Thursday, December 28, 2006

texas trip, part 1  

posted by Michael Piwonka 11:38 AM
The kids and I arrived in Dallas on Sunday without incident. Thomas graciously allowed us to stay in his guest house; the kids were excited to see a bowl of chocolate kisses on the table with a greeting note.

The next morning we headed out to the farm to visit Liz, Bob, Deb and Dennis. The next day Mark and his boys came out to the farm with their 4-wheeler, and we had fun riding around the farm. We made our pseudo-traditional bonfire on Tuesday, and Allie spent the night in the tent with Mark, Robert and Alex, in 34-degree weather.

The following day Pat came over mid-morning, and we had a nice lunch of smoked turkey. The kids and I had a lot of fun running around the farm.

But it was the first time I had visited Liz since her memory has started to fade. I had noticed during phone conversations with her that she would repeat stories more frequently than normal, but I didn't get a complete view of her condition.

Mom definitely needs some sort of oversight, particularly with her medicine and diet. Dennis had neatly arranged her medications in a weekly dispenser, but without prompting to take it, Liz often forgets. In fact, Liz forgets what day of the week it is, rendering the day-of-the-week labels useless. What's more, Pat said that she witnessed Liz taking the various medicines out of one day and spreading them among the other days of the week.

It appears to be a downward spiral -- when she forgets/mis-uses her medicine, she gets more confused, which causes more problems with taking her medicine, and so on.

I witnessed several examples of her loss of short-term memory. For example, when we arrived on Monday, we each gave Liz a small Christmas gift. Mason gave Liz a couple unusual chocolate bars, one with chipotle peppers and cinnamon, and one with sweet Indian curry and coconut. Later, Deb and Liz were discussing seasonings, and the use of curry came up. Since Deb wasn't there when Liz opened her chocolates, I showed her the curry chocolate bar since they were discussing curry seasoning; Liz commented that she didn't have any idea where that chocolate came from. She had opened the gift probably an hour or so earlier.

While there were other examples, the most alarming was when Liz asked me if Allie and Mason had come to the farm with me.

She realizes that she has a problem, and this appears to add to her uneasiness. At times she looks either confused, or hesitant to say/do something for fear of embarrassment. I get the impression that she is caught in a twilight zone of sorts, aware that she has a problem, but not quite sure what it is. She just can't quite remember.

Thomas has offered in the past to have Liz live with him and Wendy. If he is serious, I'm all for it. Dennis can't be with her 24-hours a day, and it appears that is what she needs. I'm sure the family will discuss it this weekend at Thomas' house.

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