Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Have catheter, will remove it
We celebrated our second anniversary last month, the Dad and I. I can’t believe it it’s been two years since he came plowing into my life and home with his noises, smells and various old man accoutrement. I was scanning the traffic for this blog and the most popular of my blog posts is the one from his second week here entitled ‘Suspenders and a Hospital Gown”. And it’s an unhappy coincidence that he is again back in the hospital this past week. He has had four different outpatient procedures on his, well, butt, if you must know. And the three re-surgeries (if that is in fact a word) are due to his refusal to believe that a doctor would know more than he about post-surgery care. You know, because the Dad has 4 whole hours of college credit and the MD has a measly 16 years of schooling. Tomato-tomahto, right?
The biggest problem is that my Dad is a man of extremes. He is either not interested or all-in. There is no gray area for this one. He either wants a 32 pound steak or none. He wants a vat of ice cream as big as his recliner or none. He asked if I would bring him some gum as the medicine he takes makes his mouth taste ‘funny’. I took him a double pack of Freedent, the gum preferred by denture wearers, and he chewed 32 pieces of gum in less than 32 hours! When he called and asked for more and I questioned how one would decimate a pack of gum that large in that small amount of time, he got mad, called me a "butt" and hung up on me. Quelle Surprise? Then you haven’t been paying attention.
His vacation, which is what we normally call the time when a relative is housed in a state-run facility from which they aren’t allowed to leave when the mood strikes them, has been in the hospital for the past week. They are observing him and trying to figure out the cause of the infection at the surgery site. I personally think they are observing the only patient who removed their catheter with a crochet needle. Yes, I told on him. I know the reasons behind the infection but nurses don't seem to want to believe that he would ignore doctor's orders and lie about it, so they're getting to spend some quality time with the "Wildebeest in the Hospital Gown", which is what he looks and sounds like when dozing, which is often.
He is unsurprisingly unhappy about being "locked up" and has reverted to creating prison stories concerning their attempts to "starve me” and “poke me to death”. Although I will say that when I snuck a chicken nugget happy meal past the nurses, he was the happiest boy on the floor, do you hear me? He almost hugged me. Almost. But he caught himself and instead shook my hand with more emotion that I expected seeing as how the nuggets only numbered 4, not 6.
He doesn’t like visitors, he says, but what he really means is he doesn’t like to ask anyone to visit. Fortunately, he is housed at the hospital where I work so I can see him more often than normal, although I try to limit my visits as he doesn’t want to be awakened when slumbering and the clinical staff get nervous when they see me coming as my previous visits to the wards were when I was Acting Associate Director and we were in the midst of our accreditation review. Your cherished Dustin in his three –piece suit with coordinating tie and pocket square doesn’t bring out their joy, as it does with you, dear readers.
I have delivered puzzle books, electronic solitaire, peanuts, mystery novels and contraband Coke Zero. I have regaled him with tales of my birthday weekend to Hearst Castle and Carmel, where he was more impressed with the fact that Clint Eastwood lives there than the pictures of William Randolph’s gauche interiors or the designer duds I got for 70% off in the bargain basement of J. Alexander Khaki’s. Seriously, Mr. Hearst was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was Donald Trump. Everything was silk damasked, gold inlaid and ivory-carved to within an inch of its life. The roman pool was pretty but ridiculous. I mean, who wants to exit an overly tiled lagoon up a wet marble ladder?
So, here we are two years later and he is again in the hospital and if geriatrics tells us anything, he will only get worse. That he has improved in his outlook is noticeable to me, but not him. He is still somewhat depressed just perkier about it (thank you Zoloft). He is still afraid of leaving the house without me, but is still too proud to ask me to go with him; instead he demands. And I pretend I don’t notice the false bravado and I don’t see evidence of the scared man who is truly without his own home and uneasy about having to depend on the one child he has admitted he didn’t treat very well.
And as much as I complain, I have missed him this week and not just because I don’t like making my own coffee in the morning. I miss the fact that someone is waiting for me when I get home who is truly glad to see me and to talk, even if for a few minutes, over something as mundane as a funny video or a show about ancient aliens. I never thought I would actually miss that old grouch but I do and the thought that he might one day be gone is something that I just can’t process right now. That I am crying as I type this is as surprising to me as it would be to him.
Luckily his four hours of college were not studying computer science so the odds of him accidentally finding this blog post are about as remote as him admitting he likes living with his “weird” son in the land of the heathen. And that is all we are both saying.