Monday, May 26, 2014

Helping others to cope? I can only hope....

I came home Friday after work and found the dog in the house, the television on LOUD and Gary's Trikke sitting inside the house by the front door. He was not there.  He didn't answer his phone because it was turned off.  The GPS was on the counter. 

"Diva, where's Daddy?" As normal, she always knows where he is....sort of....she went to the front door and then to the garage door and then to the front door.  Didn't make sense.  So, I checked the garage and his bicycle was missing.   All I could do was wait.

A few minutes later, as I opened the mail, I heard the front door being unlocked.  He was carrying his bike tires and was followed by a nice young man carrying his bike frame.  The man carried the bike to the garage per Gary's instructions.  He asked if there was anything we could do for him as his bike was not working so he was carrying his bike home from the store.  The man stopped to help him.  Gary offered him $10 for his trouble and after four demands, he took it and left. 

I asked Gary where he had been and he handed me his Raley's bag.  Hot salsa.  He had been making a late lunch and thought it needed salsa, so he went to the store.  There were two unopened jars in the pantry but he didn't think to look there. He decided he wasn't hungry.  I shared that it was not a good idea for him to go to the store without telling me and that he should wear his GPS and turn on the phone that resides on his belt.  He apologized and said that he didn't call me so as not to disturb me. We ate dinner and go ready a few things for our trip. It took me awhile to come down off that adrenalin rush.

The next morning, I packed our belongings, readied Diva for Camp Bow Wow and after quite a bit of frustration, we headed out.  We dropped off Diva at 10 and went to the grocery as I forgot to pick up our Granddaughter's birthday and graduation cards off the counter at home.  We bought her gift cards and went for breakfast.  I knew we had to be in Dinuba by around 2:30 because the party was to start at 3 and Heather had said we would need to give her a ride.  We entered Denny's, got a table right away and I mentioned several times that we needed to eat rather quickly and get on the road. 

"Okay, honey."  The food came rather quickly and we began eating.  Half-way through the meal, he started his newest odd behavior.  He slowly and methodically cuts up all the food on his plate.  Country fried steak, gravy, hash browns, rye toast, scrambled eggs, jelly, butter, pancakes and syrup.  Mixed up, over and over and over.  Oh, that is not small enough, cut it some more.  Mix some more.  "Gary, can you please just eat your food.  You will be hungry before we get dinner."

He finally ate every bite (usually, he takes half his chopped up delight with him to-go, but he didn't this time) and we were on the road by 11:30.  I was SO aggravated that it took me a while to calm down. As we started down the road, Gary switched out some compact discs and we started singing.  He really liked the live Rat Pack recording.  I asked him to play the drums along with the recording and he did.  We actually had a good time.  I drove way too fast to get there. 

We arrived in Dinuba at 2:15 so I hurried us to the hotel to check in.  The room was not ready.  I sent a text to Heather who said she would call us when the coast was clear. It was not till then that I realized the party was a surprise. I told the manager that we wanted to extend our stay for one extra night so we could spend more time with the kids and do some swimming.  I was looking forward to swimming with Gary.  We always liked to frolic in a pool. 

Heather called a few minutes later and said for us to come over.  We arrived at her apartment at 2:30.  I had left my makeup kit at the hotel with the manager.  I asked to borrow some makeup.  She surely didn't seem to be in a hurry.  She asked if we wanted something to eat as we would probably not eat until 5:00.  Somehow it came out that the party was around 5, not around 3.  She said she told me of the change....somehow I missed that fact.  Just one more frustration. I told her we were staying an extra day and she said that they were going to her other Dad's house for the day. So, maybe we should do something else on Sunday.....

Around 3:30, Gary looked sleepy, as did Alexander.  I suggested we go to the hotel and take a nap.  Of course, the room wasn't quite ready and we had to wait.  We finally laid down for a few minutes for a nap.  When the alarm went off Gary was confused about where we were.  I explained and he recovered quickly.

The party was fun and Samantha had a great time.  After the party, we went back to the room and planned our next adventure.  I told the manager we would not be staying an extra day and came up with the brainstorm (with the help from a party guest) that we should drive into Sequoia Park, see some big trees and end in Fresno at a hotel with a pool.  We invited the kids to go to breakfast the next morning. We slept well. 

Gary awoke at 5:00 and started talking.  I don't even remember about what but I do remember being aggravated that I wanted to sleep more.  He kept talking and I repeatedly asked him to be quiet but I did become fully awake and was frustrated.  He was too. We were both laying on our backs and he said, "This is just not working out. This is just not working out." 

