Monday, March 1, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

It's a song, but it's also a truth in Anne's life.  As she is starting to slip into dementia, just the beginning stages mind you, she is unable to understand concepts that she used to, doesn't remember things that just occurred or occurred recently, but remenbers the past with exacting detail.  But her memory lapses are inconsistent even now, and last evening when we went to visit her, she was almost fully the Anne of old.  I don't know if it was the increase of Aricept that set off the improvement, or if it was her immenent release from the "home," but there were a number of remarkable turns in the conversation that made me know that she's coming back.

  1. She recognized everyone immediately.
  2. She confirmed that she knew she was leaving the home very soon.
  3. She confirmed that she recognized all of the furniture - hers - in the picture book I provided her of how we set up her new apartment.
  4. She was actually concerned about the "code of conduct" at the new complex; what she should do when she arrives so that she gets it right.
  5. She grilled Eric about what was happening to her money, who was handling it, how things were getting paid.
  6. She was concerned that she didn't have any lipstick and was quite relieved that we would stop at the make-up counter when she was released to buy her what she needs.
  7. She was thrilled that I am not only bringing her clothes, but also her purse, stocked.
  8. She understood the list of activities that I have provided her that we will be doing right after she is released.  We will be going to buy her new underwear.  We will be picking up her new glasses.  We will be visiting her new doctor in his office before he starts his regular house calls at her new apartment building.  She not only understood, but fully approved.
  9. She remembered Miles's issue and questioned Eric - and Miles - about how he was feeling.
  10. And most important of all, when the kids were getting into trouble by taking the sharpie pen that I have hanging from her gigantic calendar-on-the-wall and were drawing pictures all over it, she smiled and even giggled a little.  This is the first time -other than a few days ago when I assured her when she was sprung I would bring her own clothing to wear out - that I've seen any kind of happiness on her part.
I'm thrilled.  I'm worried of course, too.  As the final items are checked off of our list for her move on Tuesday and everything is on a collision course to be complete on time, I am starting to relax because it's going to happen.  And with that relaxation, without the intense focus that I have had on getting everything done (still an operations specialist at heart, I fear), now I'm starting to have time to think about the "what if's."  What if she doesn't bounce back?  What if she doesn't adapt to her new home or doesn't like it.  What if her memory lapses are not stress combined with common disorientation that the elderly experience, combined with being over medicated?  What if they are because the fall she had in her apartment... the one that set off this course of events, was a TIA that nobody either caught or bothered to tell us about, and it wiped out a large portion of her brain?  The what if's are starting to crowd out the "To Do" list now.

As I wrote to Barbara, Anne's niece, we have done and are doing everything we can to put things into place for Anne.  Gawd only knows, I've fought my hardest for her at the Convalescent Home, and although the staff at best has mixed feelings about me, dreads having me show up at their doors (expecially Administration), and I think fears me a little bit too, it's mixed in with admiration for the good fight I've been waging for Anne.  I've given up demanding even most reasonable things that just weren't going to happen, and focused in on the tiny things that they COULD do and meant the most to Anne.  Keeping up the calendar.  Getting her into reasonable and clean clothing.  And keeping everyone on track for Tuesday.  Once we have all the pieces in place and she has moved, it's up to Anne herself to figure out her new reality.  I have absolute faith in her new home to take appropriate care of her.  I've been going in and out at all different hours of the day and night, unannounced.  I have not seen anything that would make me suspicious, but I've seen a lot of things that are very comforting.  Now it's up to her.

But again, what of the management side of this whole deadline? My question includes Eric.  He is by nature a thinker, and is constantly coming up with ideas and better ideas and absolutely brilliant ideas. I've never met anyone with so many fantastic ideas and I absolutely LOVE this trait about him.  I love him.  He is more than I ever could have asked for and definitely more than I deserved.  But, when facing a hard deadline like we were facing, he is still a thinker, weighing the options and taking time to consider the results, and I am more of an OCD person, envisioning the results and behaving like a bulldozer to get there on time.  I fear I will always be an operations specialist when there is a hard deadline in sight.  I get things done, and damned the damages that might occur if something gets in the way.  How are we to manage this critical difference in our styles?  Neither of us is either right or wrong in our approaches.  We're just polar opposites in this respect.

Anne's deadline has opened up a line of conversation between us which I think is critically important.  How do we handle the differences in our styles once we merge families and households?  It's really good that it came up now and we can start addressing it before we move in.  And there's no question but that we are moving.  The only thing that will change that is if Eric changes his mind about me.  I have a feeling he won't.

Meanwhile, he and I are going to Anne's apartment for the last serious work session before she moves.  Get the paperwork out of there.  Get my toolbox out of there.  See if the leg on the chair that we glued back together will hold.  Meet with Administration, ensure that the last things that they have to do are taken care of before Tuesday.  Give them a list of our concerns and questions about Anne's ongoing care, and our part in it... see if we can get any answers.  I'm betting that they have the answers before we even complete the questions.

Then to Miles's doctor for his own test results.  I'm looking forward to that appointment.  I'm expecting that they will confirm what we already know and tell us that it isn't any more serious than we think.  I hope.

Drop off my own lab work at Cedars, and hopefully be home in time for Richard's Clubhouse Chat.  Hopefully.

Then get in a good night's rest because Tuesday is a big day for everyone.  After Tuesday, I can relax and start to focus in on my own problems.

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