Just a Pat on the Hand

I was not at my best yesterday.  Four hours of sleep and the stress of getting Mom’s apartment ready to pack evidently were not a good combination.  And unfortunately, I let my guard down.

Mom and I had our first big confrontation yesterday.  We were both upset and mad and didn’t speak the rest of the evening.  I take the blame for the argument.  I am not the one who is sick and tired.  I am not the one with a dementia diagnosis.

She went to bed first — without eating any supper.  I followed shortly after.  Lying in bed, I knew I would never sleep.  What am I doing?   Over the monitor, I could hear Mom’s restlessness as well.

I slipped into the kitchen, took a plate from the cupboard.   And with a few hardy snacks, I tiptoed into her bedroom.   I knelt by her bed, ‘Mom, I’m sorry I got mad.  I love you.  I brought you a few snacks’.

She was drowsy, but as she patted my hand, she said, ‘I love you too.  It’s okay.  But I’m healing…I’m healing’.   I don’t think I ever remember my mother patting my hand.  Emotions run deep.  Why do mother/daughter relationships have to be so complicated?

I kissed her cheek and gave her a hug then headed back to my own bed.  Big deep breath.

Lord, forgive me.  I blew it.  I cannot control anyone else.  I can only change my behavior — and only with Your help.  May I be kinder and gentler.  And may I have patience.

I pray for contentment and peace for Mom.  This is so hard on her.   Help us know what to do.  We just don’t know what to do…

 

 

 

 

 

I hope her world makes sense again

It’s 2:30 in the morning, and I am wide awake.  Sleep eludes me.  It’s been a crappy day.  A long crappy day.

Mom had two appointments scheduled for today:  Follow up with cardiologist and the long-awaited dementia evaluation.   She knew about both appointments, but I know she did not fully comprehend what the evaluation entailed.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she didn’t remember the evaluation was even on the calendar.  We talked about it several weeks ago when it was first lined up, but her loss of memory has become a sore point so I don’t ‘go there’ any more than necessary.

The day just started out bad.  We have over an hour drive to the doctor’s location, and Mom was cranky and irritable the whole way.   I was practically biting my tongue in half by the time we arrived.   Once at the office, the nurse, doctor, and receptionist all got a dose of cranky-pants.  My sister and I tried to cover for her, and Mom says, ‘ my children are too nice’.   I don’t think that was meant as a compliment.

At lunch, Mom didn’t like the size of the salad, and barely touched her soup.   She seemed bored with the conversation, and frankly, tired of us.   I could be mad, and yes, I was somewhat, but mostly, I was just sad.  Six months ago, Mom would relish an outing with her two daughters.  She would devour her lunch and steal every conversation.   Who is this woman?

I was gearing up to confront her behavior, but after lunch, we relaxed at my sister’s house between appointments, and Mom settled down and seemed less frustrated with life.  Ok. Good. I hate conflict.

Before we left for the appointment, I reminded her that we were going to talk about her memory issues with this new doctor.  But once there,  I know she still felt ambushed.   Betrayed.

The doctor was wonderful.  He was kind, gentle, and extremely tactful.  He treated us all with respect, and I was very impressed with him.  The evaluation lasted an hour and a half with questions directed mostly to Mom, but some to me as well.  Mom didn’t fail miserably.  But she did fail.  That’s probably a bad way to express it.  As a failure.   But today, the test was about living independently and driving again.

He said no to both in the end.

There. Now. We. Know.

My sister got to get in her car and drive away after the appointment.  I wasn’t so lucky.  The car ride home was a bit tense.  Mom had a few things to say in the first few minutes then sulked most of the way home.  Ok.  I’ll give her that.  It stinks.  I don’t blame her.  I’d be mad too.

Five miles from home, I told her that I have to be gone for most of the day tomorrow, but she can stay back and relax.  My youngest daughter will be there to keep her company.  Mom says, ‘I can just go home’.   Her comment surprises me.  What?  ‘Mom, the doctor said you cannot live alone right now’.  ‘He did not!  He said my memory was fine’.  Sigh.

