Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The temptation to blow like Vesuvius is strong but given that I know it won't help anything, I have to write out my anger instead. And even that I must do judiciously.

So as usual, I approached the day as any warrior would: armed for the battles ahead. Perhaps rather than say "armed" I should simply say "ready" but as usual, I started the day as a warrior (ready to prevail in any and all circumstances) and ended it as a survivor (just grateful to get out of the battle alive if not unscathed).

The nature of my circumstances is that there will always be (once we step outside the house) a need for me to explain why I need to do things the way I do. Yesterday was no different, though I had really hoped it would be. First mistake.

We had eye appointments yesterday. Note that I said "we". My second mistake was thinking that I could possibly get care for myself without paying a high price. Ha!

The eye clinic we use is one Mummy has been using for the entire decade that she's been here. It's also a place where I have asked them on a multiplicity of occasions to write on her chart that she has AD. Of course, they no longer use 'charts' per se, so I really have no idea how that kind of information is communicated among doctors. In my attempt to minimize the challenges, I asked for two consecutive appointments (don't worry, I said "back to back"). I got two contemporaneous appointments. Yes, well, what can I say? So first they call me and what does one do when one has to keep an eye on one's charge? One brings one's charge in to the appointment naturally. Two minutes into said appointment, though, the charge needs to go to the bathroom. Says the med tech to me, "Can't she just go by herself?". "Uh, no, she can't. She won't get there and then she won't come back." So up I jump to take Barbs to the restroom, saying to the tech, "Well, if I have to lose my place and wait then that's what we'll have to do." I'm tired already and we have barely begun.

Bathroom run completed, we return to the waiting area. The tech has graciously waited for us and we walk back in to the room to resume where we left off. Things are moving along as expected only they want to add dilation of my pupils (a time-consuming and annoying process) to my appointment since I haven't been seen in more than 6 months. That will probably add another hour to the time we'll be there. Lovely. So much for being out of the city before darkness falls. The tech pops those nasty bright yellow drops into my eyes and we return to the waiting room to wait for the pupils to do their thing. Then they call Mummy's name. Now I have to switch roles from patient to patient advocate.

In spite of my requests that doctors be advised that the patient has AD, the doctors still insist on asking Mummy what drops she's taking. PEOPLE! Some days she doesn't know the names of her damn children you think she's going to know the names of the freaking eye drops? For the love of Mike! More than the annoyance of running from one appointment to another; more than the exhaustion of switching from one role to another; more than the having to think six steps ahead just because we're going out (have you packed a snack, do you have some water, do you have money for lunch if you're going to be out too long, what about taxi fare to get back to the house if you can't wait for a ride home and on, and on), it is the annoyance that bubbles up when I have to intercede when Mummy is unable to respond to basic questions about her care that upsets me most. Does it occur to these doctors-in-training that it might actually do something negative to the patient's psyche to find that they don't have the answers to basic questions about their care? My mother may have Alzheimer's Disease, but she is still a person with feelings. Even feelings of inadequacy. All too often, those are the only feelings she has.

Needless to say, while I'm in there with Barbara, they call my name again. And so, straddling the fence between advocate and patient, I must now step out of the consulting room to explain to the doctor that I'm not available (to be a patient) because my mother is being seen and she cannot answer questions for herself (she needs an advocate), nor indeed, can she be relied on to remember if changes are made to her treatment. I return to the room and Barbara's appointment proceeds. Once finished, the doctor heads off to find the attending on duty to explain the case and have the follow up instructions approved. That takes a good 15 minutes during which time, you guessed it, I'm called again. Once more I step out to explain that I'm not available because blah, blah, blah. This time Barbara steps out of the room and I have to send her back to the consultation room. I guess it was all starting to look a little crazy because the front desk attendant stepped in to offer to keep an eye on Mummy so that I could return to my role as patient.

By the time all was said and done, it was just after 5 pm. We had been there since 1:40 pm (having started preparing for this visit at 9:00am with a one hour workout - I definitely needed it!) and I was exhausted. Then of course, I get home only to find that given that it's the maid's decade off, someone (moi) needed to produce dinner. There weren't enough leftovers to serve four and Mary Jackass here had no energy to prepare something new, so dinner was a serious case of "whatever's in there that's edible"......which reminds me that I have some chicken in the fridge awaiting my ministrations.  I mussbe kill priest, as we say in Trinidad, because this pressure is not letting up.

There probably isn't anything that would have made yesterday any easier, except perhaps hiring a caregiver for the day to take Mummy  to her appointment. That would have freed me to simply be a patient. Maybe next time I'll try that.

One of these days, Vesuvius is gonna blow. You have been warned. You should probably stand back.

Oh and that's just ONE of the things that happened yesterday.

Copyright © December 2011 L.S. Semper

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