I’ve had some funny (and not so funny) experiences involving Grandpa and his health issues. When he first came home from the nursing facility, he would challenge all of us concerning his care. “How do you know, are you the doctor?” he would say rather rudely. A lot of his complaints were solved by just using common sense, but in his childish way, Grandpa would try to push the limit.There was no way we could let him do some of the things he wanted to do.
The initial challenges we encountered were mainly over his desire to walk anywhere he wanted without anyone holding onto his safety belt. Grandpa is way past the ability to walk on his own all over the house, and although he rarely gets dizzy, he could fall over backwards which is common for people with Parkinson’s.
He had fallen a number of times in the nursing facility and after reading about non-restraint nursing facilities (I will not use the word “home” in the same context anymore) it is obvious, they did not use enough safety precautions with Grandpa. On the other hand, someone would have to be with him all the time and that just isn’t realistic. They would have been hard pressed to keep up with him because he is a very determined individual, especially when he wants his own way. It would have been nice if our family had been notified that he was beyond their care, but that’s not the status quo. They just wait for them to break a hip, end up in the hospital, and die.
After he had been home for sometime, Grandpa’s health began to improve and we were told by the visiting nurse that he could try to walk around the house unaided – but she didn’t mean unattended. Somebody always had to be there to walk alongside him. Anytime he tried to convince us that he could walk from one room to another all by himself, we would say, “Debbie said no, Grandpa!”
The second area of disagreement was over his bed railing. Grandpa tried every possible way he could think of to try and get us to put the safety rail down, but we wouldn’t give in to his demands. With a hardwood floor in his bedroom, there was no way we were going to leave him unattended. That’s because Grandpa was sneaky. There were times when we would catch him trying to get up on his walker alone or find him standing at the bathroom sink, trying to shave (great broken hip material). But, Grandpa wasn’t always in his right mind because of a medicine issue, so besides the rail being physically constraining, it became psychologically confining as well.
Benzatrophine, a Parkinson’s drug that Grandpa should only have been on a short time – and wasn’t – was causing him dementia symptoms. He became paranoid and claustrophobic about going to bed. Early one morning around 3:00 a.m., Eric awoke to the sound of a feeble plea. “Help!” “Help!” It was Grandpa calling out into the night in his raspy little Parkinson’s voice. Eric groggily arose and made his way to Grandpa’s room where he found him lying across the bed with his leg stuck through the railing.
“Grandpa, what the heck are you doing?” Eric asked.
“Trying to go to the bathroom.” Grandpa replied.
“You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself.” Eric said.
Eric freed him, changed him, and put him back to bed. I felt bad for Grandpa (and Eric), but there was nothing we could do. We reminded Grandpa that the doctor said he was to have the railing up at all times. Once Grandpa was taken off the Benzatrophine, his mind cleared up, and so did a lot of the bedtime baloney episodes (I say that respectfully), and he hasn’t mentioned the railing bothering him for months.
There have been other issues we’ve had to deal with such as Grandpa wanting Benadryl every six hours to clear up the drooling which became more pronounced when he was taken off of the Benzatrophine (I can see how some people get hooked on hardcore drugs. Grandpa was ready to kill for it).
“No Grandpa, you cannot have Benadryl that much,” I told him not so gently because these were doctor’s orders, and he knew it. “The doctor said you can have a 24-hour allergy medicine, but not the Benadryl.”
“Are you the doctor?” he said.
“Yes, I’m Doctor Mom!” I stated emphatically.
But Grandpa wasn’t convinced. He even challenged the real doctor on this one. “Well, those doctors are not always right, either,” he said.
“Oh, now the doctor isn’t even the final authority,” I said. “Listen dad, the buck stops here! That’s what the doctor prescribed, and that’s the way it’s going to be!”
He gave me a disgusted look and finally backed down.
Over the months, “Doctor Mom” has served him well, nipping most of his illnesses in the bud so he doesn’t end up staying in the hospital or worse. Last month it was a urinary tract infection, this month an impacted bowel. No, I haven’t received a doctor’s degree from one of those reputable institutions like Harvard, but I have received a tried-and-true education from “The School of Life.”
Being older myself – a little over the middling mark of a century – I’ve encountered a lot of health issues with either family, extended family or myself, so when Grandpa tries his 90-year-old “one-upmanship” on me, I remind him, “Yes, I’m Doctor Mom!” Finally, he seems to be accepting my authority in his life to make health decisions that are in his best interest. And that’s why he barely put up a fight this weekend when I said, “You’re going to the emergency room.”
“No!” Grandpa grimaced, as he clutched the trapeze bar above his bed. He was having another spasm in his rectum.
“This isn’t normal,” I told him.
“You’re right,” he admitted.
“Well, I’m not staying there.”
“I’ll stay with you, dad, wherever you go.”
It turned out he had an impacted bowel. Something Doctor Mom knew nothing about, but does now.
On the way out of the hospital, one of the nurses said goodbye and added that she was glad we didn’t have to stay overnight. She’s not the only one! Five hours later we were all gathered around the kitchen table eating dinner as if nothing has happened. I know one thing, Doctor Mom is grateful to God that He continues to help her make the right decisions concerning Grandpa’s health.
So remember this, if your parent has Parkinson’s and is partial to too much turkey and side dishes on Thanksgiving, make sure they drink a lot of water and get some exercise walking around the house – aided of course – or they may be struck with a very sluggish colon and the complications, thereof.
I still think my sister stuffed the turkey with a brick, but Grandpa keeps saying, it’s the best Thanksgiving meal he’s ever had.