Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Alzheimer’s for an Hour

Miriam Schweid

My speech was slow and slurred, and the midwife just patted my arm kindly, pitifully, and said it’s okay. Only it wasn’t.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

alzheimer

Photo: Shutterstock

When I became a young child riding a duck, I yelled to the midwife that I’m 30 years old and completely normal. 

But my speech was slow and slurred, and she just patted my arm kindly, pitifully, and said it’s okay. Only it wasn’t. 

Each time I close my eyes to enjoy a delicious kimpeturin nap, the image of me riding atop a black-and-white dog invades my thoughts. That’s how I got my precious baby into this world. As a dog kicking and barking and trying to bite. I was completely normal, am completely normal. All it took was a little liquid in the IV line, and I was reduced to a hallucinating lunatic scaring the wits out of my husband, midwife, and nurses. 

I thought I knew what to expect when giving birth. I’d done it three times, and I could do it a fourth. It was a simple enough sequence: contractions, epidural, birth, love. But this time around, none of this worked. After months of incessant, merciless nausea and migraines, I had no veins left for an IV line to get some hydration. After consulting with our rav and doctor, we scheduled an induction. 

Then the doubts set in. I was tired of headaches, and I’ve heard plenty of stories about epidural-induced headaches. I got a sudden fear of an epidural. But Pitocin can be ruthless, and my pain-tolerance level wasn’t very high to begin with. So when the doctor mentioned Stadol, a narcotic offered to relieve labor pain, it seemed like a wonderful idea. All I had to do was close my eyes and let it overtake me. 

The first few minutes were blissful. Relief and a deep tiredness overtook my senses and I almost joined the rest of the world slumbering peacefully. That is, until my brain started fighting the medication and my subconscious started intellectualizing and resisting the effects of grogginess with… hallucinations.

Photo: Shutterstock

It started with the conviction that I couldn’t open my eyes. A rush of scenes and thoughts followed. Because I was resisting the medication, the pain was just as intense. So how does a hallucinating, mature, intellectual adult react to pain? You shouldn’t know. 

When the baby was finally born, the mazel tovs from all present were slightly hesitant. After all, the mother wasn’t really there, and my husband was afraid to make the phone calls when he wasn’t completely sure I’d be coming back. Slowly, reality merged with the hallucinations, and an hour after giving birth, I held my son for the first time. 

All that night, I cried, and in the morning, I was still crying. Crying for the mind that is so vulnerable and for all my intellectual capabilities that meant so little in the face of a little injection. My memories are vague — for which I’m grateful — and the only reason I remember anything at all is because of the few lucid moments I had during the entire experience. More than the pain of not being mentally present at the birth, was the deep humiliation and pain at feeling misunderstood.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without