Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

One of "The Girls"

It was a fun day.  It started out going to get my mother.  Naturally she wasn't there because naturally she had forgotten we were going to San Rafael for lunch.  "Why didn't you TELL me," she wailed when I found her eating waffles in the dining room.  Doesn't matter that the last thing I said to her last night was that I would pick her up at 10, that it has been written on her calendar for two weeks, or that I have reminded her we were going every single day for the past week.  But that didn't surprise me.  I'm used to it now.
But what did surprise me--and I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  She asked, again, who would be there and why were we going.  When I said that it was to celebrate my birthday, she was angry with herself for not remembering.  Now this surprised me because I've been talking about my birthday in conjunction with this lunch for two or three weeks and she has never batted an eyelash.  I could just as easily be telling her that I was going to do a load of laundry.

But today she fixated on it.  How could she have forgotten her own daughter's birthday?  She so fixated on it that for about the first twenty minutes of our drive to San Rafael she kept saying over and over again that she has noticed she forgets things now and that maybe she should see a doctor.  That almost caused me to run off the road.  My mother could be dying and I'd still have to force her to go to a doctor, but for her to suggest it was unheard of.  Of course that was forgotten almost immediately, but I don't know if her fixation was a sign that today was a good memory day, or that all the other things she forgot was a sign that it was a bad memory day.  I think I'll just think of it as...a day.

I really enjoy getting together with these women, and so honored that Marian now considers me "one of the group."

Around the table from the left:  Cinnie, my mother, me, Paula, Phyllis, Marian

We met at Arriverderci Restaurant again.  It's where we have been three times before.  Jeff was sick, so he wasn't able to make it.

Three of the women had veal piccata; my mother and I both ordered linguini with clams, which was fabulous.

Neither of us could finish our meal and I made a big mistake.  My mother said she would take it home and have it for dinner.  I told her she would put it in her refrigerator and it would sit there until it went bad and said I wanted to take it home for Walt.  She was very huffy about that.  I realized I should have said nothing because the second she got in the car she would have forgotten about it anyway.

But after a minor bit of unpleasantness, which I could have avoided, she seemed to suddenly see the leftovers again for the first time and asked what would happen to them.  I said "if you want to take them home, that's fine; if you don't, I'll take them to Walt," and she told me she didn't want them and that they were Walt's.

Then she saw the dessert menu sitting on the table and asked if we were there to have lunch and if we had ordered yet.  I told her we had already eaten.

The "girls" all gave me birthday cards and the waiter arrived with a big piece of tiramisu with a candle in it, which we all shared.

Some of the best tiramisu I've tasted.  So glad I chose this restaurant today!

On the ride home, I decided I just couldn't put up with another hour and a half of answering the same questions over and over and over again.  I only had 3 hours of sleep the night before and my patience was starting to wear thin.  But I have this playlist of music from the 40s that I made for her a few years ago.  I put it on and by golly she sang all the words to every single song.  Music memory sticks around longer than just about anything, I have heard.  She loved it, and I enjoyed singing along with her and not having to answer "are we coming into Sacramento?" more than three or four times.

There was a new wrinkle coming home this time.  From the time we entered Davis she began to be worried that she wouldn't be able to find her apartment.  That was a first.  She asked if I wanted to come in with her but I told her I was so sleepy and really wanted to get home and take a nap.  She asked me at least four times what her apartment number was and each time I said "Apartment 109...the door with 'Mildred Rynders' written next to it."  She was still nervous when she got out of the car, but I haven't had a panicked call, so I am assuming she was able to find the door she has been finding at least twice a day for the last two years.

Tomorrow I'll go over and pick up her dirty laundry and see how she's feeling.  She felt extremely unsettled all day because she was out of the house, but I notice that the longer we stay with the group the more relaxed she becomes and the better her memory is.  My god, someone asked her "do you remember so-and-so" and I expected her to say "yes" (she'll never admit she doesn't remember), but not only did she remember the woman, but even said something that she remembered about her!  That was very exciting.  

