About Me

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Spokane, WA
This profile photo is my mom and me at the beach--she is 26 and I am about 18 months. LOVE the joy!! I am a mom of three and a teacher; being a teacher means I have to go back and cut the f-bombs. There were a few. Because Alzheimer's sucks badly. This blog, for nine years now--skipping a few while I was too cheap to buy my domain name-- helps me un-peel and process the endless layers of sad woven with weird and--impossibly--comedy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where is Allen Funt, and WHO painted that google-eyed bunny?

           I was sitting with my mom in the visiting room (at the lockdown facility for high-risk people in various disturbed states) and she needed to use the restroom. Actually, I had said something like "yes, but you don't have a home yet," her eyes teared up, then she immediately forgot why and said "I have to go to the bathroom SO bad."
          So, while she left the room and I helped myself to some cold water in a Styrofoam cup, I took a look around the room that someone had attempted to "decorate" for the motley crew of temporary residents and their frazzled friends and loved ones. But the placement of the pre-fab patterned egg shapes in a horizontal, not straight but certainly not playfully lopsided line across 3 of the 4 walls was so...sad. "Look, everyone, it's EASTER TIME!" Somehow, it was just as sad as the sweatsuits. 
         And the painted brown Easter bunny taped on the wall? Was it made by an adult or a child? Was it supposed to look like a chocolate bunny? It had googly eyes and looked several years old, but well-kept. 
         Why does the woman sitting at the table across from our table have bitter beer face? 
         For survival reasons, it would be nice to see the humor in this...my mom tried to, too, after joining me again in the visiting room with the egg shapes and ice water. She was of course surprised to see me. 
         She wanted to make fun of the obese dude in the orange shirt, but all she could come up with was "he looks like a bee." Still, no matter to what extent she knows it's me, her daughter, she knew being funny was something we do, and tried. She kept telling me "you're so pretty." I just held her hand.
         After the short long visit, I asked the nurse if she was on some kind of anti-psychotic medication, because she was so listless and slow and shaky and her eyes appeared dilated, but the nurse told me she hadn't had a dose since two mornings previously. 
         I was told she's been like that the whole time, and the only time she showed any animation was when she saw me. She was holding a newspaper and looked surprised and happy, then dropped the newspaper she was holding to be dramatic..a teeny bit of her..
         There is no furniture besides chairs and a table, no personal effects allowed ..they have lot of suicidal people who can't be trusted to not use personal belongings in self-destructive ways. 
In the lobby are posters of "schizophrenia: the warning signs," and resources for the mentally ill. 
        When I left, my mom tried to go with me, setting off the alarm, but I walked her back in. She told me, "OK, so maybe see you tomorrow. You can call me, or no, I'll call you."
She doesn't know how to use a phone any more. 
She does have a "discharge manager" which is encouraging; she WILL be discharged, she just needs a place to live in a dementia unit: Locked down, and nice, and that will take medicaid. There's a team, and a few personal friends trying to find a place.
       I keep hearing that Alzheimer's is more painful on the family than on the patient. I'd say.

Things I think when I can't sleep...yes, about my mom

From late night entries on my iPod.

March 2011

Listening to sappy music after sort of sleeping...woke up sweaty enough to have soaked the bedding & jammies for a third time. How many more days will I have this fever?
The point is, I was just listening to Boz Scaggs on Pandora radio and thought of my mom listening...Our album was the one where he's smoking a cigarette laying on a lady's leg. Boz thought he was hot stuff. Given where things are now, I can almost take all the old pain of seeing my mom in her blue robe, listening to jazz albums, or Boz Scaggs, on headphones and drinking glass after glass of Franzia (Chris called them "wine pillows") I get the music and trying to wind down. But I do that by talking to my husband, and then being with my kids. 
I mean, I now get the "going away." (me and Facebook, blogger, You Tube, Hulu, take your pick!)  And, I understand the headphones because we all made fun of her bad jazz,  but the wine made her go all the way away and I just wanted her to talk to me. I see now, and get now-literally- she had nothing to say. She didn't want to be asked anything because she didn't have the confidence to answer

August 16, 2010

Can't sleep at Barbara's cabin in spite of having taken a Lunesta.  
It's  5 and I've been up since 4. So having posted upcoming events on my calendar, now I'm writing about how my best present: Having my mom remember my birthday. I don't want to know if one of her caregivers just took her and threw a few items in  cart. I really think she picked out the gifts because they looked like me and like what she recalls goes with my house. I will continue to view it as any other little miracle: believe it is and don't research why it isn't. (Which is why I believed in Santa until Dave Bennett told me at his 50 th birthday--I was 19, I think.)
"Yes Virginia, your mom remembered your birthday." 
I figure this and the video of her dancing disco with Sophia should be good for 6 months of easy time in independent living.  Jesus. It's freezing in this guest cabin!!! And now the stupid sun is already coming up and my girls are rolling all over with their sleeping bags moderately covering their squirming little bodies. Thank God we're not in a wet fricking tent.

July 2010

This is a few days after my moms birthday..On Monday, two days before her actual 64th birthday, Chris and I decided not to move mom to Clare Bridge. 
That was before her Birthday lunch.
I told her to put on flip flops. But that involved dealing with her feet.  Oh dear GOD it wasn't just the dried flaky skin but a yellowish coating & what appeared to be athletes foot but  
was just weird thick crusty film. 
So...she doesn't wash. And I am starting to see what the pros are basing their suggestions on. I was already late to take her to Lunch and I had wanted to go shopping at Nordstrom (that's what normal moms and daughters do on birthdays, right?) so I got a pan of soapy water and a washcloth and took deep mouth breaths and drew on my deepest reservoir of compassion; the one I have when my kids are sick in the middle of the night and also on gratitude that I don't have to do this kind of thing for a living. She is family so it's not as gross as a random foot. Also, while there I cut and painted her toenails. (I will be going to Heaven.)Lunch was good, though. Rock City Grill. She had iced tea, I had a martini. 

