Monday, May 10, 2010

The Cat AND The Hat

The picture above is in direct conflict with the events of last week. For that matter, an even larger conflict with life according to "Billy Ray".

I took a class last week on post-purchase certification at a NeighborWorks Institute in Phoenix. These come around about once a quarter and I am soon to be finishing up this tract in Homeownership Lending and Foreclosure. This marks the sixth trip in a year and they're not getting any easier to take.

The plan is nearly always the same:  I leave on Sunday and return on Friday or Saturday. Michelle and Kate normally hold down the fort and up until 2-3 trips ago, Bill did fine until I returned. Lately however, it makes it until about Thursday and all hell breaks loose. Change is hard for him and normalcy is our friend. 

I had really talked it up this time, reminding him way ahead of time about leaving, urging him to be pleasant, creating projects around the house for him to do. I received a call from my baby Tuesday afternoon, she was sobbing.

Bill had hemmed Kate up right after Michelle had left for work, telling her that "she would be sorry when he was gone". A previous post mentioned that sometimes what comes out of his mouth these days is astounding. It upset her so much that it scared her. She gave him his medicine, put him to bed and locked herself in her room.  

She was still shaken the next morning, so I called him from Phoenix. He indicated to me that he had no idea what had happened so I give him a very large pep talk, reminded him that she was just 17 and went on about my day. Further reports on Wednesday from Michelle indicated that it was a good day. 

On Thursday, I had Michelle take him with her to run errands and they were home by lunch. She made him lunch when they returned and he walked downstairs to the basement. On Tuesday at about 2:30 pm while sitting in class I received a text from Michelle - "CAN YOU CALL ME??!!!!!"

That was a distress text. Out of class I go to call her and she answers, sobbing. After several immediate calls to some of the older kids, I was able to get in touch with my friend Lori and she scuttled on over and stayed with Kate until it was time for Bill to retire. 

Lori reports that he was ornery and showing very few reasoning skills. Kate reports that he's turning back into Billy Ray from the Bill we all know and love. He has accused them all of sending Lori to watch him, is completely incorrigible and I have an interview at 4:15. 

My friend Lori made an interesting observation. She says he's been emasculated. Once the man of the house, he now has to depend on the girls and I for everything. Makes sense. And, when I am away, he becomes the boss again. However, the girls are not going to let him just hop in the car and drive. They try and step into my shoes to help me, but I can see that we're going to have to modify their approach. 

Wade, Angela and the boys came over Friday afternoon and made hamburgers to give Kate and Michelle a break. Wade also agreed that there has been a pretty significant slide in reasoning skills over the last 6 months. Bill told Angela Friday night that he had not talked to me in 4-5 days and he is convinced he is being mistreated since he cannot have free rein with a vehicle and several hundred dollars in his pocket. He can't tell us where he wants to go or how much money he needs......

Looking back on all of the Alzheimer's research materials reminded me that most moderate patients relate this to mistreatment and begin to have little or no regard for any feelings  but their own, simply because they just can't.

Next trip, I will leave an even better plan. Monday is Michelle, Tuesday is Wade, Wednesday is Kate, Thursday is Lori, etc. My new neighbors have offered to help out so perhaps we can add them to the agenda. They had learned of this discord from Kate on Thursday and had Bill over for lunch on Saturday.

All in all, its the stimulation I think. The more he has to do, the more he's occupied, the better the mood. I find myself interacting with him all day so he's become used to that, even if it is little more than walking through the house asking him how the weather is outside, sending him outside to check, sending him downstairs for a small errand. I can generally keep him moving most of the day ~ must be the multi-tasker in me.

Issues? Yes, we've got them. Irony? Yes, we've got that too. As this picture represents, on Monday he is very calm as the cat sleeps on his lap. Hell, in a former life, he kicked the cat!

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