Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Will the real Rosemary please stand up?

He's been delusional for days. It does seem to be related to codeine; hopefully the newly re-jigged medication régime will reduce his pain and he will have less and less need for the codeine. It will have to be out of his system a day and a half before its effects stop.

Meanwhile he gets confused about where he is and who I am. Sometimes he has to be told the way to the toilet — in a unit he's lived in two and a half years. Sometimes he goes and lies down on the spare bed, thinking that's where he sleeps. He exclaims how like 'this place' is to where we 'used to live'.

He seems to be in dual realities, as I've mentioned before — sort of knowing he's at home, and yet thinking he's somewhere else. He has a similar confusion about me, at least some of the time. He knows this woman with him is his beloved partner, but sometimes thinks his wife Rosemary is someone else ... or that I am his wife, and yet there is another woman.

After our last visit to the doctor together, he said to me worriedly, 'There's another factor. I've been sleeping with two women: you and my wife, Rosemary.' It took a lot of reassurance to convince him there's only been me and I am his wife, Rosemary.

When I got him clear on the fact that he was living here (at home) with his wife (me), he was jubilant.

'We're re-united!' he said, and wanted to put announcements in the paper and a sign out on the street to tell everyone we were together again and that he could now be found at this address. I persuaded him we could do it by email. Later he said, 'I feel complete.' And he sounded it. I have been treasuring that moment in retrospect ever since.

And there was the time when he was in bed (as he often is these days, with daytime naps as well as long night sleeps) and I wanted to know if he needed anything. He had trouble responding to my suggestions, so I thought to simplify it with a more direct question.

'What do you want?' I asked. He looked up at me bemusedly, thought about it a moment, and said, 'You.'

Then, a couple of nights ago, as he was getting to bed, he asked, 'Could we go down to the other room and say goodnight to Rosemary? She's been through a rough time. It's hurting her too.'

'I'm Rosemary; I'm your wife,' I assured him yet again.

'Yes, I know that,' he said impatiently. 'I mean the real Rosemary.' Then, dreamily, 'She always kisses me goodnight.'

It's true — on the many occasions he goes to bed too early for me, I do help him into bed, tuck him in and kiss him goodnight, like a mum with a child.

I decided to humour him, so we went to the spare room and he could see there was no-one there. He went back to bed. I lay down beside him and gave him a hug.

'We'll get through this,' he said, 'But I want Rosemary to know that I care for her.'

With tears in my eyes, I said, 'She does know.'


  1. oh I'm so sorry; I know this has to be hard for you to reassure him you are the Rosemary he talks about and loves.....


    1. Well, it is clear he loves and values me in either version ... or both. It's rather surreal! I just don't want him stressing about stuff that's imaginary.

  2. wow, tough. sweet. I wonder if his mental image of you is from 20 years ago causing the disconnect sort of as we get dissonance seeing someone we primarily remember as a child when he's all grown up.

    have you read Diane Ackerman's One Hundred Names for Love about her experience with her husband's sudden stroke and therapy for him to relearn language and his body?

    1. Interesting thought! No I haven't read that; will look for it.


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