Apples anyone?

Frances picking apples in Charlottesville, VA Oct. 2008

Frances picking apples in Charlottesville, VA Oct. 2008

Since Jim has stopped driving, our family life seems to have picked up speed. More decisions on which child gets to do which activity and I am constantly being pulled in two directions. I know, I know. I am only one person. I can only do so much. I can only do the best I can do. But I am hard headed. I am an over achiever. I expect to be able to do everything and be everything to everyone. It is hard to say “No.” I am getting better. Fundraising for the kids ball teams and schools, volunteering at school functions, meeting someone for lunch or coffee, or just deciding if we can even attend something all become overwhelming decisions or tasks. It all gets scrutinized and categorized. Life as we knew it is over. We are obviously onto a new stage of this not so fun game.

Yesterday was “Doctor Day.” It wasn’t too bad. Except for the part where Jim decided to tell the kind neurologist that I won’t let him eat our apples. We were discussing Jim’s weight, his huge eating habits, his exercise, etc., and he suddenly blurted out that I don’t let him eat the apples. What??? Let it be stated here and now that a few weeks ago I went to the store almost exclusively to purchase apples and came home with OVER 20 (the kids counted them). Within 3 days they were gone. I don’t eat them. The kids are gone to school most of the day. That only leaves one other person…..

So after we got home, I asked him about the statement with the apples. His reply, ”the doctor knew I was joking.” Ummmm. I don’t think so. I didn’t think it was funny at all. I know that elder abuse, or abuse of those who can’t help themselves in many forms and fashion is quite common. It seemed to me that the doctor thought he was serious. Then, for the first time, they asked me to step out of the room when he did his Mini Mental Exam. No explanation why. It left me to wonder, “Do they think I am not feeding him?” Let it also be known that Jim eats. A lot. I think I have mentioned this. We rarely have leftovers. I don’t mind. I don’t really prefer leftovers anyway. But he eats enough to feed 3 people in a day. Remember, I told you I would tell you about the Raisin Bran? He LOVES Raisin Bran. Always has since I met him. Now, I buy a box of Raisin Bran a week at Costco. COSTCO size people. I don’t eat it and neither do the kids. It is all him. That is TWO HUGE bags of Raisin Bran a week. It is so funny that this is the one thing that has remained such a staple for him. Years ago, early in our marriage, I used to get up and try to fix a “nice breakfast” for him. Something engrained in my Southern self. He would tell me he just wanted his Raisin Bran. Even if I had already produced a nice meal of eggs, waffles, pancakes, etc. No matter what else I had fixed, or how great the kitchen smelled, he preferred his common bowl of cereal.  I am not sure when he eats it but it must be in the morning and sometime while I am away at work. I never see him eat any cereal at night. He should weigh 300 pounds, but he has kept his weight even since getting off the Aricept (he lost a lot while on it).

I shouldn’t worry about what others think. I should be past that point. But when your husband tells the doctor that you won’t let him eat something and thinks it is funny, well, it is something you have to let go but at the same time you sorta worry about in the back of your mind. Like if your 6 year old were to go to school and claim you locked them in a cage all day or beat them unmercifully. It hits you in that spot that is vulnerable. I don’t need to shout out to the world how I am taking care of Jim. It doesn’t matter as long as he is happy, the kids are happy and he is taken care of. But it does become an issue if false rumors start.

Brad picking apples, Oct 2008

Brad picking apples, Oct 2008


posted by Karen in Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (11)

11 Responses to “Apples anyone?”

  1. norm says:

    Having gone through this with a friend, all I can say is that Jim has an illness that affects his brain and as such, one can not expect him to be rational. They seem so normal on the outside, that it is too easy to think them normal, you can not expect normal behavior out of a person with early onset Alzheimer. I do not think your Jim even remembers eating one apple, let alone the whole bag and the doctor has seen this before, he/she knows the score.

  2. Kimberly Smith says:

    We had our visit with John’s neurologist three weeks ago and this first thing he said to the doctor after he asked how he was doing was was “am I wearing a hat?” The doctor looked at him kind of puzzled, John just laughed. It was a joke to John, I don’t know where it came from. He eats like a horse as well. The first time I really noticed, we went to a McDonald’s drive thru and John said, “I’ll have four hamburgers, a large order of fries and a large coke.” I said you are kidding right? No, I’m hungry. Since he’s been sick he eats large amounts of food. He never gains weight. He is still the same, very fit, 165 lbs he was when we married 25 years ago. He also tells me when I cook a meal, it’s the best meatloaf or roast I’ve ever cooked. Whatever he’s eating he’s constantly telling me how good it tastes and he eats a lot. I guess it’s good he can eat and enjoy it, I know there will be a time when he can’t. My Mother was diagnosed two weeks ago with Frontotemporal dementia. She is 73 years old. John was diagnosed last February, with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, so I’ve started all over with my Mom. Although I knew something was wrong for a while, but after her PET scan and they called me with the diagnosis, it gave me a really sick in the pit of my stomach feeling. Once again, the grieving process starts over, but now it’s my Mom. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do all of this at times. Thank you for sharing your story. I always look forward to it. I guess we will have to keep our Costco and Sam’s Club membership cards current for now. Hugs, k.

