On Sunday I jotted a few notes about things to consider addressing or documenting here. Let's see if I can pull the thread of them together.
As I've said many times, I think the major thing that bothers me the most about my parents' slide into the end of their lives has been their slide into mindlessness. I keep hoping that once this is over that I will gradually forget the hopelessness, anger and stress the caretaker suffers. There are many acquaintances who assure me this is so.
I really do hope so. Because right now I am more or less, depending upon recent events, extremely angry that all humans don't just pop off this mortal coil in one fell swoop but that some lose the vital integrity of their makeup and become either uncontrollable, aggressive animals or mindless hunks of flesh.
With my parents, I've had the sad endurance of both. My dad became extremely aggressive and uncontrollable. My mother has become a body with a bare hint left of the essence of her as a person.
On Saturday, I think it was Saturday, we had a major storm front blow through as a result of Hurricane Issac. Fortunately, most of the harshest parts of the storm passed either to the north or the south of our little town. Unfortunately, if any harsh weather passes to the north of us, our cable provider coughs and dies immediately. Sometime I think all it has to do is look like it's going to rain, and the internet side of our cable service goes tits up.
Anyway, on Saturday evening, although we kept our electricity in fine working order, the cable went out. I kept expecting Mother to pick up her photographs and start looking through them. After about an hour's worth of frequent checking on her and finding her sitting in her chair, with her hands in her lap, just staring at the blank TV, it finally dawned on me I could put a movie on for her.
First, I tried "Twister," which is an all-time favorite of ours. I immediately got sucked into it, but Mother kept complaining about how loud it was. This from the person who listens to TCM all day - you know, the channel infamous for whispered conversations one second and war klaxons and bomb straffing runs the next.
Sigh. Second, I tried "Shrek," who doesn't like an affable ogre and a smart ass donkey! Lola. That's who. The woman will find nothing at all to enjoy about an animated movie. Yesterday she sat through "2001 A Space Odyssey" with nary a foul look on her face, yet within 5 minutes of starting "Shrek" I knew to pull it out.
Third, I tried one I hadn't watched before, "Australia," staring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, which is set at the brink of WWII. Time frame correct for someone who lives in the past, a beautiful heroine, a handsome hero. That oughta get her, I thought. Wrongo. After about 15 minutes I asked her if she was enjoying the movie. "No."
I told her to go to bed. Maybe it's just a fault of mine that I can't bear to see her simply sitting in a chair for hours on end staring at a blank TV. I don't know.
I made a strategic mistake one night and went to sleep with a package of cookies left out on an end table. The next morning the sound of crinkling cellophane finally penetrated my waking fog. I got up and looked, and Lola had eaten the cream out of every cookie in the package. There were about 15 left.
It's the same with sleeves of crackers or packages of cough drops. We used to could set a sleeve of crackers beside her soup bowl and let her enjoy her meal. Can't do that anymore because she will sit there and eat the whole sleeve of crackers. Sometimes she ate the cracker; sometimes she just sucked on them and spit them out.
Likewise with cough drops. She used to keep a package of cough drops in her side table drawer. The pharmacist said a slight cough is a side effect of her blood pressure medicine. We had take away the cough drops because she got to the point where she'd keep one in her mouth all the time and go through a bag in one day.
She's really loosing her hair. I'm scared she's going to be bald before long. After she got to the point where she stopped going to get her hair fixed, I had to let it grow out so I could pull it back out of her face. I am no hairdresser. I could not keep her hair fixed the way she used to wear it. I'm not good at it, and don't like doing it. No apology. I despise fixing hair, even my own.
So I've been putting mother's hair in a band at the nape of her neck. Nowadays when she gets out of bed and sitting in her chair, she'll pick up her comb and comb her hair. The problem is that she doesn't seem to realize the back is in a band, and she just starts at the front, combs to the back and never ever thinks to pull the band off and really comb the back of her head.
She's beginning to get weaker, and I dread the coming day when she can't get herself to the bathroom at least twice a day to change clothes and clean the incontinence up. I think it will be coming sooner than later.
Jill and I talked the other day. Jill said that the visit to Lola and following shopping trip to Paducah wore Jeanne out. Jill thought Jeanne hadn't gotten out of her apartment for a week following the visit. When they come up, they come via Mayfield and stop here. Jeanne visits Lola, and Jill and I have a blast in a different room. In the late afternoon, Jill drives them up to Paducah and they get a hotel room out by the mall. They'll stop by Dillard's and then get some supper. The next day, Jeanne usually has something else she has to look for, so they'll make another stop or two and then drive back home.
This time Jill said the little bit of walking they did made Jeanne so sore she could barely get up and go for days afterward. Jeanne has spinal stenosis, so there's no surgical solution like a new hip or knee joint.
She won't get hearing aids, and that's driving Jill nuts. She can barely hear anything but absolutely cannot accept the fact that it's going to cost $4-5K for hearing aids. She keeps wanting Jill to drive her around shopping for hearing aids. Jill's about ready to bang her head against the wall over it.
Jeanne expects Jill to drive her over to Jackson, up to Dixon, and over to Nashville so they can "price" the hearing aids. That'll be at least 6 trips with one each to have a fitting and a final quote. Then Jeanne will dither for weeks and want to go someplace else to get a better deal. Argh. It's not like we're talking differing neighborhoods here, either; we're talking about an hour's drive to get to almost anywhere Jeanne wants to go. And Jill despises driving in larger, busier cities.
Well, Julie has moved back to Nashville so maybe that will make things easier. Jeanne might be enticed to just do Nashville with visits to her granddaughter.