Where is this place?
I can still feel that tight sickening feeling in my stomach back from when I first realised that my mum was not herself. After that first confusing and very repetitive conversation I spoke to my sister demanding to know if she’d experienced the same sort of “Groundhog day” with mum and if so why she hadn’t warned me. She had, but didn’t want to say anything just to see if my reaction and gut feeling was the same as hers. It was pretty clear what was going on but you don’t know for sure and I guess don’t want to know if your worst fears are real. It became clear that she was suffering from early on-set of some sort of dementia.
After several months we finally managed to persuade her to go to the doctors which she only agree to do to “shut us up”. My sister and I met with the GP, then the three of us and finally mum on her own. He agreed with us, but mum definitely did not! Thanks to my sister’s unending and unwavering support she managed to live at home for many more months until it became clear that she would have to go into a home. Often my sister would let herself in to mums house and find that she had emptied all of her cupboards and wardrobes and packed all her belongings into plastic bags and tied them all up. You could barely move across her kitchen floor for her possessions. My sister would dutiful help her to unpack and put her things back in their place, telling her that the people she was expecting to move her to her new house weren’t coming today. In a way the constant expectation that “they are coming to get me” maybe helped when she temporarily had to go into one home for a two week needs’ assessment. I remember going home to Norway for a short visit during this fortnight to save my sister going to visit her too often as it was a 130 mile round trip. I obviously wanted to see her as well, but then again I was dreading seeing her and what state she was in. She looked lost, she looked sad even though she was happy to see me. Constantly asking why she was there and what sort of place it was. “I think its a hotel, but the service is not all that great!”. In my 3 days in Norway I visited her twice. Each time, leaving was a wrench. An exercise in subterfuge and lies. When visiting hours were over you don’t lie to be mean (“just going to get something from the shop, car, etc, I’ll be back later”) but it still feels wrong. The outcome of the assessment was not a surprise, yes, she needs help and quite soon. She already had a home help who would administer her medication and insulin as she no longer could be trusted to take the right doses and at the right time. But she needed more. Now it was just a question of waiting for a bed to come available at the local old people’s home. But with only 6 beds on the sheltered/dementia ward this could take some time. However, what was clear was that soon, my promise would be broken….