Posted 11/12/21…hmmmm 1,1,1,2,2,1,
“Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.” Zechariah 11:12-3
If you have read my blog for at least 2 days, you may have noticed that I am a number nerd. I always have been. I think it started in 5th grade as we really began to do things with numbers beyond learning them and also started doing some basic drills. Mrs. Whitlow, my favorite teacher (although I had many close 2nds), was patient with me beyond measure. That year was also the year my parents got a divorce, so it was a somewhat challenging year for me anyway, so Mrs. Whitlow’s wonderful care was and is still very beloved in my heart. To keep myself busy that year, one of my favorite things to do was to find dates in history and calculate, long-hand, how many years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds it had been since some interesting event had happened. While I will grant you (and my skeptical wife) that drilling down to seconds is quite impossible, I figure if I am super close we can commemorate said event anyway. (Note: as I have already mentioned, my 1 billionth second wedding anniversary comes in mid-July 2022, to the skepticism and slight dismay of my wife). It may be part fun, part coping mechanism, and part searching for entertainment, but I love to fiddle with numbers.
My incessant love of numbers has also taught me/prepared me a bit for my life today and may inform us a bit on dementia caregiving. (Junk drawer rattling sounds…where is that shoehorn? Ahhh…here it is next to the special turkey leg cooking clips and the small scale Pinta, Nina and a broken Santa Maria!”) Here is how:
Several Ways Blog Boy’s Number Neuroses Explains Dementia
1. Numbers matter– Despite my wife’s insistence that, since we can’t know what second we were married, our 1 Billionth second anniversary is hallow at best and moot at worst, I see it as a symbolic testimony to us surviving over 31 years (nearly 32 at the time of the billionth second ) and thriving. In a culture where marriage is less constant, I am proud of mine. In dementia, while numbers don’t matter so much, looking back does. You may be surprised (and may not be) that folks with dementia can often remember waaaaaaaaay back to when they got their first TV or when they got married much better than they remember where they put their false teeth 10 minutes ago. Memories of second number 1.5 Billion may be easier to recall than one hundred seconds ago. Long-held memories stick better for them. This is very important if you want to spend quality time. At the early stage, we used to break out the high school yearbooks and mom would tell us all about the old days, with some decent accuracy all things considered. Let your loved one have memory victories on these old ones. Don’t correct them…just love them like they are. As a side note with attached parental trigger alert, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, mom was the first girl at her school to ever shimmy up the rope the couple dozen feet to the ceiling of the high school gym. Those kids were not snowflakes. 😉
1. Perspectives matter-When you are playing with numbers and looking for patterns, sometimes you need more information. Today’s date seems to have the potential to fit into a nice number pattern. 11/12/21…or 1,1,1,2,2,1_…according to the most obvious pattern, the next number could be a one again, eh? (1,1,1,2,2,1,1). However, if you step back a bit and let it run its course, you may see it differently. It could be 1,1,1,2,2,1,1,1,2,2,2,1,1,1,2,2,2,2 or maybe 1,1,1,2,2,1,0,0,0,1,1,0 or even 1,1,1,2,2,1,5280, 1,1,1,2,2,1,5281. The pattern doesn’t always have to be predictable or make sense, if you will… Just step back and appreciate it for what it is. 🙂 Same with communicating with your loved one with dementia. I am NOT saying to NOT TRY to make sense of everything they say in the mid-stage and end-stage…not at all…but do try and also try to see the beauty and complexity either way whether it always makes sense or is accurate or not. Correcting is worthless. WORTHLESS. At best it doesn’t work and at worse it hurts their feelings. This is a hard exercise, not unlike playing with numbers. It shouldn’t be flippant or silly…it should instead be drenched with love and empathy. I have always tried to understand. I don’t intentionally make face gestures like I don’t. I don’t ask for clarification. If it is a question cadence, I try to answer, as best I can. If it is a expository cadence, I usually agree unless their face implies I should disagree. Stand back (mentally) and look as best you can…and love them with your best effort.
