Dinners, Date Nights, and Grabbing Every Opportunity

Friday night dinners used to be a big deal for Jacquelynn and I. When she was on her last couple of jobs from maybe 2008-2012, I was selling cars and had Fridays off. So I made a fuss for her and there was almost always something special awaiting her when she arrived home.
From very technical Italian dishes to pan-seared pork loin to grilled mahi-mahi with a pineapple glaze, I often labored most of the day to surprise her. I usually also did an elaborate scratch dessert of some kind (her favorite may have been the key lime meringue cookies), too.

But once in a while, frequently on days when I either had to or chose to work a few hours that day, I’d meet her at home with a large, thin crust Donato’s double pepperoni pizza. The one they call “The 150” today, always with an ice-cold Mexican Coca-Cola*.
This treat always made her smile, and the act of kicking off her shoes and plopping down on the sofa for dinner was a catharsis all its own.

Today, I did my best to bring this experience back to her. I brought The 150 and 2 half-frozen glass bottles of real-sugar Coke to the nursing home with me and we had a blast. Keeping in mind that Jacquelynn hadn’t had a carbonated beverage of any sort for nearly two years, it was HILARIOUS watching her sip that sharp, tart pop, and she hammed it up royally, mimicking fireworks and hooting like a chimp when she drank. I haven’t laughed with her like that in longer than I can recall, and watching the joy split her face in such a huge smile truly warmed my soul.

But even as I smiled and laughed along with her and fed her bite after bite of Donato’s finest, I took mournful note of how her condition continues to deteriorate. She’s unable to hold herself up in a seated position now and always leans sharply to her right. Even when straightened up and leaned to the left, she’ll very shortly have her right shoulder buried into the arm of the wheelchair and her head listing so far to the right that it’s almost parallel to the floor. She was moving about gleefully and waving her arms a bit as she ate and sipped her Coke, but when she relaxed, she reminded me more of Stephen Hawking than my wife, slumped almost bonelessly into her chair. It’s affecting the way she gets around, too; she has considerable difficulty “pedaling” her chair down the hall, constantly pulling to the right like a car with a flat tire.  I’ve spoken to her nurse and she’s going to consult with Occupational Therapy to see if there’s any way to help her realign or to better support her in the chair. I did bring in one of her donut pillows to put inside the right arm of the wheelchair so as to provide her some level of support and prevent injuring her now very thin and bony arm.

For this reason and many more, we’re going to begin a regular “Date Night” starting next week. I’m going to load her in the car and take her out of there for an hour or two once a week; maybe get her an ice cream or a burger, or maybe just go tour the mall and get an Orange Julius. Who knows? But we’re going to spend some quality time together, and I’m going to remind her that she’s human and loved and NOT a prisoner in that place.

I don’t know how many such date nights we’re going to get, so I’m going to maximize our opportunities.

*The Coke imported from Mexico uses real sugar rather than corn syrup, and just tastes SO much better and sharper than the domestic version. It’s in glass bottles, too!

NOT Saving Jacquelynn

I haven’t posted here for a while, and there’s a reason for it.

