Mom had a doctor’s appointment on Monday. She doesn’t get out of bed much at home anymore, so she is seriously deconditioned. Three minutes after we got there, she was tired of sitting and waiting and wanted to go home. (Did I mention she has no sense of time anymore? I think I did.) She did, however, have it together enough to realize part of the problem was her lying in bed so much. She said, “I should have been getting up walking around the house.”
We got home and ate supper, and then, probably because she was so tired and overstimulated, she completely lost her mind. She raved for nearly six hours, and I can’t even recount to you exactly what she was so agitated about, because as usual, it made no sense and my brain couldn’t even retain it. I had to hide my car keys because she kept going out to the garage talking about driving to her mother’s house. Suffice it to say about 1 AM I had had enough. I went upstairs, threw on some pants, tied a scarf around my hair rollers, came back down and told her to get in the car, we were going to the psych hospital.
She really went into high gear then, crawling around on the floor and refusing to get up. At one point I actually grabbed her ankle to keep her from running into a wall, and she flopped on the floor screaming I’d given her a concussion. I walked away for a few minutes till she screeched she wanted to go to bed. I put a bag of frozen veggies on her head and she fell asleep.
Tuesday morning, she was meek as a lamb, but upset that daddy had dragged her around the house dressed like a pirate (the scarf, I guess?). That disturbed me greatly, and I went to some pains to persuade her that didn’t happen. Which led to THAT CONVERSATION, you know, the one every caregiver of every person who ever had dementia has had with them, the one where you have to explain that someone they loved and think is still alive is not. She teared up some, but did better than a lot of folks in her position. Later in the day she even commented that she didn’t know why she had forgotten daddy had passed.
I felt terrible, though. I try so hard to keep my temper with her, but sometimes it is next to impossible, and that night I yelled a lot more than I probably should have. I decided I needed to do something about that. In my bedroom, I have a little area I call my altar. It’s a low table in a quiet corner by a window where I can sit and think, light a candle or say a prayer. Of late, I haven’t been utilizing it as I should, so today I took action. I cleaned the whole house, then went through with some herbal air freshener, asking God to cleanse it (probably better than I had physically cleaned it, LOL) and help me to stay strong and patient and keep the atmosphere good for mom. The rest of the day went about as usual; she spent a couple of hours reading me her pill schedule over and over, but instead of snapping, I actually did find it easier to let her slide.
The area around the altar had gotten cluttered so I cleaned it especially well; threw out a whole bag of assorted junk. This is the place I mentioned in an earlier blog, where the rough wooden cross I originally bought for a cousin sits, with mom’s Lord’s Prayer bracelet hanging on it. A pretty little box containing a rosary that a Catholic patient of mine once gave me is there too, and a Mexican devotional candle with a great vanilla scent and that picture of a guardian angel watching over two little kids. The picture of daddy that I shared last week is there also.
I put a clean white cloth over the table and thought about what else I might add. I love to think of Jesus as Aslan, the lion of Narnia, so I found my favorite picture of him and put it there. Then I thought about how I had found the strength to let mom slide today, even when she got nasty. Like water off a duck’s back. Huh, I thought, maybe I’ll knit a little duck.
When I tucked mom in for a nap after her afternoon meds, my eye fell on the little fairy princess rubber duck I told y’all about before. “Do you remember me buying you this?” I asked her. She didn’t. “Can I borrow it?” I asked. She didn’t care. So now the fairy princess duck is on my altar, to remind me to let stuff slide.
One more thing I want to add: for the past two years, I’ve tried to maintain a gratitude jar. Every day I tried to think of something to be thankful for, write it on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. Both times I ran out of steam, about this time of year in fact. I’m going to try it again, and put the jar right on my altar. Since my life is so very circumscribed now, it may be a challenge to think of something every day. Or it may not. Either way, with the Lion’s eyes on it, maybe I can do better.