Archive for July 14th, 2009|Daily archive page

Trying to live in the moment

I think about this blog a lot, but I haven’t been very committed to writing new posts the past few weeks. I guess because when I write posts, I am typically recalling a past visit with Mom. And lately, I have been thinking much more about the future. In an anticipatory, full-of-dread kind of way. I wonder how Mom will do with the move to the nursing home. If she’ll need new meds. If we’ll be told not to visit so she can settle, or if daily visits will be what’s best. What to do with her many belongings, and how to schedule packing and moving. If the Medicaid application will ultimately go smoothly. I wonder what else I need to do regarding that application. And then I wonder why I don’t actually do whatever it is I need to do.

But to report on Mom: I took her to lunch on Friday – Bob Evans, as usual. I had told her I would take her to lunch sometime during the week, and I was determined to actually fulfill the promise. I’m sure she hadn’t remembered that I told her I would, but she is getting quite a bit of joy out of outings right now, and I enjoy her enjoyment. I encouraged her to change her clothes before we headed out. At the current rate, she is wearing two outfits per week. Sometimes, I see evidence that her pants are changed in the interim. I’ve relaxed a little about my insistence that she wear fresh clothes more often. It is tiring for me to take her through that routine. It is a little unpleasant to handle her underwear. She hasn’t had any particular odor problems for awhile; if she did, I would definitely change her. And I figure once she is in the nursing home, staff there will take care of this task.

When we were seated at Bob Evans, Mom showed the host her stuffed dog, which was tucked into her purse. “You’re like a celebrity,” he said, which I assumed was a reference to someone like Paris Hilton. I thought that was a good response. Mom also was a little flirty with our waiter – something I have never seen her do since her diagnosis. I know some Alzheimer’s patients end up finding new partners in the midst of their disease. Mom mostly just gave the guy a cheesecake grin. I teased her about it and she said she isn’t really interested in having a boyfriend. But she thought he was cute. We had eggs. She ate with enthusiasm, and this time did not seem confused about how to approach the eggs on top of the rest of her food. She drank lots of Coke. She tried to make occasional small talk, but didn’t really make much sense. When I dropped her off, I told her I was going to a wedding but that I’d probably see her Sunday.

I skipped a visit with her over the weekend. I have still been struggling with sleep meds. I am now trying Trazodone, an antidepressant that is commonly used as a sleep aid. Interestingly, Mom has taken it for quite some time. I took it Saturday after the wedding. I slept well and for a long time, but felt tired all day Sunday. And then I couldn’t fall asleep with ease on Sunday night, possibly because I cut the Trazodone in half. Clearly I don’t know what I’m doing. So far my experience has been that 50 mg is too much and 25 mg is not enough.

At any rate, I did go visit Mom on Monday instead. I had a story to finish before I could leave work, so I went after lunch and just sat in the lobby with her for a little while to chat. She would say things about where she lives, but again, she didn’t really make much sense. I asked her if she feels like the place is too big, offering too many hallways and rooms to choose from. “Oh, no,” she said. I was hoping that maybe if she is confused by her current environment, the smaller room of the nursing home might comfort her. She and I also went to her apartment. I wanted to find nail clippers to clip her fingernails. The housekeeper came in while I was there. She said Mom’s apartment has been looking a lot better lately. That is true. Mom doesn’t seem to be leaving trash lying around as much. Nor does she leave clothes and socks scattered around. And her couch cushions have remained intact for weeks. For most of the time she has lived there, she has removed some of the cushions along the back and kept them on the floor.

I think the tidyness is a symptom of withdrawal. Instead of possibly being confused by her environment and trying to rearrange it, or somehow being engaged by the items around her, such as pictures and books, she just exists in it as it is. She tried to help me find the nail clippers, pulling some pictures and a box of jewelry out of her night stand. She then started admiring a costume jewelry pin, tucked away with a Buckeye bracelet in a miscellaneous gift box for no good reason. I put the pin on her. I was going through her dresser drawers and a jewelry box looking for the clippers. And as an example of how I do not stay in the moment, I began thinking about strategies to clear out the jewelry and other valuables from Mom’s apartment before we move her. I think it would be nice if my brother, sister and I go ahead and divide some things up among us now. And maybe my aunt, too. Mom will have no use for most of the items anymore. Mom has some nice jewelry, and some definite fun pieces – pins and necklaces, mostly. Very few earrings – any clip-back earrings that she does have were her own mother’s. Mom never did get her ears pierced. If I recall correctly, she was afraid the initial pain from the procedure would interfere with her sleep. A classic Bonnie thing to worry about. We never did find any clippers. And yet Mom was the kind of person to own about five or so clippers at a time. I’m sure I’ll eventually find them. I now have some in my purse so I can get those nails on my next visit.

Mom did say a few times yesterday how wonderful I am. To me, and to her lady friends in the lobby. It’s funny, how she is in this mode of appreciating me. She is also in a good mood most of the time lately, which is a big relief to me. It takes some of the trepidation out of visiting her. I think I am enjoying her more now than I ever have in the past five years, truth be told. And in an odd way, that makes me sort of sad. When this phase passes, I will miss her all over again.

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