Nancy M. - Where's My Wallet?

For a couple of years I had been trying to get my husband's doctor to listen to me and tell me why George was lethargic and losing interest in socializing with friends and family. All he wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch TV. I would rub his feet and ankles and knees for hours on end.

I thought the medications George was taking for cholesterol and blood pressure were the cause and needed to be adjusted or changed. It was difficult to convince George he had to see his doctor in the first place and I had to convice him his prescriptions needed to be renewed. His doctor would come in to the room and ask George if he was depressed and George would say no, end of conversation and appointment. No questions directed to me nor any further in depth discussion of George's health.

Then in January of 2012 we had a horrible storm and our roof leaked. I slipped and fell in the water on my right elbo, dislocating it and experiencing unbearable pain, my right arm feeling like the proverbial ton of bricks hanging down. I was screaming in agony and so George took me to the nearest hospital and left to wait for a call to pick me up. The staff sedated me and re-set my elbow. After an hour in recovery the nurse called George to come pick me up, but he never showed up.

I had to call a friend to come get me. I was frantic wondering if George had had an accident, was he lost? Where was he? Two hours later he walked into the house. I gleaned out of him that he could not find the hospital (It is just around the corner from our house, maybe three blocks in total away) and had somehow found himself in downtown Salt Lake. From there he recognized the freeway and was able to drive home.

That was my "aha" moment that George was losing his memory and we had a major problem, although I had not put the words dementia or Alzheimer's to his condition. We had a trip planned to Kuai at the end of February for George's March 4th birthday. In the meantime I made another medical appointment for him right after we would return and I got used to my daily life in a sling. I had to get at least a section of the roof repaired immediately and made the arrangements.

We went to Kuai, but I was nervous about losing him all the time, that he might wander away in the airport or at the resorts. He drove for the last time while we were there, he weaved in and out of traffic and I had to take over. I did enjoy many bus tours and farm and museum trips, but always concerned for George, who would often sit on the tour buses waiting while I hurried through the tours.

When we returned home he refused to go to the doctor for his appontment, so I called and explained his refusal. I came up with the plan that because of his birthday, he had to get the doctor's approval to sign off as being physically fit to drive. I told the doctor's staff what my plan was to get George there and they seemed to go along with it but when the doctor came into the exam room, he sat down looked George in the eye and said, "George, you're here because your wife says you are losing your memory!" I could have hit the doctor I was so upset at his insensitivity. From there the doctor did do some memory tests with George and set an appointment with another specialist. Nothing came from that appointment.

We had plans to take our annual summer trip to Northern Ontario to visit family and friends (George is Canadian), but because I was so nervous about traveling with him, I made an appointment with a Geriatric Center to assure myself he was well enough to go. The Specialist and Social Worker were very good with George and me and determined it was okay for me to take George to a familiar place but not to an unfamiliar place. I booked our tickets and arranged for my granddaughter to come with us and help us.

We went and had a very nice time, but even in Canada I spent most of the day sitting on the veranda with George rubbing his knees, ankles and feet. He was drinking a lot by then, so much so that when we returned home and tried to take his alcohol away, he tried to choke my daughter and me, which led the neighbors to call the police. The police arrested George, who spent two days in jail and from there went to Salt Lake Behavioral Health for an evaluation. I never met the geriatric psychiatrist who prescribed that George would have to be hospitalized in a lockdown facility for the rest of his life. I just had to find a facility willing to take him, which wasn't easy because George was very aggressive at this point. After being rejected from tow facilities, George is now in an excellent lockdown facility, giving this loving man with three degrees the care he  deserves. I visit ever day pretty much and rub his knees, ankles and feet. His most frequent question is "Where is my watch?" and he thinks I am taking him home with me, breaking my heart every day. I think his watch stopped the day I dislocated my elbow.

Now I think I am watching him deteriorate and gradually die right in front of my eyes. No watch can tell me how long this deterioration will take or at what hour he will disappear from me mentally or physically. When will he no longer know me? I understand that will happen. I am hurt by friends/acquaintances who ask if/when George is coming home. Some think I hospitalized him. There is no way I could have made that decision.

If there is anyway I can spare anyone else or help anyone else weave their way through this process, I would be humbled to do so.

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