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Wonder and Delight

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my mind fade the way of a Dementia patient.  I know I have issues with remembering just about anything–due to stress and an increase in workload.  If I don’t forget to write something down, I forget to do it, or look it up.  But my world is clear.

Last Friday, my parents got bad news about one of their cats.  She was put down on Saturday.  On Friday, my grandma knew which cat it was and shared in the tears.  Saturday, when she wondered why my mom was teary and upset.  When my mom told her they’d just put the cat down, she just sat that was too bad.

It wasn’t long after that she came up and we went into the living room to decorate the tree and she helped out, she enjoyed herself, she was clear and she stayed up and watched a movie with them afterwards which she hasn’t done in a few weeks.

Sunday, she thought it was Christmas Day.

I haven’t written in a few weeks mostly because I want to post new thoughts and happenings; I try not to repeat myself too much.  It’s hard when they get to this stage.  But the glimmers still remain and it was wonderful for her to decorate the tree with us and joke and laugh and be with us both physically and mentally.  She was so happy to be a part of it.

Christmas, as I said last time, is a concern for us.  To have at least three kids running around, making noise as well as eight adults talking is going to take its toll quickly.  It might be better for her to find the reprieve in the basement for a short time and then rejoin the group… it used to work for me when it was my basement!

Who Are You?

I seem to find I’m saying the same things by writing too often lately.  It has been about 2 weeks since I wrote last now and in that 2 weeks, well, let’s just say we’re not sure she’s going to be staying with us through Christmas though we are hoping.

As we enter into the Christmas season, we often find ourselves nostalgic.  Sometimes we want what we had before because it was simpler.

We’ve watched grandma, over this last year fade away.  She’s got the mind of a child in an old, weathered body.  It’s not fair.  We’ve watched her slip away not only over a year but even over an afternoon.  One minute she can know you, the next minute her eyes have glazed over and it looks as though she sees nothing.

I told my mom that I wish she’d make up her mind about whether she’ll be with us for Christmas or not.  My mom thought, at first, that I was talking about money and gifts.  But that’s not what I meant–Christmas has always been a special time of year for me and even moreso while my daughter was little.  The magic of Christmas and the magic of Santa won me over.  If grandma passes away between now and then, it’s going to make it a very difficult Christmas for all of us.  If she doesn’t and she’s with us in body, how taxing will it be on her?  Christmas Day is a long day from start to finish.  Especially with young children running all over the inside of the house because they can’t go outside to play!

The last while she’s gone downstairs as soon as I arrive with my daughter.  She simply states to my mom that she has company.  Last week, my daughter was in a riding show so my mom came out to watch.  My dad stayed home and twice grandma came upstairs and asked for my mom.  Twice my dad told her where my mom was.  When my mom finally did get home grandma came up and said “I’m just going to ask, where the hell have you been?”  She is becoming obsessed almost and I’m afraid for my mom.

Twice in the last 2 weeks she has packed a bag.  Once she she said she was going home.  The second time she said that since my mom and dad had sold the house and moved she felt she better be going too.  When looking in her bag, she had packed her Depends, running shoes and pajamas.  No clothes.

It’s very hard to imagine how scattered their minds are.  I know how mine is from stress caused by work but to imagine dementia?  Impossible!

Out of it…

We knew the time would eventually come when we noticed an even worse decline in grandma’s health than before.

That time is now.

She looks confused when we walk in the door and if we go to the kitchen first and then walk into the family room it’s as though we just walked in the front door again.  She looks at us oddly as though determining if we belong there.  I have always thought that when she no longer recognizes my daughter and I, it’s time to find a home.

Last night we were heading out to the hot tub and she told my mom she was so cold she couldn’t even think of going in the pool to cool off.  My mom tried to explain to her that it’s too cold for the pool and that we closed it weeks ago.

I’m still not sure if we’re nearing the end of her stay at the house or if we’re just nearing the end.  The other day she was in tears as she told my mom that she knows she’s not right in the head and that she prays to God that he not make her live like that any longer.  She wants to die.  I was at work but my first thought was what do you say to that?

How does a person react to that?

Today is another day.  We’ll see how she is.  I’m sure she’ll think I’m supposed to be at work!

Tour #3…

The week before last, my mom and I took a third tour.  Other than waiting almost 15 minutes for it to start and my being late getting back to work, it was, once again, a nice place.  Anything built in the last 20 years will all look the same.  We didn’t get the opportunity to see the staff interacting with the patients because everything started after lunch in the end.  I think, due to it’s location, this place will end up being number 1 on our list.  We’re supposed to see 5 but really, is it worth looking at another 2?  Just pick them based on reputation.

Grandma has to be spending a lot of time in her younger past.  She keeps calling me “Millie”, a schoolgirl friend.  Lately she has been surprised when people show up and 2 weeks ago she asked what I was doing there on the Sunday and why I wasn’t at work.  I joked about saying that it was Sunday and that I now work 6 days a week, can we not make it 7?  She only smiled.

The other night she went downstairs at 7:30 but came right back up.  She told my mom that there were 2 women in her apartment that she didn’t know so she left.  45 minutes later she got up and went back down with hopes they still weren’t there.

She has also become my mom’s shadow.  My mom can’t move without her right behind her which has created a few problems for her when she’s being trying to hang new curtains, etc. and is in need of tools or is using tools.

It’s getting closer, the day we have to admit her to one of the homes lovingly chosen.  Will she be with us for Christmas?  We all hope we get that much still.

Time will tell.

Tour #2…

We stopped touring for a bit since there was a nursing home right around the corner that will be opening Summer 2015 and my mom was interested into getting grandma into there so she had to call her CCAC coordinator to find out about that.

