You Will Want To Tell Me It's Ok...And It's Not
I told my mom to stop talking. I said it with a great deal of emphasis...I was surprised by my own voice tone. And even as I said it I knew it would not make a difference. My mom has Alzheimer's. Simply put, I am worn out. I feel so selfish as I type those words, yet for those of you who have experienced this devastating disease, you understand. Oh dear I do hope others understand! Otherwise I am the outlier who can't always be kind and gentle with my mom as she (and I) navigate the perils of Alzheimer's.
If you are not familiar with Alzheimer's, I can only describe it as an Etch A Sketch board. You write something down or draw a picture only to have the board shake a bit and parts of the words or picture leaves the screen. Sometimes little by little or sometimes all at once. Either way, things disappear and there is nothing you can do to get what you drew or wrote back...except to do it all over again. And again. And again. It wears you and the person with Alzheimer's out.
I was worn out when I told my mom to stop talking. She had been repeating the same questions over and over. I answered over and over. Mostly I had a kind tone. Mostly I tried to seem interested. And mostly I understood this wasn't how she wanted to be. But after the 10th or 12th time of repeating something, after the additional 10 - 12 episodes of answering other repeated questions from her, I told her to stop talking. Even in her state of confusion she recognized I had reached a point I could not handle anymore repeated questions. It was temporary...but I saw it in her eyes and I knew I had somehow hurt her. And I knew she was sad for me. It was fleeting but it was there. These kind of moments where she is the person I want her to be are fleeting and it is just so sad.
Sometimes this is all it takes for me to shake out of my own despair and remember it is happening to my mom. I can regroup and become more tolerant in answering the same question over an over. And other times, the wind is knocked out of me as I realize this is our new normal. Me answering repeated questions and me looking for signs she understands.
And it is not ok. None of this is ok.