Saturday, June 16, 2007

126 Circling the Drain

Haven't written for a while. Nothing in the news about AD that caught my fancy. I see my dad, but he hardly speaks anymore, so not many amusing anecdotes to relate.
Here's the best of a paltry bunch: I took him to the bird vet with me a few weeks ago. He told the receptionist I was his wife. He started a conversation about one of my birds with someone in the waiting room and continued it with the technician in the exam room as if they were the same person.
My remaining cat, Nutter, has lung cancer, and he's really my focus right now, for the time he has left and I haven't been working on anything else except the novel my friend and I are writing.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom took my dad to the doctor to get a new/different prescription for his violent outbursts. I don't remember the name of the drug he prescribed, but he wrote it up for 1.5 mg. When my mom went to fill it, it was only available in 5 mg--nothing smaller. She borrowed my pill splitter and tried giving him half a pill (2.5) which basically just made him almost catatonic.
But the pills have a worse side effect, one that's continuing even though she stopped the drug.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, who knows. He has been having a problem finding the bathroom at night and peeing in the hallway and dining room. But then my mom found him in the basement, where the cat has his little hideaway, urinating on the floor. She yelled at him to stop, and instead he just let go and peed down his leg, on his pants. When she kept telling him to stop, he simply pooped his pants, right there. I asked, "did he fart and poop came out?" (that' s happened before) and she said no, he closed his eyes and grunted and filled his pants.
As soon as he realized what he had done, he became very upset. My mom cleaned him up, got him clean clothes and thought that was the end of it.
But he did it more than once, including in the bed, and he's also hiding the evidence--she finds "surprises" in the laundry hamper.
He continues to use the bathroom, though. I'm not sure if that's a normal progression or not. It's not something people want to talk about. And he won't wear Depends. I told my mom to just stick a maxipad in his underwear but she said he won't do that either. And now if he's got any poop in his underwear, even just a skid mark, he gets all upset and has to change all his clothes. So he knows it's wrong to have poop in the underpants.
That's all pretty bad, right? Can't suck more than that.
Oh, yes it can.

Yesterday, instead of lunch, I had dinner with my parents, because I had a physical therapy appointment. My husband met us there. We had a perfectly nice dinner. Toward the end, my dad had to go to the bathroom. My mom brought him and waited for him. She was gone a long time so my husband went to see if he had to go in the men's room and get my dad, but they were on their way back. My mom said a man came over to her while she was waiting and offered help. I guess his wife had Alzheimer's and he recognized the signs. It's nice that there's people like that in the world. I was at a restaurant recently and I saw a man and his wife and it was clear to me that he had it. Alzheimer's is like a secret club that no one talks about...but when you DO talk about it, you find out almost everyone's a member. And boy are the dues steep.
My husband had to leave, and I stayed with my parents while we finished dessert. The waitress brought the check and my mom handed over her credit card. It came back declined. This started a wave of events that really had to be seen to be believed.
My mom was upset that her card was declined. She had just paid the bill, and she had made purchases on it the day before and that very morning. I didn't have my purse with me and of course my dad doesn't carry a wallet anymore. My mom had no cash. I was debating taking the car back to the house, getting my purse and coming back to pay, but the waitress said they could take an ATM card, which my mom has.
At some point during this discussion, which wasn't very pleasant, my dad snatched the (dead) credit card from my mom and said it was his and refused to give it back. He read her name off it "Ann Shirley Rizza, that's me. This is mine!" He was shouting. We tried to calm him down. "That's not your name, that's not your card, give it back." He started punching my mother. (Remember, this is Friday night rush-hour at 5:30 in a crowded restaurant.)
Usually he responds to me, but to my shock he made what my mom calls the "mean face" (which is this really hideous grimace, primitive, like something a chimpanzee would make) at me and started hitting and punching me. By this time he was out of the booth and in the aisle. Everyone was staring. My mom started crying. All the while my dad was shouting that it's his and he won't give it back. I was trying to get him to come outside with me but he wouldn't come, kept fighting me, punching me, punching my mom when she got up too. The manager came over. He had no clue what to do. My mom begged him to call the police. He wouldn't.
My dad wouldn't let go of the credit card, wouldn't sit back down, wouldn't stop yelling or fighting, wouldn't listen to reason or threats. My mom told me to go and call the police.
So I did.
I called the police on my own father.

