Ch.61 Pat has a Second Syncope Episode – but Doesn’t Remember It.
It’s 8 a.m. and Pat has risen to start the day. I hear her exiting the bedroom, but I can sense something’s wrong. I look up just as she begins to sag against the wall. Fortunately, I reach her in time to set her down gently on the floor. Pat’s eyes have rolled up and she’s unconscious. But not for long. Within a minute she opens her eyes and she is able to respond a little to my urgent inquiries. Having lived through a previous episode, I recognize that she’s had a syncope event, fairly common with Lewy Body, in which someone suddenly and dramatically loses consciousness but soon recovers.
That’s not the end of our misadventure, though. First, because Pat has arthritis, she has difficulty getting off the floor. As always, she soon devises a plan of operation and eventually reaches our bed, gripping the mattress for leverage. But then, thirty minutes later, she falls again although this time she doesn’t lose consciousness. Finally, Pat rests in bed for a couple hours, until I suggest she arise for lunch in the dining area.
I like to talk over the events of the day, especially when they’ve been stressful. So, as I sit down with Pat to eat lunch, I mention that it certainly has been a tough start to the day. “Why?” Pat asks. Somehow, she has obliterated all this morning’s events, both the syncope episode and her later fall.
Although Pat’s memory does fail on occasion, she hasn’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and short-term memory loss hasn’t been especially evident. Pat might forget the time we saw the waterfall in the middle of Hong Kong a decade ago but that’s certainly not the same as forgetting this morning’s near disasters. Even when I tried to prompt her memories nothing happened. Pat did remember, though, the first time she fainted like this, several months ago; You may recall from a previous episode of this journal that I called 911 then and we were visited by a rescue squad.
I don’t know what to make of all this. Given our training as counselors it’s easy to believe that Pat immediately erased these relatively traumatic events, eliminating them before they had a chance to reach long-term memory centers (or repressed them after they did reach those areas). An alternative is that Pat’s Lewy Body symptoms are worsening and reaching deeper into her ability to absorb new information. Maybe both.
This unexpected development has heightened one awareness of mine. I would really miss the experience of talking things over with my wife if Pat could not respond to our mutually lived memories, recent or long ago. Especially recent memories. I think I will ask my friend Richard, whose wife has Alzheimer’s Disease, how he handles this situation. What does he feel when Judy cannot recall a recent conversation? How does he deal with his need to process their physically shared but mentally no longer shared memories?
Pat’s comments on Pat has a Second Syncope Episode – but Doesn’t Remember It.
“Ron, I have to take your word this happened, but I don’t remember it at all.”