There was no anticipation of drama when I received the lovely invitation to a garden birthday party for a friend. It included Hubby, but I RSVP’d that I would attend alone. He might have enjoyed it, but I would have been concerned as to what inappropriate topics he might decide to expound upon, and gave myself the gift of an evening with friends – unaccompanied.
The party was held on a Wednesday night, when Violet is usually off duty as she goes to her church, and usually she arranges a substitute worker to come to our home. She had a problem finding someone available and kindly offered to go to her church the following evening, at a great distance, in order to remain at home and stay with Hubby. So far, so good.
My departure at 6:30PM, still daylight, went smoothly. Hubby barely noticed I was leaving. I could not promise exactly what time I would return.
The evening wound down about 9:30 PM and friends gave me a ride home. As we entered my neighborhood, I received a phone call from Violet:
“Mr. Diamond has a knife. What time will you come home?”
“Why does he have a knife?”
“He wants to kill your boyfriend….”
“But I don’t have a boyfriend!”
“When will you be home?”
“I am arriving now…be there in three minutes!”
Concerned about what I might find when I returned home, I asked the husband of the couple who drove me home to please come with me to possibly help diffuse the situation. It never dawned on me that Hubby might think that this was the boyfriend… oops.
Upon entering, we discovered Hubby sitting in a chair with his tan leather gloves on his hands (on a day with a high of 100 degrees F.) Tucked in the right glove was a knife, with only the handle exposed. Violet told me that when he announced that he wanted to get a knife she sprinted to the kitchen to hide the large sharp ones. He could not move quickly on his own. When he arrived, he could only locate a dinner knife in the cutlery drawer. That apparently satisfied his need.
Violet asked me if I had seen the video that she had sent me. I had not. Below is a transcript of the videoed conversation between her and hubby just minutes earlier:
“What are you going to do with the knife?” Violet inquired.
“I am going to kill him!’
“Whoever it is! Whoever the guy is!”
“Who is the guy?”
“I don’t know! She has gone with a guy!”
“She is with her friend. It is a woman.”
“I know that. I know who it is. It is Susan.”
“You know it is Susan…so why are you holding the knife?”
“I won’t be ready for a discussion! I will need it with the other guy.”
“But maybe he is stronger than you. That is dangerous. He will call the police!”
“There is no such animal! “(author’s note: that was once true…. Hubby was a prize fighter and body builder… many years ago.)
“He will call the police…”
“Oh sure….” (a quite cocky response!)
“Maybe give it to me? I am going to hide it and give it back to you later.”
“Sure, sure…I will say to the man – hold on a second, I have to ask her to give me the knife back….”
Upon my return, the knife was relinquished but our thoughts spiraled as to what might have been. Had a substitute caregiver been with him, she would have been terrified by a man with a knife. She likely would have called the police and they would have possibly had Hubby arrested or put into a mental facility. Either would have been a nightmare beyond description.
My remaining hopes for a social life have been shaken. I decided not to go to an evening of comedy for charity as I would have to go out in the nighttime hours and Hubby would be frightened that I would not return. I decided not to go to the two-week-long annual arts and crafts festival just two minutes away in our neighborhood because it is open in the evening hours. I had to decline a dinner invitation with friends on a night when Violet was not working. How can I risk having someone new and inexperienced in charge of Hubby when I am not at home in the evening? Quite impossible.
My evening social activities are now limited to Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings when Violet can handle the stress of the lurking unknown that creeps into Hubby’s imagination. These days there is little enough opportunity to enjoy one’s self without a black out on four of the seven possible evenings in a week.
Welcome to the dementia spouse’s reality: Adjusting to the world of the irrational.
Eight Months Later
Another lovely invitation to friends for dinner, this time only a few doors away. This time Pinocchio’s nose became a bit longer as I told Hubby that I was going to my close friend who lives quite a distance away, so that he would know that I would be “safe” and hopefully he would not come looking for me in an hours-time.
I was careful to leave a note which told Hubby that I would return by 10 PM. That gave me a two-hour window to enjoy others and take a deep breath. These notes have become critical to avoid a panic response from Hubby who cannot remember how long I have been away. Night time brings its own fears from somewhere deep in the psyche and anything to alleviate negative reactions has become a necessity.
Returning at 5 minutes before my chariot would turn into a pumpkin (a la Cinderella), I encountered an angry beastie wielding a knife that he had grabbed from the table. It was a small knife… but still sharp and threatening. Our substitute aide advised me that she had already removed another knife from his grasp, which somehow, he managed to take from a kitchen drawer. She credited her training in the martial arts, although I thought that was an unnecessary requirement. Bear in mind that hubby is now very weak, quite thin and unstable on his feet. Hardly in need of a Bruce Lee approach!
The second knife had come from the dinner table and he had hidden it into the sleeve of his hoodie jacket just in case he should come face to face with “him” when “he” returned home with me. Hubby became incredibly upset and had decided that I did not keep my promise to return by 10 PM. The aide kept showing him my note, but he was in panic mode all the same. I was mostly concerned that the aide was not frightened, but this one was a “cool-cucumber” and was not thrilled by hubby’s behavior, but not panicked either.
The rest of the evening was a winding down process for us all. Hubby kept asking how “he” (the mysterious man in my life), had come into the house. I explained repeatedly that no one had entered the house but me, that the front door and the gate were locked and we were quite alone. Hubby finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
My thoughts are now more analytical than they have been in the past. How is it that Hubby has had the identical response eight months after the first similar incident? I will give this a great deal of thought and get back to you when I actually have the answer! This is definitely not a journey for the “faint of heart. “