Saturday, January 28, 2012
Blog 8: It Wasn't Mother's Day, It Was Something Else
It wasn’t Mother’s Day, in fact it had already been a month later when I was at work and got a phone call from Mom asking me what time I was coming over. I asked her why, and she happily said everyone is coming over and bringing some food. She sounded excited. I talked to my sister Lynda and she said mom called her, too. Mom apparently thought it was Mother’s Day, because we soon discovered she was listening to some old voice messages from Mother’s Day on her phone, where my sister Kathy and niece had left her messages, telling her when they were coming and what they were bringing to eat. Mom was clearly confused. We all showed up at her house and brought food with us, and my other sister Lynda even bought her a gift. We just played along with it because we were happy to be together with Mom. She had been kind of distant lately.
The next day Lynda and I spoke on the phone about the previous evening. We were so worried and thought that maybe Mom had a stroke, a mini stroke or something. We did not know what to do but knew we needed to get help for Mom. So, we decided to go to her house and talk to her about going to the hospital to get checked out. Believe me, we knew she would refuse and be so mad at us, but we were not prepared for what she did. As soon as we told her we were concerned and wanted her to get checked out by the doctor, she started yelling at us. She said there was no way she was going to the hospital and we better just leave. It tore us up to tell her that yesterday was not Mother’s Day. She was so mad that she was shaking as she yelled at us to leave her alone and don’t come back. We didn’t know what to do and still question ourselves on how we handled it.
I called 911 because we thought that was the only way Mom would be taken to the hospital. An ambulance arrived, with the sound to alert the neighborhood. Mom let us know how unhappy that made her that the neighbors saw the ambulance at her house. Mom refused to go to the hospital. I didn’t know a person could refuse, when to us, there clearly was a problem with our beloved Mom. The paramedics called the police because we thought maybe Mom would listen to the police and go to the hospital. Let me tell you, that was embarrassing. Mom told them we have a problem and we should be sent to the hospital. I told one of the officers what happened the night before, and what her behavior has been like lately, and of course, since Mom refused help, there was nothing they could do. Mom was saying the meanest things about me and Lynda. Things I can’t even repeat, things she never in her wildest dreams would have said if she were well. Our mom was different. Something was terribly wrong. Mom didn’t go to the hospital, and she didn’t speak to Lynda or I for several days.
Then a couple of months later something awful happened. And let me remind you, there were some more disturbing instances where Mom was getting confused on her medication, but refusing to let us come into the house to help her sort it out. I went shopping that day and I tried to call Mom so I could come over and visit. She didn’t answer the phone. I tried a couple of times and left her a message or two. Mom would frequently not answer the phone and it always concerned us but then she would always tell us later that she was laying down or at the store when we called. Since I couldn’t reach Mom, I ended up driving home, and as I was pulling into my driveway Kathy called and said she just spoke to Mom on the phone and she was very worried. She said Mom didn’t sound right on the phone.
I immediately headed back that direction and arrived at Mom’s house 15 minutes later. I knocked on the door but Mom didn’t answer. I went to the back door, and no luck there. I looked in the garage window and saw her car there and ran back to the front door and started pounding. I said, “Mom, I know you’re in there, open the door!” It seemed to take forever, but Mom did come to the door. She opened it slowly, and she was all hunched over and had a blank stare in her eyes. She stood there behind the locked screen door and didn’t move anymore. I said to her to unlock the screen door and she mumbled that she couldn't. I was panicked. There was something so wrong with her but I didn’t know what! She couldn’t unlock the screen and I couldn’t break it open. I called Kathy and said for her to get over there now! I ran to the back door and fumbled for my keys, and was shaking so bad. I got the door open but the kitchen door was closed with the chain lock on it. I called for Mom to come to the back door. She slowly made her way to the kitchen but didn’t have the strength to pull the chain to the side and unlock the door. I coaxed her, I begged her, I pleaded with her to not give up. I tried to bust it open but couldn’t. Miraculously she was able to get the door opened.
I held on to her and asked her what was wrong. She could barely stand and barely speak. Her words were slow and not making any sense. I called 911. Kathy and my niece arrived and the paramedics came. About five people arrived, including the police. Mom was sitting in her rocking chair when they arrived and when they said they were taking her to the hospital, my mom mustered up all the energy she could, to flat out tell them NO! They asked her some questions like what year is it, what year were you born, and who is the president. She answered all of them. Amazing what a fighter she was when she felt threatened. But she couldn’t tell them what day it was. The paramedic said, just like last time, that they cannot take her if she refuses help. I pulled him aside and I said, “If you don’t take her, she is going to die. And you are going to have to live with that on your conscience.” He told me to not do that to him, and I said, "Take a look at her! She can’t even walk or talk normally. All she can do is tell you no, and you are going to go with that?" He sat down next to Mom and took her blood pressure, to which he said she had none. She had no blood pressure! He told her, “Ma’am, we have to take you to the hospital right now. If we don’t, you are going to die.” Then Mom let them take her in the ambulance. Mom did not want to die. My niece rode with her, and my sister rode with me as we cried the whole way there.
Praise the Lord, Mom survived, but her life was forever changed from that moment on. It was June of 2009. After several tests and evaluations, the doctors said it appeared our mom had Alzheimer’s. She refused to listen to or believe those words. We didn't want to either, but we had to. And more words that my mom would never learn to accept, is that she can no longer live by herself.