• Lisa

walking on eggshells

I apologize in advance if this ends up being another whiny rant. It's just been one of those weeks. Mom seems to stay confused lately, without clarity for more than a few minutes. One night last week she flipped out, as she does periodically. Specifically, this time around, I was some stranger who had showed up out of the blue claiming to be her late husband's daughter, probably to get hold of the farm property. It's hard to know whether to laugh, cry or scream. I usually end up doing some of each, at various points, when she goes on one of these days-long binges of insanity.

She called her younger brother, my uncle, and insisted he come over right then, because her sister the paralegal was apparently telling this strange girl everything about the family and giving her all of Lisa's identification, otherwise how would this girl have Lisa's birth certificate and old passport? (Yes, I resorted to showing her my ID, knowing exactly what she would say: 'well, anybody could get those. Is this all you've got? That doesn't prove anything'. She's demented, not stupid.)

Well, this was the middle of the night, so I snuck out into the garage and called my uncle back to explain as quickly and surreptitiously as I could. He said he would come by the next day and not mention anything; I was hoping that, as she often does, she would forget it by the morning. She didn't, although by the time he came, I was her Lisa again, and she had to tell him all about the awful girl who was there last night. I don't think he realized how bad she was, because he seemed a bit stunned. He rallied though, and volunteered to come stay with her for a while yesterday so I could get out.

I was hoping I might have time to at least go into Wal-Mart and pick up some stuff and maybe take a look at bikes (it's a mile away but it might as well be on the moon) but by the time I got gas, groceries, and my one prescription medicine, an hour and a half had passed and mom was calling me every 3 minutes. I couldn't inflict that on him any longer. Although when I got home he said she had napped and been just fine. Yeah. I seem to be the only one who gets accused of trying to kill her, or not caring if she dies, or taking off for days at a time without telling anybody. argh

Anyway. The title of this post comes from a feeling I've had over the years of working. No matter what was going on in my life, I had to put on a good show for patients and co-workers. I could take off the mask and rest at home. Now, though, I feel like I have to be 'on' all the time. Every moment of day or night, I never know when mom is going to ramp up from a seemingly simple question or comment, to a storm of confused interrogations and challenges. I've looked for a trigger, without success, so it's walking around on eggshells.

And you know what I've said before, about her mental performance doesn't seem to have any pattern? Still the case. She doesn't know who I am half the time, but when my uncle was here and I thought of a bottle I'd been trying to open earlier in the day, I excused myself saying I could use his help with a small thing. As I left the room I heard mom saying "I bet she's going after that Coke she couldn't get open".

Her psychiatrist started her on a (very expensive, even with Medicare D, even as a generic) patch that's supposed to help her memory. Three weeks in, no discernible improvement. In fact, she seems to be starting to have panic attacks again, and she hasn't had those in years. But the hyperventilating and wildly racing thoughts are back, and you pair those with the constant fidgeting and what her MD calls talking in circles, and it makes for a pretty tiring life.

I try really hard to find any small sparks of light. The other day at breakfast, I was eating some French bread with Nutella on it. (If you don't know what Nutella is, what is wrong with you? LOL. It's chocolate hazelnut butter, and it is decadence in a jar.) Mom was intrigued and asked if she could have some. Now, about those panic attacks I mentioned: her doctor took her off all caffeine, way back in the early 90s, to help with those. She hasn't eaten chocolate in decades. I gently mentioned that to her, and she looked at me with the crazy look she uses when she has no clue what I'm talking about, and said she had never stopped eating chocolate. Okay, so, who am I to argue, at this point? So she got French bread with Nutella, and loved it, and it didn't seem to make her act any worse, so I'll give it to her again if she wants it. Watching her enjoy her first bites of it, I have to admit, was fun. I take my fun where I can find it these days.

Okay, enough of the rainy day mopes. Next time, let's talk books, maybe. I just applied to be an advance reader for a writer I like, so next week I'll share some things I've read recently that I love. So tune in next week, for Aztec vampires, Star Wars if the Bard had written it, and a series that reads like Anthony Bourdain guesting on Supernatural. :DSave

#caregiver #dementia #chocolate

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