Friday, October 31, 2008

Last night I stopped by CB after work. They were just getting Mom up for dinner. I was able to feed her all of her dinner plus dessert and she seemed to be doing better than the previous day. I left her watching TV with a group of residents. Tonight she was sleeping when I stopped by. They had not been able to get her to eat much at all. I'm hoping that she is just sleeping off her illness but at this point I'm not sure what to think. She awoke briefly and acknowledged my presence then fell back into a peaceful sleep. I hung around for a little while, kissed her goodnight and told her I love her and left. I had called hospice today, the earliest they can meet with us will be next Friday, a week from today. It was suggested that we try another hospice that works with CB residents so I am waiting to hear from them to set up an appointment.

Tonight I went through Mom's desk and low and behold I found a health care directive in which she clearly and concisely lays out her wishes. Thank you Mom. I also found her plans for her memorial service. Not that I think we'll need these soon, but one never knows.

I love you Mommy. Rest peacefully tonight and get better.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Homeward Bound

Mom is going home to CB today. I think she will be happy about that. A and I conferenced with the Palliative care team today. They have recommended that Mom be evaluated for hospice. We are not sure if Mom's sharp decline is from the UTI or from a progression of her dementia. In either case, it will be helpful to have another resource to help make her comfortable and add some quality to her life. The palliative care doctor believes that Mom is having some problems with swallowing which may or may not be related to her UTI. It's most likely related to her dementia.

How am I with all of this? Shocked, stunned, relieved, worried, sad. I realize that having hospice involved does not mean that the end is imminent. I learned that from watching my dad who lived months after he went into hospice. It has happened so fast with Mom though. She still needs to be evaluated but I think they will find that hospice is appropriate for her. And that makes me sad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One Day at a Time

I visited Mom tonight and she is making progress. Her eyes were clear and she seemed engaged. She could answer some of my questions and I was able to get her to drink some water through a straw. I could even see a flicker of her sense of humor while we watched Seinfeld - she rolled her eyes at some crazy thing they did. She didn't tear up until I put my coat on and started to leave. I told her that it was important for her to rest and I would see her tomorrow.

Tomorrow my sister and I will have a teleconference with the palliative care coordinator at the hospital to help plan for the future with the goal of keeping Mom comfortable and maintaining her dignity.
I just spoke to the social worker at the hospital and Mom will once again be kept overnight. They want to continue to monitor her condition and try a new pain medication called Ultram. She is about the same today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mom seemed better today. She ate most of her breakfast and all of her lunch. Her color was good. However they decided to keep her overnight for observation.

I am doing better. I was really upset by this whole situation. It affected me quite deeply. Even though I know Mom is not going to ever be 'herself' it's still hard to watch this deterioration as my fellow caregivers know. I tend to 'feel' everything and am extremely sensitive. I also am a 'mama's baby'. But this situation has taught me to trust my intuition and to feel confident in my care of Mom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I just got back from the hospital and had a message from the social worker there. Mom does have a UTI and she was dehydrated. The CT scan was negative, meaning they did not find evidence of a stroke (thank you God). The doctor thinks she will be discharged tomorrow. Thanks for the prayers everyone.
Took Mom the the Hospital ER last night. She hadn't eaten all day and was very warm when I arrived at CB. She just didn't seem right. She had a CT scan and lots of bloodwork. Waiting for results.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mom was better today though not totally herself. Her color was good and she let me feed her a slice of peach pie. She welcomed me in her usual manner (tears and relief to see me) and teared up again when I left (this always rips my heart out and I just want to scoop her up in my arms and run out with her--but I know they are taking good care of her). I'm planning to call the doctor on Monday and describe how she was last night. It might just be that she has a cold or a bug but I need to know that it's not one of the new meds for my own peace of mind. I'm too tender-hearted for this and it's probably a good thing that I didn't have kids. I'd be a neurotic mess every time they were ill. I also worry about whether moving to a care facility has hastened her decline. I have to keep reminding myself that she is well taken care of there and that I could no longer care for her at home.

She has a new wheelchair which is a much better fit for her and she can push herself around.

I went to a craft show and then out to lunch with my friend Bettie today. It was good to get out and get my mind off of everything. But I feel guilty and I have to stop feeling that way. Mom would want me to enjoy life, I know this.

