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This Sucks

July 2008 - November 2008

More of the same. Everyone frustrated, unhappy, guilty.

There's a wonderful service here called Doctors Making House Calls, who specialize in geriatric care. The doctors are all women, and they can do blood tests, etc. at your house. This is the only way I can get Mom to see a doctor now. It costs $100 a visit (for travel), since she isn't in an assisted living situation. Worth it.

My aunt comes for a few days in October. She gets Mom to take the bus, but not the Emerald Pond bus - the city bus!
I'm horrified - what if Mom decides she can do this by herself?! I have nightmarish visions of my tiny stroke brained mother lost somewhere in Durham at night.
On one trip, my aunt leaves her purse on the bus, (thankfully they find it and nothing is missing), and I have to drive down to the bus station near the airport to retrieve it. I self-righteously think to myself all the way down and back that this wouldn't have happened if they had taken the Emerald Pond bus! Of course Mom's on her best behavior the whole week.
With me, my mother acts like a spoiled child. She's happy her house hasn't sold. She refuses to acknowledge the dog is peeing in the house and needs to go out more. She insists on buying crappy food [Beneful] ("He likes it!") for him even though he's covered in hot spots from the corn (allergies). The vet has to write a note before she'll stop.

There's lots of crying (her), lots of yelling (me), lots of avoiding (more me), lots of guilt (me again). I feel like this is all I talk about. I honestly don't know how to help her. Or me.

I try to write a weekly synopsis for my siblings and rarely hear anything back from one of them. This. bugs. me. Tell me to f*** off, don't send another one because you can't deal with it, or even a simple one word response would be fine (suggestions - roger, thanks, okay, sucks, etc.). To hear nothing makes me feel alone.
We're all struggling to deal with this, but jiminy christmas, I am BY MYSELF down here! You don't have to spend excruciating hours in Wal-Mart with her, or get treated like shit every time you see/talk to her, or get hung up on, or listen to her cry - all you have to do is acknowledge a freakin' email.

An aside: from the above paragraph it's clear my "love language" is "Words of Affirmation." Second is "Quality Time" (33% and 30% respectively). Acts of Service 20%, Physical Touch 17%, Gifts 0%.

Anyway, things are not getting better here and it's been close to six months. If anything they are getting worse.


Post Garage Sale

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whew! It's over. What didn't sell went into the 14 yard dumpster we rented, (that was a good idea). We filled it to over flowing and there's still stuff left. We don't have time to clean, that will have to be another time. We made over $2000, which sounds like a lot, but not for a week's worth of hot sweaty depressing work.

Russ and family are coming through NC to see Mom on their way back to WI. Mom doesn't show any emotions that her grandchildren are there.
As I'm putting away things that we brought back up for her, she comes in from walking the dog and gets really angry, starts channeling Gollum/Smeagol. Her precioussss..."Stop going through my stuff!" Etc., etc., etc. There's no convincing her that I am giving her more stuff - not taking it away. She slams out onto the balcony, crying and smoking.
Russ and Jill are shocked. I say this is what I get every day. Welcome to my world.

Before you think I'm the most awful person, (I've already confessed to irritability, selfishness and lack of patience), let me say that this is the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced, short of dealing with a two year old. At least a two year old will grow out of it. There's a learning curve here and brother, is it a steep one.

Going back and forth all the time - should I quit my job and move back down to FL with her and take care of her? (That was the one thing that would make me start crying when she was in hospital after the stroke - the thought of moving back to FL with her.) Are we doing the right thing? Is she going to get better? Is there something I'm not doing (probably)?

Sometimes she seems normal and I let my guard down, then wham! Stroke brain sucker punches me in the face. This thing does not play fair.
There's no logic to her thinking most of the time and yet I repeatedly get pulled down the rabbit hole trying to get her to be logical about taking the dog out more, or not spending money for food when she doesn't need to, or taking her medicine. That's my fault.
I try (yes I know - "Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.") to shift my attitude but I've stripped the gears.

