Chronic pain seems to make dealing with everything much more intense. It's no secret that I don't sleep well, but over the last several months my broken sleep has worsened. What used to be a once in awhile occurrence of waking up a little stiff in the morning has progressed into waking up with a severe lower back ache that radiates into my hips, upper legs and knees. Spikes in my pain level also affect my blood sugar level and my blood pressure.

Each morning I arise to take my "puppies" outside. Yesterday morning I arose and did all my usual routine for Sunday morning. After Fenway and B.A. (pictures on right-hand column) were back inside and I had filled my mother's pillcase for the week, I went back upstairs. Several minutes later a loud commotion erupted in the den. Upon going back downstairs, I discovered my cat, Tara cowering under the teacart while Bob (my mother's black & white Manx) was hovering nearby hissing at her. Although Tara outweighs Bob by probably 10 pounds, she's a little girl and a scaredy cat.

At the same time I came down downstairs to investigate, my mother got up to do the same. There standing in the hallway in nothing, but her baggy white cotton underwear and the same shirt she had been wearing the last few days was my mother wanting to know what all the racket was. I shooed away the cats and then asked her where her nightgown was. Without hesitation, she informed me she doesn't have any. At that moment, I felt every muscle in my body stiffen. I walked towards my mother, took her by the shirt and lead her back into her bedroom.

I stood in front on the large armoire she has in the corner next to her dresser and opened it to show her that upon two of the shelves were nightgowns and robes neatly folded. As soon as I did that she looked surprised and said, "Oh! I didn't even think to look in there." Of course not! That would have been too simple. To be honest, I just couldn't deal with quizzing her about the incident right at that moment, so I told her to put a nightgown on and I went back upstairs.

As soon as I got upstairs my mind started racing. I had assumed for the past few months that my mother had been getting up in the morning and getting dressed before she came out to eat breakfast. It made me feel good to see she was finally making an effort to do better by taking better care of her personal needs instead of sitting around all day everyday in her nightgown and robe and making me nag her into doing everything. All of a sudden it hit me! She wasn't making an effort at all. She had been going to bed in her underwear and a shirt all that time, thus having to get dressed when she got up in the morning.

As soon as I came to that rather startling conclusion down I went to confront her. I tried using logic by asking her what made her think she had no nightgowns when she had nightgowns all her life and if she thought she had nothing to wear at night, why didn't she say anything about it to me? What I have learned the hard and very painful way is that logic and reason cannot be used where my mother is concerned. She will sidestep every question like a well-seasoned politician or just not answer at all. She kindly informed me that she hadn't said anything about it because she didn't want to bother me. I reminded her that I have told her at least a hundred times or more that it's more of a bother for her not to tell me things and that I'm not a mindreader.

Because I have been advised on numerous occasions to reduce my stress load, I have tried repeatedly talking to my mother about her lack of participation in her own care. I have tried to impress upon her that she needs to "throw me a bone" once in awhile, but I have come to the conclusion that she has no intention on making anything easy for me. As strange as it may sound, I feel as if she's punishing me for something. Because the situation has gotten so outrageous and out of control, I finally got to the point of needing some concrete answers about what was really going on with her so I could get her the help she needs. I had a neurologist run a battery of tests (blood work, CT of the brain, memory tests) on her to determine if her "problems" were organic in nature. All the results came back normal and the scores on the computerized memory test revealed she was in excellent shape for a person her age(83). He said there was nothing wrong with her brain and that he understood the problems I described to him, but he didn't know how to help me.

Over the past 6 or so years my mother has undergone a major personality transformation. Nothing about her now resembles the woman I have known for 50 something years. If I was a little crazier than I am right now, I might think aliens had abducted my mother and replaced her with the pod that lives with me now. Because depression seems like the most likely culprit for her transformation, she's tried antidepressants a few times in the past 6 years, but each time her behavior shows no improvement. There's absolutely no difference when she takes antidepressants or not. Her standard answer for not doing anything, but vegetating in a chair in the livingroom day after day is that "she's old". WTF? I have a 90 year old aunt that still cooks, cleans, plants a garden, knits, goes grocery shopping, etc, etc and my mother who was a talented artist, wonderful seamstress, Chef Boyardee deluxe just to name a few things she did well can't do anything because "she's old"...I don't get it! Because you're old, you're supposed to stop enjoying the things that have always brought you pleasure? Because you're old, you're just supposed to sit in the corner and not participate in life? Because you're old you're supposed to give those people who love you and who try to help you a hard time?

All the things she chooses not to do are just that...choices! Her general health is great and there's no reason why she shouldn't be doing something. Yesterday she admitted that she sees the big change she's undergone in the past several years, but she claims she can't see why I feel as I do and why I might question she sincerity. I think she chooses not to see because if she saw that she has created a lot of needless stress for me, she might have to take responsibility for her actions. I've tried to tell her that it hurts to have a mother who forgets things like my birthday and who continually does nothing to help herself. Like a serial abuser, her answer for everything is that she's sorry, but I try to tell her that actions speak louder than words and that if she was truly sorry she'd do something about it.

Because yesterday was the straw that broke the camel's back and I just can't take anymore, this morning I set her up with an appointment to get some counseling. My head hurts! My chest hurts! And I'm tired of fighting this battle. I need help!


  1. Unfortunately one can never win these battles with one's parents. There is no good solution except not to play (which is not a solution I understand).

  2. Laoch, that's the strategy my 3 brothers took.

  3. it sounds somewhat like what I'm dealing with. My mother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia(apparently a part of parkinson's)...but nothing showed up on any of her brain imaging scans. maybe more imaging for your mother?

    I do not envy you in any way. the hallucinations alone are enough to drive me insane.

    I have no answers. I do feel your pain, though.

    I'm paying for my raising.

  4. I can certainly sympathize with your situation. It is a very stressful and difficult thing caring for elderly parents. Hang in there.

  5. My dad had Alzheimer's and my mom has Parkinsons, so I totally get where you're at. It's so frustrating, and sad, and frustrating. After a bunch of stops-and-starts trying to figure out what was going on with my dad we finally saw a geriatric doctor, it made all the difference.
    Based on your dogs name (LOVE Fenway), if you're in the northeast US we went to McLean's Hospital and they were wonderful.

    Please don't try and take all of this on by yourself.

  6. Jnuts, I think I might be paying for my raising also!

    Doug, I can't think of anything that comes close to this stress and frustration I feel.

    Normal, I'm from New England, but have lived in the South for quite awhile. All tests (even 2 PET scans) have shown no abnormalities. For the past 6 years all I've been told is that she's in good health and nothing is wrong with her mind. Although my 3 brothers do not participate at all in my mother's care, I have 3 adult children who live close by who help out whenever and wherever needed.