Allyson is attending Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia tonight. It is raining there and I'm hoping that it lets up in time for the game. She is a huge baseball fan so she will enjoy this. Meanwhile, snow flurries are in the forecast for here tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tonight when I visited Mom she wasn't herself. She was pale and her hands were swollen. She didn't respond in her usual way when she saw me, in fact she didn't respond at all. It freaked me out and I started to cry. I fed her dinner and she ate it all with no problems, even her dessert. They took her vital signs and they were fine. She didn't have a temperature. After dinner she started perking up and her color was better. But the RN and I were debating whether to call 911 and take her to the hospital. I just had never seen her like this except when she was a the hospital and they had just started her on Geodon. I feel guilty about not visiting her since Tuesday, especially since it appears that she wasn't 'herself' all day. This is so hard. I cried all the way home and then I cried some more. I want my Mommy.

On another front, my sister-in-law is in the hospital having shock treatments. Her depression and anxiety has deepened and she is not in good shape. I'm praying for Mom and sis-in-law and hoping that God will wrap them in his arms and keep them safe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Good Day

Yesterday Mom and I spent some quality time together. She had just gotten up from her nap and was a little drowsy at first, but once she woke up it was nice to spend time with her. Her shaking seems only to occur when she is agitated. She hardly shook at all yesterday. It was great to see her enjoying herself. We are both adjusting to the change after a month! Can you believe it has been a whole month? She seems to be well cared for and happy for the most part. I'm so glad.
Sometimes it's so hard to remember to let God handle our worries and problems.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Picking up Willoswitch and Lily's tag...

Things you might not know about me.

  1. I steered a 700 foot ore boat on Lake Superior.
  2. In the 90s I attended numerous Guns 'N Roses concerts throughout the US
  3. I was a political conservative in college and remained so until George H.W. Bush asked 'Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?" and my answer was 'no'.
  4. I've traced my geneology on my dad's side back to 1600s Yorkshire, England.
  5. I majored in history and political science in college and now work as a computer programmer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I attended the family support group last night at CB. There were 5 of us plus the Life Enrichment Coordinator. It was nice to meet others who have loved ones at CB. They all seemed to know Mom and I have met many of their loved ones. There was only one other child who attended. Her father is a resident at CB. After the group met, I went and spent time with Mom who was very agitated. She was shaking, which is something she has done over the past few years, but last night it was much more extreme. I was worried that one of her new meds might be causing these tremors. I spoke with one of the nurses who had also observed the tremors and she felt that it was due to anxiety because it seemed to get worse when she was anxious. I'm not sure about this and will continue to observe her. Poor Mom, she was quite upset last night. I worry about her even though I am told that she is settling in nicely.

I have been sleeping through the night and it has made a big difference in my physical and mental health. Tonight I went shopping after work; something that I haven't done in years. I still feel guilty about enjoying time by myself, but I'm getting better about that. Everyone has told me that Mom seems to enjoy the different activities at CB and she always smiles and shows affection to the caregivers. It's just when I come on the scene, she gets upset and agitated. So I try to limit my visits, at least for now.

Mom's cat Olivia has taken to acting weird. She will play with her mouse in the bathtub and she will vocalize for no reason. She wakes me up around 3 or 4 in the morning by licking my face and biting my bracelets. She's very territorial around Lily too, trying to keep Lily away from me. However, I'm Lily's person and she will not tolerate being kept from me. And I won't tolerate not having her around me. I love Olivia very much, but Lily is my baby. We have a special bond. I have a bond with Olivia too, but it's different. I love them both, they are great kitties.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday

Today I visited Mom and she was agitated and bewildered. I got out her crayons and coloring books and we sat down and colored together. One of the caregivers joined us. This is always very calming for Mom to color. Another daughter was visiting her mother and she mentioned to me that Mom cries a lot. Quite a while ago Mom made me promise never to put her in a place for old people. Whether or not she remembers that I don't know. What I do know is that it has only been 20 days so hopefully it will get better with time. I left her with 2 of the aides who were talking with her and distracting her. I hope she gets some happiness out of her days.

