Ch. 8. “Showtime.”
In our book club the book of the month was The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is about a family that immigrates to America from India. Pat proceeded to make several thoughtful comments on the conflicts immigrants face as they try to adapt to their new country’s habits and mores. No confusion. No unfinished ideas. It was as if Lewy Body had decided to take a coffee break.
People in the Lewy Body community label this kind of experience as “showtime.” They note that people with Lewy Body try to look as good as possible before an audience such as friends and family. This takes lots of energy since Lewy Body is being suppressed for a while. Later, that individual will probably need to rest and might even temporarily display more Lewy Body symptoms (or maybe not, Pat adds.)
I don’t like the term “showtime” becomes it implies that people with Lewy Body are doing something different than others. I’d say almost everyone tries to look their best in front of friends, family, and in public. I applaud my wife’s ability to rise above her symptoms for however long she can. In fact, I treasure those moments because they help me maintain the bridge between the Pat I married and the Pat of today (Both of whom I love dearly).
I think the term “showtime” developed because this temporarily improved behavior creates a problem for caregivers. If friends and family (and doctors) only see someone with Lewy Body at their best they may very well underestimate what the person with Lewy Body and caregiver are experiencing. For example, one of my friends in my caregiver support group continually heard from family members that she was exaggerating her father’s symptoms in order to gain sympathy. “Oh, yeah,” she replied, “Then you come over here for a few days and see what’s it’s really like.” Indeed, a couple of her siblings did exactly that. “Now I understand, and I apologize,” said one sister.
Here’s the phrase I prefer to showtime: “peak performance.” I wish Pat many, many more peak performances.
“Showtime” from Pat’s perspective:
Showtime may refer to someone who has Lewy Body but is doing exceptionally well doing or explaining something that some people might expect and others might not. When I am doing this I am simply functioning as me. When I’m at my best that’s who I am. When I’m not at my best that’s who I am too. When I retreat from a discussion or pick up a book to read a page I’m taking myself out of being in showtime. I don’t have to do everything right. I’m taking a minute for myself
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