My Journal
October 1995


Tuesday, October 3, 1995

What a night we had last night! It all started out with me trying to help my mother use the bathroom, her shoving me away and saying she wanted me out of here. Then she went back to bed but kept getting up. I took her to her chair, and she just sat there saying "Oh Lord, Oh Lord." I left her for a few minutes, and then went back to try to get her to go to the bathroom again. She was cooperative this time, and then she went back to bed, but only for a few minutes. She said there was someone in the other side of the house, hurt and lying on the floor and that I'd better help. There could be no convincing her otherwise, I knew, so I went to the other side of the house, and then came back and told her that person was fine, and was sleeping soundly. So she went back to bed, but only for two minutes this time. She then said that the house was going to burn down and everyone was going to be killed and that it was going to be my fault if I didn't do something. We went on this way for at least an hour, or was it two? It seemed it wasn't going to end this time and I couldn't get her calmed down. So I called my sister at around 1:00 a.m., getting her and her husband out of bed, and I shouldn't have done that, not when they have to work today. I must not do this again. Every time I do this it just proves I'm not handling things well. I've got to not call them again. I've got to prove I can handle it.

Friday, October 6, 1995

It seems that everything that could go wrong has done just that in the year that I've been her with my mother. The well has run out of water several times, the pump quit working and we had to get a new one, the wiring is so bad in this house and it's always blowing something (It was wired at least 50 years ago by my father, and it wasn't wired enough for a house of this size for today's appliances), leaks everywhere, commode not working, a wreck across the highway a month or so ago that downed power lines, including the one connected to the house, (thankfully, my mother slept through that night), and now Hurricane Opal. We've been out of electricity and water for two days so far. Trees are down in the yard and the garden, including the peach tree by the bench that was surrounded by the flowers that did so well. Now the tree is lying over the bench, the flowers are toppled, and they won't last long anyway now, unshaded from the sun.

My mother slept through Opal (which still had hurricane strength winds when it came through this part of Alabama) and didn't even make any comments when she got up to use the bathroom during it, while the winds were still howling wildly. She hasn't seemed to be bothered too much so far by no lights or running water, or by the cold food (sandwiches and pork-n-beans) I've served her.

But in the last few weeks it has seemed there has been a steady decline in her few remaining abilities. She can't seem to swallow pills anymore. It began gradually, but now it's just about every pill. She holds it in her mouth until it melts, or she chews it, and if it's given with food, then she says the food tastes awful, when what she's actually tasting is the pill. More and more often when I bring her a snack she just holds it, as if she doesn't know what to do with it.

Yesterday at supper time my mother got upset, said she was hurting and wanted to go to bed and die. I felt she had indigestion, so I got her something for it, but she refused and said I was trying to kill her. She said she wished she had somebody good, somebody with some sense to take care of her. My sister came, and she got her to take the medicine and to eat.

If my father were still alive he would have been 94 years old today. I'm glad, for his sake, that he did not live to see my mother as she is now. He would have felt that it was his duty to care for her till the end, and I'm afraid she would have been awful to him. If she remembered him at all, it would be the young U.S. that she married and not this old man. It's good that he went ten years ago and it was she who took care of him during his brief period of suffering with cancer. Even back then, we know now, she had Alzheimer's, but none of us realize it. We knew she had lost her ability to do math, her writing was going, and her memory had been going gradually for years, but we all said She's just getting older.

Sunday, October 8, 1995

We made it through our period of no electricity. The lights came back on yesterday about 6:00 p.m. My mother was fine through it all. It seemed she had only begun to worry a little today about why there was no electricity and water.

Then last night she began trying to get up at 11:00 p.m. I convinced her to go back to bed every time until 1:00 a.m. when I was no longer successful. When she got up then she said she was going to cook some breakfast because she hadn't had anything to eat. By the time I got her to her chair, got her dentures ready for her and brought a snack, she said she wasn't hungry and that she didn't want anything. She started asking for other people: my dad and other people I've never even heard of--I think she makes up names sometimes, or maybe she has someone in mind but just can't remember the name.

I was too sleepy to sit up, maybe just too worn out from the days when there was no electricity and worrying that it would begin to bother my mother. So I made myself a bed on the floor in the next room so that I could catch a nap or two and still watch her.

Thursday, October 12, 1995

The past couple of nights, we've been getting up around 1:00 to 3:00 a.m. and sitting up for a couple of hours. Tonight it was 11:00 p.m., after being in bed less than four hours.

I believe that the chamomile tea and the herbal remedies I tried to help calm my mother and help her sleep may have helped some for two or three months (or perhaps it was the fact that we had nice weather, and were able to have some wonderful times outside in the daytime) but now they just are not working anymore.

Monday, October 16, 1995

Last night was very close to being the worst night we've ever had. My mother wandered back and forth between the bedroom and the living room a dozen times. She would say she was going back to bed, but then she didn't want to when we got there. She said that I had something ready for her and that I should give it to her. I told her I had the bed ready for her, but she didn't the bed when we got there. I asked her if she needed something to eat or medicine if she was hurting, and she said no, that she didn't want either, but she did say "I hurt all the time." She couldn't tell me what it was she wanted, but just kept wandering back and forth through all the rooms, looking for it. Finally I got her to sit in her chair by saying "Sit right here and tell me again what it is you want." It sounded like "bed", but there was something else I couldn't make out. All of this happened around between 1:00 and 2:30 a.m.

Earlier, before midnight, she was needing to use the bathroom but I couldn't get her to use her bedside potty. She kept wanting to pick it up to "fix it". I had to keep trying to explain what it was for and what she needed to do. Finally she did, but only after asking "It won't hurt her?"

