Wednesday, August 31, 2005

47 Alzheimer's study visit & grandma

I had to take a ride down to New Haven last night to help my mom find the specific place at Yale New Haven Hospital where my dad had to go (today) for his first "infusion" of the experimental "vaccine" against plaque. So they are there right now; I believe it's an 8 hour thing the first time. Whew.

It's so frustrating to be around him; I can only imagine how frustrating it is to BE him. He is becoming more and more aware of his shortcomings, and he beats himself up about them.

I came by after work for supper. Basically my father was like, "why is she here?" and my mother explained (again) that she had to go to New Haven to figure out how to get to the hospital. He immediately freaked out "you can't go to New Haven tonight! Why didn't you go during the day?" (not so coherently). I explained that I worked until 5 so I couldn't go during the day, and my mom didn't want to go alone (basically going with my dad would be the same as going alone, since he wouldn't be able to help her with directions and the map). He was resentful that my mom gave me the leftovers to take home to Will (who's back in school, 4 nights a week as of this week). He refused to come with us to New Haven.

It ended up being really easy to find. Just a bunch of lefts off the highway, and there's valet parking. The whole trip there and back took hardly more than half an hour; my father was astonished at how quickly we came back. (There was no traffic at exit 1 which was why it was so quick).

My mom's been to at least 1 other office visit for the study. She hasn't asked me to go since they made it clear at our first meeting that I wasn't needed or wanted. Of course my mom can't remember half the stuff she needs to ask them or tell them, but whatever.

My grandmother is being desperate for attention and it's really stressing my mom. Since we've come back from vacation she's asked to go to the hospital 3x. She's got nothing wrong with her. She claims to have liver cancer (like her husband died from) and says she wants to die. So far, she's had an anxiety attack and some gas pains. That's it. No cancer. No internal bleeding. No heart attack. No stroke. (these are the things she claims to have had). I love my grandmother but it seems clear to me that she's doing it for attention. While we were away, she was fine. My mother thinks Grandma's back in her depression again, like a few years ago. She is at her wits' end. She has even suggested taking my grandmother into her house, but then grandma wouldn't be able to go to the senior center, which is her only activity...or my mom would have to drive her there every day, another stress. And to her daily church service. She won't drive herself hardly anywhere, just church and grocery shopping. I have more hours now at work, and I really need the money, so there's no way I can be a grandma chauffer. (however you spell it).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

46 vacation

For the first time since I was 17, I went on vacation with my parents. We had separate rooms, but shared a car. My father wanted to bring two cars. Not with gas at $2.90 a gallon, I don't think so!
My dad is a total fussbudget. If he didn't have AD I would probably want to smack him. When he starts going on and on about something and we can't even figure out what the hell he's talking about, I start to understand elder abuse. How my mom puts up with it all day, every day, I don't know. Especially now that she's lost her job and she's home with him 24/7.
He fusses about the car hitting potholes. About trucks being too close on the highway (on the side, in the back). About his "baby," the stupid cat, back at home at the pet lodge. That he doesn't know where he is or that he hasn't been to this place before, or he doesn't recognize the foods on the menu, or that his soda is diet and not regular. I am a fussy eater but if I ever get as bad as him, shoot me. Really. He has to pick through his food like a monkey looking for nits (the term for that, which I just learned, is "fossicking"), discarding all the bits he thinks are "fat" (including the grill marks on chicken breast!). After every meal, he's got a napkin or small plate piled high with food that he thinks is fat.
He couldn't understand why we didn't take the car to go whale watching (20 miles out in the Atlantic). He hated taking the ferry to P-town and complained "no one told me it would be like this" (we told him, he just can't remember). He ordered raspberry ice cream and because it was pink and not purple he insisted it was strawberry even after my mom ate it and said it was totally raspberry. He wouldn't come in the pool with me and my husband. He gave nice shells that he'd found away to strangers on the beach but wouldn't let me have any (my mom snitched one for us once we were home).
And the damn cat. "My baby could be dead, the cat could be dead"-- he just wanted to go home to that pain in the butt cat. (And ironically, when we got home, it was one of my pets that had died; one of my birds. :( )
He had a fit every time my mother paid for something. There'd be a bill for $64 and she'd pull out 4 twenties and he'd say "Put some of that money back, that's too much!" He fussed every time she paid for anything, looking at the bill and complaining about what it cost. He constantly wanted to put gas into the car. I am a person who puts gas into my car when the red light comes on. Isn't that what the red light is for? He puts gas in the car if it's NEARING HALF. I can't imagine. I fill my car up about every 10 days; he must go several times a week.
He freaks out about the seatbelts in the back seat. he doesn't say anything if I don't wear a seatbelt in the back, but if he's in the back, he has to have the seatbelt on. Even if we had to unload the car so we could move the seat and find the belt, that's what he would want.
Speaking of unloading the car, luggage for 4 people for 5 days fills the back of a mid-size SUV. That's just a fact. it's stacked higher than the back seat back. He fussed about that, wanting to get out of the car and direct traffic whenever we had to back out of a parking space with the car full.
And fussing is the word. He frets, complains, fidgets. It really is like having a child. All his food has to be ordered special for him. He wouldn't eat his shrimp cocktail because the shrimp came in the sauce, so that meant the sauce wasn't right. The next night I told them to put the sauce separate and he ate them happily and thought the sauce was yummy. In a chain restaurant, he was unhappy because his favorite meal there now comes in a large upright bowl instead of a spread-out plate, so that means they changed it and he doens't like it as much. He stops strangers to talk to them about the baseball game, and then has incomprehensible conversations with them, and we have to apologise and explain he has AD and drag him off.
It's frustrating and sad.