We knew this day was coming. 6 months ago, Mom and Dad moved in, with Mom’s dementia symptoms becoming more apparent. Specialist after specialist ruled out physical illnesses, and this next-to-last-one, geriatrics, was the one I was deeply dreading and looking forward to.
Bookings are high here in the oldest state in the Union, and especially so in central Maine, so we know it would be a while. Then yesterday, the call: We’ve had a cancellation. Can you come tomorrow at 8?
Augusta, from Skowhegan, an hour drive. Morning commute. Not a lot of Mom prep time. 2 15-page forms? Sure.
PATIENT FORM: Questions like when did you first notice thinking and memory was off?
Everything’s fine, says patient Mom. It was coming to Maine that did it. No, I don’t take any medications. No vision problems. I just don’t like to drive any more. Everyone has mood swings. I dutifully wrote down what Mom said. Dad wanted to coach, and Mom wanted him to, too.
The other form, THE INFORMANT: Yeah, no kidding. Dad, you want me to fill this out, and you can check my work later? Yeah.
Despite the fact that there are 3 Chestnut Streets in Augusta, according to GPS, which took us to the pretty residential one the first time, we made it. Me, super sunny and cheerful, Mom happily knitting the same inch of sock out of a bathroom trash can she brought along.
List of all meds, dosages, and did you bring the original bottles? Tsked the nurse at me. You need to call that in. (me, in my head: don’t you have all that in your portal already? Clearly not the point.)
Then, the team arrives: 3 women docs and woman social worker. Young, one had purple hair. One was pigmented beyond Caucasian. Social worker, somewhere mid-sixties I’d say. Hallelujah. This choir of angels was purely for my benefit, straight from the Goddess herself. Or A Wrinkle in Time.
2 hours of testing, together then apart. Mom was so on, so about it, had them all laughing. Dad, don’t give Mom the answer. Which I didn’t say, just touched his sleeve. Mom caught it, and gave me the bad-in-church look. I’m gonna pay for that later. And so will Dad.
And then it’s done. Some dementia, you’re doing the right things, see you in a year. Maybe meds if your primary says so. Have Dad start the shower for you.
Mom: See, nothing to worry about. Everyone my age has dementia. You don’t have to have me committed today.
Me: (I need a spring clean call. TOOL 1. 11 a.m. with Sister Goddess Derene in New Jersey. Already scheduled. I am a genius.)
Mom: Were you satisfied with what they said, Jennifer?
Me: Yeah, Mom, they were nice. And great.
And I skipped breakfast and now it’s lunchtime. I just outed my Mom and am feeling like I betrayed THE SECRET, put Dad in harm’s way, and oh, yeah, he’s next for this ride. There are not enough donuts in the world, maybe.
Me: TOOL 2 Who’s ready for lunch?
Dad: Yeah, let’s go to that Diplomat place.
Me: you mean Governor’s. Whoops, that’s my phone. Must be 11. I’ll check it when we get there. (sorry, Derene)
Mom: when my friend comes tomorrow, should we go out or should I cook?
Me: She’s coming to see your new digs and visit, I think. Let’s grab some beautiful pastries at The Bankery on the way home.
Restaurant, ordering, lunch arrives. Dad orders mashed potatoes –gravy on the side, says Mom, I want to taste it to make sure it isn’t too salty for him. Which it is. SOL on the comfort food, Dad.
Mom: When Eileen comes, should we go out or should I cook?
Gravyless Dad: How bout we stop by the Bankery and get some treats on the way home and then you’ll be all set?
Mom: Jennifer, what do you think?
Me: (I need a dance break . TOOL 3)Yeah, let’s do that.
After lunch, we leave the restaurant and Mom tries to get into a blue van parked outside. She says to Dad, I can’t get in. It’s locked. I keep walking. I need a fascia stretch TOOL 4.
On the ride home…
Mom: I wonder what we should do for tomorrow.
Me: What would you like to do? (I have a fresh bottle of HPAdapt on the kitchen counter TOOL 5. 2 caps on arrival, I think, along with my Usana HealthPak.
We get to the Bakery in Skowhegan, and I ask-want me to go in with you?
Mom: Well, Jennifer, maybe you can recommend something inside, since you know this place.
Me: Okey dokey. (She’s been here a half dozen times, maybe more.)
Mom goes in and says oh yeah, Susan brought me here. Proceeds to order things with decisive precision.
We stop by the post office, where my order of Spanx, 10 lbs of mini m&m’s, and Parker Palmer books have arrived. Which, I promise you, is a blog post all its own TOOL 6
Home. Bye Bye, got everything? Great job seeya later.
Dogs out, Zen tea, bathroom break. TOOLs 7-9 or so.
Mom: Jennifer, can I borrow your plunger? It was Dad.
Sage smudge. TOOL 10