Life in the fast lane.
Updated: Apr 14
While making our getaway from COVID-19, we ended up in the Dementia Grand Prix.
Well, COVID-19, I gotta say you did a piss-poor job of taking this family down. Mom managed record time virus shedding to kick you to the curb. The Other Girl is resuming her Mom shifts this week after sleeping you out of her system. MotherMinder is getting her liveliness back after a week wasted on your exhaustion. The Boyfriend in the Basement barely produced a yawn or two above what he normally experiences. And you either missed me altogether or I'm asymptomatic or I'm Wonder Woman, immune to your germy charms. (I hope the latter is not true otherwise I'm gonna have to go out and get a whole new wardrobe, buy an invisible plane, and start fighting crime on a daily basis. As if I don't have enough to do already.)
On the other hand... Dementia, you bastard! You took full advantage of our COVID-19 diversion to further your goal of destroying Mom and all who love her. I begrudgingly concede you out maneuvered me while my attention was elsewhere. Well, played, Dementia, you repulsive piece of shit.
At the beginning of this year I noticed Mom's appetite gradually lessening, her clothes becoming baggy, her walk occasionally wobbly. I'd been noting the changes and thinking it time to try again for hospice admission. Then COVID-19 hit and I was overrun with the task of helping her, and the rest of the household, through the virus.
It's clear now that Dementia took full advantage of Mom's tussle with COVID to accelerate its pace considerably. Now Mom's appetite is mostly miss with rarely a hit anymore. Spoon feeding has suddenly become common place to get anything in her. She has fallen twice in the last few days while experiencing severe drops in blood pressure, and is dangerously unstable when she walks. Thursday I called hospice. Friday she was admitted.
As we can't get her to sit still we decided to prioritize improving her balance by redoubling our efforts to keep dehydration at bay thus lessening the problem of plummeting blood pressure. We also cut her Seroquel dose in half in case it was causing dizziness.
We've discovered she enjoys orange Gatorade! Hooray! An easy way to get her hydrated! However, with only one day under our belts of half-dosing on the Seroquel we've also learned that the easing of the rage-stage this past few months was all medically induced; without her full dose she's still quite prepared to kill anyone who gets in her way. Boo!
MotherMinder got a four-finger slash across her arm yesterday that broke skin, while I was treated to looks of searing hatred when greeting her with a sunny "Hello, beautiful!" She even smashed a bowl of much loved pottery when she flung a dish of apple slices across the kitchen in a fit of fury. Over what? We have no idea.
Hmmm. Maybe a steady gait is overrated.
Things are changing fast. So fast I feel like I'm in a dementia whirlwind. We couldn't wake her today. That's new. She got up briefly this morning to go potty, then went back to bed and didn't get up again until 2:30 pm. I would touch her forehead, stroke her hair, gently nudge her, "Mom? You hungry? Wanna get up and have some breakfast?" Her eyes fluttered open, no spark of recognition for me or her surroundings, then she'd sink back into a stupor.
I called The Other Girl for fear Mom was dying right then and there.
A hospice nurse arrived shortly after 2:30 pm and gave an upright Mom the once over. Without doing a CT scan she couldn't be sure there was no internal bleeding from one of her falls, but thought it unlikely. (I declined to take Mom in for one - too traumatic for her, and now that we're a plague family, dangerous for others.) The nurse said her lungs were clear, her respiratory system was working just fine, her heart rate was good, and attributed the 18.5 hours of sleep to dementia's progression.
But this doesn't feel like "progression" it feels like we've gotten fast-tracked to a checkered flag on a raceway we'd rather not traverse. This dizzying pace has left me breathless.
Two weeks ago she was making a miraculous recovery from COVID-19. One week ago she couldn't walk without falling over. Yesterday she was Miss Madness, savage in her ferocity. Today she can't wake up.
My head is spinning.
I am keeping friends and family updated by email but every day is so wildly different from the one before I don't know whether to offer hope that Mom will still be here for them to visit and love on when it's safe to finally do so, or if she's just got hours/days/weeks left. The best I can do is to infuse all the love and devotion they've showered on their grandma, sister, aunt, friend in everything I give her, every gentle touch, every goofy smile, every silly song - in case they don't get the chance.
Tomorrow we may be back to dodging bowls of snacks heaved at our heads, or hovering frightened and worried over her still sleeping form, or maybe dementia will unleash an all-new assault hitherto unknown. All I know is that we are hurdling toward a finish line I'm not prepared to cross. Winning this trophy makes us the losers. If only I could find the brakes...