18 June, 2016

Gradual Progression

...I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker/ and in short, I was afraid...

I went. It was fine. Pugsley helped.

Okay, I'm going to Muzzy's now. Do you want to come with me?

"Do you want me to come with you?"

It would be nice to have your company.

"Okay, let me get my wallet. We can have snowballs afterward."

With Muzzy, or without her?

"Either way."

He is a good human. We arrive and he plops on her sofa. I fiddle with food for her, cut in half the half a turkey sandwich on a plate inside a bread bag in her fridge, cut a few chunks off the mostly-dead pear on the plate in the cheese drawer with two paring knives and a grapefruit knife, put some grapes on it. Give it to her while I heat chicken-lentils and rice with green beans. She eats the sandwich and pears, a few of the grapes. I bring the warm food. She takes the pills I give her, complaining that she's likely to rattle. She pats the dog and tells him what a good dog he is, even though he ignores her when she tells him to sit. She keeps getting up to check on the other dog, see what that noise is, hunt in the fridge.

Whatchoo want, Mama?

"Some protein. I've got nothing but carbs there."

She pulls something, brings it to the table.

You have protein. There's lentils and chicken with that rice. There's fried chicken in the fridge if you want it, though.

"What is this, pizza?"

Looks like your daughter's lasagna to me. Do you want me to heat it for you?

"No, it's fine."

She has a few bites of it, cold, then puts it, the few green beans she doesn't want and the plate of grapes in the fridge, uncovered, on top of the egg carton. I show her the plastic boxes of pancakes and sliced bananas I've made up for her. I didn't say anything about the last batch I did for her, but I spotted their plastic dishes in the sink, so I know she found and ate them.

Is it okay if I close this back door? The bugs are getting in again. I ordered a screen curtain for you, like we talked about- it should be here any day. 

"Okay, but the dogs want a walk, even though they've had four walks today, the greedy things."

I'll go with you. 

I unclip the two leashes from the giant palm-sized D ring that's attached to them, hand the pink one to her. I clip the young dog to his leash. She fusses with the D ring.

Could we leave that home this time? You don't need it.

"Why do I need to leave it?"

You hit me with it yesterday.

"No I didn't! Did I?"

Yeah, so if it's okay with you, I'd rather it stayed home.

"On purpose?"

Yes, you hit me on purpose. 

I don't show her the bruises.

Is it okay with you if I move these bags of dog poop off of the porch, maybe near the garage? It'll decrease the flies on your porch and in your house.

"Why am I keeping dog poop on the porch? That's stupid."

I shrug and move the planter that has newspaper bag filled with poo. I'll deal with them tomorrow.

Our walk goes without incident, though she wants to argue with me that several walks up to the corner and back at her toddler's pace are enough exercise for her year-and-a-half old 75-pound dog.

Well, if you're too tired to want to go all the way around the block, you can go back home with Winnie, and Panda and I will get a bit more exercise.

"No, I think I can manage a whole block."

Of course she can. When she began getting easily fatigued, needing to stop and rest, moving at half speed, I don't quite recall. I think maybe three years? It's hard to pinpoint. When we arrive home, I give her a deck of cards, lay out a Solitaire hand with a second one. She shuffles the cards once and sets them aside. She looks towards the sofa a little longingly, but Pugsley is snoozing on it. I think that sofa is covered in sleeping powder. Anyone who sits on it goes to sleep fairly quickly. I ask if she wants to get ready to go out with her friend Dottie.

"Well, no. The corpuscles just aren't feeling up to it. I'd better not."

You ought to phone her, then, before you go having any naps. 

"You're right. I should do that."

She does not move.

Would you like me to bring the phone to you?

"Yes, thank you. That would be nice."

She makes a call while I lose at Solitaire, leaves a message.

"Want me to vacate the sofa so you can have your nap, Muzzy?" comes Pugsley's voice from the other room when she presses the disconnect button.

"No, that's why I have two sofas!" she says, making her way into the living room.

"Okay, then we'll leave you to nap in peace," he says.

"You don't need to. I can nap no matter who's here."

Good to know, but we should go now. 

We give her kisses and exit, but after we've closed her back door against the bugs, we notice it open again.

"How did that damn dog get out?" Pugsley wonders.

Did we not close the door firmly?

"No, we did... look, Muzzy isn't napping, she's sitting on the porch."

Well, whatever. I don't even know anymore. Thank you for coming with me.

"Sure. What flavor snowball do you think would go nicely with marshmallow? You said I owed it to myself to at least try it."

And we discuss. With these few words, he sidetracks me from despair.

T. S. Eliot; The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

17 June, 2016

Medication Roulette

...let her under your skin/ then you begin to make it better....

I should have been there already.

I should have phoned already, probably twice.

