The Cold-Plate Supper

Sometimes Lewy Body can be funny and interesting. Mary has the version of REM sleep disorder  in which the caree acts out the dream after waking, rather than during REM.

Today I returned home at 3:30 after an hour’s visit with a neighbor. Mary was resting on the couch, but had obviously been very busy. She told me that she had just returned from the store (she hasn’t driven in 2 years) with some macaroni and potato salads, and cold cuts, as she was planning on having a cold plate supper. Her parents were coming up (they’ve been dead for years), the “kids” were coming over (they weren’t – they have a farm and stable to attend to) and we were all going to have this supper.

The table was laid out for six, all very formal withthe good plates,  butter knives, cloth napkins, a lazy susan loaded with appetizers (the stale, limp, saltless potato chips Mary loves) and some mayo to dip them in. She had placed two pounds of frozen peas in a pot, and pared three huge russets, cut them up and put them in a pot. She was just waiting for me to turn the gas on (it’s shut off when no one is here). She had taken out a stack of Stouffer’s frozen dinners (her nightly choice for dinner) and set them on the counter; they were apparently the main courses.

I tried to talk her out of making dinner for six, but no luck. She was like a robot. Just shuffling here and there, getting this dinner ready, still in a dream state. I did insist the Stouffer’s go back n the freezer. She wanted to cook them all, and I asked what she would do with them if no one came to her supper. “Just refreeze them.”  Not. At about 5 she began cooking the potatoes and peas. I dished up a bowl for myself while they were still recognizable as peas, and she let the rest cook for a l-o-n-g time. Eventually, she took out a spaghetti dinner for herself and asked me how to get the pasta out. I said to just cook it and toss it later. Okay. When it was done:

“Okay, Mary, I’ve taken out the spaghetti and you can put your potatoes in with the meatballs.”

“Did you save any spaghetti for me?”

“You said you wanted to throw it out. I set it aside .”

“I don’t want the potatoes; I want the spaghetti.”

“Okay, I’ve put the spaghetti back in with the meatballs.”

Mary proceeded to take the container and scrape the spaghetti into the garbage. She decided to have potatoes and peas, and we finished our meal. At this point, she seemed to have come out of the dream state, and to realize no one was coming to her “cold plate supper.” She seemed not the least disappointed and had probably forgotten what the whole thing was about, anyway. She returned all the plates and utensils to their places and went back to her couch (which I had just finished making up, having had to change the sheets, towels and pads on it twice today).

Just another fun day in the twilight zone.


9 thoughts on “The Cold-Plate Supper

  1. Avatar of LilianaLiliana


    Thanks for sharing, this is very interesting. I have to admit I couldnt stop laughing as I was reading this, for some time I was sleep walking and I probably was acting like her except no one was witnessing it. Hope tomorrow is a better day!

  2. kristin

    Liliana, I’m glad it brought some light into your day. I know you can use it!

    Thinking of you,


  3. Avatar of KathyKathy

    Oh Kristin,

    What an interesting supper!
    Boy, when Lewy gets it’s mind set on something it sure doesn’t let go, does it?

    At least the situation was civil and Mary didn’t get upset that nobody came. That’s a whole other set of problems.

    So the upside of this is, she prepared supper for you and cleaned up?
    Lewy never does anything physical here ;-)

  4. Trish

    Kristen, I enjoyed this post and was very pleased at how civil Mary was. That has to be progress (or at least a nice break from the usual trouble she gives you). I wonder what dinner will be tomorrow? :-)

  5. kristin

    The civil thing was a surprise for me. But she is very civil to outsiders, and she was in the entertaining mode, so I was, for a time, a guest. Bear in mind that she was on autopilot – kind of creepy, really, very robotic. Kathy, maybe part of the difference between Mary and Hubby is the gender. Mary has been used to doing things around the house all her life – only problem is that now she doesn’t know how to do any of those things really properly and hasn’t the strength, being so frail. Had I not been there, those peas and potatoes would have been charred. She will sit in a house full of smoke and not even notice.

  6. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Hi Kristin–I’m from a family of sleep walkers (and do it some myself). I guess Mary was wake walking?? It’s odd to be the witness to such an event because it is so odd. I would regularly put my sister back to bed during her sleep walking episodes when we were kids (kinda freaked her husband out when they first married–I did give him the heads-up about this).

    Anyway, it does sound like a visit to the Twilight Zone for you yesterday. Did you at least enjoy what you had for dinner?? And, did Mary seem rested when she finally came out of it? Or, tired?

    Has something like this happened before?

  7. kristin

    Yes, it has happened before, but not to the entertaining extent that it did this time. It could be the same as sleepwalking. The Alzheimer’s Assn explained to me that Lewy Body folks do it and described it not so much as sleepwalking as simply acting out the dream one has just had. It’s considered a different form of REM sleep disturbance fromm the kind that Kathy’s Hubby experiences – which is to act out dreams during the dream. Interesting stuff. Yes, I enjoyed my peas and potatoes (I can’t do the Stouffer’s thing, tho). Mary was normal when she came out of it. Sat on the couch and watched TV for the rest of the evening.

  8. Bette

    Thank you for sharing. I like how you take the moment and move forward with it – with a sense of humor as well. A good example for me.

    I admire your continued patience with Mary.

    I hope tonight’s supper is better – in two ways (:

  9. Karen


    Isn’t it amazing what the mind gone awry can cause?

    I so admire your patience and the service you provide for Mary and especially for her family.


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