Friday, August 14, 2009

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

I was out of town for a couple days visiting my mother at a rehabilitation facility where she's recovering from a stroke. My sisters and I were invited to attend a conference there on Wednesday. We met with therapists and social workers who provided insight concerning our mother's progress and prognosis. We weren't surprised at what we heard - Mom's short term memory is GONE (the therapist's exact words) and her cognitive functioning is low to non-existent. Physically, she has improved and is able to do most of her own care, but she cannot take her medications properly. We knew that, or at least guessed it. For her safety, it was recommended she reside in an assisted living environment. That wasn't a surprise either. We've known for some time she should have assistance, but knowing it and implementing it are two entirely different things. There is no spirit of cooperation within our mother. That spirit may circle her from time and hover once in awhile, but it never lands.
We accompanied our mother to her cardiologist's appointment yesterday and her tests results were good, but her doctor also recommended assisted living. We told him our mom was determined to go back to her home and he said if she was going to be able to do that, she would need to be closely monitored. I live two hours away, so most of the monitoring will fall to my sisters. I'll travel there more often and do what I can from here. Since the doctor was being very open with us, I took the plunge and asked, "How about driving?", knowing full well Mom should NOT be driving, but I wanted her to hear it from her doctor. He said, "Absolutely not. She should not be driving". I don't think Mom heard all that he said. She seemed to be acting too calmly. My sister and I explained what he'd said and at first there was silence.
She held back the tears and anger until after the doctor left the examination room, but the second he walked out, she let it all go. She was angry with me for mentioning driving and upset with the doctor for insisting she'd had a stroke, when, of course, she knew she hadn't. Mom is in total denial about her health issues. She accused my sister of tricking her into going to the rehab facility and insisted no one had ever explained where she was going or why she needed to be there. That couldn't have been further from the truth. Mom simply had no recollection of our conversations about it.
I spent about an hour on the phone with Mom this morning trying to calmly and lovingly explain about strokes and short term memory loss. I emphasized it wasn't her fault and told her she did nothing to cause the situation. We kept going over the same things and when we finished the conversation I had a headache.
Logic and intellect tell me that nothing I say to her is going to register or be retained, but for some reason, that never stops me from trying.....and trying it certainly is.

1 comment:

KSedlak said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I have been through the same thing with my mother. She is now in a dementia home and getting lots of help and attention that she needs. She seems content and has made a few friends too. My brother and sister live close by so they see her quite often.