04 August 2011

~The Nana Chronicles~The Giant Called Alzheimer's

On Sunday I spent time with Nana.
We did our usual.
We looked at the ads from the Sunday newspaper
and browsed the new issue of
Southern Living.

We drank our McDs mocha frappes
and watched two episodes of
"Leave it to Beaver".

Nana was in a so-so mood,
but clearly she was somewhat agitated on this day.
When the room was quiet, we began to chat.
She was confused and full of questions.
How long had she lived here?
Was I sure this was her apartment?
Where were my Mom and Dad?
Where was Debbie?
But the most important question to her was~
Where is my car?

Alzheimer's is a nasty, mean-spirited,
Giant that looms over it's victims.
Some days the Giant lets it's victim
have a little say in their life.
It lets them remember simple things
that you and I take for granted.
Simple things like knowing my parents are still
living in Ohio.
And that Debbie is in N.C.
And Nana's car came to Tennessee
4 years ago, when she gave it to me.

But, on Sunday the Giant didn't want Nana
to have fresh thoughts of all things past.
The Alzheimer's Giant chose to be wicked on this day.
It wrapped it's fingers tight around her brain.
And fogginess had set in so hard,
my Nana had tears in her eyes when she sputtered
out all the things out that she wanted to ask.

She told me her *darn memory*
had really been acting up.
She clenched a fist, covered in the
softest skin I have ever touched,
and looked at me for answers.
I told her it was OK if she didn't remember everything.

{And in mind, I told the Giant he needed to get the heck
away from my beloved Nana}

And then she let out a little laugh and said,
"At least I don't have Alzheimer's!"
I smiled back at her.
But, inside my brain and my heart,
I was crying crocodile tears....

For years, my Nana and I spoke on the
phone every week.
Usually for an hour or two.
About everything under the sun!
And when we signed off she always closed with,
"Love you, honey-babe!"
Then as her memory began to
fade the calls became shorter.
I could tell she was uncomfortable at times.
Not being able to keep up with the conversation.
Because the nasty, mean-spirited Giant
was slowly invading my beloved grandmother's mind.
It began to pick and choose,
what it wanted her remember.
Mostly the Giant wanted her to forget.

After my family spoke with Nana's physician 
and the staff at River Oaks this week,
we came to the conclusion a few changes are in order.
Things that will hopefully help her cope better.
Some simple things to make her days less overwhelming.
A new medication that hopefully will quell
her agitation, when the Giant knocks
at the door of her brain.

As the weeks and months, and even years pass by~
there will always be something the
Giant will want to take away.
In the meantime, we will do whatever we can
to help keep the present and past
within reach for her.

As Nana and I sat on her love-seat,
in her tiny apartment that overlooks the Tennessee River,
we held hands.
Those soft-as-velvet hands.
Still sporting the French manicure
that my Aunt Debbie gave her last week.
The air-conditioner whirled in the silence of us.
And I thought to myself,
I will always have this.
I will always, at least, have moments like this.
We will always be able to hold hands.
Even as the Giant slowly robs her mind of the life she has led.
The people she has loved.
I will always have her hands.

But between you and me,
I would give anything to hear her call me
just one more time.....


*The Nana Chronicles
now are on the navbar at the top
of this page. 
If you have the time check it out.
River Oaks has been kind enough
to let me use their pictures
from activities that Nana and her friends
participate in!
If you are dealing with a loved one
diagnosed with Alzheimer's,
feel free to email me :)


BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Your post has touched my heart. Nana is so blessed to have someone love her so much.

It brought to mind something I remember coming through my email.

A nurse had ask this man why he came to see his wife everyday, that she couldn't even remember he had been there. He said he knew that, but that he remembered her.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh I hate that horrible disease, Misha... It's just so sad to read about Nana... My mother-in-law (age 91 before she died on June 6 this year) was really showing HUGE signs of Alzheimers...

She stopped making up her bed. She stopped bathing and washing her hair. She wanted to wear the same clothes each day. She could talk to us 'in the moment' --but wouldn't remember 5 minutes later anything about the conversation. It was just so sad. I'm glad she is in Heaven now--away from that horrible disease.

