Strange headline, I know, but that's almost exactly what happened. She was not my mom and in actuality, it was not summer camp. She is Lynnette's mom, my mother-in-law and on Thursday we received a call from the Neighborhood House letting us know that after requiring three staff members to assist her in getting out of the bathroom, she is no longer welcome.
Eleven years ago, my mother-in-law as diagnosed with dementia. This is a little bit like that radio program I used to stay up late on Sunday nights and listen to--Doctor Demento, but really there are very few similarities. That was eleven years ago. She is now 70 years old and is in the severe stages of Alzheimer's. My father-in-law is still working a few days a week, so the Neighborhood House recently became the summer camp we needed and began relying on for life to carry on in some semblance of normal. But lately, finding the right balance of medication is proving to be very difficult. She is either very sleepy or very agitated, bordering on aggressive. Sometimes that border is non-existant. What a tragedy. This has got to be the most cruel ways to die--for all who are involved. Lynnette is amazing with her. I find that I normally have to walk away. It is kind of like dealing with a belligerent 180 pound toddler without the ability to reason and still enough muscles to throw her weight around when she gets upset. I know she is without control of this situation, but the thing I really hate about it is that we are, too. We can try different things, but few of them have any effect. I like to fix things--recognize problems and do all I can to try and come up with a remedy. There does not seem to be one here that is acceptable to all involved parties. It is heartbreaking and frustrating and cruel. Our children are already starting to be afraid of her and she has brought both of them to tears with her outbursts. We know this is beyond her control to control herself, but it barely lessens the reality of the sting.
My father-in-law is not interested in assisted living. He wants to keep her out of that for as long as possible, which means as long as he is breathing. And there really isn't money available even if such an option were allowed. Many of those facilities charge upwards of $200/day. That is a good way to go broke fast. So, we try to do what we can. Lynnette has cared for her mom several days in the past few weeks. It makes it difficult to get anything done around the house. I guess my emotions range from sadness to frustration to helplessness. It just seems like we should have a few more good years with her mom--as a mom, than who knows how long with someone who looks like her mom, but really isn’t. Life is never fair, but we are doing our best to keep our chins up and smile and learn what we can, and take one step at a time. Any suggestions?
In the meantime, I am still plowing on with the next book. I had a minor breakthrough this week with the story after a couple of weeks of spinning my wheels without gaining traction. I am feeling a lot of self-imposed pressure. I know those of you who have read my other books have some expectation as well. I hope to be able to make some good progress in the coming week. Wish me luck. I need it.