Mondays With Mother: An Alzheimer's Story

In 2002 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is a hard road, and we live it one day at a time. This is a chronicle of her disease and my Monday visits with her.

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Name: Anne Robertson
Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

July 18, 2005

This whole thing is very hard...not because there is anything different happening, but just because it is so long. And it hasn't been all that long for me compared to some.

I found that Sunday night I was trying to find some way that I could not go on Monday and not feel guilty for not going. That battle went on until the minute I actually left the house to head up there. That's all very draining emotionally. I wanted to stay home and ignore it, to spend the day in the world of the sane and pretend that life was normal. But it wasn't and I couldn't, and so I went.

With all my deliberating plus someone coming to fix the washing machine at the last minute, I got there just under the wire at noontime. We were seated with Frances and Russell, who was in a wheelchair. He had been using crutches. I noted his new gear and he said, "Yeah, it's more comfortable and you get there faster." He asked me about traffic and when I said it was busy, he hoped that his wife wouldn't go out and travel in it. I thought at first that his condition must have just progressed to the point where he needed the chair, but then they came through to take him to his room for an X-Ray.

I thought it was great that they could do it right there in his room. When he came back to the table, I asked him if he had fallen. He said he fell out of bed, and that he was in a lot of pain. He was afraid he might have to have a hip operation. I hope not.

Mother seemed to be having some type of problem with her neck. At one point during lunch she had an obvious jolt of pain. I asked her if something hurt and she said, "My neck. It's not where it's supposed to be." Hard to decipher, since her neck looked like it was in the right place to me, but it obviously bugged her. She rubbed it from time to time. The nurse came in to dispense lunchtime pills, and I asked her to check it out. Mother's pain threshold is amazingly high. Her arm could be falling off and she would not feel pain at all. So if she's hurting, it's time to call the ambulance.

After lunch we went back to the room to use the bathroom and then went out for a walk. It was a pretty humid day. There was a man out walking and smoking a pipe. I've seen him there before. As we sat on the bench, he turned and looked at us. "Are you comfortable?" he asked very loudly. "Yes," I said. "Good," he bellowed, and continued his walk.

As usual, Mother talked about things that didn't really make sense, and I tried to answer questions as best I could without any context. She remembers the oddest things. Sunday, two girls from Slovakia came to church with Marie. One of them, Tonka, had been here a year or so ago, and Grandpa had kept in touch with her and talked about her a lot. When I asked Mother if she remembered her, she lit up like a light bulb. They had never met, but she remembered how Grandpa talked about her. She seemed excited to know that she had come back this year. When I told her Marie had come to church, she simply said, "Yes, I heard that on the news." Granted, Marie doesn't come often, but it's hardly newsworthy.

When we came back in, we didn't make it past the table where Russell was sitting after his X-Ray. Mother sat down with him. I said I needed to leave and she started to get up to go with me. "Why don't you stay and visit with Russell?" I said. Russell looked at me. "We'll hold hands," he said. And so I left them.


Blogger Gail Rae said...

Although I'm going backwards, here, I remember Russell from "later on". I'm glad your Mom forms touching-close relationships within her community. Bonds that can be accessed every day in comfortably intimate ways are always good, even if they may appear to be threatening to bonds already established but put on "the back burner". One bright spot about elder dementia, back burners become less and less important. Saves energy, I think.

11:33 AM  

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