In the midst of it all

I can't remember the last time I've cried this much. I cried for an hour before I went to sleep on Wednesday, the day we got the call, but as my dad fell apart there were no room for my tears. Someone had to keep it together. Someone had to downplay the seriousness of what was happening to my mother.

Since I got home last night, after we moved my mother to long-term care, they've been there, just under the surface, demanding to be shed. Demanding that I grieve.

Someone in my spiritual support group posted this about a week ago. I found it very calming last night. I listen to it now as I write this, finding solace in its message of happiness for all beings.

My mother hasn't been happy for a while, slowing isolating herself in our house. My siblings have taken this as signs of Alzheimer's, a logical conclusion since my mother has been diagnosed with dementia. However, depression has the same signs. Who could blame her? My father had become a ball of anger, flipping out at her at the slightest thing. Why wouldn't she want to retreat from the world?

Since this process has started, my dad has taken to being very affectionate with her. He still had his moments of flipping out, usually at night when my mom got fussy and he got frustrated. Even those times were lower in severity and they've been infrequent. I'm convinced this change has made a difference. She has made such great strides since the state she was in when she got home from the hospital.

However, 7 weeks later, she was still in a hospital bed in our living room. She still wasn't mobile enough to get to the bathroom or to sit up without help. While she recognized us all again, her short-term memory was still shot. We had personal support workers for 4 hours a day (with the rest of the day covered by my father or myself) and physiotherapist coming in once a week and that was about to run out.

Even when she was resting, I still listened for her, a habit I got into months before she even ended up in the hospital for the second year in a row because of an UTI. An 8 hour night of sleep not born of extreme exhaustion is a distant memory.

This situation was not sustainable. I know this. I'm happy to no longer be her caregiver. But the other side of this is taking my mother away from her home, reducing her belongings to a few things that will fit in her small shared room. (Mom's memory loss helped us here as she hasn't remember all the crap she has accumulated and we've gotten rid of a lot of it.) Having to lie to her face about it. (We were advised against telling her the truth by the people at the facility and based on her reaction when she heard it suggested to me at the hospital, it was the lessor of two evils.) And to watch her lively self yesterday interact with her fellow residents and have so few able to respond to her.

Hopefully now that she's there the staff will have her interact with people from other sections of the residence and feed her love of singing. Hopefully having physio 3 times a week will keep her mobile and engaged. Hopefully the cutting edge dementia philosophy the facility has will improve her memory or at least halt the loss progress.

In You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay suggests that the thought and emotional issues behind the disease is a refusal to deal with the world as it is, feelings of hopelessness and anger. (Just to clarify, despite popular belief, this is not victim-blaming. These patterns have to do with subconscious programming that we're not aware of. These thoughts and feelings in turn create physical processes in the body that the disease comes out of. Changing those patterns can bring relief of symptoms and in some cases eradicate the illness completely. However, no one is a failure if they are still ill after doing the work on the patterns as environmental and other physical factors come into play as well.) That certainly fits the situation my mother has been in.

But now she has her loving husband back who is no longer getting frustrated because what he can do for her is not enough. And hopefully she'll have friends and her singing and things to do that will make her happy. So I'm going to print out the affirmation Louise Hay suggests for dementia & Alzheimer's and put in on the side of the dresser so she can see it before she goes to bed and when she wakes:
I am in my perfect place and I am safe at all times. There is always a new and better way for me to experience life. I forgive and release the past. I move into joy.
Can't hurt and I sincerely believe it can help.

But in the meantime, I grieve. I walk with a limp as my left knee refuses to move forward. (That's the emotion part of a locked knee, and the left side is the feminine side.) I write and I play my keyboard, which feels vital right now in helping me to process.

We will get through this better than we were. My parents will be better off. I will be better off having gone through this. It's all to the good. That is my touchstone and my promise.

PS: As I was writing this, I discovered that someone I know from the Canadian Fringe circuit also has his mother in the same facility. Small world! I laugh at the silly sense of humour of the universe.


TAW said…
Very touching and thought provoking MK. I wish you and your family all the best. It seems to me your family rides on your strength....don't carry more than you are able.