So today we got back to it and visited number 2.  Really they are much the same in appearance, it’s more the staff and the location I think.  The biggest difference between this one and the last one was that the last nursing home, the semi-privates have an actual wall separating the beds whereas this place has curtains.  The norm is probably curtains but we’ll keep looking.  The one thing I liked about this place is they have an actual suite for family members who have some reason to stay over in the building (visiting from out of town or patient is palliative).

Grandma continues her downhill slide.  I think that when she reaches the point where she no longer recognizes myself or my daughter then it’s time to start the admission process.  She’s been getting extremely angry lately especially when it comes to her TV.  The other morning my mom had to take grandma to the lab and they asked if she’d eaten breakfast and she didn’t know.  The other night when my daughter and dad took the dogs for a walk, I moved over to sit next to my mom to show her something on my iPad and all of a sudden grandma fell into a huge snit!  She wouldn’t look at anyone and it was almost like she wasn’t listening to anybody either (even though she’s deaf but everyone was talking loudly).  Finally we brought her back around but it took a lot of effort.

And last Sunday my dad went down to see what she wanted for supper at 4:30 and she was in bed! She was tired and she thought it was bedtime so she went to bed.

Sometimes I think going to a home would be better for her–she’d have to go to the dining room for three meals in a day and then there are all kinds of activities that she would be taken to.

Whose Birthday?

So my birthday falls on the first of this month and this year it was a special one so my family gathered around me and bought Swiss Chalet for supper and an ice cream cake.

Grandma was upstairs when I arrived and she never said anything which I was anticipating.  We ate supper which she thought was great.  We held off on cake because my brother had to go out to work for an hour and a half after supper so when he got back we did the cake thing.  That’s when she was surprised it was my birthday.  She cornered my mom to ask if she’d gotten me a card and was relieved when my mom had informed her that she had.  I get the feeling that this will probably be my last birthday with her in attendance.

Four days after mine, my brother celebrates his.  We moved it from Friday to Sunday celebrating and the same thing happened.

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew’s fourth birthday and it pretty well played out the same way except that my other brother was there with his wife and kids.  Apparently she was quite familiar with them upon their arrival–knew they belonged there.  She had gone downstairs by the time I arrived so I didn’t see her until suppertime.  She stood (while we waited for pizza to arrive) next to me asking questions.  She asked me who a number of people were including my nephew, the birthday boy.  She called me her dictionary which, I think, is better than Millie!

She wasn’t even sure of her age.  She was talking about being 84 or 85 or 93 but she wasn’t sure which.

A number of things have happened over the course of two weeks that show that she’s not herself anymore. She couldn’t find her purse and she had put it in a drawer, she talked about “that guy upstairs” and asked if he had a girlfriend less than a day after he asked him why he lived at the house when he has a great wife at home.  He reminded her that he and his wife had not been together for almost a year and she said that she was talking about ‘his girlfriend’.  (I apologized to him for missing the wedding!)

She doesn’t clean or do housework, she doesn’t wash unless she’s told to and she can’t tell time.  She looks at her watch and then she looks at the wall clock and then she asks what time it is.

A mere shell of who she used to be.  A woman who was so dedicated to her church and, more so, the church choir that she would go out to church on a weekday and fix choir gowns.  She would be there ahead of everybody on a Sunday morning and put everyone’s folders together with music and bulletins.  When she wasn’t there, which was rare, the choir practically fell apart.  I was a member of that choir for so many years.

I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about that today but it’s the right day anyway.

My mom has to meet with the CCAC coordinator again because she now has a new one.  This system is ridiculous.

I like a lot of things the old way!

It is another long weekend and the gang is away.  The last long weekend they will be away until next summer.  I know I’ve said this all summer but this one probably really truly be grandma’s last up at the trailer.  She’s really not doing so hot… on so many levels.  Her walking has become more staggered and it doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is when she becomes more confused.  Often it was related to “sundowning” but that too has passed.

I went up yesterday for my usual long weekend day trip and she was okay when I got there, knew who I was but an hour later during lunch, she asked “what’s that little girl eating?” about my daughter!  We’d all tucked into ham/cheese/tomato on kaiser rolls which my daughter doesn’t eat so we were in the process of making her some KD.  I guess the big deal with that is she knows my daughter and I.  She might mix up our names but then my great-grandmother was also extremely good for that with no other signs of dementia.  So we teased “little girl” about that for the remainder of the afternoon.  Well…

Karma is a B!#$h!!  Grandma insisted we go into town for supper.  So off we went at 4:00 and we ended up at McDonald’s.  The seating was a bench seat with a table for 4 flanked by 2 tables for 2.  Chairs ran the opposite sides (standard seating for any McDonald’s).  There were 2 trays for the 5 of us and my dad was ahead of me with the first.  I heard her ask, as I approached the table, where the 3 missing people are.  Guess who’s coming to dinner!  Your guess is as good as ours was.  After supper, I went back up and got an ice cream cone and on my way back they were all laughing.  Turns out that I had magically transformed into “Millie” again, a woman she hasn’t seen for years that she grew up with. 

So the tables turned and I was endlessly tortured about this.  It also didn’t help that when I got into the backseat of the truck, ice cream cone in hand, flanked by grandma on my right and my daughter on my left, that grandma grabbed the roll of paper towels, ripped off a section and set it across my lap!!!

Thank goodness we were only back at the trailer for a half hour before I had to go… it’s not the teasing per se, it just gets really tough sometimes.  I was glad, this one time, to tuck tail and run.

Mom’s not having any better a day today according to her texts. 

I do believe that this will be her last.

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