I have a little reprieve from the hospital today. The “big” hospital is over an hour from my home, but my sister only lives about 15 minutes from the front entrance. She is tracking down doctors and trying to get some answers.
I decided I would use this little respite to add a couple of sagas of Mom’s journey. These two stories have caused confusion, contention, and laughter. We are just beginning to understand that Mom has moments of complete lucidity and moments of complete confusion — and those two moments can change places in an instant and without warning.
The first story involves her infamous walker. On her fourth visit to the hospital this year, her strength and endurance were low, and the physical therapy department decided Mom could benefit from a walker. Mom was not a fan. She did not agree with the therapist and fought the walker the whole time she was in the hospital. Medicare approved it, and a new walker was fitted to Mom, wrapped in plastic and set up against the wall outside her hospital room — waiting for her release. Mom continued to use the hospital’s walker on her daily walks at the hospital for a day or two longer.
When she came back to my house, that new walker was packed in the trunk and followed her into my house. If you have read previous posts, you know that Mom continued to fight the walker until the Home Care physical therapist and I had a few confrontations with her.
It was surprising then, a few days later, to hear Mom telling a friend over the phone that she and I went to the local hardware store to purchase the walker. I heard her say, ‘I looked at that walker and told my daughter, I’m doing pretty good right now, but I bet my legs will be the next thing to go. So I’m going to buy that walker!’ I found her story highly amusing. She has since embellished that story to the point of attaching a date of purchase and price — it was evidently on sale. She has also stated that it was wrapped in plastic and leaning against the wall (that part is true).
Yes, indeed, there is a learning curve because I thought if I just reminded Mom of how she obtained the walker, she would remember. Ha! Um, no, that is not how it works. No matter how many times we went over the event, she would tell whoever would listen that she bought that walker herself (which is kind of funny since she hated the walker so much). She even became passive aggressive towards me about it — and that isn’t really like my Mom. I had told her she was a very very sick woman that time in the hospital, and possibly she had a vivid dream. From then on, when she talked about the walker, she would begin her story, sarcastically, with ‘in my dream…’. ouch.
I do not correct her anymore about the walker. What difference does it make? But I laughed out loud yesterday when she called me from the hospital. ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you call the hardware and see if they will exchange that walker for me? The one here has wheels, and I like it.’ ‘Sure, Mom, I’ll take care of it’.
The other incident that has gotten skewed in her mind concerns her favorite chair. After Mom had been living in our home for about a week, I told her that we were going to get her chair from her apartment. I do not own a recliner, and my couch was just too big for her. Mom would be all slouched down and look very uncomfortable within minutes of sitting down on that sofa. One afternoon when Mom and I were at one of her doctor appointments, my husband called and said he had time to stop and pick up her chair. I said, ‘perfect, we are done here, and we’ll meet you there’. He already had the chair loaded into his red pick-up truck and was headed out the drive by the time we arrived. We turned around and followed him home. Simple enough. End of story, right? Not quite.
A couple of days later, I hear Mom telling a friend that she appreciated my husband getting her chair. ‘He went and got it a month before I came here’. What? She went on and on about how she saw her chair in a white pick-up going down the street. She evidently was with her friend (not me) and they had been out shopping (not at the doctor). Seriously? So, Mom, just what did you sit on for that month while you were at your apartment?
Again, (I am a slow learner) I explain the actual event. Mom listens, but doesn’t agree. When telling the story again and again to friends and family, she even tells them that we don’t agree on how the chair got here. One day, at lunch, she asked me to tell her again about the chair. I was sick that day, and run down, and just plain weary. ‘Oh, Mom, please, I don’t want to talk about the chair anymore. It doesn’t matter’. ‘No, tell me, because I just see it going down the road in a white truck…’. So I tell her again: 10 days in; you and me; doctor appointment; red pick-up. Two hours later, she is on the phone with a friend, ‘do you know that he got my chair a month before I came…’.
I just smile. It doesn’t matter. Not one little bit.
As the saying goes, we have bigger fish to fry.
She will most likely be released from the hospital today and come back here to my home. There will be some confusion — two hospitals, multiple tests and more doctors and nurses than I can even remember. It’s challenging to know when, or if, events need to be clarified for her. Do I just go with the flow? Do I attempt to set things straight? What is already completely “set” in her mind — no matter how many times she is told otherwise?
It seems sad to allow her to live in a fantasy world, like we’re giving up. I want to fight this disease.
I want her to remember. I want my mother back.