When The Shoes Don’t Fit (July 6,2019)

Mom has been ‘shopping’. These are not her shoes!

Mom wanted to walk so Grant helped her stand up. As we started walking down the hall I became alarmed! Her gait was strange. She had to hold on to Grant and Lisa for support! I had her sit down so I could find a nurse. As I was explaining to her that she needed to sit because I was worried about the way she was walking, I noticed that one of the shoes had a lift! No wonder mom couldn’t walk. I told her we were taking those shoes off and walking back to her room. Instantly her gait returned to normal. Unfortunately her OCD kicked in. She did not want to walk on the carpet because her feet kept getting sandy! (OCD with Alzheimer’s can test the strongest of patience…)The three minute walk turned into a 7 minute walk, but it was a success. We made it to her room! Her face lit up like a little kid when Grant gave her a little bag of orange slices and chocolate covered almonds. (Those are happy childhood memories for me. When I was a little girl, shopping days would include going to Sears downtown. Walking through the front door, the first thing we saw was the candy counter. Mom would always get orange slices for her, chocolate covered raisins for me and Michelle and if I were really good, when we left, I was allowed a few pieces of candy corn!😋)

Mom happy to see Grant and Lisa
Helping mom walk as she struggles!
It is hard to walk in shoes that do not fit and have a lift!

Riding in the car to visit mom, I had some apprehension. The ‘naughty’ reports (she had struggled the last few days, but the staff reassured me her behavior was normal and to be expected) made me nervous. As the children (today I had Grant, Lisa and Lucy) and I entered thru the front door, mom was the first person we saw. My heart sank. She looked awful (tired and unfocused). I asked the nurse how she had been. He told me she had a really good day! “Yay” I silently whispered. I knelt down in front of her and said, “Hi mom!” She refused to acknowledge me. She was fiddling with buttons on her blouse (I thought I had removed all of her clothes with buttons. I guess I missed this one). After I helped her with the buttons, she focused on my voice. It wasn’t my face that caught her attention, but Grant’s. She was so happy to see him! As Grant hugged her, I looked down and realized she had someone else’s shoes on her feet! It looked like she had been shopping! (Shopping is the term used when Alzheimer’s patients wander into other patient’s rooms and takes stuff they like.) The children and I giggled. I made a mental note to return them to the front desk.

Love you mom!
Grant giving her more orange slices
Mom is so happy to have candy
Mom’s happiness causes her to jump up and start hugging
Hugging Lisa
Smiles from all

Back in the room, mom finally had her feet clean and shoes on. We walked outside. She loved sitting and eating her candy. Suddenly, she was overtaken by emotion. She jumped up hugging each one of us. The simplicity of her love brought tears to my eyes!

After eating candy and hugging everyone, we went back inside. We helped mom complete a puzzle. She also had a good FT call with Ali and told him she loved him. It was a great visit!

Looking through the window
Mom was always good at puzzles
Completed!

Dining with mom

My writing is never meant to insult or hurt anyone with Alzheimer’s. I am showing unedited honesty mixed with love. There will be many tears, frustration and even anger. Don’t worry, there is going to be a lot of laughter also. If you can’t find humor, you will only live with pain! I want everyone following us to walk away with a merry heart amidst the sorrow. (Proverbs 17:22) I will share it all from my eyes and the eyes of family and friends.

Homemade orange juice!

Yesterday (7/2/19) I got to join mom and her friends for dinner. Mom may struggle with language and memory, but her creative gene still rules! Mom had been given mandarin oranges for dessert (She is down to 115 lbs. and is sitting in the dining room where nurses closely monitor the amount of food she is eating. We do not want her loosing any more weight!). She decided orange juice would be better. She was not waiting for anyone to bring her some. Instead she mixed the oranges with her left over water and happily ‘drank’ every bite even after complaining that the oranges were ‘gross’!

Good to the very last drop!

Our dinner companions were fun in their own right! The lady to my right felt that shoes were not important! I tend to agree! 🙂 PS: The picture looks awful. Except for the toenail, her feet were fine. She was using her toes to scratch her bottom foot!

Shoes can be overrated!

After eating, mom enjoys walking. I took her outside for some fresh air. We sat down so I could show her pictures that her friends from all over the world have been sending (Thank you Patricia and Donna). Mom’s frustration in recognizing the ladies, but not being able to say their names became apparent. I turned the pictures off and took a selfie! Mom was much happier because she recognized herself and kept saying, ‘That is me!”

Frustration in recognizing friends but not knowing their names!
Happiness is recognizing herself in a photo!

Mom

Mom was relaxed and happy while on the boat. She began crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said they were happy tears!

Back in America

Mom and Ali arrived in Charleston, SC on June 7, 2019. It was her final destination and going to become her permanent home! Mom was wheeled into the airport looking frail, frazzled and exhausted! She was not making much sense as she tried to communicate except when I asked her if she knew who I was? Her snappy response, “Of course I do Lisa,” let me know I had insulted her! Maybe I shouldn’t have smiled, but I did! Mom was still there!

It has been two years since my sister and I had last seen mom (LeAnn). The decline in her memory and speech was shocking! Her husband had been in close contact with me. His honesty, along with my reading everything I could on Alzheimer’s, had my brain educated and prepared. Nothing could have prepared my heart!

The first night back in my home proved to be challenging. I knew the jet-lag, due to the 22 hour flight from Kuwait was playing havoc on mom’s mental state. Yet, I had to admit, there was more! Alzheimer’s was boldly introducing itself to me! Mom was agitated and kept wandering. The doors had to be monitored because she kept trying to escape! My 12 year old son asked me if he could sleep with his bedroom door locked because grandma kept barging in. That had not been her room for over 5 years, but that was the room she kept returning to! She took her frustrations out on me and Ali. (At one point she told me I was stupid!) Luckily, she had always been close with my husband, so Richard was able to provide her security.

Around 9 PM, mom was fed and ready for bed! To say I was relieved was an understatement! I needed peace and quiet to process the day! I know there will be good days mixed with bad days. Patience will be tested as tears flow! Alzheimer’s is robbing all of us of the wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend we once knew. One thing Alzheimer’s will not rob LeAnn of is the unconditional love surrounding her! She has a ‘village’ that extends worldwide! These friends and family embrace LeAnn, no matter her condition! This is not the journey I expected life to take us on, but God did! My Faith and trust are in Him, no matter the road ahead!