Saturday, January 28, 2012

"A Daughter Again"

The last couple of months around here had been all telling. Mother's right knee began to really bother her back in October. Her orthopedic doctor had told us that the only real relief mother could ever have, would be knee replacement. We knew that this procedure was bad enough for someone who was all about them self, not to mention someone with dementia. However, we still had to address the problem of mother's knee pain and Tylenol was just not enough.

Back in the spring, mother had faced the same dilemma and was offered "Gel shots" to her knee. Even though she experienced some decline at that time in her walking..we felt that it evened out after awhile. To be honest, we were ready to try anything.

Sometime in November, mother began having her three gel shots to the knee once again. I began noticing some swelling and asked the doctor. He assured me that it wasn't coming from the shots. As time went on, mother seemed to become slower and slower in her walk. During this time, she and I also, contracted a stomach virus, which sat her back as well. It seems that I have told this story a hundred times; that mother went from walking, to a cane, to a walker and then a wheelchair, all within ten days. I struggled with trips to the bathroom with her as I would have to lift her from the couch to the wheelchair, causing a tight and uncomfortable back for myself. It wasn't until I came down to get her up one morning and realized that she was not being able to hardly move at all, that I knew something had to be done.

My daughter Blythe, who cared for mother while I worked half a day, came over and assisted me in getting her up and to the bathroom. I made the decision that morning, to carry her to the ER. The rest is history. After many tests, scans, x-rays and the like were ran, mother was found to have a small UTI. The doctor assured us that this was not enough to cause mother's decline. They seemed to think that a deterioration of her dementia was causing the problems. A CT scan showed no unusual activity to the brain, however, an event could have still been possible.

The doctor came in and told me that they were admitting mother to the hospital for the UTI and they would give her antibiotics and see if she could pull out of this slump, but if not, she would not be able to return home with me, as I could no longer care for her by myself. These words were devastating to me, even though I have to admit I didn't know how much longer I would be able to continue on the way things were.

Mother stayed a total of 8 days in the hospital. Efforts to restore her walking were unsuccessful. Swallowing became an issue for her while in the hospital as well, thus, a new diet of pureed foods was prescribed.

The doctor's orders were that she must go to a skilled nursing facility. The one thing that I never, ever wanted to accept, had become a life line for mother and myself.

The hospital assisted in finding mother a room at a nearby facility where she would be able to have rehabilitation and special care that was needed.

It's been almost three weeks now since mother entered the nursing home. I have had so many emotions in and out of my mind and body since that day, that sometimes, I wasn't sure if I would be able to survive it all. With a lot of faith in God and encouragement from friends and loved ones, I am healing. The one thing that gives me peace and assurance, besides God Himself, is knowing that mother really has no clue of where she is and that she is where she needs to be right now.

The love that I have for my mother, was enough. It turned out that there just wasn't enough of "me."

I try to visit mother on most days, still loving her as much as I always did. It's like one of the nurses said to me, "Now, you can be a daughter to your mother again, instead of her caregiver."

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as we continue on this journey of dementia.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Broken Promises"

Dear Mother,

Today, I am writing you a letter, for the words I want to say to you are too hard to speak.

Through the years, you have been my everything; my hero, my inspiration, my guide and counselor and most of all my mother. Somehow, it just doesn't seem fair that it has all come down to one day which will change your life and mine, forever.

Today was one of the hardest days I have ever lived. Leaving you to start a new life in a home of perfect strangers was heart wrenching. I thank God that you really don't understand where you are. Once again, unwillingly, I call dementia my friend.

Entering my house, I feel an emptiness. I catch a glimpse of your blue chair sitting by the window and my heart breaks. Hurrying up the stairs, I dare not glance at the double glass doors where hundreds of times I have watched you pass through. I miss you.

So many promises were made to you when I decided to bring you to my house to live. Promises that I had every intention of fulfilling, but have broken. "You will live with me 'til you die Mama" I told you. "We will have a good time Mama, we can take you places," "you'll be able to go to church now, to the beach," "and you'll never have to move again" I said. I'm sorry, please forgive me.

I promise you now, I will always be there for you, day or night. I'll visit you relentlessly, I'll be your voice, your advocate, your strength.

Lastly, I want to say "thank you," for being the most wonderful mother a girl could ever have. After all these things, you still look at me and say "I love you too." You will always be my beautiful mother, I love you without end.---Jean