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  • Writer's pictureLickety Glitz

Escape from Momcatraz

Escaping from. Escaping to. Escaping nothing.



I ran away.


Last month, before the COVID scare, the deadly wildfires, the smoke-filled week of air quality so hazardous we couldn't even step outside - I ran away. I don't know why.

 

I had been relieved of my hands-on-Mom days when MotherMinder arrived Saturday afternoon. I immediately descended the stairs to our cozy dungeon in anticipation of a relaxing time off. I had a pleasant Sunday; took a long walk with a friend, cuddled up to The Boyfriend in the Basement for our current can't-miss fav show (Lovecraft Country - so much fun!), did all the things that would warrant a continuation of pleasure on my remaining days of freedom.


I woke up on Monday to such deep despair I couldn't get out of bed. My body chained to the dankest, darkest black of hopelessness my brain could conjure. The Boyfriend in the Basement finally flung off the covers and pulled me to my feet at two in the afternoon.


A half-hour later I was sobbing uncontrollably in the shower, my attempt to wash away the anguish failing. My mind rejected fight, choosing instead to careen headlong into the hysteria of flight.

A jailbreak ensued.


I called The Other Girl - she cleared her coastal home out so I could have a couple of days alone. I made sure MotherMinder and The Boyfriend in the Basement were comfortable with my exodus. As I had the wild eyes of a mad man during my plea for freedom I'm guessing they felt they, and Mom, were safer if I was out of the house. They promptly pronounced their verdict: "GO!"


I threw socks, underwear, and Mr. Bones in the car and escaped, flying down the freeway through the haze of tear-filled eyes, desperately seeking asylum. Once I hit the rolling fields and lush greenery of the mountain pass I began to breathe easier, my eyes drying up, my heartbeat slowing its frantic pace.


I ignored my head. It was still thick-black in the pointlessness of my caregiving life. I was too raw to ponder its harsh judgement. Instead I locked it up and secured the bolts with the majestic beauty of the forest.

I spent two days in coastal solitary confinement. Venturing forth for food, a walk on the beach, then returning to that tiny house, wrapping myself in it like a strait-jacket, keeping my ugliness at bay with books and TV bingeing.


Then I went home.

 

I am not a great caregiver. Caregiving is not second nature to me. Or third, or eleventh, or even fiftieth. I manage to be a loving caregiver to my mother only because we have a caregiving team - because The Other Girl, MotherMinder and I share the load.


And even with all that support, all that respite, all that weekly reprieve from dementia, I cannot escape caregiver burnout, because I cannot escape dementia.


I still do not know what precipitated this massive meltdown. And because it came at me with a vigilante's sense of vengeance my days now carry an underlying victim's fear of its sudden, devastating return. It's was a harrowing experience which I have not been able to completely shake.


But what I do know is this...


I have punched dementia in the face throughout this journey, and in turn have borne the blows it has rained down on me while trying to shield Mom from its persecution.


I will continue to do so until it's time for her to escape. But I suspect The Other Girl, myself, and our village of friends and family who have loved and supported her will carry this sentence far into our own futures before we are freed.


I cannot escape dementia.



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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Sep 26, 2020

Man, harrier, what if they had Memory Could Care Less facilities, and all of us caregivers ready to lose it could check ourselves in for a day... or a lifetime! I suspect you're ready for it, and I certainly have been at times like the mess above.


Shame on that neurologist! A social worker will be helpful, def get the appointment, but that neuro should have addressed the potential stage and the average length of each stage. If you can't change doctors, next time they slough you off you have every right to be angry and let her know she is not doing her job. Ask for a geriatric psych referral, and find out if there are any geriatric doctors…


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harrierco
Sep 26, 2020

I found myself looking up local inpatient psych centers at 4am. Not for my mother, for myself! I sent an email to her neurologist PA asking for help and any ballpark on what stage Mom is in and how long this may last anticipating we could have a conversation at her appointment that day. Nope, she handed me a business card for a social worker! I am completely alone in this, which I know is part of the problem, but I am definitely about 2 steps from a total mental breakdown and doubt it will be as short lived as yours. Which is all to say, I think you are doing fabulous, and big hugs for your candor, patience and…

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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Sep 25, 2020

Jane! Totally jeolous 'cause Dadcatraz is even better than Momcatraz!


Second, uh, that's all brilliant! If I'm ever in charge of dementia I'm bringing you on as the CEO! (Actually I'm just sucking up, I really want that balloon...)


Thanks for hanging with us, and giving me a laugh.

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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Sep 25, 2020

Anna it helps me to know you and others understand, and have been there, been there, been there.


I too can cry on demand now. Maybe we should work up a caregiver act and take this shit on the road!


Thank you for your empathy.


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Jane Fischer
Jane Fischer
Sep 25, 2020

Hi Lickety - first...thank you! You brought me such joy and laughter when I was in Dad-catraz. I'm two months out of Shawshank as he transitioned--after our 6 years--in July. I was actually thinking, the other day, that it'd be nice to have a non-profit, only for dementia Caregivers...a la Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz., i.e. free massages, free dental care, free medical care and a haircut/makeover or two and maybe even a balloon or a prize at the end (if they behave :). That's how we'd spend our day away in the merry old Land of Oz.

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