Sunday, 15 April 2012

When You're Feeling Blue, Wear Red

Some days I awaken with the words for my posts ready to fall from my fingertips onto the "page".  Others, it is an effort, and for every word that remains in a post, 3 others are deleted.  Nothing really flows and, like my thoughts, my writing is disjointed and choppy.

The past 2 weeks have been challenging - not just with Passover cooking and hosting a Seder, but with work being extremely busy, dance competitions and, most seriously, an Influenza B outbreak on Mom's unit.

Influenza is always a concern - you worry about people developing serious respiratory complications, or worse, but when you throw dementia into the mix, a whole host of additional problems ensue.  Illnesses tend to exacerbate and heighten dementia symptoms.  Sadly, this has been the case with Mom this time.  She was, along with the others in her unit, quarantined for 10 days.   We were not able to see her or speak with her and had to rely on the kindness and caring of others, especially her wonderful caregiver, Mildred throughout the quarantine period.  The reports we received were disconcerting...she lost her centre of balance, was stiffening and presenting Parkinson's symptoms, and could not walk or stand without intervention and assistance.

For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I was back on the Alzheimer's roller coaster, never sure when we would plummet further into the dementia abyss, or how high we would ultimately resurface.  I was hopeful that the Influenza would run its course, and then Mom would return to her "new normal" state.  This was always the case in recent years.

As soon as the quarantine was unofficially lifted (the Municipal Health Department actually has to declare the outbreak over) I went to see Mom.  I came to find her in a wheelchair, unresponsive and overwhelmingly lethargic.  It took me back 30 years to when my Baba Dora was in Baycrest, and I would find her in a similar condition whenever we visited.  But this....this is my mother.

I try to be positive, and share with you all the wonderful stories of Mom and the Matriarchs...I try to keep the good at the forefront...usually this is not difficult for me, I am an optimist who searches for the silver lining in every cloud.  But today is a gray day.  Mom used to tell me that her mom always said, "When you're feeling blue, wear red".  Too bad I don't have any red in my wardrobe...

I am not an AD spokesperson....I am simply a daughter of Alzheimer's...one of many.  I think it is important to be honest about this disease, not to sugarcoat the bitter aspects of AD...denial is a phase I passed through a long while ago.  Now I try to embrace reality - both the good and the bad.

Today Sara and I went to visit Mom.  My spirits were high...the reports from Mildred were that Mom was improving - she was able to walk with Mildred's help, was not using the wheelchair, and was even saying a few words.  I would not have taken Sara today had I known what we were walking into.  I would have prepared her, and Becca, and taken them when they were ready.

We walked in, Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappucino in hand, and found Mom slumped in a wheelchair, completely unresponsive.  We started to talk to her, and the sight of "her Sara" brought a smile to Mom's face.  About 10 minutes passed, and we heard some familiar voices - Dad, Davie & Abby came to visit too!  It was a relief to have little Abby bouncing around, she was a fantastic distraction for Sara.  We all talked with Mom, taking her for a roll and stroll in the wheelchair, barely looking at each other.  We couldn't...because each of our faces betrayed our broken hearts and overwhelming sense of loss.  Yet, when Davie kissed Mom goodbye, she responded, said goodbye and kissed him back.  Little glimmers of recognition which gave us renewed hope that the plunge may not have been as deep as we feared.

So, for this reason, more than any others, I have neglected my blog, and put my energy into the people who bring this blog to life.  I hope to find the energy and renewed spirit to fill you in on my Passover cooking adventures over the next little while.  But until then, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends, and fantastic food.  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!