X-Mas Poolside, 2016

X-Mas has become… complicated ever since I moved out of my parents’ house. When I was a kid, I’d just wake up and open presents. Done deal. Now there is travel, schedules, multiple families to see, and I actually have to buy gifts now. Okay, that last part is actually fun. Like chewing food without the calories. This year, however, was a banner year for the Pools in complicated.

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My wife and I were only coming over for Christmas Eve and Sunday morning church. My brother and his wife were doing the same. We thought we expressed this but my mom kept trying to make everything PERFECT. She tried to give us the perfect picture book Christmas so hard that she was out all Christmas Eve running errands.

Eventually, I had to go to the church (I work there so I went up early). Everyone came for the service and it went fine. Getting home, mom realized we were supposed to go to my aunt and uncles’ place for a quick visit. We all packed into the people mover (like the old days) and drove across town to see them.

We all went inside save for my mom. She was trying to convince my nephew to come inside. After fifteen minutes of waiting for her to join us, my dad went out to help. Soon after he returned to report that we needed to go. My nephew was having some issues. We packed back into the people mover and started back for home.

Then my mom asked where my nephew was.

We thought she was joking. We thought she just couldn’t see him in the back of the van. At home, she seemed a little lost. Some of us went out back to start a little fire and drink holiday cheer. My dad came out a few minutes later to let us know that mom didn’t know it was Christmas Eve and that paramedics were on their way to check her out.

We waited till the fire was embers and the paramedics hadn’t taken her. My dad came out to let us know that she hadn’t taken a blood pressure pill and was still having trouble. We went inside and talked to her. About every five minutes, she’d ask us what she’d done that day and what was happening. She’d look down, considering, and then ask again.

Even after giving her meds and talking to her, she was still having trouble. She described her memory as being a dream for the last week. My sister-in-law came and picked up my nephew to take him to his other grandma’s place for Christmas. A few minutes later mom asked where he was. We told her and she asked if it was because of her.

We did this for an hour till we called the paramedics back. They said she seemed fine (save for the memory and blood pressure) but heavily urged her to go to a hospital and get checked. This took some serious will power on the EMTs as they had only five-minute windows to make their case before she forgot why they were there and would start offering them something to eat or drink. Shout out to our great EMTs though. They seriously were amazing talking to her.

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The weirdest part was watching her make jokes about it. I mean, it could have been the start of a stroke and she was making jokes about being from some kind of Star Trek mirror-verse. We told her without a goatee that she was probably the ‘good’ one. But she just kept making solid one-liners (and she didn’t even recycle them between lucid moments). The woman could have been a comedian. Hell, still could.

So at nearly official central US Christmas time, my dad took off in his battered PT Cruiser in some of the thickest fog we’ve seen all year to take a woman who thought we were all playing a prank on her to get a CAT scan. To be honest, we are the kind of family that would think that is funny (but we’d never escalate to calling EMTs in on a joke) but I digress. We warned him to check if she was packing and to drive safe. He didn’t want us to come. So, all of us adult children decided to do what we could do: exchange presents and head to bed.

I received a voicemail right before bed at one in the AM saying they were starting her tests. Around six in the morning, my brother posted on Facebook that she was home and still making jokes (but remembering way more). Dad was in choir the next day. He said she couldn’t remember Christmas Eve but really wanted to do a proper Christmas. We canceled plans and hung out at home (like the old days).

She lost about a week of time but otherwise was in good spirits. It’s weird to watch this again. I saw this with my grandparents and great aunt. It was unsettling, like talking to people in your dreams. They lose track of what is happening. They seem distracted by something you can’t see. They act like they have to keep a secret. There is a surface tension of fear and anxiety that bubbles just a step from overflowing. Then a bubble pops and they make a joke.

BUT! We still had a great X-mas. Doctor said there was no damage or problems on the horizon. They said it’ll just take some time to remember what all happened. I just hope not to have another episode like this for a good long time.

So that, combined with running around has really pushed me back on getting work done over this break. I made it into the office here and there but really didn’t get anything substantial done. I’m just nervous energy and anxiety. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get something substantial done. Maybe… if I remember to.

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