Thursday, April 17, 2008

Conversations with H

I've posted here many times about the dementia and delusions that H has. His Dr. once told me that even if they control his HIV, his dementia can get worse, much worse.

It is. And it is getting harder to have a sane conversation. While he's been a bit slow and bizarre for years now, I could usually count on at least a few cogent moments during the average day and the average conversation. This the case less and less now.

H used to be interested in what I would call conspiracy theories - you know, aliens mate with members of the white upper class to cement their control over the rest of us. He would tell me, we would discuss and sometimes laugh and giggle at it.

Last night, when we were talking about one of these theories, I commented on how sad I thought it was that "conspiracy theorists" look at a set of circumstances and derive the most paranoid view when any number of things could actually be happening. He exploded and accused me of calling him a liar and that these so-called theories are backed up by facts: Eisenhower really did meet with the aliens in the 50's, we have their advanced technology but the government keeps it a secret, and that HIV is a government plot to rub out gays and other minorities. Maybe true, maybe not. But I didn't call him a liar.

I tried to explain to him that we were talking past one another; he didn't get that. And that is not surprising: he doesn't really know me anymore because he hardly sees me…I’m either at work or he's sleeping all the time. "That's because we're not having sex anymore," he says.

He again threatened to buy a gun and "blow his brains out" unless we started having sex again. Sigh. I explained that consenting adults is plural and that I no longer consent. Besides, having your partner threaten suicide gets me all hot, how about you? I told him that threats like that are emotionally abusive and that I won't tolerate it anymore (I've said this before). Later, we're watching Alien (the movie) on TV and just as the first set of carnage begins, he said, "At least you can find it in your heart to give me a hand job." Uhhh….

We have a pet that is very, very noisy. Noisy enough to cause hearing damage (really). It is H's pet and so I've told him that either it quiets down or it has to go: I love the pet, but I'm not willing to go deaf. Just not a fair tradeoff. This has now become, "You can't stand X. You've never liked X; I know that you've always hated him, been jealous of how much time and love I spend with him." Uhhhh, no, I just don't want to lose my hearing any faster than I am.

And it goes on from giving a sales person a hard time about something stupid (they donate your old appliances to charity and get a tax break from that and so we should get a better price on a new appliance) to compulsively printing out web pages on aliens and marking them up as though studying for a college final exam.

The real cause of my pain is my expectation, my overwhelming need to have a complex & reasonable conversation with this man…like we used to. So not the case. It is a big loss for me, plain and simple. And I'm very sad for both of us.

The reality is that he is losing his mind and is becoming, if not already is, a crazy person. As long as I think about it in this way…and kindly patronize him like you would a doddering relative or a fantasizing child…there is peace in our house (although I have HUGE amounts of cognitive and emotional dissonance). But as soon as I try to relate to him as the adult he used to be, it fails and yelling often ensues.

No wonder they call dementia the long goodbye.

1 comment:

Y | O | Y said...

As I've said, trying to be rational with someone suffering from dementia isn't rational at all! It's enough to drive you crazy!!!

Not being able to reason with them is what causes me the most frustration. We are entering into a phase of paranoia here, too.

"The long goodbye" is really the "long, frustrating, and painful goodbye."

Hang in there. I know it isn't easy.