Monday, January 25, 2010

I don't know what's happening, but its' happening fast!

In the Navy, I knew a fellow Gunner's Mate who had a quip for everything. He could make me laugh at the drop of a hat, and when things were going wrong, quickly, he used to say; "I don't know what's happening, but its' happening fast!" Well, in the last few weeks, that seems to be where I am with my PD and Dementia. I have already told you about my recent issue, living out my dreams. The pills the Neurologist gave me seem to be helping and my wife is getting used to sleeping with her catcher's mask on. Now, I am having problems figuring our where I am, especially at night. We went to bed last night, all tucked in, my wife had her catcher's mask on, and I was just drifting off to sleep when I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I did not know where I was. My wife was almost asleep and I woke her to ask, where are we? Are we home? I truly did not know. It is a frightening feeling. She assured me that we were safe, at home, in our bed, and I went back to sleep. But this is a new development and one that I intend to monitor. I suppose my wife is also!

Additionally, I spend more and more time, thinking about the past, old shipmates, old stories. The Internet is not my friend here, because I can search and find old friends, or more depressing, their obituaries. Its' not that we don't get out, my wife makes sure that we go somewhere and interact with people everyday. We go to the recreational center three days a week and get a vigorous physical workout. It's those down times, that my mind slips back to the past and I am in my own world. It's not frightening, just detached. Actually, I am more comfortable there sometimes, not always. Oh, well, I am sure other have had these issues before. And I am not complaining, just keeping you informed. Again, being able to discuss changes helps me deal with them. Any feedback from anyone, I would really appreciate it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reader comments, an encouragement.

Recently, I have received some very nice, and very encouraging emails from some of you who take your busy time to read my blog. I truly appreciate getting feedback from those of you who are having the same experiences that I am. Some of you are farther down the path than I, and I appreciate the insight. I pray that I give someone that insight also.

Now that we are retired, life is slower, less complicated, and allows time for reflection on my situation and its' consequences. I am enjoying the slower pace. I enjoy my naps! Naps are a good thing! However, the time to reflect has brought issues that I had not expected. For instance, today was the first time my wife has said, she was worried about my Parkinson's and dementia. Up to now, she has been stoic, tough, almost in denial. This openness may have come from me punching her the other night. (Read my last post. I am not a wife beater.) Or, it could come from a more recent event. A couple of days ago, I don't remember how far back, but recently, were at the Credit Union and I was paying a bill. I had to sign the electronic pad to authorize the transaction, and I forgot how to write my signature. I may have forgotten exactly who I was, I really don't know. All I know is, I was blank! My loving wife coached me into signing something that looked like my name, and we went on our way. But it was disturbing.

As I said, I have had time to reflect on what I have, and where things are going. For the first time, I can really say I am frightened. The unknown is always unnerving, but this is different. The first time I went out of a helicopter on a half inch wire, 250 feet above a pitching Navy ship, I was frightened. But, I knew others had done it and survived. I also knew someone who did not survive. But I realized that once I did it, the fear would be gone. However, with PD and Dementia, I will never reach the point of familiarity. I will only reach the point of no return. And that is what has me frightened. I told myself yesterday; "This is NOT how I want to die!" In my Navy career, I did crazy, dangerous, even foolish things, in combat and on liberty. If I would have been killed in any one of those situations, I would have had no regrets. I have always been a man of action. As a Gunner's Mate, I always took charge, especially in emergencies. It is how GOD made me. But now, all I can do is wait. I can't charge out and confront the situation. I can't solve the impossible equipment failure, I can't keep the unhappy sailor from committing suicide. All I can do is wait for this disease to progress. Yes, I can be proactive and exercise, take my meds, keep my medical appointments, be open with my wife and doctors about my symptoms, and I am doing all of that. But to no avail. I still get worse, I still am depressed, and I am still a worry to those who love me. Again, I realize GOD has a plan for me, and I have no intentions of taking matters into my own hands. I am sure that others who have been in my place have had much the same emotions. I am only expressing them for my own well being. You see, one thing I have learned, getting things in the open is better than keeping them bottled up inside. Sometime you, I, can't tell everyone exactly what is on our mind or in our heart, but this blog let's me express my emotions when they are fresh and poignant. Thanks for your concerns and encouragement.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New issues

I know I have been remiss in writing lately. Over Christmas, my son and his family came to visit and spent 8 wonderful days with us. Yes, there is stress with company. But my wife and i love to have them here. I had some issues with emotions and routine, butt they were manageable. Now, my wife and I are settling into retirement. This could be good!

Now on to the new issue. I have told you that my dreams are very vivid and very real to me. In recent times, I have had difficulty separating my dreams from reality, after I wake up. This can be frustrating when I spend a major portion of a day trying to remember what I was supposed to do. Generally, I have this feeling of of the task having great importance. Normally, at some time during the morning, I remember that it was in my dream and not a real issue that requires my attention. Also, I have had issues when I dream of someone who I want to contact. I wake up in the morning, determined that I will contact that person, only to realize later that they are deceased. Naturally. this is very disconcerting to me. But now, I have a new issue to deal with. Or should I say, my wife and I have a new issue to deal with. Last night, I was having a very vivid dream where I was in a fight, and being restrained. I broke free and I HIT the bad person in my dream! Good you say, not really, because I PUNCHED my wife in the head!! Now, I am not as strong as I used to be, but I hit her hard, just the same. As she cried out, I awoke and realized what I had done. Naturally, I was crushed that I hurt my wife. But I was more concerned since this had happened once before. That time, I was dreaming that I was in a fight and I reached out and grabbed the hair of the bad guy. You got it, I grabbed my wife's beautiful long hair and gave it a strong pull! This is not good.

Today, as it happens, I had an appointment with my neurologist. My wife and I described these events to her. The doctor explained that when people are dreaming, they are in REM sleep and they are actually paralyzed, so they cannot act out their dreams. This makes sense if you remember a particularly scary dream that you had and you could not move. In any case, because of my dementia, the part of my brain that paralyzes me during REM sleep is breaking down, and I CAN act out my dreams! This is a real issue, because it is not going to go away, it is going to get worse. The doctor prescribed a drug to take at bedtime that may help with this. She also recommended we sleep in different rooms! Both my wife and I are not in favor of that, at least at this time. But, she cannot continue to be battered in her sleep. That is not fair. So, we will see how this new medicine works. I always knew the dementia and Parkinson's wold progress, but I never knew I would become a threat to my wife's well being.