Monday, January 08, 2018

The Ghost of Christmas Now Past

Christmas 2017, at 3:54 am, I started writing this particular blog post.  I just started transcribing and refining.  It's yet another insight into the wonderful world of living with a family member with vascular dementia. 

I find myself hoping that someone out there is dealing with the same stuff as me.  Is there someone else out there that feels the same way I do about this?  I mean, I can't be the only one, right? Hello? Anybody out there? Houston, I have a problem and I'd love a little help...

Without further ado, here you go...  The post that I'm calling The Ghost of Christmas Now Past.

Christmas 2017, early morning: 3:54am. 

It was the stacatto of the dog going completely apeshit that prompted Casey to get out of bed and head downstairs.  It took a minute for me to register that Kara (el doggo) was indeed barking at my Mom.    I had FINALLY fallen asleep a little more than an hour ago, the whole time convinced that if I did actually fall asleep something horrible would happen.  Instead of the traditional Christmas saying of "sugar plums dancing in their heads" I was envisioning my mom falling out of bed or getting up and trying to go up the stairs for one reason or another and then falling.  Why the hell did I buy a tri-level and then proceed to invite my mom to spend the holidays with us again? I'm a horrible daughter.

Turns out she was in the kitchen, hence the dog barking.  Thankfully, there was no falling involved. Casey helped her back down the stairs and to the bathroom (which was her ultimate goal).  He came back to bed and I found myself 100% awake, mind playing 100 different scenarios.  It was after a couple of minutes that I realized that she would probably need help, so I grabbed my robe and headed down the stairs.  She did, indeed, need help, so that's what I did and then took her back to bed.   I tucked her in like she was a little kid and as I stood in the doorway, turning off the room's light, she looked at me and said, almost lucidly "At three o'clock in the morning, the enthusiasm has died down."  

I responded with "Yes, mom.  But that's only because it's 3 o'clock."  I said it like a silent promise.  Like when the sun rose, everything would be better and I would be more "enthusiastic" at a time that wasn't right now.  

Realistically, I'd love to be more enthusiastic.  It's hard to be, though, when you see your elderly parent deteriorating to the point where they cannot function on their own.  Honestly? I'm amazed she even knew it was 3am.  With her dementia progressing, I'm all for the little victories and knowing it's 3am? Definitely a point for the win column!  I'm also 100% sure she mostly knows where she is.  Is that a bit of an oxymoron? Maybe? She knows she's not at home.  Win.  Unfortunately, this is probably the last time something like this will occur.  Spending the night on Christmas, while wonderful and supposedly magical is anything but.  Spending the night on Christmas is nerve wracking and chances are pretty good that I will not get back to sleep.  Especially with the sun right around the corner.  I think the kids even set an alarm.  They were plotting for an 8am alarm, but I think it's going to be a lot earlier.    I'm also thinking that chances are pretty good my mom will get up and try and wander around the house.  Thankfully, if I fall back asleep, we have the bark machine to alert us.  Kara really does not feel comfortable with Mom in the house.  "STRANGER DANGER!!"  

I THINK I have officially compartamentalized in my head that this is the last Christmas that my mom will be spending with us at home.  Going forward, the trip will inevitably be made to her place of care.  As a kid, my Mom always had me and her piano students volunteer at an old folks home around Christmas.  We would play a Christmas program for them; there would be singing.  One year the ballet studio that I was studying got involved and there was dancing as well.   I always hated it.  I looked at it as a chore.  My Mom knew this.  She would tell me "They need some Christmas cheer."  Looking back, I find it hard that she actually said those words, but the essence of them was certainly there.  It was more we were doing it to bring a smile to peoples' faces.  Now, though, I find myself shifting into the mindset that visiting my Mom on Christmas will be the chore.  The sad and annoying chore that I don't want to do.  Christmas will now be a chore.  That's where the compartamentalizing thing kicks in.  I have to turn that part of my brain off so I can deal with what I believe to be the problem at hand.  I ultimately hate myself for it.  "Come on kids, we have to go see Abuelita!" I'll say.  Everyone will begrudgingly get into the car, we got there, there's the bribery of McDonald's involved. 

So, back to the present.  Why can't I just enjoy the time I have?  Why do I have to turn it into a chore?  I have to figure that one out.  I have a year to do it... There I go procrastinating again.   In the meantime, though, I've been wringing my hands, stressed about having her herere.  Funny, I still very much think that things have to be 100% perfect for her.   She always demanded perfection in the past and one of my hang-ups was that nothing was ever good enough for her.  I always ALWAYS felt like such a failure because I could never meet her standards.  

Casey keeps telling me "She's not going to care.  She doesn't understand."  And, as per usual, he's right.  That doesn't mean that I didn't clean the kitchen at midnight before I went to bed.   

I really really really really want to find a way to handle this, because honestly it's going to get a lot worse.  There is nothing that I want more than to just enjoy this time with my mom but I continually feel more and more pressure and more and more frustration.  I haven't been able to compartamentalize the disease vs the person.   I love my mom, yes.  I hate the disease, yes.  This fucking sucks.  

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