UPDATES, UPDATES, UPDATES!!! – I GOTTA DO BETTER

OK, I haven’t posted in more than six months! Why so long? Because I’m a procrastinator. I keep saying I don’t have time, yada, yada, yada. And then there are those drafts saved all over the place. I’ve got drafts of posts concerning everything from Reverend Wright to Don Imus to book reviews. The judge I clerked for right after law school used to tell me that making something perfect wasn’t as important as getting it done on a timely basis; that all my hard work and pursuit of perfection meant nothing if my work was still late. So, rather than sitting down to write the perfect blog entry,I decided to be like Nike and “Just do it!” So much has happened since the last time I posted. For instance:

1) On Christmas Eve, my neighbors called me at work to tell me granny called 911 and told them she saw dead people on the floor and smelled smoke. Several squad cars and ambulances pulled up, only to find an elderly little lady who couldn’t find her keys. When the cops broke the lock on the gate and discovered that there were no dead people or smoke, they decided it was time for her to go on a special little trip to the psych ward. Granny ended up spending two weeks, including Christmas and New Years, in a geriatric psychiatric ward. During the first week, I told her she was at a retreat for elderly people. That worked pretty well until the meds started to wear off some and her psychosis calmed down a bit. Then she got all rational on me. While sitting in the hospital’s dining room one day, she leaned back and crossed her arms and legs, laughed and said to me, “Now look at that man there. He’s crazy. He keeps walking back and forth all day long. Wait, just sit here and watch him.” I didn’t have the heart to tell granny she had a bad case of “the pot calling the kettle black.” 

Granny is one smart cookie, and will inject logic in ways that leave you shaking your head and wondering what just happened. After she came home, we followed up with a psychotherapist. When the psychotherapist asked her whether she’d come back to speak with the psychiatrist, granny answered, “No I’m not coming back cus I’m not crazy. If I came back, that would mean I was admitting I’m crazy.” Granny did have a pretty good point. 

This Christmas and New Years were the absolute worst in my life. Granny and I had never been separated during the holidays. She wasn’t even coherent enough on Christmas to have a conversation or bathe herself. I was a sniveling, crying mess because I didn’t know what would happen to her, when she’d be coming home, and I knew that she must be so afraid. My neighbors said she started to cry when she realized the paramedics were taking her to the hospital. She spent 3 days in the psychiatric ER because it was the holidays and no beds were available in psych ward. Visitors aren’t allowed in the psychiatric ER, so I called there every hour and spoke with granny. I called so much that she just parked herself by the phone and all the other patients kept an eye on her. One patient even told me that the nurses were ignoring her. She began crying on the telephone, “J, I’m hungry. Can you bring me some food?” The nurses received a friendly call from me, especially considering the fact that they had given her medications. Where do these people get their licenses?

During another conversation, granny said to me in a groggy voice with slurred speech, “J, how come you haven’t called me? How come you didn’t call me?” 
She didn’t remember our prior conversations. But, I kept copious notes every time we spoke, noting the date, time, what we talked about and how she sounded. So, I simply rattled off the times from my notes.
“Oh.” she answered. At least she knew I was working on trying to break her out of “jail.”

When I got off the phone, I broke down again. Poor baby didn’t know where she was, that it was Christmas or that we had spoken several times that day.  Then she told me stories about her lawyer coming up to the hospital. Yea, granny was out of it and truly thought she was in jail. 

Six months later, granny’s still upset about having been taken away involuntarily. She believes the invisible people conspired to have her put in jail and that the police overreacted. I’ve tried to get her to understand why her complaints about dead people on her floor and smelling smoke might have alarmed the cops. She says she was misunderstood and that the invisible people were the ones who called the cops. Righhhhht granny. One day at a time.

2) After a battery of tests, granny was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure I buy that diagnosis, but we’ll take it one day at a time.

3) The invisible people still live with us. Granny fusses at them about invading her space and not paying rent, and she occasionally hits them with her cane or other flying objects. I, on the other hand, have learned to peacefully co-exist with her and the invisible people. 

4) Granny now has a home attendant 7 days a week. 

5) Granny and I frequently review the “don’t you dare call 911 or else the po po is gonna come take you away from me again” rule. She agrees with that rule. Instead, she wants to call some random detective and other government agencies. One day at a time.  

6) Granny has regained some ability to cook. She has her good and bad days. Granny threw down tonight, while I supervised. On my way home, she asked me whether I wanted her to take anything out for me to cook. I told her to season the lamb chops for me. 
“Oh, I’m the seasoner huh?” she asked. 
“That’s right. You’re the designated season lady!” 
Granny’s a good seasoner. Granny made squash, candied yams, and fried chicken. I made the rice and the lamb chops.   

7) Granny served a brief stint as a babysitter since coming home from the hospital in January. I’ll have to keep my eye on that little girl. I think she’s trying to steal my granny, and I’ve already told her on several prior occasions to get her own granny.  I don’t care how cute and sweet granny is. She’s mine. Granny used to have foster kids when I was little. She says that I used to tell the foster kids, “I’ll be glad when yall leave so I can have my granny to myself!” Some things never change! 

8) Granny celebrated her 71st birthday this year!!!! Wooo hooo! I threw her a small birthday party. We had 3 friends over. I cooked, bought a birthday cake, ice cream, balloons, party favors and made everyone wear a birthday hat. We took plenty of pictures, granny opened her presents, and even gave a “Thank You” speech. She does one hell of a Forrest Gump impression – and I don’t even think she meant to impersonate him! We had a great time, although she frequently got up to chase the invisible people out of her bedroom, and went to see what was on TV. 
“Granny, stop being rude to your guests! You can’t watch TV while everyone else is having a party.” 
Apparently, I was the irrational inflexible one in the conversation. She responded, “I’m not being rude. Yall should come in here with me!” I wanted to give her a good birthday and make her feel special. I think I succeeded. She kept those balloons up for a couple of months and told all her home attendants about her birthday party. 

GREATEST LESSONS LEARNED THIS YEAR
1) The power and value of wonderful friends. My neighbors, and several of my friends and granny’s friends have been phenomenal and supportive. I may not see them everyday, but they have made life and dealing with my granny so much easier. 

2) I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. We have an amazing ability to adapt. Adaptability and being able to just roll with the flow is what helps up to survive even the most trying times in our lives. My granny taught me that! 

3) Love like you’ll never see someone again. “It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” Sula by Toni Morrison 

MID-YEAR’S RESOLUTION: To post to my blog at least once a week! My last mid-year’s resolution was to only read one book at a time. That didn’t work out too well, but one can at least hope for the best! 

More to come soon!!!!

3 thoughts

  1. Wow!! I really enjoy your post. It seems we have something in common. Wishing you all the best. Keep on bloggins!

  2. Hey! Back again. I was talking to my sister Colleen who does the majority of the work with Dad and she doesn’t see any OCD or oppositional behavior with Dad; She just see paranoia. Dad does put his wallet under his pillow every night. Perhaps my dad hasn’t progressed to the same stage as your grandma. I salute you for being there for your grandma. I know it can’t be easy. Hand in there!!

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