Dr. A was part of something amazing, cutting edge and little tried. Having looked at the literature he was supplied, he agreed to prescribe a medication used for one ailment (coughing) as relief of another (pba episodes associated with dementia)….and it worked!
Annie had a special PBA. When she wanted to say something she stuttered with the sound of a bleating sheep. When she was anxious it was worse and even at rest the sound would come out every few seconds.
“Baaa-ah-ah, Bah, Bah.”
Other residents were annoyed by her sounds. Her partner Bill and the staff were frustrated, knowing she wanted, but not knowing what she wanted. I did very well at getting our Annie and I could calm her down rather quickly having learned her cues. After reading an article about Alzheimer’s dementia I bought Annie a baby doll. When she was anxious the doll would calm her instantly because she would concentrate on taking care of the baby. Who, by the way, was very real to Annie.
There was little or no waiting involved at all for the newly prescribed medication to work. Practically overnight Annie was talking albeit haltingly and the PBA was mostly GONE. Twelve days into the new medication her dosage was leveled and with no provocation she said my name. Calling me clear as a bell. I still get emotional remembering that afternoon. For sometime she was able to say what she wanted or needed. She said my name a lot and I adored hearing her call. One day she and a staff member named the baby doll Emily. The name was Annie’s choice and she never wavered on her decision. We wrote Emily’s name on a heart sewn to her outfit. She stayed on Annie’s bed waiting to be needed and loved. Annie liked to sort puzzle pieces and keep her hands busy.
While in the coming months the effects of her prescription would no longer work it bought time for us. We learned her likes and dislikes, we learned how to comfort her and calm her. Annie’s niece and nephew both had a chance to have one last visit with the aunt they adored. The AD dementia took over again, both stronger and faster. Hospice was called in and she was allowed to live out her days doing whatever pleased her. She slept when she wanted, was awake when she wanted, and ate comfort foods as long as she would. While I was still working there she would sit at her place in the dining room and watch me work. She did now and then call my name. Mostly when she wanted something or for assurance.
She passed away last week, my Annie. Her time here was through. Now there is another angel watching over us. Annie will be a great angel. She was caring, loved her family and friends. She was fun and while I never knew her as a young woman I could see that laughter was the key for her. It was in the pictures her family brought. It was in the stories they shared with me. It was in our daily life together. Many, many times, even in the grips of her dementia, she would try to make me laugh by doing little things there in the view from my office door, while she sat with Bill doing a puzzle or talking to Emily when Bill became frustrated at the same puzzle for the umpteenth time. I will not miss my Annie. She taught me more about pure love than anyone else in this life and the times we had together will be forever part of who I am because at my best or at my worst her comment was always the same….
“Aww, I love ya.”