How About A New “doo”?

One of the challenging things with Mom right now is determining what ailment is causing what symptoms.  Her eyes are watering, her head feels “full”.  Is this the congestive heart failure?  Is it a side-effect of some med?  Or is it allergies?  She has always suffered from allergies, but the last couple of years have been a bit more severe.  She moved into an apartment just about that time.  We are wondering if she is allergic to something in her home.  Oh my, what a mess that will be…. another move?  Can her memory deal with all her belongings being in yet a another new closet, new cupboard?  Oh Dear God….

She wanted to take me out to lunch on Monday.  We ate at a local eatery, then made our weekly visit to the pharmacy.  Afterwards, I hated to take her home so soon.  The weather here has been bitter this winter, forcing her to stay inside most days.   We live in a small community — not much to do on a very cold winter day, but I suggested we stop by a hair salon.  “How about a new doo, Mom?”  It had been months — years maybe — since a stylist cut her hair.  Mom is kind of a “do it yourself” woman.   The plumbing below her 20140210_151529kitchen sink can attest to that!  Anyways, after a couple of stops, we found a salon that could take her immediately.   The young, heavily tatooed, fuchia-hair-colored beautician was the perfect fit for mom.  She was kind and gentle and very patient.  I took a few pictures, but I only feel comfortable, at this point, posting one.  Some day I may add the rest.  Look at that head — hardly a gray hair!  She has never colored it.  I think I have more gray hair than she does.  It was a fun, normal thing to do.  I love my Mom.

I have not noticed any major memory lapses this week.    However, I do think the pharmacy has decided it is their mission to test her.  I have asked them to text and call me now.  Let me deal with all that confusion.   Seriously, there is just a lot of communication with so many drugs involved.   I made that decision when they ran short of a couple of her meds and wanted to only fill half the bottles.  Good grief.

We’ve had a communication problem with the new cardiologist.  Some very important drug dosage info was left off the paperwork — and oh my — their paperwork is their gospel.  I can’t seem to get the nurse “hotline” to understand what actually transpired.  These are the kinds of things that drive me crazy.  But lessons are being learned.  I will never walk out of a doctor’s office again without the paperwork being accurate.

During one of our conversations this week, Mom mentioned my brother’s upcoming trip.

She remembered.

Not only did she remember he was leaving, but she remembered when he was going.  I said, ‘do you remember where he is going?’  Yes, she did….

That, my dear friend, is progress.  I am hopeful.

Lord, hope keeps us going.  Thank you for the little things that bring hope.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

The Pill Box

I need to head to Mom’s today.  Her pill box needs attention.  We had a little bump in the road last week.  The doctors have changed her meds several times over the last month.  I’ve taken away all pills that she no longer needs.  I don’t want her to take any by accident.

Her pill regiment had been the same for years, but last month, after she got really sick, the doctor stopped two of those meds.  He put her on a different regiment.   It was confusing — even to me.  As we sat there, figuring out the dosages and dropping them into her new pill box, I knew she wouldn’t “get it”.  So I took one of each of the two pills that were stopped and actually taped them onto her hospital discharge papers.  ‘See, Mom, these two pills — you are no longer taking them.  I am going to write that here underneath them’.  DOCTOR STOPPED THESE TWO MEDS — I TOOK THEM WITH ME and I signed my name.

The next morning, she called, ‘did you take some of my pills?  I can’t find them.  They are not here’.

Last week, after she was feeling short of breath for several days, we realized that she had set one prescription bottle up high in the  medicine cabinet, thinking she wasn’t suppose to be taking those pills.   I hadn’t filled the box that last time.  Things had settled down a bit.  She had been on the same pills for a couple weeks.    She told me she could do it — by doing it before the boxes got completely empty.  She would just follow suit.  Well, that didn’t work.  Lesson learned.

It’s hard to tell right now how much of this is forgetfulness or just not listening or the “confusion” .  I just know that I have to do the pill box.  It is important.  She is taking meds for three different “ailments”, two of them are life-threatening.

And I pray to God every day that the pills themselves cause no harm.

God, help me help her.  Amen

Remember, Mom

My mother is sick.  She is very sick, and it has consumed me.  She has always been a strong woman — emotionally and physically.   But this illness is taking its toll.   She will turn 84 years old this summer, and she is worried her health will affect her golf game!  Yes, that kind of strong.  She may fully recover and be able to play golf this summer — that is our goal, however, seeing her frail and weak makes me sad.   This is new territory for both of us.  I don’t want to be morbid, but it has been hard to watch her try_to_rememberface her mortality.   I see something in her eyes that has not been there before.  And it grieves me.

The physical illness is acute right now, and is wrecking havoc on her body.  My sibs and I are concerned about her heart and her lungs.  But something else is going on, something friends and even doctors haven’t noticed yet.  She can’t remember.

Mom has always loved to talk.  She commands a room.  And she frequently forgets what she has said to whom, and so repeats herself.  She may tell me something 5 times — or forget to tell me at all.   That is Mom; who she has always been.  But this is different.  She covers well, but I am with her often enough now, I know the truth.  I know the details of her life, the sequence of events.  She is confused.  She can’t remember.  And its scaring me.

I was raised in a family with 4 girls (and a boy), and I have four daughters of my own.  I know first-hand that mother-daughter relationships can be tricky.  My mom and I have always been on good terms.  No major upsets.  We have done fine.  But we have lacked some common ground and some depth to our relationship.  I have yearned for something more, and I have always kind of blamed her for the lack.  But something has happened lately.  Through doctor appointments, trips to the pharmacy, “pill box” dates, and frequent luncheons, Mom and I are together — a lot.  We’ve finally ventured beyond the weather and Fox News.  We’ve had some important talks.  We’ve talked about life:  her childhood, my Dad and us kids.  We’ve even talked about death.  I didn’t want to put extra worry on her (she has lost so much lately), but one conversation gently circled around her memory or lack thereof.  I prodded softly, wanting her to open up and share what she thought was happening.

My Gramma forgot too.  Not the alzheimer-kind of forget, but the “D” kind.  We aren’t really saying it yet.  Like if we don’t say the “D” word, it won’t happen.  We are just talking about remembering and forgetting for now.  There have been advances since Gramma walked this road.  And Mom is already 10 years older than her mother was when her memory failed.  I asked Mom permission to talk to the doctor about it at her next visit.  I said, ‘He can’t help if he doesn’t know’.

We’ve since had the appointment.  Yes.  There it is.  Now we know.  I already feel the loss.

We are just beginning our journey with this new diagnosis.   The meds haven’t kicked in yet.  She is still confused, but I feel hope that Mom can be helped … that we can ward off this disease for as long as possible.

Our roles are kind of reversed now.  I am watching over her.  I’m checking in and calling.  I am the caregiver.  I feel an urgency to know her.  To learn all I can.  I want to stop the clock.  This is how I have always felt about my children, but now…

There is a new depth to our relationship.   Has it been me all along?

Lord, I don’t know what the days ahead hold for my Mom.  But I know you have it under control.  Psalm 139: 16 says, “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”   May we trust you fully each and every day.