I know she's frustrated too and she can't express that - hence the tantrums (just like a two year old). She's Opposite Mom - everything she used to enjoy is over. Cards, socializing, bowling, all of that is done. She can't hold a conversation because she forgets words, so says "Oh never mind!" Good thing I'm fairly good at charades because that skill comes into play several times a day. The sign for ice cream bars is pretending to hold something to her mouth and smacking her lips. Twenty Questions is another game we play frequently. "She's my friend, she called me." OK...then I go down my mental list of her friends until we get to who called her. Sometimes this can take a few minutes. She can't really read very well anymore. Or rather, things take longer to process, so she'll start off okay then it disintegrates into nonsense words "Drive Hertz now tkfipdj blah blah blah."

On one level it's a little fascinating to see how the brain copes with this type of trauma. Is this the "real" her that's been lurking under the cover of years of southern passive-aggressiveness? (Read genteel manners for all you non southerners) The passive is gone, now there's only aggressive. The stroke affected that part of the brain that covers decision making, does that cover the thinking-before-you-speak filter?


I Hate Garage Sales

July 24, 2008

I don't like going to or having garage sales. There's something creepy and sad about them. They have a desperate feel, like selling blood. My ex-husband loved garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. That could be another reason why I don't.

Strangers pawing through family memories, "Will you take _ for this?" No, I will not, I will take the price that's marked on it. Why do people try to get something that's marked .25 down to .10?! Will it be worth it then? Does it satisfy the bargain hunter urge to get it for .15 less? It's a piece of crap - pay the damn quarter and be gone! Ugh. And all this "stuff" is something that at one point we just HAD to have.

The kids are really good sports about this, even though it is not very much fun for them. Shawnn takes Dakota fishing one morning and they catch a small shark - bonus points for cousin Shawnn! He takes them both shark tooth hunting too.

It's hot and humid as only Florida in late July can be. God I hate my native state in the summer.

Holy Hoarder Batman!

July 20, 2008

My brother and his family, The Boy, and myself have taken on the huge task of having a garage sale for the remainder of Mom's stuff in FL. My sister in law is a garage sale maven, and we are her minions for the next week. Mom has no idea we're doing this. They're driving down from WI, The Boy from Tallahassee and I'm coming down from NC (trip # 5 in 4 months. I swear my car could do the drive by itself). And God love her, Susan G. is game too; she is a very good long-suffering friend. She comes up with Christmas on The Back Porch - genius idea.

Frankly, I think my Mom has some hoarding issues. The tendency was kept under control being in the military and moving every three years, but after Dad retired and they bought the house, it came back like kudzu.

Most of the guest room closet is filled with yarn and fabric and when paired with what was in the garage, it comes halfway out into the living floor. There are several unfinished afghans and lots of unfinished Barbie clothes. Boxes and boxes of patterns and notions.
Russ and Jill just happened onto the Quilter's Guild meeting at Kofe Haus, and then were told about another group knitting afghans for babies or cancer patients or some such, so we were able to donate all the fabric and yarn. Nice.
Good grief the candles! Most of them are unopened. Cleaning supplies was another thing she had multiple duplicates of. How many bottles of Toilet Duck (or variations thereof) does one need for two toilets?!

My sister decided she would take the china Dad got in Japan after all, so we ship that and the glassware that went with it to OR, which cost about $1000. Everything is covered with a film of nicotine, grease and dust. Yummy! Julie, the owner of the pack and ship place was very nice and gave us a discount because we packed much of it ourselves. On one of these trips Sam went with me and called me Puma; I don't know why it was so funny to her, but we both were laughing so hard we were crying.

The Light Bright Ceramic Xmas tree war rages on between my brother and sister, because Mom sent Russ the one she told Kay she could have. Maybe they can work out joint custody. Oy. Vey.

(Does my sister look like Jodie Foster or what?!)

Actually, I think this is great. We're all getting the things we have special memories of (except see above) without the trauma of actual death. But the one thing I really want, Mom's old SLR Minolta, is no where to be found. We find the instruction booklet but no camera. I wonder what happened to it.

