Sunday, May 20, 2012

He Starts Walking in His Sleep

At least I think that’s what just happened.

We want to watch Downton Abbey tonight, and it goes until 10pm. He likes early, early nights these days, and was already tired after lunch, so I suggested a nap. After a couple of hours he emerged, pushing his walker, saying he had to go outside to fix the train.

I’m not sure if he would have tried to start down the steep front stairs, but I diverted him anyway and assured him there was no train here and nothing that needed fixing.

He then thought our unit was the train. I took him through the rooms, indicating that it’s a home. When I mentioned ‘the back garden out there’ he wanted to go out into it so as to fix the train. That’s his usual entrance and exit anyway, so I helped him do so. We went through the garage-which-isn’t-a-garage (used as a library/consulting room/temple) and down the driveway. By now he wanted to get the car fixed. First he spoke of fixing it himself, then of driving to the garage (meaning service station) to get the mechanics to fix it. 

I persuaded him it didn’t need fixing, and that the mechanics would not be there at this time on a Sunday afternoon anyhow. I suggested a walk up and down the street but he veered around and headed back into the house. I had been saying, from time to time, that I thought he’d had a dream that felt real. At last he himself said, ‘I think I had a dream.’

However, when we got inside he made straight for the bedroom, climbed into bed, and told me he was climbing on to the train. He fell back to sleep. I went around and locked all the doors from the inside. 

I do this every night now, in case he should get up while I’m asleep and go outside. 

('What about fire?' asked a friend. We have a smoke alarm, I keep the keys by my bed, and I also have a secret, quick escape route.)

I tell him casually, ‘I deadlock the doors at night now.’ He shrugs, uninterested.

Early this morning, between 5 and 6, he got up while I slept, had a shower and dried and dressed himself perfectly well — except that he got back into his pyjamas and couldn’t see why, later, he should not stay in them to receive our expected visitors. He did change, though, after asking me what clothes I thought he should wear. 

I have been so pleased with his progress since leaving the nursing home! He has been lucid much more often than not. He resumed reading Somerset Maugham and Hemingway with every sign of pleasure and interest. When our visitors did come today, he conversed normally. Last night we even had an amorous interlude, and I have to say he knew what he was doing!

I have been reminding myself, though, that ‘change is the only constant’ in this situation.

I go to bed much earlier too, these days. I sometimes have a short afternoon nap when he has a long one. I have reintroduced meditation to our lives. (He can sustain it only briefly now, but 5 minutes is better than nothing.) I have dropped the commitments that I’m not passionate about. I can give him more of my time and attention; and my plan is to take very good care of myself so as to care for him.

I guess it’s working. I didn’t stress over his ‘train’ episode, just accompanied him and tried to reassure him, calmly and affectionately. I guess you could say I took it in my stride. It was a bit startling, though!


  1. Great story about a difficult situation!

  2. Good idea to keep the doors securely locked in the evenings and when you can't keep your eyes 100% on him. I know at the assisted living facility where my in-laws lived all the doors had loud alarms on them. Always good to be safe than sorry because we have all heard of stories of people getting out of their houses and sometimes the outcome is not good ones.

    Seems like things are working the best they can; I hope they continue that way.


  3. Glad you were able to keep him inside. I once saw a guy walking in the middle of a busy street with his eyes closed. Glad that he is getting better. : )

    1. Ooh, that's scary! Luckily our street is very quiet, but even so....


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