Thursday, August 9, 2007

I spoke with the Queen Mother this morning, as I do every morning, and I answered the same questions I answer every morning. QM has a bit of a dementia thing going on, but most people probably wouldn't notice. It's only when she asks about things that she really should know, or that I know I've told her recently, that it catches me off guard.
For example, this morning she asked how old my children -- the little princess and prince -- are. For the record, they are 9 and 6, the same as they have been for the past five days when QM has asked. And there is three-years difference in their ages, just like there has been for the past week.
On the other hand, she told me she was looking forward to getting a perm today. She has had this on her schedule for about two weeks, and has reminded me of it nearly every day. I even verified it when I made a deposit to her personal account at the nursing home just to cover the cost. I suppose tomorrow, and every day for the next week, I can look forward to hearing that she has had her perm (and that they need to be more careful when they give her a shower).
The QM has been in and out of the nursing home for about four years now. She has lost strength in her legs and has fallen a couple times. For the last 10 months she has been pretty much confined to a wheelchair, walking only during physical therapy sessions or on supervised walks from her room to the dining room.
The last time she was "on parole" and living alone in her home, I happened to run into an acquaintance who worked at the nursing home. "It's so nice your mom was able to go home," the young woman said. "She really didn't belong at the nursing home. She's so with it."
I didn't know what to say. One of the last times I visited QM (that time), she was holding court, telling a group of aides (this one included) about a trip my brother was taking. It sounded great, it all made sense, it was completely plausible.
It was also about 90% inaccurate. The basics were correct, and most of what she said had happened at one time or another, or was going to happen. But somehow when she put it all together, well, she put it all together.
So, where does that leave us now? Well, the QM will probably be just fine for a couple of weeks. She will know exactly what's going on at the nursing home, she'll remember how old the kids are, maybe even remember they'll be starting fourth grade and first grade later this month. She won't remember it's my brother's birthday next week, but then, neither would I if I didn't have it on my calendar.
And I'll start thinking she's got it all together again, she's really with it this time. I may even think that if she didn't really need that wheelchair to get around, she probably wouldn't need to be in the nursing home.
Then -- BAM -- she'll ask me what my middle name is (the same as her first name), or ask me if I ever was a teacher (up until five years ago), or when her birthday is. All of these are questions she's asked me before. And I'll be speechless with surprised that she doesn't remember.
And part of the surprise will be that I've forgotten that she doesn't remember.
And I'll wonder, which one of us has the dementia?

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