Sunday, January 23, 2011


My dad just called.  My mother is becoming violent almost constantly now.  She hits my dad and the staff with her fists and kicks them with her feet.  She may have to be restrained.  Today her doctor visited the nursing home.  They are running tests to rule out more infection in her body somewhere.  If there's no infection, that means her dementia is rapidly advancing.   If that's the case, we are requesting they medicate her.  She is so bad that we are afraid the nursing home will kick her out.  We have no where to take her and cannot take care of her ourselves.

Why does it have to come to this?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Scary Dreams

Yesterday when my dad visited my mom in the nursing home, he was somewhat relieved to see her a bit more lucid.  Oh, the hallucinations were still there but not quite as bad as in recent days.  The demons are ever present...just more under control yesterday.  Somehow she was able to keep them at bay.

We've finally figured out that mom refers to her hallucinations as "dreams"...

Bob:       Hi honey!  How are you feeling today?

Jo Ann:   I...I don't know honey...

Bob:      What's on your mind today?

Jo Ann: know...I'm just tryin' to figure things out...I'm so confused...

Bob:       What are you trying to figure out?

Jo Ann:  Well, sometimes I dream and...I can't tell what's a dream and what's real.  I'm so scared.

I can think of nothing worse...being confined to a bed, unable to move and having evil, scary monsters paraded in front of you, telling you frightening things...yelling at you...threatening you...not being able to tell the scary monsters apart from reality.

Mother nature is a bitch.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A phone call from dad...

Sunday night my dad called me before I had a chance to call him.  He was lonely and worried.  My mother is back to hallucinating non-stop.  She accused him of leaving her...she kept saying "you're going to be getting married in a few minutes"...he is so completely worn down.  It makes me so sad and scared...scared to hear my dad so vulnerable.  He has every right to be's just that he is so strong and faces everything with nothing but positive thoughts and high hopes.  That has all changed because he knows there's not a happy ending for mom.  He commented to me that he "wonders if this is the end"...

I'm terrified.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

US healthcare at its finest?...I hope not!

It's hella early on Sunday morning...I woke up at 3:00 AM and I'm still awake...seems to be my pattern lately.  Wake up at 3:00 AM, hop online, become freakishly tired by 5:00 AM...go back to sleep guessed it...not be able to wake up when the alarm goes off.  I guess I just have too much on my mind these days.  But, who doesn't?  The world just seems to be going to hell in a hand there was what looked like a massacre to me in Arizona.  A Congresswoman was shot point blank in the head and numerous others were shot and/or killed as well.  What kind of world do we live in?

The last time I posted, my mother had been taken to the hospital from the nursing home with pneumonia.  Now, mind you, this was based upon a physical exam by HER doctor and a review of chest X-rays taken at the nursing home.  The hospital started her on oxygen and IV antibiotics.  Based upon review of their own X-rays, they confirmed pneumonia.  After 3 days, they were perplexed that she was not responding to the antibiotics...Hmmm...let's about we run some blood work?  I mean, we wouldn't want to rush anything...Yeah...after 3 days, let's run some blood work for sure...WOW...what's this???  Looks like some sort of infection...Hmmmm...let's do a urinalysis...UH OH....she has a raging urinary tract infection....let's look at those X-rays again...well, shoot...what were we thinking???  She doesn't have pneumonia.  She has a urinary tract infection.  

So...after 4 days in the hospital and being given IV antibiotics focused on clearing up pneumonia, my mother was sent back to the nursing home with a urinary tract infection.  I am clearly not a physician do you confuse a urinary tract infection with pneumonia, especially after viewing two different sets of X-rays?  Wouldn't you think somebody would've figured it out before 4 days of being in the hospital on potent drugs...the wrong potent drugs for the infection she REALLY has?  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful it's not pneumonia but this just does not appear to be healthcare at its finest.


Monday, January 3, 2011


Today I was in a meeting at work.  My cell phone kept ringing.  The first couple of times I didn't even look to see who was calling...just turned the ringer to vibrate.  After the 3rd call within 10 minutes, I finally had the God given sense to look to see who was calling me...what on earth could be so urgent?  How rude!  Didn't people realize I am busy?

