Saturday morning, I drove down to Chillicothe to visit Mom. I got to the home about 10:30, and Mom was in the training room with the occupational therapist. She was very perky (more so than I've seen her in a few months) and started talking immediately.
And kept talking.
In fact, she never stopped talking the whole time I was there. (And I was there until nearly 8:00PM.) She was very hoarse the next day and sounded like Marge Simpson.
I had brought a few DVDs for her, and we watched a little "Arrested Development," but we only got through part of the first episode before she got distracted and got talking again. Her memory is still very jumbled, but I see signs that there is an improvement. Not the least of which is her memory therapist, Dee, telling me that there is an improvement. (She also showed me her written exercises over the last few weeks, and the change is clear.)
She's contented enough in the home and says everyone's nice there (they are), but that she's anxious to get back to her own apartment. This won't happen for quite some time, as Dee told me that "we're looking at months here, not weeks." The trick will be to keep her from getting frustrated as more time passes and she sees that she can't get back there yet.
She still asks me about my grandmother and my aunt (her sister) who both died during the same 6 month span over three years ago and is frustrated that she can't remember that. We've told her not to get frustrated and to just relax and let memories come when they will come. She's doing her best, but forgets we told her that and starts fretting again! But the therapists have said that, in time, she will find it easier to recall things. They did tell us that she was trying to stand on her own last week and she slid out of her wheelchair and landed on her knees. She didn't break them, thankfully, but we've had to tell her not to try to stand without the therapists. The fact that she's restless, however, is a good sign. Another good sign is that she wants to get started on her chemo again. She doesn't remember the last three weeks that she spent in the hospital with dehydration/exhaustion, because if she did, she'd never want to do her chemo again (that's what started all this). But the doctor will likely cut the dose in half from now on so it's not so strong. He'll wait until she's stronger, though.
There was hardly any frustration this time--she still doesn't eat all her food, but she eats what she wants to and now, she's eating a little of everything, which is encouraging. She's also drinking her meal-replacement shake-thing, so she's getting plenty of nutrients.
There were a few angry words exchanged this time, but neither mom nor I were involved. My cousin "Junie" came in to see her Saturday and suggested that she and I and Aunt Fay go through Mom's storage locker (which she rented to put all the stuff from her house that she couldn't fit into the apartment--there's a lot!) and sell the stuff she doesn't want at auction, then make more room for the apartment furniture, thereby eliminating the need to keep paying rent on the apartment until she's ready to move into a new one. She told mom, "You won't be going back to that apartment with all those stairs" (which is probably true, but it's premature to suggest that to her right now). It sounded a little pushy, but that's Junie, so I didn't argue with her right away--frankly I was a little too taken-aback to think of a way to respond that wasn't too snippy.
I didn't have to. She called Aunt Fay on her cell right then and there to make her pitch. I could hear Aunt Fay through the phone--and she wasn't singing. I couldn't hear everything she said, but could make out the words "nurses said not to bring up any of this shit to her" and "screwiest idea I ever heard" and then a firm click
. I walked Junie out when she was leaving and she burst into tears, saying "I didn't want to cause problems, I was just trying to help," etc. I felt bad in a way, but that's kind of her M.O.--when her shit hits the fan, turn on the waterworks. She called the next day and invited me to come to her house for dinner and "take a little break" (how is it a break when she's 10 miles away and I can go to Mom's apartment across the street and take a nap if I want?) and take Mom back some dessert. Mom didn't want any dessert and I knew Junie was just going to work on me again and I didn't feel like being harangued. So I said I'd try to stop by around 7:00 if I could, then just didn't go.
At the end of the night, I did go out for a few beers. (Always a tricky thing in a small town, but since it's my hometown...) The place I usually go to was already closed (it was Sunday), so I went to this place called Margie's, where there were five or six women and one token man watching the Bears/Packers game. The bartender was a surly little bitch who grudgingly served me one Bud Light, then ignored me the rest of the time. In fact, the entire clientele were coarse and unattractive--the kind who hate men because they can't find decent ones (they griped about it the entire time) and refuse to acknowledge that their attitude and demeanor might
have something to do with it. Finally I got tired of being ignored and went next door to a much nicer place called Crazy Charlie's, where the bartendress was much nicer and more polite.
Yesterday morning, she had her physical therapy again and, with a little assistance, she walked all the way down the hall with the walker. I was very proud of her--and I always have fun talking and joking with the staff, since they're so good-natured. We went back to her room and two of her childhood friends, Terri and Cheryl, came in to visit her just before I left (it's a small town, and most of the girls her age stayed in town and now work in/around Peoria, or are even retired). They had a nice time and it was amazing that she recognized them immediately (she recognizes people
right away--just forgets events
Since she's making such great progress, I feel better about not going down there every weekend, and just going once a month or every three weeks. I told her that once "Rudolph" rehearsals start, I can't do weekends, so I may come down on a weekday sometime. She said not to worry about coming down every weekend, because she's doing better (and I think she really is now). I'm relieved, because my 14-year-old car won't take the constant journey every week--it needs new brakes as it is. And I'm still hoping she can come and see "Rudolph" some weekend. It's two months away, so I'm hoping she should be able to ride in a car by then.
When I got home last night, after dropping off the rental car at Hertz ($112 for 3 days--Hertz, don't it? And that's cheap
for a rental!), I went to the Lakeshore Theatre to see Gay Chicago's After Dark Awards. I've never been to one before, but this year, my fellow Joan and the artistic director of Hell in a Handbag Productions, David Cerda
, was honored for best musical score for "Caged Dames." I was in the pit band for that show, so those songs have a special place in my heart and always will. I got to see lots of my other friends in attendance, like Stephen
, who was wearing a very snazzy black shirt, Doug Vickers, who was wearing a snazzy black shirt, and the other Handbaggers, who were all wearing--snazzy black things. I was the only one there wearing green.
I must've gotten it confused with St. Patrick's Day. Damn. Although it was
a classy, dusty sage-green and not that lime green that leprechauns wear.
I got to sit with the other Handbaggers and friends and was pleasantly surprised to see Andra Velis Simon and her husband Jamie. Andra was the musical director for the first run and half of the second run of "Caged Dames" (until she had to leave to work on "The Apple Tree"), and Jamie played trumpet during the first run. We had a blast working together, and her new show is right down the street from my house, so I'm going to try to see it this week.
I was out from work today (completely run-down and tired), so I'm trying to do some straightening up here since the cable people are coming to install my new phone service today (I'm upgrading to digital cable, too, which is kind of exciting--finally I can TiVo! Woo hoo...)
By the way, The Joans
T-shirts are in! Yay!