Don't dementia despair!
Updated: May 1, 2019
Sometimes you get to have a really good week.
Well! This last week we busted out of the abyss of Anxiety Overload and made our way onto the gently rolling hills of Anxiety Manageable. What a pleasure it's been to have smiles rain down throughout the day, to meet a trickster making incomprehensible dementia jokes in the hallway, or hear an unsolicited giggle from the arm chair! (Honestly, I have no idea why she thinks The Big Bang Theory so damn funny, but there you have it.) We're still wading through puddles of anxiety, mostly during the sundowner hours, but when 3/4 of the day is filled with frolicking fun (mind you, an excruciatingly sloooooww frolic) I'll happily spend a couple hours in the evening reassuring, and reassuring, and reassuring...
One of the many highlights of our week was our monthly trip down I-5 to visit three out of four of my Mom's sisters. We took each one a framed piece of artwork from Mom's latest Opening Minds through Art class. I can't say enough about what an outstanding program this is for dementia folks! As proof, I've posted about it here, here, and here.
It's also a great way to give beautiful artwork to Mom's friends and family! Every sister got a Mom Original but the best reaction was from Aunt Butchie, who cried tears of joy when she received her painting. (Had I known she was going to react so we would have wrapped it in something other than a plastic grocery bag!)
We also shared a laughter-filled afternoon with our walk club buddy, using her as our guinea pig for a new recipe which turned out GREAT. Then hauling our big bellies to the movie Isle of Dogs which also turned out GREAT even though through one kerfuffle after another we had to move seats three times before the film started. After the last move Mom cried out loudly "Where am I?" resulting in a few raised eyebrows from the other patrons and quick giggles and shushes from me and our friend.
Seeing that movie might account for what happened next: we got a dog. I'd been thinking about it ever since we went on the Pioneer Community Center tour of the Oregon Humane Society. So, after a free concert at a local church (well, they did ask for donations at the end but I was all like "She's gotta go potty real bad, we'll give on the way out," then, ah... didn't) we went to the near-by Oregon Dog Rescue and picked out this little feller.
Yes, me, the all-out ailurophile (yeah, I looked it up), went canine. I haven't regretted it either. Barnaby Bones is kind, friendly, loves people, attentive, a quick learner, and sweet on Mom. We've got two things to work on: his hatred of cats (he's already won Most Improved in the last week), and his aggression towards big dogs. He had three days in the house by himself before The Other Girl and Sadie, the BIGGEST dog of all, showed up.
I kept warning him we didn't have a gianormous dog bed in the living room just for him.
I was terrified of Sadie taking one bite and having only 1/4 Barnaby left, but Sadie, 180-pounds of who-gives-a-shit took it all in stride, and by the end of The Other Girl's days, Barnaby was, well, not exactly friendly, but starting to get the hang of it.
As you can seen in the photo, Sadie, being Sadie, really did not give a shit.
The Other Girl was also the beneficiary of Happy-Go-Lucky Mom, taking her to The Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest on a gorgeous spring day...
...and a "play" that unbeknownst to my sister ('cause she didn't bother reading the performance description), was actually a drag show.
That night, as we peeled the "I ♥ Dick" sticker off the jacket of a sleepy Mom, she had a grin that spoke volumes of her renewed enjoyment in all the crap her daughters drag her to.
So, how'd this 3-week frown get turned upside down? I'm sure the Zoloft is finally taking full effect and making a big difference, but also, after two years of this care giving stint I've recognized a pattern; we have a good two to three month run of 70% upbeat Mom, then a one to four week bout of 90% dementia anguish. Dementia being dementia, who knows if this will hold true in the future, but the next time I'm falling into dementia despair I'll try and grab some comfort that it's most likely just the lows of the rollercoaster, and happy days will be here again.
Plus, we gotta great dog. he already makes bad times better.