Friday, February 25, 2011

The Happy Pill?

It's Wednesday and I have been dreading this day for weeks. Mother's knee has been bothering her for sometime now. Aside from dementia, she has been blessed with fairly good health. I remember as a child; I would walk by her open bedroom door and see her crying while rubbing her knee cap. What a sight I saw once upon entering her room; the knee cap apparently had a habit of coming off it's assigned seat and would slip over to the edge. Mother would make every attempt possible to return this "roving" knee cap to it's prominent position, just so she wouldn't have to go to the doctor.

Several years ago, mother began complaining with her right knee hurting her. We would mention going to the orthopedic doctor for him to take a look and she would become frantic at the possibility of him putting a "shot" in there. My siblings and I have totally ruled out having knee replacement due to the dementia and her age, so the only thing that remains to relieve the pain is Aleve and cortisone shots. Last year, my brother Jay and Sister Sue had to take off from their work, only to escort mother to this orthopedic doctor so he could alleviate her with a cortisone shot to the knee. I had talked and pleaded with her to go, to no avail. Sometimes it helps to call in the Calvary when mother has said her final "no, I'm not going to the durn doctor!"

Here lately, mother has become more erratic than usual. Being her primary caregiver, nerves begin to wear thin and the thought of trying to coax her into going to get another shot, just does not sit well with me, seeing how I am dealing with other issues in my life which have gotten me a little rattled.

Approximately one week after construction began on mother's addition at my house, my husband and I returned home from spending the night with mother around 4:45 am, only to find the entire downstairs covered in two inches of water. Apparently, a small pipe had slipped off causing havoc in the Edwards household and life. With only a few months away from bringing mother to live in her new home and knowing that it will be a battle like none other, I've been contemplating the route that must be taken. Not to mention the doctor visit which awaits us. While listening to friends tell stories of their Dementia ridden loved ones, and how the doctor had prescribed a "happy pill" for them when they were not cooperative, became ever present on my mind. After much thought, I decided to call mother's primary doctor to see if he might prescribe mother something to make her a little bit "happier." Now, mother has no problem with going to her general doctor, Dr. Kim. The Orthopedic doctor and the dentist are the only two doctors that will cause mother to shake the foundations in rebellion. I guess you might say, the two doctors who carry long needles. All I have to say to her is that he will stop giving her blood pressure medicine if she doesn't keep up with her visits and she could have a stroke, then she'll agree to go. I know this sounds a little cruel, threatening horrendous calamities on your own mother, but believe you me, one day with her and you will be able to look beyond any negative thoughts you might have about this situation.

The doctor's office has assured me that Dr. Kim will not prescribe any medications unless mother comes in for a visit first. Knowing that I have made her an appointment with her "knee doctor" for next week, I agree to bring her in. All goes pretty well with this visit and mother is prescribed a low dosage of "Haloperidol." I get the prescription filled and carry it home with me as if I have found a new friend. This medicine will only be given to mother on occasions when most needed.

Coming up on mother's knee appointment, I get the news that my infant grandson needs surgery to replace a failed shunt. The procedure goes well, but I am feeling more and more anxiety riddled due to all the events in my life. As I am collecting mother's medication for the morning, I come across the prescription of Haloperidol which my sister and I have decided not to give mother until the day prior to her going to the knee doctor. I stop for a moment and think about the "happy pill." I am feeling far from happy these days and possibly this wonder pill will make me feel a little less stressed today. Reasoning that if I take one, it will be a good way to see how it will affect my mother when the time comes for her usage. I reach for a pill and before you know it, I have swallowed the "happy pill".

It's getting lunch time and a weird feeling comes over me. I began to feel as if I'd like to go to bed with my shoes on or jump into a fish bowl. I have several errands to run after work, so I run by the post office to mail a package. By the time I get back into the car, I can barely think straight. I lay my head down on the console and fall asleep. When I awake, I can't for the life of me think what I'm still doing in the Post Office parking lot. Driving home, I don't feel as sleepy, but still weird. I pull up to my garage and lay back in my seat only to wake one hour later.

I have roped my oldest daughter Blythe into taking mother for her knee appointment. The few days leading up to this event has not been good. Mother has called me every name in the book. Phoned me at home repeatedly as well as work, threatening to call the Sheriff and his deputies if we try to make her go.

In mother's medication this morning, I have slipped "the happy pill." Knowing that I had only began feeling the affects around lunch time, I wait.

