The 12-Hour Day

On Sunday I was alone with Bo because Jon and his family went out for the day.  How is it possible that I can view twelve hours with my dear husband as a stressful problem?  I feel so guilty just saying these words, but on days like this I don’t know how to fill up the time, what to do for twelve hours.  There’s nothing to entertain Bo except ride around in the car with Emma dog and eat.  And watch Bo.

It wasn’t even twelve hours, really, because I got him up, showered and dressed before noon; he was upbeat and easy as usual, willing to do whatever I suggested, so I put him and the dog into the car and drove to a local root beer drive-in (I’m talking car hops here — root beer on the side window,  delicious hamburgers and French fries.)  All went well even though his taste has changed so much that he generally doesn’t like many of the things he used to love — including root beer.


Using the bathroom has  become more of an issue so I decided to come home to be sure he was ready for the next ride and then we would  drive … somewhere.  Anywhere.

Two hours.

As it turned out, it wasn’t an ordinary day for me  because of a shock which caused me great stress unrelated to caring for Bo.  On the way home from lunch, I stopped at an ATM to withdraw money but received the message:  “Overdraft.”  What?? That’s impossible!  My mind started to spin because three weeks ago one of my credit cards was hacked and someone tried to charge $30,000 of plumbing supplies in the Caribbean.  Could my identity be stolen?   I circled back around the bank and tried the same ATM again. Same message.

Driving home was excruciating.  No matter how hard I tried to think of something else, I couldn’t, and I knew there was no way I could use the computer or phone to clear this up until Bo was napping.  When he’s up I have to keep my eye on him.

To add to this,  when we drove into the driveway,  the questions began:   What are we doing here? and escalated into a 15-minute delay.  “It’s our house, Bo.  Yours and mine.”    I could tell that this made absolutely no sense to him.   “Do you know who I am?”  I asked.

He looked at me blankly,  “No.”

Then against all that I know,  I tried to tell him that this is our house and we’re married…. I’m Nancy.  I know better.  This accomplishes nothing.  It no longer bothers him;  he just sort of laughs  and I’m sad.  I’ve wasted my words — and time.

As soon as we got inside it was clear that  he had no plans to nap.  Instead, he kept asking me:  “So, what’s up? Where are we going? When are we going?” and his favorite, “So, what’s the big deal?”

I  gave up trying to convince him of anything, mainly because I was becoming more stressed over the bank.  Finally, he lay down for a short while and I began my calls.  (Turned out that my entire account was emptied erroneously to pay my  $200 Sunoco (car) gas bill!   Go figure. At least my account wasn’t stolen.)

Now, almost  four hours.

Just as I hung up from customer service,  Bo  came out to the patio and began the questions again.  He picked up a few leaves, asked what to do with them, then picked up a few more.  Again he asked who owns this place and why we’re staying here.  When are we going to leave?  Finally, I said that soon we would take a ride.

He hesitated, then asked, “Uh, what about the big problem?”

“What big problem?”

“The pritoris are coming.” (The protoris?  I had no idea what he meant. When I asked him, there was silence. )

I waited a few minutes then took another tack,  “We could just stay here.”

“For how long?”  I tried to explain but his reply changed the topic: “Are we going to have something to eat?”

Then I did it again, tried to explain something I should just leave alone.  “We just ate — an hour and a half ago.”  He looked at me blankly.  The next step was inevitable.”Are you hungry?” I asked, absolutely not wanting  to fix more food.

“A little bit but nothing dramatic ,” was his reply.  So  I went into the house to get him a bowl of peanut brittle ice cream with Oreos.  He followed me inside and ate, then went into the living room to lie down again for 20 minutes.

Almost six hours.

Then we went for an hour and a half drive  to nowhere with Emma.  She’s my excuse.  When he asks, which he often does, where we’re going, I say, “Oh, nowhere special.  We’re just taking Emma for a ride.  She loves the car.”

When we got home, eight hours had passed.  I know because I checked the clock often.  Now it was dinner time and while he sat at the table, impatient, confused and tired, I put together a meal as quickly as  possible and he ate, but not without the usual bathroom interruption which takes forever and sometimes requires  instructions.

