiver. A walk outside in the fresh air can help clear the mind for the care giver and give a person a brief respite.

USE PHYSICAL TOUCH – Touch is a powerful form of communication and connection. It can also be a valuable expression of reassurance particularly to someone living with dementia. All of us need a hug now and again. My own mother would remind me I forgot to kiss her good night!

FIND RESPITE – If you’re focusing most – if not all – of your time, energy, and resources on caring for a loved one with dementia, you may find you cannot sustain doing so over the long-term. With proper self-care, you can relax and recharge, manage caregiver stress, and become a better and more effective caregiver. Consider sitting on the porch and reading a book, a brisk walk, a cup of Starbucks, an ice cream cone, a massage, a warm bath with soothing scents. These things need to be done regularly in order to maintain your own health.

REDUCE WORKING HOURS – If you are still working full time, care giving becomes a second full time job. Consider scheduling a meeting with your human resources manager to propose temporarily working from home, flex-time opportunities, job sharing, and/or even paid leave due to your caregiving demands. You may be pleasantly surprised by the accommodations your employer is willing to make.

Maureen is a wonderful practical person. (I also wish she was not in our life because then there would be no disease of Parkinson or dementia.)

Carpe Diem.

It Must be a Terrible Thing to be Losing Your Mind

And be aware of what is happening.

These days Cheryl is certain that we are not home and wonders when we are going home.

In the background she knows she is home.

But maybe not.  Cheryl has lost most concept of time.  Calendar time,  Day of the week, hour of the day, time until the next event, how much lead time to get dressed or ready; all of these time conceptions are gone. She becomes angry with me reminding her how much time she has left. Maybe I am doing it wrong. She talked (and talks) in implication and inference but my conversation is direct. When she says she is going to do something I assume that she going to do it and I will reminder of her conversation, even help steer her toward her goal that seems to anger her sometimes. It is not my intent to anger her but merely to remind her what road she started out with and keep her on it to completion.

Little girls seem to come and go. The woman who takes care of the little girls seems to come and go with them. Others seem to move her stuff around. And then daylight returns.

Carpe Diem.