We had an appointment with the geriatric specialist at the end of May, only last week. Dear Husband improved by two points on his cognitive test — enough progress to warrant continuing his Alzheimer’s medication. (If it doesn’t prove effective, they stop it — which makes sense, of course.) I was jubilant. Thank goodness I pulled him out of the nursing home when I did.
Meanwhile, his arthritic neck had become very painful. The geriatrician prescribed a strong painkiller, and said I should start him on one tablet a day, maybe increasing to two.
He thought DH’s trembling hands a sign of Parkinson’s and prescribed some medication for that too, but I am not to begin it until he has been having the painkiller for two weeks.
Settling at Night
We followed up with a visit to our GP. DH was zombie-like on the painkillers after I’d increased the dose to morning and night. It does carry a warning about drowsiness. The GP advised taking it only in the morning.
‘Wouldn’t it be better at night because of the drowsiness?’ I asked, adding that DH sometimes gets up in the wee small hours and has a shower while I’m sound asleep. Great that he can shower himself; not so great that he tends to leave the water running. Instead the GP prescribed a tablet they’d tried in the nursing home. People with cognitive difficulties can get agitated at night; this drug is not a sedative but it settles them down.
‘Give him this at night and the painkiller in the morning,’ he said. So I have been doing that.
Yesterday morning I took him breakfast in bed. A short time later I found him slumped to one side, eyes closed, his cereal spilling onto the bed.
‘’Oh what are you doing?’ I cried, grabbing it and starting to mop up. He yelled at me,
‘Well, you shouldn’t force all this stuff on me that I don’t want!’ A startling allegation! But for once I did the right thing and reassured him. His body seemed to be listing to the left for most of the morning, then gradually righted itself.
This morning when I asked him how he was, he said, 'Confused.’ He went back to sleep after having his insulin injection and taking his medication. I woke him for breakfast and he came to the table to have it. He could hardly walk, even with his walker, and his body seemed to be listing to the right. He complained about pain, not in his neck now but in his right shoulder. (Oh no, not again!) When he sat at the table, he kept falling over to the right. Luckily he was sitting in his wheely walker, which has arms, so he didn’t collapse all the way onto the floor. He ate his breakfast in that position, refusing help.
At this point, my friend K rang, to see if she could come over for a coffee. I responded in tears and panic, saying I thought DH might have had a slight stroke. She wondered if she should come; I begged her to. I was considering calling an ambulance, and felt the need of another person’s opinion.
He was annoyed with me for telling her his symptoms.
‘You always make me out to be such an arse,’ he said. He refused to come and have a shower with me, but went and sat on a chair in the bedroom and told me to shut the door. He was still sitting there an hour later when K arrived.
But he came out to greet her pleasantly enough, unembarrassed at being in his pyjamas. He sat at the table with us for coffee and made conversation, before moving to the armchair. He wasn’t sitting crooked any more. He farewelled her politely when she left.
He slept all afternoon, and I woke him for dinner. He came out bent double, unable to straighten, shuffling and tottering. I had to prop him up as he ate his dinner because of that list to the right again. I muscle tested to see if I should give him his ‘settling down’ medication, and got that it was in his best interests to do so. After that he sat in the armchair and we watched some TV, then he decided to go to bed. He was still awake, lying there calmly, when I joined him. We chatted a while, hugged each other, and patted the purring cat, who loves to snuggle between us. But I couldn’t sleep so I asked if he’d be upset if I got up again and came to the computer. He said he wouldn’t, and seemed to mean it.
Yesterday and today he has thought we were somewhere other than home, though he couldn’t seem to say where, nor where he thought home was. He asked if I was going to take the cats ‘back’ with me when I left. Then he suggested they weren’t used to this place yet. When he first went to bed tonight, he asked where I was going to go. It was only when I assured him this was home and I’d be staying here with him that he relaxed. By the time I joined him, he was perfectly well aware of where he was.
It’s Saturday. We’re not due to see the GP again until Friday to check if the medication needs any tweaking. I think on Monday I’ll phone the geriatrician for advice.