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I am always learning something new about Alzheimer’s Disease and its impact on my life. As I wrote in the Wed/Thur. Blog, Sid had to undergo a heart catheterization. Ordinarily it is a “drive-thru” procedure – into the hospital in the morning; out in the afternoon. His diabetic condition necessitated an overnight stay.

I learned that in the early to mid stages, when your spouse often appears “normal” to outsiders, they still need your vigilant supervision concerning their physical health.

After the procedure, he was instructed to lie flat for 3 hours to prevent rupturing the stitch in the main artery, which could result in hemorrhaging. He fell asleep, and I was concerned that when he woke up, he would forget the “lie still” instructions, and try to get up. So I sat with him for 2 hours, then alerted the nursing staff that I was leaving the room to make calls to family. When I returned ½ an hour later, he was awake, lying flat. Upon questioning, he said that when he woke up, he DID forget about lying flat, but thankfully, he remembered before he tried to get up.

Then there was the staffing issue. Not every nurse and technician knew his AD situation (Yes, it was in the computer, but as in all hospitals, they were overworked and understaffed). If someone came in to ask him a series of questions or give him a list of instructions, there would be no way he would remember all of the answers or the questions, without me by his side running interference. So there I sat, his shadow memory, answering the questions he could not, and reminding him what not to do.

The instructions for home care were relatively simple, but how would he remember them without me to remind him? For two days, he is not to lift anything; push anything; or sit in a scrunched position. He is to sit semi-reclined in his lounge chair (Now that’s not so bad!), and walk around every hour.  So here I sit, his shadow memory, reminding him what not to do.  

My eyes have been opened to the frightening consequences AD can pose in the case of more serious medical issues than this “routine” catheterization. My “functional”, “normal” appearing husband, would need far more care and supervision than I realized. Considering all of his medical problems, that is something for me to think about. I need to do more advance planning. We are lucky to have a social worker who makes house calls, and knows every service available in the surrounding 3 counties. I think it’s time for that house call. You can never be over prepared. It is something for all of us to consider.

Note: Test was negative, so we’re back to the beginning to try to figure out what is causing his symptoms.

Tomorrow: More holiday tips; Caregiving Conference information

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