Sunday, July 26, 2009

it's after noon, and...

Mom is still sleeping. At this point, since we're into Week 3 of the radiotherapy, it's probably safe to assume that Mom is feeling the effects of what she's been going through. Fatigue is just another thing we have to incorporate into our daily "routine." The word "routine" is in scare quotes because, truth be told, almost every single day brings us something different in terms of Mom's symptoms and actions. Sometimes the changes are small, like the almost-palsied quivering of Mom's right hand; sometimes the changes are more significant, such as when Mom goes from verbal to nonverbal and back.

The latest major problem is one I've written about before: Mom's tendency to grab at, fondle, and pick at anything she can reach, especially cloth. Whether it's her own bathrobe, or a blanket with strangely patterned stitching, or even a paper napkin, if it's within Mom's reach, it becomes fair game. Mom can't explain her own compulsion; she's aware that it's happening, but once she starts, the only way to stop her is to take away the objects that are fascinating her. It used to be easy to do this, but lately, Mom has begun to resist having objects taken away. She doesn't resist strongly; she merely tightens her grip on the object she's holding. once the object is taken away, her hands go limp for a moment, then begin searching for something else to feel. Her fingers obviously need something to keep them busy. When she and I watch TV together, I hold her right hand, which squeezes my left hand in an agitated manner.

My brother Sean has suggested buying for Mom certain kinds of toys that will allow her to give vent to this compulsion. It's a good idea-- Mom would have something endlessly fascinating in hand, and the objects around her wouldn't suffer any more damage. As a family, we've floated some toy ideas, and have largely agreed that several different types of toy would be good: Dad suggested, for example, a sliding tile toy; I've been thinking more along the lines of a snake puzzle. What we want to stay away from are things like stuffed animals, which would become targets for Mom's plucking fingers (she's already begun to de-fur the hem of her bathrobe). The toy needs to be a single piece with movable parts-- something to fuel fascination, allowing the toy to divert Mom's attention from damaging other things. I have no idea whether Mom's compulsions will become stronger as her cancer progresses, but just in case, the toys shouldn't be easily breakable.

At some point, either Dad or I will step out and buy a few items for Mom. Here's hoping the strategy works.


No comments: