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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nightmares and No Sleep

I didn’t get any sleep at all last night. When Mom finally fell asleep, she woke up every half hour with nightmares. I asked her what her dreams were about and she told me that there were strangers in the house and they were trying to hurt her. I kept telling her that there was no one in the house but us and no one was trying to hurt her. An hour later we went through the same thing. Every thirty minutes to an hour she was screaming for me again. Each time, she said she thought there was someone in the house who was trying to hurt her or me.

Alzheimer's is horrible. Tiny things will stick in our loved one's mind, sometimes good things, sometimes bad things, but we never know what is going through their minds. It's hard to tell what caused her nightmares. It could be a simple schedule change. It could be the smallest memory that aggitates her. It could be my brother's visit. Any number of things could trigger her aggitation. Regardless of what it was, we still deal with the aftermath.

By 7:00 AM she finally fell asleep and she only slept until 10:00. She was exhausted from not sleeping much and I was exhausted from not sleeping at all.

After our morning routine of showering, dressing, and eating breakfast, she complained of being tired. I kept her busy all day to keep her awake and active. I did the laundry and had her fold the clothes and towels. I did the dishes and had her put them away. I had her coloring, working with word finds, hidden picture puzzles; I even had her looking through old magazines pulling out recipes and coupons. We tried anything and everything that would keep her busy and awake.

There was no talk of visitors or dreams. She didn’t remember either.

While I was making dinner, I had her break up lettuce for our salad. She was so exhausted by 3:00, I had to keep talking to her to keep her awake while she ate. She ate very little and wanted to go to bed by 4:00. After dinner we started our bedtime routine. It was earlier than the normal 5:00 bedtime, but there was no sense in trying to keep her up any longer. By 4:15 she was in bed and asleep within minutes.

I can always tell by the level of her snoring how exhausted she is and how much sleep I may get in between her calls for help. This evening I might get 2-3 hours before she wakes and has to use the potty chair. We’ll see. Goodnight, all. I’m grabbing the zzz’s while I can.

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