So during the 2019 crazy holiday season I bit off more than I could chew or so it would seem.
In the normal scheme of things I would have been able to push through stay up late, get up early, and meet my deadline but this season of life has suddenly not become the “norm” for me or my family.
I failed to complete and publish my article on Chef Alice Townsend that was promised on the 30th! My husband and kids said to give myself a break and even though it is in the editing process now, it weighs on me that I didn’t meet my deadline.
I want to openly share with you why this happened and hopefully let others, who may also be caring for an ailing parent, know that you are not alone.
Three weeks before Christmas…
Craig and I excitedly arrived home from Doha. We initially landed with the expectation of heading straight to our mountain hideaway. However, it came to our attention through family that my mother had taken a sudden turn and was exhibiting signs of dementia since I had been away. We then decided to delay our trip for a day and visit her and her husband before leaving.
Honestly, the changes in her cognitive abilities was overwhelming! She struggled to maintain a conversation that made any sense and my step-father was clearly exhausted. We had already planned to be back home the Sunday before Christmas to celebrate with extended family so we headed up to the mountains feeling very guilty and frustrated that there was no immediate solution.
In the meantime, we had some FaceTime conference calls with my step-brother and his wife in an effort to map out a plan of action for our conversation with my Mom and his Dad. Ultimately trying to figure out what the next steps should be. We are so thankful for our family support, especially while Craig is away it makes things just a little easier when you have an amazing support system within your family unit.
By the time we returned two weeks later (This is after receiving a phone call just about every day from my Mom asking if we were going to ‘stop by’ or what day it was we were coming for dinner.) she had again, become noticeably worse on all accounts. Craig and I decided to cut our trip short and return home so that we could attend a doctor appointment with them before he flew back overseas.
One day after Christmas…
After spending an hour and a half with her primary care doctor we learned that her dementia was progressing rapidly. It even came as a surprise to the doctor how much worse she seemed from her last visit.
During this visit he also revealed the cognitive testing done during a trip to the neurologist just weeks before, was considerably lower than even a typical alzheimer’s patient. (Although according to my Mom she aced it! Lol)
This brings me to this week and why I failed to get out my article…
In order to give my step-father some much needed rest. (I should mention that my Mom is now having trouble sleeping and is waking up demanding breakfast and her medicine at 3am.) We decided that I would pick her up during the week when I am not traveling for shoots and keep her with me during the days.
Now, until you have dealt with a dementia patient first hand, you really can’t know what it is like. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into on a day-to-day basis.
We purchased a desk for our living room so that she is able to see me while I work. I thought for sure this would be enough, but she assumes she is ‘alone’ if you are not actually looking directly at her and speaking to her. She is completely obsessed with her ‘blue pill’! This pill is for headaches she claims to have, however we all feel a placebo would be just as effective as she has severe anxiety and much of her complaints are related to that. But let me tell you that blue pill was switched to a white capsule and she is now convinced that it’s not the same thing. We spend hours and hours trying to convince her that her medicine is exactly the same, but there is really no explaining at this point.
She is also beginning to not understand the concept of time, so every 15 minutes she asks me what time it is and when her husband was coming to get her. Then when I tell her, she wants to call him to come pick her up. Food doesn’t taste the same to her, we have actually learned that lack of taste is one of the first signs of the onset of this disease and she has been complaining about that for years!
We are now in the process of looking at homes for her and she is agreeable to it as long as it is not on the third floor lol. When they tell you it is like taking care of a toddler, they are not lying. There is absolutely no time to fully complete a task because it is all consuming when she is here.
So that is where I am now, never a dull moment in our lives! You can expect to read about Chef Alice on Monday! I sincerely apologize for the delay, things will settle down very soon, but until then if I miss a post here and there you will know why.
Also, if you have experienced this and have any advice for us or even just need to talk to someone else in the same situation, I am all ears! It’s amazing how many people I have spoken to in the last couple weeks who have dealt with this situation, but it isn’t something you can relate to until you are in it.