I Gave a Care. I was a caregiver.

Welcome to a blog carnival featuring some of the blogosphere’s experts on caregiving. WeGiveaCare.org wil be highlighting the work of 8 women who write about what it feels like to be a primary caregiver to someone who depends on you — whether you’re on vacation, it’s a holiday, it’s an emergency at three in the morning, or through all the highs and lows of sickness and health.

We Give a Care continues to bring attention to the important work that caregivers willingly do. They encourage you to give thanks to the caregivers in your lives for unpaid work that weaves so many lives together, yet can often leave the caregiver herself or himself frayed and unraveled.

Thank a caregiver today! Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.

{This post was originally published on January 19, 2009.}

Hallucination Junction, what’s your function?

The weekend is already over. Why, oh, why, do the two days when Mother is home to help full time always seem to fly by? Our weekend was, well it was pretty interesting. We are now in the thick of a murder mystery. At some point between bedtime Saturday evening and wake up time Sunday morning a murder took place in GM’s mind.

I had Saturday “off”. It was a wonderful day where I slept in until almost 9am and didn’t have to jump up every time GM needed someone. I was able to loll about and work on some projects. And when Mother brought GM out into the den for some doses of sunshine I felt like I was actually a Granddaughter again and not a care-giver. GM did really well on Saturday and it felt like things might be improving.

But before that hope had a moment to settle in it was squashed by the late evening wake up of GM on Saturday night. She was agitated and not able to communicate at all. Drool slid down her mouth as she mumbled what was troubling her. Mother and I both went into puppet show overdrive trying to mime or act out that we were there to help/fix/tend/soothe. But no soothing would be had. Finally, and I am guessing out of sheer exhaustion, GM allowed herself to be tucked back into bed and somehow drifted off to sleep.

Sunday morning she was a bit altered, not wanting to leave her room except to go to the restroom. I decided to try the sunshine trick again and opened her curtains and blinds. I propped her up in bed and found a vintage game on the golf network for her to watch. She was bodily calm, but mentally restless. Mother offered to sit in the room with her (which, thank fucking Gawd she did because it was well over 2 million degrees in GM’s room). So most of Sunday there was this totally sweet vignette on the video monitor of GM seemingly happy to watch golf and Mother obviously happy to be able to read a book.

Mother says that as early as yesterday afternoon GM began telling her that someone had died. She wasn’t putting obvious words together to form a linked moment of thought, but the next phrase that Mother understood was that GM said she would be the next one to die.

Hallucinations say WHAT?

This is where it gets really fucked up to be a smart person with a brain sucking/killing disease. GM’s hallucinations are so real and vivid to her and they are so complex and odd/interesting to us. Of course we hate it to our core that she is ‘seeing’ things that are upsetting. I can’t even imagine ‘seeing’ the things she has recounted and then not having the ability to know that it was a dream. To not be able to rest or relax because when you look up you see horrible crimes or scary men.

Somehow the day went on and we got GM back on a bit of a routine. She went to bed a bit before 5 and things seemed to get calm again in the house. But then, just after 6, I looked up and saw GM getting up on the video monitor. I went into her room to see what combination of bathroom trip/blanket fix/calming words was needed and was surprised when she told me that there were now TWO dead women in the house and that she needed to investigate.

oof.

I tried to assure her that there were no dead women here, just tired women, and that all was fine. The tricky part is that you simply can not rationalize with someone who no longer has the ability to be rational. So telling GM that if something bad was happening that the dog would be barking doesn’t work. So I decided to get proactive. I loaded GM into her wheelchair and Mother and I toured the house with her. We went into all rooms and tried to find moments of reality that we could lasso her back in with. “Look! Here are our books!” or “Look! Here is that antique you love!” I even opened the front door to show her that her beloved car was still in the driveway.

She seemed better, calmer, content. We wheeled her back to her bedroom and as I knelt down to take her feet off of the rests I chirped that, “SEE!! Everything is fine. You have seen the entire house!” She humphed at me and retorted, “everything except where the bodies are.”

This morning she seems more plugged in. I can only hope. She allowed me to bring her out to the den of her breakfast of ensure+ and smooshed bananas in apple sauce. She pointed at the birds flying around and even let me include her in my 365 of the day. I can’t stop looking at this image of her smiling back at me.


This afternoon we have our first meeting with the social worker. Tomorrow is another visit with the bath lady and at some point this week awesome Nurse will be back. I am going to see if she has any ideas about what we do when the hallucinations take over again.

Disclosure: This post is republished as a way to give back to the caregiver community. I was not compensated for my participation in this carnival.

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