Friday, April 15, 2011

Visits, Context Disability, and Shakes

My Mom's sister Jeanne came to visit Mom Wednesday, along with her daughter, Jill.  That was nice. Mom had a lovely visit. Jill and I went shopping for a couple of hours to get out of the house. Dad played nice.

After they left, Dad said, "Who were those two big girls who were just here?" I told him his sister-in-law and niece. He just stood there. I couldn't tell if it clicked even then. Then he turned around and walked off.

I think maybe I haven't blogged a lot this week because it's been a tough week. Dad has argued about anything and everything. The trying part of that isn't the arguing, it's the inability to communicate. This may be exacerbated by age, but frankly it was there when he first started going deaf.

Thirty years ago he was angry with everyone else because he couldn't hear them. Now he's less frequently angry. From the beginning he has been totally incapable of using context to give him clues about what he's missing. An example - if it's
lunch time and you ask him if he wants to eat now, while miming putting a fork to your lips, he's as likely to snark at you wanting to know what about a meat cow. No amount of obvious sign language ever ever gets through to him. No amount of context ever enters his horizon. Not thirty years ago; not now.

So I got a white board to write simple sentences on. He's as likely to look at you like you're a fool and what the hell are you writing and why the hell are you writing it to me?

It's taken 3 days to get him to take a shower.  This is the first one he's taken in about 3 weeks. After he was done, he came walking into the living room with his socks flapping off the end of his feet asking for help. That was a surprise - both the asking for help and the inability to put socks on. He did call me by name, though.

He's forgotten how to put socks on. He can bend over and do it.  He can't remember to scrunch them up, get the toes on and then pull them the rest of the way up. His hands don't work very well anymore, but he still has the motor skill to do that.  Without getting them on as much as possible first, though, he doesn't have enough strength to pull them up over his heel.

This last week there was somehow a mess-up with Mom's supposed hassle free refill on her Parkinson's medicine. After talking to Medco, and learning they'd arrive in 5-7 business days, I decided to try to make it through by giving her half a pill and see if we could wait it out. I could always get a bit locally if absolutely necessary.

I have always doubted my mother's diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. After this week, I doubt it even more strongly. I've always thought she has an anxiety tremor or whatever kind of tremor it might be called when it's set off by internal anxiety.

Personally, I think she's always been an overly anxious person. Dad would not allow her to seek mental health treatment for it. That's a fact, not a speculation. She wanted it. He wouldn't allow it. She wasn't strong enough to stand up for herself and seek it anyway.

She began to have hand tremors when I was 19, 37 years ago, whenever she got upset. Doctors first liberally gave her Valium. Her tremors were never the classical Parkinson's tremors, and even now her symptoms aren't classic. She doesn't jerk or roll. She only started shuffling when the pain in her back and hips got so bad she didn't want to lift her feet. However, once she got a diagnosis of PD, it was like a lifeline. It was something to blame. So treating anxiety or depression, went away. It was Parkinson's. There is no history of Parkinson's in 3 generations in either maternal or paternal family of hers.

This whole last week while on half the medication, she hasn't shaken one bit more than she did while on full dose. The only times she ever shakes is when she's startled or upset. When she moves from room to room, she shakes - it hurts, and that upsets her. When you wake her up, she shakes - it startles her and upsets her. If she's confused about what's going on in the house, she shakes - it upsets her when she's confused. If you want her to do something she doesn't want to do , she shakes - who doesn't get upset when someone wants you to do something you don't want to.

If you make a comment like, "Wow, you're really shaking now," she'll reply with her mantra, "I've got Parkinson's Disease, you know." She never put it together that the only time she shakes is when she's upset. Of course, I figure there were a lot of years that she was simply terribly upset all the time. Guess that didn't help putting 2 + 2 together.

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