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.
Yesterday afternoon I was a bad daughter. Selfish. I dared to just peek through the stained glass to see if there was movement, making sure I wasn’t seen until I could analyze the situation. Her whereabouts, her agitation, her sadness, her mood. Stained glass isn’t known for its transparency – I’ll have to step around.
Breathing a sigh of relief when I noticed she was snoring softly in her comfy chair and not wanting to wake her to avoid an emotional visit, my husband and I crept in and sat down. I observed her for a few minutes while my husband quickly tuned into the sports channel that was on.
I paused a minute thinking, “Sports? She doesn’t like sports. Turn the channel!” Then I remembered that her beloved show “Murdoch” had her thinking there were murderers running around and people trying to poison her and we had to avoid that. Then the not-so-benign Weather Channel had her worrying anxiously about hurricanes, tornadoes and snow storms. Maybe the Sports Channel would be the best – but hockey was kind of rough, boxing definitely violent, skeet shooting has guns – let’s hope there is a lot of golf!! Golf is benign. I hope.
I decide to move around a bit and water her plants which were looking quite dry.
If she doesn’t wake with this movement, then we would bolt, I determined. Once that was done and my husband was wheeling around the room in her wheelchair (do boys ever stop playing?!) she still hadn’t ceased her soft snores.
I gave my husband “the look” (we had hoped for this scenario in the car and planned a quick escape) and we took off, feeling guilty for not waking her for a visit but feeling like we escaped a bullet. I consoled myself with many thoughts as we made our way out – she has a very hard time waking up and it takes a lot of time and effort; she needs her sleep; she looks so peaceful (no mumbling or agitated movements), the aides will wake her for supper soon and lastly – she won’t remember if we were there or not. Maybe she will know I was there because I left a magazine about the royal couple and new baby. Hopeful thought, but unlikely she’ll even realize it was a new magazine.
It is far more likely that she will be looking for her own baby later that night.
What a bad daughter I am.
I determine I’ll visit her the next day. Better start psyching myself up now. Why is it that my heart aches and tears are falling from my eyes?
One thing I am quite surprised about is the number of thoughts my mother shares in a short time period. Sometimes she will sit quietly or she will eat quietly but then there are other times that she is clearly thinking constantly. Today was one of those jumbled thought-following-thought monologue that she often uses to communicate.
The thoughts go something like this: “These people are terrible here! They won’t help you and they won’t give you a ride even though you ask them. No one will be your friend. You ask them and they say “No, we won’t be your friend.” I went to visit Queenie today (passed on over 20 years ago) but I don’t know, They wanted me to go some place to buy some thing but I said ‘no, I can’t do that today.” They don’t feed you around here and when they do it might be poisoned. There’s murder going on around here! I don’t know who, but there is. They are terrible. Things have really changed around here (what – in the 1 month you’ve been here?) Ever since those little children drowned in the States the other day. (Who said ‘squirrel!!’) I said I had to go to work but no one would take me. I never get to choose what to eat.” I said, “It must be nice to have someone cook for you so you don’t have to cook at home!” “Not for me it isn’t!!” That little bit of dialogue about cooking was one of the few turn taking parts to the conversation. She just wants to talk and she seems to resent my questions or expressions of concern. A listening ear I will be. The negativity can be a bit overwhelming, though. I left feeling more than a little sad and discouraged. She isn’t able to hear my own concerns or understand my stories. That mothering role has been lost.
If I ever wondered if the window she sees through is a simple, cloudy pane of glass I now know it can sometimes be more like a tapestry of carefully shaped and vibrant colours of a stained glass work of art. I may not understand how the pieces fit together and maybe it doesn’t even matter if they do. They are the rich memories and experiences she has lived all the years of her life and they are hers to remember. How they come bubbling through the brain that can’t make connections, I can never predict. I guess I could consider that some of the adventure of visiting my mom.
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!