Sunday, March 16, 2008

Forgetting How To Eat

I pick up the crumbs of my day after spending 9:15 am to 2:15 pm taking care of my mother.
I lay in bed for an hour after getting home from taking her back to Ocean View Assisted Living. I needed to recharge my batteries.
The day begins with squirting food and meds down the cat's throat, an increasingly difficult struggle as the cat gets healthier and more able to fight me off. There's cat food all over one leg of my pajamas, where I hold her down, wrapped in a towel, for the feeding.
Then I do the subcutaneous hydration.
After that I can take and shower and get dressed.
I arrive at 9:15 to take Mom to church for Palm Sunday, hoping she'd had her meds so we could roll out the door.
No chance.
"I waited until you came," Chhandita says. "She won't take them for me."
So we begin to work on the meds. Mom spits the first capsule out of her mouth when Chhandita puts it in.
For me, this is a replay of the scene an hour ago with the cat. My patience is already gone so early in the morning.
"If you don't take your pills, you're not going to church," I say. "You can just go back to your chair and sit in this room."
"I want to go to church," she whimpers.
"Then take your meds!" I yell at her. "We're not going anywhere unless you can swallow those pills."
She then swallows each down, followed by juice. Twenty minutes pass before we start toward the elevator.
In the car, Mom is crying and trying to defend herself against my anger.
Usually I write down the things she says, but this time I just drive on, trying to ignore her incoherent babbling.
"I just want to go to heaven," she repeats. "I'll be fine there. They know I'm a good girl."
She mumbles and hums during church, inappropriately. Time to stop taking her to church, I think to myself, if she's going to bother other people.
She eats very little afterward at my house, though I serve her one of her favorite foods, a waffle. It falls out of her mouth. She has forgotten how to eat. Somehow she gets down a few bites, half a banana, some grapes.
"Time to go back," I say finally.
"Oh, so you want to get rid of me," she says.
It's an automatic response, I tell myself.
Anytime I say "Time to go back," she will say "So you're getting rid of me."
Don't take it personally.
It's so hard to spend hours with her and then be accused of not caring when I finally take her back. She hooks me again and again, raising the ever-present guilt and anger.
I put her in the car and we drive back.
After I help her out of the car and into the wheelchair, she suddenly vomits up everything she had eaten for lunch. All over her nice clothes. I scoop it up, clean her up, wearily push her back to her room. There I change her shirt, clean her face, give her gum to chew.
"I'm going now," I say finally.
"You're getting rid of me."
When I get home, I collapse in tears for an hour.

No comments: