Archive for July 24th, 2011

Living With a Familiar Stranger


Posted by Mikie Baker  |  No Comments »

Reprinted column in memory of Dorothy Baker

Before Dearly Demented Mom became demented, the Teenage Eating Machine and I used to take trips to Big D to see her. A little over two years ago, we stormed in like a couple of paratroopers for the obligatory retirement home Thanksgiving dinner. You know the one. All the food is lovingly prepared without the use of any seasoning whatsoever. Cardboard turkey with all the tasteless trimmings. 

This particular event, which normally was eventless, was not. Seems Mom was forgetting to take her pills and frankly was a bit off her nut. Oh heck, make that a lot. As in she was nuts. I assessed the situation and, after quite a struggle of wills with her, slapped her in the car and dragged her kicking and screaming to the country. The whole way down she kept commenting on the places and things she saw looking out her window. Problem was none of the sites she saw were actually there. 

I immediately transported her to the local VA hospital where they found her blood pressure to be a mere 220 over 112. Think I’d being seeing things too. After a very thorough examination, they let me know that the reason Mom was forgetting to take her medication was that she had Dementia. I came to understand this condition would cause considerable effort on my part and little or none on hers. Overnight she became Dearly Demented Mom. 

After a few bumps along the road, we got all her medication right and she was back to normal. Of course DDM has never been exactly normal. All that ended the other day. As I am want to do, I wandered into the living room to check on her while she was watching reruns of Monk, or “Mr. Mork” as she likes to call him. 

ME: “How are you doing, Mom?”
DDM: “I hate you! I want to go to bed right now. How can you be so mean to me?” 

Ten minutes before she had been just fine. So, quick as a wink, I wheeled her into her room. As I was pumping her up with the old Hoyer lift she suddenly started laughing hysterically and then crying hysterically. Minus the tears of course. I felt like I had just been transported into the Country Twilight Zone version of the Exorcist. 

DDM: “Do you like banana milkshakes?”
ME: “No, Mom and neither do you.”
DDM: “I hate you. You’re stupid. Everyone loves banana milkshakes. I drink them all the time. Have you ever been to Switzerland?”
Laugh, laugh, laugh, cry, cry, cry.
ME: “Yes, Mom I have.”
DDM: “Well, did they teach you how to yodel?”
ME: “Can’t say that they did.”
DDM: “Well, I’m going to teach you right now. Whoopee!  Whoopee!  Whoopee! Yo-de-la-ah-ooo!” 

Oh great. She’s possessed and has turned into a Von Trapp family singer. 

As I was covering her up in bed for her nap, she looked up at me and declared, “You’re just a snaggeled-tooth old bag of moth balls.” I almost washed her mouth out with soap. 

Quick as I could I closed her door and sat on the couch to ponder, “What the heck just happened to Mom?” As the time drew near to get her up, I kept staring at that closed door. Again, the Exorcist entered my mind. 

I was dumb enough to stand in line to see that movie. I got so scared that around 30 minutes into it, I just stopped watching. Problem was, that made it even scarier. The words and noises that came out of that little girl’s mouth made it unbearable. Anyway, about 45 minutes into the movie, I just got up and dashed right out of the theater. Had to sleep with the light on for three days. 

The most unsettling part of the flick, in my opinion, was when they took the camera slowly up the staircase and turned it towards that closed door. You never knew what would be there the next time the door opened. All I could be thankful for was that DDM had lost her mobility so she could no longer levitate or turn her head in a complete circle, though it does bring new meaning to the phrase, “A mother has eyes in the back of her head.” 

Luckily, DDM seemed okay when I got her up from her nap. I asked what she wanted for dinner and she demanded “a can of creamed corn.” A bit odd, I admit, but she did say please. 

Dearly Demented Mom now believes that she’s going crazy again, like she did when I came and got her. The nurses and I can find no reason for this, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Personally, I’m thinking she’s the first person I’ve ever known to actually have flashbacks. 

I really hope those large pharmaceutical companies can come up with a pill that will make me have as much fun as DDM’s having. Then again, this might just be God’s way of paying me back for my wild teenage years.

Spreading laughter throughout the world…one chuckle at a time. God Bless DDM.

Mikie Baker