Mid-May Update

Briefly . . .

Grandma’s blood pressure is still running very high.

Two weeks ago, or thereabouts, Grandma went to her cardiologist who told her that her current problems are not a reaction to the medication in her stent. He said her current problems are the result of her kidneys and he prescribed her a new blood pressure related medication.

Grandma was at first very doubtful about this new medication, but it seems to have caused no adverse effects and she seems to have warmed up to it, dropping other medications (which may not be a good idea at all, but she has her reasons). Since her blood pressure hasn’t come down (last night the high number was just over 200 and this morning the high number was over 220) she is going to inquire if the dosage of this new medication might be increased.

I am curious to see what blood tests will say about her kidney function as it seems to me we are dealing with the symptoms here, not the underlying problem.

Grandpa has continued along, same as always. He greatly appreciates the increased sunshine and warmth. Unfortunately, as the sun rises earlier so does he, and he goes to be no earlier. The night before last I finished reading him his story at 11:00 PM and he was up the next day at 5:45 AM. I don’t mind rising with the sun (and actually prefer it) if I get to go to bed at a reasonable hour. But as it is, that is a difficult schedule for me to maintain, so I stayed in bed until 7:00 AM so as to not encourage such early rising.

Otherwise, Grandpa continues in his usual problems. Beyond using the bathroom, he is beginning to have more trouble finding the bathroom. Sometimes he must be taken and physically lead to the bathroom.

One evening as we prepared for a trip to the bathroom he said, “Okay, I’m going to walk straight and when we get to the right place you say ‘Gee’ or ‘Haw’ and I’ll turn.” So we walked down the hall and he would have kept walking right past the bathroom if I hadn’t taken him by the shoulders and turned him into the bathroom.

While Grandpa hasn’t developed any other new problems, his difficulties are becoming pervasive enough that he is unable to hide them from visitors.

About two weeks ago, (on the day of Grandma’s visit to the cardiologist,) Grandpa had a bad day where every time he went to the bathroom he ended up pissing himself. So every trip to the bathroom ended up with putting a fresh diaper on him. Just as Grandma and I were getting ready to go to the doctor’s my Aunt Annie (Grandma and Grandpa’s oldest daughter) showed up for an unannounced visit. We had to go, so I quickly told Annie where the diapers were located and what she might have to do while we were gone, and then me and Grandma left.

Well, I guess that afternoon was an eye-opening experience for Annie. She did have to help Grandpa get into a fresh diaper while we were gone, and she got to witness Grandpa’s other typical bizarre behavior–like taking the magazine stand and putting it on the couch. Annie took it all very much in stride insofar as she didn’t give Grandpa a hard time, but that evening she called Grandma on the phone and they talked. I think the visit gave Annie an idea of how far down the road her father has gone.

On a recent visit when Titi was up Grandpa talked to an imaginary person sitting on the couch. Titi was prepared for this so hearing Grandpa laughing at some cute imaginary little kid, and talking to the non-existent person didn’t freak her out. But next week when Doug was visiting Grandpa did it again.

Doug sits down on the couch and says, “How are you doing, Ike?”

“Good,” Grandpa says. “How about yourself?”

“Fine,” Doug says.”

“That’s good,” Grandpa said. Then his gaze slips beyond Doug to the corner of the couch. “And how about you?” he says. “How are you doing?”

Doug looks puzzled.

“What’s your name?” Grandpa says. He points at himself. “My name is Grandpa. I’m Grandpa. What’s your name?”

Doug looks uncertain.

“He doesn’t want to talk to me,” Grandpa says.

“What you seeing, a cat?” Doug says, probably grasping for the most sane explanation he could find.

Later, I got The 36 Hour Day and had Doug read the section on Alzheimer’s’s patients seeing things so in the future he good take the imaginary people more in stride. The natural reaction for a person is to get very weired out by this demonstration of imaginary people, but I try as much as possible to let it slide. Grandpa is terribly embarrassed if he is made aware that he is talking to a couch pillow that he thought was a person so I prefer to let him figure out his mistake for himself (in which case he can hope nobody else noticed his mistake) or else just let him lose interest in the imagined person.

This past weekend when my Uncle Nate and Aunt Sharon were up he did his usual things of driving his cane about on the carpet, moving chairs about, and falling down at odd times. All of this is part of “normal” life around here but was something he used to be able to control (mostly) when company is around. Now it all hangs out a lot more, giving this place more the impression of a nut house to visitors.

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