Completing The Donut Circle

All my life my mother has enjoyed donuts. When I growing up my family routinely breakfasted on donuts from a local bakery during our lazy weekend mornings. My mom always liked traditional glazed donuts, and she also was happy to be a little bit adventurous when eating donuts covered in frosting and coconut flakes.

My brother and I tended to eat donut holes. Often we had the variety bag of donut holes cut from a wide assortment of different types of donuts. I cannot remember now what my father’s donut preferences were like, but I do remember that he was the one who went out, sometimes accompanied by my brother, to purchased them while Mom and I slept in.

I believe it was sometime while I was in high school that my mother became health-conscious and began more carefully monitoring what foods she ate. Many people, when wishing to embrace health-conscious eating would likely have eliminated donuts from their diet entirely upon making the decision to try to eat healthier. Not my mother.

Instead of cutting out donuts from her breakfast choices, Mom decided she’d make donuts healthier by the way that she prepared them prior to eating them. I was shocked the first time I walked in on my mother smashing a donut between two napkins. She was unmercifully pounding the poor unsuspecting pastry completely flat with the palm of her hand!

Once she was finished with it, the formerly puffy donut was transformed into a neat, compact, sugary wheel. When she finished giving the donut its beating, making great effort to keep a straight face while doing so, I inquired of my mother as to what the donut had done to deserve such a violent punishment.

“It had too much grease in it. Just look at all that grease!”

Mom triumphantly displayed to me the grease that was now thoroughly soaking the two napkins which had been her accomplices in her rough treatment of the now flat and victimized pastry.

“Well, it’s a donut, isn’t it? Or it was, anyway. Donuts are greasy. That’s probably why people like them.” I shrugged.

Mom stared at me.

“I don’t want to eat all that grease! And I won’t. I’m eating healthy now.”

Mom held up the donut in the same manner one might display an impressively sized catch when out for a day of fishing.

Now I stared at my mother.

“See? It’s healthier now.”

I just stood there. What could I even say in reply to that?

Satisfied with how I had accepted her explanation, Mom then proceeded to happily eat the newly flattened donut. I watched her eat it, fascinated and bewildered by this curious new behavior that health-consciousness had created in my mother.

For the remainder of her years that her memory was intact, my mother continued to pummel poor defenseless donuts into what she determined to be satisfyingly healthier versions of their former selves before indulging in eating them along with her weekend morning coffee.

Since the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease however, I have noticed a drastic change in the way my mother consumes donuts.

Dementia has been quite a journey for my mother, and for all of us who are her family members too. But I can tell you with certainty that my mother’s condition with Alzheimer’s Disease has been the upmost of kindness and benevolence in regard to donuts.

Now that my mother is no longer able to recall that she wants to eat healthy, she no longer beats donuts into flat little wheels before eating them. Now my mom eats donuts in exactly the same manner as she did prior to her health-conscious days.

My mother now eats donuts slowly, while they are fully round and completely greasy. These days at the breakfast table, in my role as her caregiver, and nearly her mother with her as the daughter instead, I watch as my mother delights in, and savors, each and every bite of that sugar and grease which was so determined to avoid for all those years.

I think I can now safely conclude that my mother has completed her Donut Circle.


The Best Medicine – Laughter!

As I care for my mother while she goes through her daily struggles with Alzheimer’s Disease I find that every single day there is one quite simple thing that never fails to help make both our days brighter. Laughter! I regularly go out of my way to make my mother laugh.

I so enjoy hearing and seeing my mother’s laughter, and I find that in many situations where my mother has shown reluctance to do things requested of her by the relief caregivers who I pay to help me with her, she is willing to go along with what I need her to do if I keep her giggling and laughing.

I admit, the caregivers who come here to help me with my mother’s care probably think I look pretty ridiculous doing all the wacky things that I do to distract my mother with laughter. If I were to regularly do all of these things out in the world around other people, I’m sure I would get some very strange looks. Indeed, I have done some of the same things to make my mother laugh when I’ve been out in public with her. I don’t worry about getting strange looks from anyone we happen to interact with because I’m far more concerned about keeping my mother’s mood stable and happy than I am about what strangers may think of me.

