Dilution vs. Concentration

Mom had her appointment today with the specialist regarding her knee. When I got to the community, she wasn’t in her apartment. I found her in the theater enjoying a weekly lecture by a local university professor. She had clearly forgotten our noon appointment.

Getting rolling toward the doctor was painfully slow as mom needed to return to the apartment, get her purse, make sure her keys were in her purse (twice), ask what the weather was like outside (twice), change her mind three times about what jacket to wear, and then say she didn’t need to take her cane with her, but take it anyways at the the last minute.

Mom either couldn’t answer the doc’s questions, or made up replies, including her height. He looked at me every so often for confirmation, and was met with my standard ‘Nope’ expression. While mom’s knee is moving in the right direction (she was doing really well Friday evening), today, and particularly after the appointment, her gait was very shuffling, to the point that she wasn’t picking up her feet, and was stumbling over the cracks in the sidewalk. The doc prescribed a different analgesic and physical therapy.

Mom and I set out for lunch after her appointment. It’s here that I noticed a number of things:

  • She had a difficult time sitting down in the booth, to the point that she shifted the table. Later when she leaned over to pick up her napkin off the floor, holding the table, I made sure the table didn’t tip, which would have sent her to the floor, face first. The thing about this is she was completely unaware of the risk, or that she’d jostled the table.
  • After getting settled, she looked at our chopsticks and said, “I want a pair of sticks like yours.” She was agreeable to trading. After our food arrived, and I’d used my chopsticks, she looked at my pair and said the exact same thing! I popped up and got her a pair identical to mine, her original ones, from a different table.
  • Mom didn’t make any effort to read the menu, or state a preference. When I offered that she enjoyed eel, she all but said ‘No’ in a clumsy indication that her taste shouldn’t dictate what we ordered. In times past, she would have asked for eel.
  • Mom had her usual trouble navigating chopsticks, but this time it included aiming for her mouth. It’s like she couldn’t open her mouth quite wide enough to take a regular sized bite, and was engaging her tongue to help, but it was getting in the way. Each time she failed at taking a bite of eel, which landed in her lap at one point, she dipped it in soy again and started over. Then she added more soy, paused to add wasabi, and went for it again. There was a time when she’d go through motions like this as a coverup of sorts, blaming her ‘sticks,’ the size of the fish pieces, the texture of the rice etc. There was no blaming or making excuses this time. She seems to have lost her self-awareness with her struggle to eat sushi.
  • Mom made no move to split the bill with me. This is perfectly ok. It’s new, or rather, an absence of regular behavior.
  • Mom asked if she had any additional appointments coming up. I rattled off the dentist for her and the cat, and her annual check up with Dr. O, not to mention the just prescribed PT. She grumbled that she had zero knowledge of these dates. I offered to write them down for her, and she started rummaging through her purse for a piece of paper. She stopped within 45-seconds and looked at me with a ‘what’s next’ expression on her face. It took me a second to realize she’d forgotten what she’d been looking for and why. She asked about appointments again in the car, and again I said I’d get them written down for her. By the time time we got to her apartment door, she’d forgotten again. I let it go. That was 2.5 hours ago. She hasn’t called.

My impressions of mom on Friday were definitely thinned by dilution. There were eight of us at dinner diluting my direct contact with her. Today’s concentration was a remarkably different experience. I don’t know if what I saw was due to the path of her disease, her new medication, or a some of both.

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