The Day the Caregiver Cried

Momma had a good day on Saturday – well, as good as days get when you have Alzheimer’s. Wayne was out of town visiting a friend, so it was just the two of us most of the day. She had been alert, busy, and had a great attitude. I turned the clocks back one hour, looking forward to the possibility of an extra hour of sleep. But it was not meant to be – by the time my head hit my pillow she had her light on in her room and was rummaging through her drawers.

It was my turn to teach Sunday School the next morning, so I tried to sleep a little, staying on the edge of sleep, listening and keeping a sleepy eye on the monitor throughout the night, only intervening when I thought it was essential. Sadly, no amount of “redirection” on my part was going to get Momma to stay in bed. She was too busy scolding the intruders that were in the kitchen. Of course these intruders were invisible to me, but all too real in her eyes. She would cry out up the staircase in the direction of our second floor bedrooms, “Hello…whoever is working here tonight! There are people in the house who shouldn’t be in here.”

Morning arrived too soon and Kathi arrived promptly at 8 am. I am so thankful for Kathi, a spunky little lady who is my mom’s caregiving companion for 5 hours every Sunday. While she lovingly cares for my mom I get to teach my Sunday School class. Wayne and I can worship with our church family, have lunch together, and then visit my brother Brad in the nursing home. She’s such a blessing.With a warning that things might be a bit rough today, I set off for my time with my church family. What a privilege it is to be able to gather together with other Believers to worship God. Five hours later I returned home and found Kathi with tears of sadness and compassion welled up in her eyes as she mentioned the changes she had observed in Momma since last Sunday, saying Momma had been unusually “teary, anxious, and confused.”

the dancing paper doll

Momma’s marked delirium and anxiety continued throughout the rest of the day, with her “seeing kids playing in the trees” and “family members  hanging out in the yard.” A little decorative paper doll with a handkerchief dress was reportedly doing a little dance on her dresser. The fingers of the praying hands figurine that her mother made many years ago were eerily moving. As I accompanied my walker-schootching mother to her bedroom, she told me to get some shoes on because “there are bugs with stingers crawling all over the floor.” Those same bugs were also crawling on her bedroom wall, and birds were perched on her light fixture and flying around her room whenever they were startled.

Sunday evening my daughter Beth stopped by with three of her kids. Beth and Violet witnessed the nonsensical talking and delirium too.

Poor Momma. I’m guessing this is another urinary tract infection, even though test results came back negative for infection. I have a feeling this new testing of my faith may very well be my new “normal” in Momma’s journey with Alzheimer’s.

I’ve been studying and praying through the book of James lately. If y’all pray for me, please ask God to give me joy in the midst of this trial, and to use this season of life to mature my faith-life.

 

James 1:2-4

Faith Under Pressure

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

Intruders in the Night

“This is Charlotte Boyles! I need help!”

That was the 4-something a.m. frantic call of Momma, who had spent all night keeping an eye on the intruders in our kitchen. My sister Vivian, on overnight “mom duty” at the time, answered from her upstairs bedroom, “I’m coming Mom!” Vivian listened to Mom’s report of suspicious activity coming from the kitchen, attempting to assure her that all was well and our home was secure. Mom was convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that there were thieves hiding in the kitchen’s pantry; she had seen them with her own eyes and had heard what they were saying. Vivian did a walk-through of the kitchen, opening and closing the pantry cabinetry and its swing-out interior doors to check inside. Nothing unusual there, but Momma still believed ‘they’ were here hiding in there somewhere.

Momma said she had a phone in her purse, and she wanted Vivian to call the police. The phone was actually the remote control for the TV. She had other emergency items packed in her purse…just in case, including a pair of scissors she would use if she had to jab her way to safety. Vivian escorted our frightened Momma back to her room, closing the draperies on the windows and doors. She stayed in the chair beside her, bringing an extra measure of security.

During all of this excitement, I slept peacefully in my bed upstairs. It was nice to have my sister on duty for this one. Both my husband and my bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived sister told me all about the adventure when I woke up.

My brother had a dental surgery appointment that morning, so I would be busy taking him to and from that appointment. While I waited for him in the surgeon’s waiting room, I made arrangements over the phone with mom’s doctor to have her urine tested to check for urinary tract infection, the usual cause for hallucinations of this magnitude. Sure enough, a few hours later, the doctor’s nurse called with the results and to let me know they had called in a prescription for me to pick up at my pharmacy.

Sleep should be less eventful for Momma in a day or two. I hope.

This pretty mug usually contains coffee…but always holds a memory of my dear friend Melinda.

I try to look for “joy” in the midst of these sometimes challenging caregiving days. Admittedly, it’s sometimes hard to find the joy on days like this. But it was there nestled in something my sister showed me later in the day. She said, “Oh, Mom had this in her purse too. She wanted to save it from the robbers for you.” Viv held out a coffee mug. Not just any coffee mug. Momma had commented on the beauty of this particular mug a few days prior. I had told her it was a gift from a very special friend. As I took the Polish pottery mug from my sister’s hand, I was astounded that my mother would remember that this mug was so special to me. And even more flabbergasted that she would seek to save it from the very real (to her) robbers in our home.

My sweet Momma.