Sunday, September 10, 2006

Caregiving: processing change

     Patti was going through a rather lethargic week, often wanting to stay in bed through breakfast and lunch. Isolated incidents are typical of MS fatigue but when clustered together like this you have to look for something more.

     This is also an excellent example where family MUST stay involved as medical advocate even after admittance to a care facility. Professionals would soon begin to tinker with either her anti depressant or her synthetic thyroid medications. It would, after all, be a logical and ‘easy’ attempt to find a solution.

     MS cognitive dysfunction impairs her ability to express feelings and emotions.  Talking with the nursing staff I kicked around the idea she may be trying to process our daughter going to college. Parents with able bodies and minds experience anxiety and loss as they adjust to this passage. The same process is there for Patti except cognitive dysfunction can leave so many loose ends disconnected and confused.  

    I focused a series of outings to replicate activities we often did that would include Megan. For example, with the remnants of “Ernesto” falling we headed to ‘our’ ice cream parlor to pick up a hand packed pint of ‘Deer Tracks’, the favorite flavor of Patti’s and Megan’s.

    Memory loss and confusion symptoms work against lengthy or deep chats so I’d take the opportunity to chat in brief conversations about Megan attending college. … During one such outing, our daughter called on the cell phone on my belt. (Sometimes you just get lucky!) … The call really lit Patti up. … Handling any telephone is physically difficult for Patti, and it takes an “attended” call to be successful. Cognitively no phone call will last long; the process just confuses her too much. Of course, the fact that my cell phone "meows" instead of rings amuses and confuses not only Patti but most people. <grin>

     Bottom line is that the cluster of lethargic days faded away. … The last two mornings changing temps have created thick ground fog which clears as the sun burns through. Fog always helps me to grasp cognitive dysfunction except with this symptom the fog doesn’t burn away. You wander in and try to help. 


  1. Some changes are difficult to process for any of us. I can not imagine how difficult it is for someone with patti's issues.  If it's anything like when I wake up in the middle of a dream and can't figure out where I am, I think it would very difficult to live like that every day.  Take care, Patrick!!

  2. I bet it is hard on Patti and you too:) hang in there it does get better:)


  3. Patrick; so neat that you thought it through about what was going through Patti's head and not just attribute it to something that needed to be adjusted medicine wise, but rather a little tinkering of the heart so to speak. Very wise you are to plan activities the 3 of you used to do and to have brief talks as you could. (I don't call the phone call "luck", I think you were given a gift from God with Megan calling).

    a cell phone that meows; what would Koda think?


  4. Patti sure hit the jackpot with you,........a man who does not just think with a practical mind but an emotional one are too few to number. Really enjoy reading about you and your family.Bam

  5. I think I'd like a cell phone that meows!

    Glad you and Patti are enjoying old favorites--ice cream sounds like the perfect way to pass the time!

  6. .....disease can impare the body and mind but the heart of a mother always transends and reaches for their child.  You have a lot of empathy to understand that longing that will always be there.

  7. I'll bet she's feeling it even if she can't convey it.  A mother's heart never dies.


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