Note to Self: Mark Off Doña Quixote Check List Before Leaving House
Photo Credit: Shauna Robertson.
Doña Quixote is my name for my dementing self. During my ventures into the outside world this past week, she showed up rather frequently, as measured by my several lapses in preparedness related to my appearance and/or handbag paraphernalia:
- On Monday during a car trip with Peter, I left my car- and house keys in my other bag, so that, without Peter by my side, I could not open the trunk or car doors when I wanted to drop off a heavy shopping bag so that I did not have to carry it with me while completing my shopping; and back home, I could not fulfill my responsibility to open the door while Peter unloaded the heavy or breakable things from the car.
- On Tuesday, I forgot to charge my phone so that Peter and I had to pre-agree on a time and place to meet after our errands rather than call each other when we were done.
- On Wednesday, I remembered to charge my phone but forgot to put it back in my handbag. I also forgot to comb out my hair after it had dried flat on my head, still slicked in the fourth-grade-boy-just-out-of-the-shower style with which I tame it when still wet. In addition, I forgot to change out of my house shoes into my outdoor ones. I planned to go by bus, but at the last minute noticed that I did not have the right change. Peter did not have any either. I had to use my credit card, which costs $2.50 rather $1.25 in cash.
- On Thursday, I left the house with my apron on and only noticed it when I was about to go into the grocery store. I also unintentionally wore my tee-shirt inside out.
- On Friday, I left the house without the earrings I had put out right next to the necklace I had planned to wear. I did put on the necklace. I felt so undone that I bought a pair of cheap earrings at Name Droppers.
Oh, I hear you say, I have done exactly the same things many times. I hope, for the sake of your tranquility, that you don’t do one or more of them every day; or that these lapses aren’t piled on top of minute-by-minute inside-the-house memory lapses that make you knock yourself on the head, wring your hands, and doubt your identity. If you do, I hope you have not been rendered so insecure that you feel compelled to buy earrings because you forgot yours at home.
In my situation, these lapses are particularly stressful when they involve Peter. They create more annoyances for him to put up with—though, as always, he does so with grace and humor. That I am the one who cares most is evident from the fact that he does not notice the omissions that affect my appearance, though he is usually the one who discovers that my phone is not available or my keys missing. It is I who anguish about my personal appearance. Lapses in this department eat at the heart of who I am, even though I have always thought of myself as “the clever one” rather than “the pretty one.” While I have always tried for a put-together look in my personal and professional life, in previous times I would have shrugged off the little detail of not wearing earrings. On Friday, though, I felt extremely anxious about forgetting my earrings.
What to do about it? Today I am making a checklist to stick on the inside of the back- and front doors:
Mirror check: touch each of the following:
___ teeth brushed
___ no apron
___ medic alert bracelet
Handbag check: touch each of the following:
___ make-up touch-up baglet
___ incidentals baglet: make sure I have cough lozenges
___ asthma puffer
___ bus fare purse with correct change
___ snack for low blood sugar
___ shopping list
I am also making a checklist for outside the back door, where I always come in:
___ put phone in charger
___ refill incidentals baglet: cough lozenges, bandaids, lip ice
___ check tissues
Now all I have to do is remember to use the checklist!
May 13, 2016 @ 1:11 pm
I love your check list, great idea for everyone!
May 13, 2016 @ 1:26 pm
Thanks so much, Kathy. The trick is remembering to check it. I can’t see things right in front of my eyes these days. I was looking for some earrings, touched all my earrings looking for them, no go. Half an hour later I found them where I had already looked, exactly where they should be. Oh well–I have time, I’m retired! Looking forward to your visit, if it is still happening.
May 13, 2016 @ 1:12 pm
You are very brave Gerda. May you continue to battle and win. What an inspiring woman you are to the rest of us. God bless.
May 13, 2016 @ 1:28 pm
Thanks so much for your supportive comments, Madonna. I wish you everything of the best in your own health and the rest of your life.
May 14, 2016 @ 7:07 pm
Thanks for doing this. Dementia runs in my family, and I am exactly your age. It sometimes worries me. I look forward to reading your posts. You are very brave to share your experience.
May 14, 2016 @ 9:07 pm
Dear Carolyn,I’m sorry to hear that you have already made the acquaintance with dementia in your family. I’m also sorry to hear that you are worried–but of course you would be. I don’t have any magic words, but I do want to say that if you should want to consult your doctor and have memory tests done, you have to know that YOU WILL NEVER QUALIFY FOR LONGTERM CARE INSURANCE if you have any such tests in your medical records. So if you are thinking about going to the doctor and if you can afford it, look into longterm insurance before you go. As for being brave, you may want to see what i wrote about that in a previous blog, “What does it mean to be “brave” when you have dementia?” Thanks so much for being in touch. I hope that my writing will be helpful to you–that is my only goal:to help lift some of the fear and stigma by talking about my own situation. I wish you and yours everything of the best.