Thursday, August 16, 2007

"All I get is to lose my mind!"

Mom seems to have stopped buying dog toys after repeated requests from Brian. Good news, right? This week so far, the FedEx man has graced us with his presence four times, bearing a grooming brush and de-shedding solution, a book, a bra, a fancy water bottle and neoprene case from Switzerland (I'm not aware of any cross-country cycling trips we're planning to take...), and two more books. But no dog toys!

I called Brian at work to make him aware of the latest delivery. It sure is a good thing I can call Brian at work...we have some of our best talks about Mom that way. I can't help but feel awful for putting more on his mind and interrupting his time away from home by bringing up problems. Invariably, though, whenever we try to talk at home Mom gets irritated that we're talking about her. I often feel like I want to protect Brian from dealing with the issues that come up with this disease...I hate seeing the pain in his eyes...but I'm realizing it's not my place. It's got to come from him. Mom kind of snapped the other day saying, "Stop telling me what to do!" I guess I do try to tell her what to do a lot...and a lot of the time it seems necessary. But she's not ready to be parented by her daughter yet. Brian told me today that while Mom's handling of finances is a problem, it's not my burden to bear. I knew that already...but hearing it really helped me actually believe it.

Brian said he's been trying to get Mom to sit down and take a look at all of their financial information for a couple days now, but she has been purposefully avoiding doing so. He said this weekend, they are going to have to have a talk because they really can't afford a lot of frivolous purchases. Hopefully, when Mom sees the big picture of how all her orders add up, she will realize she can't keep shopping like she does. That doesn't seem very likely at this point though. If she's avoiding talking about their financial state, then she knows something's not right. Mom has always handled all the banking, during her and Brian's entire marriage. This is a tough one for Brian to deal with because he's never had to worry about it before. He told me he doesn't want to have to take away Mom's credit cards and access to accounts, but if he really has to then he will. Mom seems to have lost all concept of the value of money.

We went to the neurologist this past Tuesday. Brian and I were hoping it would be a really informative appointment...that we could find out about the rate of progression and maybe what we can expect for a little while. Brian thought maybe the doctor would perform at least some simple in-office memory tests to get a handle on how she's doing. This was the first time Mom has been back to this doctor in six months, since the original diagnosis. The doctor was in and out in ten minutes. I could have choked him. He simply asked how the Aricept seemed to be doing, to which Mom replied a very quick, "Really good!" Mom mentioned that she was a lot more anxious all the time, so he suggested talking to Dr. Mowry about upping her Effexor. He ordered some memory tests to be administered on September 11th, then he was on his merry way. I know I don't really have a right to be mad at him...I suppose he's doing his job as he knows it. I'm more angry with the medical field in general. It seems that doctors throw out a diagnosis like this, and then care absolutely nothing whatsoever about how the family and the individual are dealing with it. He didn't ask a thing about symptoms or coping or adjusting to life in the past six months. I guess we'll find out more after this next round of tests. But I feel like I'm always saying, "we'll find out more after..." Like life is spent in a perpetual waiting for more solid information but it never really comes, so we eke out an attempt to incorporate this new vague thing into our lives. Sigh.

Last week, we went to the hematologist. In addition to Alz, Mom has Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS), which is an autoimmune disorder with a high risk of blood clots. The doctor brought up the possibility of having a blood infusion which could knock out some of the antibodies, which could allow Mom to get off some of the medications she is currently taking. The treatment would take six hours and be done four to six times in that many weeks. The same treatment is often used on cancer patients and comes with some high risks, so the doctor is still consulting with his colleagues to see if it's a feasible course of action.

I tell that story in order to set up the following one. We went out to eat after we got done at the neurologist. While we were eating, Mom said that if she gets that treatment, then she could get a makeover from a local salon and they would give her all new makeup. Brian and I asked her why, and she replied that they do that for people undergoing chemo since they have to get rid of all their makeup. We tried to explain to her that it's not chemo, she wouldn't have to get rid of her makeup, and she probably couldn't get a free makeover. She got agitated and complained, "I don't get to ride a hot air balloon; I don't get a makeover; all I get is to lose my mind!" Sad moment. As to the hot air balloon ride, Mom would absolutely love to ride a hot air balloon. She told me one day that we should call the people at Make a Wish Foundation and see if they would give her one. I had to explain that while her disease is chronic and degenerative, it is not terminal. With Alz, it's all the downsides and none of the perks.

As always, I welcome your comments and thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A spoiled puppy and a sour daughter

Mocha, our chocolate lab puppy, has 35 toys. I just counted them. She also has two brushes, a car safety harness, two leashes, a crate, a dog pillow, four different varieties of treats, two different kinds of shampoo, and three food/water dishes. We have a problem.

You see, these days Mom has been buying dog toys on the internet like it's going out of style. Just about every day, the FedEx truck pulls up with another box from some online pet store which Mom has ordered. The first several times, Brian and I thought, "Unnecessary, sure, but harmless." The several times after that, Brian asked Mom to please stop buying things for Mocha because she doesn't need any more. The several times after that, Mom started lying to Brian about the fact that the toy Mocha was prancing around with was new (apparently either forgetting that I was home when the packages arrived or thinking I wouldn't tell Brian the truth). We have a problem. On top of Mom's decreasing financial savvy and recent tendency to forgo truth-telling, Brian thinks Mocha is going to develop canine ADD because every time she walks into a room, there are at least ten toys there. Ha.

And now she's home (Mom and Brian were away visiting Grandpa). She walked in the computer room and asked what I was doing. Having opened another tab when I heard her coming, I replied that I was checking my email. She took one look at the computer screen with my email log-in page and said, "No you're not; you're writing things about me." Then she walked into the hallway, stuck her rear end out in my direction, and let loose a big one (thanks, Aricept). This woman is not my mother.

I knew there was a reason I always wait until everyone is asleep before I blog. I welcome your comments and thank you for stopping by.