Another Stage

When Mom started hitting, kicking and biting, Dad was shocked.  I explained to him this was all part of the disease; that it was actually a common behavior; that it wasn't MOM.  He was acutely aware of his plight at that point, and he understood his diagnosis.  He watched Mom go through various stages of decline as she succumbed to dementia, and he was fully cognizant of the fact he was witnessing a dress rehearsal for his own demise.  So one day when Mom kicked me and tried to bite my arm for the umpteenth time, Dad suddenly turned to me with a stricken look on his face and very quietly asked, "I won't ever do that, will I?"  I can only imagine the horror, fear and helplessness he must have felt – it broke my heart then and  it breaks my heart now.  I assured him he would never try to hurt me or anyone else like Mom had.  He looked doubtful, but he so desperately wanted to believe me that I think he actually did.  I wanted to believe me, too.    

He is now hitting and kicking the caregivers where he lives.  He hasn't gotten to me or my sisters yet, but I imagine it's only a matter of time.  I wonder if this new development follows any sort of typical timeline.  Mom became combative in September of 2005 and didn't die until February of 2009.  Do you suppose this means Dad will live another 3½ years?  Probably not.  At least, I hope not.  The thought of him suffering another 3½ years is more than I can bear.

The next step, of course, is to contact his doctor to see if we can get Dad some anti-anxiety medication.  It worked pretty well for Mom in terms of ending the behavior  though it definitely ushered in the start of the zombie stage.  That sounds harsh, doesn't it?  Maybe it is.  But it has been my experience that being a zombie appears to be infinitely less terrifying than being confused, angry, and tormented by everything and everyone around you because none of it makes sense.

I know this type of medication will result in Dad being even more unsteady on his feet than he already is, and I know he'll fall even more often than he already does. But giving him no relief at all is not an option – unless you're a cold, heartless bitch. So the doctor will prescribe something, eventually we'll get the dosage right, and inevitably he will fall.  If the fall should only injure him  if he breaks a hip – then undoubtedly he will end up being wheelchair-bound or bedridden.  If the fall should kill him – well, what if it does?

I try to picture my dad walking and talking and laughing.  I try to imagine what he would say to me if he could.  I try to remember what he was like when he was still himself.

I can't.

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