Monday, October 19, 2009


I’m living a reverse life right now. The typical worker puts in his forty hours Monday through Friday and then clocks out for those two days called the weekend. TGIF is a mantra hummed from cubicles across the nation, but not from where I sit. Friday night means that for the next forty-eight hours I will be racking my brain trying to find things for my mom to do or following her around the house making sure she’s not harassing Rick or Emmy or getting herself into trouble. I can’t imagine the pain and confusion that swirl around her on a daily basis. Getting up in the morning not sure if the room you’re in is yours and then walking out into a hallway bustling with people you barely recognize. The fear this must cause is incalculable. To combat it she tries desperately to cling to a routine and to surround herself with only the things she can recognize and remember. I never saw my mother as a very prideful or willful person but her disease has shown me otherwise. There are those who approach the pronouncement of dementia pro-actively. Their reactions are to immediately search for what they can do to combat the effects of the disease. Then there are those, like my mom, who try everything they can to deny they have anything wrong with them. They argue that the forgetfulness is only a piece of growing older and they not only will not go out looking for assistance but they will refuse it when it is offered to them. My family has done their research, consulted with doctors, and tried to get my mom to participate in monitoring her illness, but her response is denial and more and more frequently anger. There are a set of pills my mom is to take everyday. While she was living alone she was given the responsibility to take these on her own. That didn’t work. The next move was for my sister, Bonnie, who picked her up and took her to work to check to see if she had taken her pills but that only worked on the week days. Then when we came into the picture and took up the role of pill police we began setting out her pills along with her breakfast thinking we had taken care of the situation. Some days were fine but on others she would question how I would know what medication she was supposed to take. She’s apparently a lot cagier than I thought. Last night, Emmy found a pill tucked behind the cushion of a chair in the living room. Then I discovered another half dozen hidden behind the molding in the kitchen cabinets. I assume her fear makes her think we are trying to kill her with death inducing medication, so she pretends to take her medicine, then palms it, and hides it when the coast is clear.
Our coming into her life at this stage of her disease has been very difficult for my mom and those suffering the most, besides her, are Rick and Emmy. Her short-term memory right now can last from two to fifteen minutes. Repetition is a way of life and no more so than on the weekends when at regular intervals she questions the day of the week and who is taking her to work, work being a euphemism for adult daycare. Thank god for my baby sister and her patience with taking my mom five days a week and giving me a weekend on the week days.
I hope Emmy can remember the bubbly, funny person my mom was and not the woman, who shows up in her room and tells her to turn off the lights and clean up this mess,
“This isn’t your house you know.”

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