I cling to little brief moments like that.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hearts and Flowers

I couldn't let Valentine's day go for my mother, so I was off early in the morning to buy flowers to take to atria.  
Nugget market was doing a big business in flowers, so big they had even set up a stand outside and I noticed that a girl kept bringing in carts of flowers, so I guess they were selling like hotcakes.

I always notice the price of flowers when I'm in the store and it seemed that these had definitely been jacked up for the holiday!  It was difficult to find a bouquet that was under $10, but I did.  Valentine's day is not cheap, even if you aren't buying diamonds or automobiles!

Then I decided to add some candy to the flowers, and the table with all the candy on it was a jumble and it was difficult to tell how much anything cost, but I chose a tiny bag with red chocolate hearts in it, ignoring the heart shaped boxes, which seemed to be much more expensive.  The little bag had no price on it and I was shocked when I looked at my grocery tag in the car afterwards -- I hadn't looked at it when they were ringing me up -- to find out that this little bag cost $13.  But owell.  It was for my mother and I wanted to make her smile on Valentine's day.

Next I looked for a card and was unable to find a card under $6.  They are clever now, some of these companies.  Instead of just selling you a card,  they package it in a cellophane pouch so it looks richer and, of course the price is higher.  I could have gone to a different store where I knew that there would be non-cellophaned cards, but what the heck, I was there.  I bought a "Mom" card.

I drove to Atria and she was thrilled with the flowers, and barely looked at the candy and the card.  I had to remind her they were there...and I had to remind her three times that I had brought a card, which she finally opened.  Her attitude was "ho hum...a card? candy? Whatever"  But she did love the flowers.

We went to lunch at the dining room, which was all tarted up with balloons.

Lunch was a delicious chicken pot pie, which was a far cry from the last time I ate there, when the "Captain's platter," consisting of "shrimp, fish, and clams" was inedible. Everything was barely warm, and so hard you could barely chew it.  But the pot pie was delicious.

While we were eating, a barbershop quartet circled the room and serenaded everyone.

I had to kind of smile because I remember them from last year, when it seemed they had more volume and were on tune more of the time.  They, like the residents, are getting older.

My mother seemed to have little interest in the music, but did tell me several times about how many balloons there were (sometimes she couldn't remember the word "balloon" and said either "balls" or "bubbles.") and what a lot of work it must have been for someone to blow them all up, and how much work it was going to be to untie them all and deflate them so they could use them again next year.

While we were eating, two little girls, Sophie and Bella, along with their father, came around to every table, carrying a paper bag and gave everybody in the dining room little Valentine's day cards.  That was very cute.

Jeri had sent a text video of the snow in Boston today.  Some guys were removing snow from the roof of their house, almost completely covering her truck in the process.  The video, taken from inside their flat, shows the snow falling off the roof past the window--and was pretty impressive.  I decided to send back a video right after I had shown it to my mother.  I turned on the video and asked her what she thought of all that snow and she seemed very flustered and then said it was "very cute" and what cute girls the granddaughters were.  It's probably just as well that for some reason the audio on my video didn't work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Brief Visit

I went to Atria today.  I didn't want to go for lunch, so waited until 12:30 and saw that my mother was at a table, apparently talking to someone.  I felt like I used to when Tom started kindergarten and cried every morning when I dropped him off.  I would leave him, turn my back and walk away, but then find a place across the street where he couldn't see me, but I could watch him...and then the crossing guard would let me know later how he had done during the day.

Seeing my mother interacting with women at her table made me feel as hopeful as I felt when we were looking for places for her to move and I watched groups of women talking and laughing together over lunch.  She needs to interact with others and today she did that.  Of course for all I know she does it every day, but I hadn't really witnessed it before, since I'm always with her.

Anyway, I had come to refill her pill holder.  I normally bring her new set of pills over the weekend, but with the combination of pouring rain on Friday and not having a car Saturday or Sunday it was today before I could get them to her.  Fortunately, nothing she takes is keeping her alive, so missing a day isn't a big deal.

We visited for about half an hour, but I had a coughing fit (first one I'd had today, I think...I am much better) and decided to cut the visit short.