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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dr. Welby Never Had It Like This

An Angry Dadzilla in a China Shop Hospital Ward

dadzilla restraint

Dadzilla has a new type of appointment. A few times per week he now goes to hydrotherapy in an attempt to help his breathing. One Tuesday he goes to the hospital where they offer the hydrotherapy. I thought the appointment was for the morning, but I guess I could be wrong. He doesn't show up in the early afternoon. I think I hear him enter his room, clunking around. I see no sign of him the rest of the day, not even his van.

It comes to be early evening, and the sun is now setting. Something is not right. Dadzilla never drives at night since he can barely see during the day, nevermind dim light. I find a couple tenants at the picnic table. They tell me that he is at the hospital, that they thought the apartment manager told me. I begin to wonder who was tromping around in the apartment if it wasn't Dadzilla. I come to the realization that the upstairs neighbors must have been so loud that I thought the thumping was coming from inside our apartment!

I head over to the hospital where Dadzilla is supposed to be, the one where his hydrotherapy appointment was. I find out the information about his room number and find him there watching TV. He tells me that he had trouble breathing immediately after his therapy, so they admitted him to the hospital. They haven't found anything yet, and they hold him for observation. Nothing much new for either of us besides the obvious, so I head home, pick up some his toiletries, and drop them off to him. We chit-chat for a little while, then off I go. He thinks he'll be home tomorrow afternoon.

I feel guilty for feeling relieved that I finally have peace for more than an hour or two. I haven't gotten a break from his nonsense in over 5 years when he went to visit my brother for a couple weeks around his birthday. It's nice. I remember the advantages of living alone, or even a roommate or two that isn't him. I don't have to acquiesce to anyone's need to feel in control and superior.

The next day he doesn't come home in the afternoon. I call him, and he tells me they're keeping him for more tests. He sits around watching TV, bored. Sometimes he gets up to walk around a bit to stretch his legs. Funny, that sounds like what he does at home, just with less freedom. He's going stir crazy, goddamnit. At least he thinks he'll at last be home tomorrow. I enjoy an entire day of quiet and freedom to walk around without a shadow, nor an inquisition!

Immediately the next day, 'ding-dong'. Doorbell. The apartment manager is at the door. He wakes me up to tell me that something is horribly wrong. The hospital called and left messages at the office number. They couldn't get a hold of me.

I rush to the phone. We've had wiring trouble with the handset. Cheap garbage. I wiggle some wires on the body of the phone. Somehow, the ringer must also be affected, though I'm at a loss for how. Three messages, all hospital related about Dadzilla.

I call the floor nurse back. Dadzilla wanted to leave last night. He told me he'd see me tomorrow, so I thought all was well. Silly me. An impatient Dadzilla started getting angry and loud. The staff tried to soothe the savage beast. An inconsolable Dadzilla made threats. The staff probably tried to reassure him, but in doing so, put their hands on an enraged Dadzilla. Dadzilla misinterpreted the touch and started waylaying staff with a makeshift weapon in the form of his cane! The staff subdued Dadzilla and put restraints on him, which also tethered him to his bed. Dadzilla wore himself out and is now fast asleep.

The nurse wants to figure out if he might be exhibiting signs of dementia. I relay to her what he has told me, that he's had very little sleep in the past several weeks. I know that can cause cognitive issues. She tells me that all the tests they've done show no new anomalies and nothing to cause new breathing difficulties. He's free to be discharged, but she would like me to wait a couple hours, because a sleeping Dadzilla is a healing Dadzilla that isn't causing mayhem on a hospital ward.

I talk to friends online. I get the feeling they may have thought I was exaggerating the stories about Dadzilla. I tell them the news about bedlam at St. Joseph's. They say they've believed me all along. They're familiar with stubborn, old coots that refuse to listen to any form of reason and act out. I wonder why their elderly relatives don't act this way, why I'm the one with the misfortune.

I actually go to the hospital twice. The first time, no matter what I do, I can't wake him up in a soothing way. I'm not going to stir the pot at the hospital after what they've been through with him, so I went home. Turns out, he woke up very shortly after I left. They released one of his two restraints, and the hospital bed is now on the floor. They tell me they do that if there's a danger of someone falling out of bed. I've never seen such a thing, but it makes sense.

The hospital is actually an interconnected wonder. Just about everything is computerized and/or made electronic. It's a far cry from old shows that portrayed hospitals as a sanitized world of nurses with white caps, gurneys of cold steel, and beds of stiff metal with rigid, cheap mattresses.

This time I bring a neighbor with me. Someone has to drive Dadzilla's van home. The best part is he can say things to him that I can't, lest I cause a temper tantrum for being disrespectful, goddamnit. “Get your ass out of bed, you mean old bastard! Get dressed, or we're leaving your ass in the hospital!” It was said in jest, but if I'd even done that, he'd have flown off the deep end.

The floor nurse has to get discharge papers ready. Meanwhile, Dadzilla tries to get out of bed. An alarm goes off. One of the other nurses rushes in. He's still hooked up to an alarm from his behavior the night before. She makes sure that at least one of us will be there at all times, then disconnects him, and removes the last restraint. Her bedside manner is great. She doesn't show irritation in the least. Much better than what I'd be like. Another break from the old days, when they'd just about put people in straight jackets and keep that grudge for the rest of their stay.

