Saturday, December 01, 2012

5 years gone, and Alzheimer's Aunt strikes again

This week was the 5 year anniversary of my dad's death.  He's been gone longer than he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I'm not really any sadder than usual, except when I re-watched the episode of Walking Dead where Maggie tells her dad (who has been bitten by a zombie, and his leg cut off to try to save him) that it's okay for him to die.  The specifics of the speech, of course, weren't equal to the one I gave my dad, but it was 5 years ago to the day that I gave "it's okay to go" talk to my dad, and there I was watching it on TV.  I did cry, I admit.  I posted about it on Facebook and one of my friends talked about how hard it had been to give that talk to her mom when she was dying of cancer.  You have to say all the usual things.   
I love you.  It's okay to go.  I'll be fine.  We'll all be fine.  There won't be any more pain once you leave.  I will miss you every day, but it's better for you if you go.
My mom and I went to see the movie Lincoln and his last lines are something like, "it's time for me to go, but I'd much rather stay" and he goes off to the theater.  I'd like to think we'd all rather stay, given the choice, but with if your life is full of pain and suffering, sometimes it is time to go.
Another Walking Dead moment (it's a great show) this season was when Hershel (recipient of the zombie bite and the "it's okay to go dad" speech several episodes later) inexplicably asks his daughters to sing "The Parting Glass."  I have read it, in poem form, and it's dreadfully sad.  Why you'd want to hear it sung during the zombie apocalypse, I don't know.  It's even sadder when it's sung.

Here are some of the lyrics. It's supposed to be a drinking song but it seems to me like a dying song and always has seemed like that:
Of all the comrades that e'er I had
They're sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had
They'd wish me one more day to stay
But since it fell unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all
Fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
And gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all
I've been melancholy all week, between anniversary of dad dying and the onset of my yearly Seasonal Affective Disorder so I'm in non-functioning cocoon form for the next few weeks.

Except today.  Today was special.  And last night.  I got to see Alzheimer's Aunt.  Oh how exciting.
I got an URGENT text last night at 5:30:  "You have to go to the store NOW and buy Pepsi and bring to (AA)."  Really?  Being out of soda is now a national emergency?  I replied that I could go around 6:30 as I was not home.  At 6:28 I texted my cousin to tell him to tell Alzheimer's Aunt I was coming over.  I went to the drug store AT THE END OF AA's STREET (ie, she could have walked there) and bought 4 small cold bottles of Pepsi as directed (not diet,  not caffeine free, not big bottles, not cans, not room temperature) for the outrageous price of $8 and was at her door by 6:44 pm.
And she didn't answer.
I was just about to dump the soda on the porch and go home when she finally came to the door. 
"I was going to bed because you never showed up." 
"Didn't (my cousin) tell you that I was coming over?"
"yes but not when and you didn't come immediately so I was going to bed, I couldn't wait for you anymore." 
Yet the soda delivery was incredibly urgent?  I was like, whatever, and I left, really feeling put-upon for being treated like a delivery girl and not even getting a thank you.  I expect lack of courtesy from Alzheimer's Aunt but nothing from my cousin, who claims he told his mother I was coming at 6:30 and he doesn't know why she went to bed instead.
And don't forget, Alzheimer's Aunt isn't supposed to be drinking soda, only water, and no carbs in her diet.
Today I was going to take a drive and go to a store I like that's about 20 miles away and eat lunch at a restaurant nearby that's the closest location to me.  A nice couple of hours.  Instead, Alzheimer's Aunt wanted me to go to lunch with family members.  They were supposed to pick me up after taking her to the bank at 11.  So I figure, 11:30 or so.  Then it's 12:30, and nothing, no text, no calls, no car in the driveway.  Finally I get a text. "(AA) wanted to go to the library, the liquor store, and the craft store.  We'll pick you up soon."  Really?  I love the amount of time this blind woman spends at the library checking out books and buying craft supplies she can't use.  And what if I wanted to go to the craft store, I wasn't even asked.
By the time they picked me up it was after 1 p.m. and I was hungry.  We went to a seafood place I don't like very much but I'll eat a hotdog there (it's a New England thing--fried seafood and hotdogs in a little shack).  We start eating.  Alzheimer's Aunt starts hiccuping.  I start frantically trying to cram my hotdog into my mouth because I know what's coming.  Sure enough, BLAEAGH--puke everywhere.  Down her shirt, her pants, onto the floor, her purse, the table.  Then she just sits there wide eyed while my cousins scramble to get napkins and literally clean her up like she's a baby.  (everyone in the place staring at us, of course--luckily no one sitting right next to the puke bomb) They try to get her to go to the bathroom and clean herself up but she refuses.  I handed the rest of my hotdog and my fries off to my cousins and just sat there staring silently at the wall until it was time to leave while everyone else FINISHED THEIR FOOD (and mine).  I don't know how they do it, once the puke starts I can't eat anymore.  One of my cousins suggested, mildly, that Alzheimer's Aunt talk to her doctor again about the vomiting and AA just kind of waved her hands and said "I know but he says it's nothing."  Nothing.  For a grown woman to vomit all over herself, almost every time she eats?  I know I harp on that, because IT IS NOT NOTHING.  IT IS SOMETHING. 
Every time someone outside the family asks me "how is (AA) doing" I answer, "I don't know, I don't care, and I don't want to know."  I don't care if it makes me a bitch.  I can't handle this.  If she was being cared for properly by a competent doctor, if she had a real diagnosis and prognosis and treatment plan and medicine, I wouldn't be so angry.  She's going to DIE and my cousins are just blithely going along, enabling her bad behavior and reinforcing it and when they find her dead in her hoard it's really going to slap them in the face.  And no doubt somehow I will get blamed for it.


Amanda said...

Aaaagh! I can't sit across from babies or small children at restaurants since the get food all over themselves and chew with their mouth open. I'd probably have to leave the table and get some air if the person I was sitting across from started projectile vomiting! Good lord! Is it some sort of severe GERD? I don't think it would be unreasonable of you to not subject yourself to meals with her. *shivers*

Hadn't heard The Parting Glass before so I looked it up on YouTube and found a beautiful rendition by The Wailing Jennys. Thanks for making me aware of it.

The holidays, anniversaries, etc are a butt kicker. It's my 1st Christmas without my grandmother and I'm melancholy as well. If I had any advice, I'd share it. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Found your blog while searching for something to help my mother who is struggling with being a caregiver. Just had to comment -- if AA is truly vomiting everything she eats it is NOT normal. If this truly is a problem there should be dramatic loss of weight. It could be a hiatal hernia as you said you had, or something more serious, such as cancer, or a variety of esophageal motility problems, or a problem with how the stomach empties (usually a problem with diabetics).

Chris Finchum said...

I'm a Christian artist and me and wife lost both of our dads last year. I lost mine to Alzheimers. The way I deal with most things in my life is that I write about it. If you can checkout my song "Daddy Can You Hear Me" on my site at chrisfinchum/ . I hope it helps.

P.S. Please sign your email for updates and my new blog.

God Bless
Chris Finchum