Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Critical Mass

Whole Foods Markets have arrived in Hawaii. Today they opened their first store, in our neighborhood mall, replacing the locally-owned market that opened with the mall way back when I was in high school. Mother and I went to the opening. It was a zoo! There was barely room to move a cart without hitting someone. Lines at the checkout stands ran up the grocery aisles from the front of the store back to the meat counters along the back wall, making it nearly impossible to browse the shelves. Prices are high, even for Hawaii. Although some local farms are represented, most of the produce and fish comes from California. We shopped for 40 minutes, then waited 40 minutes in the check-out line.

I've been having second thoughts about leaving my dad home alone. Over the last week he's been doing some things that would benefit from monitoring. Like trying to make telephone calls. Like trying to find his car, which he variously says is on Kauai (some 90 miles from Oahu) or lost in an unspecified parking lot. Like the day we came home and found him putting on his shoes in preparation for running errands. Like trying to fix himself a meal, turning the stove on high and walking out. Like turning on a water faucet and leaving in running. Forever.

In her bitter moments Mother says, "He's the one who wants to stay here and take care of himself. Well, let him take care of himself."

Today when we came home from the market Daddy was sitting on the floor in the doorway to his bedroom. He did not have the strength to get himself up. He is large enough that I cannot lift him by myself, and he couldn't help me. "OK," says I. "It's time to call for help." He balked. "No, not yet." He ordered a straight chair. He asked for his cane, and for his walking poles. He thought about pulling himself up by the door frame. All good ideas, but no cigar. Not this time.
"Here are your choices," says I. "You sit here, or you let me call 911. The fire departments do this all the time. Fire assist, they call it, man down. It's part of their job." Ultimately, practicality won over pride. We called the fire department.

Afterward he commented on how good the firemen were. They treated him with respect. They checked to be sure there were no injuries that needed immediate attention, or signs of heart attack or stroke. They were gentle and caring. They did not drag him off to the hospital. It could have been worse. But we already have an appointment tomorrow with his primary care physician, so he is going to be re-checked. We are also going to talk about leaving him alone without supervision, in-home care vs. residential care, the level of residential care we should be considering, about adding a geriatric specialist to his roster of doctors, and possible medications to extend his lucid moments.

Yes, we have reached critical mass.

Look for the positives. He can afford to pay for care in a skilled nursing facility -- at least for several years. Even without long term care insurance. He may not like his choices, but he showed today that when the facts are laid out before him he can accept the inevitable. Give thanks. Keep praying ......

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