  3. Wendy says:

    We try to eat healthy with the exception of some snack foods that we have always had on hand. I eat a few potato chips with a sandwich. I rarely eat cookies or junk food. But we buy it and it disappears within days. Dan can go through a 12 pack of coke in a couple of days. Same with beer (which is why we don’t buy it anymore). Seems like the AD makes this worse somehow. Regulation is not on their mind! It has to be on mine. Karen, we understand what you mean about what Jim said to the doctor…funny how our loved ones see things. Not so funny to us sometimes!

  4. Lee Ann says:

    I think its clearly something in short term memory. Working in a special care unit, breakfast was eaten 100%, dishes cleared, and someone always sitting down at the table, waiting for breakfast. I guess they forgot they already had breakfast, and it must sound good. So they usually get cereal. Then about ten o’clock, somebody wants breakfast,, so they get coffee and cookies (which, they say, is a lousy breakfast). Dinner at 12:00. At 1:00, somebody is ready for a sandwich. This is a unit with 8 residents. And they are all eating all day long. I guess they enjoy it, they have good appetite. But they forget many times a day that they already had that meal.

  5. Lynne says:

    It makes I doublely hard to take when there generally are no jokes any more. My husband doesn’t get humor, subtlety or sarcasm now and he used to be king of one liners. But yesterday at Red lobster he said he wanted to pet the dog in the lobby. I thought he was seeing things and just sort of went along with it, telling him I hadn’t noticed a dog. He said it two more times then went over to the lobster tank and pointed at the lobsters, laughing and grinning at his joke and how he tricked me. So there still is a sense of humor in there somewhere. It’s just wired differently now.

  6. Michelle Fox says:

    There is always a bit of humor, you just have to look for it, and it is definitely a different kind of humor and sometimes embarrassing, but go with it. Someday, it will not be there. As far as the food, go with it, they forget they have eaten, it gives them something to do. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You will find, as I have, I beg Mom to eat. She is 97 pounds and fading. At least apples are healthy.

  7. Ray Wiseman says:

    Karen mentioned that Jim kept his weight after getting off of Aricept. Does this Med. Make a person loose weight? If so my wife needs to get off of this medicine. She keeps loosing Wt. She eats about the same as she normally has since being diagnosed with ALZ. She loves Boost. She drinks 2 to 3 a day. She has lost 22 lbs. since being diagnosed w/ALZ. I need to as the Doc About this medicine. The other medicine she takes for ALZ is Exelon patch every 24 hrs. (Rivastigmine transdermal system). It contains 30 systems. It makes her remember things better than before taking it. It has to be given according to weight. My spouse was diagnosed w/dementia in 2006, and ALZ in 2010. I would like a reply on Aricept. If it would increase her Wt. I need to question her doctor about it. I really enjoy reading each one of your reports about this awful disease. May God. Bless everyone. Lv to all caregivers.

  8. Karen says:

    Ray, I will be the first to say I am in no way a doctor or expert, but in my personal opinion Aricept does have a side affect of weight loss for SOME. I have heard both that patients lost a lot of weight (Jim lost about 30 lbs) while continuing to eat large amounts and I have heard there is no change for some. Just like all dementia medicine, there seems to be no consistency, even with whether or not they help. Some seem to help (like you mentioned with Exelon) and some don’t. It was my understanding that Exelon and Aricept were to do about the same thing. Jim tried both. He is only on Namenda now and we will be starting Vitamin E today. Talk to your dr. Be your wife’s advocate. Get a second opinion if need be. There is lots of info out there on the web but it can be overwhelming. Good luck!

  9. Ray Wiseman says:

    Thank you Karen for your response. I forgot to mention my spouse Doctor just put her on Vitamin E.

  10. Janet says:

    I’m sure a neurologist knows this is part of the disease. This will happen more often as time goes on. I hope you can talk to someone about your feelings because I had a very tough time. God Bless

  11. Kelly says:

    Am sure you have researched the coconut oil for AD – have you tried this for Jim?

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