Monday, December 31, 2012

A day in my life...

I truly have no way to accurately describe what a typical day is like around here.  Some days we have long periods of quiet and utter boredom.  I spend my time quietly, always afraid to upset the balance.  Other days are tension-filled from the moment Mom wakes up.  Yesterday was a day of such extreme stress that I thought I would explode from it.

When Mom is agitated, very little will calm her down.  Most often, the agitation lasts a few hours.  But, occasionally, like yesterday, it is an all day occurrence.  It began about 9 am and didn't end until almost midnight.  The agitation usually starts off with a her asking a simple question.  "Are you going out?"  It then escalates depending on which wrong answer that I choose.  And because her mind has difficulty processing simple information, all answers are wrong answers.  So, "Yes, we are going out", becomes "I'm being left behind.".  "No, we aren't going anywhere", becomes "Well, then I will go by myself. Where are my shoes?  Who stole my purse?"  Being evasive is even more disastrous.  She becomes furious if you don't answer the question.  And fury is not a good thing.

I think one of the most difficult things is when she wants a normal conversation. I have tried several times to write an example of her conversations but they just don't translate to the page.  In fact, looking back, the conversations are so absurd that I begin doubting that I even heard what I know that I heard.  This is one of the mild conversations that we have on a very regular basis... as in daily.

Mom:  "Will someone be here to pick me up?"
Me:  "Why do they need to pick you up?"
Mom:  "To go home."
Me:  "You live here."
Mom: "Nobody told me that! What time will they be here?"
Me:  "Nobody is coming."
Mom:  "You just lost me my job!  Now what will I do?"
Me:  "Mom. You live here. This is your home. You don't have to work."
Mom: "Oh my!  They are going to hurt me.  And you don't even care."
Me:  "I care. I won't let anyone hurt you. That's my job."
Mom:  Calmness.  "So what time will they be here to pick me up? Where is that man?  He  told me he would be here."
Me:  "I guess he'll be here in a little bit then."
Mom:  "No, he won't.  He doesn't like you so how do you know he's coming?  He won't come if you're here."
Me:  "I'm sorry."
Mom:  "No you're not. When are they coming then? I need my things. Did you take my things?"
Me: "Does anyone hear that hammer?"

You may change this up as you see fit for the next several hours.  And, that is my life.  Well, that and a lot of yelling. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

She gets it...

Last week when we saw the new doctor for the second time, I felt my load lighten a little bit more.  She greeted Mom and talked to her a little bit.  She then looked at me and said, "Well, you look so much better. Tell me what has changed."   She gets it.  And that is such a huge blessing to me.  Yes, Mom is her patient but she is not the only one being effected by the disease. She does what she can for Mom medically.  But, she is there supporting me.

After the check up she told me that Mom is lucky to have me.  I responded with a sarcastic laugh.  The doctor asked why I laughed and I told her that I didn't think Mom would feel very lucky to have me.  I am really ticked off all the time.  And she then asked me when I would realize that anger is normal.  She said that she would be angry too.  And that she, with a medical degree, could not do what caretakers do.  Yes, she gets it. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Worthy of the truth...

"The worst part about being lied to is knowing that you aren't worth the truth."

The past 24 hours have been enlightening to me. Two things happened that were related and very surprising to me.  I have mentioned that we have become very good liars in order to keep Mom pacified.  "Yes, Mom, you are only 30."  "No, Mom, I'm not your daughter."  "Yes, it is Sunday."  "Yes, your parents will be here in a little bit to pick you up."

What I didn't realize was how easy lying becomes. I hate lying and I have no respect for people who do it. So, it is startling to find out that I have become a liar.  When a friend asked to stop by I responded by telling her that I wouldn't be home.  Which was a bald-faced, inexcusable lie. She is not deserving of the disrespect that a liar shows others.  She is worth more than that to me.

So, the other thing that happened?  The reason I lied?  I am embarrassed by where I live. I don't mean the, "Sorry, the place is a mess" type of embarrassed. I mean I don't want anyone coming here.  Period.  Mom's house has never been a palace but, up until I started being with her 24/7, she was on her way to becoming a hoarder.  Oh, the crap she has brought into this house.  I am finally able to start throwing things away... she doesn't remember that she had the stuff.  But, there is only so much room in the trash can each week.  And, even being here with her every minute of every day, I cannot keep up with her stashing.  If there is a flat surface or crevice, it will be filled with cookies or bread crusts or lint from under the cushions on the couch. Or worse.  I just cannot handle it.  It embarrasses me. 

