Until last night it has been difficult for me to imagine experiencing the kind of hallucinations which are part of Anthony’s Parkinson’s disease. He will often see people in empty chairs and even talk to them. Sometimes those people are us – Ming and me – but sometimes they are strangers, often children. Sometimes he sees animals in the house or in his room at the nursing lodge – dogs and calves mostly.
Over the last few years some of the hallucinations repeated themselves and were frightening – men chopping down his favourite tree, the girl with the bleeding eye, trespassers taking over the dairy – but most have been tolerable and sometimes even comforting. Now, for instance, Anthony often thinks Ming is in the room with us even if he isn’t.
If, on the phone, Anthony says something that indicates he is hallucinating – in the evenings, for instance, he now almost always thinks he is at some sort of party in a mansion somewhere – I either go along with it or suggest he might be hallucinating. I only do the latter if he seems distressed.
Last night I had a vivid dream that has given me an insight into what hallucinations feel like and it was very frightening. In the dream, Anthony, Ming and I were all home and we had a lot of visitors. Anthony wasn’t ill and he was out chopping wood for a fire. I was the one who was ill and all the visitors kept saying I should go back to bed, but I wanted to be up and about. I was standing in the kitchen just as Anthony came in the front door with a big bundle of wood in his arms, then I turned towards the back door and there was another Anthony, in different clothes, with a bucket of wood. I turned around, confused, to see that the first Anthony was still in the hallway, then turned around to see that the second Anthony was now entering the back door. I kept telling the visitors that there were two Anthonys and they thought I was joking around. Finally, one of the visitors believed me and was alarmed and kept reassuring me that there was only one Anthony, but I could still see two – one to my left and one to my right. Neither of the Anthonys spoke, so I didn’t know which one was real.
The dream went on to another scene where I was at the doctor’s and he was about to tell me what was wrong with me – then I woke up. I can still feel the fear I felt in the dream – that I was losing my mind. I hope Anthony doesn’t feel as frightened as I did in the dream. I’m going to tell him and see what he thinks. Knowing him, he will probably laugh his head off!