Saturday, August 11, 2012

Let's Go Get Gary!

The night with Grandma was fairly calm.  You could tell that being with out Daddy around, that she was growing more anxious.

I brought her some Mac and Cheese.  She wholeheartedly ate every last bit of it.  We still had a few gnats from the dishwasher/fig incident.  We visited and discussed the same questions.

I received a phone call from my husband and went to the living room to talk to him.  She joined me after she finished cleaning the dishes.  We discussed why I was there and not Daddy.  I told her Daddy needed to be with Brenda.  She went into another orbit.  Who is Brenda?  When did he get married?  He never mentions her.

I really wasn't sure what to say, but I went into how Brenda is mean and wants Daddy to stay with her. Grandma said she knew what that meant.  The whole idea of discussing my parents took an awkward turn and I tried to change the subject.  I wanted to tell her that they have already been together and that is how I am here.  Of course, the whole "Who's Your Daddy?"  conversation would have started once again.  Then, She wanted to know where the "others" were that were like Gary.  Others?  I said Randall and Brent.  She responded with a nod.  I told her they were with their families.

This conversation repeated itself several times until I finally got tired and told her I was going to bed.  She agreed and got up to put all the chairs  in place.  Two chairs placed under the knob at the back door, and four at the garage door.  Before she put the garage door chairs in place, she went out and walked around my van.  She peeked in the windows and stood there studying it for a minute or two.

She called Daddy before we finally settled down.  I don't know how the conversation started.  I know Daddy told her that Brenda wanted him at home.  And I heard Grandma say, "Well, I guess I should just shut up then."  And with that comment, she slammed the phone down.

Around 9:00, she came in my room and calmly sat on the bed.  I just knew I was in trouble.  She looked at me and said that Gary needed to get home.  This whole idea of him being married was crazy. She then looked me in the eyes and said, "I could drive your van and we could go get Gary."

"Drive my van?"
"Yes, let's go get Gary."
"No, Grandma. Go to bed."
"I need to get him out of that mess he is into over there."
"Grandma, it is ok.  Go to bed."
"No, he is suppose to be here and I want to peek in the windows and see what is so important that he can't come home."
"No, Grandma. "

After a few minutes of this banter, she looked at me one more time and said, "Let's go get Gary.  You can drive."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stories and More Stories

Just when I think I have dementia figured out, Grandma will do something completely out of the ordinary.  She has a routine and if that schedule is not followed, then she goes into a total spin out of character. She gets downright mean and ugly.  And that was the case last night.

Grandma packing the suitcase with a blanket
and fussing at me for telling stories.
Daddy was on vacation and since I had time, I decided to stay with Grandma again.  Since this was not the normal routine for me to stay more than one night, Grandma started getting a little more anxious each night.

I got to her house around 7:00.  She was already aggravated with Daddy because he wasn't there.  I brought her something to eat, but she just nibbled on it.   She asked the usual questions.  How many kids do you have? How old are they? Etc....  Then she wanted to know why I was there.  I told her Daddy was tired and wanted to stay at his house.  She didn't like my answer.  She wanted to know who told me to come over.  I told her that she called me to come over.  She raised her voice at me, "STORIES, just stories."

Moving the cassette tapes.  Don't won't
them to get stolen.
She asked again, "Who told you to come over here and stay with me?"
"You did, Grandma."
"No, I didn't.  Why are you telling these stories?"
"I'm not telling stories.  I wanted to come here and stay with you."
"Is Ellis paying you?"
"Well, I don't need you to stay here."
"Ok, Grandma, but you can't call and say you need someone to stay."
"More Stories."

This conversation went on at least three more times.  She would go to bed and lay down and then get back up and come and argue.  Her mind wasn't comprehending anything I was saying.  It made her anxious and upset.  At that point,  She decided to just let me have it.

I had my laptop out and was typing the post for the night before.  I had a table lamp, fan, and tv on.  She went into this frustrated voice with me.  She started telling me how if I stay with her, my husband is going to leave me and then I won't have children anymore.  She said I needed to stay home with him and tend to his needs.  She then went into how it was after 8:30 and it was time to go to bed.  If I don't get my sleep then I will be worthless the next day.  I was laughing on the inside because we went from not having a husband and kids to going to bed before 8:30 in a matter of seconds.

She decide to move everything from her
bedroom into the dining room.
The final frustration of hers was how much electricity I was using with all my stuff.  It is rude to go to someone's house and use their electricity and stay up all hours of the night. (It was only 8:45 at this point.)  I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was the reason I am up all hours of the night.  She wanted to know if my mom and dad let me stay up all night with all these things and using up their electricity.  I told her I was 40.  She interrupted me and in frustration, she stated, "Stories, more stories."

