Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Return to Hannah

This was another day I had looked forward to which didn't quite work out the way I expected.  My mother's hair has been looking just horrible and she is overdue for a permanent.  The woman who does hair at Atria just doesn't do her hair right.  The last two times she had a permanent, she came out looking like a q-tip.  I decided to call her old hairdresser in San Rafael.  She went to Hannah every week for some 30 years until she moved to Davis.  In fact, the very last thing she did on her last day at her old home was to have Hannah do her hair (my ploy to get her out of the house while the rest of the family cleaned it out without her interference.)

Before I made the appointment, I asked my mother if she'd like to go and she said that yes, it would be fun to see Hannah again. After I made the appointment, I told my mother that she had an appointment and she was pleased and said again how much fun it would be to see Hannah again. I wrote it on her calendar and reminded her it was there.  I told her two days ago, when I left, that I would be back on Wednesday to take her to Hannah. 

I decided to go early and bring along a small lunch, since she wouldn't have time for lunch in the dining room and there is a beautiful lagoon near Hannah's house and I thought we could eat there.  Knowing she doesn't eat much, I made a small cottage cheese and peach salad and bought a pastry and packed all in my new insulated bag, replacing the one I left behind on the bus bench last week.

When I got to her apartment, she wasn't there.  I went looking for her and found her in a corner near the dining room with a cup of coffee and 2 cookies.  Breakfast.  I said I had come to take her to see Hannah and get a permanent.  She grabbed her hair and wailed "do I have to???"  I'm afraid I wasn't very nice about it. She can't help it but I don't know how else to help her.  I could have called her from the Atria parking lot to remind her and by the time I got to the apartment she would have forgotten.

We argued, she withdrew. Said she thought she was all set for today because she knew what she had to do and now I'm telling her she's supposed to do something else (interesting because she tells me EVERY DAY that she knows she's supposed to be doing something but doesn't know what it is.)

But she reluctantly agreed to go and then kept a stoic silence for the first 20 minutes or so, by which time she forgot where we were going and why--and that she was angry with me for making her go, so the rest of the trip was answering those questions.  We were so late leaving Davis that we barely got to Hannah's in time and had no time for the lunch by the lagoon I had packed. 

[Aside:  her pill container has disappeared.  I asked her about it and she doesn't remember having one for the past 3 years.  I planned to look in garbage cans when we got back to Atria after returning from San Rafael]

When she got out of the car at Hannah's, she took off her jacket and left it on the front seat.

When her hair got all brushed out, I could see why I was willing do drive so far to have Hannah do it  She looked like a different person. 

When she looked at herself in the mirror she seemed surprised and asked "who did that?"  Hannah told her that she had done it.  When we got in the car, she picked up the jacket she had left and asked whose jacket it was.

The ride home was interminable because of endless backups because of rush hour traffic  She was very anxious if I got too close to a car in front of me, one time yelling out because she thought the car in front was backing up.  She kept asking what was making the traffic so slow.  Over and over and over again for about 3 hours.

I put on my playlist of music from the 40s, which has always calmed her down and she always sings all the words to all the songs, but I think it was entirely too distracting for her today.  She sang a couple of songs in spots where the traffic was not bad, but mostly she seemed irritated by the noise.

By the time we got to Atria, every bone in my body ached and I just let her out so I could drive home.  I decided I would leave the medicine search for tomorrow.  She was upset that I wasn't coming in and asked how she would find where she was supposed to go.  I suggested she head for the apartment she has been going to every day for the past 3 years.  As I drove off, feeling guilty, she was standing in the lobby looking around, trying to remember where she was.  I came home and took two Tums to quiet the heartburn that had been building up during the long ride.

A very long day and lots of frustration and biting of my tongue, but in the end, definitely worth it.
Other than a few kinks, the day went all right.  I think the visit with an old friend --whose name she knows!-- was a great tonic for her as well.

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