Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Load off/load on.

I'm not supposed to talk about this, I'm certainly not supposed to write about this, but I have to. Just for a second. Because writing is the way I process things. The way I sometimes have to figure out how I feel. Journaling doesn't work. I am embarrassingly trite without a reader. Even a potential reader makes a world of difference to me. So, please, forgive me.

My mom has dementia. This may not even be news, I don't know. But it's what's going on and it sucks. It's been 3 years since she was first diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and since then it's been a bit of a roller coaster. Not like a roller coaster I'm riding, more like one I'm watching from afar. It looks really awful, full of loopty loops and free falls, but all I can do is watch and wonder what's going to happen next.

She's been diagnosed, undiagnosed, diagnosed with something different and so on. She's had her driver's license taken away by one doctor only to earn it back and have it "taken away" by my dad (thankfully). She's been completely blank one moment and perfectly lucid the next. She doesn't talk about what it feels like so I have no idea. Except for some books I've read, I am no better informed than you are. Possibly even less so.

Because I don't live nearby, the only way I can gauge what's going on is by what people tell me. I used to hear a lot more, when she was still driving, but I'm glad that stopped because it was never good news. People I'd known a million years would get in touch to tell me different stories but the ending was always the same. "I saw your mom. She didn't know who I was. Is everything okay?"

No. It's not okay. I don't know how it is because my dad tells me everything is fine, not to worry, but I'm pretty sure he's just trying to make me feel better. I'm pretty sure everything is not okay. I just have no idea what that means.

I've tried talking to my mom but conversation has never really been our strong suit. Now it's nearly impossible. When we're together, we always have my babies to enjoy so the conversation never turns toward her health. We've tried the phone but it's no good. I talk at her as long as she'll let me but I can tell she's not tracking what I'm saying and before long she has to go walk the dog and hangs up. It's not too different from how we've always been but that doesn't really make me feel any better.

My sister was my eyes and ears when she lived in Reno but she doesn't live there any more so I'm sort of flying blind. At least, that's what I thought. But tonight I called my dad (he's left two messages in two days...) and we talked - really talked - for almost an hour. It was...great. Sort of like a silver lining, you know? Like even though my mom is pretty much gone (she didn't know us when we saw her last month in California), I still have a chance to really connect with my dad. That's huge. It made me feel really good. And really bad. The point is, it made me feel.

It was like I was finally back on the roller coaster. (I was definitely on it at first but backed way off to avoid stepping on toes, etc.) And now, now that I'm sorting it out here, the only way I know how, I am definitely hearing that click-click-click and knowing that soon my stomach will me in my throat and my hair will by flying this way and that. I am ON this ride. It's awful and I hate it and I have no idea what's going to happen next but my seatbelt is securely fastened and my dad can squeeze my hand or scream in my hear or throw his arms in the air and giggle nervously or all three like he did when he took me on Big Thunder Mountain when I was three. Roller coasters are maybe not really our thing. But if we have to be on one, I'm glad we can be on one together.

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