Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The 36-Hour Day (A Grandma Update)

Grandma was gone when I came home from work today. I walked into a silent house with no television blaring obnoxious soap operas. Except for the lamp I forgot to turn off this morning, no lights were on. The suitcase of clothing that was the cause of the blow-up on Saturday was gone.

(Until this very moment no phone calls - I hate the phone...)

I called out her name, just making sure she actually was gone. I called it a couple of times, actually. Then I walked over to the chair in the living room and just sat down with a whump! It was like all the air just let out of me. I'm able to be downstairs and not have to watch her shows or feel her staring at me. Or, staring in my direction, as other people say she is doing. Funny, it feels like she's staring at me.

I'm reading The 36-Hour Day. It's a book for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or Dementia. Grandma's strokes have caused brain damage that qualify her as having a "Dementing Illness". Apparently, her little habit of forgetting an argument after an hour is normal and not maliciously intended. According to the book. Also, when Mom and I argue instead of just deflecting her Mrs. Hyde moments we're making the situation worse because the person with a dementing illness knows something is wrong but can't quite understand what's wrong with them. We're supposed to be supportive and understanding about her situation and what she's having the specific problem with. Logical reasoning apparently doesn't work. (I'm screwed, then. I try to use logic constantly.)

I was talking to one of my venting people about it and her advice was the same as the book's. Basically it boils down to what we were doing for the longest time - when Grandma gets nasty, hold your tongue and pretend you're somewhere faaaaaaaar away. But it got worse while we were doing that. That's why we actually defend ourselves now. Maybe it's just that the more strokes she has the worse she gets. The only problem is that sitting quiet while she spews vitriol is damaging our admittedly low self-esteem levels. She can say everything she likes but we can't defend ourselves? There's just something fundamentally wrong with that. It goes against a human being's very nature. However, everyone and every book says the same thing. It's not her. It's the disease and she can't control it.

Even the good/bad kid thing is explained by the disease. It's her perceptions that are thrown off. Child A may be the caretaker/giver and treated like dirt, but Child B who comes in once a year is treated like gold, while Child C is just not even thought about either way. Apparently, this is part of the disease process and caused by brain damage to certain parts of the brain.

So, how to get Mom to believe this? Do I even believe it all? I understand the brain damage and that brain damage can have profound effects on behavior. It would be nicer to think it's her brain damage rather than me being less important or good than my cousins that make me the bad one in my generation. I am going to need major counseling when this is over. Mom needs it right now.

Oh, Grandma doesn't come home until Sunday and I took tomorrow off so Mom and I can go do something fun for once. Wish me luck in convincing her that pouring a sidewalk is not fun. Better yet, wish for the downpours predicted to come, because that would make sure we can't do it tomorrow!


Sinspired said...

Yes. Pouring a sidewalk is not fun. I will testify to that.

But telling people you poured it is...

Shadowspun said...

LOL. We didn't pour concrete today. We had fun instead. I'll write about it tomorrow.

But when we do pour the sidewalk I have to find a frog stamp that I can hide on it somewhere instead of writing my initials on it!

Sinspired said...

How about a stone shaped like a frog?

Shadowspun said...

Do you mean a pathstone made of the excess cement shaped like a frog or a stone sunk into the sidewalk?

D.B. Echo said...

You may find this post of mine from last year interesting, or something. It's about my experiences with people with Alzheimer's.

Not just the post, but the comments as well, including a clarifying comment from me. Obviously Alzheimer's affects different people differently. Maybe my grandmother was lucky.

Shadowspun said...

She doesn't have Alzheimer's. What she has is dementia from brain damage due to many strokes and seizures. Tack on diabetes, high blood pressure and CHF and we have a lovely mix.

Supposedly her dememntia won't be as drastic as Alzheimer's and seems to be exhibiting itself mostly in personality changes. She was never a truly affectionate woman, but now she can be downright nasty.

And then there are the days that Mrs. Hyde takes a walk and my Grandma is back. I live for those days. We joke and laugh and she's herself again. I just wish there were more of them.