And it gets worse

After my experience with my mom’s bullying and stepping on a lady’s foot on purpose, I thought that was the worst it could be. Ha! I was wrong.

Being forced to step out from behind the stained glass and to see clearly was not desirable. Can’t I stay behind the softly muted window and see things through a rose coloured pane of glass a little longer? A shocking episode seen through clear glass is not at all comfortable but there is nothing about Alzheimer’s that is comfortable.

My dad got a call from the day nurse at my mom’s care centre yesterday – twice. My normally gentle mannered mother was violent against an aide. Apparently, she was getting some help toileting and wanted to go for a walk before fully dressed. The aide said she wasn’t going anywhere until she pulled up her pants. When the aide bent over to help her pull up her pants, my mom took two handfuls of hair in her fists and pulled. The aide eventually got my mom to let go of her hair but as she stood up my mom slapped her hard across her face.

This is shocking! Horrifying! Embarrassing! Concerning!

Tomorrow we will find out more when we meet with the nurse to talk about it.

My instinct is to be apologetic, embarrassed and reassuring that this is NOT the woman we know and love.

But what if something was going on and she had every right to defend herself? How would we ever know? She can’t remember 10 minutes ago nor does she often speak in understandable sentences. She is at the mercy of these people hired to care for her. With that thought I think some lessons in martial arts might be necessary for my mom to protect herself. ; )

What is to be done? She just had her medicine adjusted 2 weeks ago and is so drugged that she sleeps through breakfast and lunch and is usually drugged and quiet when I come to visit in late afternoon. The violent woman reported about here is not the docile, drugged, quiet woman I see at the home when I visit her. Minus the foot crushing incident of course.

I am going to go and talk to the nurse with my dad but I have no illusion that I can stay behind the stained glass then.

I just had a baby!

Time for a lighter story!

While visiting my mom yesterday, my husband and I were telling her about the royal princess that was born to Will and Kate. I even showed her pictures of the new baby on my cell phone and we cooed and marveled over this perfect baby. We visited for a while longer and then I thought I would phone my sister, Jamie, so that she could talk to mom. They chatted for quite a while and then Jamie handed the phone to her young son, Lucas. The next thing mom says had my husband and I cracking up I nearly peed my pants!

We hear my mom say “I just had a baby but I’m doing pretty good. They should let me go home tomorrow.”

At this point, my husband and I are laughing so hard that he’s crying and I have to go water the daisies. When I come back she is now talking to Zac, another of my sister’s sons, and says “I had a baby! You have a brand new baby cousin!! I know it’s real because in the bathroom there’s a sign that says wash your hands before leaving the bathroom!” My husband and I are nearly rolling on the floor and she says “Tracy and John are laughing, but I have no idea what they think is so funny.”

Oh my! Drying my tears of laughter even now. These tears are better than the sad ones in a million ways. The sun is clearly shining through the stained glass and there are prisms of rainbows creating a happy place in our hearts. Thank you, Lord, for laughter!

Today she is cognizant. Unfortunately.

It sounds like a horrible thing to say – “Today she is cognizant. Unfortunately.” Isn’t being cognizant what we hope for every time we visit? That she would be present or “in her right mind.” That we would have meaningful conversations with her? That she would remember my name and the names of my family members? We could all laugh together and pretend she hasn’t been put  (cast off or institutionalized, jailed, abandoned) into a care centre where she will never “go home” from.

Maybe it is better when she doesn’t know what is going on or where she is and it doesn’t matter all that much because her brain in misfiring and she is happily in another place or time.

Today she knew exactly where she was and she was desperate to go home. She thought I was there to take her home and when I said we weren’t going anywhere she sobbed. It wasn’t a little cry where a corner of a kleenex would be enough. No, this was a pass the box over and get some more kind of sob. It was so very hard to see. I held her in my arms but she wanted to know why. Why couldn’t she go home? The other people in the home said they were going home and why won’t her own family take her home?

I tried to give excuses – the doctor, her cough, her foot pain, etc. But she wasn’t going to accept that.

So, with tears running down my face I told her that this was the best care for her, that she wasn’t doing well at her home to which she responded that she can take care of herself and make a salmon sandwich.

I didn’t tell her that she didn’t know where anything was in the kitchen or even where her bedroom was. I did tell her that when she was there that she asked several times a day to go home. She said but “my family is there.”

I said that we were visiting her every day at the care centre to which she responded it wasn’t the same. She wanted her home.

I said, “Remember when dad had his heart attack?” She did. I said the doctor was concerned about his health caring for you.

She wanted to know why they couldn’t hire someone to come in the home and care for her. I said we’d need at least 2 people plus dad to care for her at home over 24 hours.

