My father is only 69 , but he has multiple medical problems and worst of all he has dementia. Dementia, such a cruel disease. Reality slowly slips away and his world becomes smaller and smaller. He has been hospitalized multiple times over the last several years and I realize his health is frail. My mother is older than my father but in better health.
So I was unprepared when I got the call from my mother's neighbor that she was having chest pain and they were taking her to the hospital via rescue. I just never expected it. I think it was probably partially protective since I try not to think about what would happen with my father if she was not there. But, now I had to think about it. I drove several hours that night to get to my parent's house so my dad would not be left alone. It really is not even that- he cannot be left alone. When I drove up he had every light on in the house and he was walking outside waiting for me. He looked so lost and frail that it was all I could do to not break down crying when I saw him. He told me he was out there because he was waiting to see the headlights on my car. The first thing he wanted to know was where my mother was as he could not remember where she was.
My mother was moved to a larger hospital because her local hospital could not perform the tests she needed. At 6:30am the next morning my father began asking me when we were going to see her and what they were doing with her. I told him the same answer about 20 times, just like I do with TT when she asks me the same question over and over again. He lets his cat in and out about 30 times a day. He lets her out the front door and then lets her in the back door ten minutes later. If she doesn't come in then he is out there looking for her. He forgets what to do with his pills in the middle of taking them. He cannot change the channel on the tv with a remote control. He cannot remember how to turn the shower on. This is a small glimpse of what my mother lives with every day.
My mother was in the hospital for 3 days and honestly it felt like I was there for a week with him. The same questions over and over, the frustration that he has that he cannot remember. Unprepared for my mom's illness and unprepared for the reality of living with dementia. Both of them left me in tears.