• Lisa


Operation Place K is moving along. I had a brief but intense freak-out on Monday when I called mom’s doctors to make sure they were sending the needed paperwork K had requested, only to discover one is out of town this week. After a small panic, I realized it was not, after all, the end of the world, and the move could wait till his return. So I breathed deep, talked with his nurse and the contact person at K, and shuffled family members (willing, thank heavens).

As it turned out, the way these things often do, that was a very good thing. A monumental storm front tore through town last night, with hail the size of white beans, buckets of rain, and wind that knocked a tree over on a car in the driveway of the neighbors across the street. Said tree took our power out for 4 hours or so. At first, I didn’t think much of it; our power got knocked out for about that long a few months ago due to a car knocking down a pole, and mom and I entertained ourselves watching the cops and paramedics and cherry-picking NES guys fixing things, till we got tired and went to bed. No biggie.

What a diff a few months makes. This time, mom, to put it delicately, went off her rocker. She couldn’t stay still, kept picking and fidgeting and knocking stuff over on her nightstand, and talked incessantly about what worked with a battery and what didn’t, and she was going to go sit in the car because the car lights worked, and the lights in her body went with the cell phone and wouldn’t light up and she needed to call the electric company back and tell them to hurry, hurry.

Power came back a little after midnight, and I finally got mom to go to bed about an hour later…whereupon she immediately went into Jack in the box mode. When I finally got up to check, I found she had pulled off half her clothes and her usually-favorite blanket and dumped them on the floor, still babbling nonsense and wanting to go through the house and turn all the lights on to make sure the power was back on (despite the proof in the form of her bathroom light that we leave on).

I chased her around for a while, then gave up, got myself a snack and sat down and read while she flailed some more. When she sat down in the floor about 4:30 am and started wailing for help getting up, I figured that might be about it. It was, but only for a couple of hours. Then she was up and at ‘em again, while I felt half drunk from fatigue. The demented brain just does not process stuff like tiredness consistently. In her case, it seemed to manifest in a seriously extreme case of confused bitchiness, snarling and cussing and kicking and berating me for not giving her her pills on time.

Thankfully (I hate to say that! LOL) her sitter was due, and an aunt rescued me and took me to shop for furniture for mom’s soon-to-be-new quarters. And boy, am I glad we didn’t keep to the original plan to move her this week! I doubt I could have dragged myself through setting up a room, or deciphering lease documents. See, things happen for a reason.

The past week has been an especially roller-coaster-y one. Mom was good enough one day to ride to the grocery, and actually sit in the car and not get out and wander around the parking lot, and then drive through and pick up lunch, and take it home and enjoy it. Another evening, I had to ride her around to half a dozen drug stores looking for plug-in chap sticks (what?), and two other nights I’ve had to take her out and ride her around the neighborhood to distract her from an agitated fit of wanting to go home (and once take her back out a couple more times, till she decided we were indeed home).

In all, the best times have a hint of bitterness, and the worst often have an unexpected whiff of joy. Mom may be ranting about her pills, or laying down in the floor like a toddler having a tantrum, and say ‘where are my glasses?’. I say ‘um, on top of your head’ and she stops and makes that face I know so well, the self-deprecating ‘well aren’t I a dumbass’ face, and my heart aches. And the other night when we went to get ice cream, mom took our family mascot along.

This is Spooky. One year I had to go out of town for work over Halloween. It’s one of our favorite holidays, so mom bought this little stuffed ghost and hid him in my suitcase to keep me company. Ever since, he’s been a part of the family. My parents and I all played with him and made him move and act, just a silly inside joke. Mom still does it, and on her worst days, Spooky can always make her most strident raves soften, if only for a moment.

Anyway, she took him riding in the car with us to Sonic (which she always loved for its corn dogs, but which she admitted that night she didn’t think she had ever been up). We put him in the back seat while we ate so as not to get him sticky with ice cream; then when we got home, I led mom inside, sat her on her bed, and went back to the car to collect our little friend. I barely got back inside when she came tearing out of her room screaming ‘where is Spooky?’ For an instant, I saw myself as a child, wailing on a family vacation because I’d left my beloved Raggedy Ann in a Stuckey’s bathroom. Not to say mom is a child, but this disease makes a person

For whatever reason, I’ve found my patience and fortitude a bit better of late. Last night, I fixed her the supper she asked for: salmon patties, mac and cheese, and asparagus. I brought her plate and she immediately started griping saying she wanted asparagus, not green beans. No amount of talk or even the display of the empty can could convince her; the whole meal, she kept grumbling that somebody at the grocery had switched the labels on the cans.

For dessert, she wanted a soft sugar cookie she likes, with some ice cream on top. She doesn’t like the icing, so I scraped it off before I crumbled it up in the bowl. When I presented it, she started to yell she didn’t want that icing, and proceeded to pick through the bowl with her hands, removing every bit of cookie with a hint of leftover pink food coloring (which was most of them) and piling them on her napkin while complaining.

Now, I know for a fact, I am no saint. Under most circumstances, I probably would have at least had a cross word or two for her, maybe more. But really, I just found it all mildly annoying. I sighed like Eeyore, and let it go. Maybe it’s that I’m seeing an end of sorts in sight, or here at that end, I’ve just finally mastered being the duck.

#hope #icecream #family #caregiver #dementia #placement

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