October 10, 2007

Another Day In Her World

She hears the door open, and footsteps. Harry. Harry is home, and her heart skips a little beat just the way it always does when the love of her life returns from anywhere. She had never gotten over the excitement she still felt for her husband, even after all these years, and the births of the children.

"Mary," he calls, his footsteps coming closer. She stands at the counter, putting the last touches to the salad, not forgetting his favorite, the cucumbers.

"You're home, Harry," she says, just as she always did, feeling his hands on her shoulders, turning her, and pulling her into his arms. She loves the way he brushes his lips across hers, and the smell of his skin, as she pushes her face into the warmth of his neck.

"Dinner's ready," she smiles. "You sit down, and I'll call the children." She walks toward the door, ready to call the children, but then she feels his hands on her shoulders, shaking her roughly. "Mary! Mary! Come on, it's time to eat! Don't be difficult, Mary, it's time to eat!"


"What is wrong with Harry? she thinks. "Why is Harry hurting me? Why is he yelling at me?'

She feels rough hands pulling at her, shaking her harder. "Come on, Mary! Got to take these meds before the trays get here!"

"What? What is Harry talking about? Medicine? Trays?"

She turns to look at Harry. She is filled with horror!

"You're not Harry!" she screams. "Who are you? Who are you?" She beats at this stranger who is yelling at her, and pulling at her.

"Harry, Harry, help me," she screams. Her head is spinning. Where is Harry? Why won't he help me? "Get these people out of my house, Harry!" She tries to rise, but realizes that she is tied up, and held with some strange kind of contraption around her waist. Her heart beats wildly. With her fists, she beats her chest, and sobs, "Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry!"

"Crazy old lady," says one attendant to the other. "I ain't got time for this...she just gets crazier all the time."

"Harry? Harry? Mama, where is Harry?"


"Mm-mm-mm," says the attendant. "Just like I said...crazier by the day!"


Vin De Vine said...

Now That sounds like a nightmare

sue said...

One of my greatest fears... seriously.

DNR said...

Wow... wonderfully written Jan. I actually understand. I wish no one had to go through this. My greatest fear is going through this with my parents.

I remember (I was 14-16) my dad coming home from visiting his mom and saying she had asked him to be removed from her room because “she was afraid to be alone with ‘this’ stranger”. It broke his heart.

rockync said...

That is a pretty accurate portrayal of an Alzheimer's victim's world. If people would just understand what is actually happening in their heads. Had your ficitional attendant stopped for a minute and starting reciting Mary's current circumstances, such as, you are Mary ___, I am _____, the year is _____, you are ___ years old, I'm sorry but Harry died in 1992, you are staying here at _______ Health Care Center. You're daughter,____, will be here in a few hours, right now it is lunch time. Do you need to use the bathroom before lunch? Etc. This exchange usually takes no more than a minute and a half and at the stage of the disease you are describing, you can usually bring them back to the present in that time. I used to encourage families to make albums with 5x7 or larger prints of all family members as well as pix from the "old days" in chronological order. Comes in handy for taking someone UP memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Both my grandfathers went down that road. Anything is preferable to that kind of end.

Jan said...

vin..yes, a real nightmare.

Jan said...

sue..I think most of us have that fear in the backs of our minds.

Jan said...

dnr..thank you for the kind words.

It is such a sad situation for all concerned, and one that we all are potentially confronted with.

It is heartbreaking to see the confusion that they go through.

My own mom went through those periods of confusion, even tho she didn't have Alzheimer's Disease. She was not violent in any way, but she would cry for her Mama, especially during a thunderstorm, and would ask me to call her to come get her, or would want me to take her home, because "Mama is by herself with the babies." It broke my heart, and all I could do was try to calm her, and familiarize her with her present surroundings.

Many elderly experience episodes of senile dementia.

Jan said...

rockync..you are so right, and fortunately many of the healthcare workers do exactly what they are supposed to do in those situations, but not all do, and many are not properly trained, or just don't care.

It sounds like you were well-trained in this area, but you were a nurse, too, which makes all the difference in the world.

Many of those working in these facilities are just off the street, menial workers. The trained nurses are not always present, and many of the nurses are LPNs with not as much training, but still allowed to dispense meds.

I am not trying to put down anyone who genuinely cares for them, and treats them in a humane manner.

I wrote the story the way that I did, trying to convey, in some way, what these poor people must experience, and to make one realize that they were once just like us, with the same feelings and emotions, and to show that those emotions and feelings are still there.

Jan said...

Hermit..no one wants to go down that road, and it is especially frightening when we have witnessed others who have.

sue said...

I had a great aunt who lived in her own home with a caretaker. When she looked out the picture window in the middle of the city, she would see cows in the fields because that was what was there when her father built the house. She also swore that she'd been put in a nursing home. She thought the newscasters were sitting in her livingroom telling her the news. It was very sad. I would visit her often but she always thought I was my mother. (which was okay with me)

Jan said...

Sue..I know. It is all very real to them.

rockync said...

I think the worst part is the fear they have when they think they are surrounded by strangers and that they have been taken somewhere. No wonder many of them think they've been kidnapped. Imagine being in your house and the next thing you know, everyone you know and love is gone, you are in strange surroundings, possibly restrained in some way and you can't remember how you got there. Worse still, strange people are trying to get you to go with them. Having your mind fade and fracture has got to be the worst.

Jan said...

rockync..it is hard to imagine, really, everything that they experience. It has to be like when you're having a nightmare, and can't wake up, and imagine thinking of someone, and wanting to see them, but not understanding why that person never comes around at all. I think it is one of the saddest things in the world.

rockync said...

Jan you're right, I can't really imagine being in that situation. It probably would feel like a nightmare. That's why it is so important for caregivers to take the time for reality orientation. I've had CNAs ask me what's the point and I have always tried to explain how rerooting them in the here and now reduces their anxiety and ends their torture, even though it's only temporary. And the memory books come in so handy. It's like having amnesia and once you start showing them pictures and taking them through the years, they recover those memories for a time. Eventually, the dementia gets to the point that none of this works anymore and that is the very sad, very scary part.

Jan said...

rockync..anything that one can do to make it easier for them, is a blessing!

Even a few moments of pleasure of looking at old photos is a treasure!


Great post! It made me feel very sorry that nothing can be done except to show them with your touch, your eyes, the tone of your voice that you care. May I never go there but If I do, I pray to have someone who cares take care of me. I am very thankful to God for those who do care for those that they take care of. connie fromTexas