‘At this point in the disease process’

By now, Mom is no longer taking Zoloft, the antidepressant she has taken for, I’d guess, maybe 20 years. A nurse at the Alz center called me several times over a couple of weeks to say the doctor at the Alz center wanted to try to wean Mom from the drug. “At this point in the disease process, it’s probably not doing any good,” the nurse said. He also said that throughout the reduction in this med, Mom showed “no observable difference” in behavior.

And then today I visited her, and she said she hated me. She was lying down on a couch most of the time I was there, and though she was awake when I arrived, I got the feeling she was very tired. I kept a hand on her arm and occasionally gave her arm and shoulder a gentle massage. I didn’t talk to her because she wasn’t talking to me. If she said anything, I’d respond minimally. “I hate you,” she did say, at one point. I responded, “I don’t think so.” I hoped that just being quiet would be soothing to her. But then she sat up and looked at me and started yelling. “Hate, hate, hate,” she said. The tirade ended with “Rararararara.” The main thing I noticed during her angry outburst was that I could see dark patches on her bottom teeth at the gum line. This worries me, as I don’t want Mom to have to have her teeth pulled.

When she was done yelling she reclined toward the arm of the couch and curled her legs up toward herself, but she wasn’t lying down anymore. She wouldn’t look at me. I told her I’d leave since she didn’t seem to be enjoying my company. I kissed her forehead, taking a risk that she’d hit me. She ignored me. I wondered as I walked out if this could be related to the Zoloft, but I doubt it, since Mom has had blue periods before. I wondered if her clothes had been changed recently, which would have put her in a bad mood. I think I actually said out loud, “This isn’t personal.” I told the receptionist that Mom had been cranky. I asked her if Mom has seemed to be in a bad mood more frequently these days, and she said no.

I had visited Mom two weeks before, on the day Patrick and I left for a vacation. That day, she was as pleasant as she could be. She chattered on endlessly and cheerfully. I had such a great time with her. “I love you, honey,” she said multiple times. I was so glad I had made time for that visit before leaving town for a week. I can only hope I find the cheerful Bonnie again the next time I see her.

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6 comments so far

  1. Glenna Miller on

    I’m sorry but I disagree with the Dr. I just think they use our loved ones as test subjects sometimes to see what the effects will be. Sorry your visit was not pleasant. Pray the next one will be.

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Glenna. Your reaction interests me. The docs tried to take Mom off of Zoloft once before, and she began pacing, so they restored the dose back up to the level she had always taken. But this facility’s philosophy has always revolved around minimal meds, to let the patients live as closely to their authentic selves as possible. However, I am VERY against Mom suffering unnecessarily. If I detect that her mood is indeed affected negatively, I will ask for them to start Zoloft again. It cannot harm her, but there is a chance that not taking it can.

  3. Mary Jane Metz on

    Hi Emily, I have to say I agree with you…I’m sure your mom would be embarrassed to know that she behaved that way toward you. That’s not her “authentic self” at all, and “minimal meds” may sound good, but really makes little sense in many situations where the patient’s comfort is as much the issue as anything else.

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Mary Jane. I agree that Mom’s comfort – physical and emotional – is THE issue. I’ll visit over the long weekend and hopefully find that it was a rare day for her. And if not, I’ll have a talk with the doctor. I’ve been pleased for so long that Mom’s authentic self, or what I called her default setting, is one of peace and contentment almost all of the time. I don’t want that to change.

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