Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving redux

Plans have changed for Thanksgiving. We are going to dinner at McCormick and Schmick's on Lake Union. This was Mom's original plan. I decided it would be easier for Pamela and I if we just went ahead with her plan. Pamela is exhausted with work, I am exhausted with Mom, so let someone else do the cooking. Mom just loves to sit in the big dining room and watch the other diners. This will also make it easier on Mom. She was dreading us helping her up the stairs to the house. At the restaurant, we can just roll her from the parking lot into the restaurant.

Hair stylist

Mom has now decided that I am her hair stylist. She informed me that I would be cutting her hair after dinner yesterday afternoon. I have to say, this is one task that I really dread. Mom used to be a hair stylist, so you can imagine that her standards are much higher than my abilities in this area. I managed to get it done, but I cut it too short around her face. I just did the best I could and thankfully, she didn't complain too much. I believe this is all part of her cost cutting measures. She is concerned that she will run out of money at some point.

After lunch and beauty parlor time, she started in on me again about lugging a hug 1980's floor lamp out of her apartment. Her plan was that I would bring back a side table and lamp from my house to put in it's place. I had given the lamp away because my garage is already full of her other furniture. I also have no desire to lug anymore furniture back and forth. The move last July did me in on that score. I told her in no uncertain terms that I was not going to move anything out or into her apartment. She is so crowded in there now with all this furniture, that it just doesn't make any sense to me to bring in anything else. It kind of feels like she is barricading herself with furniture. I just got up and left.

A few hours later, I checked the messages at home and found a call from Mom. I called her back and she was sobbing about the TV not working. I went over there and found her sitting in her chair totally confused about how to work the TV. Granted, she has two remotes, but she is always doing this lately. She messes with one and then that disables the second one from working. I set it back up and set it on the channel she likes for the news.

The most disturbing part of this whole interaction was when she said that she didn't understand anything anymore. I think we may be dealing with some dementia now. A couple of times when I have called her, her words sound slurred. I think she may be having mini strokes or TIA's.

From the American Heart Association Website:

What is a TIA or transient ischemic attack?

A TIA is a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke" that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke.

Most strokes aren't preceded by TIAs. However, of the people who've had one or more TIAs, more than a third will later have a stroke. In fact, a person who's had one or more TIAs is more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn't.

TIAs are important in predicting if a stroke will occur rather than when one will happen. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.

What causes a transient ischemic attack?

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn't get the blood it needs. The symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Most TIAs last less than five minutes. The average is about a minute. Unlike stroke, when a TIA is over, there's no injury to the brain.

What are the symptoms of a TIA?

It's very important to recognize the warning signs of a TIA or stroke. The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary:

* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
* Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.

Unfortunately, Mom will not go to see a doctor. She doesn't want to spend the money. Her prescriptions run out soon, so I'll just have to wait and see if that spurs her to find a new doctor in West Seattle.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Here we are

Close to the holidays again. Mom seems frail...somewhat forgetful. I try to do my best, but she continues to be a challenge.

I just got back from taking her some homemade chili for her dinner. Also dropped off some homemade buttermilk pancakes. The only meal she really cooks is breakfast. Otherwise, it is microwaving a dinner or boiling a hot dog. I try and take her out to eat at least once a week.

Friday night we did dinner out and shopping. I think that is more than she can handle now. By the time we got home she was whimpering and not making much sense.

It is hard to believe that she has lived more than 2 years past Dad's death. She can't believe it either, but she also fears death.

I think she is coming to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. She was resistant at first because there was a possibility that some friends would be here as well. That didn't come together. In the meantime, she asked my brother if she could come to his house and got a resounding NO. She was upset by that, but has rebounded enough to now decide to have dinner with us. She stirs up drama like this every year.

The other news is that we are taking a break...going to New York City for 5 days in early December. My job ends Nov. 19. I am going to have reconstructive foot surgery in January. I'll be on crutches for 4-6 weeks. We will have to come up with some alternatives for taking care of Mom.