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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alzheimer’s Disease Progressing—Mom in Hospital and Home Again

I know I haven’t been here for a while. Things have been hectic to say the least.

A few weeks ago Mom was able to get up out of bed and dress by herself with very little help. One morning she woke and seemed very different to me. She didn’t know what her clothes were and couldn’t figure out how to put them on when I placed them on her bed. She had no clue what to do.

Her smile was still full, she was still able to stand and walk, she had use of both arms and hands; she just seemed weak and confused. It was like she came off her plateau and dropped down suddenly.

The rest of the week she still needed help dressing, and still seemed more confused than she had been.

So here we are in another stage of this horrible disease called Alzheimer’s.

She was complaining of being dizzy when she stood up. At Adult Day Care they said she also complained of being dizzy, but also when she was sitting. Each time she complained of being dizzy, her blood pressure and blood glucose were checked and they were normal. The Day Care attendants checked them too and said the same thing.

I called her doctor, explained the situation and he told me to take her to the ER. When we got there, I insisted that a neurologist be brought in and insisted she be admitted for observation. After four hours in the ER, they finally called her doctor and she was admitted.

A CT Scan done while in the emergency room showed that she had an older Lacunar stroke. They stated that it could have happened anywhere from a week to a few years ago. They told me that there was nothing I could have done because these type strokes show little to no difference. It most likely happened in her sleep, they said.

When I’d heard this, I could pretty much pinpoint when it happened. One day she was dressing herself, when she woke up the next morning she was different as I explained before; unable to recognize her clothing, unable to dress herself, totally confused, and a little weaker.

For the next day and half I was running to the hospital, talking with doctors, neurologists, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and working out some kind of schedule to have all these people come to her house for the therapy she needed.

Her doctor suggested I place her in a skilled nursing facility for rehab in order for her to get her therapy and for me to have some respite care. I told him I would rather have her home because a facility would confuse her more. He totally understood and commended me for the decisions I was making in the best interest of my mother. He told me I was doing a wonderful job and encouraged me to continue to keep her home, in her environment. His encouragement and thoughtfullness was all I needed to give me that extra ounce of strength to continue doing what I'm doing. Caregivers don't hear much encouragement, and when one hears it from a doctor, it affirms that what we are doing is the best for our loved one.

Her doctor and the neurologist stated that she was in the severe stage of Alzheimer's. I'd already known that, but at least I now know for certain that I was correct in my thoughts of her progression and it was verified by doctors. It doesn't take much to understand the disease when you watch it's progression and you're dealing with it everyday. Even the slightest change is noticeable.

Today I brought her home from the hospital at 3:00 and we were back in our routine. Just a little slower now because she’s walking with a walker. She was once again exhausted and in bed by 4:00. I knew I needed to get all the rest I could because the team of therapists and nurses were scheduled to start tomorrow.

When she fell asleep, so did I.

Then the phone woke me up. Nevermind about that. I won’t even get into it here. It’s not worth it!

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2 Comments:

Blogger ~Betsy said...

Oh my, I'm sorry Johanna. I didn't know about your adventures in the hospital. I hope your mom is doing better now. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

10/01/2007 10:52 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thanks, Betsy. She's doing wonderful. OT, PT, & home health nurses have been coming in and out. She's doing very well with her new walker, and the exercises are helping to strengthen her legs, some.

10/02/2007 2:02 PM