Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Post 101: Dementia Can Be FUN! Part One

Yesterday was my 100th post and I didn't even realize it! There should have been balloons and cake and a marching band. I will say there was Indian food, so that's always a plus.

Sugary desserts or not, GO ME and thank you to my three loyal readers!

This photo is meant to represent me forging trails in the... uncharted* world
of blogging (*please note, uncharted may be grossly overstated).

I felt I should mention it in my 101st post (ahem, this one), but I needed something compelling to write about in order to convey this milestone... and it led me to wanting to divulge about my senile grandparents. I should warn the faint of heart that this will not be soul warming or politically correct, so you might want to "x" out this page if that's what you're looking for.

To explain the deterioration of my paternal grandparents, I have to paint a picture of how strange they have always been. Growing up, my sister and I always understood we had an "awesome" set of grandparents (previously mentioned here and here) and a "meh" set of grandparents.

Our "meh" set didn't want to be bothered with seeing us and for the majority of my life, I've seen them once, maybe twice a year. Even though they were my dad's parents (and by parents I mean his father and stepmother), my mom would be the one to reach out to them. The three of us would meet them at the Napa Airport every summer: they would fly in on their little plane from Sacramento, we would eat lunch and they would head back to "the big city."

They were very predictable. We received a birthday card with a dollar for every year we were alive until we hit ten; after that, it was a standard ten dollar bill until we were twenty, and then it was just a birthday card until those stopped altogether. Our annual Christmas cards contained fifty dollars until we hit twenty as well.

For those of you who think I'm greedy, I realize how pathetic it is that I associate them with these cards and cash, but honestly I don't have many memories otherwise.

There were no phone calls between us unless we dialed them and they chose not to screen us through their answering machine. They spent more time visiting extended family in Texas and Georgia. They were passionately into exercising and eating health food (I happen to think I eat a rather healthy and balanced diet; theirs by comparison, was more a "lacking in all fun" sort of menu, but healthy nonetheless). They enjoyed their privacy. Oh, and they're sort of racist. And by sort of, I mean really.

It wasn't horrible or anything. It was reality. And we had our awesome grandparents, so we didn't ever feel like we were lacking. Until the good set died. And then our apathy towards the remaining pair was really apparent.

I warned you I wasn't going to sugarcoat things.

A couple years ago I received a strangely scrawled message from my grandma saying she had been trying to get a hold of my family for weeks and had not been able to find any of us. She said she'd called all the phone numbers she had for us and that either no one answered or it was strangers. This was news to me, as none of our numbers had changed. It should have tipped us off then, that her brain was starting to fail, but I just chalked it up to her chicken scratch writing in her address book.

Last year, we received an urgent message from her saying that my grandpa was in the hospital due to a seizure. He was intubated and in a medically induced coma and had been for 4 days when she finally got a hold of us to relay the info. Once my dad got up to Sacramento, he discovered that my grandma had dementia and that my grandpa (now comatose) had done an exceedingly good job of hiding that fact from us.

So the games began.

My dad took her into get tested for it while my grandpa was still out cold. She was asked thirty questions, all those which a person of normal brain capacity should be able to answer like, "What is your name?", "What year were you born?", "What year is it currently?"... you know, fun stuff.

She got eleven right and during this time, my father was enlightened to learn she thought it was 1997 and that she had been born in 1972.

Neither were accurate statements, in case you're wondering.

So ends Part One of our three part series, Dementia Can Be Fun! Tune in next time when I follow up with some tales of the 21 group hug salute, unexpectedly racist joyride escapades and more.

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