Monday, 9 March 2009

moving along

Mum has been using a walking frame for the past few weeks. Unlike the one here, hers has wheels on the two rear legs. I remember her adamance, in years gone by, that she would NEVER accept one. But, as with everything around her these days, Mum thinks the frame is marvellous. She is blessed that her particular brand of Dementia is the Pollyanna variety. Looking around at the faces at dinner time I can see compulsion, fear, torpor, disorientation, even malice. Mum floats above it all, serene.

But we have less and less in the way of conversation these days. She cautiously asks me how "work" is going, and I can tell she's feeling her way through a dark cave. In pity for her I decide not to be a jagged rock wall and tell her that work is going fine. In turn, she has no news to report, even though I know they had a comedy troupe visit them only today in the run-up to a national day of charity fund-raising.

In the couple of hours I'm there, she only needs the toilet once, which I take as a sign that she is less nervous around me tonight. I watch her glide off slowly down the corridor to her room, standing ramrod straight with the frame before her - as if she's holding onto the rail of a launch which is ferrying her across the Grand Canal.

I count her steps - at every 6th or 7th step she will hesitate, as if suddenly she can't recall how to move her legs.


Greg said...

The picture here is one of a pair of wind-up "Racing Grannies", made by a company called "Jam". I bought a pair last year and they make me laugh and feel ashamed at myself at the same time. I am a bad bad Son.

citygirl said...

Greg, you are a GOOD GOOD SON.

Great to hear your mom is using the walker. Much safer than trying to cross the Grand Canal without help! I never thought my mom would accept a wheelchair and she eventually did quite happily. I saw those "hesitant" moments when she was walking too. It was like she couldn't get the message to her legs to keep moving.

It's a blessing that your mom is serene. My mom went through several different stages, one of them being extreme anger/ aggression and it was horrible. It was heartbreaking when she was in that stage; fighting everything, all the time.

It's sad to see the conversation dwindle, isn't it? I noticed this happening and eventually it became just a word here & there. It was incredibly sad. When mom had talkative days, it lit up my world.

Greg said...

I pray I never see Mum distressed like that - I don't think I could bear it and I hope she doesn't experience it.

Yes, I agree that the walking hesitation is a brain-to-muscles communication failure, but it's odd that she's walking normally for 5-6 steps each time before the misfire comes. I wonder if it's a marker of how long her memory lasts these days? Each time she stopped I saw her wobble momentarily like a washing machine on final spin - using her whole body to try and shake her legs into motion. Her little stationary jig reminded me of those cartoon characters that start running on the spot before zooming off.

citygirl said...

I was thinking more about this posting last night and your conversations with your mom. I often used to make light and happy conversation with my mom instead of telling her how bad my day really was. I didn't want to upset or worry her at all.

However, somedays, I would sit and quietly bawl my eyes out to her, even at the end where she was barely there. There is something so powerfully comforting about your own mom. It's a comfort that no one else in the world can give you. I didn't do this often but every so often, I would just breakdown and bawl. And wow, did it feel good. Even if she didn't fully realize what I was doing, it just felt good to sit in her presence, hold her hand and cry about whatever life was throwing me, including our battle together with Alzheimers.

Greg said...

Ah well, there we differ in our experiences of Mothering. I'm glad you had that relationship. I've tried all my life to have my Mother comfort me but she wasn't a warm person and was never "on our side no matter what" like I always hoped and like I've since seen other Mothers behave. If something ever went wrong for me and I was upset, Mum would make me feel worse by reaching for whatever "explanation" there was to make it all my stupid fault. I never felt she would stand up for me or protect me from anything. Worse still, in my late teens we did go through a phase of me staying up talking to her into the late evening, trying to tell her as much about me as possible, really connecting I thought. But all my confessions and confidences got thrown back at me later whenever it helped her win the "fault" argument. It's left me a confirmed liberal, vacillating between opposing arguments and keen to see both sides and seek resolution. I can't bear blame - I'm allergic to blame.

Looking back, I can play the lay-psychologist and speculate that Mum (on some subconscious level) panicked whenever I presented myself as unhappy and was unconsciously desperate to prove that it wasn't HER fault.

Anyway, whatever the process behind it all, we never had a close warm protective relationship, but that Woman is gone now so I can't hold it against her (the way my Sister seems to be doing). Instead I have a very childlike person I need to protect and I can do that.

citygirl said...

Oh Greg, I am so sorry that I ran ahead and blabbed on & on about a mother's comfort.

I'm so sorry to hear you wished to have this sort of relationship with your mom and did not receive it. Very interesting analysis of the situation though! I completely agree with your theory about your mom avoiding the fault/blame of any unhappiness you had.

Your comment has once again shown what a GOOD SON you are. Many people would have held the past against their parent. In fact, a friend of mine recently lost her mom and had been estranged (as a result of dementia-driven behaviour by the mom). She seems to be ok and just shrugging it off but I wonder if that will catch up with her one day.

Greg said...

Yes, this is what I worry about with my Sister, who became increasingly estranged from my Mum from 1999 onwards, as Mum's behaviour became more and more erratic. My Sister found it all infuriating, whereas I (eventually) realised what was happening and intervened. My worry is that Mum is going to be long dead and gone when my Sister has an epiphany one day and feels remorse and there will be nothing she can do to redress her wrongs. Mum wasn't a bad Mother - she tried her best and my Sister's problems with her are all built on impatience and frustration and intolerance rather than any genuine slights. She is an angry person and one day that rage might subside and she will be devastated. I honestly feel sympathy for her, though my pity isn't going to persuade her out of her fury now. What I'd like to tell her is that it really doesn't take much effort to put the frustrations aside and show a little kindness now to someone who can't recall or understand much of what's happened. All those pent up feelings are in a currency that has collapsed - worthless if the Bank has closed.