Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Well, I'm going to try to play catch up in this one post...so here we go. 
     First, I kind of have to mention that I was sick for a few weeks.  Yes, weeks!  It was not fun at all!  The quick version is I started feeling sick New Year's Eve (and it wasn't from "celebrating" too much).  The first week was terrible.  I was "coughing up a lung".  It was also a holiday and a holiday weekend...and we had new health insurance effective the first of the year, but my husband did not have the ID cards yet so even if I wanted to go to urgent care wasn't sure how that would work... 
     Week two I felt better, but it was not really going away.  Went to the doctor.  They thought I had pneumonia and gave me the antibiotics, etc. pending the radiologist's reading of the x-ray.  Turns out, no pneumonia.  Kind of a bummer because by then I kinda just wanted the antibiotics. 
     Didn't leave the house for a good ten days.  Only started feeling completely better last week.  Worse yet, I can't even count it as "the flu" as the doctor said it was just a bad virus.  I had not seen my mom since Christmas Day and certainly was not going to go over there sick as I was.  In fact, I went to the doctor the day before my mom's birthday in hopes of getting the "all clear" that I was ok, or getting antibiotics.  Well, I didn't get the "all clear" or the antibiotics.
     Not only did I have cabin fever, but I realized I couldn't even see my mom on her birthday.  The thought of her not even knowing for one minute that it was her birthday left me feeling a bit sad.  Also, my brother was working that day with plans to visit the next day.  I know...some would say it's ok because she doesn't realize it (but I do!!).
     In the end, my husband kindly offered to visit my mom on my behalf.  Unfortunately, it was a Friday and he and the kids were not able to get there until about 8 pm.  My mom was just getting settled into bed.  I told them to bring a birthday balloon and a smoothie -- which they did.  I was thankful for technology -- Jacob "Face Timed" me with his phone from my mom's room and I was able to see her and wish her a Happy Birthday.  I felt better!
     They even took a couple pictures for me.  It was cute to see her with the cupcake balloon all comfortable in bed.  To be honest, it also was not the "birthday picture" I was hoping for.  Here is my mom on her birthday two years ago -- we went to Olive Garden which you can read about here.  The "comparison" pictures of the last few Christmases or birthdays bring mixed emotions as the changes are evident.

     When I finally got over to see my mom it had been a good 2 1/2 weeks since I had been there.  She had just finished up a lunch she must have loved because her plate was clean!  I was told it was some kind of seafood fettuccine -- so no doubt she probably loved it!!  She had a new friend -- this little bulldog who seems to have different names.  I believe she called him "cutie pie" when I was there.  It appears my mom is getting comfortable without having "Muffin" with her 24/7.  I am taking this as a good sign that she also feels perhaps more "secure" with where and how she is living, but not quite sure.
     I helped her go through a few cards I found in her room that she had received for her birthday -- her 71st Birthday!!!  After all we have been through, I do not take her birthdays for granted.  That is probably why it bothered me to miss this one. 
     A few days later, I finally got out for lunch with a girlfriend.  We were not far from my mom's senior community, so I decided to take a chance and do a quick check on her.  It's funny, because although I try not to worry...but I still sometimes do.  Next time I'm worried, I am going to try to remember that this is how I found her on my most recent visit...  Having more fun than many of us!!

Mom...the Party Animal
      I was especially surprised by the little "shot" cup in her hand.  Mexican hat, music, little white cup....  I quickly then realized not everyone had a "shot" -- only my mom who had managed to get a quick "shot" of the flavored coffee cream that was on the table in the dining room.  If it's on the table, she's probably going to take it!!
     I believe it was "National Hat Day" and they were having a good time and even had cake!!!  I watched my mom eat every...single...bite...of a huge piece of cake that I thought for sure was going to end up on her shirt about ten times, yet somehow never did!!! 
     I had the chance to talk to the activities director and found out she had been very sick recently as well.  She also told me that when she talked to the residents on my mom's birthday she always tells them the date and on that day my mom said, "that's my birthday".   So, she did know afterall... 
    Sadly, I also learned of a couple of residents who have recently passed away.  Never easy to hear news like that.
    So, as I was talking to my mom and scanning the room looking at the other residents...  My eyes fell upon this guy -- and I did a double take...  Does anyone know why I did a double take????
Not..."the Don"
     Well, I think this guy has a striking resemblance to "the Don"...my mom's old friend from her assisted living community (take a look for yourself here).  I zoomed in and took a picture to make sure I wasn't seeing things. I realized it was not actually him, but for a quick moment wasn't so sure.
     In other more business type news, I have had two "care conferences" in the last two months.  One in the middle of December and one in the middle of this month.  This is where the nutritionist, social worker, activities director, and nursing staff give an update on my mom.  It is a short 15 minute meeting that I now have learned is automatically schedule "quarterly".  Although I am happy with the overall care my mom has received, there are still many loopholes in "the system" and I just have to continue to do my best to oversee things. 
     The nurses and staff also told me that recently my mom had been leaning down from her wheelchair trying to pick things up off the floor.  They wanted to put her in a little bit bigger wheelchair for comfort and to tilt the seat back a notch to hopefully deter her from getting hurt.  I agreed to it and I actually take her getting into "mischief" as a sign she is doing pretty good.  You may recall, that wheelchair she had was really only meant as a "transport" type wheelchair as a temporary aid to keep my mom from falling.  Now that she relies on it all the time, a more comfortable chair seems like a good idea.
     Thankfully, my mom seems to have been in a good place these last several weeks.  I continue to hear from staff how they love my mom's sense of humor and they usually have some funny stories to share.
     You may recall that when I was in the process of trying to move my mom into this nursing community I ran into a family friend who is the RN for the assisted living part of the community.  I recently got a text that she was taking some time to visit with my mom and she sent this picture.  It warms my heart to see this and I truly appreciate all she has done to help my mom.  She has known my mom for a long time and has shared in some good times with our family.

Tanya Making a Visit
     My brother and my niece also visited this past weekend and sent me the picture below. 
As for me, I will be making another visit very soon -- and using lots of the hand sanitizer they provide in her community. 
If you have your health -- you have everything!!!!
Nicole, Mom and Mike