The Long Goodbye

December 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm (Alzheimer's, Musings...)

The Long Goodbye-3

Mom at 16

I promised two months ago that I would begin to blog regularly again and I didn’t.  For that I apologize.  Life got in the away (again!).  In May my Daddy broke both bones in his leg.  I live beside my Mom and Dad and took over the reins, helping my parents as Daddy healed.  My Momma has been declining for years.  I am speaking honestly here, but with so much love for her.  She suffers with trigeminal neuralgia too and for years she tried to find a doctor to take the pain away.  She had all of her teeth pulled – I understand!!  I often go to the dentist just for him to tell me that there is no abscess, that my teeth are fine and it is my TN.  She found a doctor willing to put her on copious amounts of opiates.  She stopped fighting and lived from dose to dose, her world shrinking.  She developed paranoia, obsessions and anger – something our precious Momma never had.  We desperately tried to get help for her but because she is an adult, we had no control.

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Mom had four children by the time she was 25 🙂

Things came to a head in September, just after my Dad was released by his doctors for his leg.  Momma accidently took too much medicine.  Dad found her unresponsive and called 911 and me.  Mom was barely breathing.  In the emergency room, her vital signs were dropping and bells started going off.  Daddy made the decision to have her vented – a risk because we didn’t know how long she was lying before Dad found her.  At first they thought she had a stroke but we found the evidence and they immediately began to counter-act Tylenol poisoning to her liver.  She had taken enough barbiturates to kill five people her size.  It took her two days to regain consciousness.  The doctor was amazed that she was alive and responsive!! The Lord told me that we were given the “gift of time.”

family

We’re not sure where Mom’s hair went on her left side. She was probably furiously getting us ready for our picture and took care of herself last.

The sticky wicket was the (what we believed) overuse of pain medicines.  She was cleared to go home but we requested Crisis intervention.  Mom agreed to stay in the hospital to detox.  She didn’t know that was what was going to happen, but it did.  The first few days were so rough because she had all of the classic opiate withdrawal signs.  Once she stabilized they ran more tests on her and diagnosed her with dementia – Alzheimer’s.  The pain meds were masking her Alzheimer’s!!  What we thought were side-effects from the meds were the dreaded disease marching through her brain.

Who will she be??  How will we cope??  The first thing we did was to fire her pain management doctor.  The second thing we did was to ask her Geri psychiatrist to manage her care – he is in charge and her PCP answers to him, etc.  We came up with plans on how to handle her pain – which she has and needs relief from.  She cannot be alone.  She cannot drive or cook.

The Long Goodbye-2

Mom and Dad married 35 years.

We have indeed been given the gift of time.  The paranoia and anger and some of the obsessions were a result of too many drugs in a tiny person.  She is a delight!!  She came to my house for Thanksgiving for the first time in three years.  On Monday, my sister came to visit with five of her youngest children and Momma held the baby and sang to him!!  Before this crisis, she would have not even come down to visit and didn’t want the disruption that children bring.

The Long Goodbye-4

Momma’s new haircut!!

I am hanging here while Daddy hunts. (I don’t say I am “watching” Momma – we are just hanging out). Before she went up to take a nap, she did what she always did before her slide.  She held both of my cheeks with her hands and gently kissed me on the lips and told me that she loved me so much.  THAT is the Momma I remember.  She gets confused and frustrated, but we are able to redirect her to make the stress less and allow her to enjoy her life.  We don’t give her any memory tests that will make her sad because she knows she can’t remember.  We are making sure she has her dignity throughout this journey.

The Long Goodbye-5

Thanksgiving 2013 — Momma enjoyed herself so much!

Momma’s doctor calls Alzheimer’s a “fatal” disease.  I know that what I see now will look different in six months, ten months, and two years. Each time I fold her tiny body into my arms, and tell her I love her, I am saying goodbye. She was the best Mom — and she still is.  But now I am the caregiver and she is the giver of hugs and kisses.   The end of her life will be as God wills but until He takes her home we will make sure she gets all of the love she needs and deserves.  I love you my precious Momma!

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6 Comments

  1. studerteam said,

    This was really beautiful, Melodye. What a tribute to her. She is lucky to have you for her daughter. xxox

  2. Red Point Tailor said,

    I am so sorry to hear this. I know how it is … My husbands parent where dement – had Alzheimer. I know how it is, what you feel. I wish you all strengh in upcoming moths.

  3. Bonnie Pruitt said,

    Hi Mel!
    Just to let you know, you are not alone!
    My dad has advanced stages of Senile Dementia now, and although he does not have Alzheimer’s, it is eventually fatal all the same. His frontal lobe is shrinking and this process will take him. I often wonder why this dementia thing comes to a head with a crisis! My dad always had to be moving, and had the best memory…so I thought! It came to a head when we found out that he was forgetting things, and that he had PTSD from WWII and was having nightmares as his current memories were replaced with horror from the past. He became suicidal for a time, (guns had to be taken away, driving privileges, and cooking were also removed, etc.) but even those suicidal ideations are gone now (PTL!). I drive dad’s car and take him for rides in it often. He enjoys knowing that his car is being taken care of even if he can’t remember what he had for breakfast when it is only about an hour since he ate it. We had to change his medications too, and continue to audit those as time passes. I moved daddy in with me over a year ago, and all was well until he became too much for me to handle. We found a really nice assisted living place where he gets better care than I could give him. I continue to visit with him, take him places and to Dr. visits so he feels more of a part of life, and we hired a caregiver to bring him to Church. I couldn’t take care of daddy during Church while Chuck and I were both singing. I thought about stopping singing, but daddy enjoys it, and looks forward to seeing me up there. The one thing he keeps telling me is that he does not want me to stop anything I am doing. At least he still knows me and loves me even if he does not remember old friends that occasionally stop by! Cherish the time you have with your momma! I’m glad she has you to help care for her! Please know I am still praying for you everyday!

  4. Lillace Christianson said,

    There are far too many of us who truly do know what you are going through and we offer up prayers for you and your entire family, knowing that the good, good Lord will surely see you through!

  5. Sharon Brubaker said,

    Melody…
    Honey, I want to thank you so much for sharing these moments with me & your other friends. I know it’s very difficult for you at this time. But, you still find the words & time to share. I was thinking, it may even be some type of therapy for you sharing these times with all of us. I use to write allot myself, it helped me a great deal in so many ways. I would go back and read some of the days I recorded. The good & the bad, I would laugh, I would cry…but, I like everyone else am sure, we’ll be with you and I’m hoping your mom is with us for years to come. Alzheimers is one of those illnesses we’re still learning allot about. I pray no one else in your family is diagnosed with it! And please remember, I am part of an even larger group of people that love you, and pray with & for you & your family every day…We’ll always be here for you honey…you’re never alone, God’s arms are around you, holding you tight also… God Bless Melody…

  6. Solumedrol Treatment and MS Awareness Month | Melodyejoy's Weblog said,

    […] in May when Daddy dislocated his ankle and broke both bones in his leg.  Then my Momma had her acute issue in October.  Thanksgiving and Christmas came… all through it, I was hanging on for dear life, […]

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