Tucker retrieving a stick.
No, not an alligator, but a black lab, my brother's dog Tucker. My brother lives on a horseshoe lake in north Louisiana. There'd been alligators out earlier in the week, but the cold weather had driven them indoors. Which made the water safe for Tucker, who lived on a lake in Minnesota until recently; he's used to the cold.
I'm in a better mood now, having had some sleep and some chocolate. Traveling always puts me in a bad mood. Humans were not meant to fly, especially through JFK.
This trip was due to my mom's worsening condition. She lives in a nursing home and suffers from Huntington's disease. She'd stopped eating, and while I was in Cornwall I got a call saying she was near the end. After making several calls from a rotary phone (this was in Cornwall, remember, the edge of the known world) I got mixed signals from the nursing home, hospice staff, and my aunts, so I decided to come home earlier than I'd intended.
Although she'd started eating a bit again, I thought something wasn't quite right. Several people reported her saying strange things, not exactly unusual for nursing home patients, but my alarms went off. She had a detached look about her, as if she knew I was there but wasn't quite sure she cared. Not like Mom at all.
Except when she's off her Zyprexa.
Around ten percent of Huntington's patients suffer from psychosis, and my mom is one of them. (She once described, in great detail, how my aunt was suffering from cancer. She had me convinced, until Aunt Pam walked in and had none of the symptoms my mom had mentioned.) The HD specialists in Albuquerque (including the actor Christopher Reeve's sister) had prescribed Zyprexa to control this. It worked, as we discovered once when the nursing home there "accidentally" removed her from it. She began telling me the strangest stories every day when I visited. Once when I arrived her nurse said to me "I didn't know your mom knew Billy Ray Cyrus!" I didn't either, but there was Mom, with her nightgowns and socks "packed" on her walker, waiting at the nurses' station for the airplane to take her to Memphis, where she was going to marry Billy Ray.
The stories were entertaining, as stories from La la land usually are, but she wasn't really happy there. This time the signals weren't so obvious, as she no longer verbalizes much, and she's been off Zyprexa much longer. Her condition seemed normal to the people caring for her.
Perhaps her refusal to eat and her lack of enthusiasm were merely a sign of her worsening condition or her poor nutritional status, or perhaps it's the meds; we'll likely never know for certain. But this marks the second time a nursing home doctor has removed my mom from medication without informing us. This is a violation of some kind, I'm sure, but apparently it happens so often no eyebrows were raised.
I could rant some more about the state of elderly care—my mom's in a pretty good nursing home, compared to most, and her aides are wonderful to her, despite being very poorly paid. (Like at most nursing homes in the South, the CNAs are all black, while the staff is all white.) But I've sworn off ranting for today. It's Friday the thirteenth, and my birthday, and I'm not risking fate any more than I have already. (I'm a walking nightmare for people suffering from paraskavedekatriaphobia, as I was also born on Friday the 13th.)
Check back later, though: I'll have some lovely photos from Louisiana, where the mares are dropping foals like Easter eggs.