Model trains … and Emma

(This blog attempts to give you a glimpse into conversation with an Alzheimer’s patient.  I’m afraid that reading it requires patience too.)

I made a mistake tonight.  I tried to show Bo an email video I received of the largest train set in the world,  Wunderland, in Hamburg, Germany.

We were sitting at the dinner table and I turned the computer so he could see the video,   but it was an exercise in frustration – for both of us – as his questions began.  I stopped the video but stayed at the computer keyboard and began typing  his questions.  It all took place in less than 20 minutes. I answered every one of these questions but just my first answers are in parentheses.

He began:  But what’s the point?  (Well, it’s for people to see, to enjoy.  It’s a model.  Two men built it as a hobby.)
But where does it go? (It just goes around and around the track.)
But where is it?  (On a large platform. Like the little train you had as a boy under the Christmas tree.)
Who rides on the trains? (No one.  It’s little …. The size of this newspaper (I folded it)
Well, what’s the point?
What city is it in?
I don’t get it. Why is it there?
Why do people want to see it?
Is it designed just for people to look at or to use? (It’s too little to use.)
What’s the point?

 By now I was so frustrated,  I could hardly answer the questions.  But they continued:

Yeah, but  if it’s not used for taking people. I was just thinking.. why it’s there.
…. Why the government did that. (It didn’t. .. two men built it.)
Frown.  Hmmm
And so they did it, so what’s the point…the trains are too small to have people ride in them.
But where are they?
Well, why would they do that?
Can people ride in it?
Who would want to see it?

I just quit answering because I didn’t know what else to say or do.  I was too exasperated.
Then, ……

After a few more minutes at the table…Bo was petting Emma and  new questions began.

How old is she now?
Can she go outside and walk?  I mean does she like that or not?
Why do we have her?
Is she happy?
Where does she like to be touched?
Does she like us?
Have you taken her out for walks?
Does she follow you?
How old is she?
Where did you get her?
What name did you give her?
Beautiful looking dog but she’s not too happy.  (She sits basking in his attention.)
How old is she?
Do you ever take her out for a walk?
How old is she?
What’s her name?
Emma? (The dog looks up.)
Does she follow you a lot?
Has she ever been out by herself?
Has she ever met up with other dogs or cats?
Have you ever walked with her a lot?

The questions continued….. How old is she? ….

And so it goes.  This is Alzheimer’s.

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5 Responses to Model trains … and Emma

  1. Barney Hungerford says:

    Jokingly- it sounds like a normal husband-wife conversation.
    I know, it has to be fustrating. I can even imagine what it’s like. My experience has been with people in depression, Mabel. Where no matter what you say they find fault or don’t answer at all.
    I’m back as of last night, from Orlando, so I will call and try to stop by. Coaching swimming tomorrow, Friday; I think I brought the cold weather back with me. Uggggggg

  2. Karen Phillips says:

    Oh Nancy,
    I cannot even imagine what you are going through on a daily basis. I tend to not always respond to your blogs because I am just at a loss for words. Even though there is a lack of connection in in Boris’ brain, he has the ability to think of and ask so many questions. It is just so difficult for a layperson to understand.
    You are in my thoughts every single day!
    Love ya,

  3. Nicholas Allin says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I’ve been following your blog for many months now, and have really appreciated your opening up about how you and Bo are experiencing Alzheimer’s. You have a patience that I really admire and aspire to.

    I’ve wondered a few times, do you feel supported by Bo? I mean, though he is grasping for words and thoughts, is there a way that he connects with you? I hope that’s not too personal a question. But if it is, there’s no problem not receiving an answer. If nothing else, I just want to tell you I appreciate your blogs a great deal.


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