Thursday, October 23, 2008

No place like home

As I tiptoed past Grace’s room this morning, trying to get ready for work, she called to me. I went into her room to be greeted by the same litany of questions.

“Is it time to get up?”
“Why are you up so early?”
“Where are you going?”

I keep reminding her that she is retired and ‘getting up’ is at her discretion.

She wanted to lay in bed still and I assured that was a good thing to do. She then told me that she had been at a wedding yesterday so she was a little tired. I asked her how it was and she said it was a beautiful ceremony.

No wedding.. she never left the house.

Earlier this week she woke up, was helped to her favorite couch where she looked up at me in distress…”Everything is so strange..”

I’m sure it is. If you can’t remember, you can’t get your bearings. I can’t even begin to understand how disconcerting and frightening that is. We go home everyday to be in a familiar place where we can locate everything but our car keys, generally. But if you can't remember your home, there is no place to go to get that feeling. Everyplace you go is strange and new. And if you can't remember completely who the people you live with are, then you are surrounded by strangers and acquaintances.

She wants to go home. We don't know where that is. She can't remember the place she lived just before this, but it was only for a couple years. Prior to that she lived at the same house for over 40 years. She can't remember that either. My memory doesn't go back much further. I can't find home for her.

Grace talks about her parents and she misses them. I wonder if that's the home she is looking for. I'll never know for sure.

As she gets weaker and weaker, she is losing interest in life. Sleep takes her away from the confusion of her leaky brain that tricks her daily. Home is getting closer. She will get there. Then she'll be happy. Home is with God.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Too much, too little

She’s made another slide. Two things; she hardly sits up ever and the more significant is forgetting names.

I noticed when my brother came over last she was unsure whether we were siblings and later unsure of his name. He brought his son and his granddaughters. Though they were visually entertaining for her, they were a mystery. Her memory extends past the names for them into the concept. If I explain who they are, she has two hurdles. The first is she can’t believe she has great grand children. Since that incredible fact that will not digest any easier than swallowed chewing gum, she cannot get hold of any of the other pieces of information that are key to relating to her visitors.

This morning she looked at me, said my name and then looked me and asked, “right?” That’s big.

Her fatigue is taking over too, though I vacillate between the physical and the mental cause. Her world is so disorganized and confusing that the mental effort it takes for her to just make sense out of people coming and going must be exhausting. I can see the look on her face as she closes her eyes to lay down. There isn’t the fatigue and relief that is common with finally getting to bed after a long day, it’s more of a pain of too much information to absorb. Closing her eyes cuts off the information and puts her in a place that is easier to take in. The expression is a combination of sadness, confusion and stress.

I don’t know what to do to help her. I can’t sit and explain because it only adds to the confusion. Her diminishing language skills compound with the cacophony of the day. My explanations only further confuse.

So what else can be done? Can I control the environment and slow the input? Is that really the right thing to do or is it even possible? She insists on her seat on the couch in a very busy part of the house. The activity seems to be at both times conforting and confusing.

So we continue to take it day by day. Her dog sits with her; her little angel. Her day whirls past her and when it’s too much, she just closes her eyes.