For this week’s post I am departing from the norm and am writing about what’s consumed my thinking this week: my dad’s crazy health scare. If you are looking for a communication connection, please hang with me until the end. You’ll be glad you did.
The emotional roller coaster began eight days ago when my 75-year-old dad woke up from a routine surgery in a confused and agitated state. I know this can be normal for some people and had happened to a lesser degree with my dad during a previous procedure. I’m not looking for comfort or reassurance. What I am looking for, however, is some kind of connection. My mind typically wanders into exploring connections between all kinds of ideas, oddities, etc., and perhaps doing so brings me comfort.
Anyway, as the week progressed my dad was in and out of a confused state, at times thinking the hospital was an apartment building where he and mom were looking to move. At other times dad was having angry conversations with people, some he had known and some who were total strangers. During one of his more lucid moments this week he said he knew everything going on in reality but was also having “crazy dreams” about people who had been dead for many years. He slept very little this week so these were not sleeping “dreams.”
The scary part is that my dad sounded just like his dad did when he had been suffering from severe dementia for many years. The interesting part, to me, is how he could remember being simultaneously in both worlds: reality and the visions. Since his symptoms mimic dementia, I have cause to wonder how much people who have suffered for years with dementia understand about their present reality. Perhaps they understand more than we think but just can’t communicate what they understand. What makes me sad is how many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are ignored in nursing homes, or at home by frustrated family members.
I asked my mom to write down everything. Who knows? Maybe my dad’s situation and others who have dealt with post-anesthesia confusion could be used to help better understand dementia.
It is situations like dad’s and the lady in this amazing video that show me the importance of keeping the communication flowing with family members suffering from this terrible disease.