Endless Repetition

In August, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled, “When are we Leaving?” I just re-read it and it’s almost a duplicate of this blog I post two years later:

Bo walks into the family room carrying the placemats from the kitchen table and asks, “When are we leaving?” and  while we have a “conversation,” he continues to examine them.

“We’re not going anywhere,” I say for perhaps the 20th time this evening.

“We’re not?”

“No, we aren’t going anywhere tonight.”

I’m tired. Bo’s tired. He doesn’t understand. It’s only 7:15 and I want him to go to bed. Please, I beg him silently, please let me sit on the sofa and grade my students’ final exams.

“When should we leave?” he asks again.

“We’re not going anywhere tonight.”

“We’re not? … tomorrow, though … What time should we get up?” He’s annoyed with me now and wants an answer.

I say we’ll leave at noon and he’s satisfied for a few minutes, but then he asks again.   He may eventually go upstairs and I’ll get him into bed, but an hour later he may also come back downstairs asking the same questions — the same questions he asked yesterday and the day before and the day before that.

When we were having this same conversation an hour ago, he asked, “Will they kill us?” This caught me off guard. Where did it come from? What ideas are intersecting in his brain?

“Why do you ask that?”

“I don’t know.”  He holds his head and looks worried.

We have imaginary conversations now.  Often I have no idea what his question is because the words aren’t real, so I try to second-guess his meaning, but he is still sharp enough to know if my answer is nonsense and it annoys him.

I tell him that we won’t be leaving tonight because …  the weather’s bad, there’s too much traffic,  we don’t want to travel on the weekend … whatever placates him for that moment. Sometimes Jon backs me up with,  “You don’t want to travel tonight, Bo. Nancy’s right, there’s too much traffic … ”  and he accepts it for the moment.  This helps to allay my growing frustration.

There are a few days when I can find something to occupy Bo’s time for a while. Yesterday I was baking a cake and he wanted to help.  He cleaned everything I used, even if I needed it soon again.   I put down the measuring cup; he washed it. I put down the spatula; he washed it. I finally gave him two mixed up decks of cards and asked him to arrange them into piles. At first, I thought he didn’t understand, but when I next looked he was hard at work placing aces on aces and jacks on jacks. He was occupied by this task which he sort of did over and over for about 40 minutes — this man who commanded a tennis court and played golf every day.

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11 Responses to Endless Repetition

  1. thom sweeney says:

    Oh Nancy,sometimes it’s eerie reading your blog. I can identify with the “We’re not going anywhere tonight” (I say it a LEAST 15 times after we are just home from dinner.} And also how you are ‘interpreting’ Bo’s questions. It’s the same with me.

    Let me tell you once again how much your blog means to me. It’s my brush with “the REAL reality” that is my world now, and the fact that I know that I am experiencing things in the same way as you are, is very helpful to me.

  2. Dear Nancy,
    I feel so honored that you share your blog with me. You are always in my thoughts!
    Kathe Shakespeare

  3. Lisa M says:

    Nancy, I am sending you a big virtual hug right now. Mom and I have the same conversations every day. I never know when exactly it will start, but as soon as the first “What is it we have to do tonight?” comes out, I know it will be a long day, evening, night. It’s funny that you mentioned cards. I have mom match suits to keep her busy. It really calms her down too. She loves folding warm washcloths right out of the dryer (I bought two dozen at the dollar store and they go in every load of clothes I put in the dryer!). Keep up the great work and know that there are lots of us out here who appreciate your sharing.

  4. Pamela Fisk says:

    Think about you every day, Nancy, and admire you so much!

  5. dementedgirl says:

    Arghhh I feel your pain… MIL is capable of repeating herself on a 30 second loop…

    My only tips for dealing with it here: http://dementiapoetry.com/2014/05/16/tips-for-caring/

  6. rosemary says:

    Your situation is so much like what we are enduring with mom. I can feel with you and it is I get strength and patience from reading your blog, and knowing that I am not the only one going through this. Thanks for your effort and time.

  7. Thank you for your kind comment, Rosemary.


    Nancy, You do not know how much your blog means to me. I guess misery loves company. My husband is starting the repetion of questions. It is so hard to get a moment along except when I work and still that is not guaranteed. He will call me and want to know how to work the dvd player. Sometimes he understands and other times no. He is constantly worried that something is going to happen to me. We went away last weekend (our last I think). He enjoyed it but I think would of rather been at home were he is more comfortable. He is not as far along as Bo but I can see it coming. Every week it seems a smidge worse. His name is Ron. I guess all we can do is take each day as it comes and try to make the best of it. The hardest part as with you is the constant repeating and not understanding my answers. Then I lose my patience and feel bad. Please keep on writing it brings me comfort

    • Dear Linda, (I first sent this to your email address but it was returned)
      I’m so happy to hear from you. It’s true, we all need one another (ie misery loves ….. ). I have a a long-time friend whose husband is not as bad as Bo, but she is now afraid to leave him alone, and she’s going through a very rough time – feeling guilty, depressed, sometimes angry. It’s so hard. She had a very hard time admitting to other people that he’s ill. I did too, at first, but it was because I was protecting Bo: I didn’t want others to see him differently. But then telling the truth to people became very cathartic. I can’t even imagine how Bo felt during the earlier periods when He still knew the truth. Now he has no idea what’s happening — just that he’s sad, and unable to do anything….always confused. Please keep in touch ….

  9. Karuna says:

    I find myself almost speechless after reading some of your posts on this blog. You are so strong. I’m so glad you are writing, sharing and receiving support from people in the WordPress community.

  10. Thanks
    For me I live alone, a friend put my dog down when I was recuperating from Ca, #2, and yet your story and all those who are in the same boat bring me to a much warmer place. Like friends who can hold hands and say yes. I used to be an OT in a nursing home so I think you are doing good and what else can er do but like you encourage and stick together. love b

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