Sunday, March 21, 2010

If you're a bird, I'm 1967

Dementia is not a fun disease. It's actually really tragic. Someone dies in a car crash, well, that's quick. They are alive and then they're not. It's unbelievably hard for the family, but at least it's a finite event and there is a sense of closure.

Watching someone's mind slowly slip away into nothing is not at all finite. It's a heartbreakingly slow process. First that family member calls you the wrong name. Then they can't remember if toothpaste is for their teeth or for their bagel. Then they forget to take their blood pressure medicine and have a stroke, and then they forget to turn the oven off and then they forget who they are. And the family gets to watch the whole process. Sort of like in The Notebook, except they don't get to leave the nursing home to dance with Ryan Gosling and instead of curling up at the end to peacefully pass away with their life long love, they are dragged into the hospital where we poke and prod and change their diaper and then maybe, hopefully, there is a dignified end to their life.

Like I said, dementia sucks.

But sometimes, there are little nuggets of humor. When you're staring at a shell of a former person, you take what you can get. It's not always appropriate humor, but it keeps us sane.

Take Jeremiah. That's not his real name, obviously, but it fits since he was just about as old as the biblical dude. Pops comes into the ER for altered mental status...change in mental status in someone with a baseline change in mental status? Not something I'm going to turn the dial to 11 for. But for whatever reason, we were slow, and everyone - including my favorite doctor - immediately piles into the room to get report from EMS. The Doc is going through the exam, nurses are doing their things, and I can barely keep from peeing myself.

Doc: What year is it?
J: 1967.
Doc: Where are you right now?
J: I worked for the seafood business for 30 years!
Doc: What's your name?
J: Jeremiah, you idiot. I already told you that.
Doc: Why are you here today?
J: I worked for the seafood business for 30 years!
Doc: Okay, look at this light. No, don't go towards it, just look at it. Good. Well, you hang tight and we'll get some labwork, okay?
J: I worked for the seafood business for...1967!

I kinda feel bad for laughing, but whatever. That junk was funny.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I woulda laughed fact, I just did!