My prayers to Nana --and you and the family.

Donna said...

Misha, My heart aches for you and your family! My MIL is forgetting so many things lately and we think it is time to look for assisted living for her. My hubby has made so many trips to her place this week just to make sure she takes her pills. She can't remember! She has help during the day but we think at night she needs to be looked afte .... so sad!
Give your Nana a big hug for me!

Angella Lister said...

So much love and aching memory in this post. I am so moved by the thought of you sitting with your Nana as the haze rolls in, faithfully holding her hand. Bless you dear misha.

Elle Bee said...

Your relationship with your Nana warms my heart and at the same time it aches for the things being stolen from you both by Alzheimer's. My prayers are with you both.

Clint said...

My mother-in-law has the condition, and it has progressed to the state that she is happy being bedridden and clueless.

I don't know if I will make it to heaven, but if I do I can't wait to ask God "WHY?"

Arkansas Patti said...

What a beautiful but painful post that has left my eyes damp and my throat aching.
How frustrating it is for you and her family but also for her.
What a mean disease.

TexWisGirl said...

wonderfully written, misha. we all got to hold your nana's hand for a moment.

Snappy Di said...

I guess this is why some people have children, so that they will one day have a very sweet granddaughter like you to visit them when they are very much needed.

Love.Your.Nana. and am sending her my best.


Joyce Ann said...

Oh Misha, what a beautiful tribute to your Nana. Brought back sweet, sweet memories of my Mama, how I would love to hold that precious hand one more time. God bless you and your family as you fight this horrible giant.

Karen said...

Lovely post about your grandmother, Misha. I miss mine every day. These moments you spend with her are precious and you will be so happy that you took the time.

Cadence is just the most handsome dude. Besides Opie :-)

Deb said...

Oh Misha...my heart is breaking right along with yours. I hope the new medicine they are going to give her helps with her agitation and I hope your next visit with her will be a bit happier. My heart goes out to you and Nana and your Aunt and Mom.

Samantha said...

Oh Misha (((( ))))
Those moments when of awareness..when my Gram knew things were wrong..those broke my heart and filled me with anger.
Sending love and prayers to you and Nana.

Joycee said...

Sweet Misha, your Nana is so lucky to have you in her life. She keeps you close my dear to her heart, the Giant can never tread there. He is a cruel monster who tries his best to take everything, but we won't have it. The person that is your Nana, the one that calls you Honey Babe is still in there and there will be a day that she says that sweet name. Mom's doctor used to say that the Alzheimer brain is like an old phonograph record... it plays and it skips parts, just start the needle over at the beginning and it will eventually "catch" and play the whole tune.

Linda said...

Such a terrible disease.
It is good that she has you and the rest of your family for comfort when times are hard for her. I hope the agitation medicine works well for her, and I hear that new meds are being developed currently. So, there is always hope.

Jeanette said...

You give such sweet honor to your Nana. You are blessed to have her and she is doubly blessed to have you!

Country Dreaming said...

I lot love the Nana stories but I'll be honest--this was a hard one.
What a special bond the two of you have and the moments like holding her hand are great to hold on to.

Special prayers for you and Nan as the both of you continue to fight the "th big giant."

Take Care.


Lynne said...

Oh Misha, I have tears . . . you write so beautifully and about your gram Nana and about something so sad. I love
the photo of your hands interconnected. A treasure to have even though the memory of your day together may not be one of what "used to be" was all about.

"The Giant" looms in the minds of too many of our loved ones. It is such a sad, perplexing disease. As someone alluded above, your gram is blessed to have you. The sadness is that for you it is a time of giving, knowing she may not remember tomorrow that you were even there.

The gift though for you to hold on to is that you know you were there, you touched hands, you shared smiles, some giggles and hugs and there was some HAPPY in that moment.

You are a dear, dear person . . .

