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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Down Home: Going for a drive isn't what it used to be

  • Since Dad developed a phobia about stepping up or over anything, real or imaginary, I knew this trip to the VA Hospital was going to be difficult.
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  • Since Dad developed a phobia about stepping up or over anything, real or imaginary, I knew this trip to the VA Hospital was going to be difficult. Turns out a person with dementia, who won't move, doesn't qualify for free medical transportation, since he is capable of walking.
    I used to be able to coax Dad into the car by having him look me in the eyes, while hugging and then plopping him into the seat. Those days are over.
    He will get up and walk around, but only on his time and when he wants to. If you try to force him to do anything, his initial reaction is to start swinging.
    Everyone, including me, is a stranger.
    I thought the easiest and less stressful way to get Dad there and back would be in a wheelchair so he wouldn't have to worry about where he was stepping. The VA off ers free transportation, only if the person is wheelchair bound or on oxygen.
    He's only wheelchair bound when he wants to be. Hiring a medical transportation van was an option but after hearing what they charge, per mile, my boyfriend and I decided to give it a try ourselves.
    The nursing home forgot to let the nurses know we were picking him up at noon so instead of eating lunch early he was in the middle of it when we arrived. Nothing makes Dad madder than someone interrupting his favorite time of the day. Not knowing how long it was going to take to get him in the car, I eventually had to pick up his plate right in the middle of a bite of mashed potatoes and gravy. I'm just glad he didn't have a fork in the hand he hit me with or that probably would have caused the need for a couple of bandages.
    Backed up to the seat of the car, he decided he was done with the whole situation and started swinging.
    My boyfriend took a punch to the head and several more to the chest before he finally got Dad in the car, and unfortunately the struggle pulled his Depends and jogging pants halfway down. Running out of time we opted to leave it be until we got to the doctor's office. More upsetting than his pants being all twisted was the fact that he no longer has the ability to care. The visit to the VA was to get his prescriptions renewed.
    He had to see a therapist, as the only drugs he takes are happy pills because the dementia makes him frightened and angry.
    We sat in the lobby for quite awhile, and although Dad wasn't happy about it, he did try to make small talk. I have to interpret what he says, as he can only get one word out that is comprehensible. I gave him answers to where, why and what, only to have him ask again several minutes later.
    Page 2 of 2 - I don't know why I do this to myself, as I know what the answer is going to be, but every time I see him I ask if he knows who I am. Either he just stares at me with no answer or just simply says no. He was staring at me intently, so I popped the question. Only one word came out, "sorry," as he tried to remember, but had no idea who I am.
    When I said, "I'm Sandy, your daughter," he began rambling, trying to get something said but couldn't find the words. He gave up and simply pointed to his heart.
    I love you too, Dad.

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