October 24, 2013
Recently my daughter stayed home from school sick. As most teenagers, she used this time to sleep in. Around eleven am, she was awoken by the sounds of voices outside the house. She got out of bed looked out the window (as well as she could without her contacts) and saw a man walking up the steps. She then heard the man talking inside the house. She did what most teenagers would do, and hid in her closet. Which is a feat in itself, as it is usually over stuffed! She heard the man leave the house and peered out the window to see him drive away.
This event was a turning point in not just her life, but my family’s life. It was the day that it became apparent that my mother has an illness. Yes, the testing came back that my mother has FTD, frontal temporal lobe dementia with early onset Alzheimer’s. That diagnosis, although helpful was just a title until that point. It was now evident how FTD was effecting my mother’s judgement. The doctor strongly recommended to my mother to stop driving. My mother has edited herself before that point and wasn’t driving as much, but still driving. My mother is the type of person who would have cabin fever if she stayed in the house for a day, so a month of no driving was painful to her. She did not like the feeling of not being able to control how she leaves the house.
This day, we found out that my mother had been walking to grocery store, the bank, the pharmacy etc.. to get out. She would do it while I was at work and was always be home before I got home. She would then hide the “goods” in her room so I never knew. My mother had walked over 2 miles. First to the bank to withdraw money, and then to CVS, where she purchased four 2 liters of soda, chips and a few other snacks. Now how my 100 pound mother, who normally goes out and takes a 1/8 -1/4 mile walk at a time thought she could now walk 2 miles home with those heavy items, I have no idea. So as she trudged toward our home, a stranger pulled up and he drove her home. He then nicely carried her heavy packages into our house. The whole situation was frightening to say the least.
When the coast was clear, my daughter went downstairs to see what had gone on. There she found my mother, hiding her packages. My mother did not know who the nice man was who drove her home. She did not see any danger in what she had done. She could not understand how she could have gotten hurt immediately, or how this “nice” man could have come back and hurt her or someone else. When I got home, the story had changed. It was the man down the block who she knows very well. I asked if I could go thank him, and she hesitantly said yes. The neighbor was confused as to why I was thanking him, since he never drove my mother. This was an eye opening experience and has made us re-evaluate the treatment for my mother. Many days its my mother who is the stranger in the house, not quite the person she used to be. We don’t want her inviting any other strangers in!