Hello, My Name Is …

It seems appropriate to drop a quick update on the situation with Mom.

She had surgery for her hip on Thursday — a screw and rod rather than a replacement, and it went smoothly thanks to the care of the surgeon and anesthesiology team. However, by that time, the pain meds were having quite an adverse effect. She would rally from time to time, but was very confused and spend much of the time staring blankly at the wall.

Sunday morning I was convinced she’d had a small stroke. Her mouth was drooping, and she was having problems swallowing when I tried to feed her the applesauce and other soft foods she’d previously eaten for me (although not for the aides). A scan showed this wasn’t the case.

Obviously, she was unable to respond to any efforts at PT.

Yesterday, we seemed to have rounded a corner. When I came in, she was sitting up (with help from the therapists) and not only ate, but also fed herself.

More importantly, her feisty personality seemed to have reappeared.

Thankfully, that’s still true.

However, today when I walked in, she said conversationally, “My daughter has a bag just like that.”

When I responded I was her daughter, she was adamant that I wasn’t, although she was not quite sure who I was — someone who was supposed to come see her, maybe the therapist.

When I helped her take a drink and encouraged her not to drink too fast, she responded that she’d been drinking for sixty-two years.

“Ninety-two, you mean,” I said.

No, she was 62, and not a day older. And her oldest child was 24, her youngest almost 23, with the middle one being somewhere in the middle of the two.

Hmmm.

She’s also sure as can be she never broke a hip in her life.

This is a little worrying. She’s been off pain meds for at least three days, and surgery was five days ago.

On a positive note, she did mention that “Everyone keeps telling me I need to co-op-er-ate with the therapists.”

“Or what?” I asked.

“Or I won’t improve.”

“And if you don’t?”

“Then I will be S. O. L!”

In some ways, it’s nice to have Mom back in spirit, if not dwelling in reality. And I’m sure glad she understands the importance of doing PT.

She also seems pretty chipper, happy to chat about anything I brought up.

I don’t even mind her not recognizing me because whoever “Kym” is to her, she clearly holds a place of great affection in my mother’s mind.

Also, my father had Alzheimer’s for many years before he died, and he had no idea who I (or anyone) was for at least a few of those years.

I just wonder if the thirty years Mom has misplaced will come back and what it will mean if they don’t. And like watching my father lose his own memories, it makes me ponder the essence of what we deem to be reality.

17 thoughts on “Hello, My Name Is …

    • Thank you, Lynne. Today she picked Darling Daughter out of a photo and called her Kym. It seems like she has random memories, and she’s trying to put them together somehow. I’ve been talking to her, asking questions, and showing her pictures to try to help it along.

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    • I hope so too. It’s very weird, although she seems pretty happy. Today she told me again that she lives in Brunswick, Merlin is her husband, and that Andy will be coming to take her home. :`(

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      • Not so bad. She seeems very fond of Kym. At one point, she told someone her daughter had a big piece of her heart, which was quite touching. I’ve been reading, and apparently this happens with the elderly sometimes with anesthesia (although I don’t remember it so much when she previously had surgery about five years ago). Usually it subsides, but it can take weeks. I just kind of worry about it affecting her ability to do therapy because at her age, if she doesn’t make progress there, she’ll regress and perhaps lose the ability to walk, which opens up a whole host of other health issues.

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  1. I’m glad she’s doing better physically. Ah yes, it’s difficult when the memories start fading. I remember my mom being very upset when my 97 year old grandmother introduced her as her sister (when she put herself into a nursing home after breaking her arm), and was always glad that she (my mom) never realized how out-of-it she herself eventually became.

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    • Thanks, Betsy. Mom recognized me today, and they got her into the shower, into her own clothes, and into her chair. AND she admitted she wants to walk again. Small steps, but I’m taking them as movement forward. That said, she’s still quite confused.

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      • I was thinking about your mom this morning and remembered that my husband always complained that he lost more of his memory after each surgery (broken hip, then broken femur). At that point he was still aware that he was “losing it”. Like you, I read and discovered that anesthesia can be debilitating for the elderly. When my dad broke his hip at 96, he had horrible hallucinations in the recovery room, but eventually regained his normal mental state (which was great!) On the other hand, my mom’s broken hip just seemed to speed up her decline into dementia. Hope your mom’s like my dad and will keep improving!

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      • Thanks, Betsy. I can believe what your husband said. To add to that, I think the stress of it all probably affects us too. In the last week, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set down my phone or book and forgotten where. I know it’s stress, but still it makes me feel like I’m losing it.

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  2. She does NOT look 92! I spend the last 10 years of Pa’s 97 years of life being called by my long dead aunt’s name, and reminding him gently of my major life milestones (for example, the fact that I live in Australia…), but I also found that dementia made him gentler, kinder, more tolerant and happy to see us. He had been strict, authoritarian and certain of his correctness in all things. It was a happy change, even if conversations were occasionally had to maintain due to differing realities! I hope your mother is contented, comfortable and calm, even if your realities now diverge a bit.

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    • Well, that picture’s a few years old, maybe she was 87 at the time? My dad had Alzheimer’s, and for a while he called me “Jean” after his sister. Eventually he didn’t know anyone. Right now, Mom points to pictures of Darling Daughter and says she’s Kym. We do look a lot alike, so if she’s in a time warp, that kind of makes sense.
      I’ve been reading a bit, and apparently this sometimes happens after anesthesia. It can take weeks for it to subside, so I guess we’ll wait and see.

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