Sunday, August 19, 2012

In Our Night Kitchen

I feel like when you're arguing with a person with dementia (and it just may be my person with dementia, I don't know) that you are arguing with all the people they ever were, only each is closer to the surface than ever:  When she's battling with me over food (again) because she can't remember the last time she ate (even though it was less than three hours ago), I can sort of see her in so many stages of her life:

She's like a newborn, who's crying because it is hungry, and doesn't know how to stop that feeling.  And like a two year old, who wants to eat something, but when you ask what, can only say "Food!" and shakes her head in derision at every option you offer.  And like a teenager who manages to notch the arrow most closely to your heart while being completely absurd at the same time: "You want me to starve because you want to get rid of me, don't you?"  And like a wife who has never lost an argument ("Well, you just have an answer for everything, don't you?");  and a mother who brooks no nonsense ("If I've told you once that I can't eat eggs because of my cholesterol, I must have told you a hundred times: why can't you remember that simple fact???"); and the completely independent human being she is used to being ("Well, I'll just make it myself then!"). 

Plus you get the added bonuses of the paranoia ("You're trying to drive me crazy by changing all the clocks and writing down food that I haven't eaten"), and the confusion that comes from not being able to hear half of the things you're saying, and creating the other half out of whole cloth (I suggest toast with jam and butter, she hears peanut butter and jelly, which she hates with a passion and goes on a rant about how I only offer her things she'd never eat), but those are just the extra fun-features.

And of course, none of that is helpful, because I can't get her to listen to reason (I have listed off every single item of food in the house; I have shown you the dishes from your last meal, which still haven't been washed; I have offered to order in anything her heart desires) or to just eat a goddamn banana or something.     But I'm sitting here, hoping that this time when she wakes up she'll be somehow more reasonable, trying to regain my patience before our next round (and seeing it as a fight isn't really going to help you regain your patience, now is it, NTE?), and trying to remember that she's acting like this because of her disease, not because she hates me (which is how she is looking at me) or because she's trying to be difficult (which is how it feels when she's got a comeback to everyDAMNthing I suggest), but because she can't help it.

Now if only she weren't the single most stubborn person in the universe before she got sick, that might be a little bit more manageable. 

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