It’s our fourth wedding anniversary today. I’m looking at my gorgeous bunch of lilies from Llew as I type and looking forward to seeing him after we both finish work tonight. Unfortunately he’s having a hideous couple of weeks at work: lots of pressure, lots of stress, lots of unpaid overtime, lots of unhappy people. It’s not ideal and doesn’t exactly leave him in a celebratory frame of mind. We’re not really at our most buoyant at the moment simply because of life’s various curve balls (or cracks, as Couchtrip Pete accurately describes them). I sent my MS to Varuna Tuesday and it was straight over to Nana’s for the day yesterday. After six straight hours hanging out with dementia, I thought I was going crazy myself. I’ve just been talking to Nana’s chemist on the phone, and when prompted about our day together yesterday, Nana drew a complete blank and said she spent the day by herself. Wow. I cannot tell you how deflating that is. That’s kind of what I mean when I say she’s not really benefiting – she won’t remember no matter what happens. I’m there, I’m not there, she goes out, she doesn’t go out, it’s all the same to her. She’s adrift in a sea of Alzheimer’s and doesn’t even know she’s out there. It’s horrible. Horrible to witness – I’m not sure it’s particularly horrible for her, because she’s utterly unable to comprehend and therefore reflect on her condition. I think that’s merciful, but it doesn’t make it any easier to manage.
The GREAT news is that we spent the first couple of hours with Liz from Uniting Care and we’re getting Nana all signed up for the six hours assistance a week. I wanted to throw myself at Liz’s feet, I really did. I think the people who work with dementia on a daily basis must be saints. I don’t know how they do it. It was such a relief even having her in Nana’s lounge room that I very nearly started bawling (and finished the day doing just that on my way out Nana’s door). Nana’s ankles were worryingly swollen so I took her off to the doctor. Unfortunately her regular GP wasn’t in, and the useless doctor we DID see at Nana’s medical centre promptly told us she’d have to come back today because “She’s Dr X’s patient.” Que? Nana’s entire medical history was on that doctor’s computer screen – how hard could it be saving an 85 year old woman another day on her feet when her ankles resembled the base of two trees? Too hard, evidently. We were ushered out the door without so much as a lollipop. I couldn’t get back over there today – as it is my once a fortnight commitment is rapidly becoming once a week out of sheer necessity and concern – but after much prompting, and an hour when she was totally MIA, Nana did make it back in by herself for her appointment, and now has something for her legs. But here’s the thing: will she apply it? NO! Of course not. It’s just so obvious to me that she’s no longer fit for independent living and it amazes me that all these medical practitioners keep sitting us down and saying “We’ll keep her at home for as long as possible.” Is that really what’s best for her? I can’t see how it can be. She’s failing to bathe herself, feed herself, pay her bills, launder her clothes or basically initiate a single thing. She doesn’t even know the Emergency number. So how can they keep telling me she’s best off where she is?? Also the dementia specialist who did the assessment at the Prince of Wales said we wouldn’t see a sharp decline – I beg to differ. Here’s how the waiting room conversation went down yesterday:
Nana: We might as well leave. We won’t be seeing anyone today.
Me: Yes we will, Nana. We have an appointment.
Nana: With Doctor Y?
Me: No. Doctor Y isn’t here today. We’re seeing one of the other doctors at three o’clock. Look at your ankles. We have to get them seen to.
Nana: We might as well walk out of here. We’re not getting in to see anyone today.
Me: Yes we will. We have an appointment.
Nana: With Doctor Y?
Me: No. Doctor Y isn’t here today. We’re seeing one of the other doctors.
Nana: Are we going now?
This went on and on and on until I ran outside to get sandwiches and scream. Round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round. And yet she’ll tell you she does her laundry every Monday morning at ten.
Me: And what day is it today, Nana?
Nana: I couldn’t tell you.