Of all the organs of the body the mind is the most mysterious….the science of neurology is seemingly one of observation, trial & error. In the month that has passed since my last post we have received a tentative diagnosis…Lewy-body dementia. Lewy-bodies are a build up of protein on the brain’s neurons, which cause the cognitive problems that my mom is currently experiencing. What sets Lewy-body dementia apart from other types of dementia is the common symptom of hallucinating, which my mom has had from time to time. It is also marked with motor skill deficits such as gait abnormalities and spatial perception deficits. I have noticed these symptoms this week; on Tuesday morning when she first got out of bed her left leg would “stutter” when she walked. When I use the word “stutter” it to try and describe that she would lift her leg to take a step forward and when she set it down on the floor she bounced her leg 3 times in a row; the step with her right leg would be normal but the left leg would repeat the scenario. This gait only lasted for a short time and it has not happened again this week.
Twice she has gotten up shortly after going to bed. Tuesday night she called to me from the bottom of the stairs but called me by my sister’s name. She wanted to know where her husband was, I had to remind her that dad died 15 years ago from cancer of the kidney. Then last night she got up after being in bed an hour; thankfully, I heard her as she was calling out looking for someone. I went downstairs and asked if everything was alright. She asked if we had finished our test…what we came here for. After a few more questions she said, I must have been dreaming. Up until this week she had been sleeping really well and never getting up. I pray that she is getting Sun Downer’s Syndrome…that will make caring for her exhausting and much more difficult.
One of the hard things caring for a loved one with dementia is not always knowing how to respond to their current perception of reality. I find myself sometimes struggling to say or do something to help relieve her anxiety; to reason with her so she is less fearful. Though I feel helpless in my ability to help her, I know that the Lord God is not thwarted by dementia. He who created her, knows exactly how and why her mind behaves that way it does…and He can meet her in that place. So, I often pray that, in those moments of neurological mystery, my mom will encounter the Lord in a dynamic way and receive the love and ministering that only He can provide.