The Dementia Chronicles #7 explores more than just Mom as a sick woman but Mom as an interesting one…
I walk by the closet several times a day. It’s where we put Mom’s oxygen machine. Yesterday, nearly a month after Mom’s move here I realized that the machine sounds like an old wheezing man we’ve hidden away in the closet–tied up and gagged so as not to complain. Though the machine doesn’t breathe for her, it supplies a constant stream of oxygen through a tube that leads to her cannula. The cannula is the nose apparatus that feeds oxygen directly into her nose.
Who knew that taking care of my mother could be so much fun. She’s a pill, for sure, but she’s funny and (for the most part) happy. Mom certainly enjoys my visits which occur mostly when I take her inhalers to her.
Eight in the morning and Eight in the evening she gets her pills but every four hours I take her Atravent to her. Atravent is considered one of her “long(er)-acting” inhalers. Symbicort is the longest-acting. Mom only gets that two times a day.
I try to get her to eat which is like getting a toddler to eat peas and slimy spinach. She only wants Mexican food, ice cream bars, cookies or bear claws. Her diet worried me for a while but then the home health nurse assured me that all Mom needs “at this point” (she said) were calories.
At this point.
Mom doesn’t realize how sick she is. She forgets as soon as I tell her why she’s here at all. No! I don’t tell her that she’s dying or anything like that. When she asks, which is everytime I go in, why she’s there, I tell her because she wasn’t taking her medicine right and she wasn’t eating and that, here with us, now she is.
The other day she asked my sister, “Did you know I’m living with Susi?”
My sister switched off her sarcastic response and simply said that she did. She called to tell me. We laughed together since Lizz came up, specifically, to help with Mom’s move over to our house. But Mom doesn’t remember at all that my sister was even here. In fact, almost everyday, she asks me, “When is Lizz coming up?”
“She was up, Ma. She helped move you here.”
“I wish she would move here.”
“Me too, Ma.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice?”
And then nearly in that same instance, she forgets. Dementia is like that. And people who don’t like to hear the same things over and over won’t last long around a person with dementia. I tell my sister I’m okay with it because I love to hear myself talk! Unfortunately, there’s a certain truth to that. LOL.
Anyway, Mom laughs and instructs me what to do and how to do it. She tells me to feed her dog and cat. While I wash her dishes she tells me she can do it which is funny because she can’t remember there are dishes in the sink at all.
“I got it, Ma.”
“You shouldn’t have to do my dishes.”
And that’s where she’s wrong. I do have to. She needs help now. She needs someone who will remind her to take a shower and someone to change her sheets. She’s bony and frail. But she’s a mighty spirit! Mom shows a bunch of resolve.
She told me yesterday that she wanted to be more independent.
“I suppose we all become less independent as we get older, Ma.”
She smiled and took a bite of her ice cream bar, “I want to watch the western station.”
So, I grabbed the remote to turn on her TV.
“Oh, that’s right. That’s how it works,” she said.
“It’s okay. I got it.”
And I do. I got it, Ma. I’m taking care of you now. And I whisper to myself, “It’s my honor.”