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?
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.