Monday, September 3, 2012

at the store

There is no winning for either of us at the store.  

Since A’s balance is bad, he pushes the cart.  Since his proprioception is not so hot, either, he steers real clear of obstacles.  This means if there is someone up ahead, he stops about halfway down the aisle so as not to bump into them. Won’t move til they move.  (I won’t even go into the problems with the mid-aisle displays in the grocery store.)  At the head of an aisle, turning corners, this slowing down and hanging back is inevitable.  It just takes way longer.

Because some of his side vision is obstructed due to previous brain hemorrhages, he likes to walk behind me, not next to me.  I think he also likes to walk behind me so he knows where to go, though he denies this.  Because he has dementia, in addition to first paragraph issues, he goes really really slowly.  R-e-a-l-l-y.   S-l-o-w-l-y.

I also think he gets way overstimulated with lights and displays and people.  This adds to his confusion and further slows him down.

The problem is pacing.  He is proud of the fact that, as he says, “I am never in a hurry.”  Unstated words are, “ you are all the time.”   Yet as slowly as I might go in the store, he goes slower.  And since he keeps me ahead of him, I do not know if he is keeping up or is back in the reeds unless I constantly look behind me.  On purpose, sometimes, I slow down to allow him time to catch up with me.  He just slows down, too.  I can be practically crawling down the aisle, and he can be found stopped in his tracks, halfway back, waiting for me to start moving again.  Yet, according to A., I am speeding through the store with no consideration for him and his more leisurely pace of life.  

If I am not in his eyesight up ahead, he is lost.  If I round the aisle to the next one (which is the exact wrong spot to stand and wait) and he is not right behind me, he stops dead at the end of the aisle and has no idea what to do next.  This is interpreted as my inconsiderately leaving him behind.

I thought I had cracked the code when I started to hold on to the end of the cart.  Not to pull, unless he was doing one of those “stop mid aisle so the object 12 yards down doesn’t  pose a bumping hazard” moves.  Most of the time, it seemed to be a perfect solution in that I knew where he was, he could see me, and we could get out of the store in less than 45 minutes after buying 10 items.  However, that is “treating me like a child”, and therefore not acceptable.

The secondary problem is frustration.  On both our parts.  By the time we are halfway through the store with my being expected to have eyes in the back of my head and his needing to go unreasonably slow, I often am actively talking to myself in an attempt to not run like mad out of the store, get in the car and drive to Oklahoma to start a new life.  He, on the other hand, is equally frustrated--feeling that I am whizzing him through the store in an unkind and unreasonable way.

I have attempted to talk about this with A. so many times.  The most recent time was today.  I explained that if I cannot see him, I cannot know how to go at his pace.  I asked him if he could help me to go his pace by walking alongside me.  He complied, but not without Attitude.  The very next store we went into (this was errand day), it was as if we never had that conversation at all.  

I do go shopping by myself.  Often.  But he needs to get out, too.  He likes to see the world, cruise the aisles, choose his own 5 food groups (ice cream, oreos, vodka, donuts and ice cream).  Often, it is on the shopping trips just for his faves that we have this trouble.   ...And so far I have not yet been able to persuade the manager to have all his favorite items on the same shelf in the front of the store right by the check out stand.

Anyone else experienced the "at the store crazies”?  Did you find a solution??  

or....Does anyone know how to start fresh in Oklahoma?



  1. Oh dear, I know the slow walking is another symptom of dementia, but all the other stuff sounds so hard.
    My heart is there for you.

  2. Love your spiderweb - had to start by saying that. I was going to suggest you only go to the store to get the few things he wants, but you're already doing that. I never go to the store with my husband. We each go separately, but I'm not looking forward to the day when he's not able to go it alone. I have no idea what I will do other than try, such as you are, to not drive to OK to start a new life ~

  3. I started reading your blog in about July...I read every single post. When I read it, I was in a deep depression. We aee in our 60s nd my mother had passed away the year before. We lost our daughter when she was 31--14 years ago on Aug.20th. I was not in a good place after having Mama a the nursing home and trying to be there for hr so much, and then she fell and aad to have surgery om her leg, and the surgery messed up her esophagu ahd h only lived 12 more days. At 96. her mnd was still sharp and we were able to talk and have good conversations when I stayed at the hospital wit her. Anyway, I hd goten to the point that I did nt want to go anywhere or see anyone, b when I read your blog--I gotmup and go in the shower and went with my husband to play music with him with some frienhds. He was so pleased and surprised...and yI have pushd to go ever since--even if I want to stay home. You really made me realize what I have left, and I don't know how long anyone has left to live their lives for whatever may come--but I don't want to miss what I do have!Thanks for writing this blog--it was wake-up call for me. B

  4. Sorry, my computer died, and I am working on a little tablet and omscreen keyboard--which is not a good thing for arthritic fingers.
    The B at the end was supposed to be blessing. hope are coming your way--I think you are an amazing persom, Mike.

    1. I am wondering how you are, Bluebird. Such a difficult story you told--about your mother and your daughter. I am constantly awed by the losses we somehow manage to bear. When you replied, I was on my way for a two week time-out--and then coming home was full of challenges, and, well, you know how time just gets away from you when you have someone to care for. I am hoping you continue to think about what you have left, and that you are still trying not to miss the days you have in this life. I am truly sorry for your losses. And I hope you are learning and growing and playing music and taking in the world. Blessings back. ;o)

  5. One of my favorite stories of my father in laws struggle with dementia had us all laughing for years. One morning as my mother in law went through her daily chores, he piped up and said,"You come here all the time, does your husband mind?" It's a case of laugh or cry.