An update for THIS POST
My gramma has been placed in a home, for now.
She declined to the point of not wanting to get out of bed- couldn’t get her up to use the bathroom. She couldn’t move her feet to walk, nor bear any weight on her knees. For a week straight, she’d slide off her bed because she couldn’t brace her feet aginst the floor, so I was picking her up every time she thought she could support herself and refused my help to support her as she stood.
The three times I managed to wrangle her out of bed and into the living room, she’d refuse to eat anything. Unless it was sweet. Ensure? Oh you mean the chocolate shakes! Got those chocolate shakes. She wouldn’t even eat soup, and she loves soup!
Now, she’s had periods where she’d do that– just stay in bed and not interact with people. Or she’d think it’s 6am but in reality, 3pm, and cannot understand that it’s not the way she thinks. The big difference is that this time it’s lasted a lot longer than the usual one or two days.
I am not a small person. Just shy of six foot and overweight. I’m strong, but I’m not strong enough to haul a person room-to-room all Master-Blaster style, let alone a person who’s two-thirds my body weight. [Actual conversation: Why can’t you carry me? Because I’m not the Incredible Hulk.] Anytime I needed to move gramma, it required calling my brother or my mother to help so we could get her to the bathroom/shower. And there’s nothing more that Gramma hated was when I’d get her shower going. Who am I to tell her she needed to bathe? Seriously, she’d ask me why her bathing habits were any of my business. Hygiene – it’s not just a theory.
We told gramma if she couldn’t or wouldn’t get of bed, we’d take her to the hospital. They didn’t do anything, couldn’t do anything. She wasn’t injured and all her blood work came back fine. They chalked it up to her Alzheimer’s advancing. So they released her. One of the nurses on duty understood our situation and called the local nursing home. They had a bed open, and thus she was transferred to the care center where teams of qualified people have the support, tools, and resources to provide the level of care Gramma needs.
She’s doing well, more alert than she was before. Gramma thinks she’s at home (which in one way is good, that her anxiety isn’t getting triggered, because that was a biggie. She had gotten violent with me a few times because I wouldn’t flag down the cars driving down the street to take her home, since she was already at her own house. Right now, she thinks she’s at home and that all the people around her are her family, the ones she’s been missing. That’s the part that saddens me.) It’d be nice if her local children (other than my mother) would visit her. Kids and I bring her Frappuccinos. She loves the strawberries and cream.
If she can regain the strength to walk again, either with her wheelie-walker or her regular one, she will come home. Mom doesn’t hold out much hope for that.
So, I’m out of a job. I’ve worked customer service most my adult life. This has been, by far, the most emotional draining experience of my thirty-three years.
-Gramma not recognizing me or my children or trusting us. When we’d identify ourselves, we were called liars or worse.
-Not having support as agreed upon. Even soldiers in war get a few weeks of R&R every now and again.
-Getting blamed for everything. My grandmother is not an animal who can be trained, like some of my family assumes. She has a free will, and exercised it whenever she could. Me telling, suggesting or helping her was not welcomed.
-Verbal abuse of me and my children. She would be especially mean to them when I was out of the room.
-Physical abuse. She’s hit and bruised me with her cane, deliberately. She tried kicking the cat and tripped over a chair.
-House-wide sleep deprivation. Routinely at 2-3 AM, trying to wake me or my kids up.
-Mopping bathroom floors at the wee hours because disposable underwear were beneath my gramma’s dignity. She’d go commando instead of wearing them.
There’s a lot more, but it felt like a crushing weight of everything on my shoulders. My son has ADHD, and combined with someone with Alzhiemer’s, it was pure fucking Hell on bad days. Did you know I once counted how many times she asked my son how school was (it was a Saturday) and it was 186 times, starting from 9am to bedtime. 186 times of saying it was Saturday, so no school, or that it was fine, Gramma. Just fine.
It’s really exhausting, let me tell you. Especially on a constant basis. I realize I’m most likely coming off as a whiny bitch, but I’m okay with that. I am entitled to my feelings and frustrations.
So, now for the PSA
Alzhiemer’s has been described as diabetes of the brain. So watch the carb intake and make sure to eat healthy.
Please make a living will, so if you are ever in a position where you cannot advocate for yourself, your family will know your wishes. Don’t leave it up to them to figure it out as things go along. Planning for the future is important.
If you know a caretaker, or have a family member that utilizes a live-in caretaker, you would so totally make their day by giving them a break. An hour’s respite is a truly marvelous thing and ever so rare. Caregivers [Moms, too] can give so much of themselves over to the care of others, that they don’t take care of themselves. Sometimes a little reminder of taking a break is needed.
So now I find myself on a new pathway in life. Other than to keep writing, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Pretty sure I’m too burnt out right now to get back into customer service, so something new.
Life is an adventure I plan on experiencing while I have the mental faculties to do so.