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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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