Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Disclaimer: This story is about my demented grandmother, and it’s a bit gross, so, you’ve been warned.

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and three times a day, my father calls to remind her to take her pills, which I’ve researched, and found that they do not do anything. Still, at this point it seems to be a religious ritual for him. Every evening he lays out her pills for the next day, and three times a day, he calls to remind her to take them with her meals.

We had an arrangement in the past that whenever dad went away, I take over as the pill fairy, but this time I refused. I have my own life, and I have enough to do without being guilted into doing things for other people for free.

Now, I may live with my folks, but it’s not like I live here free. I pay rent like everyone else, and I’ve decided I’m no longer going to put up with the reasoning “you don’t have enough to do. You do this.” No. Pick someone else. I suggested my uncle, who unlike me, has a car and lives in her neighborhood. It’s over an hour of walking for me, and in February, with all our frost and snowstorms, that’s just plain mean. My dad was a bit of a bitch about it, but he did accept my answer. I really was trying to be nice about it.

Frankly, she should be in a home. She’s too demented to be living on her own anymore, and we all know it. I’m not enabling this anymore. I might at least have some patience about it if the pills slowed or reversed the disease, but they clearly do nothing. Supposedly they “treat the symptoms,” but since the only symptom of Alzheimer’s at this stage seems to be dementia, well, the question is, what do the pills actually do? My father doesn’t seem to know. The doctor thinks it’s a good idea, so my dad treats it as gospel. This is a common theme for me you’ll probably notice in future posts; I don’t have much faith in doctors. To me they’re just regular jackoffs with medical degrees. And fifty percent of them graduated in the bottom half of their class. Fact.

And my mother complains about all the phone calls. My grandma calls us up, leaves some cryptic message on the answering machine, and then calls us again, completely forgetting that she’s just called. My aunt says she just thinks it’s wonderful she can still use the phone. Isn’t that sickly positive? Doesn’t that just put a smile on your face? You know what would be wonderful? If we could switch off the gene that causes Alzheimer’s, or at least, switch off her phone.

This disease has a very strange effect on the mind. It isn’t just the memory that goes. Because of the folds in the tissues in her brain, new connections are being made, so things in her mind that shouldn’t connect to other things suddenly do. And it seems completely natural to her, and why wouldn’t it? Your brain is your world, complete with its own set of rules, and if the rules change, you’d never know it.

Okay, so if you read the above disclaimer, here’s the gross story. My parents and I went out for breakfast with her a few weeks ago, in what would be the last time. It was her favorite restaurant, even though, truth be told, they had the nastiest coffee on Earth.

I actually made a comment about the coffee once, and she retorted that it was really good. At this point I realized she probably doesn’t have any taste buds left. The interesting thing about the disease is that she of course is completely unaware that she has it.

“Here, take these.”

“What are they?”

“Pills for your memory problems.”

“I don’t have memory problems.”

At this point you drop your head in your hands.

So, when the waitress brings around the coffee, and asks if she wants any, we all invariably have to hear the story about how she’s been drinking coffee since she was five. A story I’m not even sure is true, but one that she tells anytime anyone brings up coffee.

The reason this would be the last time she had breakfast at her favorite restaurant, is that she somehow managed to get fecal matter all over the place. And I do mean all over the place.

At first, she excused herself and disappeared into the bathroom for maybe half an hour. She finally emerged, and the manager at the restaurant came over to whisper into my mother’s ear that next time she was there, she would need supervision in the washroom. She (the manager) filled my parents in shortly after as to what exactly happened in the washroom – that she got poo all over the toilet seat, and the floor of the stall, and that she then seemed to smear it around with toilet paper.

Back at the table, when she arose, there was a terrible smell of excrement, and a huge smear of it on the back of where she was sitting. My eyes widened. She apparently had it all over the back of her clothes, and none of use have been able to figure out how she did any of this. I was surprised at how much of it her body was able to produce at her age, let alone how much of it she could spread around like this.

So here’s the interesting part. At this point, seeing the huge smear she left on the seat and the back of the chair, she proceeds to take a napkin and dip it in her coffee, and smear the poo around with it. My dad had to grab her arm to stop her. She insisted it was okay, that she could clean it.

What my family is coming to terms with is that my grandmother isn’t really all there anymore. There’s no point in asking her anything anymore, because invariably, she’ll lie about it, because she clearly can’t remember. I’m not even sure she fully realizes she’s lying. It is a tremendous source of stress for everyone, particularly my father and his two brothers, and I hate to say it, but I’m going to be very relieved when she’s dead. To me, she’s dead already.

1 comment:

spookygreentea said...

I miss her.

I can't ... I find it terribly distressing to see that she's disappearing before our eyes. She's not there anymore.