When mom was diagnosed in 2011 with Alzheimer’s Disease I thought then that was the worst thing that could ever happen. I grieved for all that I was losing, I grieved for all of the things that momma would forget and that list grew longer and longer each and every day.
As days went by, we were still living our life with a minimum of changes and I began to see that this wasn’t so bad. She was still my mom, most of the time that is, and as long as I wasn’t picky about where stuff went like (socks in the dishtowel drawer, bowls mixed with plates) you get the picture. But really, who cares about that stuff anyway. My OCD had been tamed.
We went on vacations, picnics, hikes in the woods, we became grandma and great-grandma together. We walked the local Alz walks, we cooked together and we were doing something that I always wanted to do, we were talking about her childhood. As the Alzheimer’s progress and she forgot everything around her in the present day, she could remember stories long forgotten, but suddenly seemed like it was yesterday to her. Alzheimer’s can be so mysterious. How it decides what goes or stays is still the great mystery of our time.
As the Alz advanced, my mother retreated and became someone that most wouldn’t recognize. She loathed bath time (which is totally normal) and would use any trick to flat refusal to get clean. She became mean and childish, and then she became a danger to all and we had to do what we never thought we’d do and put her in a nursing home.
So, imagine my surprise when the nursing home called to say they found a rather big lump in her left breast. I suddenly remembered her refusing to get a mammogram last year. I made a doctors appointment to have it checked out, but the day before the appointment she became unruly and the nursing home thought it best to send her to the hospital to get her medicines adjusted.
While there, they decided to go ahead with a ct scan of her breast, followed by a biopsy. We were shocked to learn that momma has metastatic breast cancer that had spread into her lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. How did this happen? I cried. How did I miss something so important? If I had caught it earlier could it have been removed? Those are questions that I’ll never know the answer to.
Some people see it as a blessing that mom only has a couple of months to live. Because of her Alzheimer’s and the expense of paying for the nursing home. I can only think of the loss. We’ve been together since the day I was born. She has always been my biggest cheerleader, my confidant, and my best friend.
Of course, momma has no idea she will soon be dead. I keep my grief inside swirling around like food poisoning afraid to really let go. I have to much to do, a funeral to plan, and estate to settle, and the impossible task of saying goodbye to a mother who has been by my side since my very first breath. I can’t afford to fall apart now…there will plenty of time later, I suppose.
I never expected that there could be a diagnosis worse than Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, I was wrong.