Friday the 13th Was A Good Day…

Warning: This post is a long one…

Talked to the social worker yesterday, and she confirmed that my mother would be coming home next week – good news. Now I could tell my mother she is definitely coming home. But there was something else more prevalent, something that needed to be done. It was a request both my mother and I needed: a psychiatric evaluation.

At the hospital (medical facility #1) I was  verbally told my mother was in advanced stage of dementia, and needed long term care at a nursing home. But first she needed physical therapy to strengthen her legs and make her more mobile for two weeks before going to a nursing home. Trusting their judgment, we agreed to go to the rehab facility (medical facility #2). While at facility #2, my mother was still confused and agitated at everything that was going on, while I was at a loss of what to do. In talking to friends, I was surprised at how many were either former or were present caregivers with relatives with dementia. When I told them what behavior was going on, the usual response was “Oh, that’s just the dementia talking….you have to make the decision to keep her at the nursing home…it will be hard, but it has to be done…” Well-meaning words from those who experienced making decisions (and I am sure that was based on having received a written diagnosis), they wanted to help me through a very difficult time, but it just seemed their solutions weren’t fitting the situation. Then I was gifted with a conversation I had with a dear friend. When I told her facility #1 ran a battery of tests that all came back negative, and describing that horrific Tuesday evening when my mother was exhibiting what appeared to be classic dementia behavior, she said “dehydration has devastating effects on people. Believe me, I know.” My friend had been a caregiver of at least five or six family members who had dementia, and she was presently caring for her sister on a full-time basis with the same disease. I placed her comments in my mental memory bank for safe-keeping to do some research on later. This morning I discovered that among other things, dehydration can reek havoc on the body, causing fever, headaches, and it could cause confusion and dementia-like behavior. I knew my mother was on medications that had her constantly going to the bathroom, something she did not like. Could it be she did not hydrate as much as she should in an attempt to lessen going to the bathroom, and because of that all this happened? I may never know the answer to that question, but it’s a consideration…but back to the goings on of today.

Here’s another thought that I believe was given by God to me when I visited my mother last night. It was as if God was saying “have you noticed it is evening and she is acting like herself, not agitated like she was previously?” In researching dementia, I read that those with dementia are most lucid during the day (when there’s light), but as evening approaches and darkness envelopes the atmosphere, dementia behavior rears its ugly head – called ‘sun downing’. With so many things I needed to do, I admit I did not realize this until that very moment. One of the reasons I dreaded going to visit her was I did not know what mother I would see: the one I am used to talking to, or one that was upset at and distrusting of me. In the past couple of weeks, that seemed to have disappeared…

I visited an adult day care center which appeared to be clean and the staff was nice. It may be a good place for my mother to attend, and I told the director I would get back to him. Next stop was the nursing home as I needed to drop off some papers to the admission office. During the course of the morning I asked God for wisdom on what to do next. My mother was due to  come home next week, and I needed to know who to hire to care for her at home, and if the day care center would be a good fit for her. My main concern for the day was if the psychiatrist would be impartial and conduct a fair evaluation, and I hoped by the time I got to the nursing home that would be done. I met my mother who was surprised to see me (I had told her I would come on Saturday initially), but she needed to do some more evaluations with the staff, so I left her room while the evaluations continued. This next thing is the favor of God. I didn’t have a chance to approach the nurses, as they approached me first. One of the nurses asked if I was Debra and I told her yes, and she told me what I hoped had happened: the psychiatric evaluation had been completed. Another nurse joined in the conversation and both let me know the psychiatrist’s conclusion was that my mother did not have dementia, but it could be cognitive communication deficit, or CCD. Uhhhh, W-H-A-A-T!!!??? Research for later…

I felt overjoyed, and told them the diagnosis changes everything. There were so many inner responses to what they were saying, that was jumping within my brain instantaneously:

  • and to think I almost kept her here, in a place that was not the best fit for her
  • to think I almost shut her apartment down
  • to think I almost financially changed everything… to think… but God.

I went to the main floor and just stared into space. I came so close to making wrong decisions. But God, when I was about to do something, it just seemed it was not the right thing to do at the time, and I stopped the process, though I didn’t know what to do next. All the while God would give me music in my head entitled “Thank You Lord“, or “Already Done“; scripture with phrases of I trust you Lord and  When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 91, Ephesians 3:20, Mark 9:23, Isaiah 43:19 were other texts that kept leaping off the page. I understood them, and believed them, but didn’t see the manifestation of them…but then again, maybe I did. Sermons encouraged and challenged me like the one entitled “It’s Only a Test” , which gave me faith fuel to try living life for another hour, another day, another week of going to work and make an attempt to get something completed, and be faithful and obedient to God by visiting my mother, washing her clothes, buying her favorite Mr. Goodbar chocolate bars and personal supplies she requested, though it felt like my eyes were only a quarter open I was so tired. But God brought us to these moments of getting a confirmed discharge date, having long conversations and actually laughing together while telling each other our concerns, frustrations and fears and praying together before I left to drive home.

For a change I saw a beautiful smile on my mother’s face instead of the usual frown as we continued our conversation today. She told me some things she noticed about herself that she knows need to be worked on. And as for me I felt no angst from within for a change.

I can tell you this journey is chock full of fear and faith, weakness and strength, frustration and determination, questions and (finally) answers that are ever getting closer to conclusions, and a deepened awareness of how grateful I am to have Someone who, when life appears to be impossible, He assures me with Him anything’s possible. And to think this happened on Friday the 13th…

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