PB, I don't really post a ton in other people's journals, but please know that I keep up with yours and really, really hope for the best for you and your dad. I can't imagine going through all this (on either side), and next time I get to hang out with my mom I'm going to hug her a little tighter because of your story.
Yesterday was the first day that he didn't have a hearty appetite. I could only get him to eat a few bites of yoghurt and banana for breakfast, two bites of a larabar for lunch and no dinner. This morning he said he wanted scrambled egged but only ate a few bites. He kept falling asleep in mid bite and I was afraid he might choke on the food. He's sleeping now.
It's so sad to see him so confused and befuddled in the mind. Physical decline is kind of expected as one gets up there in years and it is something you can deal with in some way, you can "make it better" like by propping him up on pillows to make it easier to breathe.
To watch a fine mind turning to oatmeal however is just the saddest thing. This is a man who was an electrical engineer. He put the wiring systems on rockets that went to the moon. (seriously, he did) Now he can't find the bathroom.
I think you handled the visions well.
One of the things that I'm observing in your story about his visions is how caring he is. I think that his whole life must have been spent really striving to do right by people, to warn them of tigers and protect them in any way that he could. He would probably even debate within himself how best to go about it without offending the powerful man, while also striving to help and protect him.
I'll try to find the article that I read by a psychiatrist who is studying dementia and past knowledge of the person in psychiatric care. What they discover is that the person's "normal" personality quirks, fears and anxieties, all of their positive and negative attributes come right to the surface. Most of the bad we are able to control/hide, and our fears/anxieties we manage as well. Our quirks come out anyway. Our good is what we are socialized to emphasize.
But the article asserted that a lot of people have a lot of unresolved anxiety/fear -- that's just deeply repressed -- and that when we have dementia, the real extent of that repression comes to the fore. But, he noted that with people who have worked through most of their "stuff" -- they tend to be really "more themselves" in dementia than not.
Yes, they still have episodes of fear/anxiety due to disorientation, drugs, etc . . . but their day-to-day stuff (delusions, and so on) will tend to show "who they really are" if they have worked through the deep-seated anxieties.
For example, GMIL has got to be the sweetest pie person in her ward. All of the nurses and care people say so. She's very relaxed and easy going. she has a good sense of humor. She's fine to reintroduce herself to people every day -- and have them reintroduce themselves.
She had some trouble because she fell out of bed a few times a couple of weeks ago (they had the wrong kind of mattress for her), and as such she was on pain medications and had some scary hallucinations (common with that medication), but thankfully didn't break anything. So. she was a bit scratchy due to the pain and the medication, but once she was basically off the pain meds, she was back to normal.
There's a man in the ward, too. They seem to be friends/like each other a lot. They reintroduce themselves every 3rd or 4th day. He gets really protective of her in his dementia. He'll see things (bears and boars mostly), and he'll go tearing toward GMIL's room to make sure that she's safe from them.
I sort of see your Dad's hallucination that way. He's trying to protect strangers (which is very noble), and he'll also make sure that you're safe too (probably the concern around the tigers in the house).
The benefit, overall, is that you can see from this that he's really lived a good life. He's dealt with whatever painful things life has thrown at him, because he's not acting out aggressively in these episodes (which is what my grandmother does. when she's in a bad way with her dementia, she's paranoid and aggressive). He's mostly concerned for the safely of others.
It's a generosity of spirit, that.
PB how lovely that your dads friend shared his feeling with you. So often only the family get to hear those memories after a person has passed away, please share that memory with your dad in his lucid time so he knows that his friend loves him.
You have such a hard road to travel with your dads illness and I think of you often and can't imagine how you are coping as well as you seem to be.
Love and light
Hey Paleobird -
still lurking here, and still in awe of your relationship (you and Dad). It constantly reminds me of what a whole, healthy family should look like. Hugs to both of you. And how much fermented foodstuff did you end up with when Betorq headed home? I grinned when I read about your kitchen smelling of fermented GARLIC (I adore, adore, adore garlic). Just wondering if the both of you have eaten all of it already.
Yes, Betorq left me with more sauerkraut and pickled garlic than I will be able to eat in my lifetime. The above mentioned honorary Uncle is Armenian and a real garlic fan so I have been giving him some jars. He just chomps thought garlic like popcorn (maybe one of the reasons he's so healthy at 82).
Dad is really winding down quickly. He hasn't eaten more than a couple of bites for two days. I have been making him protein shakes and manage to get him to take a few sips but that is about it. I think his body knows on some level and is just running the systems shutdown program right now. It's hard to watch.
Your dad is eating poorly? Damn.
I was thinking of you, actually, before this. I just got a phone call from my best friend - her breast biopsy came back positive. Hers isn't advanced (she caught it at the earliest possible stage, from mammography), is milk duct and not tissue, and seems to have excellent outcomes, so she isn't scared witless, even tho she had a good hard cry and is now in "Let's deal with this NOW" mode. But still.
Sigh. Humans should actually live 200 years like Vulcans... it takes us so long to get wise, and just as we get there, we get no time to hang out and really use and pass on our hard-won knowledge. Ptooey.