Just Another Visit

We went over to Mom’s this afternoon after church. We had been planning it for a few days, and my oldest son didn’t want to go. My younger son, and daughter wanted to, so I took them. Yesterday, while I was running a few errands with my daughter, I asked her why she didn’t mind going, but my son wouldn’t. She asked if I had asked him, and I told her that he really couldn’t quite articulate it yet – for two reasons: One, he is a bit younger than she is; and Two, he is male and all males have issues articulating emotional things. She thought it was funny, and asked me how long it lasted. She just rolled her eyes when I told her that if she worked really hard she could teach her eventual husband a little, but it would probably take 20 or more years.

Prior to going, I had explained to the kids that if asked, my son ‘didn’t feel well’ (and honestly, not wanting to see a grandmother isn’t well, just not his ‘not well’). I also made sure that if they felt like they wanted to leave, all they had to do was to tell me that they weren’t feeling well, and we would go – no questions.

My aunt and uncle were there, and were on the deck when we arrived. We had taken over a cake, since we had missed Dad’s birthday (he was at the beach). We chatted on the deck for a while (read mostly listened to Mom), then went inside so the kids could play their piano (and listened to Mom), then had the cake (and listened to Mom), then listened to Mom as she went through a few of the stacks of pictures that were on the table, and an old photo album. We finally excused ourselves (read extricated with difficulty) and left. It had only been about three hours, but I was exhausted. I asked the kids on the way home if they thought anything was odd or unusual about Mom’s behavior. My daughter started to say something then stopped. I called her on it, and she explained that there were a few things that were unusual, but that they weren’t really unusual for Mom. She did say that she thought Mom was ‘hyper’, and my son (who tends toward hyper also) agreed.

The unusual things that my daughter was talking about are:

  • Mom gives the kids lots of gifts – clothes mostly – and makes a big deal about each article, including where and when she got it, how much it had been marked down, and (in the case of my daughter) other clothes she has that would go with it.
  • Mom can tell the history of anything she touches – where they got it, when, why, and from who.
  • Anything that anyone says will ‘remind’ Mom of something, which will start a few minutes of her talking about it.

In a nutshell, Mom appears to be still hypo-manic. She is very distractible and runs at high speed, but much less emotionally fragile than she was last week.

~ by namegoeshere on May 28, 2007.

2 Responses to “Just Another Visit”

  1. OK, this is NOMB, but I was wondering if you had considered a couple of things:
    1. As I read it, while on vacation, your mom decompensated to a level she had never reached before. Has she ever been that bad before? If not, is there any particular reason why it would get so bad now?
    Here is the reason I ask: on two occasions I have seen bipolar seniors take a serious nosedive at the onset of dementia. It seems that whatever mental health issue is already present can flare horribly at the beginning of dementia and therefore confuse the diagnosis. I saw it with my grandfather and with a friend’s partner. Just a thought.
    2. I have been going through something similar with my mom and I discovered that helping my step-dad just delays the inevitable. I was going to her house between classes to change her linens and I was doing her errands and fixing her messes. But recently I have realized that my helping isn’t helpful. The more I do, the longer it will take my step-father to come to the end of himself and realize that he needs help.
    I was wondering if you had thought of that.
    3. What is it with mothers being “allergic” or having “adverse responses” to anything that could possibly make them better?!?!?! I swear, my mother recently claimed to be allergic to pepper. When I asked her how she knew that she was allergic, she told me that it made her throat burn. Really? Ya think? Is this a symptom of a mental illness or just a tip published in the 1950’s Better Homes and Gardens for making your children compliant?
    Edited to remove location

  2. On one previous occasion several years ago, Mom got to the point that she was hospitalized. She was only in the hospital for a few days, and was not medicated at that point – Dad didn’t force it and checked her out AMA (I think)
    It is possible that she could have some type of dementia as well, but bipolar – especially manic – can present so many other symptoms that it is often difficult to tell if there is another cause or not.
    Dad has finally admitted that there is a problem – when Mom was hospitalized and he signed the papers authorizing treatment against her will. Before that, he was part of the problem by giving her convenient excuses and tolerating all the strange behavior.
    As to the allergic reactions – Some are genuine, drug companies have to continue to come up with new drugs to treat old stuff even though the old drugs work fine with fewer side effects. Some of it is probably age, as autoimmune responses tend to fluctuate more in older people. Some of it is probably ‘placebo’ effect, where an expected reaction occurs, but the severity of it is amplified by the expectation. And then some of it is probably (at least in MY Mother’s case) mentally generated by reading the adverse effects on the meds.

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