Things have continued to progress in a most unusual manner. That is, Harriet continues to be quite confused about a lot of things. She has had a Urinary Tract Infection for the past three weeks. The first prescription of antibiotics didn’t seem to knock it out. So, last Tuesday I took her to urgent care, and they gave her something more powerful. Besides the UTI she also has a sinus infection, ear infection, and bronchitis. I still don’t know if these changes, in her behavior, are part of the Dementia, or just caused by the infection.
Last time I wrote Harriet was in Peoria visiting Michelle and Mike and our grandsons. Because I had to take, my sister, Debbie to Detroit Metro Airport on September 2, I drove to Peoria on Saturday the 31st of August. The plan was to spend the night and leave early Sunday afternoon.
When I arrived at Michelle’s house, Harriet was happy to see me. Somehow, she had gotten the idea that I had sent her away. You probably remember that the trip to Shipshewana and on to Michelle’s was her idea. This is one example of how her mind turns things around; something she has never done before. It was also the first sign of paranoia, something that is becoming more common with her.
One of the first things she wanted to talk to me about, were the falls that she had taken. She showed me her knees, which were all black and blue and a bump on her forehead, which were from a fall in the kitchen. She was quite distressed by the fact that she had fallen three times while staying in Peoria. However, she also wanted to brag on her grandsons, Isaac and Aidan, who got her off the floor and were so kind to her the entire time she was staying there. In the past eight days, I don’t think there has been a day where she hasn’t expressed her gratitude towards the grandsons and told me what wonderfully considerate, boys Michelle and Mike are raising.
On Sunday we went to Richwood’s Christian Church, which is where Michelle and Mike attend. The sermon, entitled, Learning to Walk in the Dark, was so great the I decided to borrow, the idea for my next Caregiver’s Survival Blog. (If you would like to hear the sermon go to Richwood’s Christian Church and click on Sermons.)
Once we got back to Michelle and Mike’s I started loading the car while they got lunch around. Mike is a wonderful cook and he made Chicken tortellini’s and salad. It was after 3 O’clock, (4 O’clock Michigan time), by the time we got on the road, which meant it was going to be late when we got home.
The trip home usually takes 7 to 8 hours. We always follow the same route which to go north and pick up Interstate 80 and take that until it becomes the Indiana Turnpike. We continue through Ohio until we come to Ohio 190 where we get off the express way and go north until we arrive in Adrian. Harriet and I have driven this route 2-5 times a year for the past 25 years. Harriet has driven this route, by herself multiple times. Yet every 5 – 10 minutes she would ask, “Where are you taking me?” or “Why are we going south?” I would explain that we were going home to Adrian on the route we always used. She would give me a look like she didn’t quite believe the answer, and it wouldn’t be long before she would ask, “Where are we going?”
We stopped in South Bend Indiana, at the Texas Roadhouse, for dinner. This is a chain that features steaks, and we have stopped at them all over the country and never had a bad meal. Somehow, Harriet got it in her head that we were at the Texas Roadhouse in Toledo Ohio. She asked, “Why did you go so far out of the way for dinner? I feel like you’re driving in circles!” After this idea was discussed five or six times, I showed her the receipt which has South Bend printed on it. However, when we called Michelle to tell her we were almost home, Harriet said, “Your dad has been driving in circles. We had dinner in Sylvania, Ohio.”
On Monday, Harriet took her last antibiotic, but felt like they hadn’t knocked out the UTI. Tuesday, she was running a fever, and was having pain in her right ear, sinuses and chest. We took her to the Urgent Care where Doctor LI, who is her primary care doctor, was on staff. Fortunately, he was the doctor on call and already knew about the FTD. After an examination, the diagnosis was infections from head to toe. Dr. Li put her on a much stronger antibiotic which he felt would take care of every type of infection troubling Harriet.
Twice since returning from Peoria, she has almost fallen. Both times I was right beside her and caught her before she fell. She has no idea why she continues to fall. Harriet said it isn’t from a dizzy spell, or tripping over something, or from reaching to grasp something for support and missing it. Rather, it’s more like a circuit breaker tripping in her head and down she goes. No idea why. On Wednesday, we went to see Dr. Decker, who is Harriet’s Pulmonologist. She tried to get him to tell her why she was falling. He told her to go see her Neurologist and have him check her medication.
Thursday morning, I got a call from my sister Sharon. Dad was doing much worse and the Nurse thought he might die at any time. She asked if I would come over and help with a few things. I told Harriet what was going on and headed over to see my Dad. Sometime after I left, Michelle called her mom. Harriet told her that I had been called over to Dad’s because she had so contaminated the house that the entire place was being put in quarantine. She said that Dr. Decker had given her a dirty look and it was because she had passed this infection on to my dad. He had told everyone about it and the entire family was furious with her. Our Brother in law, Kirk was especially angry because he had to leave work so that he could help me move the living room furniture out to the garage. I called her, to let her know what was going on. She began to share her concerns, and somehow, I was able to assure her that no one was angry at her, and that the infection Dad had was not related to hers at all.
Things continue to go up and down with my dad. One day he is totally unresponsive, and you think he will not live another day. The next day he is up, eating, drinking, joking around, and you think he could live for a few more months. One sign of FTD is paranoid thinking. Dad’s approaching death is bringing this out. On Friday Dad was once again doing especially bad. So much so, that Hospice was called in. That evening Harriet said, “You need to be careful because I’m sure that when your dad dies, no one is going to call you?” “Why wouldn’t they call me?” I asked. “Because they want all the power.” “Don’t worry,” I said, “They will call me when dad dies.” “I’m not so sure about that. I’ve got a bad feeling about your sisters.” The thing is, for the most part Harriet has always loved my sisters, but now, because of FTD, she sees them as a threat of some kind.
Finally, no matter how much she sleeps she is never rested. Everything is too much for her. Plus, her short-term memory is not functioning at all. She is always confused about what day of the week it is. For example, last night I told her I had a Cardiac stress test this morning. I showed her the calendar, and she wrote on the white board, STRESS TEST. This morning she had no idea what was going on, I showed her the calendar, and her writing on the white board. After the test, I returned home, and she asked where I had been. Once again, I told her about the stress test and pointed to the calendar and white board. About an hour later she asked, “Is today Thursday?”
Only time will tell if these changes are from the infection or just the progressing dementia. I do know that UTIs cause people with dementia to behave very badly. My hope is that the infections are the cause of all the changes and once they are gone all these negative changes will go with them.
Please continue to pray for us and be assured that we will be praying for you.