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Bad Week

Bad Week

Some days are better than others.  Dad woke up out of deep sleep last night and started saying he heard a “noise”.  It was about 3 am.  “It sounds like steam! I’ve got to get up and find it!”

“Dad, go back to sleep,” I said. “It’s just the furnace.”  That was a losing position.  He started reaching for his slippers.  “No Dad, you don’t need to get up!  Go back to sleep!”

“What are you talking about?  Don’t you hear that?!  It woke me up out of deep sleep.  I’ve got to figure out what what’s going on!”  He was more and more agitated.  So was I.

Most of the time, I know better.  I’ve learned that staying calm helps him to stay calm.  But some days, I just can’t do it.  I’ve been staying up late working on another website. I’ve been fighting with over changing dns servers since Thursday night. I haven’t been getting enough sleep.  I’m having trouble with both tenants at a duplex that we rent.  And I’m just fed up.  So a 3 AM Sunday morning insistence that there’s a noise and that the source has to be discovered right now is, at this moment, more than I can stand.

I screamed at him to get back into bed and I knew I was lost.  He reached for his slippers again and I turned around and left the bedroom.

I walked outside to smoke a cigarette and watched him look around the entire apartment, opening doors and looking around, going back into the bedroom and coming back out to look around again. Eventually I got him another Xanax and waited for it to take effect.

A person with dementia needs calm reassurance and patience.  But what do you do when your father gets up at 3 AM and tells you there’s a strange noise that he’s never heard before?  When he gets up to look for Mom, who died 3 1/2 years ago,  I’m very patient with him.  I can even sympathize.  But that wasn’t this.

Every time that he has ever tried to convince me to get up instead of sleep in, going back 40 years, was right in my face.  Every time he tried to tell me that I wasn’t riding my bike safely or that I should try to get along with a teacher that I couldn’t stand or that I shouldn’t watch Gilligan’s Island, for Christ’s sake, was all screaming in my head.  And I, in my insanity, was screaming at him, across the chasm, at his insanity.

It was after 4 AM before he finally crawled back into bed and even then, he was talking through an incoherent routine that I was listening to over the baby monitor.  I had hoped that he would sleep in since he’d lost an hour and a half of sleep.  But he was up at eight saying that there was something wrong with him and that maybe he needed to go to the hospital.

That’s his usual routine in the morning. By the time breakfast is finished, he feels pretty good and wants to take a walk around the cul-de-sac.  But when he first wakes up, he insists there’s something wrong with him that he has to figure it out.  “I don’t hurt anyplace,” he begins. “But I don’t know what’s happened to me.”

“You just got old, Dad,’ I say. “That’s all.  You’re just old.”

“Is that it?  I don’t think it’s that.  There’s something wrong!”

But, he adds, “I slept all through the night, though, I slept really well.”  Nice.

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