The title of this page, “Saving Jacquelynn” was more than a title; it was an overriding goal. It was the sole focus of my existence; to bring her back from the brink of obliteration from the most terrifying and fastest-growing threat to the human mind.
But it was not to be.
I did not “Save Jacquelynn”. I no longer believe her path was one from which she could be “saved”, and I’m just now struggling to embrace the concept that this may not be my failure. It feels like my failure, though. When Sky (our rescue dog; more on him in a later post) and I visit her at the nursing home for breakfast and she only gets halfway through the meal before she flips her internal switch and starts shouting that she hates us and wants us to leave NOW, I know it isn’t really her…
…but it still feels like my failure.
Jacquelynn’s condition has plummeted dramatically since the beginning of the year, when I was so confident and so excited about the improvement and progress she was making. She struggles to speak at all, with only a tiny percentage of her utterances being actual words. She recognizes us most of the time, but often dismisses Sky, asking instead for her “pupup”. She may be looking for one of the dogs she so loved from her youth, as we’ve only had Sky for a few months.
In the six weeks she’s been in the home, she’s turned an initial (and very welcome) weight gain into another drastic loss, coming in under 90lbs now. The only things she’ll eat reliably are her yogurt and the “Magic Cup”, a supplement-laced ice-cream-like dessert. The initial issues with frequent falls have been mostly overcome with large bumper-like pillows on either side of her, tucked into the fitted sheets so she can’t kick them off. She has regained enough strength, however, to get most of the way out of the bed on her own again, so I’m hoping falls won’t become a problem again. She can almost stand on her own, and can, with support, walk a few short steps from her bed to the wheelchair. While any resurgence of vitality is wonderful, it also carries an elevated risk as she begins to decide to act on her own again, before her body is truly ready. Also, since she can “flip her switch” from pleasant to violent in an instant, any increase in mobility comes with a commensurate increase in likelihood she’ll try to leave there as she did here so many times.
But for now, as she faces yet another bladder infection and we make plans for a procedure which will hopefully help to limit the occurrence of such infections moving forward, for now, Sky and I visit for breakfast every day as I bring in her fresh laundry and take yesterday’s clothes home to wash. We also visit for dinner most days, unless I have afternoon commitments (doctor’s appointments for me, of Sky’s AKC classes, for instance). Some days are loving and fun, others (particularly during an infection) can be traumatic for all involved.
And we will continue to visit. I will advocate for her and oversee her care, holding the facility to the highest standard possible. I will eventually fully embrace, both intellectually and emotionally, the understanding that this whole vile mess isn’t in any way my fault. Meanwhile, I will cry myself to sleep and lose my composure at the slightest provocation. I will cower in loneliness and continue in my counseling as I pray and meditate each evening.

And I will take great comfort in Sky’s companionship.

Intimacy In The Chaos

She smiles gently as I hold her hand, trying to control her involuntary muscle spasms (twitches) as I tenderly clean under her nails. I’ve brought her manicure kit to the nursing home and with it a quiet, intimate act we share every ten days or so; I clean, trim, file, and buff her nails while she slowly relaxes and eventually dozes off, enveloped in an aura of calm and trust. I treasure these moments, and will never voluntarily surrender them.

She’s been here a little over a week now, and I’m grateful for it as I can be, but at the same time, I detest it. This is not her final destination; I have already begun the process of moving her to a markedly more modern facility which also happens to be much closer to home. But she’s safer here than at home, especially as she cannot as yet walk. Bedridden and all but catatonic for 5 days, her already weak legs had atrophied even as her cognitive baseline receded, and she needs considerable therapy to regain her ability to walk. Given her difficulty understanding and executing basic instructions, I’m told to be prepared for the possibility that she may not walk again.

But she’s gaining a little weight, and, when she’s in a good mindset, she can be the absolute light of the ward, greeting everyone she sees with a lovely “Good morning”, Don’t you look pretty today?”, or “I love your shoes.” This is the Jacquelynn I fell in love with two decades ago, always much more concerned with others than with herself.
Sky gets to visit with me, thank Heaven. Her beloved “Puppup” misses her greatly, and pulls me like a freight train until he gets to her, where, after about 30 seconds of wiggle-butt energy shedding, he settles into his role as her guardian, sitting or laying next to her wheelchair or bed, seemingly sleeping but roused to her defense at the slightest sound or movement. I’m entirely unsure whether it’s the sight of me or the dog that lights her face up so brightly when we arrive, and frankly, I don’t care. The joy on her face is palpable, and she is impatient for her hugs and kisses, from us both.

It’s not an ideal place, and I don’t believe there is anyplace in the world “good enough” for her, but she’s cared for and fed, and the process is underway to move her to a place I have a great deal of confidence in. I weep daily for missing her, and for so many other reasons, too. But this is our new paradigm, and I have to focus on what is truly best for her. I probably should have done this six months or so ago, but what’s important is where we are right now.

With her nails rounded and buffed to a soft shine, I pull her light sheet up over her hands and let her nap, settling into the chair next to her bed after a soft kiss to her forehead. Sky and I will take our leave soon, so as to beat the rush hour home, but for now, we’re just going to sit here listening to her light snoring.

The Emptiness At The Top Of The Stairs

Bedtime. I HATE this.

I’d normally have been asleep at least an hour ago, but I’ve been putting it off much longer than I should. It is just so difficult to even think about going up there without her.

You know, although we had lived together for fifteen years at that point, it wasn’t until Jacquelynn got really ill and became afraid to sleep alone (afraid to awaken alone, more accurately) that we finally began sharing a room. We had kept very different schedules with me rising at 4 a.m. to get in as much artwork as possible prior to leaving for work, then trying very hard to sleep in a bit on days off. So it seems odd to me that after only a couple of years of actually sleeping together, the prospect of coming upstairs to go to bed when she’s not here fills me with dread. Even when she’s been hospitalized for a few days, I’ve always just slept downstairs in the recliner, but there’s no real rest to be had there. I need a bed, and this is the only mattress less than 20 years old in the house.

But it’s also haunted. Haunted with emptiness. There’s a dog lying there now, and unlike just a week ago, he won’t get up and move to several spots on the floor before reclaiming his bed spot then jumping down to get a drink only to fall asleep on the laundry pile. No, he’ll sleep in the spot that smells like Jacquelynn, shifting his position only once or twice all night. And I’ll wake up suddenly half-a-dozen times overnight, thinking I hear her voice or I’ve felt her get up. There is a hole in the bed now; a hole in the room. A hole in our lives.

Her permanent status will hopefully get sorted this week. While she’s been in the hospital these last 8 days, I’ve been through an incredible roller-coaster ride with insurance cancelations and reimbursements, new policies and hospital savings programs. Medicaid approval went from maybe to all-but-assured to not-gonna-happen and full circle to a solid probably, all while I toured available memory care facilities. Those also caused their own terrifying ups-and-downs with options ranging from Stephen King-esque to home-towny and maybe-a-little-too-informal. But a selection was made, and if it all works out and that’s where she goes for now (I can always move her if either of us are unhappy with the choice. I’ll certainly keep looking and if I see something better and closer to home, I’ll get her on a waiting list right away) when the doctors are confident that her kidney and bladder function are reliably normalized.

It’s not going to get any easier, transitioning her into a care facility. There will inevitably be a period of anger and feeling of betrayal, but I’m constantly reassured that it will fade, especially as her recall weakens. And I’ll eventually be able to be the Husband once more, rather than the Caregiver.

I must admit, that is a very hopeful idea, and just now, hope is a wonderful thing.

Shit Continues To Roll Downhill

Jacquelynn is admitted to the hospital as I type this. After a (relatively) terrific Saturday, she could neither get nor stay settled today, and (yes, I’m leaving out a LOT of detail for now) she had a bit of a break. In short, she suddenly decided she was a little girl (I’ve kinda seen that part coming for a while; there are constant references to “a little girl” in her mumblings) and that I had stolen her from her home. We were in the car, so I took us home, and her mood and state of mind shifted constantly on the way, but when we entered the driveway, she didn’t recognize the house and thought I was going to force her inside and harm her. So, we stayed in the car while I called 911. Since she can’t reliably manipulate the door handles or the seat belt, I figured she was safest right there until the medics arrived. They know her by now (fourth or fifth visit for this reason), and had her on her way in no time.

Sky (the dog) was NOT happy to see her go. His last owner died in the home and I’m certain a lot of this was frighteningly familiar to him.

Officially, she has another relatively severe kidney infection, which is why she’s been admitted. The hope is that we can get a few other tests and evaluations taken care of while she’s there and that maybe I can manage one halfway decent night’s sleep. Not taking bets on either, honestly. While she was fairly calm with the medics, and apparently with the hospital stall as well, to begin with, she flipped her switch at some point while I was in conference with the caseworker and they had to sedate her. Last she said, she had no desire whatsoever to see me, so on the advice of the docs, I came home to rest and take care of Mr. Sky.
This is the beginning of the end for her living at home, though. All the people involved are shocked she seems so well-taken-care-of, given the time I’ve been essentially on my own at this, but they all also totally agree that she needs 24-hr professional care. I just need to complete the Medicaid process and get my guardianship petition approved.
Say a prayer or three for us, if you do that sort of thing. Otherwise, I’m grateful for every bright and loving thought you can send up.

