Today, I experienced, for the first time, five seconds of what I always knew was inevitable. For five seconds (and I know it was exactly five seconds because I kissed Anthony five times – three on the nose and two on the forehead – all in quick succession, to remind him….)
It’s me – Jules!
A syllable for each peck of a second.
This is the first time Anthony hasn’t recognized me and, even though it was only five seconds, it is good to have had that little taste of forewarning/arming because I still have time to develop some tactics and hopefully some wisdom.
When I told my mother about the five seconds of unrecognition (yes, ‘unrecognition’ is a word – I checked) she squeezed my hand but I quickly reassured her that I was fine with this first of what will be many unrecognitions. (It’s kind of weird being comforted by your 79-year-old mother about your 78-year-old husband!)
In what I think will be the near future, the challenge for me will be in how to reassure Anthony that I am indeed Jules, his wife, without embarrassing him. I know this because lately he asks a lot for his mother and many others of his family who are now deceased. Sometimes I say they are all well but very busy but sometimes (for example if he is distressed, as he was for his mother again the other night), I will gently remind him that she is gone.
I was thrilled today to have a conversation with a friend of mine, Ann, who now works as a clinical instructor at the nursing home (she and I both left our jobs at the university at around the same time). Ann told me that she has been showing all staff, including domestic staff, a DVD about Parkinson’s disease that explains, among other things, why someone with PD can sometimes walk, and other times be totally unable in which case encouraging words are useless. Interestingly, the DVD also explains why a person with PD may not respond to a greeting, and therefore appear to be unfriendly. Ann told me that she pointed out to the staff that people with PD need time to process the greeting and should, instead of rushing past with a “Hi Anthony!” and disappearing, wait for his response.
After all, it only takes around five seconds for Anthony to say “hi” back.
On the other hand it only took one second for Anthony to say “Rubbish! Throw it out the window” about the cupcakes I made for him last week!