I do not want to lie to any of you.  Ever.  So, until I am able to be comfortable here, I will ask you to understand that I have things here that need dealing with and please don't expect an invitation in. You are worthy of the truth. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The hammer...

If anyone wants to know what it is like caring for an Alzheimer's patient?  Imagine some one hammering a nail just 2 steps behind you.  You never know when it is going to start.  It can happen while you're asleep.  Or when you are lucky enough to get a shower.  It can happen in public. You don't know.  But the one thing that you do know?  It will start.  And when it starts, it will not stop.  You cannot stop it.  You cannot control it.  It just keeps hammering.  And hammering.  Until there is nothing left but the hammer striking the nail.  Over and over. 



-send me a little more patience. Okay, a lot more. I am going through it quickly these days.
-forgive me my anger.  See above.
-remind me that this is a disease and she does not choose it.
-allow my children to remember their mother before she was a screaming shrew.
-let me see Your sunrise and see the beauty instead of the anger.
-whisper in my ear that I am the example that my children will become.
-know that I am grateful for each and every blessing that I receive each day.
-guide me in remembering You, not just when saying my prayers, but in all things.
-help me to see things through her eyes and show compassion when it does not make sense.
-teach me again, that Your love is stronger than my frustrations. 
-hold me in Your loving arms and forgive me. Again.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


"Sometimes I feel like a clown who can't wash his make-up off." - Zac Brown Band

 I try so hard to keep an even mood.  There is so much anger and negativity in this house that I figure if I can stay positive and in a light mood that things will go more smoothly.  Mom needs an even, calm atmosphere or her disease makes the situation spiral into paranoia and delusions.  My children need a parent who is calm and respectful.  They deserve that Mom.

Then there is me.  I swallow so much anger and frustration that I feel as if I will burst.  When people look at me, do they see the make up or do they see the person inside who is screaming to be let out? 

I know these feelings are normal but they are not acceptable to me.  I am not an angry person. Strike that. I am an angry person but I don't want to be. In the past when I have made a discovery about myself that I found unacceptable I have worked hard to change it.  When a job brought out a negative aspect of my personality, I walked away from the job. I cannot walk away from this.  And, I guess that is the lesson.  I need to deal with who I have allowed myself to become, who I am.  And I need to decide whether to change what I cannot accept or continue wearing the make-up.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mass murders and tampons...

Today I discovered two things:

#1  Cookies mixed into the canister of Tide Pods:

#2  Cookies mixed into the jar of peanut butter:

And while I find these discoveries disconcerting, I also see the humor in them.  Especially the murder suicide that the hippopotamus apparently masterminded.  I would have loved it just that much more if it had been the work of the elephant.

But, these finds reminded me of the many treasures that I didn't think far enough ahead to document.  I never would have thought those times would be the good old days of this journey.  So, I will try to describe some of the discoveries... and, believe me when I tell you there is at least one that you will be glad that I did not capture for all eternity in a photograph.

Early on, the disease showed itself in the normal memory problems but it progressed to things like putting dishes away dirty.  I would try to find the humor while grabbing a dirty utensil from the drawer and asking, "Hey, does anybody know when we had spaghetti last?  I don't know whether this spoon is ok to use."

I used to buy a lot of items in bulk.  Used to because I came home from work to find 25 pounds of cat food and a large box of Tide combined into a big container.  When I asked Mom why she did it, her response was because it saved space. The time she combined the cat food and the cat litter, I actually thought was kind of clever.  It really would be nice if the cats saved me a step and just left already formed clumps.

Or the time that she emptied every package of noodles, macaroni and rice into one large container.  It might have made an interesting dish if she hadn't added the instant mashed potatoes to the mix.

I have to admit that I did not see the humor when she took the lid off of every single item in the cupboards. I mean every item.  To this day, I still have not found her stash of lids.

Probably my favorite, and the one I am most thankful for no pictures being taken, was the souvenir she brought home from one of her walking trips.  I drove into the driveway and there, impaled on the wrought iron plant hanger, was a pink, used tampon applicator.  I wondered what that represented in her mind.  Was it to serve as a warning like a head on a pike?  Or just a pretty bauble that she enjoyed seeing?  Whatever the reasoning it made me laugh long and hard. Especially, when I wondered how many people saw it before I did.

The funny stuff is becoming more rare with each passing day.  And knowing what is coming with this disease makes these times that much more special.  So, I will enjoy the mass murders and tampon impalements while they last. And I will laugh until I cry.