No Enemies Here Continued…

Update from yesterday:   I had stepped out of the room for a few minutes, but when I returned, Mom’s chair is empty (no Mom in sight) and the walker still stands there beside it.  Oh Mom.  She has gone to use the bathroom.  I stand there, hesitating about what to do when I hear her come out and rather than head back to sit down, she walks further into her bedroom.   Ok, here we go…   I wheel the walker to the bedroom, and say, ‘Here, Mom, you forgot something’.   She shakes her head, rolls her eyes, and chuckles a bit as she takes hold of the handles and walks back to her chair.    At supper she tells my husband that the nurse told her she has to use that thing.  ‘I guess you’re going to be stuck with me for awhile’.   My husband says, ‘Oh Mom, don’t say it that way’.

I know she worries about imposing on us.   And I guess that is understandable.  My husband has been great.  So great.  His compassion and tenderness have always been his strong traits.  He is almost better with her than I am.  That was evident with my first posting of yesterday’s blog.

Lesson learned:  do not blog immediately following any incident.    Think first.  Write second.  Do not do both at the same time.

Mom is just getting up for the day.  Here she comes pushing that thing in front of her.  “Good morning, Mom… how about a cup of coffee?”

There Are No Enemies Here

The Home Health Nurse was here to see Mom this morning.   I stepped out of the room to answer the phone while she busied herself with Mom’s vitals and some small talk with Mom.  This small talk is designed to see how much clarity Mom has, although Mom doesn’t know she is being tested.  When I come back, the nurse says, ‘your mom says she’s going home this weekend.  Is that right?’   (sigh)  ‘Mom, I don’t think you’re quite ready just yet’.   ‘I agree’, the nurse quickly replies.  Almost too quickly.  Then she tells mom that she is too confused to go home.   Mom has enough clarity to be embarrassed by this.  My heart goes out to her.  It is sad.  She replies with her typical response , ‘well, I’m 83 years old! And all my friends are confused too’.    This almost makes me giggle.

Halfway through the day, the Physical Therapist arrives.   She hasn’t seen Mom in over two weeks due to Mom’s hospitalization.  The PT asks mom about the walker.   Mom explains that she hasn’t been using it.  ‘I’m weaning myself off’.  So I listen for the next ten minutes while the PT goes over and over why it’s important for Mom to use the walker.  Then she takes Mom into the kitchen to do a few leg exercises.   When they are finished, Mom begins to walk  back into the room without her walker.  The PT reminds her to take it, and as Mom turns away from her and looks my way, she rolls her eyes.  (Mom!!  Stop it!)  Then Mom says, ‘so I’m suppose to use the walker?’  Bless the Physical Therapist’s heart as she spends another 10 minutes going over it again.  Mom finally admits she will ‘not go out in public’ with that walker.  By this time, I’ve had enough.  I step in and say, ‘Mom, the experts at the hospital said to use your walker; I said to use your walker; your PT says to use your walker.   Can you just trust us and put your pride away for now?  If you fall, I’ll be planning your funeral most likely’.   This is the first time I’ve shown any exasperation with her, and I feel badly about it, but her pride is seriously going to be the death of her!

Mom has a justification for everything.   I can’t walk because my legs hurt; I can’t do that exercise because I had knee surgery;  I hang my head and don’t stand up straight because my head is full from allergies.  I AM walking around the circle 3 or 4 times (um, no you are not.  Is that a lie?  Or do you really believe you are?).  Please just accept what they say and let the professionals help you.  Stop making excuses!  Everyone wants you to get better.  The nurse.  The PT.  Me.   We’re all on your side!  Stop being so stubborn.

She hasn’t been out of the chair since the PT left.  It will be very interesting to see if she grabs that walker.    If not, I WILL be reminding her every single time.     I hate conflict.  I really do.  But I think I am going to have to prepare for some battles.  And that’s okay because we need to win this war.  Mom, we’re all on your side — there are no enemies here.

