Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Alzheimers, Death, and Pain..."oh my!"

I'm gonna just jump right in without any transition from my last post three years ago.

My dad died this April, which, if you are reading this, you probably know me, so you probably already know. My mom has pretty advanced Alzheimer's disease (at 69 years old) which you know as well but this is just my tiny update.  She moved in with us for two months after the funeral because my dad had not made plans for her in his sick state. He had non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis so basically from the time he was diagnosed with it his mind was somewhat compromised from being toxic. We tried to "save him" through getting him on liver transplant lists and encouraging him to take his meds and eat right but it was so hard from afar. In the end none of our efforts ended up saving him. He progressed too fast for the doctor's to get him a transplant and the rest of his organs started to shut down from the strain of the liver disesase. And mom got worse mentally as she suffered through watching her "person" die. We were with her pretty constantly for the last month of his life but some really crazy stuff happened during that time that made us realize how compromised she was.

For instance on the first night that dad actually was hospitalized my two sisters brought her back to my youngest sister's house to sleep there and she snuck out in the middle of the night and got lost for five hours. The police were looking for her everywhere and when I got on my flight to get to Kansas at 5 am I had to sit there on the plane with no cell service for several hours not knowing if my mom would be found alive or not. When I touched down and got cell service again my sister answered the phone and said "They found her Suze." I cried all the way from the airport to her house during my Uber ride. And from the moment I got to her through my dad's death she and I were pretty glued together. So, since we didn't have a plan in place for her yet I brought her back to my house after the funeral.

Those months were crazy. Mom grieved. Over and over again most days because it was always new. Then she got angry and wanted to go home. Sometimes I was her sister. She would yell "listen I'm the oldest sister and you can't keep me captive here!! Give me my car keys so I can go home!" Most of the time I talked her down with gentle words and as many distractions as possible. Sometimes, when it had gone on for hours and she was angry all day and really pushing me and pushing me I would snap. A couple times I even swore at her. I would come out of her room crying and exhausted and my kids' eyes would be really big and round and I'd realize they had heard the whole thing. It was a lot for everyone to deal with.

After a month of searching we finally found some good Christian ladies who were willing to move in with mom and take care of her back in her home in Wichita so that she could go "back home" which is all she wanted every day. I drove her the 12 hours back. She was so happy to be going home. I felt like we had done such a good job meeting her needs and getting her into a great situation.

Two months later she doesn't recognize her home as her home. She tries to make the caregivers leave and she is one conspiracy theory after another. She wants to get in her car and go "home" but she can't describe what home she is referring to. She thinks we left her at a conference center. She wakes up her night-time lady and tells her she can't afford to have any "boarders" so she should find another place to live. It's constant. I talk to her probably 6 times a day and try to get her through whatever the confusion of the moment is.

One of the ladies who is helping us with her is feeling (understandably) overwhelmed. Now we have to decide between moving her back in with us or moving her into a group home. It's an overwhelming decision. Between trying to care for four kids, stay married, and work on my teacher training certificate, I'm not sure I will have the time (or sanity) to take as good of constant, moment-by-moment care of mom as I'd like to do. My younger sister has found a really lovely small group home where only 5 or 6 adults live together in a regular residential home while being cared for by licensed caregivers. It sounds nice but mom will definitely freak out at the beginning at least, and I'm not sure I can pull the trigger on moving her into it.

And I have some kind of crazy sicatica pain right now. And I haven't really grieved dad much because I've been so busy thinking about mom every second. Sometimes in the car I suddenly start sobbing and I think it's my grief over my dad. Or my stress over my mom. Or my grief over my marriage which is struggling through this time, (and not because Matt isn't supportive because he IS, but just because how can it NOT suffer right now?).

I need to probably talk to someone. Or get on something. Or both. Spiritually I'm a wreck but I'm trying to work on not being angry at God for "doing this to our family." I know He's sovereign and working things out for His glory, but for some reason that is not comforting me right now. I talk to God. But not enough. Mainly I wait thirstily until 5 o'clock when I feel justified in pouring the first of many glasses of wine that will get me through the night.

I used to write funny stuff sometimes. Not because I'm hilarious but because life used to seem pretty funny, hilarious...even absurd.  Absurd is still there but funny is lacking right now. Blech. Here's hoping for a little funny to come back into life. I could stand to write a little more like Erma Bombeck and a little less like Job. But Erma didn't get to hear God's voice explaining His greatness to her like Job did so maybe that's what all this is about. Maybe I will finally really find God in a meaningful way. That or end up in the Betty Ford Clinic. Here's hoping it goes the right way.