Alzheimer's disease · Anger · Caregiver · Caregiving

Glimpses and spells / April 26, 2006

I was awfully angry for the past couple of weeks. I just don’t know what to do with it sometimes. I’m so used to rationalizing but of course I can’t rationalize this. Watching my mother sit in the same spot, day after day, disappearing into herself can be excruciating. I can’t talk to her about it, either, which is salt in the wound.

So I have to turn it into something else, I have to reposition myself and look at it from another angle, which can be exhausting. In my web travels I came across The Reality Construction Kit. Its author suffers from schizophrenia and talks here about having to rearrange the foundations of his self–his expectations and presumptions and all the beliefs that had gotten him to this point in his life. I’m trying to imagine where one begins to do that. You can’t just sit down and reformat the hard drive. You have to do something over and over, get hurt or happy over and over, until some muscle memory finally forms. Until that feeling of “outside” has turned itself around. Like today–my mother called me at work at about 3:15 to tell me that one of the dogs wouldn’t come out of the den. This has happened before–the dog is elderly and can’t get up easily–and as long as no one is wounded, I don’t worry too much. But I could tell that it was beginning to rattle my mother so I told her I’d try to get home early. This I did, only to find the dog resting peacefully in the living room. My mother told me that my sister had come over and gotten her out of the den.

I wanted to say Why didn’t you call me? I wouldn’t have left early. For a moment I wanted to punish her flatness, her dullness. I had planned to run errands after work, but hadn’t done so because of her call. I almost taunted her with the fact that I’d been planning on stopping at the bakery for her, but now it was too late. She loves sweets and I knew that this would have made her feel bad.

But the urge passed a little bit more quickly today that it has in the past. It didn’t annoy me for as long as usual. At these moments I see where my feelings and expectations criss-cross. My mother can’t organize her thoughts as well as she used to. She isn’t trying to make my life harder–HER LIFE IS HARDER. Looking at a familiar object and no longer knowing its name is hard. Yesterday morning she called me at work and asked me if she were supposed to be going to work that day. The closest I come to that state is in my dreams, when I’m suspended in a lopsided past, startlingly unable to find my inner compass. At least I can wake up and reassemble my emotions and thoughts. I think my mother still has glimpses and spells of normalcy, but I’m not sure. I have to believe that she’s not losing something, she’s shifting to something that doesn’t have a language that I can understand.

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