Over the years Dad has (mostly) been a quiet man. I guess it’s no coincidence that, as a big John Wayne fan, his favourite film is of course The Quiet Man but that’s incidental. At times I catch him deep in thought with a far away look and understand only too well the need to make sense of what’s happening and grapple with the implications. Not only the dementia but recent revelations about physical health. There are times when the days don’t seem real to either of us. It feels like we’re moving, observing, on automatic pilot. Weird.
It was Thursday evening and I’d had a bit of a day. I needed to relax. A thoughtful friend had given me lavender oil and a burner for Christmas and it seemed like the ideal time to sample it. I had the house to myself, the bath was ready and lavender filled the air. Actually I’d failed to heed her warning and perhaps been too heavy handed with the aforementioned lavendar so it was a bit on the strong side. But this wasn’t going to phase me.
I was enjoying the peaceful and soothing setting, distracting my thoughts from the day’s events and determined not to let the now overwhelming aroma to get the better of me. I concentrated on happy times and places.
The phone rang.
Dad had fallen and was on his way to A&E.
After a bit of a palaver and trying to contact my elusive brother I made my way to the hospital to find Dad confused and bleeding. Suddenly he looked much older than before and frail. The doctor told me he needed stitches and an overnight stay. Oh that didn’t go down well.
As it happened, the overnight stay turned into a fortnight during which time he was assessed, monitored, introduced to new roommates and new medication. On admission he was distressed and confused and I wanted the best for him. During his first couple of days, his mixed up thoughts and disorientation meant that he found himself on a number of occasions wandering down the corridor to where the ladies were looking for his room. Well that’s what he told me. The nurses didn’t appear very amused by this and when he finally got his bearings, Dad and I saw the funny side of it. For him, the days were long and, other than someone helping him get dressed in the morning, mealtimes and the ‘boy’ who brought the tea, he was left pretty much to his own devices. For him between visits seemed like an eternity. For me there was never enough time to get everything done.
He’s now home, stitches removed and although beginning to look much better the new meds are making him tired and he’s definitely less steady on his feet now. Dad’s beginning to realise that he needs more help with the small things. Rather reluctantly he admits that he’s not that good with buttons anymore and I can see frustration and anger creeping in when he can’t work out which way things go. It’s difficult to stand by but he’s a proud man and intervening too early wouldn’t help. Putting clothing on back to front is a particular favourite but the comedy that was once attached to this wears on and off now depending on his mood. He doesn’t want someone to do it for him but that a ‘someone’ will simply help him get it right. Until the someone is appointed from care services I’ll be that someone. But, according to Dad, I’m someone who fusses too much. When I think about it he’s probably right.
Dad likes pink shirts. He tells me he suits pink. I see that he does and that he looks younger. I tell him so and he just sits on the side of the bed and laughs. Briefly we talk about mum then the subject is changed. Now isn’t the time.
He’s all set and looking forward to lunch and a trip to the garden centre with his son.
Normal service is resumed meantime.