Alzheimer’s Anecdotes, Chapter 5: The Missing Bank Card

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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.”

Nobody was.

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.

The magic purse.  Everything was there.  Nothing was missing.

The magic purse. Everything was there. Nothing was missing.

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.

13 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s Anecdotes, Chapter 5: The Missing Bank Card

  1. Good morning… I stopped in at your site to read about the Sub-D scam, enjoyed the read and was grateful to have my suspicious thoughts validated. I was about to thank you right then on that page, then for some reason scrolled back up and happened to notice the link on Alzheimers. I clicked, thinking it might be about clinical scams or cures or whatnot, and was saddened to discover it’s got Pam in its grip. I lost dad last Friday (8/15/14), he’d had Alz for 10 or so years. Other than Alz, he was in decent shape for his age, only having to use a cane to get around his assisted living group home. He was slowing down some, spending most of his days in his easy chair “reading” (reading?) his RD condensed books, or napping, or ruminating, or talking to invisible people. He would get up only to use the bathroom or head to the dinner table when called. He was getting up from that table Monday the 11th from lunch, fell and broke his hip. I was on my way there, if only I’d been there 30 minutes earlier, maybe… (I’ve been “what iffing” and generally beating myself up this past week wondering if I’d made the best decisions). He had surgery on Wed (a decision to not let him be in pain from the fracture and end up bedridden, ultimately passing from an infection or pneumonia), but then complications set in and he went downhill. He was 90, a World War II vet, married for 60+ years (we lost mom nearly 4 years ago), and now he’s with her. My heart is broken, and I send a prayer for you and Pam as well.

  2. Dennis regularly loses himself or wants to know where his wallet is. It is either in his pocket, on his desk, or in my purse but that does not matter. I keep track of it and occasionally he hands it to me to go to the store or pay a bill. That is when it goes in my purse. Sometimes I forget to give it back when I get done with it.

  3. Alison: Thank you; Pam and I send our condolences back to you as well. (I’ll fill her in come morning but know her heart on this one.) My own father went from, officially, a combination of Parkinson’s and diabetes, but we strongly suspect he had Alzheimer’s as part of the combo. He certainly had dementia to a significant degree and could never understand what he’d “done” to get him put in the nursing home. He died in his sleep.

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    Becky: Pam told me today that her mind started getting suspicious that perhaps I had hidden her documents (bank card, ID, etc.) and then put them back in her purse later to “teach her a lesson” of some sort. I tried fervently to assure her that I would never do such a thing–that it would in fact be extremely stupid of me to even consider it.

    FYI: I may be on the road from around Aug. 22 to through Aug. 25. Just got word that my beloved 2nd ex-wife, Carolyn, is in a northern Wyoming nursing home and a heartbeat away from dying via all-through-her-body-including-brain cancer. Pam’s daughter Amy is heading back down here from Utah to get some Mom time; if she can be persuaded to stay enough days, I’m outa here. Pam and I both suspect (strongly) that as Soul, Carolyn (also beloved by Pam, not “just” me) may well be hanging on until I can get there to say goodbye.

  4. Fred, so sorry to hear about Carolyn. That is a horrible way to go and no one deserves that. Hopefully Amy will be able to stay with Pam. Drive safe.

  5. Thanks; I will. Carolyn and I never had a cross word with each other, neither during our 7 years together nor in the decades that followed. We remained the best of friends and on occasion helped each other out when no one else could or would have done so.

  6. Snakes in the drain? That gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it! Ghost, why does Pam carry her birth certificate with her? If I were you, I’d keep it in a safe place, like a filing cabinet under “birth certificates”.

    Somehow I missed chapters 2-4. I’ll have to go find them and catch up!

  7. Sha, Pam carries her birth certificate because Pam chooses to carry Pam’s birth certificate. I’m not about to challenge her on that one! Besides, if you saw our home, we have so much “stuff” in here at the moment, there’s no ROOM for a filing cabinet. Once I get the shop built, which will also include space for storage, that will change–but don’t hold your breath. 🙂

  8. Not a bad idea, though I figure Pam’s purse is actually a safe place. She’s STILL convinced I hid the documents on her for a while, but she’s not terribly upset about it. Easier to believe in tricky husband than tricky brain at times, apparently. However, a copy of the birth certificate would not do a lot of good; the one she carries is a CERTIFIED copy from her birth county; a Photostat of that wouldn’t impress the legak beagles a whole bunch.

  9. ROFLMAO! You think I should give Pam a FAKE? Love ya, Sha, but that would be Death to Fred, right there! Ain’t hapenin’!!!

    But just so you can relax (worrywart that you seem to be when you care about someone), losing the original (certified copy) would truly be no big deal. There are backup copies in Oregon with family members, and California (where she was born) will whip out a fresh version for $18 on request.

  10. You got me pegged, Ghost. I’m definitely a worrywart when it comes to people I care about.

    Hugs to you and Pam. Give her one from me and tell her to give one to you from me. You don’t have to tell her why other than I love the love you have for each other.

  11. I’ll give her the hug for sure, but she’ll already know why; I read these comments (up to this one) to her today.

    Oh, wait. All things considered, maybe she won’t remember….

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