Sorry for being away for so long without an explanation. Do you know the feeling of holding your breath in fear and trepidation? For days on end? Beloved not quite, but almost out of the blue, became very ill with Delirium. I’d never heard the word before, except possibly in the context of the adjective “deliriously” happy; in his case neither love nor drink were to blame. The problem is that there is still no cause to get hold of. If you have a cause, an underlying illness, then you cure the illness and thereby cure the condition.
It all started quite inoffensively with a tendency to fall asleep during the day, at any time, and staying asleep for hours. A bit strange, but nothing really to worry about, I thought; that’s what old men do. He was still himself in all other respects, perhaps a bit more forgetful than normal, a bit more absent-minded, but sweet and funny and even-tempered. It’s not exactly stimulating to watch someone sleep but there you are, if you can do nothing about it, you put up with it. After all, he was doing no harm. I thought. And it also gave me plenty of spare time to read and garden and pet the dog.
The need to sleep got worse and then he started to wake at night. Several times I found him dressed and drinking tea in the kitchen at three am. Still no cause for alarm, although this was really out of the ordinary. A mild worry surfaced. I know, I AM stupid. But I knew enough to see a doctor. I’d also worked out that the beginning of this strange period coincided with some new medication, three lots of new medication. Not in place of other medication, no, on top of other medication. What in the name of sanity do these doctors hope to cure with their ready prescription pads? Old age?
“Oh fine”, she said, “let’s stop one of them and see if that makes any difference.” Surely she must have realised that I was describing the symptoms of Delirium?
Now Beloved became confused enough to swap day for night, seriously disorientated and distressed when he couldn’t work out the simplest things. He also developed an amazingly active night life. He got up and got dressed because he had a film session booked - they were highly lucrative and not to be missed back in the day -, he was involved in the Russian Revolution, fighting on the side of the goodies by building a tramway up to the dock gates in St Petersburg - unfortunately he had to flee because the baddies caught up with him; he stayed at the Bridge Hotel where he was attending a conference and someone had left a turd in the corridor; when he saw me in the upstairs hall (in real life) he asked “do you have a room booked here too?” Another night he was running away from home, goodness knows what age he thought himself to be. And once he was in Sydney, Australia, at the Opera House, having to study an enormously difficult piece of music and being offered assistance by Australian pilots. First he welcomed their help, then realised that they too were baddies and he had to eliminate them. (I never trusted these Australians, you know).
There were many more of these vivid dreams, all very complex and making perfect sense; except they were fantasies.
And through it all, when he wasn’t asleep or showing signs of distressing confusion, he remained even-tempered and friendly, sweet and gentle, and when he managed to articulate complete sentences he spoke in his own, old-fashioned voice. Once I asked him if he knew where he was. “Not with any degree of certainty,” was the answer. My poor old thing. I was frantic with worry and fear.
Beloved had lost the plot but now I was on the case. We saw a new doctor who instantly struck several medications off the list, arranged for blood tests and X-rays, evaluated and assessed and became determined to solve the puzzle. He rang first thing in the morning and last thing at night, for several days running, showing quite extraordinary devotion to his patient. Still, no clear explanation emerged. Except possibly the medication.
Tomorrow we are visiting a special diagnostic clinic which will run further tests; perhaps they’ll come up with the solution.
In the meantime, for the last two days, Beloved has shown marked improvement. He is weary and weak, but seems to be back inside himself again; there’s someone 'at home' again. He still sleeps, but now to recover his strength rather than simply as a symptom of Delirium. He’s not completely aware of what happened and how frightening it was for me. Another good thing is that he has regained his appetite, which was pretty much non-existent for a while. Eating and drinking have become a pleasure rather than a chore to be got through with great reluctance.
Naturally, everything else has been on hold; all social engagements have been cancelled and I’ve hardly even felt the pain in my hip.
Wish us luck for tomorrow.