Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dumping Them, Ignoring Them, Just Flush 'Em Away!

APR & Princess Sadie
It should be noted that not everyone who has Alzheimer's Disease is like my father, who is mild mannered, well behaved, and very much not violent.  He has his moments when he is terribly naughty, and can lose it when we're not home, and he's sundowning late in the afternoon, but it doesn't happen often. I have a friend whose father turned violent.  That's a completely different story.
I'm not a football fan.  This said, I'd never heard of Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos until the other day, when news that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  Like Ronald Reagan, Glen Campbell, and many other sufferers of the disease, he's going to be tossed aside.  He has kept his disease private - read his family is too ashamed of him to let the truth come out.

Nothing is worse for a person inflicted with the disease than to be tossed aside and not allowed to go about their day, as much as possible.  I heard one of the officials from the Broncos say how much he going to  miss seeing Bowlen come into the office.  That is what is so disturbing, and is the norm for high profile individuals who have the disease.  Lock 'em up and don't let them be seen, ever again, just like the Reagan family did with the former president.  What they did with him was deplorable, setting the pattern for everyone else.  The moment impairment begins, the person who has the disease is to be shunned, locked up in what is little more than a kennel, ignored and forgotten by their family and society.  They are to be degraded, treated with no respect, and generally have the medical community strip them of their dignity and their humanity.

I've seen it first hand with my father.  Every medical individual we encounter always asks what our plans are.  When are we going to do something 'with' him, like he is a rabid dog, to be locked up, then put our of our misery. No matter that aside from the fact that he's like a naughty three year old, most of the time, he's still a very viable human, who loves going out, dining in restaurants (where his manners are excellent). He likes company, visiting, and loves his dog and his cats.  He has a comfortable home with his cowboy books right at hand.  Sure, he steals everyone's glasses, and puts his dirty laundry in my mother's various drawers, but he still has his dignity.  He wants to get up and get dressed, in a suit and tie, every day - thereby driving my mother crazy.  So what if he doesn't make it to the toilet on time.  We've solved that problem with Depends.

The thought of putting him in some home, where he would be neglected, ignored, and allowed to fall, break a hip and die a few days later is disgusting, but that is what happens, more often than not.  The other day, we were heading to a doctor's appointment.  My father was having difficulty getting out of the car.  He said he was going to move his right foot first.  I mentioned if he were stuck in an old fart day care they'd have him singing the Hokey Pokey like they would in day care.  He was not amused.  Neither was I, at the thought of something like that.

I read somewhere that Glen Campbell's friends would visit, and find him in a group setting with other people with families who don't give a damn about then, singing nursery songs.  That is disgusting.  The man should be allowed to be in his home, with dignity.  The thought of doing something like that to my father makes me furious.

Sure, my mother was threatening to shoot him the other evening when she found his dirty laundry in her nightstand drawers, but she doesn't have any bullets for a gun that is hidden some where.  It's an idol threat to express her absolute annoyance.  But, that's life.  To put him away in some kennel, to die, because of things like that is disgusting.

I feel sorry for Pat Bowlen.  It's too bad his family doesn't love him enough to let him coast into the final stages of AD with dignity, doing what he loved most, or pretending that he does.  What they have done to him harms everyone who is suffering from the disease.  People who are seriously mentally ill are allowed to be in society.  People who have Downs are mainstreamed.  Why the heck can't those who have AD be treated with the same amount of humanity?

The photo of my father and Princess Sadie were taken a few weeks ago.  Why on earth would you lock him up and rob him of his dignity?

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dignity, Always Dignity

APR's 90th Fourth of July!
 Do you know what a person with Stage 6 Alzheimer's Disease looks like?  Maybe you don't.  By the time a person has reached Stage 6, they've probably been put in a kennel, and left to die.  This is how my 90 year old father, who is Stage 6, celebrated the 4th of July.  You'll note the lemonade, the watermelon, which he was allowed to eat on the counter, and then he had a hotdog chaser. 

My mother called around 12:30AM on Saturday, to tell me he was up, fixing himself a huge bowl of watermelon.  He took it back to the bedroom, and ate it in bed, watching an old movie.  (Oh, don't get me wrong, he's making me crazy.  I'm tired.  When I'm tired I have that disgusting grown-up child's tendency to bring up all past offenses done to me by my father.  The list can fill maybe 10 lines - FYI).