The day went great yesterday for Sunday dinner at my sister's. My mother ate well at all meals yesterday, though for the three previous days she had eaten hardly anything. I was hoping we would have a better night last night after she had eaten better, but it didn't work out that way this time.

Thursday, October 19, 1995

Getting up at night is becoming a regular occurance. So is morning and afternoon (and sometimes all day) confusion. So is refusing to eat.

The past couple of days I have called my sister-in-law to help me get my mother to take Ensure (after trying unsuccessfully to get to her to eat) and to take her medicine.

She has eaten so far today, but she has been terribly confused this afternoon. She has been wandering all over the house looking for "that boy" and sometimes for "that girl" who it seems she thinks has been misbehaving.

I did something rash yesterday. When she was refusing to eat and telling me to "get out of the house!" yesterday, I called the local nursing home and told them we're ready next time they have an opening. Today I've felt I was wrong to do that, but then this afternoon has been so bad, and maybe it would be best for her too--maybe I really should let her go.

But I still don't want to. After it's over, where do I go, and what do I do, and how do I live after doing that to her?

Friday, October 27, 1995

Last night was probably the worst night we've ever had after what was probably also the worst day we've ever had. My mother was up at 8:00 p.m., before I had a chance to get to sleep, and I couldn't her to use her potty. Fianlly by 9:00 p.m. she sat in her chair, and she felt asleep. She woke up and went to the bathroom a couple of times, but when she got there, it was like she didn't know what to do and wouldn't use it. She went back to bed at 1:00 a.m., but by 2:00 a.m., she was up again, sitting on the side of her bed mumbling something I couldn't understand. I tried for a half hour to get her to use her potty, with no success. Finally she went back to bed again, only to be up again a couple of minutes later. After a while I got her to walk with me to the bathroom in the other side of the house. She finally used it, but she didn't go back to bed. She was finally relaxed, though, and she was sleeping soundly in her chair by 3:30 a.m.

After going to the bathroom she had told me "Everything will be alright now if you will just do right and leave my children and my husband alone." When I asked her if she wanted something to drink, she said no, and that all she wanted was her husband.

All that was only half of this "36-hour day" I've had.

My mother slept most of the morning, straight through her snack time. I got her to the bathroom just in time at 11:00 a.m. I thought I had better give her some Mylanta so that hopefully there would be no problems with indigeston at lunch time. I wasn't successful. She knocked the spoon out of my hands, spilling the medicine. A little later, I tried a cup of tea, and she hit at me, nearly knocking the cup of tea out of my hands.

I left her alone for a while. Finally I tried to getting her to the table to eat lunch. She went, but wouldn't eat. She kept talking about "that boy" being "in trouble" and being with William (my brother) and even something about "killing". Obviously she had been hallucinating earlier. I think she hallucinates much of the time lately.

I finally got her to drink a can of Ensure, but she didn't eat lunch. She had eaten only half of her breakfast this morning. Again in the evening, she ate only half of her supper, and she had eaten only half of a snack in the afternoon.

Again, she slept most of the time in the afteroon., but somehow we did manage to take a couple of walks, one just after lunch and anothe rjust before supper. I had hoped that would bring her out of so much confusing and that she would sleep better tonight.

No such luck. She was so sleep at 6:00 p.m. that she wanted to go to bed them. She slept only until 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 28, 1995

We sat up from 8:00 p.m. last night until 1:00 a.m. this morning, and then went back to bed, only to be up again at 2:00 a.m. At that point, I'd had about half an hour of sleep, and only about three hours the previous night.

On the video I watched that I had borrowed from the Alzheimer's support group meeting, a woman said she didn't sleep for three years when she was taking care of her husband.

At 5:00 a.m. this morning, my mother decided to go back to bed after going to the bathroom. She slept until 7:00, so I got 2 1/2 hours of sleep all night, for which I am grateful, for I thought I wasn't going to have more than half an hour all night.

This morning has been fine, though it's been a cloudy day, and that never helps. The Home Health aide was able to get my mother to take a bath before the electricity went off today (again!). We will have a cold lunch. I'm glad I stocked up on things we could have for cold lunches during our Hurricane Opal experience.

Tuesday, October 31, 1995

It's Halloween night. We are sitting up, just a couple of hours after going to bed. It would be convenient for trick-or-treaters, but there haven't been many here in years--too far out in the country, I guess.

The way it started tonight was that my mother got up, needing to use the bathroom, but again, not realizing that she did, and getting angry with me when I tried to get her to. She told me that I was hateful when I asked her to use the potty and so she could go back to bed. So I turned the heaters on in the other side of the house and got her robe and house shoes for her. When we got to her chair, she said she didn't want to be here, that she wanted to go back to bed. So we went back, and once there, she said she didn't want to be there either. She's sitting wide awake in her chair now.

We had some bad times last night, too. The first time was around 11:00 p.m. I didn't hear her getting up, and when I did hear her in the next room, I found she had an accident--bowel incontinence.

Around 3:00 a.m. she was incontinent again--just urinary incontinence this time, though. Each time after being cleaned up, she went back to bed and slept well. She slept till around 6:00 a.m. this morning.

If all of this weren't enough, I'm also sick with a cold. I've had it since Sunday, and now I'm wondering if I'm ever going to get well, because I'm not getting much rest. This is the second time I've been sick this month.

Copyright © 1995-2004 Brenda S. Parris
Background copyright © 1999 Brenda S. Parris

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