My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. through the journey of the past several years, we have chosen a non medical approach to her life. It isn’t that we are against medicine, it is that the medicine was making her miserable and catatonic and aggressive because she couldn’t communicate how miserable she truly was.
She almost always has a smile for me now when I see her. And the other night, we were at a fast food joint and she saw my niece coming up to meet us. She recognized her and even called out a version of her name. Wow, that was amazing. I spent 2 1/2 years not being able to work, because every time I started even looking for a position, we had a hospital stay. She would fall. It took about 7 months before we actually got to a neurologist and then she had seizures diagnosed. The funny thing is, she never had seizures before she had the medicine for her heart. Those medicines made mealtime a hit or miss with mom. with most of the time it being a miss. She just wasn’t hungry, and wouldn’t drink anything of consequence and would become dehydrated and pass out, which actually was a seizure. At the time that we had our first EEG, she had little almost constant seizures.
She had a big one on June 5th of last year. I know what day it was because we were going to see dad’s urologist and she had the seizure in the car. She was so lifeless, it was terrifying. They doubled her seizure medicine, and wanted us to see our neurologist, slight problem, our old one had changed practices and our new one didn’t have an opening till about 6 weeks later, that was our appt. I tried to call to see if I could get any help before that, but I think the doctor was out of country.
Those weeks were the worst we have ever had. I can’t even remember how bad things were, really dad and I both have forgotten the past to focus on the positive and the future. But when I spoke with dad and we both determined, although I told him I wasn’t going to subject mom to all that medication anymore, he agreed.
That was the hardest decision I have ever made. I had to trust God that this was the right thing to do, it was like, even though, I hadn’t really been involved with Him at all for several years, He expected my faith to be at the level it was years before. I’m sure if I really look at it too, part of it was, I had started talking to Him again anyway because I needed help with mom. I wanted to do what was best for her and would make her the happiest and most whole.
The medicine was the key. I had gone over to make a shake for mom with the medicine in it, and ended up tasting it thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. It was horrible, the most bitter thing imaginable, and she had been trying to drink it. The taste of it stayed in my mouth for hours. I felt so bad that mom had been trying so diligently to eat the stuff we had been giving her and it had been so rank.
That night I just told dad, if she drinks it she does, if she doesn’t that is ok too.
The next day was my day to stay with her so dad could have some time off. Dad tried to give her some of the medicine, but she didn’t take much of it, if any. But she started to come back from the catatonic abyss. She started responding. The longer she went with out the medicine, the more she was engaging to the world around her.
And that was the night I had the most difficult decision; keep the medicine or ditch it all together? I struggled all night over it. Asked God for an answer, and heard nothing. I wanted a huge booming voice, the dog to suddenly talk, or the cat, a squirrel.. something on facebook or Yahoo that spoke to the truth I needed right then to make the right decision concerning mother’s care. All I could feel was Him looking at me, asking me to trust Him. and by asking I mean with the look.
So I spoke with dad that evening when he got back and I was about to go home. He was ok with it. I told him that medical science had no cure for anything that mom had been diagnosed with. And they were not helping her to be happy. And I thought we should stop the medicine. And then I told him about how mom was talking and seemed happier and I think I even got her to eat that night.
36 hours after ceasing all medications for mother and we went for breakfast at a place where we know the waitresses and they know mom and dad, and the plate of food I would get for her that was a bit of everything just to get her to eat one thing…. and she ate the entire plate.
As a matter of fact most meals she eats everything made for her. There are a few exceptions, if she drinks too much tea, she might not be as hungry, but we just take it home and she consumes it the next day, instead of making lunch.
Mom lost her words a while back. Some words she can still pronounce, but sometimes not in a complete sentence. When she asks me a question, sometimes by context I can figure out what she is asking and answer. Other times I just answer and either way she seems satisfied.
I was speaking with one of the waitresses actually earlier this week about care for mom. She knows that dad is a veteran and is trying to help us make sure we have all his benefits he is due. One of the things she was talking about was dad being disabled and thereby impaired to totally assist mom. Dad does a great job with mom; however he did suffer hearing loss in the service and it has never gotten better, and it makes it difficult to hear her or me sometimes.
When she brought that up, it was a very valid point. There has been a time or two that she has fallen in the bathroom and he didn’t hear her and she was there until he got up to look for her in the middle of the night. She wasn’t injured, and seemed ok, but that can be a bit scary as well.
So, maybe we can get that looked at and then, the VA will help with hearing aids and we can get our ducks in a row so that everything is as simple and easy as it can be in the further transitions of our lives.
Something else I’ve noticed with mom, she tripped last week, Dad had his hands full and wasn’t holding hers and she lost her footing. She is unable to catch herself with her hands anymore, but she’s been like that for a while I think. Anyway, she must have just missed her eye, because her nose was scraped and right under her right eye and above the eyebrow and temple. Literally all around her right eye. I spoke with dad about she has to have help, or, walking right beside her, on level ground. My brother was there, he should have helped as well. But you know guys don’t always think like that, maybe they aren’t as overprotective as I am (lol). Anyway, what normally would have taken weeks to clear up, I barely saw any damage to her face by Monday, that was from Tuesday of the week before to Monday, and her face was clear. That is God my friends, supernatural recovery. That is the exact opposite of when we had to have surgery in 2014 to repair 10 hernias and then had to go to the wound clinic, because she wasn’t healing.
I honestly can’t say that much has even changed in anything that we are doing other than she is not on any of the medication, and she is eating.
A friend from church that I used to attend used to post all these great things her mom would say and do. Although she had this horrid diagnosis as well, it hadn’t stolen her spunk. Her Mother passed away recently, and I realized, I hadn’t been celebrating the life we still have with mom. That’s why if you are on my facebook, you will see those now. Going to eat, or even the doctor’s office (if it’s a dr she likes).
And sometimes, I realize, I am very much my mother’s daughter. I like things in a particular place, you can mostly see that either on my desk, or work space, or at the dinner table. Sometimes it’s because if I don’t mom will confiscate my food as her own. She did that one time, picked over the smaller biscuit and took my big biscuit along with her big breakfast she had already had.. lol Dad and I kinda just looked at each other. I’m not sure how much more she would have eaten if I had let her.
Mom’s Birthday is Saturday and she will be 71. And although her doctor wants her on medication, she is the happiest and healthiest I have seen her in at least 4 years. And although I am not ready by any means for her to leave us, as long as she goes in peace, and knowing we love her, I can live with that.