Monday, September 19, 2016

Dinner and a Movie

Locally we have a Movie Tavern. This was a new concept for me. The theater has large, plush reclining seats. They are so comfy, you could take a nap! The Movie Tavern provides a nice menu selection of food and beverages. The best way to experience it is to arrive a little early, order from the menu, watch the previews and wait for the movie to start. They bring your food and beverage to you, and if you should need anything else during the movie, you simply press a small button for service. There is a drink holder in the reclining seat and a tray table that swings over your lap to hold your food. I have to say it is quite the experience.

You pay a (large) premium on any food you order. Food quality was pretty good, I'd give it a solid B+. You can order anything from burgers to salmon. We watched the movie Sully. It was great! Very inspiring. Tom Hanks of course, was amazing. At the end of the movie everyone in the audience clapped. It was that kind of movie.

Seats are reserved ahead of time online. I picked two seats with what I thought would be a good vantage point. I noted that there was an empty seat on either side of us. Given the uncertainty of how our lives play out, I thought it would be good to have that extra space as a buffer. I showed Jim the online seating and pointed out our seats, and also mentioned the empty seats on either side of us. He thought that was great.

I should have seen this coming, given that this was such a popular movie. At the last minute, just before the movie started, two women came to our row and asked if we could move down a seat so that they could sit together. Oh no. Jim immediately say "No! we're not moving! These are our seats!" At the exact moment he is saying that I am saying "we don't mind moving down a seat". Jim glares at me. The women say "that's alright, we'll just sit separately, no big deal". As the woman sat next to Jim, he says "you can't sit there! You are not authorized! These seats are supposed to be vacant!"

The woman looked at him in disbelief. She showed him her ticket and at the same time I'm trying to quietly explain to Jim that they purchased these seats. I was so embarrassed. On the way out after the movie, I heard her recounting the experience to her friend. "Can you believe he talked to me that way?"

In the dementia world there is something called the "Oops Card". When something happens in public that is awkward or embarrassing, you surreptitiously hand them an oops card. It explains that the person has dementia etc. I may be close to the point where I need to do something like that.

I went to my Y class this morning. I knew I would be coming home later than usual as I wanted to stop at the grocery store. So I wrote on a piece of paper "Carole will be home at 11:30". While I was gone, by mother called and Jim spoke to her for a few minutes (he actually remembered to tell me this). When I got home, he said he tried to call me to tell me my mom had called, but that he couldn't reach me. My cell phone did not ring while I was gone. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: "What number did you dial when you tried to call me?"

Jim: "xxx-xxxx" (This is our landline)

Me: "No, I don't mean our home phone; what number did you use when you called my cell phone?"

Jim: "xxx-xxxx" (our landline)

Me: "Well, if you need to reach me when I am gone, you need to dial my cell phone number, which is zzz-zzzz"

Jim: "No! I'm not going to do that! I need to be able to dial xxx-xxxx to be able to reach you here!"

By now I am telling myself to just agree, let it go, and move on.

Me:  "OK"

Jim: "A strange old lady answered the phone when I dialed xxx-xxxx" (our land line) 

Me: "Maybe the wires got crossed. Who knows."

Did he confuse talking to my mother with thinking that he had called me, albeit on our landline?

In the future, when I have to leave I will not only write down what time I will return, but also my cell phone number so that he will have that readily available if he needs to call me.

This conversation was one of his most confusing. I'm still not sure exactly what happened while I was gone. It does seem like the confusion is worsening, or at least is more frequent. When I think about the dinner and movie we went to, I should not have set up expectations for a seat on either side of us to be empty. I need to remember that any unexpected change is almost more than he can process and handle.

Oh, it feels so good to be able to write all this down. It really is therapy for me. Thank you dear friends, once again, for listening and caring.


  1. Love the idea of an "Oops" card. We will see Sully but it will be a while. Have to wait until it's available for home viewing. Hematologist wants Bob to stay away from a lot of public places because of his compromised immune system.