On the Fourth of July, my mother received a visit from a a substitute nurse from the local home health care. By the time the woman left, my mother's heart rate was up around 179.  She was in a panic, having a panic attack, and absolutely terrified.  The woman told her that she had congestive heart failure, and could drop dead at any moment from it. Never mind, a few months earlier, her cardiologist told her that he was not as concerned about congestive heart failure as he was the fact that she could go into a coma from a major blood sugar drop, and never wake up - because she doesn't eat or take care of herself.

None of that mattered.  She was in a total panic.  The the women grilled her about her end of life plans.  When she dies before my father, what then?  Did she have a directive allowing physicians to do what they thought best?  My mother's answer - do you think I'm a fool?  She said absolutely not, then told her that her two daughter had joint POA and joint medical directives for both she and my father.  What were her plans for the disposition of my father, if she can't care for him. Oh, and did she know that you don't leave someone with AD alone?  I can't believe she did ask the woman if she looked that stupid.

My mother ends up in bed, sucking oxygen, in a total panic attack.  My sister calls, a third time, telling her she's had the same heart condition since we were in high school, so why go into a panic?  After that, she settled down, got a grip, and the heart-rate slowed, back to normal.

People who are no longer young, no longer in perfect health and are no longer 'viable' to society, are increasingly treated like dirt.  If that person has AD, it is even worse.  For some strange reason, those suffering from AD are allowed even less dignity than other seniors.  I've spent some time with my father, this week.  Sure, he's dotty.  He's Stage 6.  But, if you take away the sundowning, the constant discussion about long-dead family, and some odd business rumblings, if you did not know he had AD, well, you'd just think he's a little senile. Why would we even think about putting him in some sort of institution where he is treated like a child?

Today, I screwed up one of my mother's yard chairs.  He fixed it.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Peanuts and Prayer

Photo Taken Today
A friend once mentioned to me that his former minister had developed AD. He said the man's mouth was foul, spewing profanity, obscenities, and was basically a dirty old man out of control. He said something that another family friend, a physician, once told my mother. When a person becomes a certain age, they can no longer hid who and what they were. Their real personality comes shining through, no matter what that person once pretended to be.

 My grandfather Froehlich, who was a mover and a shaker, very much a self-made man and leader, was known in life to some times have a short temper - when dealing with a recalcitrant cow who did not want to either get into a truck or leave one. While he never uttered profanity, it was rather humorous "dang blasted screw ball cow" and his version of sh*t was papa cow excreta. As he approached 90, he had a series of TIA strokes that eventually lead to short-term memory loss and then dementia. He became a little cantankerous at times, but was always quite gentle. As he was presented with more and more great-grandchildren, he adored them. Every day of their married life, nearly 65 years, my grandfather always went out early in the morning to get a flower, usually a hibiscus, and put it beside my grandmother's plate. He continued to do this up until the very end.

My mother has been in ICU and the hospital for the past few days. I ended up 'baby-sitting' for my father, who is in Stage 6 with his AD yesterday. Last Friday, when I was down at the house, for a party, he was like living with Cliff Clavin from Cheers. He constantly chattered, to the point where my mother was almost insane. She begged him to stop for just five minutes. He stopped for five seconds. Because of that, I was dreading today.

But - interestingly enough, and this is something we are going to need to keep track of, he has been quite, just wonderfully behaved while she's been in the hospital. Aside from the possibility that he is doing his best to be naughty around her, something else was quite evident. We've noticed before, how he always wants to pray, to discuss going to church.

 This evening, he prayed before the meal I 'prepared'. Then, when Maggie came in (she's staying with him tonight), he wanted to pray, again. She said, the other day, she thought he had fallen. He was on his knees, praying. He's 90 now. I guess we know what the real person is. Oh, sure, I'm ticked with him over the usual daughter -father things, that we always hold against our parents, into infinity and beyond, but that's just part of life. It tells us who and what he really is.

While I was preparing this, I was looking through used images for a 'featured image'. Up came all these so-called godly men, you know the ones who have mega churches, cults, million dollar donors, and are the godly men who have been forced to step down from their organizations because of sexual abuse, pedophilia, or defending pedophiles. I look at my father and realize this is what a truly godly man looks like.

 FYI: The photo was taken on Tuesday. Princess Sadie is attempting to beg yet more peanuts from him. He keeps 'forgetting' that she's not to have them - yet he remembered she couldn't have chocolate. The peanut jar is barely seen in on the lower left. The lid, was closed at the time.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead