First thing this morning I went to court again for Mom, but in a very different way. Last time we went a year ago was awful – that summer she’d been hospitalized for complications from an undetected UTI that caused her to perceive that everything was on fire. Understandably, she tried to break out of the house (via closed glass windows) and called 911 repeatedly, knocking over anyone who got in her way.
When it was necessary for her to appear in court to determine her fate, they insisted that she go with a police escort rather than in my car, due to possible risk to her or my safety. You can imagine what was going through her mind as she stepped into that fully adorned sheriff’s vehicle. Later she told me that she thought she’d committed a terrible crime she couldn’t remember. She obsessed about it for months, not believing my insistence that she’d done nothing criminal and had nothing to be ashamed of.
I found it hard then to believe that the judge wouldn’t pardon her from an appearance to minimize her stress, but his argument was that he wanted to be sure that she was heard fairly and wasn’t unjustly given protective placement that would limit her rights drastically for the following six months.
Thankfully, today’s hearing was able to take place in the adjacent county, where Mom is hospitalized now, and the judge didn’t request her presence in person or by telephone, trusting the guardian ad litum (the representative appointed to vouch for her best interest) to speak for her.
The other relief was that I didn’t need to physically show up in court today. They let me testify from home, where I was on speakerphone in the court and could hear the proceedings. As a highly sensitive person who can get really nervous in such situations, it was much easier to speak calmly and clearly from my own comfortable turf, somewhat invisibly.
This may sound kind of goofy, but after originally thinking I would stay in my PJ’s, I decided to dress up. Mom is important to me and I needed every ounce of good energy I could summon, even if no one could see me. Mom would definitely have approved – she’s tried so much of her life to get me in a skirt, so that’s the least I could do when I was fighting for her.
The risk was that due to her current delusions, she could be appointed a guardian by the state who would be a complete stranger to her, not to mention her particular needs and desires that she cannot verbalize right now. This “takeover” by the state can be helpful when a dishonest child is trying to obtain guardianship for a parent with dementia in order to take away their money or control medications in a manner that the lucid parent would not have approved of.
It was a big risk today that I would lose the right to represent Mom in the future, because in her deluded state (which still comes and goes,) she thinks I’ve not only become a member of a drug ring, but that I’m running around with the mafia. Accordingly, she no longer believes I’m a fit guardian.
I’d been warned that today’s petition for temporary guardianship would most likely fail, since yesterday when Mom met the guardian ad litum, she was in an intense state of paranoia and immediately kicked him out before he could speak to her, demanding to find her own lawyer. As much as this complicated things and was hard for us all to witness, part of me is always proud of how well my mother defends herself, even when her brain is broken. She’s a fighter to the end and still knows her rights.
Fortunately, the judge today turned out to be an extraordinarily compassionate person, who suspected what was going on with my mom and dug more deeply than most would have to uncover the truth. It would have been standard, and very easy for her to dismiss the case with my mom’s objections. Thankfully, she did more research to find that Mom had in fact agreed to my appointment as her guardian a few days prior, and trusted that report.
So my temporary guardianship is now officially in place for Carol Jean until the next hearing later this month, which will be a petition for permanent guardianship. When that is in place it will help me more quickly and efficiently get Mom the help she needs medically for her mental health issues that so often accompany Parkinson’s / Lewy Body Dementia and their medications. It will also keep Mom out of the courts the next time she may do something that requires a hearing, which is a huge stressor on her.
One small little victory for our very intense summer.