Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project

I've been watching the HBO Alzheimer's Project films all morning. It is Monday as I write this, the day after Mother's Day.

It is raining now and has been nearly all night. When I went out to Judy's farm this morning the pasture road was really muddy. Even slow going threw mud all over the side of the car. It is funny to me that the mud is black for a while but the more rain we get the redder the mud becomes.

It is not funny that the weather mirrors my mood as I watch these videos. The longer I watch the more I feel like I am suffocating from the memories of my own time caregiving for my parents.

Every video, every person, every situation, every place all conspire to raise old memories long since buried but not very deeply it turns out. Mostly I would just as soon those memories stay forgotten I guess. I am surprised I feel this way and did not expect it.

Yesterday morning I was already melancholy for a while. I avoided church. Not because I did not want to worship but because I really did not want to be around other people. I didn't want to be reminded that my parents are gone and I am still here. I drove over to the cemetery and stood there in the plot that has 6 of us already. Didn't do anything - just stood there - and thought about each one of them. Maybe I gave a bit more thought to the women in honor of Mother's Day.

Mom has been gone 8 years this year and my grandma will be 21 and my aunt who was like a mother 22. I walked over to my other grandparents' graves and realized she's already been gone 24 years. Then I went to find my ex mother-in-law's grave because she also was a mother to me. I didn't put out flowers. It was raining anyway. But I counted how many I need to buy for Memorial Day and I will put them out then.

Then last night I watched an older X-Men movie on TV. I followed that by watching the HBO video about Caregivers. I chose that one first for some reason. I could not help but think about how like the X-men are both those of us with dementia and those who try to care for them. Irony?

This morning I began again by watching The Memory Loss Tapes. My blogger friend, Annie from Maple Corners, is in that one. I wish I could say it was good to see her and her mom but it would be a lie. I recognized her instantly of course and her mom. It was painful for me to watch though. But I made myself watch all of it.

I have to stop watching right now. I am not sure I can watch more. I want to. I wanted to write about how great it is that these videos exist and I wanted to like them just as everyone else has commented about them. Maybe I will like them later but I don't right now.

I want to go throw up right now.

My son is in the next office. He can hear the audio though. I just told him I thought I was going to puke. He said he thought he might, too. He said he wasn't sure he could watch these.

One thing I can tell you is that a few minutes of video footage does not and maybe cannot communicate what it is like when the minutes turn into hours and the hours become days and the days fall into weeks and the weeks grow into months and the months accumulate into years.

I don't know if I will post this.

It is Monday afternoon now. I am home from feeding the horses and checking on Judy's mom. She reminds me so much of one of the women in the memory video.

The videos are very honest and very real. They are well produced with very high production values. But they are raw, too. RAW is the right word I think.

I did not know I was still so raw myself but apparently I am. I really thought I was more healed. I really thought these stories would not bother me so much.

I decided to post as you can see.


Lori1955 said...

I have struggled with the question of whether to watch this or not. I just don't think I could do it. I'm afraid of being sucked into an emotional state that I don't want to be in. I think I'll just let the past remain the past. I would probably throw up too.

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

You know, I have never watched "The Notebook", or any of the AD shows. I have no desire to either. And I knew I wasn't going to watch this one. I figured I lived it, I don't need to watch it. I'm trying my best to move on and watching that stuff would be torture for me.

rilera said...

I too have been watching and crying and remembering Mom and our days together. The saddest part of the series for me by far has been the piece Maria Shriver did for kids. I bawled like a baby all the way through it. Those kids emotions are pretty raw. I also cried through the Memory Loss tapes. The most interesting one is the one on the research. That was fascinating to watch and made me hopeful.

I still am comforted by the thought that Mom is close. I feel her in life and in my dreams.

~Betsy said...

You have hit the nail on the head, Terry. Raw - I am also still very raw. I didn't realize it until The Memory Loss tapes. I felt the same sadness, grief and frustration I felt for the two years I cared for Mom full time.
I haven't watched all of the episodes, but I still might. I'm not sure.
What I realized was how I have buried my head in an effort to move forward. I feel terribly guilty about that. There are still millions of people out there in the trenches - just like all of us were. And I feel like I have abandoned them somehow.
I guess I'm just rambling, but yes - I am still quite raw, too.

flintysooner said...

Thank you all for understanding.

Betsy I feel guilty, too. It is like I feel some kind of unfinished responsibility to other caregivers and patients alike. I know I don't but I feel like it. I really admire people who are still so involved but I don't want to even think about Alzheimer's.

There were so many little things in all the episodes that reminded me of my experiences. The episode with hallucinations; the person in the mirror; the ones about driving; even where Annie had to get the pebble out of her mom's mouth; Nacho not sleeping at night and unable to find the bathroom and even the way his pull-ups were hanging; and, others all reminded me of experiences I had.

And I know they did not show the really bad stuff. I wouldn't have allowed it if it had been us.

The children stories were difficult for sure.

Appreciate you all.

rilera said...

My sister gets upset by pictures of Mom during her ALZ days. She has banned them from her sight. For me though, looking at pictures before and during ALZ are cathartic.

Annie said...

Now I'm sitting here crying for all of you that have lost your loved ones. I have to admit that I have only watched the Mem Loss Tapes so far. It is too hard right now.

nancy said...

we do not subscribe to HBO so i do not have the option of watching this right now. after reading your post i'm not sure i want to.

like both you and betsy stated, i had thought i was getting to be in a pretty good state lately, moving on, but maybe i'm only fooling myself.

i appreciated reading your take on it though so if you feel up to it terry, please continue reviewing what you watch.

bless all of you watching these pieces; God bless us all!