It’s been a spotty few weeks for posting. The reasons are many. Certainly not because I don’t have enough to talk about with these Dementia Chronicles but the subject matter has changed.
Circumstances have changed. Mom rebounded when she first moved in with us and showed signs of improvement. She was more or less non-confrontational. I mean, she has always wanted to return to her house but her method of communicating that wish was different.
It happened on my birthday–the first real bad sign and warning to me that this living situation was going to be more difficult than I’d originally expected. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I duped myself into believing this was going to be easy.
Reality hit mid-August when mom became bitter and spiteful. It was the first real sign of Sundowner’s Syndrome. I’m sure she has had it before but while she hadn’t been living with us, I hadn’t really seen what happens when a dementia patient has an attack until it was in my face.
I also haven’t been blogging about this as much because I feel bad about the way I feel about the whole situation. Sometimes I’m so angry that I need to walk away from her and other times I feel so sad for her because she has no idea what’s going on.
Today, I realized that I’m thankful she doesn’t understand how dire her situation is. Mom is dying in our house. It’s a slow sad process. If she understood how sick she was, she would be scared. Mom has always been afraid of dying.
She’s been tying up her clothing in grocery bags. The bags are piled up on a chair that sits in front of the fireplace. I asked her about it.
“I’m getting ready to go home.”
“Mom, this is your home now. You can’t go back there.”
I answer this question several times a day, explaining that she can’t take care of herself.
“What medications do you take?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, when you can tell me what you take and when to take them, you can go home.”
Mom came in the other morning asking me to tell her where her house is. She thinks it’s in the direction of the pond but it’s actually on the other side of our driveway–the complete opposite direction of the pond.
About 15 minutes later, she comes into where I’m working and tells me that someone is on the phone for me–on her phone, that is. She has a separate phone line and not many people know that number.
“For me?” I ask. Then, “Who is it?”
Mom says, “I don’t know. Someone wants to talk to you.”
“This is Susan,” I say.
“Susan, this is Martha Ann,” My mother’s sister in-law. She goes on to tell me that mom called her asking if she knew where mom’s house was.
I spoke with Martha Ann for about 10 minutes when mom came back in, angry. So, I diverted an explosion and said, “Mom! It’s Martha Ann.”
She grabbed the phone out of my hands and said, “Give that to me.”
“Hold on, ma,” I said, “Martha Ann?” (Who was hearing the entire thing), “Can mom talk to Uncle Bert?”
That assuaged a potentially-volatile situation.
Bob was gone at the time. He’d left for his 50th high school reunion. Normally, I can unload on him–I know. I know. But I’m less than ill-equipped for this. It became evident during Bob’s time away.
I am not up for the task. I am not the ideal caregiver that I once thought. I’m awful. Easily angered, stressed out and don’t know what to do most of the time.
But as always, God has a plan. I trust that. Bob was gone for a reason. So that I couldn’t unload on him. So who did I turn to? God.
I told Him that I didn’t think I could handle this. That I wasn’t the person to take care of my mom. That I needed help. I cried.
I still cry when I think about this situation but something miraculous happened.
God heard me. I know He did because the next morning, I was okay. I was still saddened by the whole thing but I didn’t feel stressed or angry. I felt like someone had heard and helped me.
So, my mom, see, she’s dying. God knows how hard this is going to be for me but I have to look outward. Not inward, like it’s all about me and all of this is happening to me. Because, it’s not. It’s happening to mom.
All mom has is me.
I also know that the hardest part is yet to come. And it’s just a matter of time until she forgets who I am. I’m her daughter.
“I’m Susan, ma.”
Until next time, God bless you all. ~Susan.