What Are Those Pills For?

I think I am seeing some improvement in Mom remembering details and the sequence of events.  Just little things here and there.   I don’t know if the new “memory” medicine is helping or if she is just recovering from being so sick in December, and things have settled back into a routine.

We had two doctor appointments today.  The first one was with her Cardiologist.  He was pleased with her progress.  Blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse, and heart rate all passed with flying colors.  He declared her ‘stable’.  Yay!  In fact, he doesn’t need to see her for six months.  Good news.  Really good news, and we are feeling great when we leave and head to lunch.

Mom doesn’t want to eat.  She doesn’t even want to see a menu.  She just orders the soup of the day, not even caring what the “soup of the day” is.   She forces it down — no crackers, no bread.  This has been going on for a month now.  No appetite at all.  And bouts of diarrhea.  She has been elated with her weight loss, however, I am not.  Even though, yes, she could stand to lose a few pounds, I know her loss of appetite is not a good thing.

It is also while we are eating that Mom shows signs of the disease again.  I answer several questions 2 or 3 times each.  She has already forgotten that we have another doctor appointment today.  ‘Where are we going?’  And she tells me a story that I have already heard a dozen times.

Mixed emotions.  Oh, Mom….

I keep my grandchildren 2 days a week while my daughter works.  I love knowing them intimately and taking care of their needs.   I want to remember that these two care-giving relationships are not the same. I want to help nurture and train these sweet babies.  But with Mom, while I want to help and care for her, I don’t want to patronize her and “talk down” to her.  I want to respect her.  I want to keep learning from her … everything I can.  And I want to be patient and kind.  Please don’t let me be short with her.  Help me to listen intently to every story every time.

We get settled into the little cubicle at the Internist, and we wait …. and wait and wait and wait.  Argh.  When he finally arrives, he takes his time, and is sincerely interested — and it is hard to stay irritated.

And I am right; the loss of appetite and upset GI tract mean that she cannot stay on the new medicine.  We cannot trade one problem for a set of others.  He wants to try a patch instead.  It needs to be changed daily.  I cringed at that — I wish it was a monthly or even a weekly patch.   I am pondering that as he goes on…  ‘I think she should have a bone density test, a mammogram, blood work, physical therapy, a stress test and…’.  What? Huh? Oh, yes, of course.  It takes us way too long to “check out”, and as we leave, I have a stack of papers in my hand:  prescription, blood work forms, doctor appointment reminders.  And I am a bit overwhelmed, and I am no longer feeling “great”.

One day at a time.

I settle Mom back into her apartment.  I tell her I’m going to fix her pill box and take out all those little memory pills.  I also take the prescription bottle out of the medicine cabinet.  I tuck it into my purse as fleeting thoughts of taking them myself float across my brain…  helps with memory and weight loss…  hmm….

Mom brings me back to reality and says,  ‘what are those pills for?’  And I can’t help but smile.

Lord, I feel so inadequate to take care of her.   At times, it feels overwhelming — not that she is hard to take care of or difficult in any way — but the responsibility of it scares me sometimes.  What if she falls?  What if she has a heart attack while she is here?  What if?  Lord, protect her.  Give me wisdom and insight and discernment.

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