Friday, May 31, 2013
Alzheimer's is Winning. It Always Does.
I visited Dad at the V.A today, but for about the first twenty minutes he didn't really know I was there. He was sleeping in the Geri chair in the dining room when I arrived. I tried to wake him, I spoke to him, I hugged him, but he didn't respond much, other than random mumbling.
Maria (one of the nurses) finally got him to wake up, and when he saw me he started crying. He stared at me and tears spilled over onto his cheeks. I hugged him, I kissed him, then I tried to divert his attention with sweet iced tea and Sonic onion rings, but he wouldn't drink or eat more than a few sips and four or five bites.
I told him I was sorry that I hadn't visited, but that I had been sick. He wrinkled his brow and asked,, "You okay...?" I told him I was fine now. He nodded his head and closed his eyes.
Dad dozed off fitfully and I held his hand. Every now and then he would startle awake and call, “Honey?”. I think he thought I was Mom. I would clasp his hand tighter and say, “I’m here”, and he’d settle back down for a few minutes. At one point he opened his eyes and became animated and started trying to tell me something, his eyes wide and red rimmed, desperate, but he couldn't even get a full word out. I could see he was getting frustrated, so I told him, "Dad, it's okay. You've already told me everything I need to know. You've told me everything important, and I remember. I remember everything you told me". This eased him enough so that he started relaxing.
He finally settled down and closed his eyes.
While he slept his body began slipping down in the chair, so two nurses grabbed his arms and pulled him upright. This woke him and upset him a lot. When the nurses walked off, Dad looked at me and said, "Leave me alone", quite plainly. I told him I wouldn't let anyone else bother him and then I just sat and held his hand while he drifted back off to sleep. I placed my head gently on his chest and listened to his heart beat and I breathed in the scent of him. One day soon I know I’ll miss that scent. It is my daddy's scent and no else on earth smells the way he does. It is how I have always identified him. It calms me, it soothes me, it lets me know I am loved.
His body is wasting away. Food no longer holds much interest for him. His arms are so very thin and the skin is stretched over his ribcage. He has no muscle tone left at all. His hands stay curled in on themselves like a baby's. The hair on his arms is sparse and his eyebrows are nearly gone. His teeth appear too large for his mouth. There are angry looking red and purple spots on his forearms. His scalp is dry and flaking. His feet stay swollen like balloons. His eyes are watery and unfocused. His days consist of lying in the Geri chair. He does not respond to television or music. He has no quality of life left at all.
I would give almost anything to have one last conversation with him. A real conversation like he and I used to have. A conversation about life, what's important and what isn't, how he feels, memories of his life. But that conversation will never happen again. It's in the past with so much else.
Dad is being moved to a palliative care floor next week.
I fucking hate Alzheimer's.
Posted by Liti