Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Weepy week

Mom was a source of cheer this past week. I’ve been blue about an imminent move at work – though I long to be an adult about it, I mostly have been full of dread, for a variety of reasons. Now that it is about to actually happen, I know it will be fine. And then, in a much worse turn of events, when we took our dog Spencer in to Ohio State’s Veterinary Medical Center to be evaluated for surgery to repair his torn ACL, the doctors discovered in pre-op X-rays that he probably has bone cancer. I had a good half-hour cry the night we learned this. So when I finally visited Mom the next day, it was great to find her in a sparkling good mood.

I had officially gone on the longest hiatus ever from visiting her – in the entire history of her illness. I last saw her on her birthday on June 6 and then visited her again on July 3, so I was closing in on a month. I might have made the effort a week earlier, but I knew my sister Laura was coming to Ohio for a visit and that meant I would be seeing Mom. And Laura sticks to her genius plan of getting Mom a Starbucks frappuccino, which seems to be very helpful with regard to Mom’s mood.

Laura and I sat at a table across from Mom at the nursing home and listened to her chatter on for almost an hour. She was so peppy and full of stories.

Before Mom started talking, we convinced her to sit - and then I slid her chair into place.

Before Mom started talking, we convinced her to sit – and then I slid her chair into place.

I can honestly say it had a healing effect on me to see her so cheerful, and to know that Laura was having a good experience. The last time Laura visited, Mom became grumpy and I believe it ended on a sour note. And that can stick with Laura, understandably. Even when we know it’s not personal, we want Mom to be nice to us, and want to be able to trust that Mom is as content as she can be.

We returned on July 4 with our cousin Barry. He has very fond memories of Mom, but he hasn’t seen her since she got sick. He lived in Arizona for all of his adult life, and recently returned to Ohio. This time, Mom was not as pleasant, at least at first. Mr. R was hovering around her, much to my and Laura’s chagrin. He didn’t say anything, but he just stuck around. His disease has progressed, so he doesn’t have the power he once had over Mom. She ignored him as we coaxed her to drink her frappuccino. Poor thing got ice cream headaches twice. She doesn’t understand what causes it, and because she likes the flavor so much, she drinks with abandon. When the brain freeze came on, she would put her palm against her head and fret. “I can’t wait,” she said at one point. Thankfully, they passed quickly. In the course of our conversation, she said, “There’s an attractive man.” And Barry decided that was a compliment. A little while later, she said, “Ugly,” with no context. We all got a chuckle out of that.

We decided to try to escape Mr. R’s watchful eye, and I held onto Mom’s hands and gently pulled her out of her chair. She cooperated. Sometimes I’m afraid to try that, but I see aides successfully bring her to a standing position all the time. But Mom was obviously feeling a little touchy. She blew a giant raspberry in my face and then growled and hissed at me. We all laughed, and I think she laughed, too. I said to Laura and Barry that it’s easier to absorb Mom’s anger when there are others around to help me realize it’s OK for her to behave like this in my direction. She didn’t seem to be holding onto the anger, really. Pretty soon, we all walked in circles for a bit before sitting again at a table to have a chat.

Barry, Mom and Laura at the Alz center.

Barry, Mom and Laura at the Alz center.

Eventually, it became clear that Mom had had enough. She wasn’t unkind. She said, “Well, let’s go.” She stood up and we walked a little bit again, but she eventually wandered back toward Mr. R, and we decided to let her be and not even say goodbye. Her attention was elsewhere, and in the only way she knows how, she had indicated she was ready for us to leave. But it was OK. No hurt feelings this time.

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