Sunday, May 29, 2011

O is for Opinions

Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is entitled to their opinions. And I have had plenty of them shared with me as I have dealt with Mom's illness.

My first "shocking" statement to people was when I said I hoped she ran away from home. I did not wish my mother harm, but I knew it was a good way to finally get her some help. The process of getting a diagnosis and some help was quite difficult, but I knew this step would be a big one. Sure enough, she ran away in the middle of the night. My father had them take her to the hospital, where she was determined to have not been harmed. And we were able to get her some help. (I choose to ignore that it was the subsequent process of getting paperwork done during which my father fell and hit his head, which led to his subdural hematoma and persistent unconsciousness. The brain bleed is not necessarily related.)

There were numerous opinions about where to place her. We had our hands tied for her first placement, as she was combative and only qualified for a few facilities. We knew where we wanted her to go. People had positive and negatives for both. But we feel that we have her in a good place now.

I get opinions as to my frequency of visiting and how we are handling things. Usually they are positive, but not always.

I admit that sometimes I have had opinions about how people have treated their parents in the declining years. I don't often share them with the person, unless it seems that someone is in some kind of danger or a really bad way. Or perhaps I wait until that person asks for my opinion. And then it must be carefully delivered. I try to treat others the way that I want to be treated.

N is for Normal

What is normal in the Alzheimer's world? Normal is apparently whatever world the person is in at any given moment. And apparently it isn't necessarily what is normal to the rest of us.

For my mother, it is normal to wander around two hallways and a communal area. It is normal to wear diapers, excuse me, briefs. It is normal for people to not be able to talk. It is normal to hear to have lengthy conversations with my father, even though he is essentially unconscious in a hospital twenty miles away. It is normal to seek the organ and to prepare for a church service.

It is not normal to me, though. And I often have these selfish moments where I can't handle the abnormal side of life with Mom. I struggle to remember that being normal is relative. It now needs to be normal to me to ride this strange roller coaster with Mom. My normal excursions with her, shopping, driving, eating, gardening, etc., just cannot happen anymore. They have translated from normal activity to normal memories. She is happy in her world. I am happy for her, but I am still struggling with it. Perhaps it would have been easier had my father not fallen ill around the same time, but I am not so sure about that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Expectations in Alzheimer's

It can be hard for me to plan a visit to see my mother, because I never know what to expect. I prefer that she is having a good day and is happy to see me. Unfortunately, I am often greeted with Cranky Mommy. For some reason, I seem to bring that side out in her.

I have learned to keep my phone stocked with pictures from my garden, as I can usually distract her with those. I have learned to expect other women to come join us, as they are also lonely for attention from other people. I have learned to be prepared to make up a quick reason for escape at a crucial moment, to leave Mom in a good mood but to also prevent her from trying to walk out with me.

I have had to learn to let go of expectations with my mother and to just take each moment as it comes. Alzheimer's is tricky and unpredictable. I have to take this roller coaster ride in stride, because I know what is coming later on down the road. It just feels weird for so much to have changed in such a short time. Six months ago, both of my parents were relatively fine and at home. I knew what to expect when I came home. And now each trip is an adventure into the unknown with them both.

GBE 2 Challenge

Yes, there is another blogging challenge. This one is called the GBE2 challenge. The Group Blogging Experience originally started on MySpace and has now been resurrected on Facebook. I wasn't going to include this blog in the weekly challenge, but the first topic is one that will fit this blog.

I can't guarantee that I will post on the weekly topics, but it isn't necessary. And yes, I still plan to finish that challenge from April and to attempt to finish the one from May. It just may take me until July. :-D

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

M is for Mother's Day

Yes, Mother's Day feels like ages ago now. But this post has been writing itself in my head since then.

I returned home for Mother's Day weekend for two reasons. One, my father was moved out of the ICU to an LTAC facility and I wanted to check it out. Also, my mother may not remember that I came to see her on Mother's Day, but *I* would know. And that was important to me.

Sunday morning, I had a lot of running around to do and I had overslept until almost 11:30. My sister had such a brilliantly simple idea for Mother's Day that I decided to mimic it. She simply sent Mom a card that said she loved her. Duh. So I quickly perused the cards at Kroger, focusing on the Snoopy ones. I have been a Snoopy freak since I was a kid, so it was appropriate. I also added a new word search puzzle book and a box of Good n Plentys.

I am all excited to spend a little happy time with my mom before heading home. I walk in and she looks at me and just starts complaining. This place is awful and unorganized. People are being too helpful. She sat through the budget meeting and no one knew what they were talking about, so she turned to my dad and said......

On and on she droned, as cranky as cranky could be. It was a little disappointing. Finally she started to get distracted by her card and I started showing her pictures from my garden on my phone. That always seems to be the key. Pictures of the flowers. I got a lump in my throat when she asked if I had shown them to my father, yet.

I also kept showing her pictures of family and talking about them. One of her fellow "lost" friends came into the room to chat with us for a bit. And finally my hour was over. I made up some excuse to leave. She asked, as always, if I was going to be back later that evening. I hate to lie, but I said yes. And she smiled, hugged me, and let me leave.