Dadzilla is unsteady, so an orderly has to wheel him out. While we wait for the elevator, he makes comments loud enough for the entire staff at the desk to hear, just in case they haven't registered his disdain. I think they feel sorry for me. They should. They only had to deal with him for a couple days. I've been in hell for years.

The neighbor drives home with him in the passenger seat. I drive for my last few minutes of freedom. When we get home, he settles in, and looks over the mail and his medical papers. I see that we have beer and take one outside with me. Not three minutes go by and I have a shadow in the form of Dadzilla. It begins anew.

<Dadzilla in a Bottle>                                                                         <cont'd in future post>

Monday, May 4, 2015

If I Could Save Dadzilla in a Bottle...

I Had Some Dreams; They Were Clouds in My Coffee

One morning, I wake up and want to get my cup of coffee for the day. There's a kink in my plan: Dadzilla is in the kitchen doing who knows what. Sometimes I can deal with this dilemma, but usually, I'm simply not up to being pestered first thing in the morning. I diddle around on the computer for a little while, then I make like I'm going into the bathroom. He's still out there. He must be making lunch. He does everything early-- breakfast at 6am, lunch at 10am, dinner at 3pm, then snacks most of the night.

I hear Dadzilla enter his room, which means he's probably on the way to his bathroom. I make a mad dash for the kitchen. Son of a bee! He's got his spread out for lunch and his meal is in the microwave. No coffee for me. I head back to my room, irritated. I wait a while longer, til I think I hear him go to his room again. I rush back out to the kitchen. The table is clear, so he's done eating. I immediately put the coffee on, and go back to my room.

A few minutes later, I open my door to go check on the coffee. Dadzilla is coming out of his room. He asks if I can take him to the hospital; he's having trouble breathing. I rush out to turn the coffee maker off (naturally, it's finished, but I am denied). I get my stuff together, he gets his stuff together, and we head out to the car.

Half way there, he notices he forgot his wallet. We continue on anyway. I know he's not feeling well, because he's not talking a mile a minute like usual and complaining about anything and everything. I drop him off as close to the emergency room as I can and find a place to park. They admit him even without information and insurance cards from his wallet. He's on the computer system, so there's no trouble.

We're led to an examination room after a short wait. It's not at all like any ER I've seen on TV. I had no idea they made you wait. Apparently, his case isn't critical enough since he can still walk on his own. They examine him and take blood. It takes them about an hour to even get the needle in because his age makes his veins incredibly hard to access.

The man who can't breathe well talks and talks and talks, jokes with the nursing staff and doctors, nags me to go outside and get fresh air. I tell him that if I wanted to go outside, I'd be there already. Even in his condition, the man has to be annoyingly meddlesome.

That's not all. When we're alone he talks again about how we need to “get the hell out of Arizona”. He blames inanimate objects for his ills, so a whole State is nothing. And he has money coming whenever they finish his case. I wonder if it's the same type of case he had for 20-30 years in NY that made that State Dadzilla Enemy #1. It's the mesothelioma class action suit everyone has heard about. Of course his breathing difficulty has to do with mesothelioma from chemicals he once worked with. It couldn't possibly be from smoking for 55-60 years. They took his case anyway, so who knows? What kills me is that he dismisses out-of-hand the possibility that his trouble has to do at all with smoking for decades.

Wah wah wah wah, wah wah, wah wah wah”. Charlie Brown's teacher is all I hear since I now have a headache. That doesn't stop him. “Wah wah wah, wah, wah wah”. I wonder if they've ever taken someone's voice box out just for the hell of it.

After all is said and done, they tell him his blood work and exams all come out normal. Therefore, they give him a nebulizer to use right there in the ER and a prescription for one for home. They also give him a prescription for some topical cream for some type of ringworm they say is pretty common. He still swears up and down it's from the black mold in his shower. Dadzilla the expert doctor.

Turns out the nebulizer works, and we're back on our way home. There's more pep in his step and he talks the entire way home, so I know he's ok. I'm telling you, he doesn't stop talking for 60 seconds the entire way. Sweet Jesus, get me home! Oh, look. No parking spaces, so I get to park up half a block after dropping Dadzilla off at the entrance. I can never park straight on the street, but I figure if both tires are within a foot of the curb, all is well.

I go through our gate. He is telling his trials and tribulations to some other tenants. I go into our apartment and get my coffee I finished brewing 5 hours ago. The coffee helps my headache. I go online and check email and so forth. Then...oh, good. The awesome internet we have decides to break, just like every other weekend at some point. I'm fed up. The coffee gets rid of my headache, but doesn't prevent me from taking a nap. So that's what I do.

And here I sit for the night, without internet. Hopefully, the nebulizer will allow Dadzilla to sleep in his own bed for more than an hour at a time, rather than on the couch. That way, I'll at least be able to watch TV and/or cook something in peace.

<Pepto Bismol...>                                                     <Dr. Welby Never>