Posts Tagged ‘delusions’

The day we have been dreading arrived unexpectedly.  We recognized that mom was on the downside of that horrible dementia cycle, but it still caught us by surprise and took my breath away.

Dad called around 9:30 one Sunday evening. By the tone of his voice I knew immediately that something was very wrong. “Your mom went to bed as soon as we got home from your house.  I just went to check on her and she was sitting up on my side of the bed.  When I walked in she said, ‘My husband fell in the shower.  I tried to help him up, but I couldn’t.  Can you help him?'”

Dad, being the kind soul that he is, went into the bathroom and returned a short time later to let mom know that he had gotten her husband up. She had again pulled off her colostomy so he took her to get cleaned up. As dad was helping mom back to bed she again asked about her fallen husband, “Is my husband alright? Is he hurt?” Dad responded, “No, he’s fine. He’s not hurt.”

Dad’s voice cracked as he relayed what had just happened. His heart was breaking and so was mine.

Since that night no further instances of mom not recognizing someone close to her has occurred. For that I am thankful. But I am afraid that this was a mere glimpse of what is to come and it saddens me deeply.


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Mom has dementia, that’s no secret.  I inform all medical personnel that she comes in contact with – doctors, nurses, ambulance attendants, etc.  And I informed Lifeline when we decided to go with their company.  Lifeline, for those who are not familiar with them, is a medical alert company. If mom should fall, which she does occasionally, or if she should need help and unable to reach dad, she can push the button on the gadget she wears around her neck and Lifeline will respond. The commercial on television for Lifeline shows elderly people on the floor, pushing the button and saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.

Mom has on occasion (more than one occasion) pushed the button while lying in bed and announced to the Lifeline attendant that she had fallen and couldn’t get up. I guess she forgets what the gadget hanging around her neck is for, starts to play with it and when a voice comes over the speaker asking if she needs help, she mimics the commercial. In the past the Lifeline employee has called dad to let him know that mom had fallen. Once dad finds mom tucked in bed he lets the Lifeline people know that all is well and no further action is needed.

So far things have worked well. I have explained to them about mom’s dementia, explained that she has delusions and hallucinations and that unfortunately these calls to them will continue. There’s really nothing we can do to stop them. They appeared to understand, purporting to put a large notice on the top of her file stating that she is a dementia patient and to always call dad or me before contacting emergency services. It has worked well for over a year, but somewhere along the way it changed.

One evening recently mom went to bed early and dad was up watching television when he heard the walkie-talkie that he keeps on the side of the bed go off. “Do you need something, Honey,” dad asked. All he heard was whispering. “What? I can’t hear you.” Mom replies a little louder, “There’s a man in the room!” “No, there’s no man in the room,” dad says as he hurriedly walks to the bedroom. He arrives in time to hear Lifeline say, “The police are on the way.”

“No, no, there’s no man here,” he tells the Lifeline operator.

“Who are you?” asks the operator.

“I’m her husband,” dad replies. “No one has broken in the house.”

“Okay, we’ll cancel the police.”

Shortly thereafter the house phone rings. It was the police. “Please step out of your front door.” My 85-year-old father steps outside and is surrounded by police, one of which is holding a flashlight in his face, and an officer with a police dog is in the backyard. After explaining the situation, he is allowed to go back inside.

The next day dad relayed what happened to me. I gave Lifeline a call to reiterate the fact that mom has dementia, has hallucinations and will at times see people who are not there and push her button. I requested again, nicely I might add, that my dad be contacted first, before emergency services are called since he lives with mom in the same house. They agreed.

A couple of days later the same scenario – mom in bed early, dad watching television when there’s a knock on the door. The ambulance attendant standing at the front door informed dad that Lifeline had contacted them stating that my mother had fallen and injured herself. Dad knew nothing about it. He found mom sitting on the toilet unable to get up. Apparently mom pushed the button and when Lifeline responded she panicked and told them that she had fallen. When asked if she was injured mom responded that she had hurt her neck. About an hour after the situation was cleared up Lifeline called me to let me know that mom had fallen, an ambulance had been called but she was fine. No call was ever made to my father.

Once again, a simple phone call to dad could have eliminated the ambulance showing up needlessly. Instead, dad will now be saddled with a hefty bill from the ambulance provider which will not be paid by Medicare or their supplement since mom did not get in the ambulance.

