An elderly parent — not just a job, but an adventure

My poor mother got hospital delirium last night.  The nurses called me at 5 a.m. in the hopes that hearing my voice would help orient her.  It didn’t.  “You’re not my daughter.  I don’t know who you are, but my daughter wouldn’t have put me in this awful place.”  Mom quizzed me about her mother’s maiden name, our old dog, the place where we lived, but nothing satisfied her.  How could it?  She wasn’t in her right mind.

Because I was wide awake by this time, I got into the car and headed over to the hospital — only to learn that my “orienting” services were no longer needed.  Mom had gotten so violent (which, if you knew my mother in her right mind, is laughable), that they had to chemically sedate her.  It was the right call, I think, although the sedative itself messes with people’s heads.

Mom’s delirium was interesting, in a bizarre way, because it was an extension of her waking personality:  paranoid and angry.  Except this was paranoid and angry on steroids, then squared, then squared again.

I hope that Mom can walk back from this one.  The article says that delirium ebbs and flows, but that it doesn’t bode well over the long-term.  I’m actually not perturbed by the grim long-term health prognosis.  Her problems are such that I haven’t been optimistic about a distant future for a while now.

I’m sad about all this, but neither despairing nor, I hope, maudlin.  As I explained to the kids, life is a one way journey, and something’s going to end it.  Tragedy is when a parent dies young or when a child predeceases a parent.  “Life” is one someone lives much longer than her three score and ten, and then, finally, the system breaks down.

As I said in my earlier post on the subject, what makes me sad is that this has been such an incredibly painful and unhappy journey for my mother.  I had hoped that a long, most healthy life; a loving family; and a safe, caring environment would spell peace in old age.  But character is destiny.  The low-level anger and paranoia that served her well by fueling her and protecting her as she navigated the dangerous world of the 30s and 40s, not to mention immigrating to a new country in the 1950s, have now turned against her, denying her repose.  And that fact is much more disheartening to me than her eventual and inevitable death which will, at last, bring eternal peace.