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Fedya's Mom, 1942-2015


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"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be certain." So begins Albert Camus' novella The Stranger, and so begins the story of my own mother. The nursing home called Dad overnight to tell him Mom had suffered a heart attack, but we weren't able to make it to the hospital in time. :(

 

In many ways, Mom was well on the way to dying: she had had a series of TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, or mini-strokes), and was diagnosed with ALzheimer's disease in the spring of 2008. I've been living with Dad to help take care of Mom for several years now, woefully underemployed, but that's another story.

 

Mom continued to suffer TIAs on an irregular basis, each one corresponding with a steeper bump in her slow decline to senile dementia. Mom wasn't doing particularly well having been diagnosed six years earlier, but still well enough for Dad and I to take care of her, until a week or so before Thanksgiving, when she suffered another TIA. She took an alarming turn for the worse, asking questions like, "Are we home yet?" and "When are we going home?" This although we were in the same house she'd been living in for 40 years.

 

Mom's temper was also getting increasingly violent. She'd always been ill-temmpered, but Mom was getting to the point where I began to go to night asking myself how I was going to keep my cool if I had to make the inevitable call to the 911 dispatcher to tell tham that Mom had tried to hit Dad over the head with her cane and Dad needed medical help. :( Thankfully, that never happened. I also had to beg off of going going over to my sister's for Thanksgiving with the rest of the family -- not just Mom, Dad, and me, but also my other sister flying in from Dallas. Dad had the brilliant idea of spending two nights at my sister's. We had all been there one night in June for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, and that was tough enough. Mom was ill-tenpered about the sofa bed not being comfortable enough, and I being in a strange bed got maybe two hours of sleep. I haven't been getting enough sleep in my own bed dealing with Mom, and as awful as I felt for saying no to the rest of the family, being cooped up in a house with no opportunity to get out for 48 hours was too much.

 

And then the Friday before the Divisional Round game against Dallas, mom suffered one more TIA. I figured that this was finally going to be the TIA that sent her to a nursing home, but amazingly, the hospital discharged her the next morning, despite my sister (who had medical proxy if antying happening to Dad) insisting we couldn't take care of Mom any longer. In some ways I didn't care either way, but you try to get my mother into a nursing home. She had another of her screaming fits, and I finally blew my stack and said that if Mom did anything to made Dad have to go to hospital, it's technically assault and battery, and it's either a crime for which she'd go to jail, or for which she'd be declared non compos mentis. There was no way I could have taken care of her myself. Not that Mom understood any of this, of course; it just made her scream louder. Go ahead and tell me I'm evil, but I really didn't give a ****. Hell, I was living in abject terror any time my dad had an early-morning doctor's appointment and left me alone with her for an hour or two. If she heard him go out, she'd go to the door and bang on it, screaming that Dad was leaving her. Anyhow, she went to the hospital for "tests", and from there to the nursing home. Going to the nursing home was a thoroughly depressing experience. Never mind the people who were much further along the course of Alzheimer's than Mom and were practically catatonic; Mom would get furious when the time came to leave since of course we weren't taking her home with us. Going just before lunch turned out to be the best strategy: when the staff took all the patients to lunch, we could make our getaway.

 

I hope none of you ever have to deal with a loved one with Alzheimer's. Believe me, it's hell. There's a lot of details about the "joys" of dealing with someone suffering from senile dementia that I haven't included, but the post is too long anyway.

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I am sorry for your loss. I took care of many Alzheimer patients and it is a difficult and heartbreaking. My Grandmother had it and she didn't recognize me. Her temper was always kind but I saw many with even tempers change so much that their children didn't know how to deal with them. Many become violent.

I am sure it is hard for you. I know for me it was bittersweet because I knew my Gram didn't have to be in that state anymore.

Best to you Fedya. Take care.

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My condolences on the loss of your mother, Fedya.

 

I have to admit your story made me extremely thankful my parents' deaths over a decade ago now didn't involve that nasty disease your mother suffered from. 

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My dear and beloved mother is in a home for Alzheimer's. It has been a devastating event for the entire family. It changes everything in the family structure. I know what you are going through. I'm very sorry for your loss. May God Bless.

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I'm sorry to hear about your mother's death. Both of my mother's brothers have spouses with this horrible disease and they are elderly men with their own health problems. As much as I miss my folks, I'm so glad that neither of them had this. I don't think I could have coped.

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