Sunday, July 13, 2008

Miss Kitty Is In A Wheelchair

Photo by Anders Wiuff

The Bobblehead is not happy about this

I got a text message from Mrs. Bobblehead yesterday as I was in the movies (Hellboy II which had an okay plot but was visually stunning). She told me that a fellow patient of of mother-in-law was now in a wheelchair.


"Miss Kitty" is a very cool person. Her Alzheimer's does not appear too advanced (I would wager she has Dementia as well). But it is difficult to tell. Her behavior is pretty good. But she has a difficult time orienting herself in time. Her short-term memory is shot. But the thing that makes Miss Kitty such a joy is her vivacious personality. She is quick to smile and laugh. She is the true cockeyed optimist. Her glass is always half-full.

Miss Kitty was born in Hawaii but grew up in New Jersey. When I see her I always ask how my "Jersey Girl" is doing. She lights up like a sunbeam. She has 2 daughters that I know of. As a girl she had a few sisters. But she was always her mom's favorite.

Jersey Girl was obvious a looker as a young woman. I am not sure of her age now (probably in her 70s) but the years have been kind to her looks. Looks aside, her almost stereotypical New Jersey accent sticks out in the Houstonian nursing home.

Many of the patients with her are in all kinds of personnel hell. Many (including my sweet mother-in-law) can barely speak. Many no longer walk. Most seem very angry and lash out. I cannot help but believe they live in perpetual fear. They do not know where they are, when they are, who are around them, etc. Fear brings on anger.

Not Miss Kitty. She seems to be always happy. Yet, I do see a balance in her emotions. I have seen her get miffed occasionally when a patient near her "goes off." Her response is not over the top.

I saw Miss Kitty in late June right before I left Texas for home. I always make it a point to chat with her (when she is not snoozing in an arm chair). I remember vividly telling my Jersey Girl I was leaving for the Atomic City in the morning. She gave me a big smile and said she would see me soon. "Soon" could mean anything to her.

Mrs. Bobblehead and I chatted on the phone last night. Yesterday she saw Miss Kitty in a wheelchair. She seemed down. I do not know the details but I have seen this pattern. This is often the first step towards a decline from which she cannot recover. I am keeping Miss Kitty in my prayers.

I abhor Alzheimer's. In many ways, I look at this as one of the worst diseases out...even more than some of the advanced cancers. Our cancer treatment has gotten better and seems to double in efficiency every 10 years. Yet I see no practical treatment, cure, or prevention for this condition that robs a person of their very soul and identity over a long time. It is frightening to watch a loved one go through this and even more maddening knowing you might be genetically targeted for this condition (as Mrs. Bobblehead might be).

Come on, Jersey Girl. Bounce back...

[posted by Bobblehead]