Friday, July 18, 2014

Night and Day: The Difference Of Two Brothers or A River Runs Across It

My brother Steve called yesterday saying he was in town and wanted to come see Mom. He did show up, but here's a bit of back-story to get you up to speed.

We are both adopted and even though we were both raised by the same parents, you'd never know it. Steve was taken away by the State when he was twelve because he was out of control. He just couldn't deal with being adopted and acted out. Since then he has never really held down a job, he has been a life long drug addict and floats in and out of jail. He was just released last month from another lock-down type court ordered drug treatment program. On the bright side, it may have worked this time, but only time will tell. OK, back to the story.

Mom was sleeping when Steve arrived so I went in and woke her up, she was slow getting up so I sent him in to prod her along. That probably wasn't the best move since at first she had no idea who he was. After he talked to her for a minute and took off his glasses, she finally said, "oh, Steve".

We all sat in the living room so they could talk. Steve told mom about his new teeth and that he is getting new knees soon, but once he was done with that it started. Mom started out by telling him about aunt Laura's house. How it was just around the corner and she'd walked over there a few days ago only to find it full of furniture, but no one was living there. After that it was a steady barrage of questions from Mom, "who's in my house"?

"Who's Kelsey?"

"Where is my car?"

"Where do you work"?

And once she'd finished those questions, plus a couple more, the cycle started all over again, except this time she told Steve her car had been stolen.

At one point Steve told her that after his new knees are installed, he is going to get a job running an excavator for $110 per hour. Hearing that, Mom's face lit up and she said, "my boy Steve does that!"

Steve's almost broken hearted reply was, "Mom, I am your boy Steve." I think that got to Steve a bit and he left shortly thereafter.

Mom sat up for a bit and then returned to bed. When she got up for dinner, she could remember someone had been her to see her, but had no idea who.

It was strange to see the effect seeing Steve had on Mom. She had not asked many of those questions in well over a month.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why ask Why: How Can You Do This?

This started as a question from Kel. How can I be a care giver for my Mom. Well, I can explain it, but it will be drawn-out and go in circles a time or two.

Actually taking care of Mom isn't that rough. The worst part is the feeling like you are trapped or in jail because you really can't leave her alone, there are weeks I only leave the house once and only for a couple of hours, and the fact I no longer sleep. This may seem odd, but "today" (i.e. the last few months), Mom has been easier to get along with than any time during my life.

The first few months after moving her were pretty rough at times. When we first moved her she had enough brain function and memory left to believe nothing was wrong with her and that she belonged at home. Everyone that knows her, knows that couldn't happen, but she has always been the boss and done things "her way". She also could remember how to push  my buttons and boy, she did it on a daily basis. Many times she told me she was the parent and I was to do as she wish. Mainly this was over driving or going home since she had stayed long enough.

With that being said, let's take a step back in time. Growing up, Mom was good mother, but life at home was like being in Marine boot camp until the day I moved out. You did what she said, when she said it and just how you were told to do it, or you paid the price. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't fun, but I developed into a pretty decent person. At least I think so. Perhaps I expect to much from people sometimes, but I can be fair and negotiate; most of the time.

So now, I just take care of her, some days she knows me, some days she doesn't have a clue who I am. But I know she is being well cared for here. She's treated with respect, dignity and honest compassion, all the things she may not get in a nursing home.

However, the biggest reason I do this is; I watched what it did to my Dad when grandma went to a nursing home with Alzheimer's and I promised him that wouldn't happen to him or Mom if I could help it. Dad didn't make it long enough to need care, his heart finally gave up eleven years ago, but I am honoring my promise and it makes me feel good to do that.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Note To Kel

Kel, you didn't say anything yesterday or today, but I know it bothered you when your grandmother didn't recognize you. I know it's tough watching her mind fade away like it is. It's life though. That may be me some day.

Try thinking about the good times you two had when you were younger. Like baking cookies and winning state Grange with them. Plus the many other things you learned from her instead of your mom.

Just don't give up, she comes and goes, the next time you are here she just may remember you. That will put a smile on her face because she still loves you.

Keep your chin up kiddo. I love you too!

Just a side note. Mom came out to use the bathroom a few minutes ago. When she went back to bed we heard the door lock. I'm sure she didn't recognize Paula and I. Then locked the strangers out of her room.

Like I said, her mind comes and goes. In the morning she will probably remember me anyway.

