Today has been (and it is only 1pm) a “bad day” for Mom’s memory.
I have been noticing in the last couple of weeks a significant change in her memory. Usually, after she has been sick, the memory is worse but it improves as the days go by. It never gets quite back where it was before she was sick but there is a marked improvement from where she would have been when she was sick.
This time, however, I have noticed some subtle changes which seem to be getting worse, not better.
Firstly, she forgot which pills she needed to take, when. Formerly, she was more or less on top of this, managing her pills more or less properly.
One day last week, she said “I can’t figure out which pills I am supposed to be taking, when.” That night when I went to pick up a prescription refill, I mentioned this to the druggist and she showed me this great pill organizer. The ones I have seen in the past are big blocks with smaller blocks with lids.
They are all the same colour and I would have a hard time figuring them all out.
This one, on the other hand, is a tray with different-coloured boxes, like pencil boxes. Each one is marked for the day of the week and has “Morning”, “noon”, “evening”, “night”, and “as needed” for pills you might take once a week or for specific symptoms. You can slip the Monday one out when you have finished your pills for that day, slide it in at the back of the tray and that pushes Tuesday’s pill box forward. You can also take your Saturday and Sunday boxes with you if you were going to the cottage for the weekend and didn’t want to haul the whole thing with you… Very handy.
It was more expensive than the other one but I figured it was worth the money. I just worried how Mom would take to it… She is very proud and just doesn’t want to admit when she isn’t “on top of everything”. However, I brought it home and later that evening when she mentioned that she was confused again about her pills, I brought it out. She was quite pleased with it and was willing to give it a go, which surprised me.
For a couple of days, things went smoothly. Then on Wednesday night, after she had just taken her night time pills and headed up to bed, I walked in to say goodnight to her and found her going through her pills. I asked what she was doing and she said she was trying to figure out which ones she needed to take before bed.
I reminded her that she had already had her bedtime pills and she swore up and down she hadn’t. Finally, she realized that she had. I decided that I was going to have to take her pills and put them in a safe place in my room if she did that again. This morning, I walked in and found that she was going through her pills again and had already taken one… She couldn’t recall which one… Finally, she settled on the one she THOUGHT she took and I removed that pill from today’s tray. I also took her pills into my room.
Another thing had cropped up last night, too. Last evening, I found she had taken some sandwich meat out of the fridge earlier in the day and left it under the coffee table. I took it and said that I was going to throw it away and she said it had “only been out a short time” (to my mind 6 hours is not a “short time”). I pointed out that quite probably, it was eating something that had been out of the fridge for a “short time” that had made her sick.
Her response was “Food being “off” couldn’t make my hip hurt!”.
I said “Mom, you’ve been sick for the last three weeks!”
“No, I haven’t!”
I reminded her that she had been sick all day three weeks ago on Tuesday and hadn’t been feeling well for the last three weeks and she said “No, I wasn’t. I haven’t been sick to my stomach in months!”
I reminded her about her hospital visit, the being sick and the fact that I actually had to take my holidays to be with her because she was sick. At that point, she seemed to recall and admitted that she had been sick. I said that it could have been from eating spoiled food…
Of course, she always brings up that when she was a girl, they used to keep things in the pantry for weeks without ill-effects. This was, of course, in Scotland back in the days when they didn’t have central heating and the temperature wasn’t nearly what it is her during the summer. AND, their pantry had thick stone walls which kept it cool even in summer… AND, as I pointed out… just because you ate food stored that way in the past didn’t mean that you SHOULD eat food food stored that way, now. (Of course, too, food arrived at your house fresher than it does today…)
She is also coping with the fact that until next Friday, she has to wear an event monitor which monitors any anomalies in her heart rate, pulse… whatever. If she feels something she is supposed to press a button and it will monitor things she might not feel. So far, it has done all the monitoring. If she has felt anything she hasn’t ever pressed the button and when I as, she says she hasn’t noticed any symptoms. Some days there are only a couple of “events” and some days, like yesterday, I downloaded probably 20… To download, I have to unplug the monitor and call a 1-800 number and press a button on the monitor and “download” the information over the phone. Basically, what “downloads” is an audio recording of her heart rhythms and this is loud enough for me to hear. It is speeded up but you can make out the heart-beats and I can hear a difference between the rhythms.
Either she has heart rhythms that are faster than normal or slower than normal. I can also hear what sound like skipped beats. It will be interesting to hear what the results of this are. Perhaps they will be thinking in terms of a pace-maker. Whether, at her age and with her health, they would give her one is another matter. If it would give her an improved quality of life, it would be worth the risk. Whether she would go for it is another matter.
The one good thing today was that there was a bit of a spring in her step today that has been missing in the last few weeks. I took her out to the Experimental Farm and sat her on a bench in the sun while I went and took photos and she really enjoyed it. She still walks like a drunken sailor… just a little springier drunken sailor, today…