Driving has become a mental hazard for me. This is the time I mostly reflect and think about mom — the good times but mostly the last couple of months of her life when things started going downhill.
Nearly five-and-a-half months later I’m still playing out various scenes in my head, wondering if I took appropriate action when I noticed changes in mom’s condition. I know I did – taking mom to the doctor, hiring aides and then increasing their hours for more care, stopping by on my way to work, stopping by on my way home from work, and then finally planning to work remotely from her room to be with her and to observe her, but that never happened since she wound up in the hospital. If I know, deep in my heart, that I did do the right things, then why do I still feel this way?
The signs of behavioral change were there – hygiene accidents, forgetting how to answer the phone (but not all the time), giving her a toothbrush and gently redirecting it from her forehead to her mouth, telling me “I’m not a dirty person” when I tried to get her to wash up for bed one night, telling me one evening that she bought the place where she was living for me. These are the scenes that keep playing out in my head, scenes that I can’t seem to kick.
We never talked about death. We never really openly talked about Alzheimer’s – I always referred to it as dementia (which it was) – except for the times she wondered, “why me?” I was afraid. I was afraid to say she had a brain disease, but she knew her dementia affected her speech, memory and handwriting. Did she know she was dying? I didn’t really think she was dying, at least not yet. I know Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease but I never looked at it like that with her. Was I in denial?
I think it’s time for another visit with Dr. R.