Monday, October 12, 2009

back... and back

David and I just got back from a trip to Wegmans, where we did a bit of shopping for Sean's birthday meal (it's not a surprise, so I don't mind blogging this). Alas, David had already decided to take off work on Thursday night; I guess I should have told him that Sean was busy on his birthday, and would be celebrating the following day.

When we got home, we saw that Mom was back on her throne in the living room, watching Korean TV, and Dad was hanging around the kitchen/living room area. According to Dad, there must have been around twenty people at tonight's dinner at the Harding residence; I'm glad Mom had another chance to socialize, even if she did it wordlessly.

Speaking of "wordlessly," the neurologist apparently saw Mom's status as having changed for the worse. According to Dad, Dr. Benson concluded today that Mom was "unable to remember who her three children were." When I pressed Dad for specifics, he said that Mom hadn't responded to Dr. Benson's questions about the names of her three sons. So either Dr. Benson interpreted Mom's silence as an inability to recall her family, or Dad's impression of Dr. Benson's assessment is somewhat off (i.e., maybe Dr. Benson simply noted that Mom was less verbal, not that she was "unable to recall" anything). The upshot, though, was that the doc wanted to see Mom again in two months, as I predicted would happen. Still, I found the doc's conclusion (or Dad's interpretation of it) disturbing.

After the appointment, I dropped Dad off at home, then took Mom to the park. We needed to get a walk in: she hadn't exercised in three days. The walk itself went well; Mom chugged along strongly, covering 680 yards.

When we got back to our driveway, I turned the car off and faced Mom.

"Who am I?" I asked.

Mom stared at me for a while, and it wasn't a blank stare. I could tell she resented the constant quizzing, both by the neurologist and by her own family. Good. Resentment means somebody's home. After some time, Mom responded, "Kevin!"

So I asked her: "Who is that crazy guy who likes to shout 'Ooooohhh, CHAAAA!' whenever he comes over?" This was a reference to David, who doesn't speak a lick of Korean, but who takes great and cruel delight in imitating Korean sounds, often amusing the family with his faux-netics.

"Sammy," Mom replied, naming my oldest friend. I had mentioned to her, barely two minutes earlier, that Sam was going to be visiting us on the 14th. Her perseverative brain had latched on to that information, which would have popped out no matter what I had asked. Mom immediately realized her error and waved her hand in a canceling/negating motion, then said, "David." The correct answer. David is indeed the "Oh, CHA!" culprit.

That was two out of three. "And who's the guy who plays the cello?"

Mom smiled, looked away, looked back at me, then said very clearly, "OK, let's go." I took that to mean, "OK, you know I know the answer, but you also know that I won't say it-- either because I can't or because I'm tired of all the questions. One way or another, we both know that I know who you're talking about."

I allowed this to slide, and we got out of the car.

Although Mom's walk in the park had gone flawlessly, her last few yards from the van to the house were treacherous: she ended up falling three times. First, Mom lost her balance when she stepped badly on a flagstone. I was able to soften her fall, but she still ended up on the ground, laughing at her own predicament. I lifted her back to her feet, and she insisted on attempting the deck stairs. Here again, she "fell" twice more, each descent being less a fall, per se, and more a sort of uncontrolled sitting-down. Each time, I helped Mom back up, and we worked our way up the five steps together. Once we got inside, Dad checked her legs and bottom for injury, and determined that Mom was fine.

Mom's insistence on avoiding the wheelchair ramp in favor of the more difficult stairs is admirable, but she's so weak that even mounting a single step requires a lot of help from us. Today was the first time for her to collapse three times in rapid succession; this may have been partly attributable to the fact that, earlier in the day, she got up too late to have a decent meal before her doctor's appointment. We've been overloading her with protein, but today, because of our schedule and Mom's tardiness, the usual meal just wasn't possible. Maybe I should have considered that before taking her out to the park.

Anyway, we're back, and I have to thank David for purchasing the Wegmans groceries this evening. There's still more to buy; Dad will be out all day tomorrow seeing to the rest of our culinary needs: Korean components for Mom, and the rest of the material we need for Sean's thirtieth birthday bash. Ah, yes: our thanks, as well, to the Hardings for giving us so much food! The kindness is appreciated.

One last note: when we got Mom inside the house, she wandered over to the kitchen, probably to try and wash some dishes. While she stood behind the counter, I asked her again, "Who's that guy who plays the cello?"

"Sean!" she barked.

Three for three. Take that, Dr. Benson. And you know something? Even if Mom gets to a point where she no longer knows her kids' names, we won't be able to say that she's truly forgotten us. The day she gives us a blank or frightened look and recoils from our touch-- on that day, we'll admit defeat. But that day hasn't come yet. Here's hoping it never comes.


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