Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Where is my deodorant?"

I have said to my Management Team on numerous occasions, "I don't know how you guys with kids do it in the morning!"  I didn't realize until this week that they didn't necessarily know what I was referencing until Erica and had a more specific chat.

A typical morning for Gary and I goes like this:

We wake and I usually head toward the kitchen to make coffee and smoothies and put out all medicine, vitamins and potions for the day.  Gary's lunch pills have to be put in a plastic mini-bag so the volunteers at the CLUB can administer them.  I give him his morning pills and treatments to ensure he gets them all.  While Gary has his coffee, I shower and start getting ready.  I usually remind him several times that he needs to get in the shower. 

He always prepares his clean underwear to bring in the bathroom prior to showering.  "I need a pair of underwear, where is it?"

"Its in the drawer marked 'underwear' in the highboy."
He often does this two or three times prior to eventually getting in the shower.  While he is in the shower, I usually replace the extra pairs and put them in the drawer.

When he does get in the shower, it is usually a 15 to 20 minute adventure.  He often washes his hair three or four times, washes his body many times and reapplies matter what guidance I give him.  He is very head-strong and usually does not listen to me whether I am nice or forceful.  

Next, we go through the deodorant, shave cream and razor search.  All his belongings are on the left side of the bathroom either centered around the sink, in a shave mug or in his drawer. 

"Honey, where is my deodorant?"
"Its in the far left hand drawer where it is everyday." A very sweet "thanks" usually follows while he applies his first application.  Soon after, he asks if he needs to shave.  I usually say yes and he asks, "Where is my razor?" 
"In your shave mug on the back of the sink." 
"Where is the shave cream?" 
"Same Place, in the shave mug on the back of the sink."

After shaving, he usually asks where his deodorant is kept.  Even with a reminder that he has already used it, he reapplies. 

"Where is my comb?"
"Left hand drawer, next to your deodorant."  I often show him in addition to telling him and with each repeat I get more animated. 
"Do I need to shave?"
"You already did." 
"Oh?  How did I do?"
"Let me see, did you remember the left side of your neck?  You always forget that side." 
"Check me. "  I usually re-shave that side.  Perhaps the lighting on that side is not good.
"Honey, where is my deodorant?"

Sometime during all that, I pick out his clothes including t-shirt, socks, pants, shirt and shoes.  I put them on the end of the bed where he can see them when he comes out of the bathroom. Most days he asks "Where are my clothes?"
"On the end of the bed." 
"Where are my shoes?"
"On the floor at the end of the bed."
"Did I use deodorant?'

During each of these interludes, I had to speed him along as much as possible due to his pace.  In the middle of each of these above scenarios, he is folding tissues, stacking the change out of his pockets, folding and refolding the towels, brushing his teeth, drinking coffee, etc.  The process is long.

Once dressed, we take inventory of what goes in his pockets. Combs (multiple).  Wallet, cell phone, tissues (lots of tissues), house key, pill packet and more tissues.

Out the door.  In the car.  "Please buckle your seat belt."
"Drink your smoothie." 
"why didn't you turn left back there?"
"Because we go straight to go to the CLUB."
"No we don't."
"Honey, I know where to go.  I take your everyday."
"Where are you taking me today?"
"To the Club."
"Okay. How are is it?"
"Less than five minutes."
"That's not right.  It takes much longer."
"No dear, we moved to Rancho Cordova so it only takes a few minutes now."

I drop him off, kiss him good bye and watch him until he is inside the buzzer door with a volunteer.  He is always greeted with hugs and matter how stressed he is, when he hits that door, he is fine.  Then, I go to work. I almost always feel frazzled, stressed and worn out.

My next writing will focus on a day this week when he was clear. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yep, my husband has dementia.

On Saturday, Gary and I ran some errands, got our haircut and drove home through a mega storm.  He was a little foggy all day but in some ways more clear than he has been in a while.

There was no discussion regarding the date or day of the week.  While we were eating dinner, he asked if we were driving to Elk Grove to Cornerstone Church.  Not only did he know the day but the name and location of our church.  There were several other conversations throughout the night that had similar awareness clues. 

I have been experimenting with Medium Chain Triglycerides as a treatment.  I will keep you all posted on the progression of this treatment. It is based on Coconut Oil.
I could only attribute this improvement to this treatment.  It was clear but short-lived.

Today was a whole different story.  I knew upon saying "good morning" that his reaction was one of sluggishness and slow-moving actions toward getting ready for church. We made it to the 10:30 service and he was very distracted during the service even though he grasped the content.

It was raining "cats and dogs" as I slowly drove home.  Traffic and the storm made coming home very stressful. I explained several times that we had to pre-pack for our trip next weekend.  5 or 6 times, I reiterated that our granddaughter is getting married in Fresno and that we need to leave on Friday.  He asked a few questions but did not get the concept as I started to get out socks, ties, etc. He got very agitated and at one point said, "Excuse me, why are you in Ada's closet?" 

"I am Ada." 

"No, you're not.  How am I going to explain to Ada that you are packing clothes from her closet?" 

"I am Ada.  Who do you think I am?"

With a  slightly sheepish look, he responded, "You are my wife."  When I inquired about my name, he looked right at me and said the name of his third wife "AnnaMaria." 

I laughed as that was a new one.  Normally, he thinks I am Kurla (wife #2) or his daughter Heather.  I explained the order of the marriages and the time frame of divorces and our marriage of 29 years.  He looked at me as if I had horns.

