Friday, March 30, 2012


Mom had a large bruise on her upper arm. She said it didn't hurt, she could not tell me where it came from.  "Oh it's nothing!" she dismisses my concern.
I tell the nurse, who already is aware of it. No one knows how it got there.

It could be from when Mom's bed collapsed, she might have caught her arm on the bedpost. It could have been from a blood pressure cuff, elders do bruise more easily.  But it's a mystery.

Yesterday I asked Mom again how her bruise was. She shows me a patch of faint greenish skin. "Oh it's fine, you know I got this bruise when I carried in that huge armful of firewood." and she makes the motions of carrying an armful of logs.
"You're right Mom, that's probably what happened. I'm glad the bruise is going away now."

Carrying in firewood?! She hasn't carried a piece of firewood since 2008. Stuvwxyz has fireplaces, but they are gas fireplaces.

I'm glad she's solved the mystery.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

spring drive

Yesterday I could not get myself up to visit Mom. I just did not want to go. I did not want to face her.  But after much delay I finally set out.

Because it was such a beautiful day, clear blue sky, and in the high 70', I decided to be brave and took Mom for a car ride. No, Mom, you don't need a jacket today, it's nice and warm out, but you can wear it anyway it looks so nice on you.  (See how I recovered from my fumble - I diverted the argument!)

Mom pushed her cart (aka the walker) to the parking lot. Not that she needs it, she tells me again, but because she likes pushing it around. I get her into the car and figure out how to fold the walker up and stow it in the trunk, it just fits.

She seems pretty alert today, she comments on all the usual things as we drive past them: the dry rivers, the extremely blue sky, the beautiful mountain, the budding trees.  You can tell a lot about someone's vision by what they can see out the car window.  Maple tree buds, check. Reading street signs and cars' license plates, check. We play the vanity license plate game, trying to figure out the coded abbreviated message as we follow the car in front of us. BRDWTCR - "Oh look, it's a bird watcher." Mom says. "You should have that one." she says as she points out HIKER.

We get to the next city and I cruise up and down Main Street looking for a coffee shop where we might have an afternoon snack before we make our way back. I have to park four buildings away from the cafe, but Mom seems perky so this walk will be a good test of her stamina, now that she's using the walker. The one step up onto the curb is a problem.

I park in front of a bank. "That's my bank, what's it doing here?"  She recognizes the green logo.
"Mom, there's a branch of that bank in every town."
"Oh, I D Bank." she reads. She is reading the logo, not grasping how the graphics make up the letters TD.  You go look at it, you'll see what she saw.

We see other folks out today with their walkers, their bikes, and their skateboards. It's a beautiful spring day.  She is laughing at all the "girls", the young college women in their sleeveless spring dresses, she thinks they are being silly.

She has a fruit cup and I have ice coffee.  Mom is doing pretty well on our outing today. Stepping down the curb to get back into the car is a problem.  Getting up out of my car, is another challenge. There is nothing for her to grab onto.  We manage somehow, her knees are shaking. But she doesn't fall down!  What would I do if she fell?

All in all it was a good day.  140 miles for a cup of coffee, with Mom, it was a good day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

loving deceit

They did it. The physical therapists, the aides, the nurses, the activities people, they did it!  They collaborated in this deceit, the scheme, the plan.   They got my Mother to use a walker. Of course she still thinks she is not using the walker. She is pushing this wheeled thing-a-magiggy, her cart, (do not say walker) to help her carry items for other people. Mom is being helpful.

And of course, it is helping her.  It helps her get up from sitting. It helps her walk in a much more upright position. It is taking some of the pressure off her knees. It helps her with stability. It helps her move faster. 


This week my husband's aunt lost her ten year battle with ALS. 

In my faith, I believe that she is now free of the body that had held her captive for so long. I can now see her as the exuberant and vibrant woman that I remember.   
At the funeral I find myself praying for mercy, mercy for my mother: please release her from the torture of dementia. Is this selfish of me? Do I just want the pain to end, for me?  Does she feel the agony?  

My cat is dying of cancer. How come we can talk about putting my cat out of her misery, but... humans are allowed to suffer.
Live free or die, death is not the worst of evils.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

temper temper temper

Everything has become a battle with Mom. She has become SO disagreeable.