You can't reason with a person that has dementia.  You have to play games with them.  You quickly realize what triggers their emotions.  You try to stay away from those topics. You also will repeat yourself several times.  I change the story up sometimes to see if she is paying attention.  She usually looks at me funny and sighs.  Somehow, I just keep the cycle going with Stories and More Stories.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rummaging and Hoarding

All Grandma does every day is rummage through drawers, boxes, suitcases, and cabinets.  She hoards everything from pictures and letters to notes she wrote many years ago.  I often watch her and wonder what she is constantly doing and thinking.

I got to Grandma's around 6:45 pm.  I was so tired.  I went straight to bed and didn't even bother to get her teeth from her.  She came in and started moving stuff from dresser to the chester drawer.  She pulled the suitcases out of the closet.  I was so exhausted that I heard her but was to tired to care.

She called Daddy three times.  She told him I was in the bedroom asleep and wasn't going to hear anyone if they broke in the house.  Probably true...I was that tired.

I woke up around 11:00 p.m.  I was so hot!  I went to turn on the AC.  It was on heat and set around 85 degrees.  When it clicked on, Grandma jumped up.  She came out the door and scared me a little.  She stared me down in the hall way.  I knew she didn't recognize me.  

I said, "Hey, Grandma.  Sorry about waking you up."
Grandma looked me up and down and said, "Are you pregnant?"
"No, just fat."
"You look pregnant."

Well, thanks grandma.  My self confidence is out the roof with your support!  LOL

"Nope, not pregnant. Just fat."
"You are not fat.  You just don't need to wear that outfit again."
"Ok, Grandma.  I will not wear this outfit again."  And with that I made a mental note to never be seen in public in my PJs.  :)

I finally got her back to bed and some what convinced her that I wasn't pregnant around 2:00 a.m.  Evidently, she woke back up in the middle of the night.  I got up around 7:15 a.m.  Grandma was already up and looking for her teeth.  I had failed at getting them from her.  So, I begin to look for them too.  I found them in the middle bedroom in a cup.  They were filthy!  They looked like she had buried them in the backyard.  I started to give her the cup but quickly realized that she wouldn't clean them.  I took them in the bathroom and yes...I brushed her teeth.  

I then went to the bedroom and was going to watch the morning news while I gathered my stuff.  The remote wasn't where I had put it the night before.  I looked all around the bed.  I looked under the mattress.  I looked under the pillows.  I then started rummaging through the the chester drawers.  I found the remote.  Beside it, I found my phone.  WHAT? I started gathering my stuff, and she had unpacked my toiletries and had put them all up in the cabinet in the bathroom.   Aaaagghhh!

So, after I packed everything up and got my phone back.  I got to wondering why she rummaged through my stuff.  Dementia can play weird tricks with the mind.  Grandma was probably looking for her teeth and decided the stuff in the bag was distracting and she needed to put it up.  So, she did.  Dementia patients have to stay busy.  They are constantly looking for items.  They don't know what they have lost but they are constantly looking.  They then have a need to keep everything safe and hid.

I left grandma in the kitchen.  She was already starting to rummage in the kitchen drawers.  I told her that I found all my stuff.  She turned and looked at me.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  I left and thought, "Well played, Grandma, well played."

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Mind is Asleep, but I'm Here

After spending a day with family, I was extremely tired and ready for a nice peaceful evening.  I had in my mind, if I go spend the night with grandma, then I can go to bed early.  So, I volunteered to take care of grandma with every intention of going to bed at 7:30!

Grandma was in a good mood when I arrived.  She was upset that Daddy wasn't coming but was glad I was there.  I'm not big enough to fight off the "boogers" that might break in and try to get us, but I could call 911.    We have gathered from the last three months, the longer that Daddy doesn't stay with her, the more irritated she gets.

Shelby stayed with her Friday night.  Grandma called Daddy every 30 minutes telling him to get over there.  The little girl wasn't going to work.  Shelby was a trooper according to dad.  She went in there and held her ground with Grandma.

Kiley stayed Saturday night.  She goes in there and visits with Grandma.  Grandma always ask if Kiley has a boyfriend.  Grandma always fusses about the men running off and leaving them there.  This weekend, she was fussing about the men running off and drinking whiskey.  Kiley was caught off guard and asked "What in the world are you talking about?"

So, I arrived Sunday night.  Third night without dad, and yes, grandma was not a happy camper.  I got there at 6:00 ready to crash in the bed.  I was wiped out.  Grandma was wanting to visit.  She wanted something to eat.  She wanted some milk.  I fixed her a drink.  Called dad and had him bring some of the cornbread we had left over from dinner.  We sat there while I ate, and she decided that she wasn't hungry after all.

