48 Hours had passed and I decided I would go visit Mom. I had been in constant contact with the nurse and was told the Psychologist visited and had assessed her situation. Mom would be given a higher dose of ‘Ativan’ to calm her down. This was nothing new as she had been on the drug for sometime at home.
I walked into the facility and went up to the ‘lock down’ floor where most of the individuals lived who had a diagnosis of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s. What struck me as I keyed in the number on the keypad was how old everyone was in this place. Mom was 64 and seemed to be the youngest there. I walked over to the nursing station and asked to see her. The personal support worker said ‘she is in that room’, pointing to a room a few feet from the station.
‘She won’t let me near the room and won’t let her roommate in the room at all. She won’t leave for meals and won’t take her meds. Maybe you can talk to her.’
‘Sure, I’ll try’, I said, feeling insecure and frightened.
I slowly walked over to the door and opened it. With all I could muster inside, I said, ‘Hi Mom, it’s me’.
She turned around, dressed in the same clothes I brought her in, looking very disheveled, came over to me and yelled, ‘You bitch, how could you do this to me? You f u c k i n g bitch, I wish I never had you! You think I’m crazy?’ She said as she took both hands grabbed her head while pulling at her hair. ‘I’m NOT CRAZY! Everyone else here is, but I’M NOT C R A Z Y.’ She screamed at me. ‘What the fuck do you want? You want to see crazy???? These stupid people stole my clothes and won’t give them back to me!’ Her face was red, her hair was messed and she looked like a rabid animal. I couldn’t believe she was screaming at me and saying those things. My mouth opened, my heart sunk and I tried to speak.
‘Mom, I know you are not crazy.’ I said timidly. ‘These people are here to help you’. I realized my eyes were tearing up at this moment and looked away, which seemed to fuel Mom’s tirade.
I had never seen Mom like this before. There was nothing I could say to her as she rushed over to me, grabbed my arm and squeezed. I tried to remove her hands, but she only squeezed harder at that point.
‘Mom, please these people are trying to help you’, I said again. She took her hands off my arm and I now I began to anger.
‘What do you want me to do?’ I said sternly.
‘Fuck off!’ Mom yelled.
I turned around, opened the door, walked down the hallway with tears running down my face, and exited the building.
I sat in my car sobbing, which seemed to be my new reality recently, until I pulled myself together in order to drive home.
I opened the door to my apartment and was immediately met by ‘buggs’, ‘at least you love me’ I said as I picked him up and we cuddled.
I grabbed the phone and called my brother. I explained what happened and asked him to visit Mom. He said he was working but would try to visit on his way home. The next call was to the ‘social worker’. I explained to her that I thought I had made the wrong decision, although I had no idea what the right decision would have been, and asked for advice. She pointed out that sometimes the ‘settling in period’ would take awhile. I should wait a little while longer for the medications to take effect, the staff to do their job, and she would do her best to find out where Mom was on the waiting list, for a permanent home.
I was powerless; Mom’s fate was in other people’s hands. I felt again that I had entirely lost control, and for the first time in my life, had no plan. Without sounding dramatic, my life was crumbling around me. I ran to the computer, closed the blinds, and got online to my chat group. Thank God there were people chatting at all hours of the day and night.
I read some of the conversations that were being discussed until each one began to type ‘welcome buggs’! I typed ‘thank you’. Someone typed back ‘everything okay?’
This was a loaded question. I began to type describing my last few days. The conversation switched from them to me immediately. I expressed my sadness, frustration, and Mom’s anger. Each person took the time to console me and reaffirm that I had no choice in my decision. I had done the right thing. I was the ‘baby’ in the group and they handled me with ‘kid gloves’. These strangers on-line were now a part of my family; in fact, they were my only family who understood and empathized with my situation. Each person typed back quickly giving me hope, advice, and their prayers. I began to feel the weight on my shoulders slowly dissipate. Oh how I loved these people! Yes, most of them were dealing with the same situation, but usually with a spouse or parent in their 80’s. I seemed to be the only one who was in my 30’s with a Mom who was early 60’s, which brought an entirely new conversation and issue to the mix. After a half hour I was exhausted and typed my thanks and goodbye’s to my friends. Each of them typed back ‘goodbye’ and ‘please come back again to chat soon’. I quit the conversation and turned off the computer as I sat in the dark with buggs on my lap. I slowly got up, walked into the living room, put on the TV, curled up on the couch with buggs, and finally fell into a deep sleep.
People always say positively that ‘tomorrow is another day’. This time I was hoping that everything that had occurred over the last 48 hours had been an awful nightmare, and yes, in fact, hoped that was true. But then the phone rang and I hesitantly answered it.
‘Hello’, I said.
‘Hi, may I speak with Paula Bilz’, a man’s voice asked.
‘This is Paula’.
‘Hi, this is Doctor White*, I’m the psychologist looking after your Mother. I wanted to ask your permission to increase her ‘Ativan’ medication and add another anti-anxiety med to the mix. Your Mother is very anxious and aggressive at the moment and it is disrupting for the other residents and staff, not to mention herself.’
Ahhh, aggressive I thought… no friggin kidding. What was I going to say? No? In retrospect, maybe, but at the time, I would say YES, please!!!
I explained my fears of her having a heart attack or worse a stroke to him. I said that I felt she could not go on much longer, as something had to give. Funny, but he agreed entirely.
So that’s where it all began, the beginning of meds to calm the ‘beast’ inside Mom.
* Dr. White – named changed to protect individual