We toss that convo back and forth for while, and I finally decide some tough love is overdue.  ‘Mom…

…we all enter phases of life not of our own choosing.  ie. the empty nest, the loss of a spouse.  THIS is just another phase of your life.  You may not like it; we don’t either.  We want you to go home.  But that is not an option.  You can be mad about the change.  You can be mad about being sick.  But that doesn’t alter the facts.  This new phase doesn’t mean you don’t have a life.  You just have a new life.  And you have embraced change before.  You can choose to find the best things in this new phase or you can sulk.  The choice is yours’.

Is she sulking?  Is she mad?  Discouraged? Depressed? Sad?  Yes. Absolutely yes.

Me too.

I think she needs time to grieve.  Maybe we both do.  She has lost the life she knew, and I have lost the mother I knew.

A new phase for both of us.

May we both embrace the change and find the best parts of this new life.

I hope she can find joy, and peace, and contentment.  I hope her world will make sense again and she can find her rightful place.  I hope she shines again.

But for right now — it still feels like just a long crappy day.

Lord, more than ever, we need your wisdom and discernment.  We  need patience and kindness.  The next few days and weeks may be very difficult as we make hard decisions.  Please direct us.  May we do what is best for Mom.  May we shower her with love, and comfort her as she enters a new phase of life.  May she know that she is loved.  Prepare her; and may she be willing to explore some new exciting options.  Lord, we need your strengthen and compassion.  Please guide us.images

 

 

 

 

 

Its Not About Me And Yet…

Mom just fixed her breakfast.  She has been fixing her own breakfast for about a week now.  She brought her laundry out to the mud room yesterday — rolled it on her walker.  I was already in that room, so I loaded the washer for her and later transferred it over to the dryer.  Once it was done, I took it to Mom, and she folded it.   This is good progress.  For months, she has not had the health or energy to do any of these things.  We ran a few errands earlier this week, and Mom seemed to enjoy that day.  She got in and out of the car several times and did fine.  She bought some new clothes at a local shop — much needed items as her own clothing hangs on her now 60-pounds-less frail body.

All that progress, but still, I sit here looking up Movers and Self-storage Units.   She wants to go back to her apartment.  She loves that apartment.  It is sad.  Heartbreaking.  Melancholy: a gloomy state of mind.  Sigh

Even since our “family meeting” on Sunday, where we talked very frankly to Mom about her physical and mental health and explained why she cannot go back to her apartment, she tells everyone she is going home next week.  And seriously, I do not believe she is being stubborn; I think she does not remember most of that Sunday conversation, and in her mind, she intends to go home.

And that is why she cannot.

She is still too confused to live alone.

Her physical body is healing and gaining strength.  Her clarity has improved dramatically over the last 3 weeks, but her mental state seems to have stabilized about a week ago.    She is almost “there” but not quite.   We cannot, in good conscience, allow her to go back to an apartment building to live alone.  Would she forget to turn off the stove?  She never has.  But what if?

My Mom is in a hard place.  She has had so much taken away from her in a short period of time.   Even though she just celebrated her 84th birthday, and by anyone’s standards, that is an old age, she was on the golf course 9 months ago.  She took a road trip with a friend out West just a couple of years ago.  This is not the average 84 year old woman.

I have been a little uptight and anxious the last few weeks.   I have been too quick to complain and see the negative.   Her half well/half sick state challenges me on many levels.  Shame on me.  I can do this better.  I will never have another chance to do this.  I want to do it right.

This is my Mom’s story.  It’s not about me, but yet, do I have some control on how we all walk down this road?  My attitude and mental state affect not only me, but they affect my Mom and my children and grandchildren.   It IS my story in that sense.   How do I want to do this?  Who do I want to be in this?  When I look back…

Lord, I need discernment, wisdom, kindness and strength.  Help me to do this better.   I want no regrets.  Help me to do this right.

Sometimes There Is No Air

Graves Disease.  Hyperthyroidism.  Both very treatable.  Both easily identifiable.  Both missed.  Wow.  My mother has been sick for months, really really sick, like the close-to-death kind of sick.  And the whole time, it was something that they missed.  I don’t even know what to say.  How does that happen?   And the doctors are shocked as well.  They are being open and honest with us, saying things like, ‘we missed it’, ‘checking thyroid is standard procedure’, ‘I feel like an idiot’.  Yes, a doctor actually said that.   This was all avoidable.  Her thyroid numbers were off as far back as May 2013, and no one followed through with that report.  14 months.  Wow.

