Sep 11, 2010

Did Dotty Hallucinate?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Last night I woke up and at first I thought I heard Dotty talking. I thought who the heck is she talking too?

I listened. Then I realized she was talking loud. She was saying --
Oh No. They are everywhere. Look at all these bugs. Finally she started to say -- Bobby come here.

She was not yelling or screaming. She was definitely disconcerted and anxious.

I jumped out of bed and headed down to her room. She was trying to tell me there were bugs all over the place. I thought. Oh no. They have been doing a lot of work on and around our building so I thought something nasty must have been unleashed.

When I arrived at Dotty's bedroom the light was off. I turned it on. She was sitting on the edge of the bed. I looked -- no bugs. Not a single bug. None.

I said mom, there aren't any bugs. She said I know they disappear. She told me it was the second time that they disappeared. She was certain they were there. And, certain they just disappeared -- poof.

Next, I turned on every light in the room and the adjacent bathroom. I talked to her calmly reassuring her everything was OK.

Then I went and got a glass of water. As she drank the water, I reassured her the bugs were gone. I also reassured her they weren't coming back. I told her I had gotten rid of them.

As I was talking to her, I gently rubbed the top of her head. That's right the top of her head. Then I gently rubbed her neck.

Once I had her completely calm I suggested she get back in bed. She wanted to sleep with the light on. I explained to her that it was not necessary. I tucked her in.

Now the difficult part. I turned off the lights one by one. Thankfully she did not go nuts.

I went back to my room. I started wondering what was going to happen next. Was the situation going to repeat itself? Was this going to happen again that night? Was it going to start happening every night?

Was Dotty going to start seeing things? Like someone looking in the window?

Then I started thinking about how I handled the situation. I didn't get uptight. In fact, I was calm.

I didn't waste time trying to explain to Dotty that there were no bugs. This kind of surprised me. The normal tendency is to try and explain that there were no bugs. I didn't do that.

I started rubbing Dotty's head and neck without any thought. I just did it. To calm her down.

I reassured Dotty that the problem was under control and that I had gotten rid of the bugs.

Frankly, I am a bit surprised at how I reacted. I didn't prepare for this experience in advance.

I guess I am growing as a caregiver.

Recently someone called me and was asking how I got to where I am today. There were asking in the context of this blog and in my context as an Alzheimer's caregiver. I tried to explain how it all came together.

Next time someone asks I'll have to explain how much I learned from all the people that write to the Alzheimer's Reading Room and comment on the articles.

It just dawned on me. I am forced to think about all the emails and comments. I guess you could say I am also forced to think about what I would do in a similar situation. Maybe forced is the wrong word. I know I do think about everything in the context of Alzheimer's caregiving.

Bottom line. I am pleased with how I reacted and the result. This morning Dotty seems fine and so far as I can tell there is no fallout from last night's episode.

Me? I am a little more tired than usual and I got up late today.

I didn't get up until 8:30 when I heard Dotty standing in her bedroom door saying -- Bobby where are you, I'm up you know.

Somehow a very negative experience turned positive. Although, I am not afraid to admit it is still leaving me feeling a bit disturbed.

Did Dotty hallucinate or just have a bad dream? She acted like the bugs disappeared when I turned on the light. She actually rubbed her hand over the place where she saw them.

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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 1,810 articles with more than 92,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room