January 19, 2020

Mom did okay overnight by herself.
After I shoveled snow yesterday I began to feel what I thought were heart attack symptoms. I got scared and called 911. They took me to the hospital and mom rode along because the roads were bad and she doesn’t drive well. A neighbor picked her up a few hours later when they decided to keep me overnight for observation. That same neighbor brought over dinner, which I really appreciated. There was a jar of soup and a little leftover salad in the fridge, mom wouldn’t have starved, but the neighbor bringing over dinner was really helpful regardless.
She got my dog fed but couldn’t give him his medicine. The process of me explaining where the medicine is and which treat to put it in would have been more than my poor blood pressure could have handled. Mom can open the cupboard where the drinking glasses are stored, stare into in for a minute, and still claim she can’t find a drinking glass. I don’t know what this object-blindness is that she has– willful obstinance, learned helplessness, or a legitimate symptom of dementia– but it drives me nuts and is impenetrable. Trying to explain where things are is frustrating at best because again, she can be looking at the thing she’s trying to find but still cannot see it. (She goes to the eye doctor twice a year. Her eyesight is fine.)
When I got home the next day she was working on the jigsaw puzzle. The kitchen was clean (even the dishes the neighbor brought dinner over in the night before were clean) but she had two full cups of coffee on the counters and a bowl of chili. How long had the chili sat out? No one knows. She says she’d just got it out, and also that she hadn’t had it for lunch that day. In fact, she couldn’t remember having lunch. That’s something new, actually. There have been a few days when she doesn’t remember if she had lunch or not. Normally I’m here to tell her but this day I was not, and how am I supposed to know?
I’d taken the evening off work because I’d feared I wouldn’t be released from the hospital on time to go to work. We took a drive in the afternoon because I had to recharge my car battery. Sitting two nights in the driveway because of the storm drained the battery. I had to call AAA and get it started, then drive it around to charge the battery. Mom and I went and got ice cream. Then went to the grocery store so I could pick up my prescription and put gas in my car. After that we went home and I made dinner. Then I was done. I came home from the hospital and had things to do to get the house back in order from being gone over night. And deal with my car. And I was stressed from being both gone overnight and the whole experience of an emergency hospital visit for what I thought was (and could have been had I not gone to the hospital) a life-threatening health-related incident. And after dinner it’s both cold and dark. Yet mom wanted to go do something– after all, I had the night off. I get that she was bored stuck waiting for me in the hospital, then at home while I was hospitalized, but… well, I didn’t know what to do with her. I ended up watching silly, stupid TV with her because there’s nothing else she can do. Keeping her entertained is a challenge. She can’t do any of the things she used to do, or at least not for very long, and I don’t know what there is for her to do.
Lessons learned from this incident: Mom can’t drive. Not beyond what she does weekly– same route, same time of day, same destination. Mom can’t handle boredom. She’s much more selfish now (which is a symptom of dementia) and can’t be counted on to help in any way but she is still concerned and wants to help. She’s safe to be home by herself over night. She can feed the dog but otherwise can’t be counted on. Always have dog food made and ready. Have chargers and books and toiletries ready in case an emergency trip to the hospital necessitates an overnight stay. Thank thy neighbors.

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