Aug 1, 2010

Dotty's Erratic Behavior Resurfaces and SO Does My Stomach Ache

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

There have been some very subtle changes in Dotty's behavior over the last several weeks. At first, I didn't think much about it.

However, during the past week I started getting that sick feeling in my stomach that I had for years. It is coming back after a long period of dormancy.

When I say subtle, I am mostly referring to the things Dotty is saying, her overall mood, and her back to the past behavior.

Dotty for the first time in years is now talking almost daily about moving back to south Philadelphia. I would say she stopped doing this around three years ago. Or, definitely after she was on the combination of Aricept and Namenda for a month or so.

It is clear to me that Dotty is in a "bad mood" quite often these days. At first I was thinking it was this incredible hot weather we are having in Florida since May. I thought this because even when I take Dotty out for a short period of time it seems to wipe her out. Like I said, this is mostly subtle but the look on her face is different than it has been in years, and she looks more like she did in the early days of Alzheimer's.

I am not referring to the "not there" look. She looks angry -- I call this the "I have been dipped in poop look (well I don't actually use the word poop)".

While not there all the time, the "not there" look is also coming back more often. This is a bit hard for me because during the Dimebon clinical trial the "not there" look went away. Not only was she "more there" during that period, she was also talking about the real world. Now she goes silent for very long stretches of time. Even when I talk to her she doesn't answer, just wags her head.

Until the last few days I thought, well maybe it is just me imagining things and maybe this is just the way it goes as you move along down Alzheimer's rode.

Then it happened. Dotty woke up at 1:30 AM, rummaged around in the refrigerator and then finally ended up with a great big bowl of cereal. I just hung back and waited to see what transpired. Well, after the cereal she grabbed some candy, took off for her bedroom, ate some of the candy, and put the rest in the night stand.

I think Dotty would have made herself a sandwich during this episode but I don't think she knows where the lunch meat is in the refigerator. She use to attack the bin in the early AM all the time in the past. And, also during the day. She has not done that in years. I can only conclude she doesn't know how to make a sandwich anymore.

Dotty is also back to saying more nutty things (not that she ever completely stopped). Last night around 9 PM she told me if it wasn't so dark out she would walk down to the corner and get herself a sandwich. First, there is no corner to walk down to and get a sandwich. Second, she has everything she needs for a sandwich about 30 feet away -- in the refrigerator. You might notice the constant search for food is a theme here.

It never dawned on Dotty to make herself a sandwich.

Shortly after the conversation about going to get a sandwich Dotty went to bed. Not for long, she got up and started rummaging around in the kitchen. I just let her go at it. Finally, she went back into her room, turned off the light and went back to bed.

Well almost. 1:30 AM and here she goes again. Once again a big bowl of cereal and this time a Hershey bar. The Hershey bars are out of sight in the freezer. The ice cream is in plain sight in the freezer. I suppose that Dotty forgot what the ice cream container looks like. The Hershey bar has its name pasted on it in big letters. She had to rummage to find the Hershey bar.

I still have the minor version of the stomach ache today -- right now as I am typing this. I had forgotten what it is like to have a stomach ache all day long, every day. I had assumed that I had just gotten use to the way things are/were.

Doesn't feel that way to me right now.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,690 articles with more than 70,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room