    1. The compromised immune system is a challenge. You want to protect him, but at the same time not keep him from socialization. My mom, who loves to go to church, will arrive late enough to be the last one seated and leave early before the service ends so that she avoids all the exposure to germs that might do her in (she is on chemo, so is immunocompromised as well).

      You do a great job with Bob. I'm sure he appreciates all your expertise and TLC.

  2. I think the Oops card is brilliant and would save a lot of ruffled feathers of strangers who are just unaware. Then they would know not to take anything personally.
    It seems each day you have to add another precaution to your instructions to Jim. What a challenge it must be but I am amazed how you keep bending and finding ways to cope. He is so lucky to have you.

    1. Thanks Patti. I just found one with wording that I really like. It says:
      "The person I am with has dementia. Sometimes he is confused or easily upset. Your patience and kindness is appreciated."

      I am so grateful for you and all my online supporters! It really gives me a boost and helps me to keep my sanity :-)

  3. I love that card idea, and the one you describe sounds perfect. You know it's going to only get harder to go out. My heart goes out to you. Blessings to you both.

    1. Thanks DJan. I was thinking about that today, that there will be even more challenges and it will get harder as time passes. The path will be easier for both of us if I can alert others in a discreet manner. I'm still fighting that feeling of betrayal, but yet intellectually I know that it is for the best.

      Our landscaper (who I had to give a heads up about what was going on) was so kind to Jim today. What a difference. Because he knew what the problems were, it allowed him to be patient with and kind to Jim.

  4. Whew, what an experience! Sort of the caregivers' perfect storm, caught between the needs of your spouse and the reactions of the onlookers. Only you know what's really going on. Tough position!

    I have found that "coming out" to people over the past two years has been far more helpful than harmful. Nothing is perfect, but I think it solves more problems than it causes, to start letting people know the score.

    If you let the chips fall where they may, so to speak, without giving people a heads-up about the dementia, the spouse (and you) may experience much social isolation or even legal consequences. If others know about the condition, they may exercise compassion and find ways to include and support both you and him.
    My thoughts are with you as you wrestle with this dilemma, Carole.

    1. Thanks Jan. I so appreciate your comment. You speak from experience, and I can benefit from that. It's hard for me to even understand myself, why I feel so afraid to "come out". I do know that I'm stuck with this feeling of betrayal. I definitely have to work through this.

      The behavioral issues are often personalized by the recipient and rarely viewed as a part of a cognitive problem. This can be contrasted with a forgetful moment or a struggle to find a word, which will probably be seen as harmless and actually will likely elicit kindness and understanding from the observer.

      You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you Jan!

  5. I have an 85 year old aunt who has dementia. I have learned that I can only speak 1 sentence to her in order for her to comprehend what I am saying. If I speak a paragraph, she gets lost.

    1. Yes, ability to process information is definitely effected in dementia. Your aunt is lucky that you understand that. That way you can modify how you communicate with her so that she can understand.

      I find the same thing with Jim. Too much information at once is just too much for him to process. Thanks for your comment Gigi.

  6. Hello, I just found your blog thru Kathy's Retirement Blog. With your permission, I would like to be included as a reader. Do I keep up if I give you my email? Thank you. Trudy PS: I don't know what profile to select.

    1. Hi Trudy! Thanks for stopping by. On the right hand side of this blog is a "Follow by email" link. Just type in your email, and then click the "submit" button. When I have a new post, you will be notified by email, which will provide you with a link to this blog. For profile, you can continue to sign in as "anonymous", or if you have a google account, or word press account, these will automatically sign you in. What ever works best for you. I appreciate you signing your name, makes it more friendly :-)

  7. Someone else just mentioned how much they enjoyed seeing Sully. I'll definitely make it a point to see it.

    1. Hard to miss with Tom Hanks. It's getting harder for me to find movies I enjoy watching. Usually there is so much violence, it's hard for me to watch. This truly was uplifting.