Monday, May 18, 2009
My sister just called to stay that my mother's been diagnosed with vascular dementia, the second most common kind of dementia after Alzheimer's (at least in the States). We knew that something was going on with Mom -- she alternates between lucidity and confusion, and has trouble with basic tasks like getting undressed to take a shower, because she puts clothing back on instead of taking it off -- but we'd hoped that these were side-effects of medication. Taking her off the meds didn't help, though, and only increased her pain level.
My sister and I responded in characteristic ways. Liz took the news in stride, as just a label for something we already knew was happening; I immediately did a Google search and started rattling off questions, and then started crying. I'm terrified of dementia, which frightens me more than cancer. I was so grateful that Dad died with his mind more or less intact -- he had his moments of being somewhere else, but always came back again -- and I hate to think of my mother slipping away. My sister's response was a sad, but matter-of-fact, "She's already half gone."
I don't know how long Mom will be able to keep living with my sister. My sister doesn't know and hasn't asked; they're just taking it day by day, although some of Mom's persistent confusion -- for instance, she keeps holding up her oxygen tubing and saying, "I just don't know where I'm supposed to cut this" -- suggests to me that she may need round-the-clock monitoring. To the best of my knowledge, she hasn't tried to cut the tubing, but what if she did? This is the kind of thing I worry about much more than my sister does; her approach is to deal with things as they happen and not to borrow trouble.
Elsewhere in the wonderful world of bodies, I am, as of this morning, officially overweight. Yesterday I walked for half an hour and swam for forty-five minutes, and I don't think my calorie intake was excessive (although I did have some Forbidden Sugar at church), but when I weighed myself this morning, I weighed two-and-a-half pounds more than I did yesterday. (!) This puts my BMI at 25. Nertz! I know my doctor included thyroid tests in the recent blood panel, so I'll be interested to see what that shows. Otherwise, it's almost certainly just perimenopause. This kind of thing isn't unusual in women my age, but if anyone has tips for how to deal with it, I'd be most grateful.
On the plus side, during my dawn walk yesterday morning, I saw a coyote. Beautiful!