Monday, September 12, 2011

The business of orientation

A couple of days ago, we went out to do some errands. Obviously, the first step in any outing is getting dressed. While this isn't as slow as it could be given Mummy's illness, it certainly ain't as fast as it used to be.

Earlier in the day, my sister had awakened Mummy and proceeded (without giving Mummy the benefit of the usual 30 - 40 minutes to orient herself) to ask her to get dressed so that we could go out to do the errands. Well that didn't go so well. What I've discovered is that Mummy's coping/covering/rationalizing mechanisms are hard at work all the time. I've also realized that the business of orientation, of being aware of place and time, is work for an Alzheimer's patient. Getting the brain going after a nap, or first thing in the morning, requires a little time and effort. I now realize that when she is awakened, Mummy spends the next few minutes (hours?) trying to figure out where the heck she is and who the hell we are. She never says anything, but when she does you realize the depths of the confusion. Is it any wonder she sleeps with the rocking chair against the door? But I digress...................

On Saturday, by the time I went up to her room to get her moving on the dressing, she was more in gear, but still not all the way here. We spent a good ten minutes going over who lived in the house, whether she lived here and discussing why she couldn't stay home alone.

Much about this situation is manageable. So far. What is harder to bear is when she says things like, "Well I don't know anything about that" and "That's very strange to me" in response to my repeated assurances that she does in fact live here. For some reason, that freaks me out more than her not knowing who I am. Hey, there are days when I'm not sure who the heck I am anymore so I'm not about to take exception to her not knowing me.

The reality is that this is a brave new world and it is one that evolves and changes on a regular basis. I have no earthly idea where my mother is on any given day. I have no way of knowing if she knows me or not. I no longer trouble to find out. In frustration sometimes, I check on where she is (where are your parents, what country is this, whose house is this) but shortly thereafter I realize that it is an unhelpful exercise, both in the short term and in the long. As long as she's not walking away, trying to wend her way to Port of Spain Trinidad via I-95, I'm cool.

Maybe this question of "orientation" is a moot anyway. Where are you? "Here". Who am I? "You're you". Let's just leave it at that. More than that is too much information anyway.

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