Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I haven't had a lot of sleep in the last 48 hours. Another crisis and probably not the last. I can do almost any kind of nursing, blood, guts, stitches but not lunacy. Anyone who looks after patients with Alzheimer's or dementia has my admiration. We have so many things to look for with Mum these days, that a headache was looked at as just a side affect of the cancer drugs. The urinary tract infection took us by surprise and once again we missed the signs creeping up on her.

I've been through UTI's with my mother-in-law and I never thought I would have to deal with that again. My poor M-in-L talked to people who weren't there and she talked non-stop for days, whole conversations which were lucid in their detail but with phantom beings. When she was moved, she was terrified because she couldn't tell which was floor or ceiling and thought she was falling. On the worst day before the anti-biotics began to work, I sat with her for 12 hours listening to this terrible raving but every now and then, she would touch me and ask if I was real. Then she would sleep a little before it started again.

It's a terrrible thing to go through, knowing that what you are doing is quite wrong but unable to do anything to stop it. Usually the infection is well entrenched before the mental symptoms begin and I would say now that Mum's probably started on Saturday or possibly Friday. By Monday night, she frightened the Brick Outhouse by trying to put a cup through the microwave door because she thought it was already open. She couldn't remember how to get back into bed even with him helping.

Thank goodness for a family doctor who still makes house calls because she was too terrified to leave the house. She was dazed and incoherant. We had to take away all her pills and constantly tell her where she was. At one stage I found her with the phone in her walker and the receiver on the bedside table and trying to answer the radio. The hard part was hearing her being lucid but having the next sentence completely loopy. We had to double dose the anti-biotics yesterday which meant staying until the early hours and bless the Outhouse, he set the alarm so he could take me home.

She was a long way better today but it was a constant battle to juggle the tablets so they didn't clash. Trying to keep track was driving me crazy so I can see how she lost control of them. The headache is gone, the confusion was down to one loopy every two hours or so and she knew enough to swear at Aunt Patty who suggested that a district nurse could do better than 'her girls'. She also got pissed off at Aunt Selma who says she has no pain in her knee and feels wonderful. She was lucid enough to read the letter from the Government telling her she was getting a one off $100 payment to help with expenses. "Bugger expenses," she said, "I'll have that DVD set from the ABC shop." She then asked me who the visitor was as she looked at the bedroom chair with her shawl draped on it.

So it's back to every day visits for another week or so. We'll test the urine every 3 days to keep an eye on it. The wound cut has almost closed except for a tiny bit where there is a dissolving stitch that hasn't dissolved. We just keep adding to the list of things to watch as there will be other signs of the body breaking down. We can't keep ahead of them because we can't tell what will be the next to go. It's a waiting game and we just have to play it.


Daniel said...

Hang in there, Jahteh. It's a terrible time. I know. I've watched three old people I loved die and it's a harrowing experience.

Just do your best and try to focus on remembering the good times.


Unknown said...

Lots of hugs from me too, JT. I would truly hate to be going through what you are.

Armagnac Esq said...

I concur, hugs as well.

I know it's not right to hear from someone your junior, but you're a good daughter.

Anonymous said...


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Oh JahTeh, it's our age. The elderly parent thing is so hard. I hope you're taking care of yourself as well as your ma.

BwcaBrownie said...

The microwave door must have been cleaner than mine is, and maybe the shawl was most artfully draped?.

No warm greetings from me to Aunt Patty, but much love and admiration for you.

Gay Erasmus said...

Sorry to hear this, Jahteh. My thoughts and prayers go to you and your M-in-L. I have a little understanding of what it's like to provide that kind of care for someone. I hope that at some point, if and when you have the time and energy, you give yourself the space to think, feel, and vent whatever it is you need to, good thoughts and bad. Allow yourself the opportunity to cry or get angry if needs be. It's all part of the acceptance process.

Much love.

JahTeh said...

Thank you all for the hugs. My sister sees this all the time being a geriatric nurse and she says there are two types of families, the quiet ones who've done everything and are really hurting and then there are the loud ones who demand because they're guilty for doing nothing. Now I'm losing it because this comment really belongs to the next post.