Monday, September 02, 2013

Of Dreams And Dementia

I had an odd dream yesterday morning.  I was outside my childhood home, the one we just sold a few months ago.  The lawn was not well kept and the garbage cans were out for collection, but not in the place where my family normally put them.

Taped to one of the garbage cans was a note from our nosy neighbors telling the people that now lived in Mom's old house that they needed to do a better job maintaining their yard.  I tore the note off the can because I was angry because this is the sort of thing my neighbor might have done when we lived there, and I always found his obtrusiveness annoying.

Just as I tore the note off the can, the current owner of the house came out.  I've never met him in a real life, so I don't know what he really looks like, but in my dream he was kind of stocky.  Not wanting him to think I had taken something from his property, I handed him the note and told him I had found it nearby and it must be his.  I also extended my hand and told him who I was and that I used to live there.  He shook my hand reluctantly, as if he thought I was some kind of stalker.  Not wanting to bother him further, I said goodbye and headed next door to our former neighbors house.

I knocked on their door and could hear my sister-in-law laughing inside, but no one answered.  At this moment a phone call from my brother woke me up from my dream.

It was about 6:00 a.m. so I knew it must be an emergency of some sort.  My brother rarely calls me and he doesn't call me that early.  I knew it was probably about Mom.

Sure enough, Mom had been taken to the hospital after one of the caregivers at the assisted living facility found her on the floor on her knees in a crouched position resting on her elbows.  She was sweating profusely, was very disoriented, and had wet herself.  Mom had last been checked at 4:00 am and was fine.  They check the residents every two hours.  Some time between 4 and 6 a.m. Mom had fallen, probably on her way to the bathroom.

Her blood sugar was through the roof.  At the hospital it was determined that she had a skin infection, which may explain the rise in blood sugar and was also diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that can get in the blood stream and cause kidney damage.  Mom complained of knee soreness (presumably from her fall).

Anyway, she's still in the hospital, but her prognosis is good and she is expected to be released to the assisted living facility in a couple of days.

I must confess that my first thought (before I knew how serious or not serious her condition was) was "If it's her time to go, I hope she goes and goes quickly."  I had thought it strange that I was just dreaming about her house when I got the call and wondered if it was a sign of some sort.

The truth is that Mom's condition will only continue to deteriorate while she's living, and I am not exactly thrilled to watch that happen.  I am not eager to see the day when she forgets who I am or can no longer control her bowels or feed herself or communicate.  I'd rather remember my mom as happy, functioning, and independent, which she still is, than see her become even more of a shell of her former self.

Whenever it is Mom's time, I feel ready.  I can honestly say that I have no regrets when it comes to Mom.  I have cared for her the best way I know how and I know she knows how much I love her, and I feel the same from her.  I do not feel I could have done any more regarding Mom's care than I have done.  Our last conversation before I received the phone call from my brother was a good one.  She was happy.

I have since talked to her.  She seems a bit out of it, but still seems fairly coherent.  She is eager to go back to her home at the assisted living facility.  It evidently isn't her time right now, and as I have long suspected, she will likely live a while.

I have spoken to Mom every day but three since she went into the assisted living facility in January.  I have watched her go from hating the place she lives to really enjoying it and making friends.

The dream about Mom's house made me remember again how unfair it sometimes seems that Mom's destined path is one of a loss of independence and mental faculties.  I wish she could have lived in her own home on her own terms for the rest of her life.  Obviously that wasn't meant to be, and both she and her children are better off now that she is in the assisted living facility.  We are less stressed and worried, and she is far healthier and seems happier in many ways.  But it is not what I would have wished for her nor is it what she would have wished for herself.  But what is, is, and we have all come to terms with that.  I only know that when it is Mom's time to go, whether it be tomorrow or 15 years from now, I am ready to let her go.  I am ready for her to be free of the shackles that mortality can bring and for her to be reunited with loved ones who have already passed, including my dad.

The other interesting thing about my dream was that I found out that the neighbor next door to Mom, who didn't answer his door in the dream and who also suffered from dementia in real life, had passed away on Friday (but I did not find this out until after I had had the dream).  I am sad for his widow, but I also know his deterioration has been hard on her.  Both of them have lived next to my mom (and dad) as long as my parents lived in that house.  While I don't necessarily feel we had a lot in common with them or their family, they were valued friends and neighbors whom I have know my entire life.  I left a phone message with the wife expressing my condolences.

I thought it interesting that the Lord would take one person suffering from this disease and leave another to continue experiencing it.  Such is the way of life, I suppose.

Anyway, this entry seems a bit rambling to me.  I'm not even sure what my point has been.  Hopefully you who read it will get something out of it.

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