Each time I walked into Dad’s room in the nursing home, he would be rigid in bed, propped up on one elbow and slamming his other fist against his upturned palm. Pow! Pow! Pow! Over and over, he pounded fist against hand. I would try to get him to relax and lie back down, but he couldn’t comprehend my pleas. Pow! Pow! Pow! He was trying to knock out the pain.
Dad had resided in this nursing home since botched brain surgery that was supposed to correct the results of a brain injury, he’d sustained in World War II. He went into this surgery foggy from fluid building up behind scar tissue in his brain. While the procedure was medically successful, the unexpected result was that Dad developed “instant dementia.” He came out of the operating room needing around-the-clock skilled nursing care.
Each time I visited and saw him in such an agitated state, I would hurry from his room back out into the hall to talk with his nurse, Sarita. Had the doctor been in yet? Had he seen Dad like this? Would he please help us get Dad on hospice?
“He is in pain, Sarita. It’s obvious. Can’t the doctor give him something?” I implored.
“I know,” she’d answer solemnly. “He is in pain. We know him and can see it, but the doctor looks at his chart and says he sleeps so much that he can’t possibly be in pain.”
“But look at him!” I’d plead, choking on tears.
“I know,” she’d reassure. “I know. We’re working on it.”
We knew Dad was wearing down. He didn’t have long to live, but did he have to be in such discomfort? I wanted him under hospice care, but the doctor was adamant that he still wasn’t ready.
One day while I was working at my newspaper job, the phone rang. It was the head nurse at Dad’s nursing home...
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” ...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer
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