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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Life in Riley World...

The nursing home called me late Thursday evening. In fact, they called me twice. Riley had fallen out of bed two times and they needed to inform me of that right away. He was not physically hurt. It’s not clear if he simply rolled out of bed or if he tried to get out of bed. They no longer use bed rails in the home because patients try to climb over them and hurt themselves. So they have placed soft mats all around Riley’s bed in case he falls again.

If any of you get cards returned to sender, it is because the nursing home had a little “snafu” last week. There was a temp on the front desk and no one had informed her of Riley Riley being a patient. If your card was returned, I apologize. The situation has been resolved and if you want to try to send it again, the card WILL get to Riley.  He truly enjoys getting these cards and even asked me to read Syd’s card to him twice. Thanks Syd!
So… when I visited Riley on Friday morning, I asked him how he was feeling after his fall out of bed. He responded with laughingly telling me he had been forced out of bed by the baby which hasn’t been born yet. I asked him if he was the baby’s father. He said that Tom was the father. He proceeded to tell me that he spent most of the night in a truck with two other guys. The two guys were able to get out of the truck, but that he had to stay inside because they were on private property and it would have been illegal for him to step foot on the soil. He said he sat there for more than three hours.

He was in a talkative mood. Riley told me that there had been a lot of sirens last night. He knew there was something going on because the green fire trucks were out. He said they were a puke-colored green and this was the only town he knows of that has them.  They have yellow lights instead of red. I asked where these fire trucks were from and he said “right here”. I asked where we were and he said Clinton, IA. Well… he’s only about 1,500 miles from his actual location.
I wanted to see how much he was really mentally here. I asked him who I was. He said I was his wife. I asked him what my name was. He hesitated and then said “Linda?” I talked to him about Jade and Jax, but he had no response to that subject. I don’t think he knew who they were. I told him I was going to move in with the kids for a while. He said OK but he didn’t want to stay in the country without me. So it seemed he was able to connect a few things accurately. He also told me that Janet (he meant Debbie), the nurse, told him that he may have to go to an assisted living facility. I asked how he felt about that and he said he didn’t know.

I promised his brother that we could try a phone call. I dialed the number and put it up to Riley’s ear. I don’t know how disjointed the conversation was because I couldn’t hear his brother’s end. But, when he hung up Riley explained to me that his brother had been snowed into his house for the past few days because the storm hit him hard. His brother didn’t know how long it would be until the snow plows would be able to get him out. That was interesting because his brother lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and there has never been enough snow on the ground to create any sort of hazard let alone enough to “snow him in”.
At the end of our visit, as I was driving off to run some errands, it occurred to me that Riley was getting better as far as his body was concerned. But, his brain function is way off. It was entertaining to talk to him. He didn’t take any sips from his imaginary glass. He didn’t ask me when he was going to come home. Mostly he was just in his own world and he seems to be enjoying it there. For some reason, it makes me feel better about the entire situation. Maybe that’s because he actually appears to be happy in Riley World.

13 comments:

Karen said...

I'm not a degreed or licensed medical professional, but maybe Riley has alcoholic dementia? I was so worried reading about his responses. Sending good thoughts your way.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with Karen. Confabulation is the creation of lies that a beleaguered brain uses to fill the empty spaces, and this is what it looks like.

By the way, does Riley have access to alcohol where he is, and if not, what does that bode for his survival?

Syd said...

Linda, I am glad he enjoyed the card and letter. My FIL is confused at times too. But he is getting weaker as well. I'm glad Riley seems to be happy. I will write him again soon,

Gabriele Goldstone said...

My own husband has a serious brain injury (more than 25 years old now) on top of his alcoholic confabulation (love that word!) so I'm used to a man who makes no sense. The problem is the inconsistency. Sometimes he's completely sane and perceptive.

At least you no longer have to live in Riley's world! I'm so happy for you.

Karen E. said...

When my A started coming out of her "fog." she went from not knowing who I was..to telling huge stories like riley that may no sense. She then told some so called current happenings with real people from her past that she hasnt seen or heard from in years. It is remarkable to me that she can recall things from many years ago accurately but current events are lost quickly. She currently is fairly with it. You would have to spend a bit of time with her to realize the dementia. She cannot start conversation. She can answer questions. For example I have picked her up from the ALF to drive her to the dentist. I talk about the weather, my work, ask about her activities and she answerer. But she never ask about my children, the house, her brother, etc. she cannot put it together. She also HASNT asked about coming home. For THAT I am thankful!!! She is not in as bad physical condition as Riley now (unbelievable!) It will be interesting to see and hear how he progresses and compare the two. Good Luck.

Colleen said...

Those were my thoughts as well, reading this post. Alcoholic dementia. I am confused about the alcohol withdrawl part. Riley is ok detoxing without alcohol?
Glad you are feeling a little more peaceful, Linda.

jo said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernicke%E2%80%93Korsakoff_syndrome

jo said...

korsakoff psychosis. perfect example of this. and its permanent.

Linda -- Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Colleen -- Riley is totally detoxed. He was given alcohol at the hospital to keep him from going into DTs. He is now off the alcohol and has had none since he's been in the nursing home.

Anonymous -- He has NO access to alcohol. As per hospice, he is not going to survive for any substantially long term amount of time. To that I say -- We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Linda,
Your blog helped me tremendously as I was watching my husband die of alcoholism, cirrhosis, and liver failure last fall. The stories and confusion his final week on earth still make me laugh and cry to this day. I am sending positive thoughts and prayers and strength your way as you go through this with Riley. I can't thank you enough for sharing your story and journey so openly and providing resources for all of us dealing with similar situations. The human condition is challenging, to say the least. But we do have each other! Stay strong, friend.

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