I had to say
"My father is punching my mother and punching me in the restaurant and you have to come and make him stop." Those are not words I ever in my life thought I would have to say. By then of course I was crying too. It was just so awful, so embarrassing, and I was so angry and hurt and upset.
Not one, but two police cars came, probably in under 2 minutes, sirens on, lights flashing. By that time my mom and the manager had gotten my father to the doorway of the restaurant (I went outside to make my call and wait for the police).
These were not the nice cops who come and find him when he's lost. These were "we have no time for this and we aren't taking your shit" cops.
My father starts babbling, making absolutely no sense, to the cops. My mom and I were trying to explain what happened. Two people were sitting on a bench, waiting for a table, watching and listening. The woman started to laugh, very loud. I just looked at her, thinking "what a rude bitch" but my mom turned on her and started yelling, "it's not funny, he's got Alzheimer's!" The woman said, "I wasn't laughing at you" but she WAS because her and the guy with her weren't having a conversation. They were sitting and watching us. I thought my mom was going to punch this rude bitch right in front of the cops, and wouldn't that have been jolly good fun?
The cops moved the whole thing along--crazy yelling Bob, crying Ann, silent Bert, confused manager, cop1 and cop2.
I would say, conservatively, that it took a half hour to get my dad from the front of the building to the back, where my mom's car was parked. My mom told my dad right out that she was going to tell the cops to bring him to the hospital and she'd leave him there. At some point someone got the damn credit card away from him, I don't know who or when or how. Wasn't me.
The police took a statement from the manager, who really had no clue. He thought we were fighting over the bill. He went back inside, probably to get drunk. Wouldn't blame him. I felt like it and I hardly ever drink.
My mom had parked just about as far away as one can park and not be in the lot for another business. I realized that at the rate the group was moving, it would take an hour to make it to the car. I took the keys and went and got the car. My dad watched me, pointed at me, still yelling, as I got in the car to drive it up a few rows.
I pulled up, realizing that I didn't have my driver's license and I was in front of cops and decided I didn't really give a shit and they weren't going to give me a ticket--just like if you drive your drink friend home and you haven't got a license with you they won't give you a ticket for that.
My father was trying to tell the cops something about how the card was his, and the cop said, "I'll talk to you when you're sitting in the car." He opened the back door, got my father into it with that special cop-move (even though my dad always sits in the front seat, so that upset him). The cop leaned in, put the seatbelt on my dad...and then shut the door over his protests and ignored him. Very neatly done.
The cops took all our information (my mom said, "you've already got a file on us!") and let us go. My mom said, "give me that list, I can't do this anymore."
I said, "neither can I."
I went to my email on her computer and printed out the list of nursing homes.
My dad is only 66 years old.

(BTW, the credit card was shut off because my mom bought a $20 video game online that morning and the bank figured her card had been stolen, even though she had bought video games online before.)


Anonymous said...

You don't need a nursing home, you need an alzheimer's care facility. There is a big difference. I had my father in one and they did a wonderfull job. He has passed on now - basicly he forgot how to eat and asperated any food he was given leading to constant bouts no lung infections. He spent only the last 2 monthes in a nursing home

Good Luck

Patty McNally Doherty said...

Dear Bert,

I am so, so sorry. Standing at the end of this line, my father dead from this disease for over a year, I see you, your mother, your father, millions and millions of others, struggling along, sitting in the traffic of Alzheimer's. The route is clearly marked - KEEP OUT, DANGER, TURN AROUND - but as of yet, there is nothing that can be done to avoid this awful detour. And instead, our parents, pulled by a disease so powerful it knows no enemy, leave us to march ahead, golden years be damned.

Keep writing, Bert. You tell it like it needs to be told.


Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry to come back from a bit of a break and read this. How difficult for you and your mom, and of course for your dad.

There's not much to say except I'm thinking of you and your family, and oh, yes, I'm sorry your dad didn't manage to accidentally punch the woman who was laughing. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a large metropolitan area to care for someone with dementia, and like it or not, she's part of that.

Take care, Bert.

Mauigirl said...

So sorry you had such a difficult time with your dad at the restaurant. My father went through that hostile phase also, and now my mother-in-law has started it. She keeps thinking my purse is actually hers and gets upset when I tell her it isn't. So now I've learned to hide my purse when we visit my in-laws or when they visit us. My father-in-law says she has started going through moods where she gets very nasty to him and swears at him (words he didn't even know she knew) because he thinks she doesn't know who he is. Then he gives her a Xanax and she calms down to her normal personality. I'm looking into ways to have someone come to their house to help him with housework and maybe "sitting" for her so he can go out for awhile by himself. She follows him around everywhere in the house and he can't get anything done. It is very difficult and I feel for you and your family, going through this with your dad at such a young age of 66. At least my dad was over 88 when he started showing symptoms and my MIL is 79.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bert
I know what you are dealing with and I understand your pain and frustrations. I have cared for my father whom has Alzheimer's for over 5 years and now I am being charged with neglect. He woke up, pulled off his briefs and went outside where he soiled himself. At some point he came back inside and sit on his bed were he soiled it also. He takes the linen off the bed I guess from frustration of dealing with it. He cannot sit still. I feel drugs to sedate him will take what little impendence he has away.

During this time I was in bed asleep, something that usually only last 3 to 4 hours a night. I was woken up by 4 police officers standing over my bed telling me to pull my hands out from under the cover slowly. I knew someday he would wonder off and the nice cops would bring him back, instead I had the cop from hell.

The night before we were both up until 4 in the morning as he watched, and offer help fixing the house. Sometime in the morning he woke up before me. And went about his normal routine, which is going out on the back porch were he loves to sing. Now I am facing the ultimate punishment of neglect.

To try and makes things better instead of a nursing home I decided to build an addition on the back of the house that would accommodate his needs more. Being a carpenter for over 20 years I have done most, but not of the work myself. My stupid mistake was forgetting to get a permit. Thinking “grandfather clause” I wouldn’t need one until certain parts were done.

I had an ongoing project inside the house to replace and fix everything he has destroyed from urinating on the floor, the walls and any place he decided to pee. I had to replace plywood on the floor due to the urination, hang new sheetrock on the walls. I had water lines break in the middle of the night. These are only a few things I had had to deal with over the last 5 years. Now I have the justice department sniffing around and wanting to make me pay for offering my father a little independence before he dies.

Mad as hell, yes I am and still am. I lost control and talked back to that police officer… Which was stupid on my part, but he treated me like I was nothing more than dog shit on his shoes. Yes laws are an important, but they make them to have such a large grey area that anything could be considered neglect.

Now all I can do is pace the floor and wonder how my father is doing. Yes mad as hell about a society that spit words out to the public and make them sound important or a just cause. I was arrested 2 days later and the next day I made the front page were the things I said were turned around to make me seem like that dog shit on his shoes.