Sunday, December 9, 2012

Deja vu ...

These images were taken over my last three visits, but that is not where the deja vu comes in. Rather that comes due to the similarities developing between Barry's aged-care life, and the aged-care life of our father. Dad went into care in November 2007 at the age of 86; whereas Barry went into care in December 2011, at the age of 67. But, I guess, dementia is dementia.

At one stage I had hopes of getting more information about the exact nature of Barry's medical condition. This proved to be illusory. After he jumped the shark the last time, he was sectioned into the Mater in Newcastle, and was short-listed for a psycho-geriatric assessment by their roving team. I eventually read he report, which was based upon an interview conducted in the courtyard at Catalina. I could have written the report myself: sit on the fence, don't say anything that can be disputed; don't say anything definite. A bit like the school reports children seem to receive nowadays! They did not see him psychotic, therefore it was not mentioned in the assessment. And I thought it might include objective medical imaging like an MRI of his brain, but no such luck. So there will be no information forthcoming about the mix of dementia, psychotrophic drugs, and stroke that go to make up his 'condition'. However, his is on a daily dose of Risperdol to reduce the likelihood of more 'sharks' upon the horizon.

So what are the behaviours that lead me to mutter 'deja vu ... bloody bin here before'?

Yesterday, when I arrived I could not find him anywhere, until Pauline (an OT) bellowed from the activity room, 'He's taken himself back to bed, Julie'. In I barge into a darkened room at 10am where a fully clothed shape has the covers clutched around his neck. As soon as I heard his intake of air, I knew the scenario about to unfold before me.

'Oh, dear, it is so good to see you. I thought you had died and I was all by myself from here on out.'

'Well, not quite. But if there WERE to happen, then Ross would visit and tell you'.

'Ross. Ross! But he's been long gone ... '.

It's hard not to smirk. Dad was the same way. He believed the voices in his head, too. Amd time seems to pass differently for them, than for me. Sometimes it must speed up, whereas other times it must just plod along at a snail's pace.

But, I took him outside, and we gardened.

The other similarity with our father, is that it is becoming increasingly hard to cajole Barry into doing anything. He never suggests anything. He finds reasons why such-and-such should not happen today. Gardening should not occur as it is too hot, or there is already too much in the garden bed. Painting/drawing should not occur because his head hurts or he cannot think of anything to paint. And then he will tell me how bored he is. And that the Awaba Men's Shed has finished, which is just as well as he was the only one who ever went there. How does one explain that it has shut down over the summer break, and that he was just the only one from the aged-care home!

The garden is my saviour. I understand it is there more for my sanity than for his. I suspect he does nothing in it except for Fridays. He is happy to do the simple tasks that I suggest to him. However, it is easier to get him to spray with the hose than to pick up all the debris fallen from trees, where he cannot see what I can see. But the zucchini is coming on a treat, and there are some snap peas potted ready for a trellis to climb up - that is next week's task.

A note on the photographs
I left the first image in colour rather than convert to B&W, so you can see how ruddy he is now appearing. I know he takes his BP medication, but it is becoming increasingly raised. I will ask next week if his medication should be upped. Margaret proposed to Baz yesterday, and he said he had to think about it. I would think that Margaret's current husband might have to think about it, too. There are times when she is very good, but yesterday she said her name was her maiden name, and that her mother was definitely still alive. But, all in all, they are lucky to have each other.


diane b said...

Living with dementia is sad. I freak out thinking that is going to happen to me because it happened to my mum.

Julie said...

Yes, I think I can understand that, Diane.

My neurologist asked me last week if I was worried about dementia, and I hedged my answer. He called me on beating around the bush. The thing is with me, I KNOW dementia is in my future, but what freaks me out is that I will not pick the onset! So I am reading, reading, reading in the hope that I will pick changes in functioning. It is elusive though ...

brattcat said...

You are a great sister.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I find your comment interesting ... how do you know ... there is nothing certain about ageing however it unveils itself for us.

By the way the grand reopening is next Wednesday. Went to the specialist on Monday and he said it had to go quickly because by now it is a very mature cataract and with maturity the potential complications increase.
That's true of all types of maturity I reckon.

Julie said...

How do I 'know', Joan?

Because I accept scientific evidence as gathered by those who are medically qualified. Dementia has an element of genetic inheritance to it. Both my brother and my father suffer(ed) from dementia. You are more prone to dementia if you are a poor sleeper, as many sleep disorders involve stop-start breathing, and this creates dead-spots in the brain. I have progressive cerebral ataxia which is the atrophying of the cerebellum.

My ageing is not being 'unveiled' to me as my brain is being totally disrobed.