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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>

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