In order to reach the doctor's office on time, my daughter needs to leave with mother no later than 1:30 pm to arrive for her appointment at 2:00 pm. I receive several phone calls from Blythe, telling me that mother will not agree to go. I have chosen to be shopping in a nearby city, trying to stay away but accessible by phone. As I am coming out of Target, my phone rings, Blythe tells me that she has someone who wants to talk to me. I say in a loud voice that everybody in the parking lot can hear, "Is she not going?!?" Mother's voice comes on the phone and says, "No mam SHE'S NOT!" suddenly without control, the words from my mouth began to flow. I choose not to tell you the things I said, but I will hint that one of them involved my foot! The phone goes dead and I am done. Approximately 3 to 4 minutes pass and the phone rings again, it's my daughter. Mother has changed her mind and she has decided to go to the doctor. I can hear mother in the background shouting that she will tell that doctor to kiss her butt! To use a better word.

Days have passed since mother's appointment. There's no need for the so called "happy pill" again until her move. All I know is that I'm not sure what this pill has accomplished, other than giving me a good nap and mother a shot in the knee!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Me, Myself and Irene!

The forecast is calling for snow; lots of snow. Thinking that I might get snowed in and unable to care for mother for several days, has me thinking about bringing her to my house during the storm. A little concerned about the stairs in my home and wondering how mother will fair with them, causes me to began thinking about other solutions. I just happen to be talking to one of my teen granddaughters at church, prior to the predicted snowfall when a light bulb comes on. "How would you and your sister like to make some money?" I ask. "Doing what?" Savannah asks. "Staying with your Mema during the snow storm" I cautiously answer. "Sure!" she says. "Well, talk it over with your sister and get back with me" I tell her.

It's not long before the phone rings and my two granddaughters have agreed to spend three days snowed in with mother. I quickly head to the grocery store and stock up on any and every needed item, from ice cream to facial cream before they change their minds. With teenagers, it doesn't take long until my bill has ran up higher than I had intended. Groceries and granddaughters are delivered to my mother's house the evening before the storm is to come in. Mother seems elated at the prospect of her two new found young house mates.

Mother remarks at how pretty the girls are and asks their names. As you enter into her guest bedrooms, you can see shelves of pictures, hosting my granddaughter's with various family members in their earlier years. Spending time at Mema's house from time to time was a given as Savannah and McKenna grew up. Today they have come as a helper to their Mema, instead of a great granddaughter.

The snowstorm finally comes to an end and the whole ordeal is behind us all. Mother and the girls enjoyed their days together with few reports of demented events and actually how mistaken we all are about my mother's condition. As days and weeks pass, Savannah and McKenna agree to spend the night with mother from time to time.

It's a Monday evening and McKenna alone has agreed to stay the night. I have called mother to tell her that my husband and I will soon be down to stay, unbeknownst that my granddaughter McKenna will be staying instead. The phone rings and it's my daughter informing me that she will be taking McKenna to mother's in a short while. Since my husband and I get our share of staying each night, we are tickled for McKenna to stay in our stead. I quickly call mother to tell her the news, thinking that she will be pleased to have her great grand spend the night once more instead of us. What a mistake! Mother begins to question McKenna's ability to call for reinforcement just in case some disaster might befall them. I assure her that she is quite capable of taking care of things, being that she is 16 years old.

The phone soon rings back and it's mother, telling me not to tell that young girl to come down there. I once again assure her that things will be fine with McKenna there.

It's morning time, and I phone ahead of my arrival as usual to bring mother's meds and pick McKenna up for school. "Hello" mother answers. "Come open the door for me" I say. "Well, Jean, there's somebody in my house" she whispers. "Mother, that is McKenna, come open the door for me."

As I enter the house, I can see a perplexed look on McKenna's face. Mother sits at the kitchen table whispering and pointing at McKenna's back as if she has not a clue as to who she is.

It's time to head off to work and drop McKenna off at school. Our ride there has been a little curious as McKenna has asked who "Irene" is. She tells me that Mema has stepped into her room this morning inquiring if she is "Irene's daughter."

As the day goes on, I have called as usual to check in. Mother begins informing me that Irene's children have come and spent the night with her and that they need not return. I have known some Irene's in my lifetime, but for the life of me, cannot figure out who mother is talking about.

My sister Sue, who lives out of town has called and mother gives up a little bit more information. We now find out that her cousin's children have been there and their last name is "Thompson." Trying to tell a person with dementia that they are mistaken is useless, so we just all get a big kick out of the fact that someone named "Irene Thompson's children have been to spend the night with our mother.

Til this day, mother still thinks my granddaughters are the Thompson girls and refuses to have them come back for a stay. One thing is for sure, Savannah and McKenna will have a tale to tell their grandchildren one day about their Mema!