I said that she left the house in the middle of the night and that we were afraid she would get hurt. That this care home was what we thought was best for her.

She sobbed some more. I told her that this was hurting us very much, too. That I wished it could be another way.

We’d sit in silence for a short while and then she would cry some more.

I asked if it was really so terribly bad here? She said no, but it wasn’t her home.

“Why did this have to happen to me? Why would God let this happen to me?” she asked. My words of “we live in a broken and hurting world and these things just happen” didn’t bring much peace to her anguished heart.

I think that Home is in the heart. It is wherever loved ones are. When she says she wants to go home, she doesn’t really know what that looks like but her heart is searching for loved ones remembered in her heart – not her mind, but in her heart. A deep, desperate desire to be at a place where she is with loved ones passed on and present. I can’t get her to this place, I can’t take her “home” where she is longing to be and it hurts like hell.

The only one to bring peace to her jumbled thoughts and longing heart is God and I don’t think she knows Him. And where is the peace and comfort I so desperately want? Where IS God?

Sleep On What?? as posted on alzheimersforpathfinders

alzheimersforpathfinders

I sometimes sleep on the floor, cause he wiggles & shakes-

A very poor sleep this shaking he makes!

Yes, it’s hard on the floor, I’ve made a little bed-

Out of blankets & a pillow for under my head!

I just get to sleep & I hear a voice in the dark-

A very loud voice- yes, he surely does bark!

“Are you there?” -I really really don’t think you are-

Answer me now – have you gone very far?

I answer -” I’m here” – from down on the floor-

If I don’t answer, he heads for the door!

Sometimes he reaches out & touches my arm-

If I’m not in reach, he thinks I’ve been harmed!

He gets up & turns on every light-

Looking for me or his glasses,  in a fright!

The stillness of the floor is restful to me-

If just once in a…

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Lucky Leopard as posted on Nurse Bitterpill

lol

Nurse Bitterpill [dot] com

Patient: “Help! I need help.”

Nurse: “What do you need?”

Patient: “I need something that can turn me into my neck.”

Nurse: “Do you have a sore throat?”

Patient: “Yes. And a leopard named Lucky.”

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Animal Instinct as posted on Nurse Bitterpill

Nurse Bitterpill [dot] com

He is keeping vigil over a woman at the end of her journey. Animals know.

It’s a beautiful thing to witness. It shows the connectivity of all living things.

This is a reminder of why I love what I do. This work blesses me with insight every day.

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The Coolness of Glass

I am trying to peer through the glass at what tomorrow will look like. At this point all I see is dark glass – a shade of inky blue. My nose is pressed up against it and I can feel the coldness. My fingers seek out the cracks and craters of this piece of blue glass. Blue is her favourite colour – strange how dark it can be. I will it to change from inky darkness to royal blue. It can give me no comfort this night. I cannot see through the glass at what tomorrow holds. I cannot see the craters or mountains in the way and so I lay here awake. Imagining how long until the inky blue turns to the blush of pink? Tomorrow is the day we sign my mom up for her vacay at the Assisted Living Home.

Vacay ha!  Is that how we will try to “sell” her on her new home? One website said to use “loving lies”. Which one shall we use? Which one will seem less painful? I question my motives – is it my pain or hers that should be less? Is it possible to be both? If not, I wish for her. Shall we tell her that Dad is doing repairs on the house and so she is here to get away from all the noise and dust?  Shall we tell her that this is their new home and the reason that Dad isn’t always going to be here is because he has to go to work? Maybe that she is here to visit someone else?

Or shall we tell her the truth? The truth that Dad can’t take care of her anymore without damaging his own health. That she needs more care than she can get at home? That we can’t keep her safe? That we talked about this in the beginning and although you begged us not to put you in a home, you are too much and we must.

That although you lovingly raised us 5 girls on a farm, mucking it up with the sheep and getting in to have supper on the table by 6pm, we can’t repay the debt. That your years of nursing us through chicken pox, measles and mumps are not enough and we are going to put you away because you are now sick. Running the farm while dad had back surgery and carrying on your own chores doesn’t compare to the ravages of this disease and the difficulty it puts on US.

The guilt is consuming, insidious and heavy. I expect that tomorrow I will revisit the guilt in hundredth fold after leaving her in her new home. I have none of the answers I wanted tonight. I turn back to the stained glass. I remember a Bible verse that may bring comfort:

“Now we see only an indistinct image in a mirror, but then we will be face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Cor. 13:12

I look toward the blue pane in the glass window and raise my finger tips to sweep across it. Is it, is it possible? Is it actually resembling more of a royal blue? Pressing my nose against its coolness I whisper a thank you to the God that grants peace and takes our guilt upon himself. I pray for the blush of pink come morning.