7:00 p.m.:  I needed to wash a load of clothes.  I went to the laundry room.  When I came back into the house, Grandma was hauling boxes, moving papers, stacking dishes, and stashing her favorite things.  I asked her what she was doing.  She said she needed to get this place back in order.  The "other" lady came in earlier in the day and pulled all her stuff out.  I just rolled my eyes and agreed.

I went to the bedroom and got ready for bed.  Grandma came in ready to clean the room.  She unloaded the dresser full of clothes, blankets, tapes, and a tape recorder.  I was amazed at how much she had crammed into this little chester drawers.  She turned and started putting it in the other dresser in the room.  She brought the tapes to the bed and carefully put them in a shoe box.  The tapes consisted of Conway Twitty, The Gaithers, and old gospel songs.  She then put the shoe box in a McDonald's bag and then into a hospital bowl.  She then placed this essemble into a suit case and hid it in the closet.  She looked at me and then placed two blankets on top of it.  She turned and said "yep, the booger that is taking my stuff will have a hard time finding those tapes."  I shook my head and just rolled over to watch tv.

She then pulled the cassette player out and laid it on top of the bed.  She looked at me and explained how the other lady was breaking in and moving her stuff and playing the cassette tapes.  Really?  I wanted to look at her and say "Ok, sure, someone probably wants them because they are antiques."  But being the good granddaughter, I agreed.  She then put the cassette player under the bed and told me to not be playing with it.  I was that kind of kid that would push all the buttons.  So, of course, she thinks I am going to destroy the tape player.  How often does it get played?  NEVER!

8:30 p.m.:  Grandma comes back in and unloads the dresser and starts moving everything back to the chester drawers.  After spending a good 15 minutes of pulling all the clothes out.  She left the room and went and got the golden pitcher.  AHHHH the gold pitcher!  The pitcher that she accused so many of stealing over the years.  One time, she went door to door in the neighborhood and asked if they stole it. Can you imagine their faces?  Grandma showing up, probably accusing them instead of asking, if they stole the golden pitcher from her house.

She managed to stuff the pitcher into a drawer of the dresser.  I was amazed that she managed to get it in there.  She then pushed the drawer shut and finished it off with a good kick.  LOL  She finally started saying how tired she was.  I started thinking..."YOU HAVE WORN ME OUT!"  

10:15 p.m.:  She went to the kitchen and started working on dishes, then she screamed.  I ran in there thinking the worse had happened but I found her fighting flies, gnats, and bugs in the dishwasher.  Yes, she had stored figs in the utensil basket in the dishwasher.  Of course, they did not look like figs.  They looked like a bad biology project.  I was sick!

I grabbed the basket and went out the door. I told her to shut it and that we would run the dishwasher to clean it up.  I went out and beat the basket into the trash can.  Thinking to myself the entire time "DADDY OWES ME BIG FOR THIS ONE!"

I returned to the kitchen to find that she had managed to start the dishwasher.  I opened it to put the basket back in the dishwasher.  She had put detergent in it and was mumbling to herself by the phone.  She was probably planning on calling Daddy to tell him.  I had already called him by this point.

I helped finish cleaning up the kitchen.  Gnats and flies are still going everywhere.  I started killing everything that was flying in that kitchen.  I decided to check on the dishwasher.  I opened it up.  It was full of bubbles.  She had used Dawn Liquid Soap to wash the dishes.  That was the final straw.  I was exhausted, sick, and aggravated.  I turned to Grandma and said in a very motherly stern voice, "Grandma, go to your room right now.  Do not come out until I tell you to come out."  She looked at me and sternly muttered the words "Ok, but I don't like you very much."  

At that point, I realized what dementia does to a person's mind.  They totally lose all aspects of thinking.  Her mind has turned child like, and the granddaughter has become the mother.  You realize your purpose in those moments.

She went to bed.  I cleaned up the bubbles and the remaining figs in the dishwasher.  I turned the washer on high rinse and wash.  I went and checked on grandma.  She lay quietly in her bed.  She rolled over and looked at me.

"Hey, are you the only one here?"  she whispered.  

"Yes, grandma.  It is just me."
"Good, you know my mind is like...well, it is like asleep but...well I'm here."
Yes, grandma.  I know."
"Well, I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Carole Anne, you want to sleep in here with me?"
"No, grandma.  I'm good."
"Ok. Don't touch anything in that room and go to bed."

I left and laughed as I walked out the door.  I went to bed obediently, and I didn't touch the cassette player under the bed the rest of the night.  :)

PS  I took her teeth and hid them in the back bathroom.  Just in case that "booger" needs teeth to sing with the tape player and cassette tapes that he might steal later.