A LONG WAY TO FALL

Years ago, my father watched as my toddler grandchild waddled across the floor then lose her balance and fall to the ground only to roll over, get up and continue her journey without so much as a tear.  “Ouch,” said dad.  “If I fell down like that I’d hurt for a week.”  “Of course you would,” I replied.  “So would I.  She fell about six inches to the floor plopping her 22 pounds onto her padded diaper.  What’s to hurt?  When you fall it’s at least 3 and a half feet and more than 200 pounds crashes to the floor.  That’s jarring.”  “I’ve never thought of it that way,” he said.  “You’re right.”  At 88, dad did take a few tumbles and he did hurt for a week.

My father was 6′ 2″, as is Ken, but Ken’s ideal weight is 180 and he doesn’t have my father’s big frame.   Nevertheless, when he fell the other day it jarred him through and through and he’s still hurting.   He appeared to be all right after he and I got him up and back to the car, but later that evening he began to ache everywhere, especially his torso.  It doesn’t help that he still has shingles.   At first he accepted an ice pack for his aching body, then decided it was too cold and too “wet” even though it wasn’t.

All of his life he has had a high tolerance for pain, but not with this fall.  Vicodin had been prescribed for his shingle’s pain, but I held back in giving it to him because he seemed to manage that pain quite well.   My decision was all right with Ken’s doctor.  However, as it approached bedtime, I decided to give him one  so he could sleep, another in the morning and one more at 2:00.   At bedtime, he took another and one again in the morning.  I spaced the pills appropriately and didn’t go for the suggested two at one time.

He asked for my help in getting out of bed and out of his chair.  “Why do I hurt so bad?” was his question.  “You fell down yesterday,” I answered.  “No!  I didn’t fall,” he insisted, “someone hit me from behind with a 2″ x 4″ board.  I know when I’ve been hit.”  There was no way he believed that he could have fallen down.   Apparently his mysterious attacker is still at large.  Having no other explanation except the truth, I find it easier to agree with what he believes.

This afternoon I wondered if he had dropped a few plateaus mentally as he behavior took a downward plunge.  He was almost manic in his delusions.  Hearing conversational voices I kept checking to see if we had company.  We did not, yet he was talking as if we did.  “Were you talking with someone?” I asked.   “That young man who just left.”  There had been no young man.

As I was driving he told me to watch out for the boy on a bike and as our car approached a manhole cover he yelled,  “I told you to watch out!” scaring me half out of my wits.   “That’s a manhole cover,” I shouted back.  “It’s supposed to be there, and there is no boy on a bike.”

At dinner he told me I wasn’t cooking it right.  “How do you want me to do it?” I asked.  “You didn’t read the instructions,” he complained.  “I don’t understand what you want me to do.  Tell me what you want from me and I’ll do it,” I reasoned.  He ranted and raved making no sense, sounding like someone high on drugs.  Even his sentences didn’t make sense.  Words were just words.  I picked up my dinner plate and locked myself in our office leaving his plate on the counter.  I hoped he would calm down and eat.  He didn’t. Instead he found a small jar of  capers in the refrigerator.  It was half empty, but he finished what was left.   Obsessively, this crazed person polished the counter top, even attempting to pry up a cutting tile with a screw driver that had been  embedded in the surface.   He has become another stranger in our house.  Could it be the Vicodin?  In any event, he’s off that medication — pain or no pain.

I know that as the Alzheimer’s continues to spread its plaque and tangles all over the nerves he will get worse, but for now I can cope with a husband who has three personalities.  I can live with them because I know them well, but I’m not sure if I can cope with yet another one who verges on the insane.

At 10:30 he knocked at the office door saying he was going to bed.  His voice was calm and when he spoke to me, Ken, my husband, was apologetic for whatever he had done to upset me.   I kissed him goodnight and helped him into bed.  He  grimaced with pain, but tonight there would be no Vicodin.

Originally posted 2009-04-18 07:35:27.

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