Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Gilded Cage

She sits in her room.  Or she wanders the halls, sometimes with her walker, sometimes without (because she forgets.) Her mind flits about like a butterfly, from memory to memory, all of it disjointed and from different time periods. But to her, it is all the same. 

There is only one consistent thought.  She wants to go home.  That's where she belongs.  She must get out of this place.  And she asks every visitor who comes to see her if they would just help her with her things so she can leave and go back home where she is needed. Her desire is so great to go home that at times, she has gone to the door and pounded and kicked at it. All that gets her is more medication so that she can be more "manageable."

Her visitors, when she begs them to take her home, change the subject. They let her patter on about the same stories, let her ask the same questions over and over again, and when they must go, they make some excuse to get out of the room ... knowing she will forget they were even there in a minute or so. And then she will complain because "nobody ever comes" to see her. 

Mom (in the foreground) in her element - August 2015.
My sister is in the background.
I spoke with her this morning on the phone. She was so pleased to hear from me, and talked about needing to have someone drive her home so she could fix supper because she was working and couldn't come home for lunch. So today, she was stuck in 1992... 25 years ago ... and in that brief period of time, she wasn't even in the hospital. I just let her talk.  It wouldn't have done any good to tell her that this was 2017. She would have forgotten anyway. Time has no meaning for her anymore - except for the interminable wait to go home and how the seconds seem like hours when nobody is in to see her. 

Her nurse tells me that she is doing fine, that she occasionally gets agitated, feeling like she is trapped there (which she is, really), and they just give her an olazepin and she calms down. So I look up that medication on the Internet, and I think about how offensive it would be to her if she realized she was on an anti-psychotic drug, something to keep her from freaking out.  But she isn't in control of that anymore. And now, as never before, I realize that neither am I.  The hospital staff are in control; the government is in control. 

I know that she is safe and protected where she is, that she is fed nutritious food and sleeps well at night with no danger of her wandering. I get that. And it's probably a blessing that she doesn't realize how powerless and dependent she is. It is just wrenching to watch, even from this distance, to hear her lose more and more of her sense of time and self.  One minute is pretty much the same as the next.  She is incredibly lonely, a nearly empty shell looking for a place to lie down, the homing instinct being the only thing she has left.  Much of what made her what she was, is going or gone. The spark, the chutzpah, those are disappearing into the fog of dementia.

And it's Mother's Day. 


No comments:

Post a Comment