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.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Transition blues and Amsterdam envy

            I just was writing the title to this blog and I couldn't remember the word "Amsterdam." Shit. I'm so afraid it's happening at moments like that. Like I mostly think my ship is floating along and I've got a huge awesome voyage still ahead; I'll have grandchildren! Then suddenly I don't know "Amsterdam" and I can hear the water already starting to seep through the sides. But enough about me, (ha! It's ALL ABOUT ME. Every minute)
           Last week I went to see my mom a few times. One early evening, she wouldn't open her eyes-for anyone-and was refusing to eat. I tried to look at it from the perspective of a toddler in the midst of a quiet tantrum; the implosion brand. If such a thing exists.
           I was told there would a "rough transition" after making the MOVE. And that is what it is, I guess.
          My social diagnosis (as I pretended among the staff to have my "big girl panties" on, while in reality crying in her room as I was taking photographs from the Creative Memories albums she and I made in the 2000's to go with the biography sheets I completed for the facility.)
Oh God she's pretty. High school prom photo, her on a trip during which she hung out with James Mercer's (Yes! the lead singer of The Shins) family in Sidney, MT, and lovin' on Alex.
was that she appears to be "being quietly obstinate;" that refusing to eat "I assume is her way of shutting down and kind of saying 'F off I'm on sensory overload.'" "Yes," they said. "Or maybe still asserting some independence."
           The next day I was called by a physical therapist and asked why she has a swollen hip, with lopsided legs and no range of motion. I just said she'd fallen a few years ago and had been basically in a wheelchair because she didn't want to stand anymore. (And then pictured some hidden camera Hellish video of old people being absurd and left to sit for hours or thrown around) and yes, Lynn now has a personal occupational and physical therapist, with no desire to stand or talk, and a gorgeous setting which she's too overwhelmed to begin to take in. Too much too late. 
           But that's not even what breaks my heart today. It's this CNN REPORT by Dr. Sanjay Gupta about this one-of-a-kind "Dementia Village" in Amsterdam. They wander from store, to building, to park. All the grocery goods are not priced, because it alleviates confusion. It's 23 minutes long and made me want to start one here.. Somehow. Yet another reason to be wealthy, which I am not. Perhaps just to be an advocate or at the very least a better human. It's an amazing model to follow. Or emulate at any level.

Holding hands with late-stage Lynn

In which I am an Alzheimer's-book-smart show-off

       Mom was playing with my hair. Playing and pulling; like a toddler. I love it and the attention makes me giggle. Then she was rubbing against her chair, so I scratched her back and put a little lotion (although I only had strongly-scented stuff in my purse, which she used to hate) on what is almost certainly eczema. 
       "Where is my mother?" Asked a lady sitting two chairs down in the hallway-obviously visiting from the other, higher-functioning wing.
      "She will be here in a few minutes," I assured her. She seemed satisfied but then I followed up, needlessly. 
      "Moms are very busy." Smile. 
      Then, patting myself on the back for really knowing how to be in the world of people in that charming stage FOUR of Alzheimer's- (My mom being in stage 5 or 6- I'm soooo wise.) I thought I'd put it over-the-top by saying "Your mom loves you very much." 
      She looked at me indifferently.
      "Well, I don't like that at all. But I will be kind." And she sat abruptly back in her chair, and I laughed into my Mom's lap because other people's Alzheimer's is fricking hilarious, and she flicked and pulled on my hair some more.
     A few minutes later the lady walked over and had a pretend conversation with my mom and I about my vest. 
     "So," she said, "Are you carrying anything?"
     I told her, "I've got some methamphetamine and a little cocaine is all." 
    "Did you say message?"
    "No, meth. I was being sarcastic. I like to be funny, but I'm not."
     She smiled, patted me on the head, and kept walking in a small circle, then into the closed dining room to check it out while the nurse's aides were concentrating on getting the wheel-chair-bound their nighttime snacks. I wish I'd enjoyed my mother's wandering days more, but frankly, they were rather exasperating, because they were frantic, and she was not in a beautiful, safe loop-shaped facility. I really enjoy this lady waiting for her mom. 
     But right when I was daydreaming about the "good old" (read: much more horrible) days and enjoying my new old pal, my own mother laughed out loud and declared a non-sensical thing all conspiratorially, as if gossiping. It was cute and I focused back on her and said goodbye.
     I introduced myself to the lavender lady as I left and she shook my hand three times making a strange squeaky sound effect with each shake. 
     Man I love his place. It's like a sweetly deranged Hilton you can't leave (Well, not without the code, which I have because I'm SO WISE).
Just noticed this sweet ass paint job on her wheelchair tonight. Looks all 70's motorcycle helmet/jet boat.

Thoughtful young me

Thoughtful young me

Seventies chicks

Seventies chicks
Me and my mom Lynn, 1973