Monday, February 6, 2012
Blog 10: We Can't Leave Mom Alone, But She Won't Let Us Stay
I got out my calendar of 2009 and saw that it was the month of June that our mom was placed in the hospital with that near death experience that I described in my last post. The doctor took her off all her medication, and Mom did remarkable. After a few days, they put her back on her blood pressure and heart pills, and Mom was her spunky self again. You could tell she was just so happy to be alive. And we were too, let me tell you. In no time she was ready to bust a move and get out of the hospital.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my sisters and I had a meeting to talk and come to terms with the fact that Mom’s life, and ours, was going to change. We talked, we cried, we had some disagreements, but we promised we would not put Mom in a nursing home. She took care of us all our lives and she would do anything for us, so we were going to do anything we could for her.
The doctor said Mom shouldn't be left alone and we needed to monitor her medication so that episode didn't happen again. So who was going to stay with her? Kathy and Lynda had full time jobs, and Renee lived three hours away and worked part time. Annie didn’t have a regular job but did some business buying and selling antiques. I wasn’t working at the time. It seemed logical that I would be the one to provide the most care for Mom. But there was a problem…I was moving.
Without going into great detail, a year and a half before Mom’s diagnosis, I had gone through a traumatic experience at my job and ended up leaving it. My seven year relationship with my boyfriend had ended, and I was in the process of making plans to sell my home and move to another state to be closer to my oldest daughter and granddaughter. She and her husband were also expecting their second child. My son and his wife were expecting their first baby as well. They lived in a neighboring state, so it would have put me closer to my immediate family. I was going to have three grandchildren, and I was so far away. I wanted to be near them, to be a part of their lives and watch them grow up. I was at a pivotal point in my life. The plan was in action.
I had a decision to make. After much distress and anguish over that decision, I decided to go ahead with my move. I did not want to leave Mom, I love her so much. What made me feel better about it was that I had made a decision that I would come back every six weeks, or sooner if needed, to help with Mom and do my part. I would have never moved if I was her only child. But I had four sisters, and between the five of us, I was sure we could make it work. My move was still ten months away.
Now that I explained that, when Mom came home from the hospital she did not want anyone staying with her, just as we had suspected. Remember, I said our mom was very private. The first night or two she was ok with having one of her daughters stay with her because she understood the ordeal she went through. After that, she gave everyone the boot. She said she can take care of herself. She made it so difficult for us that there were times she was alone a lot. We just couldn’t stay at her house. If one of us was there, and had to leave the house for anything, she wouldn't open the door when we returned. If we used the house key to get inside, she would let us have it!
I know it was her disease that caused her personality change, because she was the most loving and caring Mom in the world. But with this illness, she would literally blow up at us. She was down right mean at times. I even tried to tell her the doctor said she has Alzheimer’s and she absolutely refused to believe me. She said I was crazy, and I was the one who was sick. To this day I wonder if Mom really believed me and she was too scared to admit it. Was she trying to protect her daughters? She always went to the ends of the earth to protect us.
Our poor Mom…I can imagine how frightening it is to hear you have a degenerative brain disease. It’s something nobody wants to hear. She knew the disease all too well, as her husband had passed on from it just four years prior. She always said that if that ever happened to her, you might as well put her in front of a mac truck because she didn’t want to live that way.
The first couple of months are kind of a blur. Mom was obstinate. She was driving her car, and trying to live her life the way she wanted, and not allowing anyone to stay with her. This went on for quite some time. I was packing up my house and going out of town a lot in search of a new home. My sisters kept tabs on Mom when I was out of town. We spoke frequently on the phone about Mom’s comings and goings and wondered what in the heck we were going to do?
My house sold on Sept. 30, 2009. All of my personal belongings and furniture were put in storage and I moved in with Mom. My sisters had managed to stay with her off and on prior to that, and I also stayed with Mom when I could. But when I moved in, Mom had a permanent roommate for the next six months, whether she liked it or not. I had to leave a couple of times to house hunt, a necessity, and to get a break from the stresses of being a caregiver, another necessity. Annie stayed with her when I was gone.
My next blog post will describe the ups and downs of those six months of living in a house with Alzheimer's, where Alzheimer's was the ruler. I know a lot of people have dealt with personality changes in their loved ones with dementia, and have gone through similar struggles, but I don’t know if anyone went through what we endured during that time.