Again I called Lifeline and I wasn’t quite as polite as the last time. In fact, I was pretty darn irritated and some poor woman got the brunt of my irritation. I just could not understand why suddenly things had changed and emergency services were called before my father or me. A supervisor came on the line explaining “protocol”, telling me that if a client requested assistance it was “protocol” that they were required to send some type of emergency services. I again explained about the dementia that plagued mom. I again explained that this would continue to happen and a call to my father who lives in the same house with their “client” could clear up any misunderstandings. I asked when their “protocol” had changed since for the last year my father was always called first. After heated discussions I informed the supervisor that we wouldn’t be needing their services anymore. I was fortunate enough to find a local company that is more understanding and willing to work with us.

So, bye-bye Lifeline. Good riddance.

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Dad was restless and unable to sleep so was up watching tv in the living room when the phone rang at two in the morning.  “Mr. L, this is Lifeline.  Your wife needs some assistance.  She said you were asleep in the other room with the twins.”  Twins??  What twins? As far as I know we don’t have any twins in our entire family.  

Dad rushed to the back of the house where he found mom.  Her colostomy had a “blow out” as dad calls it and mom was in the bathroom patiently awaiting dad’s help.  “Are the  twins still sleeping?” Mom asked.  Hesitating briefly dad responded, “Yes they are.”

Dad has grown so much on this journey through dementia with mom.  It certainly has not been easy for him.  It hasn’t been easy for any of us.  Acceptance has been the hardest part.  I think dad has finally accepted that there will be twins, there will be Martians on the roof and there will be dogs named Princess, even if they only exist in mom’s mind.  He has learned many things, but the most important thing he is learning is patience.  

And the most important lesson I am learning is that love and patience will get you through anything.

I love you mom and dad. You are my inspiration.



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Mom’s cancer is back.  Well let me rephrase that – it apparently has been there all along, just not big enough to be detected.  It’s now in her lungs. Her oncologists said that he is sure that it was there when she struggled through the colon cancer and treatment two years ago.

The good news is that it took two years to show up on blood tests and the PET scan.  The bad news is that it is in the lungs – never a good thing.  There are two spots in her right lung and one in her left.  Her doctor described them as small spots, the largest about the size of a nickel.  I don’t know much about lung cancer, but that doesn’t sound terribly small.  Pea size is small, an ant size is small – a nickel, not so much.

I suspected that they may find some type of cancer in mom since three blood tests came back with elevated levels in the cancer detecting test. Still, the diagnosis of cancer in the lungs took my breath away.

When we saw her geriatric internist a few days later and told her about the cancer, Dr. L asked mom what she thought of it. Mom simply shrugged her shoulders. Dr. L then asked mom if she was worried about it and mom replied, “No.” With a little chuckle Dr. L said, “We’ll if she’s not worried about it I guess you shouldn’t be either.” That’s great in theory, but in reality mom doesn’t really understand what it means to have lung cancer. We do. Actually, I’m pretty sure that ten minutes after she was asked the question, she didn’t even remember the conversation. She was too focused on the trip to the casino in Biloxi dad promised her. They left for Biloxi from Dr. L’s office.

Mom’s oncologist knows mom’s history. He knows about the two hip replacements, the diabetes, the colon cancer, and he knows about the dementia. He also recognizes that she will never understand what is happening to her if they should put her through radiation and chemotherapy again. It was brutal last time. For now he recommends that we take the wait and see approach, do another scan in two months and see if there is any change. If the cancer is growing quickly rather than at the slower pace that he anticipates, we will have to make some very difficult decisions.

For now all I can do is pray – pray for mom, pray for dad and pray for the strength to make the right decision when that time comes.

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Tomorrow is mom’s birthday. She will be 80 years old. Mom and dad have wanted to take my daughter and granddaughter to the beignet shop for months, but since my granddaughter becomes this little sugar monster after eating too many sweets, my daughter has avoided the trip. But today in celebration of mom’s birthday she finally agreed.

All the way to the restaurant my granddaughter kept asking mom how old she was going to be. Initially mom just acted like she didn’t hear the question, but later she answered with, “Ladies don’t tell their age.”

The staff at the beignet shop know my parents well – they go there several times a week. So when the waitresses heard about mom’s birthday, they brought out a beignet with a candle in it and everyone sang. Mom happily sang along.

After the celebration a woman approached mom, wishing her a happy birthday and telling her, “My husband is deceased now, but his birthday is tomorrow too. He would have been 80.” Mom replied, “Oh, I’m not that old!”