June 2010

Fucking insomnia. 
Here's a thing: How can I still be popping zits when I have to also pluck gray chin hairs and dye my hair every 2 weeks and hand my mom over to “the state” I say it this way to be dramatic but I do feel this guilt if I were just more compassionate or maybe Japanese I wouldn't have a choice . But there is something about our  
society dropping off it's mentally ill old people..Mike doesn't  
understand how I could be feeling sad about letting go if I never had her I the first place ..unrequited love maybe? 
Damn this gaping hole! Why can't I be OK with what was and is? Shoulda coulda woulda my dad would say back in the 1970's. Got it from Laugh In or Saturday Night Live, I think? 
It's because now I know that mothering is NOT a basic function. It's an up in the morning, late at  night pride swallowing siege yes I'm misquoting Jerry Macguire. 
Must sleep. Therapy and court date (to assign a guardian)tomorrow. The temptation to drink is high. Too bad that's not something my mom and I do. Now we don't really do that much at all . She pays someone to put together a puzzle. 
Touring Clare Bridge with the family was helpful only to see it won't be a place they'll want to be..even to a greater degree than where she lives now. But as old as those residents were, and hanging out, waiting for the next meal-of course thinking that they hadn't yet eaten-they did remind me of mom. At least people are on the same wave length there. Alex said he didn't like grouchy ladies snapping at Bella and that it's "too far away." I am just not doing anything..but I'm not sure thats  
OK yet.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Limbo in gray pajamas

          Today is the day my mom goes to court for two things: and in reality, she's not going anywhere. She's wearing gray pajamas in a lock down facility. More on that in a moment, but first the "hearings:" One is to decide if she should be in her temporary care facility for another 72 hours. Since there is no where else for her to go yet, this seems logical. Second, there is a hearing to appoint a new guardian, since the other one did a poor job of monitoring my mom's demise, which culminated in a most dramatic way as we were on a short "spring break" at the end of last week:
          Even for my mom; never a stranger to self-generated (whether consciously, or in the past 5 years, unconsciously) chaos, has outdone herself. While we were away in Montana for a two day trip to see grandpa and grandma, the supervisor of APS (Adult Protective Services) finally visited with my mom, who, after being abruptly taken off three Alzheimer's drugs and one anti-anxiety drug three months ago, is being (understandably) more crazy: Talking to people who aren't there (and telling them to go away) pulling the fire alarm, then standing beneath it with her ears plugged.
Also, she's had apparently been night-walking and sleeping on couches. And lwalking away from the huge building down the street with no coat. She is registered with Safe Return, but never wears her medical alert jewelry. She forgets!
         So, for an undisclosed amount of time, (72 more hours, or 2 weeks??)  she is in a locked mental facility until we find a dementia unit. I'll hopefully have a new guardian today (come on, court system??) to work on her behalf, and after rummaging through everything in her apartment, and the storage unit in her unsold condo (anyone want a Brown's Addition 2-bedroom condo with a view of Sunset Hill for $115,000???) I have dozens of photos, preschool drawings, report cards and newspaper clippings regarding me, my brother, my children, and love letter from when my dad was in the Army. The autographed Monte Dolack posters are in storage or in my Tahoe.
         I found my (1976) "Bluebird" pin in a random box, so I put it on my jacket. I got it when I was seven. My troop leaders were my first exposure to an openly gay lesbian couple. I learned to tie-die, my dad got some tips on fixing old cars, and the only Camp Fire promise I remember is the one they added: "To learn about girls and how strong we are."
         What a powerfully sad and funny surge of lots of memories I dug up in her respective storage facilities. And WHAT to do with the dozens of jazz LP's from the 1970's collection ??

Haven't brought my self to visit the psych ward (which is not in a hospital, and euphemistically referred to as a crisis stabilization service.) The grey standard pajamas are just a little too much to deal with right now. I may change my mind by the visiting hour: 7-8 pm. Wow.

Back when there were still marbles rolling around

This was written in January. My, how things change in 3 months. Call it a record of regression. Isn't that the opposite of progression?

          I had a long conversation with (my mom's caregiver) Maria, last night. We both are concerned about the push to get my mom into a Dementia care unit before she's showing the requisite traits that suggest this is the most prudent move for her. 
          In my dealing with her, my mom has been completely normal, except or having no short -term memory. We went shopping the other day, and she had fun; I had to keep reminding her to finish pulling on and off her pants in the middle of what we were doing, but she is still self sufficient at both dressing and grooming. I have asked Maria to document her daily (or nearly daily) experience with her. Maria says she believes it would be "horrible" to move her from a place that she has a degree of Independence and freedom to a dementia unit. I concur. 
          Yes, she needs someone around to redirect and remind, throughout the day, but it has taken her nearly a year to get used to where she lives, and she seems happy there. Comfortable. I can have Dr. Greeley make his recommendation. His theory is to keep someone where they are most happy. I have no concerns about her walking off from where she is now, but moving to a dementia unit is another story; especially with the level of self care and awareness. (she still has her same personality and sense of humor) seems ridiculous if it is just to follow the protocol of medicaid transition. 
          It will still cost the government less to pay for someone to come and drop in on her throughout the day than to put her in a full-care unit for which she is neither mentally or physically prepared or needing at his point. I understand that she seen as a burden to some of the residents of Park Place, but that should not be a guiding factor in forcing this transition.

Thoughtful young me

Thoughtful young me

Seventies chicks

Seventies chicks
Me and my mom Lynn, 1973