Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gaunt & Miserable


Dad was sitting gaunt and miserable in his chair. The Valentine decorations were shining in the sun, the light passing through the red candy-like lights in his window. I didn’t think I would last until lunch. I had brought juice boxes for Mirabelle and decided to see if dad wanted some juice. He did. The abscess or indentation at the side of his head looks deeper, but I cannot tell for sure.

The PSW told me that he was not eating breakfast. The last time I visited they told me he ate a good breakfast, but usually only had one good meal a day. She wanted to mash up his food, as staff think he isn’t able to chew it. He refused to take pills from her. She asked if I would give it a try. He refused again. The pills were ground up and put into a spoonful of applesauce or pudding to make it more palatable. He had been chewing his pills for that past month. They are quite creative in figuring out how to encourage him to take these meds: ground up in applesauce, pudding or snuck on a spoon. Bless them every one!

I told the nurse that I thought dad needed to see that he was eating real food, today it was ham, and I didn’t think he wanted it minced. Only old, sick people have that done for them! I was right. Dad refused to eat any of his meal. Dessert was another story. “He’s a great dessert eater!” one staffer told me.

Today I gave dad a Ghiardelli chocolate when I arrived. Brian and I visited San Francisco, where these chocolates are made, back when we could more freely travel and take weekends away. They were on sale after Christmas and I knew that my dad was worth it! It was a terrific visit to a lovely tourist area. The chocolate factory has a large sign, unmistakable to those visitors who are keen on such tours. We took a boat tour of the harbour, strolled around the boardwalk visiting expensive, but entertaining shops.

Brian bought me my football ring there. We spotted a beautiful ring, carved from bone, surrounded by turquoise stones. He asked if he could buy it for me, in exchange he wanted to follow the 6 football games on the next weekend. What could I say? He bought me a wonderful, multi-coloured long wrap that I wear frequently to the nursing home. The senior ladies ooh and aah when I dress up in overstated clothes. I am happy to be the focus of their attention.

The San Fran visit was a fond memory of times when weekends away did not make me crazy. I worry so that dad will need me. It is hard to balance family in this sandwich generation. Once my father passes away we will be able to travel, aside from the cats. When the good weather comes back we will be able to invite friends, too. I miss them a great deal. Our big trips to the small towns around make us happy. We have found favourite restaurants, many closed in January to give staff a much-needed break. I know spring will come.

1 comment:

Carol D. O'Dell said...

My thoughts are with you. My mother suffered with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and those last few months were so painful to watch--and to participate in. I'm glad I did--I'm glad I was there, but the gaunt, skeletal frame, the lack of personality, the desparate-ness I felt about her not eating-it was very, very hard. I wrote about my experience--first, to have a "place" to put my heart, thoughts, and emotions--and second, so that no one else would feel as alone as I did.

It's good that you're getting away some (and eating chocolate is always a good thing!) Even though you stepped away, believe me, you needed to and your dad would want you to.

Merry Christmas.
~Carol D. O'Dell
author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,
available on Amazon