Communion Of Dreams

A bit messed up.
December 5, 2007, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Bipolar, Depression, Health, Hospice, Sleep, Writing stuff

We’re back to the train metaphor. My MIL has either been traveling via train, or is waiting for someone to arrive on a train, or is going to catch a train, or just thinks that she is presently on a train (this last happens when she’s in bed, with the bed safety rails up). I cannot help but think that this is her subconscious’ way of understanding that she is in transition from this life to whatever comes after. Why a train? Because when she was a young woman, that’s how she traveled, to St. Louis for shopping, back and forth to college.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

But she doesn’t stop there. Yesterday morning I went to get her up from her morning nap, and she asked: “Is there a job or something I can do to earn some money?”

“Money? Why do you need money?”

“Well, to call my mother.”


“I came over here to play, and have been out playing on the grounds. Now I’d like to go home, so need to call my mother. But I was laying here thinking, and realized I don’t have any money!”

“Ah. Well, that’s OK. You can use the phone here – you don’t need any money.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I walked with the dog in the cold, stiff wind this morning, little pellets of spitting snow falling around me, I realized something I should have noticed a week or two ago: I’m a bit messed up. Lethargic, unmotivated, finding it difficult to concentrate even enough to write short entries for my blog. But I haven’t been sleeping well, either. I’ve been grumpy and short tempered, impatient and always feeling slightly annoyed. In other words, my mild bipolar condition crept into darkness, a slight depression.

Part of it is just the ongoing effort of being a care-provider, of course. Part of it is seasonal, with the grey clouds that settle in this time of year. And part of it is just personal, as we approach December 12th, the anniversary of my father’s murder. I’ve learned to expect something of a downturn this time of year, but it always seems to catch me off guard at first. You’d think after almost 40 years, it wouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s not the vicious blackness of a full depression, and for that I am thankful. But still, it needs some tending – awareness, being a little more lenient with myself, a little more indulgent. Try to nap when I can. Worry less about my weight, enjoy some favorite foods in moderation. Work when I can, hope that my clients and readers will understand. Be as gentle with myself as I am with my MIL, at least for a while.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was on-call last night. I first heard my MIL stirring around 1:00, but she settled back down again until a little after 2:00. The second time I got up, dressed, went downstairs to check on her.

I put down the safety rails, helped her sit on the side of the bed. At first touch I knew she was running a fever. I got some slippers on her feet, helped her onto the commode that sits beside the bed. Her eyes were watery, uncertain. Her temperature was 2.5 degrees above normal.

“Here, MIL, you need to take these pills,” I said, dropping her usual nighttime meds into the palm of her hand.

She looked at the pills, then at me, then back at the pills. “No.”


“I’ve already taken my pills. That woman was in here a few minutes ago, and I took them then.”

“Um, no, no one else has been here tonight. Maybe that was just a dream. These are your pills – you need to take them.”


This was a completely new one – she’d never refused to take her meds before. “Um, yeah. You need to take those. Now. Here’s some water . . .”


It took me over 10 minutes of cajoling and commanding and pleading to get her to take the medications. She was adamant that she had taken them already, some memory fragment or bit of dream stuck in her head.

And it was almost two hours before I was able to get back to sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

She’s been cranky today. Stubborn, demanding, a bit petulant.

But also so very weak and confused. Perhaps another TIA. Or perhaps just another step down in her overall condition.

We’ll know more when the hospice nurse comes tomorrow. Or not. You learn to live with that ambiguity, that uncertainty. As best you can.

Jim Downey

(Cross-posted to dKos.)

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[…] tired. So very, very tired. As I’ve mentioned, this time of year usually carries something of a depressive element for me anyway. With the […]

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