I guess it is true--you can get accustomed to anything. I live with the fact that my mother is a zombie, or, since she is my mother, z-mom-bie. How do you make a z-mombie?
Well, in April 2015, she had a L knee replacement. I believe she must have had a number of TIA's during the procedure, or soon thereafter. A few hours later, when they attempted to stand her, she cried out, "I broke my new knee." Indeed, as it turned out, she had a slight fracture of the upper leg. Was it fractured during surgery? Was it fractured in the act of getting her up? Doesn't really matter. Nothing showed up on the x-ray (usually because minor fractures only show up during the healing process). Regardless. She never walked again. Not when the leg was properly diagnosed and casted. Not when the cast was removed. The neurosurgeon did not find any neurological basis for her inability to walk. When I asked her surgeon about how a surgery that gives mobility to all took away my mothers, he shrugged and blamed it on her osteoarthritis. Well, she had osteoarthritis prior to the surgery, and she moved about independently. She lived independently. She remembered birthdays and holidays. She had a quality of life. She was a bereaved widow, but she lived independently. More telling, usually, a patient returns one month post surgery, three months, six months, and then yearly. My mother returned one month post-surgery, where Dr. R's notes indicate that she still couldn't walk. When she left his office, she neither made another nor was offered another. Four years down the road--no one has ever looked at her furshlugginingah knee again. Four years down the road, no one has examined anything. The only part of her that gets examined is the bed sore that developed two years ago and has yet to heal. My mother was down already and the bed sore has finished her off, mentally.
A few days after her surgery, I went down to the rehab where she was recovering. I kept walking in and out of her room. I kept going to the nurses' station. "Where is my mother. That's not my mother." The woman in that room was faded, denatured. There was no light of life in her. She was an animated corpse. She was unnatural. When I finally decided to interact with her, this wasn't my mother. She was frightened and passive.
This frightened passivity has never left her. She has no agency. She has no desire to plan anything. She does not have any wishes or desires. She says she wants to be independent, but doesn't have any concept of how she needs to take charge of her life again. Her apartment has been rerented. She has been in assisted death....living...since. Doesn't matter how fancy they decorate--they're all death's living room. Does my mother have dementia with pseudodepression? Or depression with pseudodementia?
This is why I believe she has suffered cognitive damage, possibly due to the anesthesia of surgery. Her memory is intact, both LTM and STM. However, she perseverates, which is why I believe she no longer reads since the surgery or does crosswords. Her anxiety precludes attention, so her attentive process is poor. This poor attention is positively reinforced, because the doctors don't talk to her--they talk to her aides. Or my brother. So she spaces out and nobody cares. She doesn't remember because she wasn't paying attention in the first place. I believe that her passivity and perseveration indicate frontal lobe damage--inability to execute/plan actions.
The only way to recover function is to force her to use her frontal lobe. To make her exercise daily with light weights. To put a pencil in her hand and force her to write. To put a book into her hands and make her read. To discuss with her what she read. But it is the nature of her disability to be passively obedient and since "we are respecting her wishes," she will be my z-mombie until death do us part. Meanwhile, she is pleasant and causes no trouble, so no one bothers.