The Comeback Kid

Elegante Mother is definitely the Comeback Kid! After seven days in a hospital bed or a nursing home bed, she woke up yesterday to smile at Dear Husband and me, and eat a bowl of applesauce! I’d just about counted her out, and here she is, acting as though nothing had happened.
Of course, she can’t remember the past fifty years, and doesn’t know who her children are, but she recognized a picture of herself from about 35 years ago.
Dear Husband drove me to the nursing home yesterday because we had had an overnight snow and the roads were just awful. We arrived around 10:45 or so, and as we rounded the curtain to her bed, EM looked up and smiled, apparently happy to have visitors. She seemed to have remembered DH, and repeated his name when I said it. I wasn’t sure she knew who I was, but when my oldest sister talked with her today, she talked about going home, and mentioned my name. She may recognize me by name, but I don’t think she realized that I am her daughter. She is very firmly mired in the past, and we think that past is now b.c. (before children).
I was astonished that she let me feed her the applesauce, and when I asked if she had eaten any breakfast, she muttered that she would when they gave her something she liked. They’d offered oatmeal and scrambled eggs. I could have told them she wouldn’t eat that. But…she eats chocolate chip cookies now, after a lifetime of disliking them.
I was relieved to learn that My-Sister-The-Nurse found Elegante Mother sitting in the dining room this morning. She had allowed the aides to dress her and get her into her chair, and take her out of her room. I see that as a major step in her care.
The weather is going to be daunting this week. We’ve had easily 6-8 inches of snow in two days and we are expected to have more during the week. Our high on Thursday is supposed to be -2F. I had planned to visit EM several times a week, but I may be waylaid by the weather. I hope she continues to make progress, even if I can’t be there to watch.

13 thoughts on “The Comeback Kid

  1. Good news, on EM! I’m betting that if you showed EM a photo of you as a kid, she would call the kid by name. She probably thinks of her children as children–not as adults–and therefore doesn’t make the connection. That’s my theory. I had to chuckle about the chocolate chip cookies. I wonder if something happened to her (concerning chocolate chip cookies) that took away her taste for them? Good luck!

  2. Cop Car, I agree with you. I’ve been aware that EM has been fretting about her “children.” When I saw her at the hospital this last time around, she asked about my father, and said “Is Dad taking care of you kids?” I reassured her that we were all fine, and skipped the subject of Dad. My-Sister-The-Nurse and I have discussed papering her room with pictures of her and the family at every stage of our lives. I don’t expect to rebuild her memories, but it will be interesting to see how she responds.
    Sue from exercise is married to John, who is developing Alzheimer’s. She says that one way to recognize when TIAs or small strokes have occurred is by a change in behaviors or interests in food. I was amused when EM enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies, but I didn’t realize it was a diagnostic tool. I once read that when a person looses interest in their favorite food (chocolate, for EM) they are near their end. She is still enjoying the chocolate. *S*

  3. How interesting about food preferences as a diagnostic tool! I’m doing OK–I still love snow ice cream!
    Do take photos of you and your siblings as children (with your dad, if you have them).
    BTW: In ombudsman training, we were told that theory had caught up with what many people had instinctively done–that we should enter into the resident’s world. I never saw it as lying to agree that someone who was long dead was “doing just fine”. I was letting the person live in a long-ago moment when the statement was, indeed, true.

  4. Another attempt to comment here – the system ate what I wrote yesterday.
    Buffy, what I have found with my mother is that you can never predict how she will be and what she can remember or think about from day to day and sometimes minute to minute. Sometimes mine is as sharp as a knife and fully with it. The next day she hardly knows who I am and, like you, there are times when she just does not know it is me.
    It’s not easy to come to terms with this, especially when you can remember what she used to be like. I have had to come to terms with the fact that this is the time of her life for my mother to be like this and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it other than make sure that she is well looked after by experienced and qualified staff in the right environment which is exactly what you have done with your EM.
    From personal experience I have found that as times goes by and you get more used to the situation you feel a little easier in yourself with the situation. Sometimes anyway.

