Monday, November 16, 2009

what doesn't kill us makes us stronger

It seems that life is always teaching me about perspectives. Part of that is just age, if you are not asleep at the wheel, aren't you bound to gain some perspective on life?

The words of a friend ring in my ears, Remember that your Aunt's actions are often the actions of the disease, and not of the person she once was. That seems simple enough but when faced with unbelievably inexplicable behavior, I can take some peace in these words. She also says, Don't argue with an Alzheimer's patient. You will never win the argument.

Two weeks ago, we had some high drama. One of my cats disappeared and after looking for a couple of hours, I noticed him high up in a tree. VERY HIGH. This is no kitten but a 14-pounder. We coaxed and pleaded and worried about him - to no avail. My Aunt set up a folding chair under the tree with the idea that she could convince him to jump and she would catch him. (remember, it's the disease and don't argue!) I had a meeting at work that required my presence and thinking that worry wouldn't help - he'll come down on his own - I left my Aunt stationed under the tree. I called at about noon to check on things -(answering the phone took months to teach my Aunt). She told me simply that the cat had decided to come down.
Naively, I relaxed and stayed at work until 5 p.m. When I got home, my Aunt really didn't even remember the tree incident. The cat was nowhere to be found. I called for him and looked and looked - no sign. As I was cleaning the kitchen, I noticed blood in the sink - which my Aunt couldn't explain. I was really worried - as you might imagine. Then at about 9:30, the cat appeared at my side with a badly mangled foot. I called my vet who asked me a bunch of questions and determined that it could wait until morning. The nearby after-hours vet had told me he was too busy to see another patient. Anyway, the result was a kitty who had to have one toe amputated. He seemed subdued but recuperated quite nicely. As my son said,
You will never know what really happened since you decided to go to work

Then on to phase 2.... The vet gave me the go ahead to take off the bandage in 4-6 days. The stitches were the dissolving kind. My Aunt seemed strangely focused on wanting to remove the bandage. One morning, on day 5 she got the scissors out and told me she thought she would take off the kitty's bandage. I took over and removed it myself right away! The foot seemed shrunken and smaller (duh!) but otherwise good. When I came home from work, the cat greeted me at the door - not his usual behavior. His foot seemed very sore and inflamed. He was clearly in pain. I assumed another trip to the vet was in order, especially since my Aunt told me there were some black threads that needed to be removed from his foot. OMG It didn't look like she had removed them but something didn't seem quite right.
(words echoing in my head - you will never know what happened because you went to work...) But by morning, the kitty seemed vastly improved, begging me for canned food as usual. And he has continued to get better and is now treating his 'bum' foot almost like normal. My Aunt mentioned that she HAD removed some of those black threads - no matter how many times I told her that they didn't need to be removed, the disease wouldn't let her believe it. My sister gave my kitty the new nickname, the amputee!

I guess both the amputee and I are stronger for the experience!
Taking on a little more responsibility at work? - piece of cake!