Monday, August 6, 2007

A lot of cognition there

That's what the hospice folks tell me about my dad: "There's a lot of cognition there."

They are talking about his over-the-bed tray table that sits beside his hospital bed. On that table he now arranges and rearranges the small collection of items he now counts has his own possessions. Sometimes he places a few of them under his pillows.

He now insists on 2 pillows. I don't really think it looks comfortable and, of course, I remember the almost flat, filthy pillow that I finally was able to get away from him. It almost made me sick to touch the thing. It was practically a thin board. But if he wants 2 pillows and they make him happy then more power to him.

On his table there are 4 tooth brushes, 3 combs, 4 greeting cards that have his name on them, a funeral program, and a little plastic skull keyring that came from a box of cereal. The little skull when moved blinks a little light. He used to have 5 tooth brushes but one was so nasty I could not stand it. Two are his and one is mine and two he stole from my wife's dressing area in our bathroom. He likes to steal her things. She isn't here too often but the last time I had to find her makeup mirror which had temporarily joined his collection. He is especially partial to the new OralB battery powered tooth brushes.

The 3 combs are all his. He sometimes combs his hair and actually does a good job of it. The greeting cards are from Christmas and he likes to read his name on them. Sometimes he opens the cards and reads the part where his name is. Then he repeats this ever so often. The funeral program he opens and inspects and is especially interested in the photograph. I do not know if he remembers this friend. But he does seem to enjoy something about the program.

There is also a little toy airplane. He flew airplanes in World War II. I think he keeps the little plane because it does remind him of something but I no longer am sure what.

He spends a good deal of time laying these things out on his table and arranging them in some kind of order.

It is this activity that the hospice people find so interesting. They seem to think this is indicative of some significant and unusual amount of cognition. Especially they say in the planning area.

I think it is more obsessive-compulsive and I am not nearly so enthralled with it.

In some ways it reminds me of listening to people argue about whether animals think and and have emotions and personalities and so on. I always think these people that take the negative should get them a herd of cows and work with them for a while.

Dad came down for breakfast this morning. The little breakfast nook is on one side of the kitchen and the cabinet between the two rooms is open so we each can see the other. He watches me put together the various parts of his breakfast in what I can only describe as rapt attention. Occasionally he even stands and walks toward the tray and returns to his seat when I tell him I am just about done.

There is something about this that reminds me of a dog waiting for a treat. I know this sounds awful and I do not mean it to be disrespectful in any way. But this morning it actually made me laugh watching him. It is actually kind of sweet and innocent although I admit that if I let myself dwell on it that it becomes dark and foreboding and depressing.

And then when finally I serve his breakfast he becomes so focused on eating what I've prepared. I think it is close to obsessive-compulsive. He doesn't really smile or do anything that makes me know he is happy exactly but it just seems like he is happy. It makes me happy regardless.

Last night when I was remaking his bed for about the 100th time I unfurled the blanket in one motion and it landed so perfectly on him that he actually gave a little laugh. That's unusual. Made me laugh, too.

4 comments:

Lori1955 said...

I think you are right about it being more OCD than cognition. Helen has some of those OCD traits too. When you talk about making his breakfast and him being like a pup waiting for a treat, I have to laugh. Helen smacks her lips when I bring food. Of course she only eats a few bites but sure acts like she wants it bad. LOL

~Betsy said...

If I haven't told you, Flintysooner, I think you are a wonderful son. Stay strong.

cornbread hell said...

i second betsy's comment.

as for ocd...how about this: "Last night when I was remaking his bed for about the 100th time I..." (just kiddin' ya.)

"There is also a little toy airplane. He flew airplanes in World War II."

what kind of airplanes did he fly? my dad flew corsairs.

flintysooner said...

Funny cornbreadhell. I think I should have used "making" instead of "remaking."

B-25's and B-26's. I don't recall him talking about flying Corsairs.

He flew for his boss after the war. There were 4 planes purchased surplus and dad told about flying them back with holes in the fabric on the wings.