  5. Cop Car, I’m relieved to see that I handled EM’s question (Is Dad taking care of you kids?) well. I felt there was nothing to be gained by trying to force her to accept that she was forgetting the last 50 years. It simply seemed kinder to enter her world. Thanks for the reassurance. *S*

  6. Adele, I’m sorry the system was so uncooperative yesterday. I’m glad that you tried to post a second time.
    I can see that you understand, totally, what we are seeing here with Elegante Mother. You’ve experienced the shifts in perception of time and place, and the ability to communicate.
    When we rounded the corner to her bed on Saturday, here was EM, perky as all get out, ready to greet the day. It was a 180 degree change from the previous day. I think it’s that change that makes it so difficult for me, because I’m never certain which person I’ll find.
    So far, the reports have been good. EM has been up and dressed and in the dining room, so I know that she has some physical strength, and an interest in what is going on around her.
    Your comment on accepting that Mother is meant to be like this at this point in her life helps. Of course, I want to help her find her way back, but it’s not going to happen. There’s been too much damage from the strokes and seizure and encephalitis. The best I can do now is to make sure she is comfortable, and well cared for, just as you have with your mother.
    I really appreciate your support. Thanks, Adele.

  7. I hope the weather gives you a break Buffy. The situation’s hard enough without the challenge of trying to make it there through snow and freezing temps. Good luck sweetie.
    EM sounds like she is making some adjustments, even if she may not realize it. That’s all you can hope for Buffy. If she is comfortable, likes the people and is well fed and well take care of….that’s the most important thing. That really is all you can do beside your visits. I just want you to know….you’re doing everything you can. And if for some reason something…like weather….stops you from making a visit….it’s okay; she’ll be fine…you’ll get there the next time. Thinking of you with love….. ~Joy

  8. I’ve been there with my father, never knowing what to expect from day to day. He remembered my mother, but thought I was her.
    Once he asked me to buy a gift for ‘her’ because she was so good to him and was a great cook. I asked if he meant Mom. He seemed surprised that she was my mother. When I told him that she was his wife, he was astonished!
    “She’s so old,” he told me, “and really FAT too!”
    We giggled, but I’m not sure my mother ever forgave him.
    Best of luck in dealing with all of this…
    Jan in PA

  9. I don’t know if it helps to know that this pattern is typical from our experience?
    We’ve learnt to go along with whatever Mr BW’s Nan is believing at any time. She used to ask how his Dad was, forgetting that he died in 2005. Realising that she got upset when we told her he’d died, but then almost instantly forgot it again, we now don’t put her through the sadness experience any more. We just say, he’s doing fine and she’s happy with that.
    On FOTCR™ Eve, when we went in to give her her presents, despite us calling each other by name (which helps her to key into who we are usually), when we left, she said, “Goodbye Dad Mr BW and goodbye Mr BW!” believing that we were Mr BW and his Dad (c. 1970-ish we thought).
    We also told her 8 times in less an hour that it was FOTCR™ the next day, and each time she confidently asserted that it couldn’t be!
    It’s hard this business. But, I think once one gets past the initial shock (a sort of mourning period for the person they were), it’s easier, and, from seeing how Nan and other residents of her home are, they all seem happy, well looked after, and totally unaware of their predicament.
    Not what any of them would have chosen for themselves, or us for them, though.

  10. Joy,
    Thank you for your positive comments, and support. I so appreciate what you have to say, and it’s valuable because I know that you have already experienced all this. The weather (and a touch of flu) kept me home during the week, but my youngest sis, her daughter, Dear Husband and I made the trek on Saturday, and I’ll be going again today. We’ve lucked out with a break in the snow, for a bit. I hope you’re coping with the terrible cold! Take care!

  11. Jan in PA, welcome to Arrrgh!!!
    I have seen just what you are describing. I think my mother covers her confusion well, but we know that she expects “buffy” to be about five years old, or perhaps younger. She doesn’t recognize us in our present incarnations, but she knows that we are faces she sees regularly, and seems to be comfortable with us.
    My brother-in-law died of Alzheimer’s and he went through the same problems with identification of loved ones. He thought his step-daughter was his wife, and I know the hurt from that lingers, even though we all understand that it was something he had no control over.
    At any rate, thanks for your input.

  12. BW…it IS hard business! I can relate to all you’ve said, and I agree that it’s just easier to live in the same period as our loved ones. I try not to retrain her now, but encourage her to chat and let us know what she’s thinking.
    Thanks, for visiting. Your comments help. The combined support has been overwhelming, and I really can’t say “thanks!” enough!

  13. Jan In PA (redsockmama) I visited your blog, and LOVED IT! What’s happened? You disappeared. I love the stream of consciousness blogging, with pictures, and we have so many things in common. Did you arrive here via Adele’s knitting friends?
    I hope you’ll resume blogging!

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