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.

9 comments so far

  1. HP on

    I found a few “strategies” worked when dividing things before & during Grandma’s move. Let me know if you are interested in hearing them. It’s also so nice to hear your Mom is showing you appreciation. You are such a good, good daughter!

  2. momsbrain on

    HP, I would love to hear from someone who has been through the process already. I assume your grandma knew she was entering the nursing home…? That is one thing I am pondering – what to tell Mom and when. And I wonder what she’ll notice as I remove things while she’s not looking. As for being a good daughter – well, now, thanks – but I also think of it as Mom going through a phase of being a good mom by showing this appreciation. Even though she doesn’t necessarily know she is my mom or what that means.

  3. Erica on

    Emily, what a great mom you are to your own mom. I’m proud of you! Although, my parents do not have Alzheimer’s I can appreciate many of the things you’ve went through. With dad being 80, and mom a breast cancer survivor so far, I have had many eye opening experiences. Keep up the good work. Did I mention my dad still works! Wow!

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Erica! And thank you! I do find that there are many similar experiences for our generation and our aging parents. Your parents sound amazing – I am surprised that your dad is 80, and I’m definitely amazed that he still works. That is dedication. And hurray for your mom surviving cancer. That is a totally difficult and frightening journey, I’m sure. Thanks for your support!

  5. sandy on

    It’s no wonder you have trouble sleeping with all that is going on in your life! I enjoy reading your posts describing your visits with your Mom, who is further along in the disease than my Mom who was diagnosed last year. It is very educational and eye openinng for me! I’m glad you guys are able to enjoy some quality time together.

  6. momsbrain on

    Thanks for visiting again, sandy! I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I thought the earlier days of the disease were tough – though every experience is different, ultimately, I think. I am in a much better place emotionally now than I was four years ago, strangely – despite the current stress, I am better prepared about what to predict, I guess. I am repeating myself (I commented on your blog) but I do wish your family comfort now and as things move along.

  7. plettahar on

    this was a very moving post — the part about missing her all over again made me a bit teary. you really are a good mom to your mom, and i know it’s a struggle. you are brave and good and kind. i hope you find some sort of cocktail that will help you sleep consistently and restfully.

  8. sandy on

    Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. I probably didn’t mention my Mom when I commented earlier, since this is your blog about your mom! But yes, it’s hard now for us because we’re still absorbing and trying to get used to what’s ahead…

  9. momsbrain on

    Plettahar, thank you for your kind words. As for sleep meds: I am off Trazodone, for sure. I just do not like it, and think it makes my ankles swell, of all things. That’s actually listed as one of the more serious side effects. So I am officially rejecting it. I’ll keep working on it.

    Sandy, feel free to talk about your mom at any time here. That is one purpose I thought this blog could serve – sharing info, seeking support, etc.

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