Saturday, February 01, 2014

The day my life changed forever

I have debated in my head multiple times if I should write this post or not. I've come to the conclusion that as with all mental health stigmas, the benefits of posting outweigh the consequences.
My mother is clearly, and now officially, suffering from some kind of dementia.
The signs have been there for a long time. We've had family meetings to discuss what to do. We've seen unusual behaviour and witnessed increasing forgetfulness. We thought we were dealing with it, we thought we'd have more time. We were wrong.

This past Thursday was another busy day at work. I decided to check my personal email (which I rarely do) and found a disturbing email from my Dad. My mother had a very bizarre phone conversation with my Dad stating that she didn’t know where she was. He asked where she was and she said she was at the house but didn’t know where she was going because he had moved and she didn’t know where to go. (A little background information: my parents moved about a year and half ago, and my mother has had issues ever since.) A few more conversations followed between my parents and it became clear that she didn't even know the layout of the house or remember where certain rooms were. My dad had an important meeting that night so my brother planned on coming over to be with her and make dinner after work. As I got home I texted my brother (for those who don't know I live in a different city that my parents and brother and don't have a car) to see if everything was okay as I hadn't had any other updates. He texted back that he was with Mom, as was my dad and there had been some more developments. Long story short, my mother had left the house on her own before my brother got there. She wandered her neighbourhood until she was approached by a kindly stranger who asked if she needed help. She said she didn't know where she was but had to get to an appointment. He asked her where she lived and she said she didn't know. Luckily, my mother had my Dad's business card in her purse and the man called my Dad and he walked her home. My dad and brother arrived shortly after.
 Coincidentally, my father had already set up an appointment for my mother with her doctor for the next day (I'm guessing that this is the appointment she thought she was going to). My father and brother both accompanied her  to the doctors. They had a very productive meeting. Cognitive testing, Cat Scans and blood work were ordered. Senior service website are being investigated.Home alarms, her current medications and dosage are being reviewed.
My mother's family has history of dementia. My grandmother was diagnosed with alcohol-related dementia and suffered terribly in the last years of her life. I can't bear to think that my mother will face the same fate. I hope there is an answer. 

Thank you for letting me share this. Just writing the story out has helped me. My shoulders feel a little less tense now. If anyone reading has any thoughts or ideas please share with me.

10 comments:

Stacy said...

Vicki, it's very disturbing seeing a loved one so bright and vibrant deteriorate in an instant. I have gone through the motions of this devastating disease on the family level of things with Kevin's family as well as on a professional level with unfortunately I have to use the word MANY of my patients directly as well as their family as well. If there is anything I can do to help or to listen, feel free to message when you can. Positive thoughts, cherish the wonderful memories your mom has created for you and yours, push through the low times, be there for one another. Sometimes it's easy to chuckle and other days you can do nothing but break down and cry. And guess what as a family member as well as a health care provider THAT IS OKAY!!!

Roxanne said...

Vicki, I am so sorry to hear this. I can only imagine the plethora of emotions you are feeling right now. If you need anything please done hesitate to ask. I'm glad you were able to get some stress relief by writing.

J Daley said...

Oh Couz, I'm sorry. We do have such a grubby gene pool in our family, don't we? So many things to deal with. When Will forwarded your blog spot to me I opened it with dread...I thought I'd see the word cancer for sure. Is this worse? Is it better? I have no answer. Your Mom, my Auntie,, our Elaine, is being stolen & it is shocking either way. You have every right to grieve. I hope there will be more lucid days than bad, kiddo. We are not a close family but we are family & we will be here when you call for help. Call & we will answer.
Hugs Jo. xo

KellyCreates said...

So sorry to hear about your mother's decline. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers at 80. He is 88 now, confined to a wheelchair and uncommunicative. Yes, it is a very long grieving process. But there is still a lot of time you have with your mother to make the most of, and although it's a difficult journey, I certainly felt better knowing I made the best of our time together before the disease became this advanced. Take care of yourself too and be patient with the ups and downs.

Jennifer said...

Vicki my cousin, I read and feel your sorrow and angst. You know I think of your mom, my aunt, as nearly my Mom. We have so many similarities you and I. Everyone said we looked alike as kids. I have so many wonderful summer memories with you and your family. Like Jo, I was so scared to open your blog as I didn't want to read...no not again. It has been 16 years since Dad (Uncle Ted) died, and it still hurts so much. I miss him so much. But with dimentia it is harder because we see the vibrant Auntie Elaine, and the vacant stare and the fright. I am so here for you and would love to chat. Please email anytime. My thoughts and prayers are with you and my beloved Aunt and Uncle Chad too. Say HI for me. Big SUNNY Hugs. Jennifer

Jennifer said...

Vicki my cousin, I read and feel your sorrow and angst. You know I think of your mom, my aunt, as nearly my Mom. We have so many similarities you and I. Everyone said we looked alike as kids. I have so many wonderful summer memories with you and your family. Like Jo, I was so scared to open your blog as I didn't want to read...no not again. It has been 16 years since Dad (Uncle Ted) died, and it still hurts so much. I miss him so much. But with dimentia it is harder because we see the vibrant Auntie Elaine, and the vacant stare and the fright. I am so here for you and would love to chat. Please email anytime. My thoughts and prayers are with you and my beloved Aunt and Uncle Chad too. Say HI for me. Big SUNNY Hugs. Jennifer

LINDABVI said...

My heart goes out to you and your whole family. Your Mom has been my friend since the day she entered Grade 1 and I was in Grade 2 (in 255a split class). We have been friends ever since and Sister-in-Laws since I was 20. I met your Dad when we were 15 and I went to the cottage for the first time that year too. What good times we have enjoyed together - through happy times and sad and all that life has thrown at us in between. I only wish that I was in Oakville to hold Elaine's hand and somehow support Chad who must be going through a very sad time. I only hope that his health will hold so he can support the 'love of his life' in this very difficult time. With every loving wish from Tortola which seems so far away! Linda and Nels

Mary McKenzie said...

Vicky
I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom. ... my first cousin.
I know what you are going through as my Mom was also stricken with this terrible disease.
There is a great book out called "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova. I hope you will get it and read it. It really helped me.
Please let your Dad know we are thinking of him too.
Mary

John Bryson said...

Hi Vicki. I don't think we have ever met but I am your mom's first cousin. Her mother and my mother were sisters. I remember playing together as little kids along with Louise and Ted. Over the years we drifted apart but I still remember the good times. Your mom and I are the same age, she is exactly 3 months older. I am part of that grubby gene pool too, but so far so good. (Others would disagree though.) My sisters have been through what you are going through now, so lean on them if you want to. I'm sure they are eager to help if they can.
All the Best ... John

Judy said...

Such sad news, Vicky. As Elaine's cousin, I remember hot summer days at the cottage when we were kids and she would whiz by in the boat, pony tail flying behind her in the wind, excitement in her eyes. Or, once in a while she would row by in her beloved boat that she had named the "Jonathan Mark."

We have been through this too, with your mom's Auntie Reen. It is very difficult to watch your precious mom have such a hard time. My thoughts are with you. Please get in touch if you think there is anything I could do to help.

My dad would have said, "keep your chin up!"
Judy.