I spend a portion of each day making funny faces at my mother, doing silly dance moves to songs she’s listening to, and saying off the wall things to her to distract her from feeling overwhelmed by changes in her environment or by her own feelings.

At first my mother would only look at me like I was a nut, and then laugh at me when I made funny faces at her, but after a little while distracting her that way she surprised me by making the same funny faces right back at me! Now when I go into her bedroom I often am greeted by my mother making a funny face at me. She catches me off guard when she does it and I end up being the one laughing. Then, seeing that she’s tickled me she joins in laughing too. It’s a really joyful part of our time together.

I learned to do this funny faces distraction technique for my mother from my mother herself, or possibly from my father. I’m not too sure which parent was responsible really. When I was a baby I was born very prematurely, with serious defects to my digestive system. I spent my childhood in and out of hospitals having issues dealt with, and then having the complications from those issues dealt with. I don’t have many memories of emotional trauma from any of those hospital visits for surgeries and treatments. What I do have is a baby book full of photos of me making funny faces at the camera.

I can’t be sure which of my parents was making funny faces at me to persuade me to smile for the camera, but the result of that effort was lots of photos of me making funny faces back at them. I now feel hugely grateful to whichever parent started all of that, because it is proving to be invaluable in helping my mother enjoy her days in this life while she has Alzheimer’s Disease. Many years ago my parents made funny faces at me to distract me from my own health traumas. Now that I am in the parent role with my mother I am happily using the same technique to help her.

There are many aspects to being a caregiver for my mother as she weather’s this storm that are not the pinnacle of pleasantness, but I must say that out of all we go through together, with so much of it having the potential to be extremely stressful for both of us, laughing together every day really is the best medicine!

Every Day Realities of Freaky Friday

This blog is part of my website, and as such it is linked to that main site. However, unlike the blog you would find should you visit my main site, this blog is not about playwriting. In this blog I intend to focus on the very personal journey my mother and I are taking together as we live with our life roles permanently reversed.

Being my mother’s caregiver as she lives the rest of her life with Alzheimer’s Disease has effectively made the mother and daughter body swap plot of the old film Freaky Friday our every day reality. In many ways, I have become her mother, and she has become my daughter. These days I have put my creative writing projects on the back burner while I focus on making this final chapter of my mother’s life as pleasant, as fulfilling, and as full of happy memories for me, as it can possibly be.

In addition to being a playwright and a caregiver, I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Due to my heightened sensitivity it can be particularly excruciating having to watch my mother slowly disappearing before my eyes a little more each and every day. Alzheimer’s Disease is a truly horrifying illness. Being an HSP caregiver makes the realities of Alzheimer’s Disease even more unpleasant to me as they would be to a person who is less emotionally sensitive.

Before I began working as my mother’s caregiver here in my home I managed my highly sensitive nature by meditating regularly, eating six small meals per day, exercising regularly doing Zumba dance workouts, monitoring and managing my intense emotions through the application of the skills I learned in three years of intensive online Dialectical Behavior Modification Therapy (DBT) classes, and I also utilized talents I have in writing, singing, and in the visual arts, to help me maintain a life worth living in this often insensitive world.

In this blog I hope to be able to share the stories that my mother and I are living together as I help her make her way along treacherous and tragic road that is Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope to ease her journey, and mine, through the mindful seeking of silver linings, creativity, and the use of my DBT skills. And I hope, that through sharing our journey here I may be able to help someone else’s journey through a similar life story with their loved one a little bit easier.

An important element of self-care for Highly Sensitive People, and for anyone living the emotionally and physically exhausting life of an Alzheimer’s caregiver, is maintaining a regular sleep routine. So, with that as a goal, I will end this post here and return to my bed.

Thank you for reading!