Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going bananas?

Mom has a barky little Pekinese named Buddy that keeps her constant company. She adores him, but occasionally gets aggravated when he barks at strangers. "Next time I'll get a cat," she threatens him.

I was washing her hair today, and when done, had her bend over so that I could get her hair wrapped up in a towel. She was yakking away about Buddy's barking, and said, "you know what I want after Buddy?"

A cat, yes, I knew it was going to be a cat, but I bit anyway, and asked her what she wanted.

Dead serious, from underneath her towel, she yelled "A monkey."

Taken off guard, I guffawed right in her face.

She defended herself: "Monkeys have to eat too. Plus, they don't bark."

Hm. I think her new book may have just backfired on me. If you have a box full of Monkeys free to a good home...please don't call us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Teeth Real Fast

Oral hygiene has been an interesting endeavour as Mom's Alzheimer's progresses. Brushing her teeth is do-able, but finagling toothpaste confuses her. Our best solution this far is for me to put the paste on the brush for her every day, and hand her one of these:

The electric toothbrush has been a Godsend; it does a lot of the work, and she gets a kick out of using it. It's also easier for me to help her with it when she decides to skip the back.

Friday evening I got her all gussied up for dinner. After shower and hair, I told her "Let's brush your teeth real fast and then we can go." While I was squeezing the toothpaste out, I heard quite a clattering in my right ear, and turned to find Mom standing about 1 inch away, doing what can only be portrayed by this 3-second video:

I gave her a look of utter confusion and some amusement, and she explained:

"You said `teeth real fast!' "

And then she collapsed into giggles. Once again, I followed suit; she can be kind of clever sometimes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bookworm Mama

My mother was always an avid reader and library patron. She still enjoys reading, although I'm not always sure what she comprehends. She reads aloud now, working over words and sounding them out when necessary.

She enjoys reading the newspaper, which is great—any cerebral exercise is good.  She does not, however, remove the newspaper from the plastic bag it's delivered in, in inclement weather. She simply reads through the plastic, and hones in on words that disturb her: Burglary! Murder! Articles about children put her in a tailspin. I've considered starting a Good News Newspaper for Alzheimer's patients.

Anyhoo, Mom's been repeatedly questioning me lately, "Where do you get books?" When I tell her they're available at the bookstore, she exclaims "Oh!" as if she'd never heard of such a thing. The topic has come up often enough that I informed her, yesterday, that we were going to the bookstore. "Yipppeeeeee!" she said.

When we arrived at Barnes & Noble, she informed me that she likes Murder She Wrote. Murder mysteries. Hm. Murder. Based on her tendency to get upset at what she reads, sometimes, I steered her away from murder books. And books with bad words.

 "Ooooo, that's wrong!" she told me, calling me back to show me this one she'd spotted.


"Bitch!" she exclaimed, a bit too loudly. Tsk, tsk, I agreed, that is a bad word, let's keep looking.

We browsed through technical books, and then I found a section of books suitable for her. She decided to keep looking, and we browsed through other aisles. After awhile, I nonchalantly strolled back through the Mama-suitable books. "Oh, look!" she said, exclaiming over a book she'd rejected before. I gushed also: "Oh, how cute, would you like to buy this one?"

Yes, yes she would like to buy this one!


Off we went, then, with her bag o' goodies.

Ahhhh. There's nothing like settling in under a warm afghan with a cup of tea and a good book.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy...

...or rather, "Banker, Groomer, Gardener, Chef," if you find yourself in the role of caretaker for an Alzheimer's patient. Throw in grocer, maid, dental assistant, handyman, manicurist, chauffer, recordkeeper, tax accountant, veterinarian, receptionist, dishwasher, and laundress.

Oh, and let us not forget: Nurse.

I have always had a bit of queasy nature; nursing is one job that I could never pursue because of it. Puke makes me puke. Snot, spit, pus, pee, poo...ugh, take my lunch away, I can't eat anymore. And blood! Blood and bones should always remain inside one's body. I don't want to see, read about, hear about, or even imagine either of those two things outside of anybody's body. True story: I once fainted over movie blood.

It is to the great amusement of my family, then, that I always seem to be the one present when Mom has any issues with any of these things. Could it be my niece, who has a degree in forensic science, and would love to play in pus? Noooooo, the big boil on Mom's back had to explode while I was there, leaving me gagging and cleaning up...ugh, God, I can't write any more.

That nasty infection turned out to be a very contagious MRSA, and washing my hands in boiling water for 45 minutes didn't keep me from contracting it. It took me 4 months and lots and lots of medicine to get rid of. See, a nurse would have recognized those possibilities, and wouldn't have touched that thing with a 10-foot pole, or at least without rubber gloves.

There has been a giant box of rubber gloves on Mom's counter ever since. I wear them to clean the house, and if she has so much as an inflamed freckle, I'll put them on before poking it to see if it hurts. Rubber gloves are my friend.

Enter then, our latest dilemma:

No graphic appears here.
Do yourself a favor, and do NOT do
a Google Image search for hemorrhoids.
Trust me: There are no "cute" ones.

Super. Wonderful. Couldn't be happier.

Believe you me, I went the route of handing her a Preparation H wipe before resorting to anything that required me and a glove. Alas, certain discomforts weren't being alleviated with a witch-hazel soaked tissue, so I was forced to buy a tube of Preparation H.

Me and  Mom

[Censored-censored-censored, I'll leave the details up to your imagination] and then I snapped off my gloves, and said "God, Mom, did you ever imagine I'd be sticking my finger up your butt?"

She said "Well, at least I can still put deodorant on by myself."

Oh, yeah, thank God for that; I sure don't look forward to the day I have to point an aerosol can at your armpits and press a button.

Sighhhh. The thing is that we just do what we have to do, and usually the idea of something is worse than the actual something. When you get right down to it, it's just a butt, big damned deal. I know that someday I'll look back and wish that a little butt cream is all I had to deal with, with my mother. As bad as a day may seem, I know that someday I'll miss that day.

And it's true: At least she can still put on her own deodorant.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mom's book of baby names...

Phone call from Mom:

Mom: Hi, I was just thinking something.

Me: What were you thinking?

Mom: If a person had a baby, could they name it Harley?

Me: Sure, they can name their baby anything they want.

Mom: Oh, ok. Well, that's all I wanted.

Me: Ok. Love you. See you when I get off work.

Mom:I love you too. Bye.