This was The Big Day. And it all went perfectly. Until it didn't.
I had made an appointment for her to have her stitches removed, as ordered by the doctor in the ER, with one of the nurses here in Davis. I made the appointment for 11:30, knowing how late she sleeps these days.
Allowing plenty of time, got to Atria at 10:00 and let myself into her apartment and yes, she was sleeping. I woke her up and she was very groggy, but she got dressed and I went out to get her some coffee, which helped wake her up a bit more. I could tell from how she was looking around the room that she didn't have a clue where she was.
This was one of her off days, and being awakened early didn't help that. I think one of the most frustrating things for me...and definitely for her...is that she wakes up not knowing where she is and what she should be doing, but knowing that she should be doing something.
Some days this isn't a big deal, other days it borders on anxiety about not being able to remember what she is supposed to do. I have tried giving her something simple to do, but she doesn't want to do anything I suggest and just stares at me what that little kid standing defiantly in front of Mommy and refusing to do whatever it is that she is asked to do.
I brought her the piece that her sister Barb had written when she first realized she was losing her memory. I wasn't sure my mother could follow it, but thought she would try, because it was something from one of her sisters to whom she was the closest. She held it and looked off and said "You know...I can't remember Barb. I don't remember who she is." I told her that she was her sister and she asked if she died or not.
Today she was just very vague and following me around when we left the building. I told her many times on the ride to Kaiser where we were going and why we were going there. Sometimes she remembers something vague about an accident, but most times it's a new piece of information every time.
I was proud of myself that I actually got to Kaiser five minutes early. Given that I had to wake her up, that I had to allow time for her to have coffee, that I had to convince her to put on her shoes, and that she didn't know where we were going or why, I was thrilled to discover we were on time.
We went into the procedure room and a nurse asked her name. She could remember her first name, but not her last. The nurse checked the bridge of her nose (I had to remind my mother why she was doing this--that she'd had a fall). She said there was something covering the stitches, something that seemed almost metallic. She thought maybe makeup, but I don't think my mother has any makeup, and if she does, she hasn't used it in a very long time. Neither of us could figure out what it was. Whatever it was it seemed to be caked on her nose and she put a wet gauze on it to see if she could soften the...whatever it was...up enough that she could clean the wound.
The nurse went off to find her doctor to check the stitches and I swear, this woman has been my doctor too for many years and I've always considered her more of a statistician than a physician, since she seems more concerned with numbers (blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.) than actual health. She doesn't really "know" me at all. She walked in, said hello, didn't examine my mother's stitches at all. didn't seem to know why she was there, and walked out again, Soon, the nurse was back with her and this time she did, under the nurse's request, check the stitches and decided that they weren't ready to come out yet, and that we should return on Friday. So we have to do the whole thing over again.
As we walked out, I held her arm because she said that she felt her legs might buckle under her at any minute.
I knew she had not had anything to eat yet, so I took her to IHOP, which is next door to Kaiser, for breakfast. and was pleased that she actually ate at least half of her pancakes, which was more than I could eat.
She does not "wait" well. I've noticed that whenver we aren't actively doing something, but are merely waiting--like for a waiter to take our order, or for the food to come or, in a restaurant, for the bill to arrive, she always wants to know what we are doing and what we should be doing.
We left and drove back to Atria. When we got out of the car she stood in the middle of the parking lot while I locked the car, as if she didn't have a clue where to go. She asked where we were going and I said we were going inside the building "This is where you live," I said. "I do?" she asked.
When we got inside she said she thought it looked familiar. We went to her apartment and I gathered up her laundry to bring home to wash. Some of it was in the hamper, some of it was in the waste basket. When I had it all collected I went to tell her goodbye. She was sitting on the couch looking lost. She said "so I'm supposed to sit here and someone will tell me what to do, right?" I told her what she was supposed to do was to lie down and take a nap, but that brought the defiant "I don't have to do that if I don't want to" face and I kissed her goodbye. As I left, she was sitting there, looking around the room and, I'm fairly certain, trying to figure out where she was and I know she was trying to figure out what she was supposed to be doing.
I felt so very helpless.