The other day, I went and visited Ma at the Supermax. When I got there, I went to her room to find her, but she wasn't there. I looked in the lounge, and in the bathroom, and in all the public areas, but she was no where to be found. So, I enlisted a nurse's help to find her.
The nurse said that Mom sometimes wanders around to the other patients' rooms and goes in. So, she knocked on and entered every door, just about. Another nurse came and helped, too. As I was walking back to her room to make sure she wasn't in the bathroom, I heard, "Hi Trisha!" When I looked up, I saw a young woman with whom I went to grade school and high school. She's working on becoming a nurse, and so is getting experience at the Supermax. It was kind of odd seeing her there, and she asked if Ma was my mom or my grandma. I told her my Mom, and she was like, "Ok, I thought so." I'm glad that this young lady is doing well, but it's just weird to know that she could be taking care of my mom like that. It's my own issue, but I just have this feeling that she is going to talk to the people from school whom she is still in contact and that I am going to be gossiped about. You know, the whole, "Did you know Trish's mom is in the nursing home? They don't visit very often. And Ms. Trish's Ma does this and that and she doesn't know blah blah blah." But anyways... Finally, they found her in some other inmate's room. She came out and saw me and got a big smile on her face as she hobbled up to me and threw her arms around me to give me a big hug. Ever since the time she didn't know who I was, I am glad to see her when she gets the light of recognition right away.
Anyway, we went and sat down to chat for a bit in the dining area. Her urostomy bag (the bag that she has had since her radical cystectomy last year. The bag that now acts as her bladder; it is attached to a circular flap of skin called a stoma, and collects urine) was not working to collect what it is meant to collect, and so I took her to her room to change. Anyway, I had to get a key from the nurse to get into her clothes because the people in Ma's unit are all pretty lost, and they steal each others' things all the time. So, it was an odd thing, having to help my mother get changed because she didn't quite understand the concept of what was going on.
Anyway, I digress.
When all that was over, we went out and sat on chairs in the hallway. I looked up to the clock, and then, for the first time, I noticed that there were a couple more clocks not far off from the main wall clock. One was in a case with old knick-knacks, and one was on the wall across from the old case.
The clock in the case of knick-knacks really made me reflect a bit. These people, who cannot live in the present, spend their time thinking in years past with old memorabilia and old memories. That time is not lost to them. Not yet, at least.
Depending upon how you look at it, time is their enemy. Dementia is a gradual thing that makes a person deteriorate over time. And yet, up until the last stages, these people remember years and years ago. They remember being children and being newlyweds. They remember any college or work experiences. They remember prayers, and favorite sayings, and all kinds of things like that. But, they can't remember things after a certain time.
YS took Ma to a doctor appointment the day after I visited with her in order to check on her hip. YS was talking with Ma, who thinks she is still working, and who thinks that my two sisters and I are still little girls much of the time, whom she must care for. She often talks about our father as if he were still alive and they had conversed just before he left for work. Anyway, YS said that Ma was talking to her and she said, "I need to get going. Do we have a car big enough to fit YS, Trish, and Masculine form of Sis's name?"
I don't know if she forgets that she has 2 boys and 3 girls, or if she just messed up saying Sis's name. The time has slipped away. I don't know if that makes things easier or harder for Ma herself, but it makes things harder for us kids.
The unfortunate thing about Ma is that she's in the latter stages. She still knows us most of the time, but she could not string together one coherent sentence when I visited. Not a single one. Everything was "stuff" or "things" and when she wasn't being vague like that, she was putting weird nouns in that didn't fit, and her verbs were wrong, too. I'm thankful for my CPE experience that has helped me learn how to talk to people of all sorts. I am able to "talk" to Ma even if she can't convey what she's thinking or feeling to me. She seems to respond positively to me, but it's just tough. Time keeps her dementia going.
I just got to thinking of that song, "Love will keep us together." I don't know anything else of the song, except for that one line. I just think that even though Love will keep us together, Time will take us apart. It's a bizarre thing to have someone you love be RIGHT there, and not fully be able to be with them. It's sad and it's frustrating, and yet it is where we are right now; it is where many people are right now. I've had a bit of good time with Ma. All us kids have. So many times, when a loved one is sick, we think, "We just want more time!" And that's a completely valid way of looking at it. Disease really sucks, and it takes away the time and the experiences, and the health that we would like to have to give to those we love. But more time for Ma means further deterioration, increased confusion, violent outbursts, and loss of motor skill. I love her; it's just hard to see her this way.
This has been a really long and rambling post. I've just been thinking a lot lately. I hope you all are doing well and enjoying what summer has brought you.