Friday, September 30, 2011

The cruelty of dementia

It's been a couple weeks (almost) since my mom fell and the hoopla happened. I called my mom a few times the weekend after it happened and left her messages. Then I called her last weekend and she answered. I asked her how she was and she said things have been crazy and she hasn't been doing very well, but she's better now.

I asked her what happened and she replied "I fell a few times last week and was in the hospital."

"You fell again?" I asked.

"No, just last week. I had to have a colonoscopy and the stuff they gave me to get ready made me SO sick." She replied.

"You had another colonoscopy?" I asked.

"No, never again."

"So when did you fall?" I ask, getting confused.

"A few days ago, but your sister came over and checked on me and took me to the hospital. They ran some tests, but I'm fine." She says.

"So you were in the hospital AGAIN?" I'm practically yelling, because I feel like she's not hearing me.

"No just a few days ago." And my mom proceeds to tell me the whole story of her tests, her bad reaction to the meds, her falling, and everything that happened all over again, like I didn't know about it and like it had just happened a few days before.

It finally hit me in that moment - this the beginning of her dementia.

We all knew my mom was forgetful, she forgot where she parked her car in the mall parking lot and security would drive her around until she found it. If you told me mom a story about something that happened, she would tell it back to you (incredibly embellished) the next day like it happened to someone else. When you said, "yea, I told you this yesterday" she would reply "No you didn't. I heard this from so and so."

And that was that. I found it easier to just listen that to argue.

She had a brain hemorrhage two years ago and spent some time in the neuro Intensive Care Unit, for surgery and recovery. And now my mom's memory is bad, and she tells wildly crazy versions of simple events that I mentioned to her, and she goes on and on and will argue to the bitter end that she is right. Her memories of things that happened 20 years ago are so twisted up that when she talks about them, I can't make any sense of what she's talking about. Sometimes, it makes me feel like I'm the forgetful one, like I just don't have any clear memories of growing up.  I mean, my mom talks about this stuff like it is Gospel truth and when I question it, she gets upset.  And then we argue, because she really wants me to remember and I just don't. Not the way that she does and then my mom says things that hurt my feelings. Yet, I keep calling because she is my mom.

I realized today that the woman I knew as my mom is gone. I can talk to her now and tell her things, listen to her and laugh with her but as soon as the she hangs up the phone she's either forgotten I called her or refashioned our conversation into another story entirely.

I will never be able to sit on the couch and talk with her for hours (because I get too frustrated and she gets too tired), I will never take her to Ireland to see her family there, and someday I will call her and she won't even know who I am.

This is the part that sucks.

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