He was lying on the bed and seemed very sleepy.  I suggested a nap.  He agreed and I stretched on the bed beside him. He reached over and hugged my nose which is a long standing touch of endearment that we have shared.  Since this was such a familiar touch, I asked if he knew who I was.  He said that I was Ada.  When asked of our relationship he said, "You are somebody from the past but I'm not sure." This week, Heather posted a picture of herself, her Mom (Kurla) and her daughter, Samantha.  I showed him and explained that at the wedding, he may really get confused because we will all be one room.  He said that situation should be interesting.  I dropped the subject and we slept.

I awoke before him and started dinner.  He came to the kitchen and I could tell by his look and greeting that he was back to "normal".  Curiosity had me. "Honey, can you tell me my name and our relationship?"

"You are Ada Mae and you are my wife."  I finished the sentence with "the best wife of your life."  He smiled and said "Of course!"

As I reflected over the earlier scenario, I felt a twinge of sadness for the memories we have shared, as I know many of them are in his head but confused with other things.  At least I still have them and can recall them if he should have moments of wanting to know.

He sat tonight and wrote a note in a Valentine and gave it to me early.  The note makes sense and is full of love.  However, his once particular and perfect hand writing is starting to morph into a sloppier, larger form.  That is another sign....yep, my husband has dementia.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Could I please have a refund on the cruise my husband ordered?

I received a text at work from Gary's Visiting Angel, Jo.  "Oops, you better check your credit card.  Gary is hiding in the back room and I think he bought something." Of course, I asked Gary that evening what he had purchased that day and he coyly responded, "I don't remember....but I think I bought something."

Sure enough.....a $1507 charge showed up on the bank account. Gary had purchased a 7 day cruise and 6 night hotel stay to Florida and the Bahamas.  He had received a call and bought the exact same cruise we took a few years ago.  Dang it!  I knew I would face an uphill battle getting that cancelled.

So, the next morning I embarked on the adventure of getting a credit on the credit card.  I knew the obstacles were as follows:

  • I am not the one who made the purchase.
  • It was not my exact credit card.
  • I had to get them to believe that he really does have dementia and that I'm not just a disgruntled wife trying to control her husband.

Ring.  Ring. Ring.  After punching about 20 choices on the interactive voice response system and waiting 10 minutes on a human, I explained something similar to the following:  "Hello, my name is Ada Gerard.  My order # is xyz.  My address is.... and I would like a refund due to my husband purchasing this vacation while suffering from dementia."  "I'm sorry lady but the address you gave is not correct."  I gave our two previous addresses and phone numbers as proof that my husband really does not have any business buying a cruise in his mental state.  Of course, the address Gary had given was our last address in Elk Grove where we had lived for two years prior to moving last November. 

I did not think to get the name of the operator nor officially change the address before I was put on hold to be transferred to another department.  After 5 minutes on hold, the phone disconnected and I had to start over.  I followed the same monotonous process as above and finally reached another human who had no notes in their system of my previous call.  So, I started over and explained the whole event and that I wanted a full refund.  I got the operator's name and made sure the new address showed in the system.  She explained that she could not perform the reversal and that she had to transfer me to another department.  Yes, once again, the call was disconnected. 

I was slightly furious.  I went through the process again and did not have to repeat as much since the last operator had put an explanation in my records.  I again requested a full refund.  She explained that since Gary was an authorized user on the card that they would not give me a full refund, but rather a partial refund and an $800.  I was started to come unraveled.  I said this is absolutely unacceptable and that our cards had been compromised by by husband and that I wanted a refund.  Because i made the mistake of saying the word "compromised", she transferred me to the fraud department.  Of course, that transfer worked.  They were starting to file a police report when I AGAIN explained the situation.  I asked to speak to a supervisor ( Iwas told his name was JOE) and that I wanted to file an elder abuse claim.  Yes....the phone was disconnected. 

I called back AGAIN and asked for Joe.  Lo and behold, I was transferred to Joe who aswered the phone with said alias.  During the transfer, I gave significant thought to how I might approach repeating this information for the umpteenth time.  Should I take the upscale, forthright, educated approach?  Should I go hillbilly/redneck?  Should I use the ghetto approach? 

I chose to utilize my education and said,  "Joe, this is Ada Gerard and my order number is XYZ.  Please take a moment to read me the notes made by your employees in the last hour about my account." He did!  He asked how he could help me.  I ranted that I thought a partial credit under the circumstances was absolutely cruel and subject to Elder Abuse laws in the State of Florida (his office location).  (the sad part is that I do know the phone number to the office in Florida to call as I had experienced this with another Florida company). I demanded a refund and he quietly said, "Ma'm, I have already processed your refund.  I am sorry for the inconvenience.  Your account will reflect the refund iin 8 to 10 days."  At least I had enough money to transfer from savings so as to not overdraw my account. 

It is amazing that I was one the phone for over an hour trying to undo something Gary had done in probably 10 minutes.  The anger and emotional experience was unbelievable.  I wanted to go home and tear him a new orifice.  That would have been a waste of time and emotion, as he doesn't get it. 

Later in my account auditing, I also found that during the same two days that he had the card, he had also ordered two sets of a product off the television.  One was delivered to our house after being forwarded from the old address.  The other never showed up.  Upon calling the company to get return authorization, it was discoverd that he had again charged over $400 in caffeine-laden vitamins and had them delivered to the old addresses. I would have to file a postal claim. My car is now full of to-be-returned products that need to go to the post office. 

Lesson learned:  When Gary goes out with a caregiver to the store, give him cash not the credit card.  Also, if he does require a credit card....get it back that very night.  He knows not what he does.