The last time I wrote in my Journal, I told you about Harriet’s falls. She fell, and injured herself, in Toronto, Canada, broke her toe about a week after that in the hallway, and fell in the living room, a few days after that. You may recall that I was wondering if this was symptomatic of progressing FTD.
It seems that this can be symptomatic of FTD. This happened again the other night. The morning of August 7, I woke up sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 am. As soon as I was awake, I heard Harriet calling for help. I quickly got out of bed and went into her bedroom. I found her laying on the floor, with chairs and things all moved around. She had fallen around 3:30 am and hurt herself trying to get back on her feet. She said she had been calling for me that entire time, but I never heard her until I woke up.
The flooring in her bedroom is laminate, which makes it quite slippery. Every time she would try to get up on some furniture it would move around, or her feet would slip out from underneath her. She had bruises on her arms and legs and a bump on her head from sliding back onto the floor.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, “I didn’t hear you calling for help.” I felt terrible that she had been on the floor for three hours and couldn’t wake me up. We sleep in separate bedrooms which are across the hall from each other. With both doors shut, she couldn’t yell loud enough to wake me up.
I wasn’t sure how to help her get off the floor since I’m not strong enough to pick her up. I’ve heard of people injuring themselves in such an attempt. Harriet had knee replacement surgery about a year and a half ago. This means she cannot kneel on that knee, which limits her ability to help in the recovery. “I think I’d better call 911 and get some guys over here to help get you up,” I said. “NO! Please don’t do that,” She said. “We can figure something out. I don’t need to go to the hospital, and you know that’s what always happens.” She looked pleadingly at me and said, “Please, Dave, let’s see what we can do first.” “Okay, let me look around and see what might help.”
I figured I might as well get a pot of coffee started and went into the kitchen. I had wondered why she didn’t call me on her cell phone and found out when I saw it lying in the sink. I picked it up and noticed the battery was totally dead. After getting the coffee going, I had an idea about how we could get her off the floor. I had built a ramp so that the dog could get up into our motor home. It is made out of 2x2s and plywood and overlaid with carpet. I went into the garage, got the ramp and took it into the bedroom. The ramp has a notch on the top that I would put on the top step going into the motor home. I pushed the safe against the wall and leaned the ramp on the top of the safe. I figured she could slide up the ramp until she was high enough, off the floor, to stand up.
After I had everything in place, I tried to explain what I wanted Harriet to do. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t seem to understand what I was saying. “Let me show you,” I said. I sat down, on the floor, in front of the ramp and started inching my way up. “See how easy this is? And the ramp is plenty strong,” To prove the point I started lightly bouncing on the ramp, which caused it to slide off the top of the safe and come crashing down on the floor.
For some reason, my little accident with the ramp made Harriet reluctant to try it. We tried every other way, I could think of, to get her off the floor. Nothing worked. Finally, she decided to give the ramp a try. Sadly, by now she was too tired to even make it halfway up the ramp. “I Just can’t do it.” She admitted.
“There’s nothing left to do except call 911,” I said. She agreed, and I made the call. The 911 operator wanted to know if Harriet was injured and needed a transport to the Hospital. “Just help getting my wife off the floor.” I answered. It wasn’t long before a red station wagon with Raisin Township Fire Department on the doors, pulled up. Two Volunteer Fire Fighters came in and I showed them to the bedroom. They asked Harriet the usual questions and took her vitals.
About the time they were finishing with their examination of Harriet, an ambulance pulled up in front of the house. Two men got out and quickly came into the house. The four men talked about the best way to get Harriet off the floor. They took a sheet and wrapped it around Harriet, just under her arms. With two men on each side it wasn’t long before she was off the floor and sitting in a chair. They took vitals again and after making sure Harriet was in good health, took their leave.
This episode has caused us to make a few adjustments. Because Harriet isn’t on a regular sleep schedule, she tends to wander around the house at night. She makes quite a bit of noise and has a lot of lights on. Both things keep me awake, which is why the bedroom doors have been closed. However, the doors will now be open.
I now believe that these falls are an indication that the dementia is once again progressing. Time will tell if she will plateau again or just continue this downward spiral.
Another thing that make me believe that the FTD is getting worse is that she talks about being in a mental fog. Much of the time she acts like she is in a fog. For example, whenever we’re going somewhere, she cannot remember what time we need to leave. About every 5-10 minutes she will come out and ask, “What time to we have to leave?” We have a white board in the hallway, and after asking ten or eleven times, she will write the departure time on the board. However, even with all of that, we are almost always late.
She is almost always in pain, from the fall in Toronto, to her own fibromyalgia, and arthritis. She spends most of the day in the recliner, asleep. I don’t know if the lack of exercise or the FTD, or both, are making her mind so foggy.
I expect that soon I will have to take over her medications. She forgets to order refills until she is completely out of the pills. This causes a lot of lapses in her medication. Yesterday, I was helping her with her meds and opened the Friday Afternoon slot, however, the Friday afternoon slot had Friday mornings pills in it. I will keep an eye on this and when necessary, take over.
She is having more and more difficulty speaking. She constantly loses her train of thought and cannot remember words. She has become so unsure of herself that she is always looking to me to fill in the word, or to affirm that she is saying the right thing.
We will be married 50 years on November 1, she is not the same woman that I have lived with for all this time. We were a team and worked on things together. She always had a lot to add to our plans and dreams. Harriet was a woman who could do anything she set her mind on. Now, that is all gone.
I am writing this paragraph on Saturday Morning. Last night Harriet took another fall. She was in the bathroom sitting on a chair and was getting some things out of the closet. Somehow, she slipped off the chair and onto the floor. I think this disease is messing with her depth perception. From where the chair was sitting there was no way she could reach the things in the closet. I got the ramp, pushed the chair against the bathroom door, put the ramp in place, and drove two screws into the floor so that the ramp couldn’t slide. This time she quickly scooted up the ramp until she was able to grab the handrail and pull herself up. She was very upset and frustrated about the fall.
I will write more as things progress, or we have some answers to what is going on. Please continue to pray for us and be assured that we are praying for you.