We usually call Mum once a day. Actually she doesn’t need a call that frequently but my Dad does and she gets jealous if he gets more attention than her, so we both try to call each of them every day.
Occasionally Mum will say not to call her and she will call me. This is always a bit of a double-edged sword because she rarely phones even when she says she will, so in the end I have to call her which she takes as a bit of an insult! On the other hand it is nice to have a break every now and then.
I know it sounds mean to want a break from calling your mother but the thing is that it can be hard to remember that she’s sick when she is having a bad day and being especially unpleasant. It’s sometimes really difficult not to take it personally.
Anyway, today was supposed to be a day off for me so I decided not to feel guilty and just enjoy it, but then I got a call from Mum! As I said she rarely calls me as she thinks phone calls cost a lot of money and no amount of telling her that it’s free evenings and weekends seems to get through.
As I said my “Hello”, I just knew this would not be a social chat…
As ever she started the sentence somewhere in the middle of the dialogue which must have been going on in her head. I assume this is a symptom of dementia, but I have to confess it’s one that makes it very hard to have a sensible conversation.
Mum is somewhat paranoid when we ask questions in order to try to understand what the missing run up to her half statement is. She can’t understand why we don’t know what she’s talking about and she gets very defensive. She probably thinks she mothered a pair of morons but that is the least of my worries!
Anyway, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and a few misunderstandings along the way, I gathered that she was asking me to call my sister to tell her that Mum could not make a doctor’s appointment because it clashed with something else she had to do – notably her Yoga class.
I was a little surprised that my sister would have arranged an appointment at that time knowing how much Mum loves her Yoga. And in case I didn’t know already, she spent the next 20 minutes telling me how important it was to her, how she had no other entertainment and how unimportant going to the doctor was because, of course, anything wrong with her was all in her daughters’ heads and not real.
Then when asked why she was calling me to say she couldn’t make the appointment and not my sister, she insisted she didn’t have my sister’s number!
She then blamed it all on her mobile phone which she was unable to work again despite each of us trying to teach her and also her going to the shop for the third or fourth time to ask the assistant how to use it!
Eventually, after what seemed like forever, I got to the real reason she didn’t want to attend her doctor’s appointment, which was actually booked for four whole hours after her yoga class! The real truth is that she is too scared to go anywhere in the car with my sister!
Mum’s latest imagining is that my sister is intent on kidnapping her and taking her away from her home. A sad state of affairs and also one that is very difficult to handle. The advice from the consultant (if you remember from earlier posts) is “don’t agree that her imaginings are correct but don’t disagree with her either”.
So what can you say? “Yes, Mum, she will only take you to your appointment. No, she will not take you anywhere else. Yes, she will take you straight back home. No, she definitely won’t kidnap you and make you stay in a home for the rest of your life…” It’s so sad but somehow you just have to try to see the lighter side of it all.
I just hope this time Mum doesn’t tell the whole waiting room that my sister is the cruellest person she’s ever known and that she has no idea why she’s been dragged along to the doctors because there’s really nothing wrong with her! My poor sister was traumatised for days after that particular outing!