I cowered in my daughter’s office for a good 45 minutes before joining my mom and a friend of her’s for lunch yesterday. Mom was surprised to see me, and was willing to go to the walk-in clinic. The test result for a UTI was negative, but the doctor, based on empirical evidence, decided to treat. Mom and I were on board with this decision.
On our drive to the clinic, mom dipped into her newest monologue: “When are the EEG test result going to be available? I’m getting tired of this place, etc.” I flat out ignored her, in part because I was driving my daughter’s car (so much easier for mom to get in and out of), and because I was listening to my phone’s GPS. Suddenly she self-re-directed, pointing out a sculpture winding its way up a building. This observation, thankfully, occupied the next few minutes of our conversation.
Mom was astounded by the (correct) medication list the university urgent care system pulled, and said she was not taking All These medications. Upon going over the list, there were 4-5 meds that are PRN (as needed), and two entries for her new anti-anxiety med at different doses that she didn’t recognize, and the rest, including supplements, were all current. As the CNA went over the med list with mom, I sat on the floor on the opposite side of mom, talking out of the left side of my mouth giving the CNA the real story, as she clicked the appropriate boxes on her screen. The CNA was flawless with mom while entering what I quietly indicated.
When mom went to pee in a cup, I was able to give the CNA a little background on mom. The doctor was great with her, and me, making it safe for me to answer questions about mom like, “Have you noticed of heard that your mom has been experiencing more confusion than usual recently?’ After mom said she hadn’t.
At the conclusion of the appointment the doctor gave mom four stapled sheets of paper regarding the visit. Mom studied these documents as we drove back to the AL community. Suddenly she said, “Neuro-degenerative brain disease…mumble… Alzheimer’s!!! I do Not have Alzheimer’s!” I replied, “Mom, you do have memory challenges.” And within 1 second looked at the cherry trees lining the street, and exclaimed, “Wow, the trees are about to burst into bloom!” This re-directed her. She glowered for the remaining 7 minutes of the drive, but didn’t know why.
Once back at the AL community, mom handed the papers over to my daughter, and asked for a copy to send to her Island doctor. She then asked her granddaughter three times in 90 seconds when, and how, the medication would get to her (She’d also asked me twice on our drive back).
There were lots and lots of little memory foibles yesterday not worth mentioning. I was left, overall, relieved to come out of the interaction unscathed, yet feeling, more than ever, that (after handling mom ‘business’ from 9am to 11pm) this situation, particularly in the face of mom’s denial of her disease, is never going to end… There will be no place of acceptance, grace, or joy for my mother. She will never ever be able to understand that being socially engaged, cared for, and medically stable in assisted living is a far better thing than being lonely, isolated, at risk of medication screw ups, oblivious to toxic waste in her refrigerator, being in danger of falling while stirring the fireplace after 5-6 drinks at the end of the evening, much less understanding that her ability to drive is a thing of the far distant past.