Been a while since I’ve been on here (sorry). Seems every time I log on, WordPress has changed how things look. Always throws me for a loop. I’m a creature of habit and I like learning something once and being able to do it with confidence from that time forward, not having to relearn and re-tweak every few months. Wish they’d leave things alone.
It’s been a rough few weeks in the Alzheimer’s arena. At the end of June, Mom began feeling rotten – bouts of nausea, periodic intense body ache, itchy hands. I thought she might have picked up a bug, but since there was no fever, I let it ride. Then she started occasional vomiting, the body aches grew worse, the itching intensified, so I made an appointment with her doctor. He drew blood to check her kidneys (she has been previously diagnosed with “chronic renal failure” which is actually more like chronic renal disease (and a far less scary term) and to check her for any sort of tick-borne illness. (FYI – results came back yesterday with an all-clear.)
That afternoon, shortly after lunch, she started with intense stomach pain. Doctor hadn’t drawn a urine sample to check for a UTI, so I thought that might be the problem. At any rate, we loaded her into the car and took her to the ER. That’s a 30 minute drive and by the time we got there, she was doubled over in agony. (She told my husband she thought she was dying.) Poking, prodding, and a CAT scan ensued. Came back with a diagnosis of pancreatitis and kidney stones (one of which she must have passed and that’s what caused the pain). The decision was made to admit her to the hospital to treat the pancreatitis and to put a stent in to help her pass the kidney stones (an operation which was ultimately not done, as they decided she didn’t need it after all.)
Mom spent almost a week in the hospital, at which point they released her to rehab where they hope to improve her general overall strength, perhaps to the point where she doesn’t need a cane or walker (at least for now). Physically, she’s like a little draft horse – geared up and ready to go, the proverbial all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips, sassy and bright-eyed. Mentally, she’s oatmeal.
it’s not apparent to strangers. They think she has it all together. But those of us who know her are in despair. Short term memory is as short as a few moments. Of her life, she remembers very little accurately or without encouragement and cues. I am now faced with making the decision to put her into long-term care where she has someone with her 24/7 to keep an eye on things.
Why can’t I do it? I’m burned out, that’s why, but don’t believe for a moment that I don’t feel an enormous and totally useless mountain of guilt over this. Logically, I know I’ve done well by my mom. I kept her out of a nursing home for almost two years. I’ve given her moments of enrichment and entertainment. I’ve managed a reunion with family members she hasn’t seen in decades. We had a total blow-out party to celebrate her 90th last year. So why doesn’t it feel like enough? Why do I feel like I’ve failed her in some way?
The worst thing is the grief. I miss my mom. I miss the lady I knew. The old woman who lives in her skin right now is very nice, but she isn’t my mom. A friend put it concisely today: With Alzheimer’s, you don’t experience one death, you get to experience two – first your loved one’s mental death and then, at some point possible far, far in the future, their physical death.
Hell is not a place beyond this earth, let me tell you. It’s right here.
So I weigh options and reconsider and doubt myself and feel my stomach lining erode and stress eat my way into a bag of cookies I originally bought for her, and feel confident of my course one moment and totally adrift the next.
This is bollocks.