Here to Report: NothingHas Changed


I have not written here for a month, the longest stretch of silence since I began this blog. Then today I was hit with Alzheimer’s—commentary, advice, anecdotes–everywhere I turned. Well, actually it was all on NPR, but the station seemed to be barraging me all day, reminding me I could only hide so long.

So here I am back to report. Well, to report that nothing has changed.

For instance, I am looking for a new tractor mechanic, again. In mid-December Ralph ran our previous new tractor man off while I was at the grocery store. First Ralph called while I was in the dairy aisle to say he was calmly explaining about a repair that was still needed when the repairman turned on his heels, jumped in his truck and drove away. Ralph was genuinely upset because he didn’t understand what he could have said that upset anyone.

As soon as Ralph hung up, the guy called to say that he would be glad to work with me but that he could not work with Ralph again, that Ralph had yelled and swore at him. I apologized, of course, but in Ralph’s defense, the repairman a big beefy Southerner with motorcycle style tattoos so I think he’s never heard swear words. And I had warned him ahead, several times, that Ralph is on the Alzheimer’s spectrum.

In any case, the repair issue upsetting Ralph is not a big problem according to Jason, our tractor saint who was able to operate the bush hog (see early entries for explanation of machinery I can’t really explain) slowly but adequately.

UNTIL THE TIRE BLEW. Fortunately,  a different company takes care of tractor tires. Someone came and changed the tire. Unfortunately, according to Ralph some lugs (is that the term) were lost along the way so the tractor can’t be run until they are replaced. But it’s freezing outside and Jason says he doesn’t need to mow again until the spring growth sets in.  So as usual the tractor is one hold.

And then there was Christmas. Fifteen of us together in one house for six days give or take. Ralph loved most of it. I was more ambivalent. Everyone kept telling me he seemed “better.” And with everyone around, Ralph was more energetic. He also drank more and smoked more. And I was busy being the silent keeper of things running smoothly. A tiring role especially for someone with flu-like symptoms. By the last night I was exhausted, or that’s the excuse I’m giving for why I put the electric tea kettle on the stove and turned on the burner.

“Why is the stove smoking like that” someone casually asked just before the flames shot up. Ralph was the hero who put out the flame while everyone else opened windows and tried to allay my worries that I might be catching up to Ralph on the cognitive spectrum. I hope they’re right but I have learned one thing:

Nothing smells less like Christmas than burning plastic.

Now Ralph and I are back to our quiet routine, him napping and me doing chores and organizing his life.

Frankly I couldn’t be happier. I am sure there will be more ups and down this year but for now I am perfectly at peace with the status quo.

Happy New Year.

6 thoughts on “Here to Report: NothingHas Changed

  1. Happy New Year! I admire your surviving the holidays. I did mostly nothing and became aware of needing structure, so I don’t just sit around with N. We are status quo, mostly, too. Falls are a scary way to end the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Alice –

    So much of your post echoes my situation. You remarked on not writing in your blog for a longer hiatus than before. I’ve taken a break from focusing on AD, too. I’ve cut back a lot on the time I spend reading blogs, Googling AD issues, following and seeking entry into clinical trials, etc. Maybe you took a blog break for other reasons, but 30 months after my MCI diagnosis and a year after it morphed into EOAD, I’m just sick and tired of reading about it, planning for it, analyzing it, and thinking about it. I just needed a break.

    We also had a house full of guests for the holidays. Frankly, they misbehaved like a bunch of animals. Come to think of it, they were animals. Our youngest daughter and her husband arrived with their 3 dogs to join our 2, each of them at least 55 pounds, 2 of them just playful puppies. It was absolute bedlam! Like Ralph, I think I may have handled it better than my wife; like Ralph, everyone thinks I’m doing “better;” like you, my wife is so stressed and tired at times that there’ve been some miscues on her part. And then some semblance of quiet and routine returned in a moment when their car backed out of the driveway on New Year’s Day.

    But really nothing has changed for us, either. I think it’s not illusory that I’m doing “better,” for which I am very grateful and that I attribute to the benefits that many (but not all) receive from Aricept. I’ve managed to control the unpleasant “intense dreaming” Aricept side effects by adding Trazadone, and almost managed to control the even more unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects with Citrucel. The reading that I used to do before I became tired of reading about AD suggested that Aricept isn’t likely to work this well too much longer, as I’ve been taking it for almost a year, and for many the symptoms start to progress again about now. But today I am doing “better.”

    Indeed, my brain has worked well enough this fall and winter that I have found myself wondering if I’ve been misdiagnosed. That would be a delightful turn of events and I caught myself wandering down that pleasant road several times last month. Then I remember what it felt like earlier last year when I suddenly got lost on my commute to the office, and then again driving on an errand in my home town. I remember 3 successive annual evaluations from my neuropsychologist and the radiologist’s report from my PET scan. Hard to explain all that. So although I’m still hoping that this has all been some terrible mistake, I think the odds are that nothing has changed here, either.

    You said at the end of your post that you couldn’t be happier despite Ralph’s latest run in with his tractor, a crazy Christmas that Ralph might have handled easier than you, and almost setting your kitchen on fire. There’s the spirit! Take a break from AD and your blog, enjoy some family time, store up another memory to replay down the road, and be at peace with the status quo. The status quo isn’t so bad for my wife and me either and, like you, we couldn’t be happier.

    Happy New Year!

    Heading Somewhere

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to hear you are doing as well as you are (avoiding that tricky word “better”). I think of you often and I am always aware of you as a reader whenever I do write. I think taking a break from the barrage of Alzheimer’s info makes sense. So much of what I read and hear is geared to the fear in the general population of being diagnosed and what a diagnosis might mean–an approach that makes sense but doesn’t always have much value for those of us in the midst of things.

      Your holiday and ours do sound startlingly alike. I felt pretty grumpy a lot of the time, but mostly I think tired because I had a lingering cold/flu. And I am relatively happy but still a bit grumpy if I’m honest.

      I do want to say that the aricept has continued to work for Ralph much longer than we were told to expect. The fact is that everyone reacts so differently and there is no set course.

      Enjoy your status quo as long as it holds!


  3. Happy New Year! And long may the staus quo last. I enjoyed your post – and laughed out loud at the image you painted of the tattooed tractor man who had never heard swearing before – but it made me feel guilty as it is a month since I posted on the Goldfish blog. I will do something tomorrow. Kudos to you for coping over Christmas. I look forward (though you probably don’t) to the tractor saga resuming in the spring.
    I wish you all the best for 2018 including all the coping skills you may need 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you. Unfortunately we have already fallen off the status quo-literally with a fall on the stair. Ralph’s second in a few weeks. Fortunately both were a trip on the bottom step and caused no serious injury but this second is my warning against getting to comfortable with that tricky old status quo.


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