Saturday, May 10, 2014


My mother's dementia has been rapidly progressing since the day she was diagnosed about four years ago. We've been in Texas for three of those and have watched her go from being slightly forgetful to no longer having any idea who we are or who she is. Because she's only sixty-seven and her condition is considered early-onset Alzheimer's, it's moving more quickly than it does in older people. This is a curse and a blessing. The curse is obviously that our hearts ache for the many years we feel we're losing as she slips away, and a blessing in that, Lord willing, she won't have to suffer for years to come. Tuesday we started hospice care for Mom. They offer full-time physical and emotional care for the terminally ill and their families and are usually called in when a doctor deems that a person may have less than six months to live. 

Though the nursing home and the hospice nurses have been very kind and loving with Mom and with us, our hearts are heavy. We pray for peace, especially for Mom, but also for those who love her. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. I am compiling a tribute to her life in pictures, so please send me anything you may have that you would like to share. I hope to post it here as soon as I have it completed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mom's Surgery

Wednesday, the director of the nursing home called and said Mom had a swollen knee and was complaining of leg pain. Her doctor wanted her to go to the emergency room. Mom no longer recognizes me and is sometimes belligerent, which can be upsetting, especially to my youngest son. With that in mind, I requested a transport to the hospital, and we met her there. Nobody is sure how or when it happened, but she had a broken hip. Because she had fallen recently, we assume she fell again and forgot what happened.

Her legs had been elevated during transport, and her knee wasn't swollen when the ER doctor saw her. It may have just been a fluid pocket that got enough attention to get her to the hospital. She was complaining of pain but unable to locate it accurately. We discussed options with her doctor, one being to let it heal naturally because of the trauma involved in surgery and recovery for a person who has dementia. In the end, however, we settled on a hip replacement because, even though she doesn't have the capacity to participate in rehabilitation services, we will be sure the bone is properly set and healing, eliminating unnecessary pain in the long run.

She had the surgery and is already back at the nursing home in recovery. They have increased staff to make sure she is taken care of, and she will be in bed on pain management for the next few days. There is a walker next to her bed in hopes that she'll use it, but there's no guarantee that she will walk again.

While my brother and I were at the hospital, one of the nurses commented on how nice it was that we were there for our mom. She said most dementia patients aren't visited by family. It made me ask myself why I was there. The nursing home and hospital have the paperwork they need to do whatever is necessary to take care of her physical needs. Mom doesn't know who I am and even sometimes yells at me and cusses in front of my children. I cry every time I leave her side and sometimes while I'm there. I've determined that it's not so much me visiting her as God's Spirit in me. That's the kind of thing He does--visit a person who offers absolutely nothing in return. I wouldn't do that. I would look for a return on my investment, even if it was just a good feeling. Galatians 2:20 says, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Recognizing that helps me to understand and accept why other family and friends have abandoned my mom--I might do the same thing--and reminds me to pray for them.

I am so thankful for my mother's decision to give her life to God five years ago, and I honestly don't know how I would handle sitting by her side without the assurance that I will one day see her again made whole in her new body. In the meantime, I am thankful for my husband and my brother who are walking this difficult road with me and experiencing their own grief, with the help of Christ. I work daily at keeping my eyes fixed on Him and allowing His Spirit to work through me, because I am in no shape to handle this on my own.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands." 2 Corinthians 5:1