Rain said...

oh Misha-what a beautiful way to describe something so horrible-I to have loved ones going through this and it rips your heart out. Take care

Kristeen said...

you put in such great order how it was for my husband and I to visit his mother befor she died.. O that I could put our feeling such a touch way that you have for our experience we had.. thanks..hugs

Jeni said...

So very sorry your Nana is having a rough go of it right now. I can't image how much it hurts you and your family to see the Giant Monster rob all of you of more good memories that were still to be made.

Hugs my friend.

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

I"m so sorry to hear of her struggles. You described her fear in such a way that I wanted to be there with you giving her a hug and holding her hand.

It's a blessing that she has you to be near her.

I hope that on your next visit, she calls you her Honey-Bear, but even if she doesn't maybe she can be your Honey-Bear now!

Donna said...

What a lovely and heartbreaking post. God bless you for being there for your Nana.

Janet said...

Well, I am not even going to read the other comments because I am already crying my eyes out from reading your last 2 posts....
God bless you and your Nana. Oh, how I HATE this disease!!!
I have been thinking back on alot of things about my father...miss him so much...anyway, hope the new medication helps, and hope your mini flair doesn't last long!

Oz Girl said...

Oh Misha what a touching post,and you are right, it such a mean-spirited wicked disease. My 94-yr old gramma in Ohio has been going through it for the past year. Sometimes when I'm in Ohio to visit her, she's very lucid, other times, like when I visited in March, not so much. That visit was very bad. It breaks my heart.

So glad to hear from you, and yes, I am glad to get back to more blogging, like I used to do. I have missed it so much, along with all the wonderful bloggy friends I have made.

P.S. How do you get involved with BlogHer?

Vickie said...

Misha, I feel for you. My grandmother had it also, and altho she couldn't talk much or call our names at the end, something in her eyes told us that she knew we were people she loved and that loved her. My heart goes out to you. Enjoy every single minute you can with your sweet grandmother.

Rural Revival said...

Beautiful and sad my dear. It breaks my heart to hear of her frustration. It must feel very overwhelming for her some days.

Hold her hand as often as you can. You've no idea how long you will cherish it.


ain't for city gals said...

My mantra is "It is an honor and a privilege" as I hold his hand..that gets me through most days with my dad as he is slipping away from us,,,

Phyllis said...

I haven't known anybody personally going through this but know folks who have. It's sad enough to watch loved ones age without that nasty disease.

I'm glad she is still lucid for you most of the time.

Flat Creek Farm said...

My heart breaks for you and Nana, but I feel there are still good days ahead. For anyone dealing with Alzheimers, your generosity in sharing Nana's story is priceless. Thanks, Misha, for sharing this. What a beautiful "hands" picture! -Tammy

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Misha this post really hit me. You have the most wonderful way of writing what you feel. My heart goes out to you and your Nana and your whole family. Yes you still have your Nana's hands to hold and you'll always have wonderful memories and photo's. Our loved ones are never gone from us because they're in our minds and hearts. I hope your next visit will be a better one.
Maura X

SouthernHeart said...

In tears here. What a beautiful post. How blessed you are to have one another...

Thistle Cove Farm said...

My heart goes out to you, Misha. Dave's mother lived with us the last six years of her life and she had dementia. It was awful for her and everyone else, watching her slip away, bit by little bit.
I wonder at those who go through life alone, without companionship of family. Life is such a struggle, it only makes sense to hold hands and take care one of the other.

Amy said...

Oh Misha, this was heartbreaking to read. Alzheimers is I think probably the worst thing one can get when aging. I think it is like watching someone die while they are still alive. They slowly slip into a world where they don´t know anything anymore or anyone...like you said, the evil giant clouds their brains and takes all their memories away...and it is hardest on those who still remember...in some ways they have lost their beloved family member but they are still there in the flesh. Ugh, it´s heart wrenching. My thoughts and prayers go to you and Nanna and the rest of your family. What a difficult and emotionally draining thing to go through for all of you.
When you talked about your grandma´s velvety soft hands I remembered my own grandma´s hands..is that a grandma thing you think? They´ve touched so many people with love through the years that their hands get rubbed down to velvety softness in their old age....beautiful...
Big hugs my friend...