It’s getting harder and harder to understand what Ma’s trying to tell me. Since being placed on morphine her words have been getting more and more garbled. I know that she thinks she is talking English but to me it’s a foreign language or as my sister calls it, Elvish. I kind of like that description. It conjours up thoughts of another world or an alternate reality. Because that’s where my Ma seems to mainly exist now; in an alternate reality.
Ma’s weight has dropped dramatically and she doesn’t eat any more than a couple of bites of food if that. The morphine has played havoc with her appetite making her nauseous. Tonight she got Baked Beans and toast for dinner. After telling her what it was, she told me she didn’t want it but she wanted Baked Beans. I showed the plate to her and told her it was Baked Beans but she didn’t want it… she wanted Baked Beans. I was able to feed her a couple of mouth fulls before she again informed me that she didn’t want any more of that, she wanted Baked Beans. I’ve learnt to keep placing small amounts of food in her mouth telling her what it is so that she’ll (hopefully) eat it.
I got her a cup of coffee and she sipped some through a straw before informing me that she wasn’t allowed coffee any more. On trying to find out why not and who’d told her she wasn’t allowed to drink it, she told me stories told in words I just couldn’t understand. English words that had no meaning to me. I’m never sure how to react. I usually end up either apologising and telling her, “I’m sorry, but I don’ understand” or trying to distract her or pretending I understand what she is trying to tell me.
She interacts with the television like it’s real. She talks to the moving pictures and sometimes interacts more with them than me. I suppose it’s something to be grateful for, at least she’s getting some enjoyment. She’ll ask them to do something than ask me to find out what’s going on. Tonight she wanted me to look for a dog.
Ma likes spitting out anything she doesn’t like. Texture and smell seems to play a big part in what she’ll eat. Foods she used to love like scrambled eggs, she will no longer try. Cake is too crumbly in texture and hard foods are too difficult for her to chew. She’ll usually make little or no attempt to feed herself and chewing a small morsel of food seems to take an eternity. I’m running out of ideas on what I can coax her diminishing appetite with. Every mealtime is a challenge. The kitchen staff bend over backwards trying to get her to eat. I always try to be there for at least one meal a day so I can make sure she’s get a little bit of something, excluding Leo, her snow leopard, in her stomach… more about this later.
Last night was challenging. Her dinner was delivered, little quiches cut up and hot which looked and smelt delicious. She didn’t want them. I then asked her if she wanted raisin toast, she did. I cooked it and she informed me she didn’t want it… I then offered jelly and she had a couple of mouthfuls before saying, “no”. I tried yogurt next, then watermelon… halfway through all of this, I discovered she had no bottom teeth and found them in a container in the bathroom. Added to this, she informed me that she wanted to eat Leo. Leo is her stuffed toy Snow Leopard that I sponsored for her at Christmas. She picked him up and started gnawing on his tail. I told her that she wouldn’t have Leo any more if she ate him but she told me that she didn’t care, she was going to eat him and started getting quite angry at me. Luckily she became distracted and Leo lives to fight another day. She loves him and her stuffed cat she named, Fonzie. We returned to the watermelon, which is much easier to eat with a set of teeth! Panna Cotta was spat out. Corn Relish Dip was acceptable for a couple of biscuits before also being spat out.
I’ve learnt that ‘no’ can actually mean ‘yes’ and patience is required by the bucket load. I wish I understood what Ma was trying to tell me. I know she gets angry and frustrated at my lack of comprehension. Sometimes I can guess what she is trying to tell me but more often than not, I don’t. It’s becoming increasing difficult to share her reality.
Every day I tell her I love her and sometimes she tells me she loves me back. Other words may have lost their meaning but we can still communicate with love.