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The Sad Beginning of a New Normal


Nearly a year ago, I sat in my car clutching my phone. My eyes filled with tears as I fought to keep them from spilling over. My entire body shivered with unexplained chills and my chest and belly filled with utter dread. My breath refused to be let go.

In an instant, I was completely overwhelmed with fear and ineptness.

Just the day before, my life was pretty normal, or at least normal for me. Then a phone call at two in the morning changed all of that. I would have to redefine normal all over again.

On the other end of the phone, Grandma was certain that people were in her house. She wasn’t afraid, just annoyed that they wouldn’t leave.  They had been there for two days and she wanted them to clean up whatever mess they had surely made and leave.

Of course, there was no one in her house. For the last year, she had been hearing people talking, and not the ones having conversations with her. In fact, she rarely heard us talk unless we practically yelled. We would attribute the “other voices” to the furnace kicking on or feedback from her hearing aids, but we knew that it was likely something a bit more serious.

At one point several months earlier, Grandma asked me if the voices were just her crazy head playing tricks on her. All I could do is give her a crooked smile and squeeze her hand.

Four days before the middle-of-the-night phone call, we broached the subject of Grandma hearing things with her doctor. He told us that she was just old and there was no pill to fix that. I was irritated with his condescension, but blindly (and seemingly stupidly) took his dismissal as permission to let it go.

During that middle-of-the-night phone call, my husband calmed Grandma down and convinced her to go back to sleep – he would check on her in the morning. We assumed everything would be fine after she got some rest.

When my husband called her early the next morning, Grandma explained she was waiting for someone to pick her up – she was obviously annoyed.

He wouldn’t be there to take her to her weekly hair appointment until noon, my husband explained.

“No, not my hair appointment; I’m waiting for someone to take me to the baby’s funeral,” Grandma replied.

With that eerie reply, it became obvious that the one-time seemingly innocent voices had turned into full-blown delusions. And to make matters worse, the baby she thought had died was my curly-haired, adventurous one-year old who was happily playing at daycare.

My husband called and solemnly instructed me to meet him at Grandma’s house. The house where we spent so many evenings and weekends watching our children play to my grandmother’s delight. The house where I grew-up. The house where my life would now be changed.

I sat in my car nearly paralyzed with fear. I didn’t know what to do. This situation was beyond anything I thought I would ever have to deal with, and one I felt certain I was unable to handle with any amount of grace.

So I did what any scared girl would do – I called my dad and sobbed all the way to Grandma’s house.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. October 23, 2012 at 6:35 am | Posted by suz marie

    If my mom was diagnosed while living with at stage 5, then why didnt my sister take my mom to a doctor at stage 4,3,2 etc. after the fact, sister said something had been wrong with moms mind... i will never forgive her for not taking mom to a doctor.


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