Thank you.

Matthew

A New Level Of Peril

Jacquelynn has a dear friend in Washington. They met when Jacquelynn had traveled there on business, and formed a friendship that had maintained through Christmas cards and emails (mainly on the friend’s part) through nearly a decade.
Recently I located this friend online and reignited their acquaintance. They’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times and I’ve kept the friend informed as to Jacquelynn’s health and condition. She was even kind enough to extend an invitation, should Jacquelynn’s health improve to the point that she’s safe to travel.
That invitation was issued weeks ago, with vague talk of possibly visiting sometime in July. Yesterday, Jacquelynn decided out of the blue that she was going now. My assurances that, once her health had improved enough to travel safely, we would make the arrangements fell on deaf ears. She’s as healthy as ever now, and the only reason people think she’s sick is because I’ve been telling them so.
Which leads us to today; she’s currently furious, stalking about the house, muttering about how evil I am and insisting that she has “One one, one one one monies” to counter my insistence that we can’t afford to travel now.

For the first time in longer than I can recall, last night’s and this morning’s restroom trips were completely without incident. I knew it wouldn’t last, but this new manifestation has some frightening potential; her newfound desperation to escape could spell greatly heightened difficulty at home. She’s already done one thing this morning that hadn’t happened for ages by coming down the stairs all on her own; she’s been too terrified to even get close to the edge without assistance for many months. That, along with her inability to unlock doors, is the only thing that’s allowed me to relax even a little when she was cross about wanting out. I can’t afford to trust those limits now, so a greatly elevated level of awareness will be necessary going forward.

I cannot allow myself to forget that, behind all this, is a genius-level IQ wrapped in an incredibly devious container.

I’m afraid we may be at a new level of peril now.

“Why…?!”

Imagine, if you can, helping your wife (I apologize for the gender specificity, but such is our story) to the restroom in the morning. Doesn’t sound so bad, I guess. At least not out of context. Now, imagine that she can’t remember how to position herself on the toilet, so you have to help her arrange her approach, pulling her pants down, and guiding her when and where to sit. Nothing we all wouldn’t gladly do for the one we love, eh? Just to shake things up now, imagine how much fun this would all be if she suddenly and unpredictably flips an internal switch and BOOM doesn’t trust or know you at all? She has to go so badly that she’s in tears from the effort to hold it, but is 100% convinced that you mean her harm, so she refuses any and all assistance from you, crying and batting you away with weeping pleas of “why?”. You want to calm and assuage her fears; you want to bring her back to peace and help her to relieve herself safely and comfortably, and you really don’t wanna deal with another puddle of piss and shit, trying to clean her off while she weeps and resists the intimate and invasive touches of a stranger she is legitimately afraid of and intimidated by. Those stains don’t come out of a memory foam mattress, by the way. No matter what the care instructions say.
Let me throw in one more wrinkle; while she doesn’t consciously know you, she has spent the last twenty years learning how best to pick at you, and she knows instinctively by now just what to say to most quickly and effectively piss you off. She knows your tender spots, and she ain’t afraid to use them against you. Normally, you would be able to compartmentalize the experience and act from the fact that this isn’t really her doing and saying these cruel, horrible things. It’s the disease, all the experts tell you to remember. But you’ve been at this for two years now, and haven’t really slept sufficiently in months, so your skin is pretty thin and your judgment is for crap.

This is every morning for us now. Often, multiple times per morning. No rules that it can’t happen this way at 2:30 in the afternoon, either. Or at Walmart.

Who Am I?

That’s a question I have to answer every morning now, and often several times throughout the day as well.  Some days it’s clear that I could probably tell her that her name was Barbara Eden and she was once a television star, and she’d believe that as easily as anything else.

Almost worse, I don’t really remember the Jacquelynn I met and fell in love with at all anymore. Sure, I have (damned few) photos, and a few things she wrote to me. But I don’t recall at all what it was like to talk to her; the lilt of her voice or the light in her eyes. Her relentless wit and even more strident integrity. I see all of these things in the abstract, knowing them intellectually, but holding no emotional content. How she felt in my arms, the smell of her arousal and the ring of her laughter may as well be words in a book written by and about a total stranger. I fear I may never recover those memories, the glories and the textures of a twenty-year love affair. I fear those concepts may never have an emotional context again.