I'll go, I will. I just can't, not yet.

It's not just that I'm sore (which I am) or that I don't know what to say (which I don't) or that I can pretend nothing happened and everything is fine (because I can't, and it isn't), but much more that I haven't forgotten, (though I'm fairly sure she has), I have almost but not quite forgiven, and that I don't trust her.

Do my bruises show? I can hide them; should I?

What do I say if she asks why I'm bruised?

How do I keep her from bringing the trowel with her every time we walk the dogs? (It wasn't the trowel this time, it was the metal part of the leash, but it could've been)

How do I feel if she doesn't notice the bruises?

When do I say, I can't handle this anymore?

Who needs to know? (So far, only Pugsley, who said, "Yeah, you should ice that." Much later he asked how I got it.)

The second medication is absurdly costly: $990 for a 90 day supply- the pharmacist called to warn me, because he said he'd almost fallen over when he saw the price; he'd knocked it down to 30 days' worth for $330- so we're making due for now with the samples from her neurologist's office.

Her first medication, which is supposed to slow progression of the disease, makes her irritable but alert, and (conversely) inclined to sleep more. The second medication, the expensive one which we added after a month, makes her pleasant and cheerful and sleepy. It came in a step-up pack, and she did gradually better with the increased dosage to a certain point. When she started being more sleepy than cheerful, I contacted her doctor to get a reduced dosage prescribed.

I went out of town for one day. Left at 10:30 in the morning, returned at 4:30 the next day. Called her, brought dinner to her. Walked the dogs. Didn't give pills to her. Did I leave some for Wednesday's dose? There weren't any there. Did her part-time helper give them to her, or did I not leave them in her pill box?

Last night I did the same, but she did get her pills. I made sure. Tonight I will do likewise. This may be entirely my fault.

Knowing that, strangely, doesn't make me feel better.

Beatles; Hey, Jude

24 May, 2016

Monday Morning

...feelings like I've never lost you/and feelings like I'll never have you/again in my heart....

She's taking more and more time to get ready for things, spending more and more time "examining the insides of her eyelids" and "holding down the sofa". She's happy, but blurry and out of focus.

We go out to the Honey Bee Diner for brunch after she teaches her yoga class. She's like a toddler, hungry every three hours or so, but not usually able to eat very much at one go.

Over pancakes, we discuss this and that. I try to play Hangman with her on the back of the placemat, but she doesn't remember how to play. I explain. She guesses O. I fill in an O.

What letter do you guess next?

"No, it's your turn to guess a letter. I guessed the last one."

She says it's hard to see the page. I ask why she didn't wear her new bifocals. She says she needs some new readers, as she can't find hers. I know why. Very Athletic Sister has removed most of them. I tell her we can go to the dollar store, but not for that.

"If you can't be bothered to take me to the dollar store for some new reading glasses, I'll ask a neighbor. Or I'll walk!"  As if that's a threat.

Of course I'd be happy to take you to the dollar store for anything you wish. But the dollar store readers don't help you. I say this because I've seen you with three pair of them stacked on your nose, and you asking me for the magnifying glass, which is right there on the table. 

We have this conversation two or three more times as she finishes eggs and bacon.

I distract her from eyewear, focus on her handbag. So we go instead to the Goodwill to shop for a small summer purse. I convinced her to let go of her threadbare denim one in December, I think, and now I tell her tweed isn't for spring and summer. We discuss how persistent February is this year, as today hardly seems springlike. I remind her of her mother, who used to keep many handbags in a doorhanger plastic sleeve, one bag for every three or four pair of shoes. I tell her we're not going to go overboard, but one bag for fall/winter and another for spring/summer is probably a reasonable thing. She agrees. We find also a pair of beige Crocs. I like that they have the heel strap. The sidewalks in her neighborhood conspire with her big dogs to make her stumble and fall. Her shoes do not need to become co-conspirators in her tumbles, the ones she swears she doesn't have.

We return to her home and she seems ready for a nap. I ask if it's okay if I take the dogs out for a walk while she gets started holding down the sofa. She agrees, but doesn't actually settle. When we three return, she's still dithering in the house. I give her kisses, fairly certain that once I leave, she'll lie down awhile. It is almost 2 pm. I arrived at 10 am. I try to imagine someone else doing things for and with my mother, having the morning with her that I have just had. I have several feelings wrap themselves into the folds of my brain, and am too weary to sort them just now. One that I can identify, however, is a sense of being left out. Another is relief. The anxiousness is understandable. There are at least three more, though, snarled in a bunch, that will require patience and maybe a pin to untease.

Morris Albert; Feelings

10 May, 2016

Walking Stubborn

...got my own trick up my sleeve/I can make you disappear....

