Arbor Dream-Come-True
If I Were a Frog...

Cruel Role Reversal


I've been watching home movies the past few days, and they sure do bring special memories flooding back.  It's hard to watch them without shedding a few tears, as it just seems impossible that so much has changed in those years that have gone by.

This is one of my favorite movie clips, of me with Mama and Dad about 57 years ago when I was just learning to walk.  Toddling unsteadily into the sure, strong arms of my Daddy.

Now Dad is the one toddling unsteadily, and I am the one giving him a helping hand. 


The Daddy in the movie is the one I remember; the man I've been visiting in the Alzheimer's Care home is so not my Dad, but then again, yes he is.  Those same hands that carried me now can barely steer his fork to his mouth.  

In an effort to keep things real, I need to share with you the heartbreaks and well as the joys of this life I am living on earth.  If you've been following my blog for long, you know that Dad is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's and is now living in a nursing unit specifically for those with memory issues.

Since we moved him into his new apartment in March (click here), his health and general well-being have continued on their sharp downward spiral.  While he seems content enough there and is well-cared for and beloved by the staff, every time I visit I see him slipping further away...both physically and mentally.

Last Wednesday was an unbelievably horrible day for all of us.  Mama got a phone call in the pre-dawn hours that Dad had fallen in the night and hit his head, splitting it open above his eyebrow and had been transported via ambulance to the ER for 5 stitches and a CT scan.


Dad 5-13-15 (1)

This is what Mama and I found when we got to the home.  He was back in his familiar chair with the blackest eye I've ever seen in my life!  

Dad was a former Golden Gloves champion boxer and once met Rocky Marciano, so when I told him it looked like he and Rocky had really gone at it in the ring, he smiled.

Considering everything, Dad was alert and in good spirits and more lucid than he sometimes is.  It made me so sad to see him like that, and I told him I was so sorry he was hurt.  He patted my arm and sweetly said, "God has a plan.  We don't know what it is or understand it, but He has a plan.  We have to trust him."

As we were leaving, the nurse assured us that they were getting a walker for him to help him keep his balance.  Already unsteady and now with only one functioning eye, he was noticeably wobblier than normal.  

Little did we know that just a few hours later, soon after dinner, Mama got another phone call from the home.  Dad had fallen again, this time backwards, hitting his head on the wooden part of the sofa and taken back to ER with another injury to the back of his head.


Dad 5-13-15 in ER

When we arrived at the hospital, Dad was in bed with 6 new staples in the back of his head, awaiting another CT scan.  They had to move him out of an ER room, as he kept getting out of bed, and instead put him in the hallway just outside the nurses' station so they could keep a close eye on him.  Mama is standing there to help keep him from swinging his legs over the side.

After a few hours in ER, the doctor reported that there was some bleeding in his brain and they would keep him overnight for observation and further testing.  

They also asked Mama about their end-of-life will and "Do Not Resuscitate" orders. Not a fun topic to think about or discuss, but it imprinted upon me the seriousness of his condition.  They indicated if he were 40 years old, there would be other treatment options.  At 83, it was a wait-and-see situation as he could not undergo anything drastic.

Thursday morning, Mama and I headed back up to the hospital to find Dad restrained in bed. We were not surprised and certainly understand the necessity, as another head trauma could be fatal.  But it's still hard to see your Dad tied down to a bed, straining with every ounce of strength he had to get loose.

As Mama and I walked into his room, Dad was more lucid than he's been in awhile.  "Lois," he said, "Go get some scissors."  He doesn't often call anyone by name, although I feel sure he knows Mama every time we go.  But he was pulling at those wrist restraints and it's really a wonder he didn't really break them.  He's still strong as an ox!  His male nurse told me Dad grabbed him hard on the arm and left white marks...he was shocked at his strength!

We didn't stay too long at the hospital, as our presence seemed to make Dad even more agitated and struggling harder to get up, begging us to help him. When we heard his CT scan seemed to show a bit of improvement in the brain bleeding and that he may be released back to the home that evening, Mama and I left.  We were doing more harm than good by being there.


Dad 5-17-15 (4)

Dad 5-17-15


Mama and I stopped by to see him yesterday.  His head wounds are healing, but he is very groggy (I'm sure much of it is pain medication) and pretty unresponsive to us, saying only a couple of words.  He did kiss Mama and ate a huge meal, very slowly and with great difficulty, but he managed to finish it off.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of a bad dream, that I will wake up and realize none of this is real.  But most times I know, in my heart of hearts, how very real it is and how 57 years later I sadly find myself on the opposite side...

...of a cruel role reversal.



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