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Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Through The Eyes of A Caregiver Part IV

Part IV

Legal Stuff Done!

All legal documents have been taken care of and my name has been added to mom’s bank account.  These being, a Power of Attorney and an updated Will. Mom didn’t give me too much of a fuss. In short, I explained to her that with dad being gone, it was best to have these documents updated and in place in case something happened.  She pretty much understood, even though she wasn’t real happy about giving up complete control.

Time Passes, Things Progress

As the next few months pass, I notice a few slight advances in the disease.  In the evenings when I’m at home with mom she is starting to repeat herself quite a bit.  She hadn’t been really doing this. It was mostly the memory issues.

For example, after dinner, she’d tell me, “that was very good, thank you!”.  Of course, I’d tell her, “you’re welcome”. A couple of minutes later, she’d say the same thing again.  Thank you, mom! The third time a couple of minutes later, I let her know that she had already told me that a few times.  She just said, “I did? I’m sorry. Well, I told you again!” Usually, she would still say it a few more times.

More Disease Progress & A Wedding

From time to time mom would forget that she didn’t drive anymore.  She was at home while I was at work, so I guess she had time to let her mind wander.  On one occasion she called me at work very agitated because she couldn’t find her car keys.  All I could do was wait for her to stop fussing so I could speak. Then I reminded her that she stopped driving several months back.  However, I didn’t mention why because she wouldn’t have remembered the incident anyway.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter’s wedding was being planned.  Somehow, I was voted as having the best handwriting and I got to address the several hundred wedding invitations!  I was happy that I was able to help in some way. So I spent my evenings over the next week or so doing my best to write pretty!  

The wedding day arrived.  It was such a beautiful wedding.  There was so much food and beautiful yummy cakes!  The reception and dance was so much fun. To my standards, it was a huge wedding.  There were lots of people there. Mom did really well. She enjoyed all of the festivities but was worn out by the end of the day.

What Else Could Go Wrong?

Things seem to be rocking along fairly well until we notice a little sore on mom’s heel.  This sore is right about where the top of the heel of your shoe hits. She doesn’t know how she got this sore, and I don’t remember her saying anything about it prior to now.  It appears a little red and irritated, probably from her shoe rubbing on it. So, I went to the store and picked up some antibiotic ointment to start putting on it.

A week or so went by and the sore on mom’s heel really wasn’t looking much better.  So, I figured I better take her to the doctor to get it checked. I got her an appointment and took her in.  They cleaned it out good and gave us an ointment, pretty much the same as what I was already putting on it. They also gave us some cleansing wipes to use to clean the wound.  With that, we went home and made sure that we put a routine in place to clean and put the ointment each morning and evening.

Getting Worse, Not Better!

After a little over a week of following the doctor’s instructions for wound care for the sore on mom’s heel, there has been no improvement.  If anything, it might look a little worse! Back to the doctor’s office we go to see what’s going on. This time, the doctor checks the wound and agrees that it looks worse.  So then he starts checking the different areas of her ankle for pulses. It’s evident that he is having a difficult time locating a pulse in some of the places in her ankle and foot.

He continues by informing me that it appears that the reason that the sore is not healing is due to the lack of circulation to that foot.  Already, this is not sounding like it’s going to be an easy solution. The doctor continues by telling me that he is going to have to refer mom to a vascular surgeon.  They will better be able to check the circulation in that leg and foot. I told him to do whatever he needed to do.

Not A Clue

All this time, mom is sitting there listening and watching what’s going on.  I assumed that she was catching everything that was being said and knew what was going on.  We get checked out at the doctor’s office. The nurse lets us know that she will be calling with the information on the referral as soon as she gets approval.   Blah, blah, blah…you know the insurance drill.

We get out to the car and mention to mom that this is going to be fun.  She asks, what’s going to be fun? I asked her if she didn’t hear what all the doctor said about the sore and the circulation in her foot.  She said she wasn’t really paying attention. Wow, mom, we were in there for you! We were talking about the sore on your foot. Maybe you might be interested in what was being said.  Mom said she just didn’t think about it. Alrighty, then mom! She is totally clueless. Alzheimer’s is horrible!