We pay extra for caregivers to manage Mom's behaviors, which include the agitation. You would think that this would be a given with Alzheimer's but I guess it isn't. Today's market can virtually charge anything, at least here in Minneapolis, because beds for persons with memory loss are few. Makes you wonder doesn't it? What will it be like as the tsunami of baby boomers age and enter assisted living facilities. Is this country ready for it? I don't think it is.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Be The Change - Minneapolis For Obama

On Thursday I took a cab home from work so that I could take Mom to the doctor. The driver was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Rush posed the question "Do you want to wake up on November 5 and hear that Barack Obama is President?" "Yes!" I said. And that started a whole conversation about politics and the US. This driver is an immigrant who recently became a US citizen. I asked him if he planned to vote and he said he didn't have time. I told him that John McCain was hoping for just this. By the end of the ride I think I had convinced him to park his cab and go vote.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our Excellent Adventure

Today Mom and I took a lift ramp van to the doctor's office. It was Mom's first time away from CB in two weeks. We had an appointment with a geriatrician and he reviewed Mom's meds and added and subtracted there. My sister wanted to know what type of dementia he thought Mom has (Alzheimer's or Lewy Body). We had been trying to get in to see this doctor for years. Mom was a little cranky about being uprooted and transported to the doctor but she settled down. Even so, he added another med, a mood stabilizer. Mom had a slice of lemon merangue pie when she got back to CB. Now I'm watching Seinfeld. I need to laugh after the latest drop in the stock market.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Glass is Half Full

I am feeling more optimistic today. Thank you everyone for your support.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things Can Only Get Better, Right?

I'm having one of those days where I wonder if it's all worth it. I hate reporting to my supervisor and my manager; neither one speaks to me and I'm feeling completely blackballed at work. Why? Because I suffered a debilitating bout of major clinical depression and anxiety (a lovely combination...not!) a few years ago and I not only didn't care about work but every day was a struggle to keep going. At the time my life was fine, but the chemicals in my brain were way out of whack and this caused my depression. They continue to hold this against me. Isn't that totally absurd? Before I had a purpose in my life which was to take care of Mom and this really didn't matter. Even though I thank God every day that Mom is just 3 miles away, I miss her so much it hurts. I'm grateful too for the caring and gentle women who care for her every day at CB. But I'm worried about her money which has been dwindling away with this stupid Wall Street mess. I worry about how she is adjusting to her new home and if she is happy there. My worst fear is that she is miserable and confused about how she ended up there. I just want to throw in the towel and yell uncle. I keep waiting for life to get better but it only seems to get worse.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What a Beautiful Smile!

I visited Mom yesterday. She is doing OK and seems content. I took this picture after lunch. This is in the dining room at CB.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday

TGIF! It's weird to work on Fridays. I'd forgotten how laid back people at work are on Friday.

Mom is continuing to settle in to life at CB. She is working with physical therapy and she actually was able to stand and bear weight. She is also working with them to use her walker. My sister got an email update from the facility's marketing director which said Mom was, at that time, working on stuffing a scarecrow. There is always something going on at CB. I'm looking forward to the family support group on the 15th. I've already been contacted by a resident's wife via email. She got my email address from the director of Mom's day program.

I've been trying to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and get a little bit of exercise. Last night I had my hair cut and colored for the first time in months.

The kitties are doing OK too. Olivia had her annual checkup and I've seen them cuddling together. They've been hanging out in Mom's room, snuggling on her bed. Olivia seems to miss her. I'm going to try to take her to visit Mom in a few weeks. It might be good for both of them to see each other.

I received a letter from friends from Michigan. We grew up next to this family and they are good friends of Mom's and Dad's. I told Mom about the letter and asked if she remembered them. She seemed to remember who they are! She's usually pretty good about remembering certain things, especially those things from her past.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Time with Mom

Last night I went to watch Dancing with the Stars with Mom. It was so nice to be with her and it really made us both happy. I arrived early, around 7:15 and they were trying to put Mom to bed! She wasn't ready for that. At 8:30 they were back; the person who helps put Mom in bed using the Hoyer lift was leaving at 9:00. So I left and they put Mom to bed. Mom kept telling me that she was scared and I told her she was safe. Besides if anyone hurts her I'll rip their face off! She seems to be happy and is making her way around the community during the day according to the marketing director who sent an email to my sister. Today she was making a scarecrow. They really do seem to do fun things. I hope she is enjoying most of her time there.

I'm adjusting slowly to her absence. It's hard to come home to an empty house. I'm sleeping through the night now too and seem to be well rested. The kitties are adjusting to Mom's absence but I still plan to take Olivia for a visit at some point, mostly for Olivia's sake. She seems lost without Mom but Mom hasn't mentioned her.