Alzheimer's disease · Caregiver · Everyday

Something’s got to give / July 11, 2006

I lost count of the number of times today that my mother asked me why “he” hadn’t come home. I think she may have split me into two people: the person she can see and the other person she talked to on the phone. She’s seemed a little “off” for the past couple of days–a co-worker of mine finds that her parents also tend to be a bit more confused on Mondays, possibly because of the routine change.

I’ll admit that I was short with my mother today–it was one of those BAD days that make you believe in spells or Mercury in retrograde. I got the first call from home at 8:30 this morning: my mother instructed me to cancel Eva today because she wasn’t feeling well. And while I was at it, cancel her for tomorrow, and the next day, too. “I’m not going to go to school anymore,” she said.

It’s a wonder all my hair didn’t fall out at that very moment. First, I was at work, where the people around me were overhearing me trying to sound composed and reasonable, but I’m sure they could tell that I was about to crack. I managed to convince my mother to eat some breakfast and take her pills, then go lie down. Silence, then a sullen, “Alright.” I called my sister–who goes over to my mother’s house to let Eva in each day–just to warn her. We now have a verbal shorthand: “Small craft warnings,” I said to her answering machine and hung up.

My sister and mother are like oil and water. After a call to my mother, Liz reported to me that Mom “wasn’t going to let anyone in the house.” Again, I tried to modulate my conversation in front of my co-workers, but my blood was beginning to bubble. I advised her to go over to the house and let herself in–I doubted my mother would be that extreme (but I’m sure I’ll be surprised one day)–and this she did, with no trouble. I spoke to my mother by phone after that, to tell her that we are not trying to be mean but we worry about her even more when she doesn’t feel well, and that’s why I refused to cancel the homemaker. “Oh, I know,” she said, very agreeably.

Despite the humid weather, I needed to take a walk during my lunch break, to shake off the stress. Oddly enough, ANOTHER movie is now being filmed in the area, and once again I wove my way past catering trucks, 18-wheelers, and coils of cable lying on the sidewalk. This time, sections of street were blocked off to all traffic–auto and pedestrian. I didn’t realize this and was hurrying back to the library when I heard: “Ma’am!! They’re filming–please stand back!” First of all, I really cannot adjust to being called “Ma’am.” I don’t feel like a “ma’am.” Second, whatever happened to Hollywood sets–to the MGM backlot with its replica of Anytown, USA? Why do the few remaining parking spaces on the East Side of Providence have to be given to a film crew at my expense?

The rest of the day? I had two doctor’s appointments. For the first one I arrived at a locked-up office. I called the doctor from my cell phone and got his machine: he was on vacation this week. I had made the appointment six months ago and apparently he’d firmed up his vacation plans after that, and forgot to tell me. The next appointment was with my new therapist. I sat in the waiting room (which seems to be shared by several professionals) with four bossy little girls for nearly a half hour past the scheduled time. One strike. When I finally got into her office and began to talk, she immediately took an alarmingly proactive stance: I would have to face putting my mother in a nursing home. Hmmm…aren’t I supposed to be arriving at that (or any other) conclusion on my own? Isn’t that what therapy involves? Two strikes. And then when I was finishing a thought, she interrupted me to remark on how it looked like it was going to storm. Yeeerrrr out!

And so I came home from this to find my mother waiting at the front door. “Where’s Steven?” she asked me, and my heart sank. “Mom, it’s just the two of us,” I said, bringing in the two sandwiches I had picked up for supper. Two minutes later–”You didn’t bring enough sandwiches, you only brought two.” I had to go into the bathroom at that point because I had absolutely no patience left. I felt like I’d been tied to something and dragged around all day.

And as if to punctuate this crappy day with a great big exclamation point, an entire shelf of glassware spontaneously dropped this evening, breaking nearly everything on it. My mother and I were sitting in the living room after eating when we heard the din. Apparently the nails holding this shelf in place had been weakening for awhile, and this seemed the appropriate time for it to give way. I guess it was a nice little poetic flourish.

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