At last, after his second bowl of ice cream,  he said he wanted to go to bed.  After I tucked him in,  I sat down on the sofa with a cup of coffee hoping that I wouldn’t hear those telltale footsteps upstairs that mean he’s up again.

Ten hours.


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18 Responses to The 12-Hour Day

  1. dianne says:

    Oh my…….Wish you could go dancing once in a while…..Hugs, dw

  2. Maureen says:

    Wow, I’m exhausted !!!

  3. Your love and patience is extraordinary. I take my hat off to you that you can write about this with such warmth and humour.

  4. Carolyn says:

    It’s painful and comforting to read about lives lived so similar to mine. I guess mostly comforting.

  5. Arleen Mildred Stolzenberger says:

    Nancy I feel for you. Just know it’s okay to lose patience. We can only take stress for so long before it takes a toll. I know from experience taking care of Bob through his surgery for cancer. the guilt for being. Impatient can be strong but you are there for Bo and showing your love, Stay strong and take time for yourself. Looking forward to the next Camp Nancy adventure.

  6. What an engaging account of your life as an Alzheimer’s wife. I had no idea what life was like for you and others. Stay strong, keep writing and making a difference!

  7. Monica Becker says:

    I am glad I found your blog. Smiled when I read about the ice cream and Oreos, now a nightly “surprise” routine for my 75 year old time traveller. We have a 14 year age difference, which didn’t matter much until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s….Best things I’ve done for myself and him was to look for HELP. He now attends an Adult Day Care Center, which he thinks is his new job & gives me much needed time alone. I joined the local YMCA & workout 3 times per week. Incredible difference in my ability to deal not only with him, but with my own feelings of gradual loss of the man I’ve loved for 28 years. It was not easy for me to ask for financial help or fill out the million forms required for both Caregiver respite and the Y, but I did it and it’s helping the almost constant worry re: MONEY. The Adult Day Center offers 2 free Caregiver Support Groups, which though brutal (The Spousal Group) are well run & I’ve learned a lot. In sickness and in health….hang in there and know you’re not alone. Peace.

    • Thanks so much for “finding” my blog and for reading it …. I really appreciate your comments. I think every one of us has a frustrating story to share as we move through this surreal disease with our loved ones.

  8. Lisa M says:

    This sounds exactly like a post I could have written any day these past 2 weeks. So glad I’m not the only one who serves 2 bowls of ice cream! As we’ve said before – there is magic and joy and 10 minutes peace in a bowl of ice cream! Mom just finished her 6th sit-down meal so far today. I just make her breakfast, lunch and dinner and serve her half, then serve the other half (microwaved) in an hour or 15 minutes or however long it takes for her to be “hungry” again!
    OH! And thank you for admitting that you sometimes go down that road of explanation even when you know it’s a mistake. I do the same thing and kick myself as soon as I’ve finished! Love reading your posts…they make me feel so very normal!!!

  9. Thanks so much for being there, Lisa.

  10. Phyllis Trachtenburg says:

    Nancy, Life can be so unexpected…and, yes, so unfair. I remember you in better days. As you know, not everybody can express deep feelings and experiences in writing. You have that gift. Know that you are helping so many in similar circumstances.

  11. dementedgirl says:

    12 hours is a long-time in the Alzheimer’s world, and not a stretch I would ever do with MIL if I could avoid it… Well done you for getting through!

  12. Charlotte Guarino says:

    Let’s not forget John. Without h im you would be out of your mind completely by now. How you continue to get through this I’ll never know, but God Bless You.

  13. Lisa M says:

    Hi Nancy – I wish I could find a perfect place or way to share this, but I can’t, so I’m leaving it as a comment and hoping you see it!
    I have nominated you for a VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER award. Not sure if you accept or display awards like this, but I was asked to pass it on and you immediately came to mind. I always find inspiration in your stories. I look forward to reading your words.
    Feel free to see your nomination at
    And thank you again for sharing your journey…Lisa

  14. Pingback: Liebster Award – and Honorable Mentions | OSuzyQuilts, Free-motion Quilting and Meanderings

  15. Oh, Lisa, what a lovely, lovely thing to do. I have considered myself so fortunate to have found you and your blog! You’ve inspired me in a number of ways, including doing more writing. Thank you. (Yes, I would be thrilled to “accept and display.”

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