Like I fear SO MUCH these days.

It is a paralyzing thing, this fear.

Like the fear of her going over the edge into a rant or tirade in the book store because she can’t find the magazine she’s apparently searching for. Of course, she can’t communicate to me just what kind of magazine it is; cooking/women’s interest/dogs/fashion, etc. Her vocabulary is down to probably less than a hundred or so words now, and finding the right one for any given situation is correspondingly difficult even without the trouble she has just speaking at all. Her voice has grown so faint that unless she’s just highly agitated (read: pissed off), then it’s all but impossible to hear her from more than a few inches away. Even if she begins a sentence in a semi-normal speaking tone, she’s bound to be but barely whispering within four or five words.
So here she is, insisting on a certain magazine but refusing to actually go to the magazine section to search for it, and me begging her to try to help me understand what she’s after so I can help while I’m also trying to prevent her asking the clerks in the store for help. Why not ask? Am I too much man to ask for help? No, actually, I’m not. What I am doing is attempting to protect her from further upset, because (kind though they may be, and most are), the clerks aren’t going to be able to understand what she’s after either, and she’s going to either

a) get angry at what she perceives as inconsiderate, unhelpful employees, or

b) (and far worse, IMO) have her inability to communicate clearly illustrated in a way that she can’t blame it on convenient scapegoat me.

Option B is exactly what happened, and she allowed me to lead her out to the car, weeping all the way.

We seem to have reached a point where we simply may not be able to communicate anymore. Most of the time it as if she were simply pounding on random keys of a typewriter and reading it. When she does use actual words, she mutters them subsonically and they come out in no coherent order, like they were routed through a blender set on puree.

For this and SO many more reasons, I have begun the process of filing for guardianship (how is it that being married to her doesn’t accomplish that, by the way?), as we waited too long to sign a Power Of Attorney. Even if she were willing now, she’s so far beyond competent that it would never stand up in court. This will be the first step in finding permanent placement for her, as soon as possible. I’ve also applied for Medicaid coverage to help pay for it, and I’m hoping the process won’t drag on for too long. She’ll hate it initially, but she’ll be safer and, eventually, happier. I’ll be getting more training for the dog and me, so he’ll be well enough behaved to visit her.

Yes, the idea of “putting her in a home” is repugnant to me, as it is to her.  But my options have run out.  I can no longer care for her safely at home, and Medicaid is never going to approve full-time home care for the schedule of a car salesperson.  And returning to work selling cars is no longer simply an option; it is a necessity and an immediate one.  If I’m not working somewhere in May, then the likelihood of being able to pay July’s bills is pretty much nonexistent.

And it feels like the ultimate betrayal.  Yes, I KNOW is not an actual betrayal, but that isn’t how she’s likely to see it, now is it?  She’ll get over it, but it’s going to be god damned hard to do nonetheless.

Delays, and Apologies

This will be short, friends. Short and sweet.

Things with Jacquelynn have not been fun this last while.  There are still good days, but they’re often bracketed with mania which makes managing her care a challenge, at best.  We’re contemplating a number of options, which include possibly selling the house and relocating altogether.

As far as this blog goes, I have simply been far too busy and stretched too thin to write.  I’m not quitting, but I don’t anticipate frequent updates soon.  Over the last few months, I’m averaging around 11 hours of sleep weekly (though the last few days have improved on that quite a bit), and am kept constantly running just to try to keep Jacquelynn on an even keel.  I compare it to a single parent of a terrifyingly intelligent toddler who is also prone to unpredictable outbursts of mania and even (though rarely) violence.

I beg your patience, and I’m grateful for your continued prayers and bright, beautiful, hopeful thoughts.