1. Routine brings comfort– 1,1,1,2,2,1,1,1 is comfortable. It is predictable. 1,1,1,2,2,1,Eleph@nt, 1,1,1,2,2,1,Eleph@nt is also a patterned sequence…but it is NOT comfortable. Why is there an animal in with my numbers and what about that @ symbol for the A??? It gives me a he@d@che. Such is the life of folks with dementia. Far from just being annoyed at variables being thrown in their pattern, they struggle with processing them. They may (and often do) act out when they are quickly thrust from their routine. While it is necessary, and sometimes the “correct” pattern involves p@chyderms , empathize and limit them as much as you can, knowing deviations bring challenges and heartache.
2. Today’s most likely sequence, 1,1,1,2,2,1,1, reminds me of a bad walking cadence…almost hopscotchy…almost. 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2 is how we walk… If skipping, we could 1,1,2,2,1,1,2,2. Cadence in walking for folks that may be developing dementia can be a warning sign…and it will certainly degrade as the disease progresses. Many doctors and neurologists will have the patient walk to see their gait. Fall prevention before, during, and in later dementia is soooo important too…watch for trip hazards. What used to be a simple 1,2,1,2,1,2,1 may very well be not automatic any more. Such a terrible disease! 🙁
2. Little side note– …I am not sure how the little characters of our sequence got associated with going potty, but 1s and 2s got that short straw. Toileting is a huge issue in dementia. Inability to do so by one’s self is a marker for progressing between stages for some stage models. Challenges helping in this matter are natural and very hard. I have to refer you to experts in this matter because I was never mom’s primary person in this. Here are a few great videos: LINK LINK LINK and LINK . Empathy and love will be required in extreme measures. Last toilet topic is UTIs and the like and constipation. Remember to always be on the alert for these biggies because not catching them can cause discomfort, acting out, dementia-like symptoms, and infection/sepsis/etc. One of the leading causes of death to folks with dementia is infection…so be sure this is addressed early and often.
1. What you like now may change– I have always loved numbers. I have always found sequences where there may not be obvious one, I have always seen numbers in things, and I have always liked to count…even in my marriages seconds… Therefore, when I got to college I figured that numbers may just be my thing…until Calculus proved me otherwise. I still like them, I just don’t actively play with numbers for a living. 🙂 Food choices in folks with dementia fall into the same category. I used to write all the time about mom’s new and odd eating preferences and methods. It seems common for tastebuds to change. There is a more pronounced craving for sweets and for coffee, for one. Just be aware of this and try new things…and help them watch their weight because it would sure be nice to avoid substantial weight gain and the co-morbidities associated with that.
Wowza…the number of seconds I can dedicate to our little, odd discussion today are used up. I hope you have a great weekend and look forward to seeing you again on Monday. 🙂 Keep fightin’ to #endALZ in the meantime. 🙂
Update; Mom was super sleepy in my 15 minutes allotted to me yesterday. We also found out that they are having a terrible time with her clothes and want specified clothes that are more suited for removal….so we are working on redoing her wardrobe. Good times…
Editor’s note: I interchangeably used the words “pattern” and “sequence” and sometimes even called them a patterned sequence. They are actually different and some will be annoyed by my misuse. I am ok with that. You say “Mr. Potato Head”, I say “yam”. It’s 2021…words seem to no longer mean what they used to half of the time anyway…might as well join in and buy a T-shirt while you are at it. 🙁
A couple more things for number goobers like me:
First a website…sooooooo fun. https://www.wolframalpha.com/ This website is fun for people like me and those are don’t even really like numbers. Give it a peek.
Also a few fun videos:
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple Update: I will get back on the trail/track/treadmill tomorrow. I have had to take a while off recovering from a migraine. I know…it sounds like an excuse. I am hitting the ground hard Saturday 🙂 June 2022 I have back-to-back 37 mile runs down the trail…more details coming ad nauseam quite soon. 🙂
Last thoughts- My first crush was a girl, against whom I fought tooth-and-nail in two primary gladiator arenas: Tetherball and Math drills at the chalkboard. While she came out the victor more times than not, I am sure it was because she cheated. 😉
Also…I have a Bible verse at the beginning of every piece that is tied numerically to the date. Some are more relevant than others…but all are super cool. The Bible wasn’t written numerically…there were no chapters and verses…they were added centuries later to help us. Be skeptical of folks who tie chapter and verse numbers to things…they are typically stretching at best and wolves at worst.