Vascular Surgeon Appointment

As a result of the previous doctor’s appointment, we ended up with a referral to a Vascular Surgeon.  This was due to the fact that the doctor was unable to locate pulses in certain areas of mom’s foot. Also, the sore on mom’s heel was not healing.  We had to travel to the big city about 25 miles away from our home. This is not my favorite thing to do. I do not like driving in lots of traffic. I’m happy just staying in our little town traffic.  But, I didn’t have a choice. And of all places, I had to go to one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the city. This should be fun!

I dropped mom off by the entrance because I didn’t want her to have to walk 10 miles to the door from the parking space.  So I dropped her off and told her to sit on the bench and to not move an inch until I got there! Then as I drove to find a place to park, I prayed she didn’t forget and leave that bench!  I found a parking spot and sprinted to the front of the building where I left mom. All I could think of was, Thank you, Lord, when I saw her still sitting there.

We Made It!

Now, I don’t know which was more difficult, the appointment itself, or finding the Vascular Surgery Center in this huge complex!  I believe this hospital is as big as the town I live in! It probably took me 15 or 20 minutes to find it. Then you have 20 pages of paperwork to fill out.  My thought is that I know mom’s doctor sent them information. Can’t they just share all the records?  

Look, I need a nap just from the drive over there, and the run around the building looking for the office.  I’m already stressed! And I haven’t even brought up all of the fussing mom did while we were walking around looking for their office!  I’m going to need a vascular surgeon appointment soon!

Finally The Actual Appointment

They call mom’s name for her to come back.  I’m not even halfway done with the paperwork.  The nurse said I could finish it while they were doing all of the tests.

The nurse started with all of the normal stuff.  Blood pressure, temperature and all of that kind of thing.  She then started to explain all of the other tests that they were going to be doing.  Man, I sure wish I would have brought some snacks! We are going to be here for a little while.

Nobody told us how long this was going to take.  Nobody told us what they were going to do at this appointment.  We had no clue what, if anything they were going to do. No communication at all!  It didn’t matter anyway. It was too late. We were already there. Mom was going to be taken into 3 or 4 different rooms for that many different tests.  Each test would take 45 minutes to an hour. I could at least brought a book to read. And I know I’m going to get hungry! Mom is going to be getting hungry too.

Tests, Results & Surgery

After several long hours of being poked, scanned, and poked some more, we were sent to the waiting area to wait to be called in to talk to the surgeon for the results.  Well, I was thinking, that’s pretty fast. I figured we’d have to wait to hear the results later on in a week or so. Oh well, I guess I’m behind the times?

The surgeon came in a fairly young guy and started giving the results of the tests, in medical terms.  I didn’t understand a word he said until he said the word surgery! Evidentally, the reason that the sore on mom’s heel was not healing is because there was an artery in that leg that’s completely blocked.  No blood flow in that artery! Therefore, that sore cannot heal. So, the surgery would be and Arterial Bypass. I remember thinking OMG!

What Problems Will This Surgery Cause?

For this surgery, they would be borrowing an artery from the other leg to make a new “bypass” in the bad leg. The surgeon said that the surgery would take about 7 hours.  Holy Cow! What kind of toll is this going to take on mom? I can’t imagine that being under anesthesia for 7 hours wouldn’t have some effect on her. Either way, something has to be done.  She has an artery totally blocked.

At any rate, we got the surgery scheduled.  It didn’t seem to bother mom. She seemed pretty clueless about the entire event and what was going on.  I guess this was just the very beginning of my Caregiver worries. All the worries fall onto me. Now, the tables were turned.  I am my mom’s mom, and my mom is my little daughter that I have to shelter from harm.

Just a reminder:  This Blog post on Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Through The Eyes of a Caregiver is an ongoing story consisting of several posts.  This is a special “real-life” account of what I myself and my husband went through as Caregivers for a parent with Alzheimer’s/Dementia.  It is my hope that this information will be of some help for people going through the same issues, trials, and tribulations that we experienced.  I will be totally honest about the good, the bad and the ugly. Because if you are just being faced with the question of whether or not you should

be the caregiver, nobody should sugarcoat the duties and responsibilities.  I know it’s your parent or loved one, but you HAVE to be able to withstand ANYTHING and EVERYTHING!  That’s the honest truth.

Part V, the continuation of 

Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Through The Eyes of a Caregiver

Take Care & Be Well!







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