Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Key of G

I love music. I forget to play it as I should. Especially now. You know, soothe the savage beast and all. And I don't mean he is the beast, in case you wondered.
Last night the house sparkled and a Bach's collection of works for the organ rumbled throughout. Lights were dimmed and flowers were fresh. As I dressed my real life dolly, my six foot Raggedy Andy, he kept asking what time they were coming and exactly what their names were. He also was specific about what he wanted to wear; I hope I found it.
I tried desperately to keep up with the steady stream of needs, while getting finger foods ready for the oven and jumping in the shower myself. He sat and asked, while I did last minute preparations, so I gave him jobs. He tried to open a bag of nuts, a bag of mixed chocolates, a box of flatbread crackers. He couldn't manage any of those. His strength is waning, and they are making packaging a lot tougher these days to get into. But I suspect there was more to it than that.
The women in my book club are retired teachers from Taft, the school where he retired from as its principal. As our friends came in, he sparkled like the house. He gathered each in his arms and kissed everyone. He sat in the circle of women as we discussed the latest book we'd read, never thinking of leaving the room, as he wasn't part of the book club. No one in the circle, including me, would ever have thought of asking him to either.
He was charming and offered a few memories from his childhood as they were relevant in the discussion. His language, of course, was in his own "Japanese", but not one of the people in that circle of women acted as though he hadn't made perfect sense.
When it was time for everyone to leave, he got up and got his own coat on, found a flashlight in the place we keep our emergency flashlights, (an amazing feat for any of us, by the way, to actually find anything in that space) and asked to help each of them to their car.
Several of these wonderful women whispered in my ear that they were amazed and hadn't known what to expect, but it wasn't this charming behavior. I slipped a little further down that rabbit hole I have been discussing. I felt as though I had been lying to everyone or at least exaggerating. We had a similar experience when visiting our neighbors the week before. We shared dinner with them and a group of their friends, and then shared a bible study session. These sweet people included him lovingly as well, and he opened and blossomed under the warmth of their attention.
It is very important to realize that he does lighten and brighten in the face of loving, social stimulation. This is a very sociable man and he has been as isolated as I have been for much too long.
I think I will put the Bach back on.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jekyll & Hyde

I love the sun. It's peeking out from March's fast moving cloud cover, hinting at something better coming. The air is still brisk...cold enough to turn your exposed skin to toe-cicles, or finger-cicles, whichever you have been foolish enough to leave uncovered. The sun warms the inside parts of me which have been yearning for its attention all winter. I feel easier and yet in some ways more tense. The changing weather affects me as does my own journey experience. I am much easier with him but he is much worse. I suspect those two things are related. As his behavior gets more bizarre, I react in a more maternal way, less like a partner who has been stood up.
Last night we went to a small party to celebrate my brother's birthday with him. There was a nice crowd and good food and conversation. Stew brightened visibly with the social stimulation and I felt free. I drank a little too much, uncharacteristic of me...but it felt good! I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions, the social exposure, the fun. I also enjoyed the feeling that he was happy and watched over without my direct involvement. Freedom.
When we got home, he went immediately into his latest behavior, which mimics a seizure, or an over stressed nervous system. It might be a result of the latest drug we are trying; it might be a result of over stimulation; it might be a natural part of the progression of this disease. But he shakes as if he's having a seizure and becomes very agitated. He searches manically for something that is not missing, that he can't describe or explain. I have learned to help him dress for bed and to get him there quickly, as his ability to climb stairs and even to walk is impaired severely in this condition.
I feel whiplashed by the contrasts in my own emotional state. I have often described these feelings as being "bi-polar". I am not, of course, actually bi-polar, but the severe mood swings so easily affected by his condition, our environment, the weather, all seem to mimic what I have heard of this condition.
I am getting more tense over the degree and speed of change I see in his condition. The decline in his ability to figure out how to dress and undress and use the toilet are harbingers of impending negative change in the stage of the disease. But I am heartened by the softening of my attitude toward him that seems to accompany these changes.
I have managed to be very angry at my partner in life because his behavior indicated a kind of leaving me. It is finally becoming very hard to muster up any anger with someone who is this lost.