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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Six months have passed since Mom's 80th birthday. Summer has come and gone, kids are back in school. Also, my oldest daughter and granddaughter have moved back to the area close to my Mom. Which is a huge relief for me because now I have someone besides my brother to check in on my Mom. My daughter is busy starting a new career as a 4th grade teacher plus being a Mother herself to a 7 year old, but she loves her Grandma and makes time on weekends to drop by.
I come for a visit in the Fall to see all of them. Everything appears to be going well until I look in my Mom's refrigerator and kitchen cabinets and notice that she hardly has any food. I ask her what she's been eating and she said she has plenty to eat. All I can see is popcorn, which she tells me her doctor says is the best fiber in the world. I dont think I've heard that from the American Medical Board but decide it is not worth arguing over, but suggest we take a trip to the grocery store. She offers to drive and we go our merry way. She shops at a Neighborhood Wal-Mart that she has been going to for years and is about 2-3 miles from her house.
A hundred dollars of groceries takes us over an hour to get because she scans the shelf's on each aisle like everything is a new item she has never seen. Mind you, she has a list but can't read her own writing or seem to understand the words and letters that she penned.. Another curious thing I notice is that when I suggest items that I know she has frequently used through the years, she questions me of what that is. The one I thought was truly odd was the cooking spray, Pam; she asked me what would she use that for. When I told her she claimed, oh that must be a new product. What? New? Hasn't Pam been around since the 80's? Nevertheless, we unload the bags into her car and begin to exit the parking lot when she pauses at the end of the lanes. She's looking back and forth and there are no cars close to us whatsoever. She sighs and kind of slumps her shoulders in indecision. She comments that sometimes she gets confused on the way to go. I am obviously staring at her in disbelief and then she says, "Oh, yeah, I think it's this way." I immediately question her and ask what's going on (wish I would have been more delicate during these times but the shock overcomes me).
I ask her, "Mom, do you know where we are?"
"Sure, I just get confused in the parking lot. It all looks the same."
"Well take your time, and try heading to the right."
She drives another 10 yards, then exclaims, "Oh, that's right," and starts driving home.
My mind is racing with questions and concerns. After a few silent moments of knowing she did know where to go and could drive us home. I asked her if this happened before?
She said it's happened but its okay, she just forgot. So begins the excuses part of the journey. I just woke up, I'm just tired, etc, etc.
A few weeks later, she calls to tell me that she has had a horrible experience while rushing her dog to the emergency vet in the next town over. She doesnt leave her town much so I knew her driving there must have been overwhelming plus her dog wasn't doing well. In the panic of the moment she gets lost. Some parts of this town you dont want to get lost because it really is the wrong side of the tracks. She stops downtown, and asks a stranger (I'm thinking it was most likely a homeless person, but weill never find out) and gets to her destination. Sammie is fine, but now she said she's scared to drive. I recommend that she probably needs to limit her driving to her city and places that she frequents.
And everything goes to normal, for awhile.
The Long and Winding Road
It seems funny that five years ago when I started this blog it was about decorating and traveling and holidays. Happy things that I loved to do, and was inspired to do because my Mom loved them too. Somewhere along the line I got busy raising my family and sadly stopped posting anything at all. The name of this blog comes from my Mom's first name and middle name; Pearl Rose. Which is ironic because that is what I now want this to be about...my Mom. About the strange, and confusing realization that someone you love has something wrong that is not easily identifiable or curable. That wakes you in the middle of the night because you think you've almost got your mind around it. We still don't know what it is officially called because we are still traveling the road to discovery, enlightenment or utter desperation. And while I try my best to keep my sanity intact and help my Mom any way I can I wanted to journal our journey so I remember how and when it all happened.
I realized about two years that something was not quite right with my Mom. That would be February of 2015. We were preparing for a 80th birthday celebration for her and started noticing little things she did or said that seemed odd. Also, I noticed that she was staying home all the time! She had literally become a recluse which wasn't her. Almost avoiding people. She hadn't come for a visit to see us in almost two years, which was very odd.
The next most unsettling revelation was when I would come in town unannounced I would find her in dirty clothes with her hair not done and something burnt on the stove. This was not my Mom. She would make jokes to laugh my questions away. She became very good and changing the subject. But, I knew something was not right. I talked to my husband about it but he said it was nothing, she was getting older. I talked to my younger brother and he also hadn't noticed any changes. But something gnawed at me about what I was feeling.
About this same time I heard from my Mom that her sister, Betty had been diagnosed with Alzheimers. My Mom couldn't explain it very well, but had heard from Betty that they (her family) kept taking her to the doctors and she didn't know why; she wasn't sick so what was going on. Her family had explained to her what the doctors had said but since it made no sense to her she rebuked it. Which made my Mom do so as well.
To be fair I had been around my Aunt and she seemed fine. She didn't seem ill. She knew me and my kids, and Alzheimers meant you forgot everything. This seems almost hysterical as I write this because that is not how this disease goes. It steals bits and pieces while you're not even looking. Some days you are "on" and can fool everyone around you, especially in the beginning. Other days you are at a loss for the most common words.
So the journey begins...