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

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Location: United States

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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Update

I’m gaining some strength back and feeling better and Mom is doing well health wise, but she’s losing strength in her legs and has had a drastic decline in her memory and ability to comprehend things.

November 7th was my 56th birthday. This year was much better than last. I heard from both my daughter’s early in the day. Two took me out for lunch and I received a few surprise calls. I also had a very nice surprise when I picked Mom up from day care. Angel had called the day care and asked if they would help Mom make a birthday card for me. Mom handed it to me in the car and when I opened it I broke down in tears. Mom was so proud that she remembered my birthday and made a card for me. The envelope had a flower on it made with foam and my name in foam letters. The inside of the card had more foam flowers and Mom’s handwriting. “To my beautiful daughter, Joanne. I love you, Mom.” Inside the card was a small wooden apple with a heart and my initials in the center.

Thank you, Angel. That did mean a lot to me. I will treasure this card from Mom for the rest of my life.

Angel, Tim and Katie came over on the 8th and brought a delicious chocolate birthday cake with strawberry icing. Katie was playing on the couch and fell. She smacked her lip on the edge of the coffee table. I felt horrible that she got hurt. She’s a tough little bugger, though. She barely cried and the ice Angel put on it helped to keep it from swelling and bruising too much.

November was pretty quiet the whole month, but not without mention.

On the 18th, Gail, the nurse at the day care called me to the side. She wanted to let me know that Mom’s perception of things is getting much worse. I knew it was, BUT, the way Gail showed me was a true eye-opener as to how much worse. An artist from the local art center visits the day care on Tuesdays and works with the clients. This art project was to draw an owl as they saw it from the picture the artist had displayed. Gail showed me the pictures of the owls all lined up on the counter. They were actually very good drawings. Then, she asked if I’d like to see Mom’s and she handed it to me. “Wow” was all I could muster before the tears started flowing. Mom’s drawing of the owl was a few circles for eyes with scribbles all around them, but in her mind, it probably looked just the the artist's picture.

I knew there had been a drastic change in Mom’s perception and understanding, that's normal with Alzheimer's, but seeing the pictures of the owls and the difference between her drawing and the other drawings truly made me realize how drastic the change was.

It made me realize I need to at least consider placement as an option, possibly before she becomes too weak and while she is still sociably aware, to help her adjust to a different environment. I even went as far as to visit a few ALFs beside the one I’ve used for respite care.

I nearly had my mind made up to make the change the weekend before Thanksgiving when Mom’s knee began to bother her and she couldn’t put weight on it. But I couldn’t bring myself to do anything so close to the holidays. She's back to using her walker.

We’ll see how things are after the holidays—or maybe we’ll see what this winter brings. I don’t know. I just know there are times when I don’t feel like I can do this anymore. Watching her decline is killing me, but I can’t bring myself to take her out of her own home. She may not remember it as such anymore, but my gut tells me that me being here with her is the only thing that she hangs onto. Maybe the same goes for me.

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Blogger ~Betsy said...

Happy belated birthday!

I'm so sorry to read of your mom's recent decline. I can't remember exactly when I realized my mom's perception of things was way off, but I do remember the feeling it left me with. It felt like a brick had been dropped on my head.

This disease just plain stinks.

12/08/2008 10:13 AM