Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ok, moving into the next phase, maybe?

Well, things seem to be settling down with my mom. She has been back at the Arbors for six days now, and though her blood sugar is still fluctuating, she is able to be kept relatively stable there. We successfully visited her, and she seemed settled in her bright, sunny room. I brought her a prism and some more clothes. She wanted us to take her home when we first got there, but we distracted her with photos and after a while she got sleepy, so we slipped away. She is no longer anchored in the present -- she eases effortlessly into the past when her parents were alive, and her two weeks in the hospital are long gone. I do not doubt that she is in the right place to have her needs met now, but it is so, so hard. I do feel deeply honored every time she asks someone to help her call me -- I can not do what she wants me so desperately to do, but since out of all the people in the world, I am the one she calls to, I know that I must have done something right, sometime.

The next phase will be the daunting process of straightening out her house and dealing with her car. But there will be happiness in that -- my oldest daughter and her fiance are going to move in. They will be the sixth generation of my family to live on the beautiful farm. It feels right.

But before that, or at least while that is going on, my husband and I are going to Florida. Just for a long weekend, in few weeks. The dear friend we went to see last summer passed away last week, and his ashes are going to be buried in his beloved sea. I picture him sailing through the stars every night now. And that is hard, hard, too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

And on and on...

Things aren't getting much better yet, in fact, they're a bit worse. My mom is in intensive care now to receive insulin through her IV. We're still trying to get her levels to stay put. She's having quite a ride.

I've been going to the hospital after school every day. Last night I didn't get home until nine thirty. Today I'm feeling guilty for only staying an hour. But I've got dumb stuff like laundry and her bills to deal with, and I really wanted to go for a walk while it was daylight, to say nothing about the minor detail called sleep... The hospital folks are wonderful with her now that they've got her figured out, and I think that I'm just an agitation at times -- her ride home that isn't being very accommodating.

My favorite exchanged yesterday:

Nurse: Okay, dear, do you know where you are right now?
My mother, with a withering stare: Approximately.

She's never been anything if not direct.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Plot Thickens...

Just when I thought things were settling down yesterday, my mom's diabetes went whacky bonkers again. I insisted that I'd just made a happy ever after blog post, but the powers that be weren't listening. So back to the ER we all went last night for more drama of the scariest kind. Who knew that blood sugar reader machines only registered so high? My mom, however, is tough enough to beat the odds and keep living even when the machine says it's no longer possible. Shows them what Vermont women are made of. Clearly, they need to design a new reader for us.

Today, she decided to check out the bottom end of the scale, and maxed it out, too. I'm thinking of her as a kind of test pilot now.

And believe me, if they had a stress meter for daughters of dementia/diabetic moms, I'd be cranking that thing to new heights, as well.

We're all searching for equilibrium right now.

The only thing I know for sure is that I've got the best family and friends in the world.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Big Changes

It's been a rough week. I think it's entirely appropriate that there's a tropical storm named after me right now (my real name is Karen, if you didn't know) because I am definitely caught in something much bigger than I am.

My mother has Alzheimer's, and her long time partner has just more or less left her. I've been scrambling to get things covered, planning on spending nights with her myself at first. On Wednesday, I got a call at work from my mother's daytime caregivers saying that something was very wrong. When I got to her  home, she was barely able to get out of bed. We rushed to the ER. Her diabetes had gone out of control and she near to entering a coma. After hours of treatment, she became stable again, but it was obvious she needed more care than we were going to be able to give her at home. Thus began a scramble to get her placed in an assisted living facility. Fortunately, I'd already done preliminary research, so all it took were some phone calls and then hours of paperwork and meetings. When she was able to leave the hospital on Friday, it was to move straight into her new home. In the mean time, I've been through three of the worst days of my life. Suffice it to say that she does not like change.

Some of my favorite moments:

Mom, looking under the sheets on her gurney in the ER:  Wow, look at that! Those are my feet down there!

For some reason, that struck both of us as hysterically funny and we laughed for half an hour.

Someone brought her several pictures to color and box of crayons. She was not and has never been remotely interested in coloring. I love to color and began to do so.

Mom: What's wrong with me when am I going home why am I here?
Me: What color should I color this fish?
Mom: Blue

Later:
Mom: What's wrong with me when am I going home why am I here?
Me: What color should I color this fish?
Mom: Purple.

Later:
Mom: What's wrong with me when am I going home why am I here?
Me: What color should I color this fish?
Mom: Pink

And so on

Variation:
Mom: What's wrong with me when am I going home why am I here?
Me: Right after I finish my bagel.
Mom: Oh, all right. Are you done yet?

A moment of drama:
My mother, running down the main aisle in the ER, gown flapping to the breeze, carrying her plastic bag with all her possessions in it, heading for the doors at top speed, people leaping out of the way. Me after her, a nurse after me, both of us doing our utmost to stop her without getting anybody hurt. Just before we reach the doors, I see a brilliant solution out of the corner of my eye.
Me: Mom, look! It's a Rose-breasted Grosbeak!
Mom, whirling around: Where?
Me: pointing at a photo: Right here!
Mom: That's just a photo! I thought you meant a real one!
Mom takes off again. But now she has turned around, and charges back to her room where doctors with meds are waiting.

Fletcher Allen at its best:

Me, upon arriving Friday morning to find my mom alone in her room: Where is the sitter she's supposed to have with her?

Fletcher Allen: She doesn't need one any longer.

Me: Really?

Fletcher Allen: If you want to move her into the Arbors, it's their policy that she has to be independent for twenty four hours first. So if you want her to leave tomorrow, she can't have a sitter today.

Me: But we're moving her to the Arbors because she needs 24/7 care.

Fletcher Allen with a confused look: Really?

Me to the Arbors: Why do you have a policy that my mother has to be independent at the hospital for 24 hours before she can move in to get 24 hour care?

The Arbors: That's the stupidest thing we ever heard.

Me to Fletcher Allen: Please reinstate the sitter. That is not the Arbor's policy.

Fletcher Allen: But if you want her to leave tomorrow, she can't have a sitter...

Me: What is that line about how do you keep your mind when everyone around you is losing theirs?


Anyway, she is safely there, and now we have to start thinking about what to do with her home and her car and all that stuff. But for today, the only thing on my schedule is to make brownies.

The Media this morning: The government has been shut down all week.
Me: Really?