Her legs and knees are failing. I took her to her doctor and for x-rays. She's got arthritis in her back, in her hips, all the way down to her knees. She is adamant that she does not hurt and that nothing is wrong, but her body language tells us otherwise. 

She is now barely able to get up out of the chair. She is now cruising from one piece of furniture to the next piece of furniture, like a toddler who is learning to walk. 

I took Mom to see her primary physician, for an evaluation. The staff at Stuvwxyz and I have noticed that her walking has deteriorated, she is much more slow walking, and very slow to get up from a chair. Of course, Mom was adamant that nothing is wrong with her.
She yelled at me a few times in front of the doctor "Marrrrrriiiiiiaaaaaaa, What are you doing to me?!"
Like I've ratted her out, or told our worse secret to the school principal. 
She told the doctor that I was her sister.

She yelled at me a few more times (while the doctor was there) that I had fooled her, because I told her I was taking her to the dentist today. Which I never did. I think, she thought, she was going to the dentist because the aides made her brush her teeth, when getting ready that morning.

The doctor had Mom walk, and bend, and get up on the table, where she manipulated Mom's legs, knees, and hips. All the while Mom is adamant that there is nothing wrong with her and she doesn't know why she has to be there, because she was suppose to be at the dentist.

The doctor then quietly suggested that maybe Mom might use a walker to help her get around. At the sound of "walker" Mom started screaming and yelling. A HUGE tantrum. It was not pretty.  The doctor had to yell back at Mom, that "we don't yell in the hospital." Then Mom was yelling in angry whispers for another few minutes.  She also yelled some words about "I don't have Alzheimer's, I remember everything."

The doctor requested that Mom have hip and knee x-rays, which she did, grumbling all the time about "nothing is wrong with me."  The x-ray department was at the other end of the hospital, walk, walk, walk......
The doctor and the x-ray technician both asked Mom if she has back/hip/leg/knee pain. Mom keeps saying she is not in pain. "Of course not, I'm fine."
But the x-ray technician also thought she might be, because of the way Mom behaved as the tech moved Mom around on the x-ray table.

This is the first time I really had to help Mom get undressed and dressed. I've helped with jackets and socks and shoes before, but never have I had to hook her bra or put on her slacks or hold out her t-shirt above her arms, so she could just point her arms up in the air. Like she's two years old, well except the bra part.

Mom is now almost always walking in a snow-plow-skiing position, bent over with her thighs and knees together. This probably provides her some stability. She is now dragging her right foot.

I've also noticed, that more and more she is apt to erupt in anger at something I've said that she  disagrees with. I think this is anger coming from her frustrations, the frustration when her brain won't cooperate.

The walk from x-ray back to the car was a long one, for her.  All the time she's grumbling about how far it is, "how much further do we have to walk", "why did I park so far away"...  and then every other sentence was about how well she can walk and "why did you take me here today" and "I'm perfectly fine."  The outside hospital doors were a half flight of stairs away. I ask her if she wants to take the stairs. She looks at me like I'm crazy. "Of course not!" she barks.

This exciting trip to the doctors started and ended with a fight about wearing a jacket, hat, and gloves. It was 27'F (-3'C) out with a very blustery wind. "I've lived here for years, I know what it's like, I don't have to wear a jacket."  I carried her jacket and made her put it on before we went out. Of course she can't zip it up because her chubby hips and tummy. The walk across the hospital parking lot was very windy and cold, and being a very slow walker, took twenty times longer than it would have for most people.

The PT people are working with her again - but she is not cooperative. The therapist has left a walker in Mom's room, hoping she might use it, but instead Mom takes the dining room chairs (which have two wheeled legs) and pushes those around.  She has a collection of dining room chairs in her room.
I predict that she will be in a wheelchair by May.   

She is also destroying her chair and bed because of the way she uses them to get up and down.  The bed has collapsed a few times last weekend.  I have to fix it somehow tomorrow.... I don't know to fix it or what I'm going to do...

Her frustrations, her need to keep what little independence she has, her need to see herself as the capable and able 24 year old she thinks she is.  "I don't want to look like them" she whispers to me as she points to a group of her white-haired neighbors.