‘Where’s my T-back’ sounds outre and odd enough a name for a blogger but do I really have to repeat myself in another blog post?
But please take note that the sub-title of this blog is ‘My encounters with Alzheimer’s Disease…’
Read on and you will know why the T-back fits into the picture.
Here’s the story.
In the middle of 2000, a very cosmopolitan lady working and living in the US for the longest time (read: more than forty years) retired from her work. She was nearing seventy years old at the time. In spite of a planned retirement where she intended to do volunteer work at a community shelter, it did not materialize because she had put on so much weight and developed osteoarthritis which prevented her from driving long stretches. And the winters were cruel. So, she lived all alone in her apartment soaking up in Spanish telenovelas.
Her children back home (read PH) began to worry about her condition because whenever they called her, she seemed different each time. She was not only irritable but she was also forgetful. That was unusual for someone who had been known for having been a gentle and mild mannered soul in the hospital where she worked as a pharmacist. She was also known for being sharp as a razor and well-organized. But that was then.
When at last the daughter and her son-in-law came to visit, the couple were appalled by what they saw. Her apartment was a mess. And their mother was a mess as well. That was unusual too because the lady had been known to be inordinately neat and organized. But again, that was then.
They hastily arranged for her return to the Philippines.
The daughter, having been married into a landed, gentrified family welcomed the mother in her huge family estate in the south. Ministered to by hired caregivers, pampered by a masseuse and driven around by a uniformed chaffeur (I never realized such things still existed in this century) to beauty salons for her regular manicure, pedicure and whatever beauty treatments she fancied (so I gathered she was vain) she seemed to have been adjusting well.
Until she was told that her granddaughter who was then studying in a university in another continent was coming home for her coming out (read: debut) party.
Instead of a big hotel, the family decided to host the debut in their huge estate (more than one hectare property) with patios and meandering walkways lined by tall well cropped bushes and hedges. The house sat in the middle and the rest of the huge stretch of space could accommodate the helicopters which some of the guests used to get to their place on top of a hill, for the grand soiree.
The debutante’s grandmother became very excited. The prospect of wearing couture gown (draped in cashmere shawl because the evening could be nippy) and huge earrings dangling from her ears thrilled her. She rehearsed putting on her frock and bling blings a few days before the party.
Then the evening came.
The guests started to stream in their coat tails, business suits and the ladies in resplendent gowns. It was a glittery affair by all standards.
When the guests learned that the grand mere (lola, grandmother, nonna, abuelita) of the debutante was back from the US, they looked for her, to exchange pleasantries and catch up on one another’s life.
‘Oh, she’s just getting ready ‘ the daughter told them. ‘She should be out any minute now’ the daughter smiling, confidently assured the guests.
By this time she asked one of her kasambahay to check on the mother. ‘
Tingnan mo kung ready na ang Senyora mo! ordered the host.
The kasambahay rushed to her Senyora’s room.
She was appalled by what she saw. The room was in disarray. The gown which she carefully laid out on the bed was now on the floor along with other pieces of clothing strewn about. Her jewelry arranged on a tray were scattered on the bed. Bottles of perfume, make up and what have you tumbled over on her dresser, some on the floor.The drawers were drawn from their cases. The Senyora, hair still dripping wet from the shower only had her robe on. She was mumbling. She was grumbling as she sat in front of the mirror.
The kasambahay, despite cringing in fear mustered the courage to ask her ‘Bakit po Mam?’
The Senyora lashed at her and asked ‘Nasaan na?’
‘Ang alin po Mam?” Asked the now very scared kasambahay.
‘Nasaan na?‘ the Senyora growled!
This sent the poor kasambahay scampering out of the room, running to the garden, grabbing the daughter who was in the middle of a conversation with one of her many many guests near the banquet table.
The daughter in her beehive hair and impeccably made up face, stiletto shod and flowing long gown brisked walk her way to her Mom’s room, a shawl falling off her alabaster skin shoulder, a long stem crystal wine glass on one hand.
Almost halfway through the distance, but fortunately away from where all the merriment was (remember this was a more than one hectare property on top of a hill), the kasambahay and the daughter let out a muted scream.
‘Mama!’ The daughter gasped when she came to. ‘What are you doing here?’ She pulled her mother aside, away from view, all three of them huddled and hidden among the bushes.
Her mother was wearing a bath robe with ties loosely knotted and nothing else. Her eyes dilated in anger. She was fuming. She was mad.
‘Mama, what’s the problem?’ the daughter pleaded for an answer, now almost in tears.
And the mother replied, demanded to know ‘Where’s my T-back? Where’s my T-back! Where’s my T-back!’
The daughter fainted at the prospect of her seventy year old obese mother wearing a T-back!
N.B. Lack of insight and disinhibition are part of the clinical spectrum of dementia
DISCLAIMER: The identities of the subjects in the vignettes and other stories on this blog are intended to be ‘anonymous’ to protect the patient and their families and keep the doctor-patient confidentiality or fiduciary relationship. The personas cited here are not meant to be blind items or fodder for gossip. My lips are zipped in that department. Some of their identities and circumstances have been altered but the nuances of their medical condition are fact and not hidden behind veiled medical-clinical fiction. Think Oliver Sack’s ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat’. Okay, it’s like comparing Roederer Cristal rose wine with vin d’ table but I know you see the drift.