Archive for July 20th, 2009|Daily archive page

Small setback

So there I was last week, feeling all relaxed and thankful for Mom’s sunny disposition, when a phone call ruined everything. It was Thursday night and I had just gotten home from golfing. I was tired and sweaty. And sort of hungry, though I ate a granola bar on the drive home. The phone rang. It was almost 9 p.m. The caller ID said it was Mom’s assisted living facility. Not good this late, when Mom should have been sleeping.

The nurse, Ann, said Mom was agitated, pacing the halls, fretting in the lobby, thinking about going outside. She was saying that I had moved away, up north. In fact, the nurse first asked, “Um, have you moved, up north somewhere?” She also said Mom said I never come to visit her. Interestingly, I had been planning to visit her Friday morning. I said I had arranged awhile back for Mom to get a sedative as needed for times like this. All the records showed, however, was that she can have Tylenol. So I said I’d come down and see what was going on. I took a shower first, not knowing how long I might be there.

When I arrived, the nurse let me in (the doors are locked after 8 p.m.). Mom was sitting on the couch in the empty lobby. The nurse said she had told Mom I was coming, and Mom was full of happy anticipation. The nurse told us to have a nice visit and went off toward her station. I took Mom to her apartment. She looked terrible. Her hair was really greasy and she was wearing the clothes she had had on Monday before her Tuesday shower – even though I had put out a new outfit for her. I wondered if they had skipped the shower this week. Which is not good. Mom seemed OK at this point, not particularly upset. Just very confused. She thought people were mad at her. I told her that probably wasn’t the case – that everyone there likes her. But she can’t be convinced. I decided to give her a shower, thinking the warm water might relax her.

Instead, she was cold in the shower. And then the water got too hot. We spent a lot of time adjusting it. She didn’t seem to like having her hair and face washed, but I tried to keep both brief. I scrubbed her all over. “Where are we?” she asked in the middle of it. “The bathroom in your apartment,” I said. I washed her a little more. She helped when she could. When we were done, she stepped out and started toweling off. “Where are we?” she asked again. I gave her the same answer. I put deodorant on her and shook powder all over her body. I dressed her in white pants and a pale yellow fleece shirt.

I sat her on the couch and, this time remembering to carry nail clippers in my purse, clipped her fingernails and toenails. Her toenails were stiff, like curly pieces of bark. I put gel in her hair and cleaned her glasses thoroughly. I encouraged her to lie down on the bed and hold onto her stuff dog. I asked her if she felt that she’d be able to go to sleep, and she said she would. She didn’t want me to turn off any lights. I eased my way out of the apartment and sat in the lobby for about 10 minutes to be sure she didn’t come out. An aide let me out of the building this time, and she said Mom had been upset earlier because her friends had abruptly left the lobby to go to bed. Mom interpreted that as abandonment, so her feelings were hurt and she assumed the worst. Mom had also said to the aide that her son never visits her – while also saying that I never visit her. The aide said that was the first time she had ever heard Mom mention that she had a son.

I stopped in the next morning on my way to work, around 8:40. I talked to the nurse, to ask her if Mom can have a sedative prescribed on an as-needed basis. I know other residents have such arrangements, and I thought I had set up the same thing for Mom in the winter, after the first cat died. The nurse planned to ask the doctor. When I got to her apartment, Mom was in bed, asleep. I stood in the door and looked at her, trying to decide whether or not to wake her. She startled and raised her head to look at me. I apologized for scaring her and she said it was OK and started to laugh. She couldn’t remember if she had had breakfast. I told her to stay in bed and rest, but she insisted on getting up and walking me to my car. The nurse later told me that several people had worried when they saw Mom outside, even though she walked me to my car, turned around and walked right back to the lobby. I usually watch to make sure that’s what she does. Sometimes, the people looking after my mom worry unnecessarily. But I’d rather have too much worry than not enough, I guess.

The nurse called me later in the day to tell me the doctor said absolutely not to an as-needed sedative for Mom. She left a voice mail, so I didn’t get to ask her why. But I remember the neurologist once telling me that Xanax had potential to add to Mom’s confusion. So I am guessing that could be the reason. Instead, he wants to put her back on the antipsychotic she was taking in the winter, which the neurologist asked us to discontinue. That is fine with me at this point, since the move to the nursing home is just weeks away. I just hope it doesn’t make Mom worry about anything. I know it might make her seem more confused.

The Thursday night visit coincided with my decision to stop all sleep meds and revisit my current undrugged sleep state to see how I do. So when I got back to the house around 10 p.m., I was tired but had trouble falling asleep. After lying in bed for an hour, I had a snack and then went to the couch. I drifted off, and woke and returned to bed around 1:15. I recall being awake again around 4 a.m. And Patrick’s alarm went off at 5:39. Once his alarm goes off, that’s it. I never fall back to sleep, but I still lie there for awhile and listen to radio news. So anyway, I was pretty tired Friday. And at the end of the day, I picked up Roxy’s ashes from the vet – something I had kept forgetting to do, or, really, avoiding. I opened the little envelope from the funeral home, with its pawprint and a tuft of Roxy’s fur, and I started to cry. Between being tired and upset about Mom’s agitation episode, and never really grieving the loss of my fat, furry kitty, my resistance was just too low. I couldn’t stop crying for a good half-hour. I think that overall, the crying was a good thing. I felt better when I was done, and I got a lot of sleep that night.

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