It was my dad.

The nursing home called my mother's doctor yesterday once they saw the extreme mental decline, marked increase in confusion and severe hallucinations.  The doctor came to see her early this morning and quickly saw that something was wrong...bad wrong

He ordered a chest X-ray.  Comes to find out, my mother has pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital where she is getting oxygen and IV anitbiotics.  

The call from my dad made me so sad.  I could hear the panic in his voice.  He said, "It used to be that pneumonia meant the end.  Do you think it's still like that?"  Of course I responded with "NO"!  I explained that with today's advanced antibiotics and treatment, outcomes are nothing like they used to be for pneumonia.  But I could still hear the fear and worry in his voice and the thoughts I knew were going through his mind.

For some reason an old memory popped in my head has nothing to do with being sick at all...not sure why I couldn't get this off my mind.  I remember at even the youngest age...probably 4 or 5, I always felt very protective of my mother and knew that she needed to be taken care of.  I honestly remember at 4 years old, trying to mother her.  Even back then, I looked at her as my child.  My parents never had much money...they were very frugal.  Growing up I never had everything I wanted, just everything I needed.  (Which, by the way, is exactly as it should have been and should be today, in my humble opinion.)  
Every summer I would get one pair of sandals and one pair of tennis shoes.  We would get them at PicWay Shoe Store or "Pickaway" as my mother would pronounce it.  I remember loving the smell inside the, probably not leather...just vinyl with rubber soles or pleather or whatever the shoes were made of...but it smelled so good to me.  I can vividly remember one summer, before I was even old enough to be in school, we went on our annual trek to get new sandals.  I quickly picked out my favorite pair and my mother took me to the checkout counter.  I remember the worry...panic...that my mother didn't have enough money to pay for the shoes.  I can recall pulling her arm as we walked to the register and whispering, "Mommy, are you sure you have enough money to pay for this?"  I knew she never ever had much in the way of money.  I don't know why I had this fear as a child...she had never gone to pay for something without enough money...but I always wanted to spare her any embarrassment.  I worried so very much about her.

I'm still worried about beautiful Jo Ann and my true and faithful Bob.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday was a bad day...

I cried while I was at Target today.  You know, I'm really focused on making sure the things I share in this diary are not all sad.  I do NOT want to be a constant Debbie Downer...but...there will be times when there's sad news.  Sunday was one of those days...a bad day.

Oh the day started out fine...a normal Sunday up around the house, some laundry, coffee while watching morning television in my pajamas.  I decided I would go into my office to try to "ease" myself back into work mode after being on vacation for 2 weeks.  I went in with promise of one little guilty pleasure as a reward...I stopped in Target to just walk around and treat myself to one little useless idea what it would be but it was something to look forward to.

While I was in Target, my dad called me.  From the tone of his voice, I could tell that something was wrong.   He had gone to visit my mom in the nursing home.  As he walked by the nurse's station, one of my mother's nurses stopped him.  She shared that my mother was having a very bad day...she was having severe hallucinations.  Now, the interesting thing here is that we've been telling the nursing staff and my mother's doctor that she is having severe hallucinations for months.  They all deny that she is...I cannot tell you how frustrating this is...we see it, we experience it with her, we see the fear and absolute confused state that she is in EVERY DAY...but we cannot get the nursing home to agree that she is hallucinating.  She tells us she sees scary monsters and people coming into her room to yell at her...people telling her bad things about our family...things like my dad is cheating on her.  But...the staff and the doctor just do not see it and refuse to even evaluate her for this next phase of dementia.  So much for US healthcare.  My guess...and keep in mind this is just a that she is probably at Stage 6 of the 7 stages of dementia.

