September 2016 Island Trip Day 2
September 20 – Day 2
I got a lot done today. The east wall of mom’s house is painted, as is a beam, an edge of wall above the north wood framed windows, and the first 20% of one side of the hall. It was here that the gallon of paint ran out. I ran the roller out willy-nilly all over the place, including mom’s bedroom. My hopeful side thinks maybe the amazing difference between the old and the new wall color will compel her to carry on with the project. My practical side knows better!
Mom wants to Varathane the wood trim around the windows mentioned above. This precipitated two (of four) trips to town to investigate stain samples, but no action on the project. It was clear that getting over the general state of her entropy was unachievable. As an observer, it seemed like the planning was easy, but kept her from actually having to do the project. Each time she headed to town she asked if I wanted to go. I smiled, declined and kept painting. It’s a grand gearing up to get ready to do a task I know she will never accomplish on her own. When I’m done painting the house, I’ll stain and seal the wood.
This weekend’s painting project revealed a new-to-me revelation. Mom talks regularly about ‘being virtuous’ and cleaning the house: mopping the tile floor, dusting, clearing cob webs (dang those cobs!), vacuuming, and getting through the laundry. The only thing that’s getting done is laundry, and that only because otherwise she’d run out of clothes. OK, maybe the tiniest bit of vacuuming and dusting. As I moved furniture today, it was abundantly clear that she is not mopping the tile floor, vacuuming or dusting very much of anything, and certainly not banishing the cobs nor their webs. While I’m sure this is a dementia 101 topic, what I don’t understand is why she’s giving lip service to cleaning the house. While I want her to be comfortable, and sanitary enough to be safe, in her surroundings, it’s no skin off my nose if the dust is in drifts in the corners, the cobs are invited to dinner, and the crumbs fill in the grout lines in the tile floor. This is not the only thing she gives lips service to, or seems to seek out my continued approval about. What, how much, and when she drinks, in excruciating detail, charity expenditures (since I’ve expressed concern), and why she watches TV (we haven’t, to her great distress since 1998) are a few.
Mom made omelets for breakfast out of the leftover crab and some cream cheese. I picked the crab from its shell. There was just over ½ a cup. I intended to make the omelets, but she took over. She cut 5 tiny pieces of cream cheese to place in a two egg (mine) omelet, and then sprinkled less than half the crab into the eggs saying, “Oh, there’s far too much crab for this meal…” (Eggs 80 calories ea, less that a ¼ c of crab doesn’t calorically count, 1.5 tsp cream cheese… who cares when you climb up and down a ladder 67 times in a day…) She then folded the eggs up too early, and ended up overcooking what could have been a spare, but delicious omelet. She made herself a one-egg version of this. As she cooked, she kept popping pieces of crab into her mouth! I cleaned up from breakfast, and dutifully put the half tablespoon of leftover crab in the fridge next to the 3 cooked muscles, what looks like two ounces of breaded fish, and 4 tablespoons of deli-noodles… This along with the half full mason jars of mystery substances, tired fruit and veggies (and lots of fuzzy cheese, and mayo that expired in 2014) fill the fridge.
Mom works on the crossword puzzle while watching the news. It’s taken until now, or maybe it’s all finally come together observationally, to understand how someone, even with dementia, can watch 1-2 hours of news a night, and is so totally out of touch with current events. She’s not watching the news anymore, it’s ritual. It’s what you do at 6PM, even if what you’re really doing is reading the comics, working the puzzle or gazing into the distance.
Mom still has a cough, since May, which she blames on allergies. It seems uncontrollable at times, can be accompanied by sneezes, and sounds a little bronchial. She’s taking OTC meds for this. Mom doesn’t have any filters regarding the management of the cough. I’m not getting on her case, just making an observation. She doesn’t place a hand over her mouth (or cough into the crook of her elbow) while making those omelets, or at meals… I’m amazing at how well I can roll with it, but worry that others may not. Interestingly enough, my allergies have backed off 80% since arriving on the Island, which is not known to be a hypoallergenic environment. I’ll drop her doc a line about this. Allergies typically don’t last for 5 months.
This morning while mom was putting away the plastic wrap, opening one drawer after another, I heard her say under her breath, “I don’t remember where anything goes.”
We had a lovely Thai dinner in town this evening. Only one comment regarding how long it was taking food to arrive, and three about how the green beans ‘weren’t cooked at all.’ The green beans were perfectly barely cooked, and I deflected mom’s attempt to complain each time with fair success. At dinner we had our first solid conversation regarding leasing the mainland house. She sounded positive about the idea, asked cogent financial questions, which I could explain in a manner she could understand, and by the end of the conversation, she seemed resolved!