Those of you familiar with the regression of Alzheimer’s know there are various stages of the disease – each worse than the previous stage. My mother has been a stage two for years, but has recently gotten worse. Because of our worsening financial situation I had no choice but to take on a job for a friend, removing sod and planting cedar trees for her – a brutal job and one I had to be away from Mum for, obviously. It wasn’t far away, and I only worked for a few hours at a time, coming home to feed her and check on her. On Saturday, my sister was coming down from Revelstoke, and I had written a note on mum’s "memory board" reminding her what time Wendy would be here. I reminded her I was on my cell if she needed me and left notes with my number.
When I came home around five, a neighbour came running up to tell me that they had found her wandering around the park, scared, and that she was at a neighbour’s house. The front door was wide open and she only had a sweater on when they brought her home. I asked her why she had left, and she said she was scared. When I asked of what, she said she didn’t know. When I asked why she hadn’t called me, she said she forgot. When I asked about the note that Wendy would be here any minute, she asked, "what note?" She had wiped her board clean and put it away under the coffee table. She denied there was any note.
I was thoroughly exhausted after this brutal work and needed to lie down. I told her Wendy would be here soon and that I had to sleep. She came down to my room every five minutes and knocked on my door, crying and asking me to come and sit with her because she was scared. Needless to say, I got no sleep.
She has become terrified whenever I have to go out, even for a few minutes. She starts crying and begging me not to go. She wants to know where I’m going; when I’ll be back, and why I have to go. It’s suffocating and a repeat of exactly how she was with my Dad. He couldn’t as much as go to the bathroom without her wanting to come with him. I knew that was tough on him, but now I know just how tough.
Interior Health has now escalated her need to an "emergency" first available bed status, whatever that means, compared to the eight months her previous "first available bed" status got us. With her deteriorating health, not eating and the pills not working, and having no strength or energy, she’ll get more and more critical as the days go by. With her elevated blood pressure these new developments will no doubt increase her danger level. She refuses to quit drinking, although the good part is that she had five drinks in the fridge recently, forgetting she had made them.
One tiny bright spot is that we did go to the show on Tuesday. It’s the one thing she seems to remember and look forward to. She asks me every day if it’s Tuesday so we can go to the show, so she’s right one day out of seven. Although we had already seen it, my friend wanted to see Walk the Line. I suspected that Mum would not remember seeing it, and I loved it enough to see it again. After the movie, when she said how much she enjoyed it, I joked "more than the first time you saw it?". She couldn’t believe she had already seen it because she didn’t remember a thing.
Sidebar humor: when we left the house she asked if she should bring her purse, to which I said "no", she didn’t need it, so naturally she brought it. When we got to the restaurant to meet Crystal, she asked if she should bring her purse in, and I said "no", she didn’t need it. While we were eating, she started looking around where she was sitting, and, when asked, said she was looking for her purse. Crystal told her it was in the car. When we left the restaurant, she said she thought she left her purse in the restaurant. When we got to the show she asked if she should bring her purse, and I told her to leave it in the car. When we were in the theatre, she was looking around for her purse, and Crystal told her it was in the car. When we left the theatre, she worried that she had left her purse in the show. Damn purse.
She was going to Bingo wednesday night, so I asked her to get her dabbers and her pouch to be ready. When she got to her room and I heard her opening drawers and swearing, I reminded her she was looking for her dabbers and her pouch. She asked why? I said she was going to Bingo. She asked if I was coming with her, and I said "no". She was in the living room and I asked her where her dabbers were, and she asked why she needed them. I told her she was going to Bingo, and she asked if it was tonight. I told her to get her dabbers. She was banging around her room, crying and swearing and muttered as she went down the hall that she wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t going to Bingo because she couldn’t find anything. I went into her room and the six dabbers she has were sitting on her dresser. I gave her forty dollars and showed her that I put it in her hip pouch. That was around four, and she only asked me seven more times to give her money for Bingo, in between asking if we were going to the show and why were her dabbers on the table, and if we were going out tonight.
When I went to take her to Nancy’s she asked if I would give her some money, and why I wasn’t locking the door behind us when we were going to Bingo.
You gotta have patience and a sense of humor to keep going.