Monday, September 28, 2009


I own in a four bedroom, four bath home, yet I live in one room. Why? Because of the energy and patience it takes to be called over to Grace 50,000 times. More so because of the energy and patience it takes to deal with the caregiver. She complains.

We have been fighting the small Indian Moths. She hates them and comes up with the strangest reason why they are here. I came home one day to find that much of the contents of the kitchen island cabinet was on the counter. I had been in the house two seconds and she told me, “These items have all expired.” Cleaning out my cabinets is not a week night activity. I resent that she has a job for me when I get home. I resent that she thinks she knows better what my priorities are. I resent that she disrupts my kitchen and instead of making dinner, I have to weed through the turned out contents on the counter.

Another time she declared that maggots were coming up the furnace ducts. I ignored her for a while, but the lectures were long. She would raise her voice telling me to listen until I finally explained that it was impossible. They need a food source. There is no food there. So the next target was the bird cage. I don’t understand why after having the bird cage for over 9 years, it would suddenly draw these maggots. I ignored her until one weekend she was so persistent, so obnoxious, I took the cage out to be hosed down.

I resent that she won’t give me peace.

One night I came into Grace’s room to say goodnight. Grace asked a question. As I asked her to repeat, the caregiver barged into the conversation with her own dribble. I asked her, “who should I answer? You or Grace?” She quieted down. Not one minute later the caregiver went on about Grace’s memory loss. I told her not to talk about it in front of her. It makes her sad and agitated.

I come home and she has to assault me with something. I need a secret door to my room. She is there the minute I walk in. She says, "Grace pooped and BOY was it hard. It's all that ice cream. I don't give her ice cream because of that. Boy oh BOY Heh heh heh heh.... she pushed and pushed. I tell you. It's that ice cream......" I think you get it.

Tonight, after a rough day at work, I was tired. I tried to tiptoe past Grace’s room. Nope. The caregiver called to me, pointing out to Grace that I was there. I was trying to make / eat dinner and Grace is now agitated and calling me. I went in and the caregiver says, “she’s been calling for you.” Well, yeah, duh. I can hear that. I told her she was the problem.

I had a cleaning crew come. I have them here once a month. When they came, suddenly the caregiver had to get up and be in the kitchen sweeping. She is in their way. And she has an amazing ability to move, think, speak in slow motion. It is infuriating. But any action in the house is like a magnet. She is drawn like a moth to a light, she has to be in the way. It is amazing. The girls try to do laundry and she almost races them to the machine.

I am in my room. Hostage. Do I really want to fire another one? Geez.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Can You Fix It?

Grace has been calling me over more often. Unlike the crabby Grace of a year ago, she is actually sweeter to me than before. She just wants me to look at her and smile, so I comply. It’s so easy. All I have to do is say something with a smile and she really doesn’t care what I’ve said. Most of the time she doesn’t understand. Sometimes she asks me to repeat.

Me: “I’m going out running now.”
Grace: “What?”
Me: “I’m going for a run.”
Grace: “You’re doing something with a form?”
Me: “Ruh - Ning”
Grace: “You’re what?”
Me: “I love you.”
Grace: “I love you too.”

I have found that if I give her a little hug, it really cheers her up. It’s not always a simple thing to do given the positions she adopts while on her favorite couch. I know what she weighs, but I am always amazed at how tiny and boney she is.

Last night she called me over and said, “My heart is backing away. Can you fix it?”
I told her I could try to make her laugh, if that would help. She just shook her head at that. I really can’t be certain what that means, but I can take a few guesses. All sorts of things run through my head.

One of the behaviors in Alzheimer’s patients is their loss of language skills. They start to use words inappropriately or substitute a word for another meaning. I’m sure at another more brain healthy time in her life she could have told me exactly what she needed. Most likely she expressed this as well as she could. Her eyes stared at me afterwards hoping I would have an answer. I didn’t .

I am also painfully aware that I am the fixer in her life. She has a request, I make it happen. I bring home her ice cream, she sees me as the leader of the caregivers, she knows I am taking care of her. However, she has hit on something I can't fix. It makes me feel like I'm failing her.

She is most likely aware of her own deterioration. I don’t think she is in pain, but I think she knows she is leaving us.

Very very slowly.