Sunday, October 17, 2010

The next phase of Bob & Jo Ann's life

Jo Ann in the summer of 1952
I haven't really updated much about my mother lately.  I've been trying to process it all.  My mom has been coming in and out of what the doctor's call a catatonic state.  Her condition is not quite as bad as it was a year ago,'s still bad.  When she is lucid, she has severe hallucinations.  What is so heartbreaking for me is that mom's hallucinations reflect the low self-esteem she has had her entire life.  She hears voices of people talking about her, she is convinced that my dad wants nothing to do with her, that my sister and I are conspiring to have her locked away.  She sees things on the wall...sometimes scary monsters...but usually, it's written words...telling her that my dad is cheating on her, that she is no good, that "they" are going to kick her out of the nursing home.

The one reality that I have come to understand is that you cannot reason with someone in the throws of dementia.  You can really only listen and try to reassure that everything will be okay.  That she is safe and will be taken care of.  And, if she needs anything, we will move heaven and earth to make sure she has it.

After last week's "conversation" with her doctor,  he did indeed go to see her.  He did write orders for electroshock therapy (ECT).   This was very frustrating because we (my dad and I), wanted to talk with him first to understand if this really was the right thing for her.  She had ECT last fall and it did successfully bring her back to us for about 10 months.  But...her mental state has been in a rapid decline.  Plus, she is 81.  We have been so torn as to whether or not putting her through this again is the right thing to do.

The nursing home has been in conversation with the only hospital in the area that provides ECT.  It's an hour away, which is another consideration.  It would be incredibly difficult on my dad...he is hell bent that he must visit her every day.  But their visiting hours are strictly held from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM.  Dad does not see well enough to drive after dark in a strange area.  That may seem like a lame reason to consider not doing this treatment but...we have to consider both of them.  Plus, there are no guarantees that this will have a positive impact on my mother's health or mental state.  When you add this to the other concerns about the overall effect versus the potential outcome, well, there are big questions as to what the right thing to do for mom actually is.  We were looking for her doctor to provide us some such luck.

We have been waiting to hear back from the doctor that runs the unit my mother would be admitted into as to whether they will accept her for treatment.  They take a look at a myriad of blood tests, xrays, etc., because the treatment itself is very hard on the body.  I spoke with my dad tonight and he said, "I hope they don't accept her."  My response was, "Dad, you have the power of attorney.  If there's even one ounce of hesitation in your mind, we should not move forward with it.  I can call them and tell them we do not want this treatment for her."  He replied, "Do it."

Jo Ann in March 2010, before
she started to rapidly decline.
I was sitting in my car just about to go into the grocery store.  The finality of how my dad responded took my breath away.  Always before, there has been the search for the right doctor, the right medicine, the right hospital, the right treatment...but now, that's all over.  When my dad said those words, my mind fast-forwarded to the future...and I am just flat out sad and scared.  Deep down I know this is the right thing to do for my mother.  We are letting her go...and not trying to do some heroic measures that more than likely would not have helped her...possibly even do more harm than good.

Tonight I have realized that my mom is really gone...she's physically here's just a shell.  I'm heart broken.


1 comment:

Sarah @ Different Dog said...

Thank you for writing this blog...for telling it like it is and I'm so sorry for how hard this journey is...

I hope you keep blogging,