Our daughter, Michelle, came to see my dad who was in St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She lives in Peoria, Illinois, which is a seven-hour drive. She also came to hang out with Harriet, while I was helping dad, both in the hospital and after he got home.
When Harriet heard that Michelle was coming, she immediately thought of a mother-daughter trip to the flea market in Shipshewana, Indiana. She was a bit nervous about bringing it up to Michelle, fearing that Michelle would think it wouldn’t work. However, Michelle was open to the idea and thought it might be a lot of fun. Michelle figured that they could rent one of those motorized shopping carts, like they have at Grocery stores.
Saturday morning, I went to the hospital to be with Dad. My sisters and I were taking turns, so that if dad needed an advocate we would be there. Also, we wanted someone there when the doctors came in, because dad couldn’t seem to answer their questions correctly and didn’t remember what the doctor said. I did mornings and early afternoons, and my sister Carol came for late afternoon and evenings.
Harriet still wasn’t fully recovered from all the activities on the previous Sunday and Monday; she was so tired. I was up in dad’s room when they arrived that afternoon. I saw them park the car, so I went down to the lobby and got a wheelchair for Harriet and came back to the room with them.
There was quite a crowd visiting dad when they arrived, and the atmosphere was quite jovial. Michelle gave him a birthday card with a cartoon of 21 nuns saluting on the front, and the Mother Superior saying, “Happy Birthday”. On the inside it said, “A 21 Nun salute in honor of your Birthday.” She also gave him a CD, The Cactus Blossoms, You’re Dreaming. We were playing the CD low enough volume that it didn’t interfere with the conversations going on.
Following the hospital visit, we all returned home to Adrian. The evening, with Michelle, was very nice and I got to bed around 12:30. I was sound asleep, when the sound of Harriet falling on the floor, woke me up. I was in a panic, but she assured me that she was not injured. It was about 2:00 am, when she fell, and Michelle and I asked her to stop trying to get up by herself. We were afraid she might hurt herself in the attempt. I thought we could get her up by using a sheet like the EMTs did. However, we couldn’t get that to work because, even though I thought I knew how they did it, I hadn’t watched them. After a few failed attempts with the sheet, I went and got the ramp and Harriet scooted up it until she was high enough that we could help her stand.
Sunday morning, I returned to the hospital to be with dad. Michelle and Harriet came up around noon. They came into the room about the same time as Dad’s lunch was brought in. Harriet and I went down to the cafeteria to get lunch for the three of us. Michelle and Harriet had baked salmon, redskin potatoes, and mixed vegetables. I had a Cheesesteak hoagie and coleslaw. I was pushing Harriet in the wheelchair, and she had the three lunch boxes stacked on her lap. We got into Dad’s room and as Harriet was handing Michelle’s lunch to her, my lunch fell to the floor. Luckily most of it was still in the box, only about half of my beef and cheese was on the floor. Their food was healthy and delicious, my food was a heart-attack special and didn’t even taste good.
Monday, Harriet and Michelle left for Shipshewana, and Carol called to say that dad was going to be released that afternoon. I had his oxygen tanks in the back of my car and went to pick him up. The schedule for dad, when he is home is, Carol comes in from 12 noon to 8:00 pm and I am scheduled to be there from 8:00 pm – 12 noon. Sharon is flying in tonight and will stay with dad around the clock. We haven’t worked out the new schedule with her.
While I was getting dad, Michelle and Harriet were on the way to a motel just outside of Shipshewana. Harriet slept quite a lot on the way there and got a good nights sleep at the motel.
Tuesday morning, they arrived at the Flea Market, and rented an electric scooter for Harriet to ride. Michelle told Harriet, “Wait here while I take your walker back to the car.” The problem was, Harriet couldn’t find her left hearing aid and the right one was in the repair shop. She thought Michelle had said,” Go ahead and I’ll catch up with you.” The flea market is the size of thirty football fields and has twenty-six aisles of vendors, so you can imagine how Michele felt when she returned to find out that Harriet had left without her. It took a little over 30 minutes to locate Harriet, who was enjoying herself going through different shops. Fortunately, rest of the morning was uneventful.
They had lunch at the Amish Restaurant at the flea market. The day was catching up with Harriet; she was already exhausted. In fact, she was so tired that she was falling asleep during lunch. If you’ve ever been really tired you know how it messes with your mind. Harriet was having a worse than usual, time with conversations and would say things that didn’t make sense.
After lunch, they left the flea market and went downtown to go through some of the tourist shops. After having dinner at the Blue Gate, they drove the four hours to Peoria. Harriet slept most of the way to Michelle’s house. She also slept well that night and most of the next day.
Once Harriet was rested, she was more like her old self. She is getting around the house with no difficulties and her speech is back to normal.
Lauren Gauthier posted on Facebook something that I have come to realize about Harriet’s condition. “Keep in mind that with dementia no two days are alike. Whatever works today may not work tomorrow, and what didn’t work yesterday may work perfectly well today. Just keep trying, and never give up! Isn’t that a great saying? That’s why we say, “Harriet has good and bad days.
It is difficult to know what is caused by dementia and what is from pain, medication, and exhaustion. Sometimes the lack of knowing drives me crazy. If she had Alzheimer’s, you would know what stage she is in by her behavior. Not so with Frontotemporal Dementia. I think there are three stages; beginning, middle, and end. (Of course, that is my opinion and is probably worthless.) I know she is somewhere in the middle stage, but I’m not sure what that means. So, we take one day at a time and enjoy the good days and press on through the bad ones.
Thank you for your continued prayers. They are making a huge difference in our lives. We will also continue to lift you up in prayer.