It had been a week and Mom continued to be a lot more “Mom-like.” Friday night, my brother, sister-in-law and youngest nephew came up to meet us for dinner at a local restaurant. I told my brother Mom had been doing better, but seeing is believing.
I helped her with her clothing selections because some of her sweaters had little stains she can’t see. She did her make-up and hair herself (I helped with the back). She even put her boots on unassisted.
My brother called to say he was on the way. We decided to meet at the restaurant so we could reserve a table for 6 and be seated shortly after their arrival. That strategy worked out well.
We sat down and looked over our menus. For the first time in many years, Mom ordered a cocktail. There have been times when she was up for a glass of white wine, but generally, she goes for water or tea. Last night, she asked for what my sister-in-law ordered (double vodka with cranberry) and we all looked at each other in shock. Then, without agonizing, she ordered chicken parmigiana with a lobster tail! Again, there was an exchange of surprised looks around the table.
Everyone (except my 9 year old nephew, who is obsessed with video games and mostly attended to his iPad as the grown-ups conversed) ate and drank with gusto. Mom even laughed out loud a few times.
When we got home, Mom stayed up and watched TV with me. I passed out in my chair; she came over to kiss me goodnight and she went to bed.
In the morning, Mom got up a little later than usual (9:15 or so) and I asked her if she was hung over. She smiled and said she felt pretty good. I said it seemed like she had a really good time last night. She said she felt “human.”
My brother called around 10 to say what a good time they had with us. He said Mom had told him she felt that she had been depressed and it was finally lifting. (When I spoke to her about it later, she had no recollection of that exchange). I mentioned some of the changes I’ve been making to her regimen, including some supplements and better diet. The Exelon patches don’t appear to be doing anything negative, and they may be helping to arrest the progress of her cognitive issues. And social interaction with caregivers has some value as well.
As Sunday progressed, Mom’s confusion became more profound again. When I told her that her usual caregiver would be back on Monday, she couldn’t remember who that was, claiming to have only met her once (and it’s been over 2 weeks). Her weekend caregiver tried to engage her in simple word games and puzzles. No interest there. No connection to the day of the week, even as she glanced at the Sunday paper.
As someone who has no innate sense of direction, I have learned to achieve a comfort level with being lost. It’s been years since I’ve panicked over not knowing where I am; it’s just part of the way I live my life. (I always carry maps in the car and my recent acquisition of a GPS device has been a boon in this regard). But the point is, I’m glad that to have a nature that allows me to stay calm despite seismic shifts. Another one is coming.
My birthday is on a Saturday this year and I asked for coverage that evening so I can go out with my husband without concern; my own birthday present to myself. Whether she needs it or not, it’s good to know someone will be there.
One of my favorite expressions comes from Yiddish: “Man makes plans and God laughs.” All I can do is prepare, and when the old puppet master in the sky starts chuckling, hope he’ll let me in on the joke every now and then.