Thursday, October 21, 2004

Another Tough Week For The Record Books

Well, I have said time and time again that 2004 would be the quintessential year of memory for me when I become old and grey. Not all of the memories will be good ones either. I'm not even grey yet but I can still imagine myself sitting in a La-Z-Boy rattling off the year 2004 in review - my own senile version. "Yep, that was the year the shit hit the fan," I will proclaim. Boy has it been, and the scary part is that it is not even over yet.

Since it is so fresh in my mellon I will get this out of the way first. YES, I am born and raised in New York. YES, I am a Yankees fan. And YES, I am very disappointed that the Yankees lost the AL pennant to the Red Sox! Hmm. But, I am a gracious fan and I cannot blaim anything but the lackluster performance of the Yankees themselves for letting the pennant slip away. I mean, a 3-0 lead? Obviously, coming back from such a deficit is unprecedented and there was bound to be a team someday to do the unimaginable. But, the Red Sox? Against the Yankees, no less?? Truly unexpected on my part. All I can do is wish the best for the Red Sox at this point because I think they have their work cut out for them with either winner from the NL pennant series. This will be decided tonight, of course, but already people are romanticizing the likelihood of Clemmens facing his old team in the 2004 World Series. Perhaps, we will see more history in the making for the rest of 2004. Either way, it will be a welcomed distraction from what has been going on on the home front.

Pop has begun to battle his situation in his own way which is not so unique from many others who have had to cope with similar life situations. Of course, Pop is still at JJ Foley but has started to exhibit strange behaviors. Beyond going into all his physical ailments in detail (I will mention these later on as they become critically relevant) , Pop is a wreck. Right now, his care consists of treating the most life-threatening ailments hoping that all the others won't progress too fast in the meantime. Mentally, he is still up and down. His Altzheimer's seems to be progressing as is usual in the early stages. Pop has been hallucinating periodically and having quite lucid moments at other times as well. On a day to day basis, you really do n ot know what you will see when you get there. Sometimes he is sleeping or having one of his mini-twitching fits when I arrive. I wait until he opens his eyes and looks around to let him know I am there because I know he struggles to get rest. At night they have to constantly shift him from side to side to help eleviate the pressure from his bed sore (really big one). So his sleep is interrupted at night. Other times I will arrive and he will be a bit "wired up" and will be asking me all sorts of questions and then seeing things that aren't there. I notice that when he is wired up he is also in an agitated state and confused. He becomes verbally abusive and thinks he is being held prisoner. He has three of these episodes since he has arrived and I am sure there will be more to come.

On Sunday, my uncle Bobby and I arrived together to see Pop and possibly watch the game with him. I usually try to stay a while on the weekends and watch some of the football games with Pop. But if he is sleeping or if they have him on a sedative, I try to let him sleep and I usually only stay a couple of hours. Since Pop seemed like he was up and alert we thought we would watch a game with him. After Bobby and I were there for about ten minutes Pop started asking why he was tied down in the bed. He wasn't tied into the bed. He simply cannot move his legs well because he is a bit weak from the stroke he had. Also, his circulation is very poor and this generally contributes to his weakened condition. After Bobby showed him that he was not tied down Pop proceded to tell us that the people at JJ Foley were making him weak by giving him drugs. To say the least it was a bad situation. Pop told me that God would punish me eventually for doing this to him. He said some other equally hurtful things. Everyone who eventually made it into the room with us when Pop was carrying on told me the same thing. Pop is NOT the one who is talking. He is confused and he is not all there. I shouldn't take what he says too seriously and that I was doing the right thing by having him there so he could receive the level of care he can at the facility. I am aware of all this, but it was still a shock to the system standing there while someone who you had looked up to as a child basically was making you feel like the anti-Christ.

We left shortly after the nurses and aides began to change the dressing for his bed sore. Bobby noticed on my face that I was a bit upset. To be honest, I needed a break anyway, because I have been there for almost two weeks every single day for three or more hours at a time. That type of thing can weight heavy on you day in and day out. So I took the rest of the day at home to do domestic duties and to relax a bit. I still had thoughts of what happened earlier for the rest of the day, but I tried my best to relax.

One good thing that occurred was the team meeting I had with his various therapists and nurses on the Wednesday after the episode on Sunday. Turns out that Pop has begun not eating properly and refusing food in general. They will be re-fitting his dentures and giving him an appetite stimulant to help encourage him to eat more. His bed sore will eventually stop getting better if he does not take in the proper nutrients to help his body repair. The medicine will only go so far. So this is important. Also, they will look into giving him another kind of sedative that will help level-off his mood a bit and not have him be so drastically different from one day to the next. Plus, the overall leveling of his mood will allow him to be more comfortable and let the nurses do what they need to to treat him. The last thing I want to see happen is for him to go downhill due to his own refusal to cooperate. I know that eventually, his quality of life will be in question and there will be a new set of priorities accordingly. Until then, however, I'd like to see him stablized a bit even though he will never be stable enough to come home again. Things like this are not easy, but they are a fact of life. I just have to remind myself that the guilt I feel is not from doing anything wrong but from knowing that Pop has slowly lost control of his own life. I only hope I am in better condition when I get to his age.