Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ocean Waves and Trickling Streams

The bulk of my angst this past week has come from my mother’s illness and not so much her being in a rest home. I feel an overwhelming sadness each time she says something distinctly dementia-like. The sadness plants itself in the center of my stomach, causing all sorts of gastro-intestinal problems. The pain floats up like a thin smoky haze and wraps around my heart, causing palpitations and anxiety. I think I have more physical symptoms from my mother’s illness than she does!

She has taken another tiny step further into her disease. She no longer remembers she has a bed at the rest home, what floor it’s on, that her clothes are there. Last night she asked where my best friend Lisa was and thought the rest home was Lisa's house. She has been sundowning every day again so we need to incorporate a new medication to help with that. I’ll be meeting with her psychiatrist on Monday to discuss. It will be a fine balance knocking out the sundowning while not turning her into a zombie.

Seeing the decline, assured it will only get worse, and knowing that we have years of this ahead of us is truly making me physically and emotionally sick. Somewhere in my brain I know her being at the rest home is the best thing so the angst from that ebbs and flows like an ocean wave. But the sadness of her illness is a steady trickling stream.

I long for the day when I will have some happy news to post. When mom and I will both feel better. I pray for it everyday. Just a little relief. A tiny bit to get me through without so much of an internal battle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

As Expected, with a Little Twist

I have a hard time writing this post because of its predictability. Ma reacted as expected – primarily confusion and fear, with a secondary happiness upon seeing people she knew. Dementia stripped her of any memory of the edifice but not the souls who live there. It was like a high school reunion – old faces in a strange but lively hall. I can’t figure it out and should really just stop trying.

Yesterday she was more confused than Saturday. The last time I visited, around 5p, she said, “Lisa! Thank God you are here. I was getting so nervous wondering where you were and how I was going to get home.” I had to explain that she had to sleep there tonight but that I would see her again in the morning. She meekly said, “Alright.” And snap went the strings of my heart.

Yet aside from the confusion, she seemed fairly happy at suppertime. She was interacting with her table mates – two Navy men just like my father was, one Italian who speaks the language in dialect, and Mary - Mean Mary - who calls my mother Roly Poly behind her back (I heard her once and respectfully called her on it).

So we plug along and move forward. I expect to be there at least twice a day and hope to take her out, even for short rides or visits to the house, a few times a week. The anxiety is ever present but I am trying to give it all up to God and leave the work and the future to Him. So difficult when I’m here on earth and He is up there in Heaven.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just Like the First Day at School

Today, after almost three weeks in rehab, mom will be moving back to the rest home. She is well enough to make the transition back to her permanent living facility.

I am filled with a heavy sense of dread. Mom has become accustomed to rehab, knows her room and enjoys the company of the staff. She loves the daily bingo and her short naps between playing and suppertime. Now, we are, for all intents and purposes, back to square one; the gun is just going off at the start line.

Hello to all the old anxieties - how will she get along with the residents, how will she deal with her confusion, will she even LIKE where she is staying? After all, because of her disease, this is a completely new experience for her. Her memory has been stripped of the eight months she has lived at the home. This is day one at kindergarten, her first hour on the job. And I am the anxious parent with the sick feeling in her stomach hoping that she is liked and she’ll get along. The only difference is I get to literally follow her around (I doubt I'll leave her side today), watch her struggle through every new turn and bump in the road.

Ach, I am filled with sadness and unhappy anticipation today when instead I “should be” focusing on sending positive energy and thought toward this “new” and “first” big step.

Alzheimer’s, in our uneasy and permanent relationship, you are not my friend today. Sometimes I feel as if we’ve gotten close, understand each other like true buddies, but in this moment, it is safe to say we’re cold-stoned enemies.