Saturday, April 17, 2010

More angels

We arrived in Regina this afternoon, parked on the street in the north end

and made our way to Dove House.  We got to father’s room about the time that they were coming to get him up for supper so we stayed out of the way while they slung and lifted him out of bed.  He can’t really help himself much at all anymore so they have a sheet with lift rings on each corner and a portable crane to lift him in and out of bed.

It’s hard to say who is in the worst shape at Dove House.  Some of the inmates have pretty good mental acuity and very little mobility while others have reasonable mobility but their minds are long gone.  We visited with father while the staff rounded up the rest of the inmates and started serving supper.  Everyone else was having chicken strips and french fries but because father is prone to choking he had something that looked like chili and mashed potatoes.  Nothing seems to affect his appetite – he tied into his meal like he hadn’t eaten for weeks. 

During supper one of his table mates decided he didn’t want to take his medication and got mildly abusive with Shelby.  I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in that job but she hung in there cajoling, pleading and finally bargaining to get the guy to take his drugs.  I expect he has some mild dementia based on his other behaviour and it sounds like this is a regular event at every meal.  Another one of the inmates launched into a complaint about how everyone else had received bigger plates than hers and was ultimately still unconvinced when Shelby placed her plate on top of her neighbour’s for reference.  Another old dear finished her meal, had a couple of muffins and then when most of the others at her table had left inquired when they were going to eat. 

The ones I feel sorriest for are the ones like father and a couple of his tablemates.  Knowing what is happening to you must be the worst torture in that situation.  I recall several years ago when his cousin thought he had early Alzheimer's.  That “knowledge” turned out to be a false alarm but Ken said knowing what was coming was a terrible burden. 

The people that choose to work in that environment are really angels.  One of the women on duty tonight at first struck me as maybe not the brightest bulb in the string of lights but later redeemed herself.  Father’s abusive tablemate thought he had tricked her into bringing him a 2nd cup of coffee, which he wasn’t supposed to have for some reason to do with his catheter.  When the woman returned with his cup it was full of water but by then he didn’t remember that he had wanted coffee so he was just happy to see her again.  When he left the table he made a big scene about keeping his bib with him, insisting that it was his towel.  A couple of minutes later the one I thought was slow-witted returned carrying the bib that he had by then completely lost interest in.

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