Matthew

On The Subject Of Miracles

It’s pushing 10 a.m., and Jacquelynn is finally almost fully alert. It can take a while for her to get going, but once she’s up to speed, it is truly remarkable what happens. Her physical presence is stronger; her sense of space, her posture, her confidence. She walks rather than shuffling, she stands at least 2″ taller. She expresses herself more clearly, hunting for words less and speaking more confidently.
A nightly habit of ours is watching Jeopardy together. Lately, she’s begun answering the questions! Not parroting what she’s heard and not stammering around them, but actually answering them correctly even when the contestants don’t. Words haven’t come quickly to her for a long time, now, but when she knows the answer, the words jump out, competing with me again, the way we always did.
Tasks that baffled her only weeks ago now come easily, instinctually; I left the house on a short errand and she thought of one question before I was even to the end of our street, and the smartphone that had so confounded her was suddenly a familiar device, her ringtone startling me in the car, as she hadn’t successfully called me (or even answered a call) in almost a year. Only days ago, she reached up and casually pulled the chain to turn on a lamp in the family room as the sun’s influence dimmed. Insignificant? Perhaps not when you know that only one day earlier she had struggled with that same lamp, as she had for many months until finally giving up and asking me to turn it on for her. She didn’t even realize she had done anything unusual, either; after all, she had just turned on a lamp like people do every hour of every day. Just as dialing the phone hadn’t seemed important; just as gliding into the front seat of the car where she previously had such difficulty has seemed so normal; just as her increased appetite and more energetic stride and the bounce in her step are so easily accepted as “everyday”.  Every growth and improvement in her carriage and cognition feels perfectly commonplace to her, as the improved access to that portion of her brain translates to the feeling of normalcy to each “simple” task.
Every day, I see more of the Jacquelynn I fell in love with nearly twenty years ago. The wit, the passion, even the slightly naughty gleam in her eyes. The smile. she’s always had such a ready smile, but these last many months it has been an almost empty expression; shades of the blank look so prevalent in dementia wards. But not now! Her wide smile once more has the layers of personality and mischief and subtext it had long lacked.

When one reads and researches this disease as much as I have, certain patterns in the typical decline become clear. It is common, for instance, as a patient’s cognition worsens, for their world to shrink. It often begins because they’re embarrassed with their difficulty expressing themselves (this was Jacquelynn’s reason). Tragically, it also happens as people quietly distance themselves for terror of watching their loved one decline (and inevitably also the fear of being asked to help). Eventually, their universe becomes a few rooms and one or two people. Even when they lament their lost friends and family, they resist including them. This had clearly happened here over the last nearly two years. After my recent trip to the hospital and the trauma of staying with/depending on our neighbor for those two and a half days, she’s been reluctant to include Joyce or even to leave the house unless we were headed to WalMart, as there is one very dear man there whom she loves visiting with. Even then, she tired so easily that the trips left her exhausted and vaguely moody.
Not now. She aches to expand her sphere once more. Her energy level has me keeping up with her at the grocery rather than the typical reverse, and (because I’ve kept all the relevant phone numbers and maintained some of the contacts), she has one of her dear friends and former coworker coming to visit this weekend! She is SO excited to broaden her world once more, to reestablish those connections, that she’s already starting to plan a get-together with several friends from that same job.

Miracles happen every day. Conception and successful childbirth happen many thousands of times each and every day, and I challenge you to describe a more miraculous event. But we’ve assigned such huge connotations and religious implications to the term “miracle” that we feel compelled to dismiss or explain away occurrences with no logical explanations within our experiences. But spontaneous cures and recoveries have been documented throughout history. Cancerous tumors have disappeared; patients with shattered spinal cords get out of their supposedly permanent wheelchairs and walk away; there are countless examples available within a few keystrokes online, with so many simply dismissed as “unexplained”.
A very basic (and highly oversimplified) overview of the function of Alzheimer’s disease concerns the formation of protein plaques (amyloid) in the brain. These plaques block the flow of electricity and nutrients in the brain, choking off individual neurons and eventually entire portions of the brain. While these plaques remain, growth and regeneration of neurons is impossible. As the plaques spread, a patient’s access to memories and even aspects of their personality is lost. This loss is (according to conventional/Western medicine) permanent and irreversible.