I think mom still believes she’s 65. Hum, I think I may still be 25! ūüôā

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“Your mom’s having a really bad day.¬† I could barely wake her up, she refuses to eat or take her medicine.¬† I told her to go get dressed and she came back with two pairs of pants and no blouse.¬† I had to dress her because she didn’t remember how to do it herself.” ………. “I hate to bother you, but I think I need to go to the hospital.¬† I keep getting really dizzy and I almost fell.¬† And I think my blood pressure machine is not working cause it won’t register.” ………. “I told your mom to go get ready for bed.¬† She asked me to go with her because she didn’t know what to do.” ………. “This is Lifeline.¬† Your mother has fallen and we can’t reach your father.”¬†………. “I’ve been having chest pains since yesterday and my arm hurts.¬† I think I need to go to the hospital.” ………. 1:00 a.m. –¬†“This is Lifeline.¬† Your mother has fallen and your father cannot get her up.¬† He asked that you go over and help.” ……….¬†¬†“Where are you?¬† Your mother is having severe stomach pains and wants to go to the emergency room.”– these are¬†just¬†a few¬†of the phone calls I’ve received in the last couple of months.

I can’t say 2013 is off to a great start.¬† Dad has had two hospital stays, one for dehydration and one for chest pains.¬† The blood pressure machine wasn’t broken as he thought, his blood pressure was just too high for it to register.¬† He had an angioplasty and thankfully only one small blockage was found near the stent he already has.¬† It is being treated with medication.

Mom was hospitalized for several days with an obstruction in her colon.  During that stay she was given morphine.  She was unresponsive and completely out of it for days afterwards.  She has not been the same since.  Her good days are fewer and bad days more severe.  The middle of the night phone call from Lifeline about her fall resulted in a black eye, swollen cheek and half of her face a deep purple-black color radiating down her neck.

And I anticipate a trip to the hospital with Uncle C this evening.¬† If not tonight, soon.¬† He’s been once this year, but has already warned us that he thinks he may need to go tonight.¬† Of course, he always waits until the middle of the night.¬† I guess he wakes up struggling to breath and is frightened.¬† I would be too.¬† I’m just waiting for the middle of the night phone call that is sure to come.

Then there was the phone call from my dermatologist’s office at 5:40 one evening … “This is Dr. R’s office.¬† The spot removed from your back was a basal cell carcinoma.¬† We need to schedule an appointment to have it removed.”¬† My dermatologist had assured me that the bright red spot that seemed to have appeared overnight was nothing to worry about.¬† Not my luck!

Is it no wonder that I’ve come to dread the ringing of that damn phone?¬† I feel a sense of panic every time¬†my father’s number appears.¬† I freeze.¬† I stop everything.¬† I answer it no matter where I am or what I’m doing.¬† Sometimes it’s as innocent as, “I just wanted to see if you won your tennis match.”¬† Yet still I my heart skips a beat and I can’t help that feeling of doom.¬† I keep telling myself, “This too shall pass”, but in actuality, probably not for quite a while.¬† So for now, I live in fear of¬† that ringing phone.

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Recently, Hubby and I needed to travel to Uncle C’s hometown to take care of some business. ¬†Yes, Uncle C, our 94-year-old relative is still with us. ¬†He has good days and bad, one moment he is dying and the next he is talking about driving to Alaska, taking an Alaskan cruise and driving back. ¬†Our destination was this tiny town in Illinois. ¬†The nearest airport was 2 hours away and the closest hotel room was 40 miles.

As we left the airport and the hustle and bustle of the big city, the scenery quickly changed.   There was only farmland as far as the eye could see.  Although we were in the dead of winter, it was beautiful Рpeaceful.  There were no busy highways, no high-rise buildings, no traffic jams or cars racing to beat you to the next light.  I felt as though I had taken a step back in time.    This was the heartland they talk about and I loved it!

We witnessed things we don’t see back home – a horse-drawn carriage crossed us, small towns with a population of five hundred, maybe a thousand.¬† There were no McDonald’s or Burger Kings, no malls or superstores.¬† There were mom and pop restaurants and stores like in the days of old, where everyone knew their neighbor and no one locked their doors.

We also saw things that made us laugh, like the gas pumps in front of the old store that looked like three little aliens staring at us.


Or how about this sign.


We don’t see that where I live!

But as much as I loved it, there are just things I would have trouble giving up – like the warm weather of the¬†South.¬† Twenty-two degree temperatures just don’t work for me.¬† I’m a little Southern girl through and through and I just don’t handle cold well.¬† Or¬†the cell phone service – no 4G where we were, it was “E”.¬† What is that?¬† I could not even get a picture to go through. ¬†Call me spoiled but that E was just plain sloooooow.

But the people were friendly and helpful and we made it home safely.¬† I am thankful that we were given the opportunity to visit Uncle C’s hometown, but I’m ¬†happy to be home, even with the hectic life I’m living.

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