Today apparently was a day filled with non-stop hallucinations that were intense and frightening.  My dad couldn't really reach her.  Always before, my dad could calm her down...but she has advanced to a place where she simply cannot be reached.  When I think about what my mother is experiencing, it simply tears me think of her being afraid and no way to calm her down is torture.  What must it be like?  You're laying there and see strange people, scary men threatening her if she opens her eyes or even talks to us.  Seeing things, hearing voices yelling at her...I can barely stand the thought of how she is suffering.  And, on top of it, to hear the overwhelming sadness and grief in my dad's voice scares me.  My dad has always had everything under control...always calm and methodical in his approach to fixing things.  But he can't fix this...neither can I...there's nothing we can do accept be there for her and pray that the demons she is battling will somehow let us comfort her.

This is all evolving so rapidly...I just want to roll back the hands of time and have one more Christmas with us all together...the laughter...seeing my mom gush over every single gift regardless of what it was.  But I can't.   I think today, standing in the Housewares section of Target, I realized that we are heading into a terrifying phase with my that will not have a happy ending.  We are grieving the loss of my mother even though she is physically here.

I simply feel lost.

What's going on at my house this morning...

Taking a look inside...

I've been thinking a lot about 2011 and what I hope to accomplish...I have never made a New Year's me, I'm just not good at goal setting...but I do think I've learned a lot over the past year and want to make some changes in my life based upon those life lessons...
  1. Come to terms with my mom's illness and decline...Okay...see...I told you I'm not good at setting realistic goals!  This one is a biggie...and I don't know if I have enough time left on this earth to pull it off because it's going to take decades...I'm not even sure it is possible.  I so completely miss her...I never had the typical mother/daughter relationship with my mom.  I was, for the most part, the mother...even when I was just a child.  I can remember going with her to doctor's appointments (for her) at the age of 13.  She would just be there staring out into space and I would talk with doctor about her condition, medication, treatment, etc.  My dad had a job that prevented him from going to most doctor appointments, so I was his stand-in.  Part of me feels as though I'm watching my child die a slow and painful death.  But I do want to try to get emotionally stronger.  My dad is such an incredible role model for me...he is so strong and is dealing with the entire situation with grace and humility.I aspire to be like him.
  2. Get back to visiting Mom & Dad on a regular basis...over the past two months it has literally been one thing after another...a car accident, bad weather and now, the disaster in my kitchen that has prevented me from being able to go visit and help them.  I have a feeling the next couple of months will be riddled with various snow storms but hopefully I can work some trips up there and provide them with more support and help.
  3. Focus on me...Okay...that sounds really selfish and I'm REALLY uncomfortable with it...but...I have a tendency to live in sub par conditions because, well, it's just me.  For example, I've lived with a stove in my kitchen that basically has not worked for 2 years.  All of my cooking has been in the microwave...How ridiculous is that?  I think all of the things I mentioned that have prevented me from going to visit my parents have been a blessing in disguise...because they are forcing me to invest time and energy in myself...the car, my kitchen and getting organized.  Last year was so hard...helping my dad financially be able to buy another house and move, getting him set up in the new house with furniture and basic things he needed...just tapped me out.  I couldn't help him and take care of myself in the process...I really have to get my own house in order before I will have enough energy to continue helping him.  So, the kitchen is the first big job to tackle...and it's a doozey but I will get it completed and will be SO proud!
  4. Be open to possibilities...One thing I've really lost over the past 10 years is my ability to see the possibility in things...I've just simply closed down and been focused on my job and getting the work done.  It's time to lift my head and look around...are there opportunities out there that could help me find more joy and peace...a new job? people to meet? ways of looking at things?  I do not know what the answers are to those questions but it's for damn sure that I will never know if I do not get out of my rut, raise my head up, look around and be open to new things.
So...this is my focus for 2011...I guess you could say these are my strategies for growth.  Now I need to come up with a well-defined tactical plan to get there...lots to think about and commitments to make to myself that will help me recognize and realize possibilities.

I hope you are excited about the possibilities ahead in the new year.  I look forward to growing with you all over the next 12 months.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Dear new friends,
Happy New Year!  I hope 2011 brings each of you happiness and joy. Thank you for joining me on this journey with  my parents.

All the best!

PS...did you realize today's date is 1/1/11???