Last week, we had a bad day. I would even say a very bad day. A very bad and extraordinarily incredible day. How so? Let us start at the beginning:

It was a very good night, Tuesday overnight; good meditation overflowing with gratitude, a few laughs at the television, and Jacquelynn was very quickly asleep. She slept quite well throughout the night, too, only getting up twice in the night to go to the restroom then getting almost instantly back to sleep. The early morning was a bit anomalous, with her seeming a bit disconnected and frightened, but she never lost control or awareness, and after riding her exercise bike for half an hour, she was eager to get downstairs and start the day. She was especially buoyed by the return of her favorite morning TV show in reruns of Leverage. She truly enjoys it, and it had been off for two weeks for the holidays.
It was at lunchtime that things began to go a little south. After we had done her shoulder exercises and come back downstairs, I asked her if she was ready for her noontime pills. When she expressed some concern with having just exercised, I told her we could wait, but not too long (I try to keep them spaced out several hours apart), and that is when she got angry with me. In moments she was denying my identity as her husband and accusing me of stealing my ring from him, but oddly she never felt frightened enough to cry for help as she so often has, and she calmed quickly when we called Joyce over.  In her role as friend and kind of a touchstone from outside the house, Joyce always seems to help calm her. I carried her bike downstairs while they spoke and she rode off her nervous energy while talking to Joyce and me. All seemed well.
But she never shook the fear that episode instilled in her. She wept lightly several times. I tried to comfort her and calm her, reminding her that if we believe (which we do!) that life happens FOR us rather than TO us, then this, too, had to have happened for us. So we need only to figure out what it is trying to tell us. This seemed to help a bit, but only for a short while. After dinner, she seemed to get worse, withdrawing further into herself until finally, around 6, she got panicky again, and asked me once more to call Joyce. Just hearing her on the phone calmed Jacquelynn a little, and she agreed to get back onto her bike (it really does help her to focus and burn off her nervous energy).

Now is when it turns into an AMAZING day. Pay attention.

While pedaling away, Jacquelynn began working through explaining to Joyce and myself what she believed was causing her to feel so unbalanced. After surprisingly minimal difficulty with her words, she explained that she believed her medications were to blame. This struck an instant chord with me, reminding me that I had not refilled her Estradiol prescription. Her hormones are badly out of balance again, and THIS is what these episodes were trying to tell us.
Please understand that this conclusion requires many cognitive and deductive faculties that Jacquelynn simply did not have only a few days earlier. This means that, as I have believed/suspected for over a week now, that neurons are regrowing and regenerating. This in turns means, all but indisputably, that the Alzheimer’s plaques have been truly eradicated from her brain; with those amyloid proteins strangling and isolating neurons, such growth is simply impossible.
It took a day to get the prescription refilled, and there was some anxiety in the interim, but within hours of taking the medication (it’s an every-three-day patch), she was visibly and perceptibly calmer and more stable and has remained so since.

With the amyloid plaques still extant, Jacquelynn’s remarkable recoveries of the past few weeks simply would not be possible. Hence my conclusion that the causative agents in her brain are gone and what we’re experiencing is her brain healing; neurons regenerating and neural pathways clearing. To use an analogy I often refer to when discussing this with her, the lights are coming on, and some one’s home!

We are referring to this as our Christmas miracle. Our doctor, whom we consulted today, ascribes it to many things; diet, meditation, exercise, and, undeniably, the limitless flow of positive energy. I’ve stated before how much we like her; she gets it. She even tells us that our visits calm her and bring her the positive energy she sometimes needs.
I’m not what one would call a religious person, and neither is my wife. To some of my family’s consternation, I no longer call myself “Christian”. SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) is how it’s stated online now. So please understand that when I use the term “miracle”, I’m not talking about conferring sainthood to a uniquely blessed individual or presuming that we are in any way more special or deserving than any other human. I’m talking about the most commonplace healing in the world. It has been said for millennia by many of the greatest spiritualists and spiritual teachers in history that the only true healing comes from within. Our experiences wouldn’t be remotely controversial in 18th Century China, but in 21st Century Ohio, our use of the word “miracle” is interpreted as either a hyper-religious or supernatural claim. It is no such thing.

What it is is real.