“Knock Off The Crap”. My mother said that to my wife one night a week ago. Eric was sitting on the coach while I was at the grocery store and mother mother thought it was me on the couch. When Donna corrected her she responded “Knock Off The Crap”.
My mother, 90 years old, mostly blind and deaf and needing a walker to get around and living by herself in a high rise senior apartment. She seemed to be managing fine. When he heart rate was in the 200’s at a normal Dr.’s appointment, the Dr. called 911 and sent her to the ER. She had AFib and was in congestive heart failure. She spent almost two weeks in the hospital and rehab. Home a day, she was back in the ER and then rehab for about another 10 days.
After her second rehab, she was evaluated and deemed to healthy to go into a nursing home. She was also to poor to go into an assisted living facility. My sisters mother and myself all agreed she was betting not going back to her apartment, alone. But where should she go. Long story short, I asked her to come stay with me. Things went well for a while…
Until they didn’t…
Physically, she was doing well. Vitals were all good and had lost much of the water she had retained the past month. Mentally, however, things started to get weird. She started hallucinating. Most of the hallucinations were benign.
- Sitting by the back french doors one afternoon, she saw a boy, outside on the deck, coming straight at her, then darted to the right, out of sight. He was young, she said, wearing a tee shirt but not a jacket, which perplexed her as it was cold. I was sitting at the table when she saw him. I got up and said I’d look out side. No one was there. She wasn’t sure about that as she she definitely saw the little boy.
- While watching TV one night, Donna was at a meeting, my mother announces that she just saw Donna on TV, she was wearing a brown bathing suit with big flowers and she was having fun, dancing around. I said, I don’t think so, Donna is at a meeting. She having none of that, but said, okay. A bit later she asks, “is that a local TV station we’re watching?”. No, it’s Wheel of Fortune. Okay she responds. A bit later she asks me, “does Donna own a brown bathing suit with big flowers”. Thinking and not really knowing, I still responded no, she doesn’t. Okay. It was clear she wasn’t buying any of my answers, she saw what she saw.
- Another night we’re sitting watching TV and she turns to me asking, who’s that lady in the chair next to her. There isn’t anyone sitting in the chair, I replied. Yes there is, she’s wearing a white top. On the chair in question, laying over the back of the chair was a white and yellow afghan. I walked over, picked it up and showed to Mom telling her this is what she was seeing Angerly, she pushed it away, “I don’t want that”.
- Another night we told Mom that Donna and I were going to Lowes. No problem, we went came back and everything was fine, we thought. The next day Mom says to us, who was that man that went with us? Donna said, it was her and me who went. No, Mom said, there was a third man. She then went on to describe him in detail, down to the red rimmed glasses he wore. We never were really able to convince her otherwise.
- Another night she told Donna and I that she asked me why I was running across in front of her wearing a dog suit. There was no convincing her otherwise
- Then there was Thanksgiving. Dinner time came and I made up a plate of turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole and vegetables for Mom and she started eating. The rest of us then went round the island and filled our plates. At the table was Mom, on her left was Eric with his 14 month old daughter Addy sitting on his lap. Across from Mom was Mike and his 2 1/2 year old son Lincoln. I was sitting to Mom’s right. All of a sudden I see mom, plate almost empty, abruptly shove the plate away from her saying, in a somewhat angry tone, “I’ve had enough”. She got up and went into the living room. After everyone was finished we decided to have dessert after cleaning up. I was at the sink when I hear my mother say to Donna, “I can’t believe the way I’m being treated!”. Stunned, Donna asks Mom what she said. Mom repeated it. When I heard it again, went into the room and asked her what was wrong. She replied, raising her voice. “I can’t believe 90 year old is being pitted against a 2 year old”. I asked her what she meant, she just repeated it, along with how poorly she felt she’s being treated. She said other things like, how she should be allowed to fill her own plate and she wasn’t even offered desert. I told her I’ve been making and serving her meals ever since she got here, she’s never filled her plate. I also told her after she left the table we decided to have desert after cleaning up. I offered to get her desert now. She abruptly refused. By this time the only people in the house were Mom, Donna and me. The others, obviously feeling very uncomfortable, went out on the the deck. Donna then got out the desert and everyone (accept me and Mom) got their desert and went back out on the deck. I tried again to understand why my mother was saying the things she said. All she would do is repeat it all over again. After the rest of the family finished desert, they left, all saying good by to Donna, myself and Mom. Mom barely even acknowledged their gestures. The next day I, with my youngest daughters help, reminded me that during dinner, Mike, trying to get Lincoln to eat his dinner, told Lincoln how well Addy was eating and challenged him to try and finish his dinner before Addy’s. What my mom heard was that Mike created a game to see who, Mom or Lincoln, could eat the fastest. Not even close to what Mike said.
Not only was Mom’s sight causing issues, but her hearing was as well. The most amusing hearing anecdote was one morning, the first morning my Mom decided she wanted hot chocolate instead of range juice for Breakfast. The normal morning routine was I served mom orange juice, then Raisin Bran. I would also have CNN on in the living room. I served my mom the host chocolate. Taking a sip she then said, is that man (the commentator on CNN) saying hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate? No, he wasn’t, I replied.
So what’s going on? Last week, she had an appointment with her Cardiologist. During the appointment I asked her if any of the medicine she was taking had side effects that might impact her, mentally. Yes, Digoxin could. Mom was taking a very low dose so the Cardiologist had my Mom get blood work. The next day I got a call from the nurse who told me my Mom’s Digoxin levels were low, but it still could have side effects so she recommended I stop giving her that med. I stopped the Digoxin last Friday. The levels of Digoxin in her system would take a while to lower. She had a very bad episode of paranoia the following Sunday (last Sunday). However, since then she has not had any episodes of paranoia or any hallucinations. I’ve got my fingers crossed that was problem. Keep watching the Journal to see how she is doing.