So the good news is, Mom is going to get better.  She is already so much better.  That is wonderful and we feel blessed.  We sincerely thought we’d be burying her before summer’s end.  All signs point to another chance.  She has been given more time.

The bad news is she won’t be content here.  We’ve been through this before.  Every time her health improves.  Same story.  And I don’t blame her.  She had an active life she loved.  She wants her life back.  And who knows, maybe she’ll get it back… time will tell.

I called my sibs together today for another family meeting.  Mom was so sick 6 weeks ago when we met, she doesn’t even recall that conversation or any of the decisions made during the meeting.  Her lease is up at the end of the month.  We need to move ahead packing and storing, and I need some reinforcements before I forge ahead.  Even though Mom seems to be on the path to recovery, she will not be able to live alone for months.  She has already paid five months rent for an apartment that no one is living in.  The lease is up, the apartment has to go.

We talked in circles — the dementia rearing its ugly head — but she did, in the end, agree about the apartment.  I will get supplies and begin packing evenings this week.  I wonder how much of the conversation she’ll remember, and how much of it will be twisted and repeated incorrectly.   She has already had one phone call from a friend — 10 minutes after everyone left — and many details were skewed already.  It is sad.

And so I’m struggling right now.  Feeling sorry for myself.  My sibs have left — all to their different Sunday evening activities, and I’m here at home — with Mom.  Even my husband and daughter flew the coop.  (After the tense afternoon meeting, my husband decided it was a good time to power wash the house — anything to get outside).

Mom is mobile, and we can get out.  But frankly, we’re kind of tired of each other.  We’re both well-mannered enough to remain cool, calm and collected.   We’re both kind and considerate to each other.  But I want out of the house to do something else.  And so does she.

I did go out to eat with my husband earlier today, well, my husband…. and my mom.  My mother is always here.  Around every corner.   And I know some day, I will not be able to say that.  She will be gone.  Guilt.  But it’s like a new mother with that toddler.  She loves him more than life itself, but he is always there.  No escape.  The days are long and monotonous.  I’m sure that is exactly how my mom feels too.  I am always here.  She never has any privacy.  She never has a minute to herself.  We just need air.  Sometimes there is no air.

We are buggy.

We need a break.

I am reading a book on listing good things.  Remembering and counting.  Practice.  Practice thankfulness.

I am thankful for the time I’ve had with my mother.  I am thankful for the lessons being learned as I care for her.  I’m thankful for the relationship she has developed with my grandchildren, and the fact that they will remember GG.  I’m thankful for a husband who has been kind and generous to his mother-in-law.  I’m thankful for Mom’s second chance at life.  I am thankful for the health, strength and time I have to invest in my mother.

I am feeling a little blue,  sorry for me, but I know God is faithful.  I know He is good.  And He is working all this out to His glory.

Today is just a bump in the road on this journey with my mom.

Tomorrow we will be fine.

It’s all good, and we will be okay.

Everyone has moments, or days, when they just feel overwhelmed with what’s on their plate, right?  Practice. Practice.

its all good

 

 

 

 

 

If She Passes “the Test”, Does She Get To Call the Shots?

Mom is holding her own.  It is rather incredible, and we are happy that she appears to be doing better.   We had another big weekend with lots of family.  She participated in the outing and it was fun to see her interact with many of the great-grandchildren.

There are a couple of concerns:  she continues to lose weight, and has dropped 9 pounds since she came home from the hospital 12 days ago.  Due to the congestive heart failure, I have all the instructions on what to do if she gains weight:  No more than 2 pounds in a day; no more than 5 pounds in a week.  But what do I do about her losing weight?  Her appetite is good — she eats 3 meals a day plus a small snack in between each meal.  She is always excited about a dish of ice cream after supper;  cookies in the middle of the night (some habits die hard, I guess).   We have gone through her supply of Ensure — guess I’ll restock that cupboard.

