Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Ghost stories and shadows

I am nervous about typing this in case it tempts fate, but mum has had a few good days.

Even on good days, there will be moments when I am reminded that all is not well. Just as I am relaxed around her, something will happen or be said that makes me sit up.

Today, she talked about my aunt, who had had a flat next to hers in the 1960's. It was part of an old terrace townhouse, Victorian, or earlier. They both tell a tale of how it was haunted, how they would hear footsteps in the empty flat above, and how, after they had scattered flour over the floor up there, they went back and found two sets of footprints leading out of a cupboard and into the opposite wall. Side by side, an adult's and a child's.

"Oh yes, " I said, joining in the telling, "and now it's a hotel, isn't it? I know it. Near Star Hill. In Rochester. That's right." She has told me this bit herself many times, but today she remarks,
"Is it? A hotel? Well I never!"
We sipped our tea, sitting outside a little cafe, people watching.
Then she asked -and this was the moment-
"But.... if it's a hotel now, where does Pat live?"
Neither of them have lived there since the early 1960s, but in that moment, mum lost 50 years.

I've been given a name for it now, this thing. It's vascular dementia. I've found an online forum full of people going through it either themselves, or caring for someone who is. I haven't browsed it very much, it's too upsetting for now as everyone seems to be in advanced stages. It's like looking into our future and it's so scary. She will go downhill in large steps, in sudden deteriorations. I lie awake worrying and crying about when? and how much deterioration comes next? and how long do we have? how long before she's just a ghost of my mum?

I posted a question about whether I should tell her what it is. The "D" word.
As I had suspected, they advised not to, not if it would cause more upset.
So for mum it is "memory problems", a side effect of the TIA and the resulting epilepsy.
After all, the time I saw her crying over this was the time she asked me, "I'm not losing my mind, am I? I'm not, am I?"

No mum, don't worry. You'll be fine. You'll be fine. I'm determined that she'll think she's fine.


Angel and Kirby said...

That is the best way. Let her think she is OK. It will be easier on you and her.

Julie said...

Did you know Stewart's Mum had dementia? We have been through this too as a family. It is very hard to say the least. Try not to think about where you are going or you will make yourself ill and not enjoy the good days now. Everyone is different so your Mum may have a different journey than some other people. I'm glad Mum has had a few gentle days and you have shared some happy memories. You are right to reassure her. xxx

Lynda (Granny K) said...

My dad had this and at first it was quite alarming for us, as he sometimes referred to people who had passed on as if they were still alive. We never told him otherwise and he was quite content in his world.

Found art blog said...

Yikes. Never had to go through this, but seems you have some good advice elsewhere (here and that forum you mentioned). Big hugs.

CherryPie said...

I think the best thing is to be supportive of your Mum (which you are)and around all the problems enjoy the quality time you have with her.

Sending you some *hugs* from me xx

Feronia said...

Helena, your Mum is so lucky to have such a kind daughter to care for her. I agree that it's best not to tell her about the dementia. My Mum works with dementia patients so if she can be of any help advice-wise, I'm happy to put you in touch with her or pass on any questions.
Thinking of you x

Chrissy said...

My Mum was told she has alzheimers/dementia, it seemed to worry her even more and then she was suffering from depression too. She was given tablets two years ago. I don't want to tempt fate either so will just say that it is not always good to think about what might happen, enjoy your quality time. Some of the comments above are so true. Everyone is different and you get accustomed to helping out with short term memory.

Stardust said...

This is so hard...

I hope every approach you're using is good for your mom. I sure do.

Must be hard on you to face all this by yourself. Hugs...

Just write it out anytime.

mrsnesbitt said...

I just don't know what to say Helena - my uncle had a type of dementia but as Julie said - it is so different for different people. Looking back I could say I thought I could see there were problems in earlier years but I just do not know. Reassurance sounds a good road to go down as this would be something you normally did and is part of your relationship with your mum...just my opinion hun Dxxx Write as it comes and how you feel. We are here. Dxx