The Dreary Reality

July, 2008

Everything is more of the same. She is not getting better mentally, but it's only been a couple of months since the last [noticeable] stroke; perhaps I'm expecting too much too soon.
We get into an irritable confrontation just about every time we see or speak to each other. I'm resentful about being sole entertainment, transportation, schlepper of all things grocery, dog, or medical. I get hung up on at least once a phone call. She's resentful of being "in prison".
She buys groceries at Wal-Mart, when she's paying for three meals a day. She refuses to eat breakfast downstairs. She complains every day that all they have for supper is sandwiches, then buys sandwich stuff at Wal-Mart and you guessed it - has that for supper. She does not comprehend, even though it's been explained many times by many people, that she always has 3 choices for supper - and the chef told her personally (I was there) that all she had to do was ask and he would make her whatever she wanted.

She refuses to take the Emerald Pond bus anywhere. She doesn't participate in any activities. Wii bowling is awesome, (she used to be on a bowling league), but when I describe it and try to encourage her to try it, she says it "sounds stupid". She sits in her apt. smoking and watching the USA channel all freaking day.
She won't take her meds (including anti depressants) and will cry for an entire day. Those days (if she goes out), she'll wear her sunglasses even inside, a tiny female Roy Orbison.

Mookie is not getting outside enough and is peeing by the front door. She is in total denial about it. "No he doesn't.", and "You don't know him, he's not your dog.", are her two favorite responses. Or there's "Just take him then!" The smell will knock you over, I can smell it down the hallway. So now I know that her new carpet wasn't ruined totally by Mr. Brown, Mookie helped. A lot. I feel bad for the poor dog.

Why don't I feel bad for her?

She's so good at "covering" that some of her friends and family think I'm the crazy one and/or the jerk of the century. She tells people all kinds of stuff that isn't true, she's in prison (not literally), I never come see her, all the people there are horrible, etc. But when I go to pick her up sometimes, she's down there helping new residents find a dining table, laughing with Nora (yes, she's made friends).

I go back and forth between she can't help it and this is her diabolical way of driving me crazy. Often I wonder if we should get her an regular apartment. Sometimes I think we should let her go back to her house in FL and do whatever the fuck she wants to. Don't want to take your medication - fine. Have another stroke. Want to give your money to that useless piece of man crap you so sadly think loves you, well have at it sister.

She goes on and on about needing to be buried in FL. I tease her by saying it may be like Aunt Edna in "National Lampoon's Family Vacation", but she'll get there. (She does not find this the least bit humorous.) She wants to move to an independent living place in FL. When I ask who will take care of her - she can't answer.

She's pushed away all her friends and family because they didn't like EBF. They care about her and could see that he was using her. But we are all blind to his wonderfulness, "we just didn't know him."
I'm reminded of Dan T.'s grandfather's story about a jackass: One person calls you a jackass, forgetaboutit. Two people call you a jackass, look in the mirror. Three people call you a jackass - buy a saddle. Yo Mom, that dude's wearing a lot of saddles.

She gets SO angry, you cannot imagine. "I'm not happy here!" she says teeth and hands clinched, just shaking with rage. "I'm so angry I could kill someone - maybe you!" "I'm going to jump off the [2nd story] balcony." Except she couldn't leave Mookie "the love of her life" (Seriously, the love of your life is a ten year old Boston Terrier?!) Sometimes the things she says are just plain funny to me and that really pisses her off.

Many times after I leave, I sit in my car and cry.


Now What?

June, 2008

The lovely dining room at Emerald Pond.

So, Kay and Russ have both left and I am alone...with our mother. Russ has her name on a waiting list for an assisted living place in WI, but [in my heart of hearts] I don't think that she'll move up there, not willingly. And quite frankly, I don't think they really want her to either.

She can't find anything in her new place, even though Kay and I showed her where everything is several times. She doesn't bother (or can't) to look for things, doesn't occur to her to open a drawer. If it's not out in the open - one of us kids took it. She doesn't get that she can take Mookie out after 8 PM when the doors are locked, because she has a key. But in her brain 8 PM is it, so Mookie is peeing on the carpet by the front door. I can't decide if this is stroke brain or spite. She's very unhappy. Still having her two phone calls a day with EBF. Nothing makes my skin crawl quite as much as hearing my 72 year old mother tell her 55 year old married "boyfriend" that she loves him. UGH. and yuk.

