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“Crying while driving” has a nice poetic ring to it, but it is not a wise thing to do. But when you feel like crying, wisdom is the last thing on your mind. So why I am crying while driving? Because I was on my way home once again, from the nursing home, feeling exhausted and in despair.

I cannot reveal yet the total story of things lately, but in time I will. (So it is much sadder than the words I write.) Tonight I arrived, with a basketful of clean clothes for my mom, and proceeded to put them neatly in her cabinet. Blouses on one side and pants on the other. I used to combine them into outfits for her, but she said that she would rather pick out her own combinations, and that makes a lot of sense to me, as it is one of the few things that she has any choice about these days. The long sleeved blouses and slacks are on the bottom shelf; the short sleeved blouses and her gowns are on the middle shelf. The top shelf is reserved for the things she doesn’t need as frequently, like extra boxes of Kleenex, red bedroom shoes, and toilet tissue. And in the separate, but attached, cabinet on the right, there are the diapers, tactfully called “briefs” in this world where there’s only so much stark truth that can be tolerated.

I had also bought a standing mirror for her to use, while putting on her makeup and combing her hair. The bedside tray tables in the nursing home do not have mirrors, like the ones in the hospital do. She had been using a hand held mirror, but this would be much more convenient, and less hassle. I am always arriving with things that (I hope) will improve the quality of her life, in this place she dislikes so very much.

The lady in the room with my mom, called us “angels” and said how sweet it is that we do Betty’s laundry, and fold and put away her clothes. She never had children, but has 2 nieces from Birmingham, who are helping to facilitate her move into an assisted living apartment, on the same property where she previously lived, in a military retirement village. Since the nieces are so far away, their visits are limited, and so this little French lady thinks the attention that we give my mom is wonderful. Betty praised Rob to the skies, calling him “so special” (as he is actually doing her laundry, bless his heart.) And as an afterthought, she said, “Lonnette is special too.”

Earlier, I noticed a grouping of towels on the end of her bed. They were neatly folded, except for the washcloth, and she explained, “Those are my towels that I’m going to wash out before I go to bed.” My mind did cartwheels at that statement, but somehow I managed a weak smile, as though I understood. This was just another day in the land of dementia, and it feels like being in the Twilight Zone. One moment things are going well, and the next they aren’t. It is very disconcerting and confusing. I’m still trying to accept it.

My mom was a very smart lady all of her life. Unable to afford college, she worked as a secretary at one place or another. Once she worked for the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta, and after moving to Florida, she worked on one of the military bases for the Comptroller’s office, until she retired. She was an excellent, efficient secretary, and always gave it her all. She was also one of the most organized people that I have ever known (with regard to paperwork, particularly.) And still is, or was.

We brought 2 Krystal corn-dogs (by request) and she was busily (and happily) eating them, as we talked. (She hates the nursing home food, and I don’t blame her. I had a dinner there at a luau one evening, and I didn’t really like it either.) So as often as I can, I bring her treats, or make picnic dinners or snacks for her. Sometimes I’ll even cook a casserole that she enjoys.

I waited for the nurse to make her nighttime drug pass, and asked if I could speak to her for a moment. We discussed the antibiotic, Cipro, that my mom has been on for yet another urinary tract infection, and I remind her to make a note that she has had clostridium difficile before, as a result of that same antibiotic (in excess.) (My mom’s stomach has been upset for several days, and we suspect the Cipro.) At any rate, my mom then decided that she needed to go to the bathroom, and after helping her safely into the room, we resumed our conversation.

Imagine my shock, when they told me that she now refuses to take a shower! I remembered that a week ago she had refused on a Monday evening, declaring that she had already had her shower earlier in the day. This was part of an elaborate psychotic (or hallucinatory) episode that I will discuss in more detail in another post. At any rate, she had not had a shower, and she refused to have one. Tonight they told me that she refused again. (In the nursing home, they only get 2 showers a week–one on Monday, and one on Thursday.) They then proceeded to tell me that she refused last Thursday’s shower also. (This is totally out of character for her.)

“So, you’re telling me that she has not taken a shower since Thursday a week ago?” I asked in disbelief. (She last had a shower on a Thursday. Then she missed a Monday, a Thursday, and now another Monday.) This meant that she would not have a chance at a shower again, until this coming Thursday.

 “Are the nurses (along with the assistants) involved in encouraging her to take a shower?,” I asked, exasperated.

“Yes,” Mrs. B answered, “But she turns us down also. We thought we would speak to you about it, and maybe you could encourage her to agree to a shower.”

About that time, my mom was ready to exit the bathroom, and our conversation ended.

Since it was getting late (for nursing home residents, anyway) we got up to leave. Then my mom tried once again to get up from her wheelchair, which was at the foot of her bed. I asked her to please let me get it near the bedside for her, and reminded her (for the hundreth time) that we needed to lock the brakes on it every time before she got up. She stood, and then pivoted into position on the side of the bed, and sat down. (They have recently informed me that most of her transfers are unsafe, so they want her to be supervised, but she often attempts the transfers without them.) As I told her goodnight and kissed her goodbye, I realized that she could not yet lift her feet into the bed alone, because of her hip surgery. I bent down to lift her legs, and she told me that she only needed help with the right leg (the side of her operation) and then she showed me that she was able to lift the left leg into the bed.

“That’s good,” I praised her.

She answered, “And when I can do the other one, then I can go home.”

Love hurts.

So that is why I was crying while driving. It might not make total sense to you right now, but it will in the days to come…


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One Comment

  1. Sparkle keep searching for happiness in all these sad episodes. Hope they are leading you down wisdom way.

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