It’s a New Ballgame, And I Might Be In Trouble

This was a hard weekend, and I’m not even sure why.   I have so many conflicting emotions right now.  Mom appears to be getting better — both mentally and physically.  And that is wonderful.   She has clarity on most issues.   Evidently she had some vivid dreams while that drug was too high in her system, and on those “stories” she is adamant about what happened.   Even though we have tried to explain what really transpired, she won’t relent.  One particular event has become an area of contention between us so I am no longer going to talk about it at all.  Another lesson learned.   “Don’t you remember…” can no longer come out of my mouth.  Ever.

She is talking about going home.  She says she will stay here another week.  This is a new development.    She has been so weak and frail that going home wasn’t an option.  Also, mentally, she wasn’t able to sort things out in her mind, and I think she knew that — and it scared her.   But now, she is gaining strength and her mind is working at least as well as it was 3 months ago.  So now I have a dilemma.   I am no longer caring for a submissive sick woman.  Caring for her now is a bit more challenging.  I have to be on my toes and ready to play some mind games now.  In her mind, she is strong and capable of taking care of herself.   And she could for a day or two, but right now, she doesn’t have the endurance to keep on taking care of herself.   Before long, meals would become a pre-made-store-bought pudding cup and cookies; not because that is what she wants to eat, but because it is easy and quick and she’ll  not have the energy to prepare a good meal for herself.  That is clearly what was happening earlier this year.

I also see a shift in her countenance — she is willing to do what we ask, but she is rebelling on the inside.  This, I must admit, brings a smile to my face.  We do go backwards at some point — “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons” playing out before my own eyes.     She doesn’t seek out any privacy when she talks on the phone to her friends, and occasionally, she lets slip what she really thinks.   ouch.  I think I might be in trouble here.    My siblings and I emailed back and forth yesterday.  I am going to need some hefty reinforcements soon.  They are somewhat divided on whether Mom will ever go back to her home.  Uh oh.  I guess I should have seen that coming too.

There are so many things to consider when she wants to go home.  We are not only considering recent health issues, but her apartment lease is up in 3 months.  What then?    And to be frank, we don’t really want her to go back to that apartment.  She has lived there for 3 years, and has had major allergy issues ever since she signed the lease.  And even though I am taking 2 different allergy meds myself this week due to the tree/grass pollens, she appears to be doing fine; she hasn’t sneezed once in 4 weeks!  ‘Mom, how are your allergies?  Do you have a headache or scratchy throat?’  ‘No, I’m doing fine’.    Hmm…. makes us wonder if the allergies were due to mold or something within those 4 walls.  But she loves that apartment.  I think I might be in trouble.

So as I begin week 4 of Mom here in my home, I realize it is a new ball game.  We had gotten accustomed to one another and had settled into a routine, but the rules have changed.   So did I want Mom to get better?  Isn’t that what I prayed for?  Absolutely!!   But her “better” may never be better enough for her to actually go back home.  Her better may be just enough to make her miserable.  And I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

I think I might be in trouble here.

Lord, I need wisdom here.  I need discernment.  I need patience.  Help me today to make the right decisions in caring for Mom..  Help my sisters, brother and me to make the right decisions for our Mom for her future.   Help us to love and honor her in all these decisions.   I pray that she is content and happy.  I pray that she has a peace about it.  Oh Lord, we need help!

I’m weary, but I’m Ok

I’m weary and tired today.  Mom has annoyed me a little bit.  It’s all fine, or will be.  But she can be a very stubborn woman.  At times it’s like hitting my head against a brick wall.  She has like 15 people – professional and family — telling her what she has to do to get better.  But she can’t seem to get the connection between exercising her body and getting well.  She thinks if she rests in the chair, she will get better.  One day she is just miraculously going to stand up and be healthy again.

I started this blog as a journal for me as I care for my mom.   I know some family members are now reading my posts, and that has caused me to edit some of what I might write.   But sometimes I just need to say what’s really in my head and on my heart.   Some days I might just need to express a little frustration.   And that doesn’t mean that you need to help or be concerned.  I’m ok.  We’re ok.  I just need to write it down.