She's down to insulin twice a day, 15 units in the AM and 20 units in the PM. We hire a lovely woman named Tracy to oversee the process, just to make sure it get done correctly. She's also supposed to check that Mom takes her other meds because stroke brain has turned Mom into a big fat liar. Not on purpose, but she either doesn't remember that she hasn't taken it or thinks "yes" is the answer we all want to hear. If you check she gets MAD.

After one visit to the doctor she refuses to go again, because he told her to quit smoking. Literally slams the door in my face when I come to pick her up. She hangs up on me if she doesn't like what I'm saying or is done talking. This happens most every time I call her or if she calls me. If I don't/can't drop everything I'm doing and take her to Wal-Mart to buy cigarettes RIGHT NOW, well - "CLICK"!

A conversation is difficult if not impossible, she's weepy and defensive about everything. Her sense of humor has disappeared and she's incapable of expressing any appreciation. I don't know how to be with her, it's like having a 7 year old cranky zombie for a mother. All her filters are gone, she says mean and inappropriate things.

We found some jewelry that Mom was sure her niece had stolen after house sitting. Instead of being excited or remorseful that she had falsely accused someone of stealing, she just said "Oh."

It's just so weird.
I don't like her very much.


We've Arrived!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We've hired TROSA (Triangle Residential Options For Substance Abusers), a great local company, who do moving, landscaping, painting, etc., to unload the U-Haul at Mom's new place. Great deal, but even if it wasn't, totally worth it, because we are tired. Russ and I help with that while Kay stays at my house with Mom. I run over to Target to get stuff we didn't have room for or that was too big to bring. Microwave, small outdoor table and chairs for her balcony overlooking the pond (sounds nice right?), etc. We want to have most everything in place before we get Mookie and Mom and bring them over.

Emerald Pond is close to my work and house, bonus for me. The managers, Bill and Patty are nice. It's a large one bedroom apartment, lots of storage; living room, with a tiny kitchen area with sink, cabinets, small refrigerator, but no stove because her "rent" includes three meals a day in the dining room.
Turns out even though it's large, it's not as large as the picture in my head was (there's this thing called a measuring tape...), so there's no room for her entertainment center and her microwave, but TROSA takes them as a donation. The U-Haul drop off place was right by them, so that worked out well.
Russ puts together the bed, tv stand, and gets electronics hooked up, I hang pictures. We get Mom and Kay, Kay helps Mom decide where she wants her clothes, etc.

If you're not clear on the pattern here - my sister is the nice one. She has the patience of Job, especially if you're sick or a child - our mom is both of those right now. I do not. I still think I am the worst person for Mom to live by, because I don't have patience, I'm easily irritated and I'm selfish. I'm sure all the godly people out there are saying to themselves - that's exactly why she's there, so I can work on that stuff. And I say to that - Fie!

We're Off...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

like a herd of turtles in a snowstorm.

After about 3 hours of craptasticly bad sleep (we were packing and cleaning into the wee hours), the truck is loaded, the car is packed and we're ready to go. Russ and Kay have the U-Haul and I get Mom, Mookie, and Mr. Brown (cat).

Mom and I leave first for the seven hour drive. Russ and Kay finish locking up and cramming last minute things into the truck. It's hotter than Hades today, so it's a drive thru only trip because of the animals. I don't mind, we get there sooner, but Mom is a sit down dinner kinda gal. Oh well. Here we come SC Exit 119 Sonic Drive Thru!

Mr. B. will not shut up for the first 45 minutes, meowing and meowing and meowing. Did I mention meowing? As only a Siamese can. Mom keeps talking to him, which encourages him. I confess I was pretty snappy with her about it and she got her feelers hurt, but at least she stopped and eventually Mr. B did too (thank you Jesus!). I was seriously considering leaving him by the side of the road if he didn't shut his pie hole. Mookie was great, as he always is in the car.

