Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sudden change in personality

 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." -Revelation 21:4

The next day after my dad was released from the hospital, I went to visit him at the assisted living home. I had my daughter with me, and we stopped on the way to pick up a balloon for him, and a card "for grandpa" from her, which she signed, and drew a picture for him on the card.

When we arrived, we found him sitting in a recliner in the activity room, fidgeting with his belt buckle. When he saw us, he looked up but didn't smile, and said something like, "Oh, another good one," then went right back to fidgeting with his belt and appeared to ignore us. My daughter was excited to give him the balloon, but he wasn't interested. I gave him a hug anyway, and then tried to help him with his belt, but he resisted my help. I finally figured out that he must have somehow wound up with another resident's belt, because it was way too small for him and was impossible to buckle. I told him that, but he ignored me and kept trying to buckle it.

I explained to my daughter that he was trying to buckle his belt so that her feelings wouldn't get hurt. He finally gave up on the belt, and I told a worker there later that he had the wrong belt on.

My dad seemed so different from when he had been in the hospital. It was like night and day. He wasn't making eye contact at all, was frowning, and wasn't responding. Then he tried to get up out of the recliner, but couldn't push the foot rest down, so he put his feet underneath it and tried to push it down with his hands. I guided him to lie back in the chair again and manually picked his feet up and put them back on the foot rest, then used the handle on the side to put the foot rest down. It wasn't easy to convince him to do it, but I finally did.

Then I asked one of the workers there if he was able to walk again yet since being back from the hospital, and they said he was very unsteady on his feet and had had a mild fall again that morning, so they didn't recommend letting him stand. Meanwhile, my dad was trying to get up and wouldn't listen to my pleas with him not to stand until I could get someone to help me. At one point, when I was pushing on his shoulders once again with just enough force to stop him from getting up and explaining why he couldn't get up, he said, "Honey... I don't understand." I wasn't sure if he meant that he didn't understand what I was saying, or didn't understand why he couldn't get up, so I tried to explain it to him again, but to no avail. He continued to try getting up.

I asked a nearby worker to go get a wheelchair quick, so she did, and between the two of us, we convinced him to get in the wheelchair, and helped him into it. He finally did settle down some then, so my daughter then tried to give him her card. I had to help him open it, and when it was finally open, he looked at it with no reaction, like it was an object he was trying to figure out, then tried to open a "third page," which of course didn't exist, yet he was determined to open it, nevertheless. My daughter and I both tried to explain that there wasn't a third page, but he wouldn't relent. Finally, I gently slid the card out of his hand and set it down next to me. I didn't bother trying to give him my card, I figured I would try again another day.

Then he started back with trying to get back up again, so I asked him if he would like to go for a ride. He finally relented, and off we went. I took him to his room and parked him near his bed, my daughter following behind with the balloon. I thought if maybe we were away from the other residents, he might focus more on us, but he only thumped at the balloon my daughter was trying to show him with a blank look on his face, then tried to get up out of the wheelchair again. I asked him what he was wanting to do, like maybe go for a walk, or use the bathroom, or get into bed, but he wouldn't (or couldn't) answer and just kept trying to get up.

I kept pleading with him not to try and get up to walk unless I had someone helping me, but he was very determined and wouldn't listen. Finally, I told him that I would feel very bad if he fell and got hurt, and it was then that he finally relented and sat back in the wheelchair, frowning. I breathed a sigh of relief and off we went to take him for another ride, my daughter by my side, helping me push, and we took him outside into the courtyard area. After a few minutes it started to rain, so we came back in. A worker came to him with his medicine to take, then suggested we take him into the dining room for a snack. He ate his banana pudding, focusing all his attention on it and not looking up at all, then when he was finished, he sat back and began to look at me, as well as his granddaughter, maybe even breaking a little smile, even if just for a moment. He knocked on the table with his knuckles and looked at me, so I smiled and knocked back, and he seemed to acknowledge that.

Then a worker offered to get some cranberry juice for my daughter, and she, in all her child-like wisdom, figured out that she could make a connection with her grandpa by taking a drink of her juice every time he took a drink of his water. She would watch him the whole time, and when they both set their glass down, she would let out an airy, "Aaaaa," then smile, still gazing at her grandpa, and say, "We're drinking together, grandpa!" It made me smile. It helped me at that moment, because I had just begun to cry quietly, trying to hide it so as not to upset my daughter. It was so hard to see my dad like that. Oh how I miss my dad, the dad I had known all my life. The dad I was able to communicate freely with.

I feel like I've already lost my dad in many ways, and I'm grieving that loss. I look around at the other residents while I'm there, too, and feel pain for them, and can't imagine the pain they are going through themselves. How very thankful I am that one day, God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain, and no more sickness.


  1. (((Hugs))) I'm so sorry. That has to be so hard to loose your dad while he's still living. Loosing him because his mind is being taken away before his body. Prayers are with you during all this.