Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/17: Mom's Morning, Mom's Tough Afternoon, Dinner Outside and an Emergency

1. I had planned on getting a couple more chores done around Mom's house and cleaning myself up a little better when a text message came in from Christy at about 11:00 telling me that Mom was sitting up in bed and alert, so I dropped everything and went over to Kindred.

Not having seen Mom for ten days, but having read my sisters' updates, Mom was pretty much in the shape I expected. Conversation with Mom didn't have a lot of continuity and she was preoccupied with things like "where's my purse?", "is the bedroom cleaned up?", "how is the bathroom looking?", and with people in her past.

Mom is living in something like eternal time where the divisions of past, present, and future no longer exist. In fact, for Mom, at least today, some of the dead are alive.

For the first time, Mom asked about her mother and she wondered (I think) what time her mother was getting out of the movies and wondered where she was. Christy told Mom that her mother was at home and Mom's face relaxed, "That's a good place for her."

Later, Mom talked about Jack and Jodi Robinson as if Jack were still alive. When I told her a little bit about going to Eugene, she wondered if the Deke and I stayed with Jack and Jodi -- who, by the way, never lived in Eugene. Later, she wondered where Jack was working now -- Jack died several years ago -- and I said I thought he was working in the mine, but that today he had the day off.  Mom thought that sounded about right.

A little later, having been helped into her wheelchair, Mom wanted her purse and then she wanted some cream for her face. While she applied the cream, very precisely and carefully, I found Mom's make-up bag and she lit up. She carefully inspected it and got out some lipstick and put it on, again, very precisely, without the help of a mirror.

Mom showed a little more interest in lunch than I thought she would. She didn't eat a lot, but she didn't turn the food away either and seemed to enjoy the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green peas, and apple crisp she did eat. The apple crisp reminded the Deke of a day a year ago when she and Mom teamed up to bake a raspberry crisp. ("Wow!" I thought. "That's right. Just a short year ago, yes, Mom was confined to her walker, but she was doing some things and was mobile. It can all go downhill so fast.") Mom agreed with the Deke that there was no way Kindred's apple crisp would be as good.

2. The first sign that Mom might have a tough afternoon, after having a pretty good morning, was when she wanted to be moved back onto her bed from her wheelchair. The transfer scared her and even in the expert grip of the aide, she dropped herself on the bed before the aide was ready, nearly pulling the aide on top of her. No harm was done, but my sisters had told me that Mom has become more and more frightened about being transferred and about being helped onto the toilet, and I saw what they meant.

Before I went to Eugene, if Mom lay down on her bed, most times she would fall into a deep sleep and I could slip out, return to her house, and come back over periodically to make sure she was doing all right.

Today, though, when she lay down, her eyes were wide open and she looked afraid. Right away I surmised that this would not be a peaceful afternoon for Mom.

I was right.

All afternoon, Mom's upper body and legs would twitch or shudder as she seemed to be falling asleep, snapping her awake. Sometimes these tremors bordered on thrashing and I worried that she might fall off the bed, even though the bed has protective means to help her stay in it.

Mom often moved her mouth as if talking, but spoke no words. At other times, she called out questions, often alarmed. For example, she cried to me, "What's that white thing?" I didn't know what she meant at first and she pointed upward. I reassured her, "It's all right, Mom. That's the light above your bed." Mom mimed different things, like eating, and she also was seeing things in front of her that I didn't see, snatching at them, sometimes grabbing them and moving them or asking me to take on of these imaginary things from her.  

Mom often seemed to fall asleep and then the twitching resumed and Mom asked me questions about the boys in the next room or if she could sleep in the other room or what was on the wall by her bed. At one point, Mom's body relaxed, a smile crossed her face, and she said, "This is a pretty nice house." I agreed with her, "Yes. This is a very nice house." She replied, "It sure is. It's a pretty nice house."

I sat with Mom for the afternoon. Sometimes she liked me to hold her hand or to caress her arm; other times, she indicated otherwise and I pulled back.

I didn't think Mom ever rested. I might be wrong, but that's how it seemed to me.

Mom had no interest in dinner. When one of the aides came to pick up her untouched tray around 6:15, I asked if she thought Mom's position on the bed was too close to the edge. She called out to a more experienced aide who decided that this would be a good time to put Mom in her pajamas, reposition her, and put her to bed for the night.

I thanked the aides and left Mom in their sure hands. Carol was going to be coming by soon to see Mom when she finished her work shift. This was a relief and a comfort to me.

3.  The Deke baked chicken thighs and small potatoes and made a tasty blend of summer squash and tomatoes and, after a cocktail or two on Christy and Everett's back deck, we enjoyed this splendid meal. Later in the evening, Christy came over to Mom's house to report that Everett's daughter is having a medical emergency in Spokane and that she and Everett would be going to see her on Wednesday.  The Deke and I gave Christy our full support, knowing she was not only upset that Everett's daughter is so ill, but knowing she felt torn about leaving and not being able to spend time with Mom. I immediately texted Carol about what was happening and she and Paul were able to volunteer more time than originally planned with Mom and so we have the day covered.

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