Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Appearances

Dad was doing pretty well before the end of December, 2006. This photo was taken in early December just a few days after I was last able to get his hair cut and his beard trimmed. We've managed to shave him a few times since but haven't been able to cut his hair. He was still wearing clothes then, continent, and taking care of himself to a great extent. Sometimes it is so hard for me to remember what things were like.

When I took this photo I would have had no way of knowing that by the end of the month things would change so drastically.

Dad's been having a lot of trouble staying asleep the last few days. He falls asleep and I quietly sneak into my room. Time passes and he gets up - I think to find me. I intercept him and get him back in bed. He falls asleep. Then we start all over.

Tuesday morning he was combative again and didn't want to get up. Wouldn't or couldn't talk to me. Finally about 10:30 I managed to get him sitting on the side of his bed. But he wouldn't let me change him. The bed was wet and his gown and everything else. Applied the ABHR and waited but nothing. Finally after employing all my tricks I managed to get him changed and the bed made and the laundry started. I didn't come out unscathed but got it done all the same.

Still he went right back to bed and refused to walk more than a step or two. I had to practically carry him to the chair while I made the bed. Still no words. At noon I prepared his breakfast and took it up. Finally he ate but immediately climbed back in bed.

Two hours later my hospice volunteer arrived for my 90 minute respite. By this time dad has now become sufficiently energized to walk down the stairs and join me on the porch, much to my utter amazement.

The aide, annoyingly cheerful, joins us on the porch and is absolutely effusive that dad is again sitting on the porch and looking so chipper and healthy and so on. I say "Dad, here is Michelle." And he says "Yes, I know her!" which of course he does not. He begins "chatting" her up - or some reasonable facsimile thereof.

I think to myself that Michelle is blissfully unaware of all the remarkable ups and downs in the intervening week that's passed since last she was there for her 90 minutes. Two hours earlier she would have seen a different person. Four hours later he would be back in bed and again uncommunicative. But for her he is much the same this week as we was the last week.

I did not know how to answer her question: "How's he doing?"

This photo was take on Monday, September 3, 2007. At least that's what the time stamp says. I honestly do not remember Monday any longer. The time stamp says this was in the morning about 7 AM.

7 comments:

~Betsy said...

Oh Flinty - I'm so sorry. Your words today are so full of sadness, or is it exhaustion? My heart breaks for you. I feel as if I have gotten to know who your dad was, at least a little, through your previous posts. Watching his decline has taken its toll on you, hasn't it?

I really liked your description of the time with Michelle. She is "blissfully unaware". So fitting for the visitors who flit in and out. It's remarkable the way our LO's can muster the energy to appear relatively normal - whatever normal is right now - for a visitor and then quickly revert back when it is just the two of you again.

All I can offer are words of support and empathy. You are a wonderful son. I mean this. So many men would turn and go the other way, yet you have stepped up to the plate.

Somewhere deep inside your dad is very aware of this and he is beaming with pride. He has raised himself a remarkable son.

cornbread hell said...

i'm counting my blessings.

Lori1955 said...

It is so remarkable the difference in only a year. I have read of those who go through this disease for 15 to 20 years and just don't understand it as to me it seems that each year is such a big difference from the last.
I know what you mean about when the aide is there. Yesterday Helen stayed awake while the nurse and the aide were here and as soon as they left she slept for 14 hours straight.
One thing I have to say from your pictures is that it looks like your dad has beautiful soft skin. Does he?

cornbread hell said...

flinty, i was just thinking of you and your dad and hoping y'all are doing well. as well as can be, that is.

hang in there, man. small consolation, but you are an inspiration to me.

rilera said...

Flinty, thanks for sharing pictures of your dad. You are a wonderful son to take such great care of him. I'm sorry things have been rough for you lately. Hang in there.

nancy said...

boy can i relate how things can change so suddenly. i too get frustrated when russ' aide arrives and cheerfully asks each time "so how was everybody's day today?" russ usually answers "OK"

flintysooner said...

Thanks everyone - you all are very much appreciated.