And today I’m just weary.

There’s Still Fight Left In Her

 

Mom has been off the Dilatin for over a week, and there is much improvement in many areas.  She is no longer having trouble with double vision.  She does not shuffle her feet when she walks, and for the most part, holds her head up straighter.  Her words are no longer garbled and hard to understand.  The “wobbly” painful legs are improving every day.  And her mental clarity has been noticeably better.

She has been running a very low fever this week; hardly even.  You and I wouldn’t even consider it a fever, but with the sick elderly, even a slight fever is noted.  She has not complained about anything, and the home care nurse asked specific, personal questions.  ‘No, everything is okay’.

Yesterday wasn’t a great day.  We had two doctor appointments:  Hearing Aid check-up and Post-hospital check-up.  Mom asked me 4 times before we left the house, ‘where are we going?’  Seriously?   This hasn’t happened all week.  She has remembered almost everything (except the funny story she keeps embellishing about how she obtained her new walker — dream?).  But yesterday, she was confused.  And she looked weary.   This saddened me because she has had a pretty great week, and she has looked more like herself than she has for a very long time.  Note to self:  when conversing with a person with dementia, stop using the phrase, ‘don’t you remember…’   It only causes both of you to be frustrated in the end.  It is what it is. Period.  Her version.  My version.

At the doctor appointment, she struggled to converse with the doctor.  She pointed to me so I did most of the talking, and it’s a challenge to be honest with the doctor, and not “throw Mom under the bus”.  Her perception of her exercise and eating is different than mine.  She is also holding firmly onto some drugs she has taken for years, and possibly no longer needs.  I’m not talking addiction, but rather, security.  Mom had a few seizures 40 years ago, and she is terrified of having another one.   She says it’s embarrassing.   The doctor is more concerned about her life and death issues, and not so concerned about her pride.  He would like to wean her off and determine if she is seizure-free at this point.  He doesn’t want her on drugs she doesn’t need.    Mom is adamant that she will not go off the drugs.   So I tried to disappear into the corner, and let the two of them duke it out.  After all, I have to live with this woman.   And to be honest, she is a grown woman, who has most of her mental faculties.  The decision is her’s.   We have a seizure prescription in our hand when we leave the office.  Round 1:  Mom

Mom almost didn’t make it to the bathroom yesterday — a couple of times.   Ok, let’s add this up:  low-grade fever; confusion; frequent bathroom stops.   Sounds like a UTI to me.   Of course, it is Saturday, so I call the home health nurse (what a blessing she has been on a couple of weekends now) and tell her Mom’s symptoms.  She agrees that a urinary tract infection is probable.  She places a call to the doctor, and an antibiotic is waiting at the pharmacy.  Hopefully, the confusion will improve in a day or two.

My sister came to visit today.  I sent the two of them out of the house.  Mom says, ‘aren’t you coming with us?’  I felt slightly guilty, but replied, ‘no, I am not’.  There is laundry to do, weeds to pull, floors to clean.  And a blog post to be written!  There are just normal, everyday chores that need to be done.  And to be honest, I am enjoying a little bit of solitude.  I know Mom would probably like some solitude too.  I have been pondering putting a chair and TV in her bedroom for that very reason.  However, I don’t want her to feel like I am banishing her from our living room.  I just thought she might like some privacy.    I also don’t want to take away her hope of going home.  The more I make my house look like her permanent residence, the more I worry about her losing hope.  I think she needs goals.  She needs to look forward to going back to her home.  That may happen, and it may not.   Today, I’ll leave that extra chair out of her bedroom because for now, I’m choosing to give her hope.

ps — Mom and my sister just returned from their outing.  It’s probably a good thing that Mom lives with me — I think the two of them just might kill each other!

Lord, thank you for the progress Mom has made this week.  Thank you for giving the doctor’s wisdom in treating her.  Please help Mom and I to continue to be kind and gracious to one another.  May our days be sweet.  Thank you for helping her to get better this week.  Thank you for that answered prayer.

Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 

Almost 84 Years And Given a New Name

It’s Easter morning.   I didn’t go to church today.  I only remember missing one Easter service in the last 35 years.  It was the day my first child was born — an Easter baby.  We are going to celebrate her birthday this afternoon after our Easter celebrations.

I am  grateful that my Mom is here with us to celebrate (she came here after hospitalization after all).  She is feeling better.  Not perfect, but better.  She has so much more clarity.  I can hear her talking on the phone with friends and family members, and she is making sense — and most of the details are accurate.

My grandchildren will be here today, and they will be excited to see that GG is home from the hospital.  GG is what they began calling her when she came here to live with me.  They struggled with a Gramma and a Great Gramma, and it all got a bit confusing.  The 5 year old boy finally landed on GG — and it has stuck.   I think it’s cute and endearing.   Mom is almost 84 years old and she has been given a new name!  Last week when she wasn’t here, my grandchildren were disappointed.

It is so sweet to watch their interaction.  I know the days get a bit long for Mom with 3 or 4 children undertow.  Sometimes the noise level gets a bit high, but she is getting to know those children as I know them.  She is making an impression into their young lives that they will remember.  I love that.

Welcome home, GG, the kids will be very excited that you are here.  So Am I.

Toxic Levels

At 2 a.m. my phone rings — again.  I sit straight up in bed, and I answer it by the second ring.  Since that episode last month, my phone is charged in our bedroom so I can hear it — no longer out in the kitchen.  I won’t make that mistake again.

It is Mom this time.   She says my name tentatively then, “where am I?”

“You’re in the hospital, Mom”

“Why”

“Because you were having some trouble.  Your legs weren’t working”

“Am I going to stay here?”

“No.  You are better.  I am coming to get you later.”

“Where am I?”   I tell her again and I say the name of the town as well.  I assure her she is better and that she will come home today.  There is a long pause and then she says my name again ,

“do I need to be put away?”

“Oh Mom, no. No no no. You are okay.  You will come here.  Mom, everything is fine.  I want you to come here.

“Ok.  That’s good.  Ok, I understand.  That’s good”

“Mom, you’re going to come to my house later today.  I am coming to get you”

“Ok, ok that’s good”

We talked for a few more minutes, and once I thought she had settled, we said our good-byes and our ‘I love yous’, and I hung up.    Wow.  Do I go back to bed?  Do I go to the hospital? This is a first.  She sounded really tired.  Bad dream? She has never had trouble sleeping before. I’m fairly certain she has fallen back asleep already.

At 8 a.m. as I am getting around to head to the hospital, another call from Mom.  ‘where am I? Where are you?  Why am I here?’

Oh my, something is wrong.   I finish getting around and head to the hospital as fast as I can.   She is agitated when I get there.  She points to the white marker board, and in bold letters it says, HOLD DILATIN.   This is a med she has been on for over forty years.  She is afraid to go off due to a few seizures she had over forty years ago.   I cringe when I read the sign, and I know exactly why she is upset.   When she woke up — both during the night and this morning — she read that sign.  Her hearing may be awful, but her eyesight is good.  Her focus has been on that marker board.  She is upset, mad and afraid, and very confused.  I take a few minutes to calm her down and leave her in the care of a technician while I head to the nurses’ station.

As I go, I smile because I know we may have finally landed on “the problem”.  Yay!  And sure enough, the doctor explains to Mom that she has toxic levels of that med in her system.  It takes awhile, but we finally make it clear to her that the poison of this med is much worse than the benefit right now.  We need to deal with that first and handle seizures, if necessary, with other meds.   I text my siblings to bring them up to date.  A bit later, my sister calls me and says, “have you read the list of symptoms of toxic levels of that drug?”  The list is lengthy and many of Mom’s problems are on the list.  We are encouraged.

They begin the process of flushing this med out of her body  and now we wait —  and hope.