A Pretty Underpass

May 22, 2006

To quote my father from a phone conversation I had with him early Saturday morning, "things have come to a pretty underpass." It seems the my mom has less and less of a grip on reality, or at least her grip is some what fluid. During the night Friday she was up for several hours and wandered through the entire house looking for my dad. Even the basement which is hard to believe given her current diminished physical state. On a previous occasion she forced herself to stay up all night because she was afraid that my father was going to kill her in the night, when actually what he was going to do was administer pain medicine on a schedule, rather than wait for the morning.

Frequently she asks when are they going home, or how long are they going to stay at this place. She always possessed a dry sense of humor and so it is hard at times for my father to tell when she is kidding about "does this floor have Pepsi" and when she is not. I sense in him a growing despair as he is confronted again and again with the personality changes this disease is inflicting on his wife.

She has reacted to large amounts of some pain medicine in the past with hallucinations and nonsensical behavior. With this in mind they have been careful about increasing her dosages, however these latest episodes have come at a time when she wasn't using as much pain killer. The visiting nurse has told my dad that her breaks with reality are an indication of the disease spreading.

Hospice gave my father a list of services he could call, and he did contact a night nurse who has spent the last two nights in the house with them. On Sunday he told me that it worked out far better than he ever hoped it would. Not only was he able to sleep more soundly, my mom was able to get some food in the night and had company while she was awake. When I talked to him Sunday his mood was greatly improved and he sounded far less tired. While the night nurse is hugely expensive (and not covered by insurance) I think it will be good for both of them.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.