Tag Archives: changing symptoms of dementia

Is Crazy Contagious?

I thought my days would get easier when spring arrived. The weather improved but I managed to get another vicious cold. I passed that cold along to my mom who has been having some wild visions. Lately she’s been calling out my dad’s name. He’s been dead for 21 years and they didn’t get along. Hearing her repeat his name made me feel so weird. I started to wonder: Is crazy contagious?

Is Crazy Contagious?

I am sick for the fifth time since last Thanksgiving. Stress has had a bad effect on my immune system. I just can’t fight off germs the way I once did. Last week I had a hacking cough; now my mom has it too. At least I can cough deliberately to try to get rid of the congestion. Then last week I tried to teach my mom how to do that, too. I urged her to cough hard into a tissue. She just looked at me like I was a fool. Still I kept coaching, “Come on, you can cough I just heard you. Try…..” I held the tissue up and showed her. But all she did was laugh. It was like trying to get a dog to jump rope.

Then I showed her how to blow her nose and it was just as difficult. Mom looked at me with the big eyes of a puzzled child. Finally I just gave up. She can’t master the mechanics of coughing or nose blowing so she’ll just have to deal with her own congestion. Attempts to change her behavior are crazy.

changing roles and changing reality

Aside from the physical aspects of illness, stress is pushing us in odd directions. My mother had a very difficult relationship with my father and they did not part on good terms. Even though she can barely speak at all, this week she pronounced his name clearly over and over. It seemed like she really missed him, which is an unusual turn of events.

Then today, when I thought things were getting more normal, she turned to someone she barely knows and said, “Who is that lady?” Of course she meant me, the person who has been her #caregiver for so long. I never take these remarks personally, but it does add to the weird atmosphere here. At times I look at the sleep deprived person staring back at me from the mirror and wonder just like Mom does, “Who is that lady?” Maybe it’s not such a crazy question. On some days, it makes perfect sense.

In Caregiving and in Life: Seasons Change

When I reflect on the eight year course of my mom’s illness, I see the slow and gradual toll dementia takes on people and families. But if I pause a moment to look at the world around me, I realize that the whole landscape is subject to slow and gradual change. Fall is a good time for contemplation.

Between the Pond and the Woods

I offer these images as a visual report on the environment where I live. The water featured in these photos is Lake Frances, which lies in the middle of Nescopeck State Park. It’s not a very big lake, and the park itself is much smaller than some other state parks near my house. But the lake has some kind of allure that makes me want to photograph it. Perhaps it’s that little island in the middle. Every time I see the island, I wonder how that tree got there. Was the island part of the shore before the lake filled in after some flood? How long has that tree been growing there, surrounded by water?

Between the Pond and the Woods

Life is so full of mysterious happenings. These questions are the ones that make me curious and engaged, even as my mom’s illness keeps me worried and often sad. Why does Mom still laugh so much when she can barely speak? How can she eat so much, move so little, and never gain a pound?

Between the Pond and the Woods

Like the changing of the leaves, these things can probably be explained by science. But science doesn’t interest me right now. On days like this, I am more intrigued by the mysteries of life itself.