One of the early challenges with Randy, after being diagnosed with a form of dementia, was the fact that while his brain was fighting a disease, initially his body was as strong and healthy as ever. He still looked strong, tall and handsome. This then added to the confusion of people who 'saw' the old Randy but knew something was terribly amiss if they attempted a conversation. This also added to my stress when out in public with him because no one expected him to do, say, or act out the way he did, explanations were always awkward but needed.
Not recognizing friends and family, and lack of judgment in social settings were only a couple of the symptoms. Soon he began to display some obsessive compulsive behavior. He still wanted to watch his favorite Dallas sports teams so I would make sure I checked the schedule and found it on TV for him. It was a peaceful break for me because I did not have to be on guard duty. He, however, developed a little routine that had to be adhered to each and every time he was sitting in his favorite chair in the family room. He must have three glasses of water and three bowls with snacks in them. It couldn't be two or four glasses or bowls...it had to be three. I always prepared these for him because if I did not he would get into the toothpicks, raw eggs, he even found some broken glass one time, and put these in the bowls for his snacks. The constant monitoring was draining to say the least and I had to eventually resort to putting locks on all of the cupboards and refrigerator.
He began to walk around our kitchen table or the backyard pool in circles counting or I should say, trying to count to 100. He also waved at our backyard lighting fixture saying it was somebody and would go out to it during the day and talk to it and sometimes reach up and kiss it. I tried once to question him about it but the agitation it produced was not worth it.
I can barely describe the despair and grief that tried to consume me as I watched this strong, healthy, handsome man turn into a childlike image of himself. I missed talking to him about our family, about ministry, and about our plans for the future.
He looked the same...but he was not the same! I cried myself to sleep most nights.