Wednesday, 5 May 2010

night terror

Sometimes it takes you by surprise.

You've tidied up the mess, smoothed down the edges of your life, and you expect an untroubled sleep.

But then you wake up in the middle of the night in vertiginous wordless despair as, in your dream, your mind has intuitively grasped, for a second, the total horror of your Mother's situation: the appalling plummet from the full person she was to that unbelievably insulting parody sitting in the Care Home, spooling a few silly phrases endlessly on a loop, like someone's answer-machine that you ring long after they died, just to hear their voice.

And then comes the aftershock.

The thought that occasionally she might have a similar insight.


BigAssBelle said...

Oh Greg, I have nothing. I know. That's all.

Greg said...

It helps to know that you know. Really, it does.

And if it helps anyone else out there feel less alone with this, I'll feel I've done something.

citygirl said...

Oh Greg, I know the night terrors well. I'd wake up worried that my mom was having a bad night and that she was scared, alone and in pain (emotionally or physically) with nobody in sight (or nobody who cared) to help her. She'd have bad nights when we lived together so it's not like she suddenly became the world's most rested sleeper. It would make me sick to the point that I'd almost drive over to her nursing home to check on her but would rationalize myself out of it...til the next day when I'd frantically get there and need reassurance that she was ok (well, as ok as she could be). (sorry I posted this and had to delete/repost because I typed too fast...see how worked up I still get just thinking about it?!)

Greg said...

Thinking about it, this is not new stuff for me. I was getting these a LOT earlier on, when I'd just moved Mum into the Home. At that point, what was hitting me was guilt over how I'd had such a drastic effect on Mum's material environment, how she had been stripped of what I considered her life - her car, her dog, her home. It took ages for me to accept that this had been the right choice and to get over my guilt. To be self-critical for a moment, it was all about ME.

What's hitting me now is a horror at the loss she's suffered in her Self, at the chasm she has fallen into, the helpless limited pitiful person she is now compared to the independent woman of just a few years ago. It's now about HER.

Lily said...

Sometimes I think Logan's Run had the right idea.

Greg said...

You should know better, Lily. Michael York is NEVER the right idea.

Okay, joking. Sort of.

Maybe you're right that one day "they" might determine a cut-off age where statistically we're likely to be a burden, or just plain miserable. Hopefully a bit older than 30 though. I think I appreciate my life more now than I did when I was in my 20s. I know I'm a better person now.

accidental carer said...

Something for you on my blog Greg with love x

Greg said...

Thank you so much for the 'Oh My Blog!' award :D In the spirit of the Oscars, I think I need to thank my Mother, first off, and then my kind readers, who've supported me these past 3 difficult years.

LSL said...

I came back to visit this several times, Greg. It was hard to read and I'm glad you posted it. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post. I'll be doing some trivial errand during the day and then .BLAM. It hits me. I'm in a horror movie. My mom's mind is slowly crumbling away. The cruelty of the situation is wrenching.
My Mom had the 1st big stroke in 2001.Its been going down in random steps since then. Now she can't feed herself. Her facial expression is different and doesn't look like her.

I feel like my chest has been scooped out with a grapefruit spoon.

Greg said...

Hi Anonymous

I'm glad that I've written something you recognise. Sometimes I find it helps knowing that another person out there knows what I'm talking about. Yes, I agree, it's horrific and wrenching.

I'm sure, however, that neither of our Mothers would want us to experience such pain on their account. It's hard to do, but we need to keep reminding ourselves that we're doing a good job in keeping them safe and cared for to the best of our ability.

And then we need to try to live our own lives, as our Mothers would surely want us to.

It sounds like both our Mothers are experiencing Vascular Dementia, and I know what you mean when you describe it as going down in steps.

Sometimes I think that this isn't my Mother anymore, but a new person I must look after, delicate and vulnerable, very like a child.

It's easy to get bogged down in the emotion, but that doesn't do them (or us) any good. I hope you don't find the horror debilitating. This is part of your Mother's life, unfortunately, and there's nothing we can achieve by falling apart ourselves. Hang in there! x

Anonymous said...

Thanks. It does help to know that someone else understands the weird, lurching emotions this situation brings up. (and I am getting some therapy to help me through this and have a very supportive partner.)

Your blog has been a big comfort; I have left comments before. "Communicating through a shrinking window in a wall" was me. There is no longer a window. I just hear her occasionally bumping into things in there.

It just gets to me some days.

Greg said...

Anonymous (can I call you Anon?), you have a gift for metaphors and similes that makes me hope you are also writing about your Mom somewhere, either on the web or privately for now. I'm sure your thoughts would be a great deal of support to others.

Thanks for your comments again.