To judge by Pam, to have Alzheimer’s Disease is to lose stuff all the time. Not just bank cards, and not that she really needed the help; my redhead was an acknowledged ditz long before the demyelination in her brain came creeping along to throw a monkey wrench in her thinking process. Even as a young housewife, long before she and I met, she was known for doing things like putting the ice cream back in the microwave and the car keys in the refrigerator. Those incidents, though, were (I believe) a result of a mind that simply moved too fast for her body to keep up with it.
Now…it’s a different story.
A couple of weeks ago, she was elated that she’d found her missing car keys (which she was sure she’d left in a store somewhere to be stolen but which turned up hanging on her purse where she always kept them) but deeply concerned about her missing bank debit card.
Hold on. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “She’s got Alzheimer’s and she’s still packing a bank card? Are you out of your gourd, Ghost?”
Good point. However, being trusted with the card is important to her. And truth be told, she’s done fairly well with it so far. Though there have been a few times when…never mind. The point is, she couldn’t find the card. By her own account, she’d looked through every purse (she’s got a wagon load of those) and every drawer, every clothing tote, in-around-and-under every chair, but no debit card.
“Please check your online banking,” she said. “Make sure somebody isn’t using it.”
I was roughly one hundred and ten percent certain the card was still in the house and most likely in her room. She doesn’t like me calling her a hoarder (especially after watching the champion hoarders on the TV show), but trust me, there are many places for a skinny little debit card to hide in Pam territory. There’s still a pathway to various points in the room, but it’s cluttered and then some.
Finally, yesterday morning, I told her, “Let’s not panic until I’ve gone through your room from stem to stern, Fred style. I’m pretty sure the card is in here somewhere.”
She agreed that was likely…but then informed me that her Arizona identification card and birth certificate were also missing, and what oh what was she to do about the birth certificate?
“We can always order another copy if we have to,” I pointed out…but decided it was time to take a serious look for the missing items. Not because I really thought they’d gone anywhere but because the tally was adding up. If this didn’t get nipped in the bud, pretty soon she’d be reporting that the cats and Missy, the leopard gecko, were missing, too.
Missing Missy. Got it? Oh, never mind.
It took me less than five minutes to find everything. In. Her. Purse. The same purse from which her newly re-found keys were hanging.
In all fairness, this was not the purse she’d been using for the last month or two. She’d changed purses–no problem there; she’s got about as many purses as Imelda Marcos used to have shoes. (Imelda Marcos, in case you didn’t know, is the widow of the late Dictator of the Philippines and was reported to have a collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes…until the termites and flood waters destroyed the entire batch while they were in storage.) Pam had not only changed purses; she’d properly transferred all of her “stuff” from one to the other. Everything was there. Nothing is missing. Nada. Zilch.
Pammie was stunned. “I looked in that purse! I took everything out, looked at everything!”
The precise mechanism by which the missing bank card, ID card, birth certificate, and other items managed to become invisible…that could be an interesting study. Personally, I suspect my wife was so convinced that these important documents were GONE that her expectations simply overrode what her eyes were trying to report.
One thing is clear, however. The loved one with Alzheimer’s will report many crises that are simply not true crises except in the mind of the sufferer–where they are very real indeed. Pam’s father, toward the end of his life, was a great example of that with his recurring vision of snakes crawling up through the shower drain.
My redhead hasn’t done that yet. She’s only reported (repeatedly) that her room and her bed are chock full of tiny little bugs–sometimes spiders, sometimes bedbugs, sometimes mystery critters–that I can’t see. I’m not saying they’re not there, of course. Not to her. I’m not that stupid.