7:35 AM: Very Athletic Sister

               Mollie task list- vacuum dust dishes wipe microwave               counters change sheets bathroom (clean sink tub                   toilet)start load of sheets and bath towels toss spoiled         food from fridge

       what shall I do about the vacuum? I need to buy a replacement?

              No it's new
         Or only a few months old
            She could use the rainbow but its much harder
              rainbow's in the upstairs closet

7:55 AM: I phone to tell her I'm coming to her house to take her to teach her yoga class at the Senior Center.

But I need a few things at Target first, so I'm stopping there and then I'll come fetch you. Do you need anything?

"Would you buy a box of tissues for me? I seem to be all out of tissues. Or two, two would be nice."

I'll be happy to buy some sneezers for you. That's why I called, to see if you needed anything.

"Oh, sneezers! Or snotrags, whatever. Maybe two boxes would be nice. If you don't mind."

Of course I don't mind. And then I'll be over to fetch you to take you for yoga, probably nine thirty or quarter to ten. 

8:01 AM: Pugsley

       whatall did we need at target
               I need Nivea shaving cream but I'm not sure what else

      mop moisturizer olive boil ??

              Dunno, sounds like that is it

      Maddie want tishoose we need toilet paper?

               More wouldn't hurt

       Kitty litter?

               Wednesday needs to be there for that

8:22 AM: VAS

       Am at Target now, will price a vacuum. Just sopoke to Mother; confused about taxi vouchers.       I told her one of us would go with the first time.

       Please don't buy a vacuum

       And that she didn't need to worry about it today cuz I'm taking her

              I described it to her yesterday
                  to mom- the taxi thing
                      the vacuum at moms is fine

       She can't learn new things except by repetition. Mollie says not. I refuse to be in this pissing          contest.

So of course the phone rings because VAS needs to explain to me that she isn't arguing with me. Except of course she is. Except I'm not really the one she's arguing with, because I have no dog in this race. I just want the vacuuming to be done, by someone other than me. 

I poke things into the cart (buggy, basket; where ya from?) during this, and after I finish not arguing about a vacuum with VAS I discover Target doesn't have the moisturizer I usually buy. I spend more time than I ought researching what Paula deems a good eye cream, facial moisturizer, and I'd've liked to search mascaras, too, but I stop myself. 

9:42 AM: Mollie
               On my way.

I don't text back, because I'm later than I meant to be and she's probably driving.

9:55 AM: I phone to tell her I'm on my way, but there is no answer.

10:00 AM: I phone... no answer.

10:05 AM: I knock, enter and frighten Mollie, who has arrived and begun working. 

Where's my mother?

"What? I though she was with you. I thought youz had already left. The door was unlocked. One dog was outside the house, the light one, and the other one, the jumping one, was inside. I thought youz had gone already."

Yeah, no, I'm running late. Did she take her yoga things? Or her purse?

The answer to both is No.

Mollie presses her hands to her chest, then flaps them. "Go, go! Find your mother! Aren't you worried sick?"

I should be, shouldn't I? I think about Wheres and Whys. She didn't phone and chew me out for being late. She might've phoned her neighborhood friend, who is IN the yoga class she teaches, but her yoga things are still there. Her glasses, the good ones, are on the desk. One dog in the house, one dog in the yard; maybe she thought she'd lost one and has gone looking. I do not phone VAS. My phone is mysteriously nearly battery-dead, despite having been plugged in to charge all night. I grab glasses, purse and yoga bag and back out of the driveway.

Hi, Ms. C. This is Cybele. Is my mother- is Jackie there? Has she come there already?

"I don't think so- hang on, I'll go look."

The pause is probably shorter than it seems.

"No, she's not here. I checked the yoga room and nobody's there yet."

I don't want to panic anyone, but I don't know where she is. She may have taken it into her head to walk to the Center. I'm driving there now. I'll let you know. 

I drive the mile or so to the Center. I spot her as she crosses the road. I pull up and park.

Hey there, Mama. Whatcha doing?

"Well, I didn't get a call, and I needed to get here."

She's clutching a paper in her hand.

I did call. I told you I was going to the Target. You asked me to buy tissues for you.

"I have no memory of that conversation. I needed to get here, so I walked."

I brought your yoga things.

"It's seated shiatsu, I don't need them."

No, Ma'am, today's Monday and you have yoga.

I follow her inside, into Ms. C's office, where I hear her muttering, probably something unpleasant in reference to me.

"But Jackie, your daughter brings you here every Monday. Tuesdays, too."

She looks at me.

"Well, what are we doing? Are we coming or going?"

I thought you might like to teach your yoga class.

"If there's anybody still there, I guess I'll teach them, if they want."

You're not late yet. Only one or two of your students have arrived. Do you feel like teaching?

"Since I'm here, I may as well."