It was at least 100 degrees; we have to take turns going to the bathroom at rest stops so one of us is in the car with the AC running for the pets. Miserable. But we make good time.
Kay and Russ are about a couple of hours behind us. Russ goes to a hotel because he needs some "serious down time". (No comment.)
The dog and cat are boarding at the vet. It was too much to ask my [three] cats to put up with a cat (who doesn't like other cats) AND a dog AND two more people.

Oh, the back story on Mr. B: He was once my friend Daphne's cat, but he made life miserable for her other cats, because if you are not a person, a dog, or a really old, sick, male tabby cat named Yellow - he does not like you and will make your life a holy hell, so much so that you will poop under chairs out of fear.
So Mr. B., aka Mr. Brown, Brown, Brownie, Brown Boy, Tater, Ollie, Oliver, among other things, went to live with my Mom. Perfect situation: no other cats and a dog who likes cats.

But Mr. B, unbeknownst to us, had diabetes. Was peeing all over, ate all the time, drank water for 5 minutes at a time, ruined my mom's new carpet (Mookie helped him). Now he needs to be on insulin. My mother can't even do her own insulin let alone a cat's! So Mr. B needs to find a new home.


Away We Go - Part Trois

Monday, June 9, 2008

So much stuff! Even now, I cannot believe we did what we did in one day. Grace of God, seriously. A big shout out to Susan G. and her grandson Blake, Ken B., the ladies who took my mom out to lunch and sat with her while we went through her stuff, so as to lessen the trauma, we could not have done it without you!

We whittled down 20+ years of stuff into an 18' U-Haul. My brother did a freaking genius job of packing the truck; my sister was extraordinarily patient with Mom, going through each item of jewelry and clothing with her.
Blake was the best 10 year old runner ever, willing to do anything with a "Yes sir/ma'am." Susan packed boxes with a gracious spirit and as always, brought a huge helping of funny to the table. You cannot have enough funny in situations like this.
Ken B. bought Mom's car, for cash - huge help because we were wondering what we were going to do with it, and helped Russ loading some of the big stuff. Me - I just threw away things. I am really good at that.

Away We Go - Part Deux

Sunday, June 8, 2008:
How in the world do you tell your mother you're taking her from her independence, her home, her native state, her friends, her family?

We're all just sick. My stomach has felt like someone's punched me for the past three days, I can't believe how much I want to avoid doing this. I'm so happy Kay and Russ are here with me, there is NO WAY I could do this alone.
We have to tell Mom today because the U-Haul is coming tomorrow. Russ is changing the locks on all the doors today. (She thinks we're trying to lock her IN the house. Oh boy.)

I can't remember who actually told her. She tries to hit Russ, which was sadly humorous because she's 5'1" and weighs about 90 lbs.; a bantam hen trying to take on a bull. She starts crying, goes in her bedroom, slams the door, doesn't want to be with us.
Fair enough.

We go out on the back porch and eventually she comes out and asks if she can bring Mookie [the dog].
She goes back in crying.

Some time passes.

She comes back out and asks if she can bring her sewing table.
Goes in for a bit more crying.

Awhile later...
Can I wear jeans there?
Seriously. (that struck us as being so funny we couldn't stop repeating it.)

Kay says - you can wear a hoop skirt if you want.
Not so much crying now.

She's also really mad at Kay and I because we went to the 55 year old evil boyfriend's (henceforth known as EBF) church and requested he give back the key to Mom's house. Of course we were polite girls and didn't cause a scene. (No really, we were.) We waited until his [74 year old] WIFE was inside the church first. He said he didn't have it and he would drop it off later. Doesn't really matter, because we're changing the locks.

We just wanted him to know that the sweet gig he had going was O. V. E. R.
Full F***ing stop, you bastard.

So prior to us telling her she was moving to NC, EBF had broken up with her, stopping by for about three seconds to give her the key. She said we'd "...made asses of ourselves." Oh reeaallly? Good for us!

So a double whammy day for poor Mom. But honestly, it wasn't as horrible (for us) as it could have been. I was afraid she'd run away or hurt herself.

Can we start drinking now?! If any day deserves a beer (or five), it is today.