The other concern is her desire to go home.  Here we go again.  She tells everyone that she is going home in a few days.   Besides myself, three other family members have told her that she is not going home.  Her apartment lease is up this month.  We have made plans to pack and store.  Her lease has not been renewed.  I have already canceled some of her utilities.  Sigh

She has stated three times today, ‘do not let anyone take anything out of my apartment’.  And three times she has asked me, ‘what would they do with all my stuff?’,  if they did.  And yes, three times I have told her, ‘pack and store’.  So there is that.  The repeating.  So in circles we go.  Round and round.  Over and over.

This. is. exhausting.

Can I just be honest?  She is much easier to take care of when she is really sick.  That sounds harsh, and I don’t mean to say I want her to be sick.  I don’t.   I just mean to say this is challenging.  This half-sick/half-well is really hard.

Taking care of an aging parent is more difficult than I expected.  There are layers of crisis.  Just when we think we have a plan, the situation turns another direction.  Two weeks ago, we sincerely thought Mom was on her death bed, and now, here we are fighting about her returning home again.  What a roller coaster ride.

It. is. just. plain. hard.

I have talked with my sisters briefly today, and they know we might have a “situation” on our hands.  I suggested that we have Mom evaluated by a Neuropsychologist.   That was actually our plan a few weeks back — before she ended up staying over 20 days in two different hospitals.  The main reason she couldn’t go home was due to the dementia.  But hey, she is pretty darn lucid these days.  And we are concerned about her allergies, and how they tend be extremely irritated in that apartment.  But, if she passes THE test, then I guess she is an adult, and she gets to call the shots.  (There will be no complaining about the watery eyes, headaches or numerous sneezes.  Well, at least, there will not be a lot of sympathy extended).

I have raised 4 daughters, and yes, there were challenges.  There are still challenges.  However, this taking care of a parent tests me in different ways.  This changing of roles.  Every day, we are jockeying for our positions.  I never know if I will have a passive opponent or an active, dominant one.  And when my mother is my mother, she is dominant (that is a nice way of saying she is stubborn).

I guess I’ll call the apartment complex in the morning.  Hopefully, they haven’t leased her apartment to a new renter.  If that is the case, I may be in big big trouble.

But, you know, I’m just thinking out loud here.  I don’t really know what will happen.  I don’t know what I’ll do.   We will most likely have another family meeting.  I will probably not call the apartment.

This may get ugly before it gets done.   There is a vocal, sick parent, 4 siblings and several very involved in-laws trying to make the best decisions.  Anxiety on steroids.  Oh Lord, help us…. again.

clock-drawing-test-dementia

 

 

 

Who Are You, and What Did You Do With My Mother?

Who are you, and what did you do with my mother?

That is the question I just asked my  84 year old Mom as she sits painting her fingernails in my living room.  She smiles as she kicks her legs out and asks me if I think she got all the hair.  What?  She says she shaved her legs this morning.  Who is this woman?

She came home from the hospital last Thursday evening.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know she has been one very sick woman, and quite frankly, we thought she wasn’t long for this earth.   As the doctors talked about releasing her, I was very concerned about my ability to take care of her this time around — she was so sick in the hospital.  All day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, she was weary, weak and had absolutely no energy.   I intended to “make her comfortable” and hope for the best, but expect the worst.

But Sunday afternoon,  she rallied, and we are shocked.  We don’t know what to think.  Is it the new thyroid meds?  Is it my sister visiting from out of state (adrenaline)?    Weren’t they just chasing a “last stage, incurable cancer last week? (we have heard nothing more out of the oncologists) Wow.

She doesn’t look like the same woman!

She went with my sister to their rented lake cottage on Sunday afternoon, out to lunch with us on Monday, and back to the cottage this afternoon.  Amazing.

I don’t know what this means.

Yes, she is weak and certainly, still frail.  But her energy level is up, and her appetite is good — very good.  Even her dementia is barely noticeable; she seems pretty lucid.

This could just be a fluke.  Maybe she is just having a couple of really good days.  I don’t know.  Time will tell.

But for today, we’ll take it, and be grateful for it.   Thank you, Lord.

hands