"What is not working out?"

"You see, I have been married 28 years to the love of my life.  We have a great marriage and I am very happy....yet, I find myself laying here with you."  The contempt in his voice was unbelievable.  I was shocked.  What I had feared was happening.... I wanted to vomit.

"Gary, I am your wife.  What are you talking about?"

"What are YOU talking about?  Are you Ada?" 

"Yes, honey, its me."  He instantly clicked and realized what he had said.  He held me while I cried.  We fell asleep.  Two hours later I had to tell him about the event as he had no memory of it.  Perhaps I should not have shared it, but I needed my husband to understand how the dementia had hurt me.  I say the dementia hurt me because I know he would never hurt me on purpose. 

We joined the kids for breakfast.  I shared with Heather what had happened.  I don't think she knew what to say either.  After a nice meal, we headed out to the park.  We left for the park around 11:30.  He kicked off his sandals and put his feet on the dashboard and tapped his feet as we continued to listen to the cds.  Tina Turner, Blake Shelton and more Rat Pack.

To make a long story short, I drove for many hours yesterday.  We sat in line at the gate of the park for almost 45 minutes. After we got into the park, we saw the Big Trees, a black bear, a brown bear and lots of scenic views.  We thanked God for all he has done.
Gary at the foot of a giant Sequioa

As we got near the edge of the park, we got cell service again.  No Internet.  As soon as we got down from the park, I stopped to find a seafood restaurant in Fresno on my phone.   We found one and set the GPS.  I thought I could find a hotel with a pool after dinner so we could play.

We ate a descent seafood dinner and then I searched for a hotel.  I found one and called the 800 number to check vacancy.  The operator was in a foreign phone room and I had to spell Fresno three times.  I told her California twice.  She couldn't tell me anything so I decided to just drive to the hotel.  On the way, Gary and I had an argument over whether or not I had made reservations.  I explained that I had not made reservations due to her not being able to find the correct hotel.  The argument escalated to yelling because he would not back down.  By the time we got to the hotel, I was fuming.  I left the car running and told him to stay in the car while I went in and checked for a room.

Yes, they had a room and a pool.  I checked in and while doing so, Gary walked up behind me with all our belongings.  He had moved the car (remember, he has no license now), unplugged my telephone and locked the car.  I don't know why this infuriated me but it did.  In front of the clerk, I was very belittling. I hate that.

We walked over and looked at a horrible pool that was under an overhang, with no sun, no heater and no jacuzzi.  We went up to the room.  I was a wreck because I had not asked the right questions and had checked in.  So much for frolicking and fun.  It was too cold. 

Gary convinced me that it would be best to check out and find another hotel.  I had gotten so worked up from the argument that I was not thinking clearly.  Gary was right.

We went back down and checked out.  The plan at that point was to find another hotel nearby.  We entered the freeway and started North.  Gary got down on me about having made reservations and then changing my mind.  The argument started again because he was still saying that I had done something I had not.  It wasn't that he can't remember that upset me.  It was the fact that he can't remember, I tell him the truth and then he doesn't believe me and argues.

Needless to say, the hotel plan changed and I decided to drive home three more hours instead of "frolicking in the unknown hotel's pool".  On the road, Gary asked me how much he makes monthly from social security.  I answered and he got furious and said that I had told him a figure three times larger.  After telling him I had never said that, he became very angry and argued so much that he confused himself and then swore that I told him a third, fourth and fifth amount.  Each time, swearing I had lied to him.  We argued for almost the whole trip....ranging in topic on so many issues that I can't list them all.  I just wanted to escape and tried everything I knew to try and change the subject to something light, happy or just off the subjects he was obsessing over.  He then said that he was hungry.  I told him we would stop at our exit.  He agreed.

We go home at 9:50. That was a long, emotional and exhausting day.  Sure, there were fun  points but overall, I just wanted to go to sleep.  I slept until 10am. The dreams were non-stop and I can't remember any of them. He was awake and dressed when I woke up.

We went to lunch and yes, he spent a significant amount of time mixing his food.  The waitress was a sweetheart and made multiple trips to the table bringing first two tortillas, then extra salsa, then another tortilla and then a box.  He brought the food home.

We had a good rest of day. We never did get to swim. He watered plants while I grilled steaks.  We are watching television and he is sitting here waiting to read the blog.  How will he react?

Overall, it was a long weekend.  It was fun, loving, celebratory and cruel.  I am not sure why this is all happening to us but there must be a reason.  I can only hope that it is to help someone else learn something from us to help them cope.

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