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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Down Home: Missing Dad's ability to communicate

  • Even though Dad doesn't know it, he's a lucky man to be so healthy at 87, physically anyway. If dementia hadn't robbed him, I'm sure he'd still be as ornery as ever.
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  • Even though Dad doesn't know it, he's a lucky man to be so healthy at 87, physically anyway. If dementia hadn't robbed him, I'm sure he'd still be as ornery as ever.
    We need to make another trip to the VA, to get his medications refilled. The pills aren't because he's sick or has an illness, they just help him stay in check within his world of confusion.
    At first I was upset when I found out he was popping pills, as I'd convinced myself he has stayed healthy for so long because I'd steered him clear of being on any medicine.
    When Dad was first diagnosed, the doctors wanted to put him on a drug that would help keep his memory intact, but after researching the long term side effects, and 15 years later, I'm glad we didn't choose that path.
    Amazingly Dad doesn't even have high blood pressure, even though he had a heart attack and six bypasses nearly 30 years ago. It's just so sad his body is still rearing to go but his mind has nearly shut down. He's mobile, although his confusion keeps him from traveling very quickly, as he seems unsure of where to step and often freezes in place for fear of falling.
    During the last trip to the VA, just a couple of months ago, I told myself the next time we went I was going to take him in a wheelchair-equipped van. Getting him out of the car isn't so bad, but trying to convince him to get in is another thing. Anything out of the ordinary seems to throw him into a tailspin, and no amount of convincing; begging or pleading will move his feet.
    While contemplating transportation needs, I was thinking about how much I missed him being so vocal, even though at times I had wished he'd be a little more quiet while blurting out his every thought.
    Every time we'd enter into any office, whether it was the doctor, dentist or optometrist, Dad would broadcast to the entire waiting room and staff, "looks like this doctor is making a killing." For however long we'd wait in the lobby, every couple of minutes he'd say loudly, "this is a racket."
    If anyone asked how he was doing his response would be, "I only have one problem, it's her," as he'd point my way.
    He didn't blurt out these one-liners just once in awhile, it was every time we went anywhere, as though these were the only words he had memorized to say to strangers, although he'd ask me every couple of minutes where we were and why.
    Eventually it wasn't possible to go to the eye doctor, as he couldn't follow the instructions to read the eye chart and when in the dentists' chair he'd clamp his mouth shut.
    Page 2 of 2 - I'd give anything now to be able to roll him into the VA and listen to his rude announcements. I'd smile proudly when he'd say I was his only problem, and I'd cherish his one-liners that would turn heads and I certainly wouldn't ever be embarrassed.
    I'd feel blessed.

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