She wanders away and disappears, not into the room where her students are waiting, then emerges from the bathroom, still clutching that paper.

Whatcha got there? May I see it?

"It's the taxi voucher. I need to figure it out so I can use it."

I told you I'd help you with that. May I look at it while you go teach?

She hands it to me, and goes into the room. I look at the paper- it's an order form for taxi voucher books.

I can't manage to sort my feelings. She had a busy day yesterday, Mother's Day. Admitted when I phoned that she was wandering around her house feeling confused. She walked more than a mile and a half to arrive safely, and early, to get to her class. But forgot that I'd called, forgot that I always bring her to the Center. Didn't think to call her friend, the one who lives in her neighborhood and takes her yoga class. Didn't call me wondering why I was late to fetch her.  Didn't... could have... What am I supposed to do?

Channing and Quinn; The Vanishing Act

27 April, 2016

Missing Items

...you try hard to hide/the emptiness inside/ooh, I can tell I'm losing you....

What's missing recently?

Sunday: her day planner.

Monday evening: her old, perhaps non-operative, outdoor thermometer, the one with the bear on it.

This morning: her new outdoor thermometer, the one with the bird on it.

This evening, three dog leashes, one red, one black, one pink.

"Well, I'll just be like Scarlett O'Hara and worry about it tomorrow. I'm sure once we start looking for something else, it'll pop right up. Isn't it always the way? The minute we stop needing it, there it'll be."

Except the grapefruit knife. We bought a new grapefruit knife, and the old one still didn't show up for about  a week.

"But it did show up, didn't it? It was right there in the refrigerator."

The dog leashes aren't in the refrigerator. I checked.

"I know. So did I. Twice."

The Temptations; I'm Losing You

26 April, 2016

Shadow Marks

...why am I so doubtful whenever you are out of sight?/suspicion torments my heart....

The bruises have come in along my chin, right where the shadow of my jawline falls.

Being as she is unable to learn new things, I wonder where she learned to hit like that.

She never hit me like that before, only an open palm to the face (and once, the flat side of a butter knife, because it was in her hand.) So someone hit her like that, deep in her past. Under the chin, calculated to not show.

Logically, I should suspect my grandmother, which indicates someone did that when SHE was a child.

I actually suspect my great-grandmother, my grandaddy's mother, who was by all accounts a fierce, harsh diva who only wanted things one way: hers.

Of course, anyone who could confirm this for me is long dead.

Elvis Presley; Suspicion

25 April, 2016

Descending Spiral

...You spin me right round, baby/right round like a record, baby/right round round round....

"What's this round white one for?"

That's your Aricept. It is to help prevent further memory loss.

"And this little yellow one?"

That's the Levothyroxin that you've been taking all your life.

"Not all my life, just since I was thirteen years old."

(The age changes. She used to tell me 'since I was fifteen years old', or sometimes 'sixteen'.)

Okay, just since you were thirteen. What else can I tell you?

"What's the red one on the other side?"

That's a vitamin called luetine, and it's for your eyes.

"What's this big white one, then?

Magnesium and calcium for your bones.

"Well, I already have bones, so I don't need that. What about the little round white one?"

That's the Aricept for your memory. You should probably take it at night, because one side effect is that it causes dizziness in some people. If you take it before bed, you won't care that you're dizzy."

"And the little yellow one? What is that?"

That's your thyroid medicine.

"I'm going to rattle if I take all these pills!"

You don't need to take the vitamins if you don't want them. The eye doctor just suggested it would be good for you to have some luetine, and calcium is good for your bones. 

"Which ones are the vitamins? The gummy ones I know are multivitamin. I've taken those already."

The red one is for your eyesight and the white one is for your bones.

"I guess that's calcium. But what's this round white one? Is that a vitamin?"

That one is your Aricept. For your memory. It's not a vitamin, it's a prescription medication. 

"Am I supposed to take that one at night? What about this little yellow one?"

That's your thyroid medicine. Yes, you should take the white one at night. If you want to take the yellow one at night, too that should be fine.

"I'll see what I feel like doing when the time comes. If I don't want to do it, I'm not going to do it, and you can't stop me, so nyah-nyah to you. What about this red one?"

Take that one whenever you want. It's a vitamin to help your eyesight. 

"I'm going to rattle if I take all these! Doctors, they just want to prescribe pills for everything now."

Only the little yellow one and the round white one are prescriptions. The others are vitamin supplements. You don't need to take them if you'd rather not.

"Is this yellow one my thyroid medication?"

Yes, that's levothyroxin.

"What's this white one? Did I already ask you that?"

You did, but I'll tell you again as often as you need. It's Aricept, to help prevent further memory loss.

"I think you probably told me that already."

Dead Or Alive; You Spin Me 'Round(Like A Record)