We never had another evening quite as bad as the one described in PART I. The Sundowning continued despite adjustments to medications and the men in trench coats with guns arrived every evening around sundown until I made a decision without the doctors.
Sitting at the dining room table one day I told my husband we needed to talk. That we had something very important to discuss and he needed to listen to me carefully as I explained. I told him how much I loved him and how I wanted more than anything for him to be healthy and without stress. I asked him to confirm for me that he knew how much I loved him, which he did. I told him that what I was about to say would be hard to deal with but was the absolute truth and he needed to believe me, he agreed to listen. I explained that there was a movie made recently called A BEAUTIFUL MIND. It was a true story about a brilliant physicist who suffered from schizophrenia and would see men in trench coats with guns that no one else could see. This man was so brilliant and had such a strong mind that he eventually overcame schizophrenia enough that when the images would appear he could tell them to get lost and to not bother him anymore.
I told my husband he had a beautiful mind. That I was telling him this because I believed that he was just as strong and had as powerful a mind as the physicist. I asked him if he believed me, he said he did. It was a solemn moment. He accepted what I had told him.
I had previously arranged with my brother-in-law to be available by phone so my husband could talk to him about what I had just told him. His brother had had similar experiences when on medication in the hospital after having surgery. He had thrown things at the nurses when he thought bad guys with guns were ambushing him on a street they were both familiar with in New York city. This was very helpful. His brother is one person my husband always said would never lie to him.
I had also arranged with a neighbor to talk to my husband about her experience with what medication can do to a person’s mind. She is a retired surgical nurse who had suffered from extreme anxiety for years. She was wonderful in her generosity to us.
From that day on the bad guys were not a problem. We made an agreement that he would tell me if he saw something unusual, even a dog, so I could tell him if it was real. For a short time, maybe a few weeks, I would occasionally see him turn his head slowly as I was wheeling him in his chair. I would ask if he was seeing something. He would say, “Yes, do you see it?” I would say, “No, it’s not there. Just tell it to go away.” He would accept that. Soon they didn’t appear anymore. It was like a miracle. I was so proud of him and would remind him how brilliant he was. It must have been so hard.
P.S. You may think that you’ve read this post before and that’s because it’s one of the first to appear on my blog. Over the next few weeks, as we move through the autumn months, I will be revisiting other posts that I hope will bring you comfort and insight during this time.