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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Friday, October 26, 2007

More about Mother

I've had some blog visitors suggest that we just ignore my mother's mind games. Instead of typing up several replies to several emails I thought I would type one reply right here. Thank you to those who read my blog and for your thoughts. I appreciate them all! This might get pretty wordy and I'm sorry if it does. At the end, maybe you will get a chuckle out of it too.

Believe me, I've tried ignoring the mind games my mother plays. So have the nursing home staff and the psychiatrists over the years. We've all tried to ignore the games.

Have you ever seen or known a person who likes to start an argument then stand back to watch all the excitement? This is basically what my mother is doing except she remains in the center of it all.

My mother has been playing these games since before I was born so she has had plenty of practice. It's the rest of us who haven't had enough practice dealing with her ways of getting us involved. Even though I've been through thousands of these mind games over my lifetime, I still fall into the trap before I know it. Why? Well because our natural tendencies are to protect those in danger.

The problem is that before anyone realizes it's another mind game, it's too late, we've already become a participant. For ease of clarity and explaining the situation let me use last night's episode as one example of how it all plays out. I hope you see the irony in it the same as I do.


My mother is in a geriatric facility for mentally ill patients. Some of the patients have violent backgrounds. There is a married couple (Joe and Sharon Shmo) living across the hall from my mother. Joe has violent tendencies in his mental illness. Joe's best friend for many years, George Whoisit, visits once a week.

Last night my mother tells the nurse that Joe has said he feels like killing someone. It's a casual comment from my mother. The nurse now has my mother's full attention. (first mistake and a smidgen of truth - Joe sometimes does make these type comments) The nurse has set herself on alert for a violent episode from Joe because she is fully aware of Joe's medical history. The nurse goes to check on Joe. Joe seems just fine.

Next my mother sits there and starts to show signs of fear. (the second step in the game - she starts to work herself up into a panic) The nurse, doing her job, asks Mom what is wrong? Mom says she is scared because Joe doesn't like her. She is afraid Joe will attack her. So the nurse tries to calm Mom down. (second mistake and just a smidgen of truth - Joe really doesn't like my mother much) The nurse calls me to talk to Mom. Between the two of us we get her calm enough to get her back to her room and into bed. It is about 10 pm and she should rest.

Now for the sake of visual reference lay your hand out with the fingers spread wide. This is the shape of the nursing home. The fingers represent the halls to the rooms with the palm of your hand as the station where the nurses do all the work. They have a visual of every hall and doorway.

A little later, probably about midnight, my mother is scurrying along the hall (as fast as she can do a little old lady trot on a walker) screaming, help me, help me. (the third step in this episode) The nurse looks up (from another patient she has been helping at the station) to see what is going on. Mom acts like the devil himself were after her. A full blown panic attack.

Being a good nurse, Maggie tries to find out what is wrong with my Mom. Is she hurt? Has she fallen out of bed? Is she having trouble breathing? Did she have a nightmare? Just what is wrong? (third mistake - Not one really good nurse is going to ignore a call for help from a patient and Mom knows it)

(and a smidgen of truth - you tell me this time) Mom tells the nurse that Joe is trying to kill her. The nurse looks and Joe is walking up and down the hall. (A thing he does when he can't sleep.) Mom insists that Joe went into her room and he wants to kill her. So what is the nurse supposed to believe? Joe does have violent tendencies. Did Joe actually go into Mom's room and threaten her? Or is Mom just imagining it all? OR... did Mom stand and wait inside her door for the opportunity to continue the game? Did she wait for Joe to start his habit of walking before going screaming down the hall?

I get the second call of the night so I can calm my mother down. The nurse and I both assure her that we will keep a close watch on Joe. No harm will come to her. It takes about 45 minutes for the two of us to get her to go back to bed.

A couple of hours later I get another call. Mom is screaming at me to call the police. Joe has a gun in his room and he plans to kill her. I tell her I can't call the police to send them someplace else. She insists I can call them to report someone wants to kill my mother. No Mom, I can't call the police. I ask her how she knows Joe has a gun? She says he told her he did. (I wonder to myself - did he really threaten her or is this the game?) I try to explain that the staff would know if Joe had a gun. She says to me - not if it got smuggled in by a visitor. She tells me the nurses don't check the residents belonging or what is brought in by visitors. (another smidgen of truth - they really don't check so it is possible a patient could have a gun)

So now my mother has me fully into the mind game. I'm mentally asking myself does Joe have a gun? Should I be concerned enough to go there to see for myself or report it to the authorities? I ask Mom how she can be sure Joe really has a gun? She says because Joe asked his friend to bring him one almost a week ago. I ask, did the friend bring it? She says, yes, she heard Joe tell his friend he appreciated it being brought to him. The visitor was there just the day before.

I convince my mother that I will have someone check Joe's room from top to bottom in the morning. That I can't do anything until the administrator gets there at 9 am. Between the nurse and I; we get her calmed down again.

I get another call a couple of hours later. Its the nurse and my Mother again. She's in a panic again and won't go near her room. She has tried to call the police herself. This time I'm tired and completely out of patience. With the nurse listening on the extension, I tell my mother....Mom, if you don't calm down and stop calling me in the middle of the night I'm going to have you sent to the mental ward of the hospital, SO SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO TO BED!

I hear this little giggle in Mom's voice as she says....ok, you do that, and I'll pack my bag to be waiting right here for them to pick me up. Huh? You WANT to go to the hospital? Yes, you do that and I will be waiting. This is the first indication I have that all this has been mind game. Or is it? Maybe she is so scared that she would rather be in a mental hospital than in the nursing home?

I give up on going back to sleep. I go fix myself a cup of coffee and create a blog post. Then about daylight, I call the nursing home to see if my mother finally went to bed. (I talk with a day nurse, the night nurse has gone home to a bed of her own.) The day nurse tells me...no, she's sitting right by the door with a bag of clothes she packed. I busted out laughing which totally confused the day nurse. What is so funny about a woman sitting by the door with a bag of clothes? It's a mind game and you probably wouldn't understand, just read my mother's chart from last night.

I ask the day nurse to post a message to all the staff from me. I want it to read simply: Thank you to everyone for being the angels you are. At least one family member appreciates you being who you are and what you do. signed Anita Estes, Mary's daughter.

So that's the way it has played out... should I be worried? I am. Should I get all panicked and ready to call out the authorities to check for guns in nursing homes? I don't know. I ask myself, what if I just ignore it and it's true? Can I live with it if something happens and I had blew it off as a ploy for attention? All I can do is make the best decision I can and live with the consequences. The mind game continues......I'm going to bed and get a good night's sleep....I hope.

1 comment:

Sweet P said...

I have no answers for you on your mom. Have you tried speaking with her doctor just to make sure there are no health or medication problems that might make her behavior worse?

I'll send some prayers to you for patience and strength to keep dealing with your mom.