Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ebb and Flow

I talked to Granny this last weekend for a long time, and it was just like it used to be. She laughed, asking about how the cats were adapting to the new house - her voice warm and full of love and happiness. She said she was scared of her upcoming visit to the neurologist, but that she was going to put on her brave face and be "your iron horse." She sounded young, and chipper... and the woman I remember. With the soft arms and enormous bosom that she would smother you with hugs with. She was again the fiery Irish redhead who took no lip from anyone... She was her, if only for a brief hour.

[When I was 12, and PaPaw passed away, it was just the two of us - and it was hard. Really really hard emotionally. Shortly after his funeral she took me aside and told me that I was going to have to be very strong, and that although I was still young I was going to have to try to be "a little tin soldier." She promised me that she would be an iron horse, carrying the brunt of it, and pulling me through. From that time on, when things were rough, my divorce, her multiple heart attacks, we always referred to each other that way.]

Now, it's official. She's been diagnosed with severe Alzheimer's and there is no turning back of the clock. The parts of her we've lost, the doctor said will never be recovered. They've juggled her plethora of medicines around, and she's now on Aricept to help to try to stop the progression of the disease. Things will ebb and flow, and there will be moments that are better - but overall, it's not good.

The doctor said it's bad. Really bad. Bad in the way that my last conversation with her may be the last one in which she's really coherent. The flashes of lucidity are becoming so much rarer. The long term memory is stronger, but short term - she's basically got no memory at all. I feel so enormously guilty because I let her off the phone when I pulled in the driveway. I could have had a few more minutes with her. Just a few more words. Just to tell her I loved her. I want her to remember that.

I called her today from the office, and asked her about her hospital visit yesterday. She had no idea what I was talking about. She asked about work, and about a few things, and then it was all jibberish.

I can't stop the torrent of tears. I can't stop the feeling of hopelessness, of feeling so awful that I used to be irritated when she wouldn't stop talking and I just wanted to get off the phone, that I didn't call when I say I would - or chose to go on vacation instead of visiting her.

I should have done a better job. I should have told her I loved her more, taken better care of her, been there for her.

She told me that she wants to come home, so she can die in peace.

I am so afraid. I feel so small. So helpless.

25 Comments:

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous mm said...

There are no words. I'm just so sorry for what you're going through.

 
At 6:46 PM, Anonymous statia said...

Oh April, I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Ms. Pants said...

I know you know this already in your heart but your eyes need to see it.

Nothing you could have said or done would have stopped this disease. It is not your fault. Please do not beat yourself up over it.

Your gran knows you love her. You know your gran loves you. At this point, that's all that matters.

Call me if you need me. Anytime.

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger the waiting line said...

I am so very sorry.

Tell her you LOVE her every day if you can. She may forget from one day to the next. But it won't change the fact that you still love her, and I'm sure she would love to hear it - as much as possible.

 
At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

April I'm sorry you are going through this. My grandfather has Alzheimer's too. It's so hard, but be there for her and try to remember all the good things about the times you've spent together.

- Jenny T.

 
At 3:21 AM, Blogger sirwilliam said...

I know how tough this is. My grandfather also had Alzhiemers. It was not easy to handle it, and I was in a much more grandparent type relationship with him. The one thing I do know is that you did show her that you love her, and still do. Trust in your heart that she knows that. Also, know that your last conversation with her was not the last. There will be more days when she is coherent. Although there have been good times and bad times, there are always memories that we have to reflect upon. Above all else, love is not something that Alzheimers can take away.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Jenn said...

I'm so sorry hon. *hugs*

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Oh, April. This post made my heart sore. It's quite clear to everyone who had read this you love your Gran very much. And I think you can keep telling her every minute. Even if she doesnt remember it the next day, for that one moment, she'll feel that. And single moments are important too and they add up even if we don't remember it in a convential way.

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger DD said...

It seems so unfair that those who seemed to be the sharpest, the smartest, the wisest, lose that before the body. I'm sorry.

 
At 9:27 AM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

So sorry you are going through this.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Shinny said...

So sorry that you are upset. Like others have posted, you told her you loved her when she could remember and even though it may not seem like that memory is there, deep down she knows.
Tell her you love her now and send her a card that says that so then she will have that and when the moments of clarity hit and you may not be there she will have that to remember you care.
Know that your readers out here care for you even though we, me, may not post everyday. I hope it gets better for you soon.
How is the house?

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger K&M said...

I am so sorry. My granny has Alzheimers too, and its so hard. I made a scrapbook for her with pictures from her youth, her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She looks at it often and she loves it. That way some of her memories will be at her bedside when she can't call them up on her own. I know its not much, but it helps her to hold on to us, and it helped me to do that for her.

Huge hugs,
Kate

 
At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Orodemniades said...

I'm sorry, sweetie.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Sunny Jenny said...

regret is a bitch

I regret all the missed moments with my grandmother as well...

 
At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Molly said...

Oh, no.

My grandma had Alzheimer's for 10 years before she died -- which was most of my life, at the time. It's an awful, awful disease -- there are moments of complete clarity, when all memory returns, and the next moment there is nothing. It's so frustrating for everyone involved.

I'm thinking of you.

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Alexa said...

Oh April, I am so sorry. This must be a terrible thing to watch. Once thing that is evident from reading your posts about your grandmother, however, is that you loved her fiercely and well. I am sure she felt that.

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger moo said...

My heart is with you. Thinking of you.

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger Vacant Uterus said...

Oh April. I wish I could just hug you right now.

My grandfather is in the beginiing stages of a similar age-related dementia. He's on Aricept, as well.

You said you want Granny to remember you saying you love her. She will, dear, she will. That's something lodged in more than her long-term memory; it's in the very bones of her being. You've been loving each other so long that though the mind may forget everything including your name, her heart will remember you and how very much you loved her, always.

 
At 2:34 AM, Anonymous thalia said...

This is not anything to do with what you could have done. And you can still tell her you love her, she will understand that love, even when she no longer remembers who you are. It's really really sad, but there is nothing you could have done to make it better. Look after yourself - this is your mourning, your start of coming to terms with losing your grandmother.

 
At 9:02 AM, Anonymous pixi said...

Oh, honey, I'm sorry it has to be so hard - that you have to go through this at all. My heart goes out to you.

 
At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Carol said...

Bless you tin soldier...

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Donna said...

Why is that those people who have tried the hardest, been the least selfish, and showed their love the most are also those who feel the most guilt? April, you have always been there for each other, and you will continue to be, even if she doesn't always remember. Take care, my friend.

 
At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Bex said...

Bless you, something else we have in common. I lost my poor Dad to Alzheimers, it's a horrible, horrible illness which is worse for the loved ones than it is for the sufferer. Try to take some comfort in that.

Your Gran will know that you love her, I am sure you have made that clear over the years.

I know you hardly know me, but if you ever want to talk to me about it, please don't hesitate.

I wish you much luck and love, it's a bumpy ride you are on. Just try to maintain your sense of humour (sounds harsh, but you either laugh or cry a lot of the time).

*HUGS*

 
At 9:05 PM, Anonymous frontier33 said...

I lost my own mother to Alzheimer's in April of 1988. I know and feel what you are going through. I have my own blog on my mother. If you care to, and if you have the time, please feel free to view it:

http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-NoIrcOUibrW8bdSwb46rGZVxlE9h?p=38#comments

The very best of luck to you. You are not alone in this battle...(smiles)...

 
At 9:09 PM, Anonymous frontier33 said...

Here is the right link to the blog post on my mother. Sorry for the error:

http://snipurl.com/1djxh

 

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