We have all heard the phrase “Elephant in the room” and know that it means there is something we are refusing to acknowledge even though it is larger than life and taking up tons of space. This blog is about the Gorilla in the Room and my Hero.
One of the things that comes with Alzheimer’s is hallucinations. I have never had a hallucination in my life and had no idea of what it would be like and really no expectations of ever having one. Since I had not experienced such a thing, I guess I thought perhaps it would not be one of those things I would ever have to cope with during this time in my life.
I could not have been more wrong. I had my first one and, Dear God, I pray it was my last. I have blogged about many things other that Eo-A, but my focus now will be on my present adventures with this disease.
I had not been sleeping well at all. I would go several nights with just 10 to 15 minute catnaps. Then after 5-7 nights I would go into a very deep sleep and sometimes sleep around the clock, plus. The doctor and my daughter had been working together to come up with a combo of meds and natural remedies to help me get restful sleep. It was finally working. I was sleeping for 8-10 hours and awaking refreshed.
I awakened one morning at 2:17. I looked at the clock and groaned. I thought, “Here we go again”. Then, I realized I had to go to the bathroom and that was what had woke me up. For several months, I had been afraid of the dark. Prior to the ALZ diagnosis, we had black out curtains and my husband had to cover his landing strip of tech lights on his desk or I could not sleep. The least bit of light woke me up like the sunshine in the morning streaming through a window. I needed total ‘night’ to sleep. Now? Battery operated lanterns and candles in every room, a lighted essence oil steamer, and plug in night lights in every room has been the order of the night. As I started to sit up, I saw IT!
One my desk across the room, sat a huge gorilla holding a torch. He filled my entire desk and the torch was like the ones you see on the wall in caves. I screamed. The scream woke my husband faster than lights and sirens filling the room could have. He was on his feet and beside me in an instant. I pointed to the gorilla, with terror making my hand shake.
He looked and said, “What?”
“There!” I said with tears streaming down my face.
“There what?” He asked puzzled. I could feel him looking from me to where the gorilla sat.
“That huge gorilla on my desk!” I shouted.
“Babe, you’re sleeping. It’s just a nightmare. Just relax. And you’ll not see it.”
“I am not sleeping. I have to go to the bathroom but I’m too afraid to move!”
I think it was at this point that I realized I wasn’t really being threatened by this huge beast. It was just sitting there looking at me and waving the torch ever so slightly. About the same time, I believe my beloved figured out what was happening, too.
He turned on the lamp and said, “Is he still there?”
He then stepped between me and the desk. “Can you still see him?”
“Okay, you go to the bathroom. I will stand right here and make sure you are safe. When you come back, if he’s still here, I will stand here all night between you it so you can sleep.”
Feeling reassured, I went to the bathroom. I was afraid to walk back into the room, but went anyway, knowing my hero would protect me. As I entered the room, I saw my hubby still standing where I left him, staring straight at my desk. I looked at my desk and it was empty. I sagged with relief. I wrapped my arms around my husband and thanked him for vanquishing that beast. I adore my hubby, my hero, my best friend.
That was a total hallucination, but during that few moments in time, the terror was real. There really was a huge gorilla sitting on my desk, staring at me when I woke up. I will never forget his dark shiny eyes and the torch he moved back and forth, non-threatening in and of itself, but still terrifying.
If you have been diagnosed with Eo-A or ALZ, please remember hallucinations may come but you will get through it intact. It will not feel like it in the moment, but it will pass. If someone you love has this horrible disease, please be kind, empathetic and patient with them. Be their Hero!