12. Dementia, Up Close and Personal

 

Again. “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” So very true.

I must give a few datails about Daddy here. He stabilized after the stroke. The physical therapists began to teach him how to use his left hand for many things, and began rehabilitating his right hand and arm. He needed help with everything from getting a drink to using the bathroom, but he made progress. His mind remained clear and his spirits upbeat. He continued to tell stories about his experiences as a Marine and a police officer to anyone who would listen. My sisters and I spent as much time with him as we could.

However, at the time Mother was the main concern. We could no longer leave her alone except for small amounts of time during the day and not at all at night. At night her dementia became worse. She was being given a sedative to calm her down so she could sleep. The sedative did not seem to be helping at all. In fact we felt like it made her agitation worse.

Up to that point in her life, Mother had taken very little medication. Because she had refused to go to the doctor for decades, Tylonel was about all she ever took. Therefore, she was very sensitive to these meds. As daughters we knew and understood this, but it took a few days for us to convince her doctor. We told the doctor to take her off all pain meds and sedatives, except Lortab.

It took some convincing, but he finally agreed. However, he still wanted to give her the sedative. We realized that the pain was not the biggest problem for her. It was the dementia. On this particular evening we realized that Mother needed to make it through the night without the sedative. We also knew it was going to be a horrible night.

I decided to stay with Mother that evening. I told her that she was not going to get any medicine that evening and that she and I would make it through the night together. She replied “Good”. She somehow knew that she was “loopy” and she wanted to be off the medication as much as we wanted her off.

I knew it was going to be a long night. I had a cot to sleep on, but knew that I would probably not lie down all night. It began about 9:30. She began to see lights and bugs on the walls. She heard police sirens and saw police cars. She cried because someone was coming with a gun to kill her. She looked in her mirror with fear because she thought someone was watching her. There were other things she did. I don’t want to talk about those. For hours it was continual and unrelenting.

I stood by her bed, talking to her quietly, holding her hand, praying for guidance. The one thing I did not do was sing. Darla would have sung to her. I knew I would just cry if I tried to sing. Anyway, one thing was certain. I was the only one standing by her bed that night, but I was not alone. God was there ‘bringing me, bringing both of us through it’.

About 2:30 a.m. she began to relax and drifted off to sleep. I did the same. The next morning I knew. When she woke up and smiled at me, I knew. I knew that the horror of the night before was completely worth it. She was relaxed and happy. She ate breakfast and we had a great conversation.

She never remembered that night and I was glad.

We did not completely have our Mother back. The dementia was still there, but the agitation was gone. She was never quite oriented as to location or date. She had to be told over and over that Daddy was next door even though we took her to see him almost daily. Howeve, she was much better and we were thankful.

I will never forget that night. However, I do not dwell on it. It is a memory, a special memory, a sad memory, It is also a memory of God’s presence during a difficult time. He brought us through it.

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