Monday, July 30, 2012

Ya Gotta Have a Big Mouth...

Once again it pays to have a big mouth & ask a lot of questions. It was Mama's fourth ER visit within the last six months! If I didn't push for her to be released from the hospital, she would have been there all weekend. And we all know that not much can happen in the hospital on a weekend.

Me: Is this test necessary? Was that test necessary?  I want to speak to the doctor now. She received her transfusion overnight & is very anxious to leave, I want her released. She is disoriented, remember she does have Dementia.

Nurse: Ohh, that's right she has Dementia. Well, the doctor won't be here for a few more hours.

Me: Oh, really? I just heard the doctor being paged. I need to speak to her & clarify the situation. I know the wait isn't necessary just to speak to her, especially if Mama doesn't need anymore tests.

After using my charm & refusing to take NO for an answer, the doctor magically appears within minutes. She agrees with me that yes in fact Mama is fine now & can leave. BTW, I was correct again... the test was not needed. Nor was the wait to have the test (that couldn't be done over the weekend anyway) which would have caused Mama more anxiety & confusion staying in an unfamiliar place. We packed her up & left... Phewww!!!

My ADVICE for other Caregivers... Speak up, don't take NO for an answer & keep asking questions. Be like your loved one with Dementia & KEEP REPEATING YOURSELF to EVERYONE - the nurses, the doctors, anyone & everyone. You know your loved one more than anyone in the ER or the doctor seeing them for the first time. Have your info available (meds, history, etc) most nurses or doctors do not read the charts or will ask the same questions that are already listed in the charts! Don't be afraid to speak up & question things & always ask about any alternative options. Don't accept the first suggestion & say what you feel your loved one needs (think Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment" - "Give my daughter the shot NOW... thank you...")

Hang in there & know that you can do it!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mama Remembers Barbra & "Dolly"

It's been one year since I was lucky enough to win a contest to meet Barbra Streisand on the set of her  movie, "The Guilt Trip" in Las Vegas. I still can't believe I actually met Barbra, a real sweetheart BTW! I only mention it because the other night I said to Mama "It was one year ago when I met Barbra, do you remember that?" "Of course I remember that...YOU met DOLLY". (Well, I guess she told me).

Mama has always loved Barbra & it was such a big deal for her that I won, even though she knew she wasn't going to meet her. We made a short funny video where Mama announced that "her son won a contest to meet Barbra Streisand". She got so excited that she had a coughing fit & started laughing, it was really comical. Watch her video below that was from one year ago...
We continued to talk about the Barbra meeting & I showed Mama some photos that were taken in Vegas again to refresh her memory. All of a sudden, Mama starts singing her own "version" of Hello Dolly! Sometimes Mama is right on the money & it still surprises me & helps lift my mood during our visits. It was a very creative take on the song, but just the fact that she had the connection between the song & the singer, was pretty remarkable. I hope you enjoy the two short videos that were filmed one year apart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Am Not a Saint

For all of you that follow Dementia-Mama-Drama & may think that I'm some kind of a saint... I gotta be totally honest. I am NOT a saint nor have I played one on TV.

There are so many levels of being a Caregiver, it's hard to explain. The best analogy for me would be having a child when you never planned on having one - but wouldn't change it if you could.

There are days I have to distance myself & think of myself first. Those days are rare, but I do have them. Those are the days when I feel the Italian/Catholic/Jewish "guilt". Sometimes I just want to run away from the entire Caregiving situation & leave it all for someone else. The problem is there isn't anyone else - only a half brother who has left it all for me. And besides, I could never not be there for Mama.

Then there are other days that remind me of when I was growing up & how Mama & I would constantly challenge each other. The roles have changed, but the dynamics & the game is still the same.

Thankfully, there are those days where I can enjoy it all for what it is & be grateful that I still have Mama. We can still laugh, sing, tell stories, make up stories & play cards. That is the part I prefer to share & focus on with all of you, to let you know there can still be good days... if you just "let go" & be in the moment.

One of Mama's favorite saints was St Jude, which is the saint of lost causes. It's ironic that Alzheimer's Disease is considered a lost cause to many... but to me it's just another part of our life. Mama's other favorite saint was St Theresa, "little flower show your power in my most needed hour". So maybe I am a Saint, just don't call me Theresa!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"That's My Baby"

As I walk into Mama's room, I notice that she is humming & holding one of her stuffed animals. She wins these as prizes at the nursing home during their bingo games. She looks up at me & she caught me slightly off guard.

Vin: Hi Mama, what the hell are you doing?

Mama: I'm singing to my baby.
(I start to freak out a little )

Vin: Whaddya mean your baby?

Mama: That's my baby.

Vin: Mama, that's a stuffed dog.

Mama: I KNOW it's a stuffed dog, but it keeps me company.
(A sigh of relief, she knows it's a stuffed dog & NOT a baby)

Vin: Ok, what song were you singing?

Mama: "Yes, sir that's my baby."

I wheel her out of her room & into the garden as we start singing together.
"Yes sir thats my baby, no sir I don't mean maybe..."

That's HER baby & That's MY Mama!