…Two Steps Forward

To begin with, thank you all SO much for the reads and shares. This has been a good week of growth for the blog, and I’m grateful to everyone who reads and shares. Every reader is another chance that someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other dementias will look beyond their traditional options for care, and, just maybe, find themselves recovering from a disease their doctor told them was untreatable and terminal. I also want to apologize for the long-ish wait between posts, but we have made up some significant ground this week.

We have even, I daresay, advanced just a bit along the course toward true health.

As usual, Jacquelynn is her own harshest judge, and she can struggle with accepting the minor improvements as I lay them out for her. Often, she smiles and embraces them, but she can also reject the idea of them as she struggles to make a verbal point or when I (as just happened) struggle to follow her point.

Oftentimes, she changes subjects so quickly that I fail to keep up, and my struggles to follow can anger her. Every time she struggles like that, it feels to her as if she’s going backward rather than forward, and nothing is more important than her believing in her progress.   So I work extra hard to ensure that she never loses sight of the gains she’s making.

Jacquelynn truly is improving in great measures when it comes to being left alone. Yesterday was the second time in two months that I’ve left her alone for several hours to go to the movies. While she was very happy when I came home, I get zero indication that she struggled excessively with my absence. Apparently, she napped much of the time. Mind you, she’s still terrible at hiding her angst, so I’m certain I’d know if she had struggled significantly.

A brief overview of our week:

Following our recent setback (read my last post for details), Jacquelynn has had an elevated difficulty swallowing her pills. Basic capsules remained pretty straightforward, but tablets or anything were giving her a great deal of trouble. Honestly, she would even occasionally get lost mid-process, stopping with a pill in her mouth to ask what she should do next.

She had even developed a new physical manifestation: while swallowing each pill, she makes a very distinct gesture with her right hand. My theory is that, as a very right-handed person with a right arm she cannot trust (due to the unpredictable “twitch”), she is forced to drink with her left and the right simply has to be involved on some level.

But we seem to have quickly moved past those issues. She has had absolutely no difficulty with her pills these last couple of days. Yes, even the odd gesturing is greatly reduced (though not gone altogether).   The pills she had struggled most with, a tiny thyroid caplet and an aspirin-sized tablet, which I’ve taken to splitting into two pieces for her, have gone down with zero complications for two days in a row.

Jacquelynn has also had, since last February, a strange tendency to tilt her head to the left. When I’m combing/drying her hair, I constantly have to gently correct the angle simply so that I can work on her left side. It’s also very pronounced when I help her with her prescription PED nasal spray. She holds her head quite straight as we do the right nostril, but when we move to the left, she tilts her head about 25-30 degrees to the left. It’s not a subtle tilt. The few times I’ve remarked on it, she has told me that it’s me who is tilting, and she’s compensating to see me straight, which honestly caused me a little alarm.

This Thursday, quite suddenly, that behavior stopped completely. I first noticed it during her morning dose (it’s administered thrice daily) of nasal spray. Not remarking on it for fear of causing her to unconsciously and immediately revert, I just noted it and moved on. An hour or so later, I was doing her hair after her shower and noticed precisely the same thing happening: there was, again, no unconscious tilt to her head at all. If the pressure of the comb pulled in that direction, she resisted lightly and kept her head erect.

After the post-lunch nasal spray produced the same result, I mentioned it to her. As I said earlier, I’d not made a big deal out of it, so she didn’t see it as very significant, but it also didn’t return, and hasn’t yet two days later. But I see this as very exciting, and possibly (I’m waiting to discuss it with Dr. Ross at our next appointment) one of the more significant developments yet.

With the increasing cold, we’ve taken to driving across the street and power walking a few laps through Meijer. An upside to this is more interaction for Jacquelynn. There are several women working there with whom she has developed friendships, and talking with anyone other than me is very good for her. She’s improving in her conversational skills, and I marked what I saw as rather a significant breakthrough two days ago: while discussing one of her previous jobs, she mentioned the company by name with no pause and just powered right through making her point. This is literally a first. Ever since her decline began to accelerate late last winter, she’s had increasing difficulty with nouns; names, titles, stores, and companies elude her like mercury, slipping away time after time, always just that far out of her grasp. This first, very casual, return to easy noun usage is by no means the new norm, but it is just as clearly (in my eyes, anyway) a legitimate step in the right direction.

As ever, there are bumps in the road. Sleep has gotten difficult for both of us this week, and an under-rested Jacquelynn is a Jacquelynn who will have speech and comprehension problems throughout the day. I even administered a little sleep aid in the form of a half-dose of Nyquil once.   Bonus is she was out within 15 minutes, but I dislike leaning on such things (plus the sugars in it are NOT on her diet). Even now, at 10:30 a.m., she’s dozing in her chair. If I were to allow myself to do so, I’ve no doubt that I’d be doing much the same.


Overall, a terrific week.



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