One thing I've learned since my Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, is that there is much variance in symptoms...and in treatments. His medication...to me...seems like it's trying to stomp out fires, because when you get one symptom under control, a side-effect may pop up that also needs to be treated. It's a delicate and tricky process to get just the right blend of help.
Apparently, in December, my Dad's doctor changed up some of his medication. The side-effects from this were hallucinations.
Clara said one night, my Dad asked her if she could see a circle of light in the fireplace. Clara told him that it wasn't there...that it was his medication making him see it. She went into the kitchen, and when she came back to the living room, my Dad was gone. She started looking for him in the house. She found him coming in from the garage with the flashlight. She asked him, "what are you doing?" He said, "I went up to the garage." She said, "well, you don't need a flashlight for that...we have lights up there, so just flip on the switch." She said, "what did you need from the garage, anyway?" My Dad said, "nothing. I heard a noise and went up to check it out." And then he whispered, "there are two bums up there cooking burgers."
When she told us that, we laughed...we did. I mean, it's just so unlike something my Dad would say.
I know there are many who probably want to tell me that this behavior is NOT FUNNY; that you deal with a loved one who is confused or frightened or irrational every single day, and that it is no laughing matter. I get that. I remember when my grandfather was alive. He had Alzheimer's, and he lived with my parents. Every day was different and frustrating and exhausting...for my parents...and for my grandfather. Because, my grandfather was a brilliant man. He was a Colonel in the USAF, a pilot...and he was an author. In his lucid moments, he knew. He knew. And it was so sad.
But...BUMS? In the ATTIC? Cooking BURGERS?
But, there was one night when Clara got home from a meeting at church...my Dad had been home alone for several hours, which typically doesn't bother him at all. She said my Dad met her at the door. He motioned for her to come in and be quiet...and he whispered, "come here." He told her that there were men outside their house. He could hear them talking. It was dark, and he was afraid. He told Clara that he almost called the police.
That's serious, y'all...and it breaks my heart.
Clara said that, after she realized what was happening, she talked to my Dad. She told him that he needed to tell her when he felt like he wasn't quite "right," so that she would know...and so she would be able to see if it was a medication issue or something else.
Clara stopped that particular medication that day...and called the doctor the next morning, who recommended the same.
This is why we were anxious and worried about seeing my Dad over the New Year's weekend.
And this is why we were SO THANKFUL AND SURPRISED when he got there, because he got around better, physically, and interacted more with all of us better, and just generally seemed better than he was the year before.
We are so thankful for my Dad. He has led our family well. He is solid, quiet, steady and wise. He is also quick-witted and funny. We hope to have him around for a long time!
"Even though I am old and gray, do not leave me, God. I will tell the children about Your power. I will tell those who will live after me about Your might." Psalm 71:18