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Beyond the Lone Islands

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Long Road (Wonderland II)



Gee but it's great to be back home,
Home is where I want to be.
I've been on the road so long my friend,
And if you came along
I know you couldn't disagree. ♫
And I'm sooo tired,
I'm oh oh oh so tired… ♫
Paul Simon, Keep the Customer Satisfied

There really is a Paul Simon quote for every occasion.
Well, at least if you twist it just a little bit out of context ;) …


No, this is not where I live. And I’m grateful.

I decided to take a walk through this residential area after having been to visit my dad in the short-stay nursing home where he has now spent a month. (A month?!) (The nursing home is not quite in this area either, but close to it.)

It was probably almost 20 years since I last walked this way. Back then, I had friends living there. I realized as I walked there now that I had forgotten quite how large that whole suburb part of town really is. And how much everything looks alike. (From the main road passing by one really does not see half of it.)

Suburb watercolour painting by Lars Lerin

The long walk, however, is not really why I felt “oh oh oh so tired” when I got back. (I did not walk the whole way home, I took the bus part of the way.)

The reason I was at the nursing home was a meeting with a lot of people to discuss the future living arrangements for my dad. The lot of people included at least three from the nursing home + the municipality assistance evaluator + district nurse + me + dad.

All very nice people, I’m sure, but considering that dad sort of lives in his own Wonderland these days (i.e. a place where normal rules do not quite apply) I was not sure how he might react to the idea of not returning home to live but being sent somewhere else.

I’m still not sure. He did not protest but I’m also not really sure how much of it he took in.

The result of the meeting was that he will remain at the short-stay place for another month. In September there will hopefully be a place at a nursing home unit for elderly people with dementia in the village where he grew up and then also lived the past 18 years.

There is one Crux though. For mysterious reasons there still seems to be a lack of formal “evidence” that he in fact suffers from dementia. (Without which he cannot be offered a place at that unit.) Even though everyone in that room knew it to be so, they said there was no official record of where the diagnosis came from. (Although I do know where it comes from, and I’ve told a lot of people that along the way.)

It also seems no one during all this time has thought of doing a certain test that is commonly used to prove it (MMSE = mini mental state examination – I know the gist of it since the years I worked as a medical secretary). Apparently this test has to be done by a specialist nurse to be valid. And the specialist nurse is (of course) on vacation just now. So they’ll try to find another specialist nurse to do it as soon as possible.


In the meantime, while the evaluator asked dad questions like if he himself thought that he would be able to go back home to live – and dad answered that he’d like to think that he could… (actually with sort of a glimpse of his old self shining through in a bit of irony) … I decided to instead ask him (in the presence of the whole lot of people) if he could tell them where exactly it was that he had been living before he had to go into the hospital five weeks ago? He could not. He named a completely different village where he has never lived. (And he does not remember the going into hospital part either.)

It really is “oh oh oh” so difficult to try and understand which paths he’s walking in his mind.

Earlier, before the whole lot of people arrived, he asked me if I had any contact with --- these days. A name I did not recognize at all. When I did not understand, he added: “You know. Your mum.” (The name he mentioned started with the same initial as mum’s, but that’s all.) And then, with sudden hesitation: “Or is she still alive…”

And I had to tell him again, that no… So sorry, but mum died last year. Also tried to remind him of the fact that it was he himself who used his security alarm to call for help when she had a stroke one evening at home, but that she died shortly after arriving in hospital. I guess to him… having a very fuzzy memory indeed now of the past few years… it must seem that she just sort of disappeared… Perhaps gradually. Like the Chesire cat.

That, and more, is why I felt ”sooo tired - oh oh oh so tired” - when I got back home to my own home (which luckily does not feel as gloomy to me as that residential area in pictures above).

Before I allowed myself to lie down and rest, though, I decided to dig through a pile of papers in search of one I knew must be there, somewhere... I found it. The Evidence. A copy of dad’s release form from two weeks evaluation at the Neurology ward two years ago. It clearly states one of his diagnoses back then to be beginning vascular dementia. (What was beginning then, has grown since.) I phoned the district nurse, and I’m sending her a copy of it.


"What do you know about this business?" the King said to Alice.

"Nothing," said Alice.

"Nothing whatever?" persisted the King.

"Nothing whatever," said Alice.

"That's very important," the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: "Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course," he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.

"Unimportant, of course, I meant," the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, "important -- unimportant -- important -- -" as if he were trying which word sounded best.

Some of the jury wrote it down "important," and some "unimportant." Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; "but doesn't matter a bit," she thought to herself.

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, called out "Silence!" and read out from his book, "Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court."

Everybody looked at Alice.

Alice in Wonderland Ch 12 – Alice's Evidence


Don said...

Ahhh... so sorry about your dad's worsening condition. He's blessed to have you in his corner helping him navigate the medical system.

Long roads...

"...His mercies are new every morning..."

"No temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, and God will, with the temptation, make a way of escape for you to bear up under it."

"Each day has enough trouble of its own."

"My grace is sufficient for you."

"Comfort one another with the comfort wherewith you have been comforted."

These are some verses that God used to enable me to walk a long road.

"And may the God of all comfort, comfort you in all your tribulation..."

Ginny said...

Oh, my, I'm so sorry you are going through this. You and your dad both kind of trapped in Wonderland. I know, I went through this with my grandma, who raised me. She would list off relatives names and ask me if they were dead or alive. When I found her last journal after her death, it broke my heart, and to this day is locked in my mind. She had written in it with lipstick, and the things she had written showed so much pain and confusion. God watches over even the sparrows, so he knows your dad, and he knew my grandma. Their names are written on the palms of his hands, he forgets no one.

Sandra said...

there are two photos on this one, first and last that are white box red x

DawnTreader said...

I don't understand what happened to the photos. They were there earlier today. Now they're not. Must be some Blogger/ Picasa problem? I'm at the wrong computer again just now. I'll try to sort it out later at the one where I have the originals.

DawnTreader said...

Curioser and curioser. The photos showed up just as they should on in Windows 7. But not on the old computer. I made the "lost ones" a little smaller and now they do turn up again on the old computer as well. I and just hope that it works for "you people out there" as well...

DawnTreader said...

... and 'ouch' what a lot of typing errors sneaked into that previous comment... hope you got my meaning anyway...

GB said...

You have my sympathy. There is something frustrating in every aspect of this saga: for your Dad (who is the one person who may not actually be able to recognise that frustration), for you because of what you feel for your Dad and his situation and for those of your friends who can do so little to help. We can only be here. We cannot even be there.


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