Then to sleep, perchance to dream, because tomorrow is going to be a doozy...


Skip to the present

I'll go back to the past in a bit.

The newest thing in the downward slide of my mother's dementia is that she doesn't remember how to spell her name. Seriously, how f***ed is that? This is more depressing to me than a lot of other stuff that's happened. Not being able to count money was pretty bad (she put down a $10 bill for a $26 tab and asked the cashier "Is that enough, because I don't know how much it is."), but this is worse somehow. (On the [dimly] bright side, at least she knows what her name is.) She always had beautiful penmanship and now that's shaky and weird too. I could cry right now just thinking about it.

I've had people say they would pray that I see my mother as she was. NO! NO! NO!
She is THIS WAY NOW and frankly it's torture to think of her in the past. I want that back and I can't have it. The only way to do it is to be here now. In all its uncomfortable, sad, messy nowness. Yikes.


And Away We Go!

All this is just bringing you up to speed...
Friday, June 6, 2008:
My brother is finally on board with Mom having to move. It did not feel good to get him to this place. There were tears and lots of shouting - mostly on my part. We could have done it without him, but it would have been a lot harder. After all, he is the one with a penis AND the youngest, so course he can do no wrong in a mother's eyes.
He's been at a trade show in VA, so he drives down here, picks me up and it's a road trip to FL - whoo-hoo! This is my 4th trip to FL in three months.

We met Kay at Moon River (best pizza in FL) for a planning session (and beer!). Mom doesn't have any idea we're coming and doesn't react to us showing up, in spite of not having seen Russ in several years. She doesn't ask what's going on. Her emotions are all crazy, you can't map them (guessing she can't either) to the appropriate event anymore. She laughs when she's upset, doesn't get jokes or humor anymore, cries easily and is very irritable and defensive. Her nurses say this is all part of post stroke brain and she should return to normal, but it could take months.

Kay and I spend Saturday doing fun stuff, like renting a U-Haul, gathering boxes, etc. She is ready for a break after all this time with my mom. Russ makes some kick-ass burgers on the vintage blue Weber and we have a really nice dinner, the first time since Dad died that we've all been together.
We decide not to tell Mom until the last possible minute, because we have no idea how she will react - will she try to run away again? Kill herself? We honestly don't know. We also have no idea how or if we can even pull this escapade off. There's so much to do.
And we don't even know what we don't know...


Cheaper Than Therapy, Part II

Continuing the saga from yesterday's post:

Thursday, May 9, 2008:
Mom is visiting me in NC and has her second (at least) stroke. She spends a couple of days in UNC and then I drive her home to FL on Monday. Everyone wants to be home when they don't feel good. Not to mention she says she wants to go home every 1/2 hour. If I had a pair of ruby slippers, I would throw them at her.
My sister comes out from Oregon on Thursday, I come back up here on Sunday. I am exhausted.

Mom has to check her sugar levels four times a day and cannot remember how the glucose meter works from one time to the next. (She used one every day for 20+ years) Her food needs to be cut for her because she can't make a fist or close her hand enough to hold a utensil. We have to make sure she's not having trouble swallowing. She has physical therapy for her lost mobility. She's still smoking. (grrrrrrrr!)
She's over paid one credit card $1500 and is only making minimum payments on others. She's been late on her mortgage and utility bills several times. I set up auto payments on her mortgage and a couple of other bills. We get Kay added on her bank account in case she needs to sign some checks. This is a woman who handled the family's finances and now she can't understand a bill. It literally took her two hours to write a check. To say she does not like us messing in her business is an understatement. She gets furious with us when we throw away 8 year old food from the freezer. "Stop going through my stuff!" OMG.

At one point, my mom [thinks she] locks my sister out of the house and "steals" her own car to meet the stupid boyfriend at Huddle House. This incident was actually pretty funny; my sister is as mad as a feral cat being given a bath, and is roaring over the phone: "Mom locked me out of the house - that bitch!" "Mom STOLE the car!" "I'm calling the police! Wait, do you think I should call the police? That bitch!!" "She just looked right at me and kept backing down the driveway. That bitch! I AM calling the police!" I have to admit I was howling with laughter.
Kay calls the police and of course they can do nothing, because, 1.) it's her car and 2.) she has a valid license. Mom doesn't remember (or says she doesn't) talking to the police in Huddle House. Kay took her keys after that episode though, we were afraid she would hurt herself and/or someone else.
(FYI - Huddle House is a smaller, cheaper, greasier Denny's - if that's possible)

During this month Kay is taking Mom to the doctor, medical supply stores, helping her with her physical therapy, getting a Life Alert bracelet. We're also doing James Bond secret agent stuff - with the help of Aunt Trish, who gets Mom out of the house on several occasions, so Kay can look for the will, which we never find. We're worried about that, so we get a new one drawn up, and get it down there to Kay just in the nick of time. We also move money out of Mom's account, in cause the evil boyfriend has some access that we don't know about. Thank goodness for Amy at the Credit Union, she was a huge help.

I go back down Memorial Day weekend and things have not improved very much at all. The glucose meter and insulin sliding scale are beyond her, one of us needs to oversee the process every single time.

My sister is convinced that Mom can't live by herself, but my brother is not totally on board yet. There was a fair bit of denial going on with me too, but my sister, who spent 4 weeks with her, is adamant about her not being capable.

At any rate, my sister needs to go home and we need to do something - fast. Thanks to my friend Barbara D., who knows the good places around here and went with me to Emerald Pond, an independent living facility. They happen to have an opening, so we grab it.
Now all we have to do is tell her, move her three states and we're good! More on that tomorrow...


Cheaper Than Therapy

My mother has dementia.

This is my journey down the meandering, pot holed, bumpy road that is life after strokes, bypass surgery and memory loss.

Here's hoping that at least some of these posts will make you laugh and perhaps even help those who are on the same road.

A disclaimer: this is MY experience, MY recollection of events. Others may remember things differently.
My brother and sister may well remember me being a much bigger bitch than I'm going to recall. So be it.

I guess we should start at what I've come to think of as the beginning, the death of my father on April 30, 1999. She really hasn't been the same since, in spite of her being quite young at the time, having just turned 63 twenty eight days earlier.

May 2000. She has a quintuple bypass, for reasons that still escape me. She had excellent cholesterol levels, in the 120's, in spite of eating a meat and potatoes diet, no exercise, and smoking. She did not have chest pains or any other symptoms of heart disease.
After the bypass, her memory really took a beating, so much so that I asked her on many occasions to check her medication to see if some were interacting with others in a bad way.

Fast forward to May 2007, she has a stroke, called an ambulance and spent several days in the hospital, but didn't tell anyone except her sister, after the fact.
At some point after this she stops taking all of her medications, blood pressure, diabetes - everything. When I saw her in Oct. 2007, she looked bad, skin sallow, thin, old, worn out. I, not knowing any of the above, chalk it up to a bad day. Her "boyfriend" has had back surgery and she had been taking care of him, so she would have been tired.

April 2008. My brother and his family and myself are in FL for the family reunion. Mom looks like death warmed over. My mother is a petite person, just 5' 1", normally a size 8-10, but now has lost even more weight since I saw her 6 months ago and is a wearing a size 4! Her skin is literally hanging off of her.
She can't go 10 minutes without drinking a lot of something, is peeing constantly, and very, very irritable. Her mind is a freakin' sieve. She has to read the recipe for blueberry cake (which she could make in her sleep practically), about 10 times before it makes sense and by the time she gets to the pantry or refrigerator, she's forgotten what she went for and has to go back and read the recipe another 3-4 times. It's disturbing.
When I ask when was the last time she had her meds checked, she tells me she doesn't do that anymore, she "feels normal" when she doesn't take them and hasn't seen the doctor in over a year. Wow. Are. You. Kidding?!

I'm totally pissed off at her, not knowing she's had a stroke. I think she's just arbitrarily decided to stop just because. I want to shake her. And the boyfriend...ugh. More on him later. I tell everyone who will listen to me that she's stopped taking her meds. When I come home, I call her doctor and tell him. I'm furious with him too.