I knew in advance that this would be a strange Thanksgiving. My wife's family made plans to go down to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving plus her aunt's birthday, but with Mom in assisted living, I didn't want her to spend the holiday alone, so L and the kids went to Florida and I stayed home. It also meant two fewer days to take vacation, and I rather like the occasional time to myself.
But on Monday, I talked to Mom and she was sick. Like, destroy the bathroom sick. She also has dementia, and her brain rejected merely being sick. Instead, she told me, someone was poisoning her. Oh boy.
By Tuesday, she had an elaborate fantasy concocted and she knew exactly who was poisoning her. And not only poisoning her but also sneaking into her apartment and moving things around. That's part of her dementia as well--if she can't remember where something is or how it got where it is, the answer is that "someone" moved it. She's told me in the past that there's "a man" living in her apartment with her, and also that there are college students (no colleges in her town) who are living in her apartment. But anyway, she was convinced that she is being poisoned and her apartment broken into.
The thing about these delusions is that there's no arguing someone out of them. No facts will make so much as a dent in her explanations for why she doesn't feel good or can't find something. I try to focus on mitigation instead. "Drink plenty of water, it will help flush out whatever you've got." "Take some Tylenol." "Try not to worry too much, I really don't think they can get in, the doors are always locked and the people at the front desk would never sign in someone so disreputable looking."
By Wednesday she's saying that she wants me to take her away from there. She believes that she won't be poisoned while she's with me. And a pit of dread opens up in my stomach.
Don't get me wrong--I'm glad she has faith in me. But is it going to make it worse when I go visit and she's demanding I take her away and I don't? Because that would not be helpful. The anxiety has been growing steadily in the background all week, and now on Wednesday it's getting a bit overwhelming. I talk with my wife though and decide that I'll check on her Thursday morning and if she's still nursing this delusion, I'll make an excuse and not go visit for Thanksgiving.
I go out that night with a friend to hear some live music, and it's really nice.
In the morning, I actually don't feel particularly good. A little bit of a hangover? Or just anxiety doing its thing? Either way, I call Mom and she still feels sick and is still in this delusion, so I tell her that I'm not feeling well, that I'm feeling sick. I'm not even fibbing.
In fact, I spend the next several days feeling progressively worse. Mild nausea, stomach ache, headache, achy muscles, chills. A little extra gastrointestinal discomfort. It didn't leave me feeling very thankful, let me tell you. Finally by Sunday, as my family returned, I started to feel better. Felt perfectly fine Monday and Tuesday, then I got a sore throat that progressed over the next few days to congestion and all that.
So yeah, it was a fairly strange and unhappy Thanksgiving, and it kicked off a solid week and a half of illness.
But by Saturday Mom was saying that she thought her poisoner had left the area and "I don't think we'll be seeing him again," so that was something. And while I was ill, she was back to her baseline levels of dementia. Which is sad but not overwhelming. There's that to be thankful for, I suppose.