How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tried to Write About Abu Dhabi.............Failed.

My new laptop for Abu Dhabi arrived today. Jim is “playing” (aka loading programs) with it in the dining room. I might be able to take the new HP for a spin around Thursday..

I just unpacked half of my teaching materials out of one of my Abu Dhabi bound bags. I started thinking about it the other day and I realized when I started teaching years ago, I walked into my first classroom with just myself and my brain. I don’t need a bunch of crap in order to teach. That comes from within me, not from any of my fancy, overpriced teaching materials.

Okay, okay, I am trying to keep this entry focused on Abu Dhabi and my excitement and my preparations for my trip, but my thoughts keep straying to my dad. I want to write about the many interesting facts about Abu Dhabi that I have learned lately. I want to be pulling at the reins over my soon-to-be grand adventure..  but I can’t. I will try again next week.

Right now this is all I can think about:

 After spending the night with mom and dad last night, I spent the day with dad while mom attended to a dental appointment out of town. Dad alternated between crying, getting snappy with me (and then immediately apologizing) and just wanting to talk. He watered grass, listened to music, he and I went for a walk, and we picked up limbs in the yard. He really wanted to talk today about the five days he spent at the V.A. He is traumatized by his stay there. Regardless of whether he is traumatized by what he perceived to be real, what was real, or a combination of the two is irrelevant at this point. I believe this particular V.A hospital was, and is, not equipped to deal with dad’s, or any other veteran’s Alzheimer’s disease,  if the “care” my dad was given is any indication.They had no idea how to handle a patient with my dad's stage Alzheimer's, as is evidenced by the conversations I had with the nurses while dad was there. Every time I phoned they would tell me how violent he was, how he paced, how he was aggressive, how he refused his medications.. Aren't they supposed to be the health care professionals? Aren't they supposed to be trained on how to respond to these issues? That's why we left him in their care.

Dad told me he refused to take his meds because all the other men on the unit just sat lined up in chairs like zombie dolls and he thought the staff was drugging them. He didn’t want to be drugged into a stupor, so he wouldn’t take ANY of his meds. There is one man who worked the ward that dad keeps talking about. The man was an orderly, I think. Dad keeps saying how mean the man was, how he would cuss him and the others ("Get your ass in there!"), how he would jerk the men around by their arms. Dad is furious at this man. We were watching “The Biggest Loser” last night and all of a sudden dad sat up on the end of his chair and started gesturing towards the television and getting angry. He kept insisting that the man from the V.A was on the program. I ended up having to turn the channel.  Dad has described this individual to me several times and the description is always the same. And the man on “The Biggest Loser” did resemble those descriptions. Is this man real or a delusion?

Dad has also described two women who were kind to him. He told me they sat and talked with him. He said they worked there. Dad’s speech is so bad that unless you really listen to him and give him time to find his words, he will make absolutely no sense. I believe most of the staff at the V.A was not exhibiting much patience with him because of his inability to communicate clearly, which merely compounded the issues.

He has bruises on both of his arms and a place above his left eye where it looks like he was struck or fell against an object. No one said anything to us about any injuries the five days we were phoning four and five times a day to check on him.   They told us he was physically violent (we have never had a problem with his being physical), they told us he was refusing his meds (but why were they not attempting to crush his tablets, especially his very necessary high blood pressure pills, into his drinks or food?), and why were his injuries not reported to us on at least once during our many phone calls? Are they noted in his chart?  When we checked him in to the V.A we were told it wasn’t a good idea to visit for at least two weeks in order for him to become "adjusted". I wasn’t comfortable with that and neither was mom, but they’re the professionals, right? We told the various staff over and over again before his admittance and during his time there, that he was only going to be in the V.A for a short time for respite care, but every time we phoned, the staff made statements about how he would be okay in a few weeks (he wasn’t going to be there for a few weeks..) and other comments that sent up warning bells that made it seem as if no one was checking his chart or even knew that much about him. According to my dad, he saw a doctor only one time on Thursday when a doctor came in to sedate him.  My mom can demand a copy of his medical chart so we are able to verify or dispute this, but what about the other occurrences dad claimed happened?

What is real and what is delusion? How do I tell the difference?  How do I protect him when I don't know if I am protecting him from himself or real dangers?

What happened to my dad at the V.A? I guess we’ll never really know. I just know he won’t go there ever again. Mom will hire in home assistance to help her manage. We have several good leads on reputable caregivers. If, and when, he becomes unmanageable, we will locate a nursing center we all trust and feel good about.

Mom and I placed our faith and trust in the V.A. My dad proudly served his country for twenty-three years and is a Vietnam vet. We thought he would be taken care of at the V.A Hospital. The fact is that something happened. I don't know what it was, but it has left my dad a sobbing shell.

 I have a lot of questions and I want answers.  My dad has been irreversibly damaged by the entire experience.

I am very angry and have little patience with anyone other than my mom and dad. My husband is my Rock of Gibraltar.  Without him to refresh my strength, I'd be a puddle of simpering jelly.

Next week I write about Abu Dhabi.. I promise.


  1. I urge you to make a complaint against the VA hospital where your dad was placed. Write everything down, if you remember names of those you or your mom spoke with, doctors treating him, dates and times of conversations, etc. Everything, no mater how small, should be documented. Who instigated this stay? How was the stay arranged? File a complaint with the Office of Inspector General with the VA. I'm sure there is a chain of command but they should be able to direct you. Request copies of your dad's records during his stay.
    There is absolutely no reason any person should have to endure such agony.

  2. Teri - my heart breaks for you, and for your dad. And on a personal level, this has me scared crapless. My father's oldest brother has been diagnosed with dementia, and they are using VA care. I am sure she's already experiencing much of this same thing.... It is a complete utter shame that the healthcare for our current servicemembers and our vets is in such sorry shape.