Friday, April 8, 2011

Apple, table, penny

Apple, table, penny .

These three words factor in to every appointment with the neurologist. Apple. Table. Penny. Can you remember them? He starts his assessment giving Mummy the same three words every single time. Apple. Table. Penny. From one appointment to the next the words don't change, but the degree of success she has retaining them certainly does.

Yesterday I told Mummy that she had surgery the day before (6 April 2011) no fewer than 20 times. That story line was the day's 'apple, table, penny' exercise. Sometimes, I had to share that information more than once in the span of 5 minutes. Apple. Table. Penny. Over and over and over again. Apple. Table. Penny. And yet, every time she heard the 'news', it was just that, new. "So where was I?" Apple. Table. Penny. Me: "Well, either you were right there, or you sent the eyeball and you stayed at home. (smile)". Her: hearty laughter. Apple. Table. Penny. Apple. Table. Penny.

At dinner time she was confused by the eye patch. "What is all this?" Apple. Table. Penny. "You had eye surgery yesterday so that's there to protect the eye." Her, "Surgery? That is very odd. Where was I?"

Apple. Table. Penny. Apple. Table. Penny. Pray that you can remember those three simple words. Apple. Table. Penny.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Love bears all things

If anyone ever tells you that anaesthestic is a good idea for a dementia patient do not believe it, even for a moment. I don't think anyone will, but in case they do, think carefully before agreeing to its use.

Mummy had surgery yesterday and while this is typically an awake procedure, her memory challenges make it impossible for her to remain still. She forgets where she is and why, and starts moving around. As you would imagine, this is not a good thing when someone's got a scalpel in your eye. Anyway, end result she had to be sedated.

Before the procedure, she was 'clear'. She seemed to know where she was and why but once the procedure was done, she was all aflutter, confused and incapable of holding an idea in her head for anything longer than a few moments.

I've got to wonder whether the reality is that this is where she is typically but in the absence of the anaesthetic she can camouflage her infirmity better? Perhaps it is that the anaesthetic is bringing her reality to light. Yesterday, she couldn't hide her confusion (since anaesthesia tends to alter your consciousness, even for the able-minded) and we got to see how little is really being retained in her head. And yet, even as I type and as the drug wears off, she's chatting with the caregiver about Tobago, where she was born. Who understands this disease raise your hand, because I surely don't.

Whatever it is, the lesson I've learned here is that I am capable of repeating the same information as many times as necessary without getting angry. Given where I started when we were first diagnosed, that's a pretty big step. I guess seeing your mother wheeled into surgery, even eye surgery, is enough to make you ready to bear all things...even 1000 repetitions of the same piece of information. The Bible is right, love does bear all things, Alzheimer's Disease included.