Going Once, Going Twice

Cloudy no longer describes what Alzheimer's has done to Mom.

Kelsey was down yesterday and for the first time that I'm aware of Mom had no idea who Kel was.

Earlier in the day I'd mentioned that Kel was on the way down to see her and at that point she questioned it by saying "now who is Kelsey." That's not abnormal, but until yesterday she had always recognized Kel once she sees her.

Today when Mom got up, she looked outside and saw Kel talking to Paula out on the deck and asked me who the young girl was outside. Again I explained to her that it was Kelsey, her granddaughter, she appeared to comprehend but I don't think she really did.

I fear the dark clouds are closing in and soon it all will be gone.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Patience: Virtue Or Curse? You make The Call

Patience: waiting dog
What a difference 12 hours can make. Yesterday, Mom was bright, cheery and full of energy, today it has been all I can do to get her going.

It started around 8:30AM today. I heard her head to the bathroom so I tried intercepting her with some coffee as an enticement to stay up for breakfast.

Even though I kept a close watch, she managed slipping back to her room undetected--she is actually pretty good at that, I have caught her peering out the bathroom door to see if anyone is looking. Well after yesterday I wasn't having any of that! I took her coffee into her room, she was getting up today (as Alice Cooper would say, "welcome to my nightmare"). She was already in bed and nearly sleeping again, but I said her name and she opened her eyes.

I told her I had coffee for her and it was time for breakfast. She gave me a dumbfounded look and said, " what"? And that's when I noticed, no teeth today. I told her again it was breakfast time and this time she understood. I told her again it was time to get up, but she needed to find her teeth and left her room so she could get up. It's always risky waking her any more since her state of dress varies every day from very little, to yesterdays clothes to pj's and a robe. Today at least she had a robe on.

About ten minutes later she still wasn't up so I gathered my nerve and went back in. She was sleeping again and when I woke her she still had no teeth. We played this game for about an hour when she finally went to the bathroom. When she did I stripped down the bed but still no teeth. I had already searched all her drawers with no results. I grabbed her another cup of coffee and let her be.

About four hours later she finally got up again. This time I did catch her coming out of the bathroom and told her that breakfast was ready. Guess what? You got it. Now she had teeth. I asked where she had found them them and she said they had been in the bed. I know that wasn't true, she had hidden them so no one would steal them and wouldn't tell me where. I just don't get it, who here would want to steal her teeth anyway? That's just nasty. But it shows just how cruel the Alzheimer's mind can be.

All I could do is shake my head and walk away laughing.

Is patience a virtue? Well me being patient is good for mom but it just may be the death of me!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Strange Yet True; Maybe It's Just Summer

I haven't written to much lately, Mom hasn't been doing well. At least I thought she hadn't until today.

For the past couple of weeks it's been really tough getting her out of bed, and to eat. There have been several days she's only eaten one meal and twice I feed her in bed because she was tired and didn't want to get up.

Well today things changed dramatically in a good direction. Mom was up at 8:30 and all on her own I might add. She ate a hearty breakfast, but then again she has been eating well nearly every morning, then went back to bed like she does every day. About an hour later, while I was trying to write a cigar review, I heard the slider behind me open and to my surprise it was Mom wanting to come outside.

We've been trying to get Mom outside for well over a month now and she has been out, but only for a minute or two. Today, she came out, sat down and had a cup of coffee while we talked.

It wasn't a real conversation, Mom can no longer keep thoughts long enough to carry on a conversation, but we talked about the yard, trees and flowers while she drank a cup of coffee. After about forty-five minutes she'd had enough of being outside so I helped her back inside. But once again she surprised me. Instead of heading straight back to bed she grabbed the paper, sat down in her rocking chair and read for about an hour before heading off to bed.

But wait! That's not the end of today's story.

About an hour later Mom poked her head out into the hall, when Paula asked if she needed anything, she sad she was a bit hungry. We made made lunch for Mom, she ate about half and then disappeared into the quiet abyss of her room once again.

Today was encouraging, it was nice to see Mom up and eating more. If we can get her out in the sun more the next few days that should help too.

It's odd though, today is the first day in a sound three weeks that Mom didn't mention aunt Laura. I don't really know what the correlation between the two is, but maybe she is having a better brain function day, or maybe it's that she hasn't slept and dreamed as much.

Today will ease my worries about what I will find when I wake Mom for dinner and maybe even for the next few days.