Out, Damn'd Spot! and Triggers Too!

Tracey Martin

Out, Damn'd Spot! and Triggers Too!

Tracey Martin
imageI have not blogged since November 18th. I am still trying to process the trip to see my sister. Nothing seems right since visiting her. I want to be there assisting in her care but Mom has c. Diff and Sissy started chemo this week so it is out of the question. I will likely write of the experience but can't wrap my head around it just yet.

Mom and I returned home a week ago today and Mom is exhausted. Mom had a stroke in May of 2012. Since then, she has struggled with issues related to her sleep/wake cycle and vascular dementia which is presenting as poor impulse control, obsessive/compulsive disorder, and safety awareness. In spite of it all, she did well in the hotel rooms during our trip. Perhaps it was because we were in the bed right next to her. Although one night I needed to convince her that the chair next to the bed was not her commode.

The night we returned home, Mom awoke in the middle of the night. The video "baby monitor" lit up and I went in to assist. She was already sitting on the commode--pajama bottoms and depends still intact. This was "a first." She told me she had pulled them down but that was not the case. I have grown accustomed to Mom's broken sleep at night. She wakes to urinate or, worse, has some sort of hallucination. She doesn't typically "sun-down" in the evening but the sudden awakening at night is usually accompanied by some trigger that she has had on her mind.

One time, she awoke in a panic. She screamed my name (my real name not "pushing petals!"). I ran into the room and she exclaimed while throwing her arms in the air, "I have spots all over me!" And began to frantically brush them off. I reassured her, she did not have spots and yet, slapped my palm on my forehead as I realized she is wearing blue/white polka-dot pajamas and her sheets had a small pattern on them that could be perceived as spots. These sheets have now been relegated to a spare set in the rotation. The pjs however are perfect for her safety needs-- Capri-style leg length, a loose elastic waist-- so they are not going anywhere. Every time she wears those pjs, I think of Lady MacBeth in Act V, Scene 1. "Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!" And I, the Shakespearean doctor in the same scene exclaiming, "Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly." It is a balancing act--always weighing safety, capitalizing on convenience as well as trying to recognize and to minimize triggers.

So with this, I recount last night's hallucination and the scream was blood-curdling. It caused me to jump out of bed forgetting I was extremely sore with a pulled muscle in my hip. As I flipped on the overhead light, she was screaming, "the blood, the blood, the blood," opening one eye in Popeye fashion. She began scrambling and pulled back the sheets. Mind you, this week's sheet rotation is a warm fleece sheet set, burgundy in color. Before she went to bed, I discussed our agenda for today -- blood work at her primary care MD office to have her INR checked. So much for managing triggers.

Today, I will change the sheets to her other fleece set (white with blue snowflakes) and hope she begins to dream of a White Christmas.

Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment

John Parks-Coleman

Patience (with a dose of humility and internal monologue humor) is the only way to make it through. Thank you for sharing with us, I look forward to your next update.


You, go, Girl! I am right there with you, too. When I brought my mother north for the summer, it was still cold in May and she had to wear my flannel pj's, which had little red birds on them; of course, looks like spots of blood......\r\nLove your quote from Shakespeare; if nothing else we will keep each relevant here, and dream of loftier things. Hope your trip to the doctor today goes smoothly and the results are positive and manageable. \r\nHmm, let me think of what blue snowflakes might look like? \r\nGood luck.


Great post, I felt like I was right there. Hope you'll be able to write about the trip soon. It will help you process it all. And it will make for an intense read for the rest of us, I'm sure!


Hi Petals--I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.\r\n\r\nI have been thinking of you and hoping the visit with your sister went okay. I understand the need to sort through feelings and thoughts before sharing about an experience. We're ready to listen when you're ready to tell us. :)\r\n\r\nI did laugh out loud when I read the part about your mom calling out for \"PushingPetals.\" :) I love your sense of humor. \r\n\r\nYou just never know what will become a trigger until it becomes just that--a trigger. The guessing game can be exhausting. \r\n\r\nI so hope for dreams of White Christmas for your mom. Then you can enjoy your own sweet dreams.