Sat 6 Oct 2012
I am in Arizona helping my Mother with my Father who has recently come home from the hospital. He has Parkinson’s and as the disease progresses, is getting more and more shaky on his feet and he falls easily. From what I read on the Internet, in time he won’t be able to get out of bed or even eat. One of the components of Parkinson’s is often dementia which my Father has developed. That means he can never be left alone because he sees things and even sometimes heads outside.
I am going to be here for several months to get things all worked out and I’ve developed a routine of sorts. I am usually up at 4:30 or so. At first it was because of jet lag but now it is so I can get up and check on Dad. He’s an early riser and I want to make sure he hasn’t tried to get out of bed and fallen. Once he is up, we go into the kitchen-sometimes he can walk and sometimes we have to use a wheel chair-and I get him breakfast. Right now he is eating really well. After Mom is up and dressed and has joined us which is usally around 6:30, I head out for a walk/run on the many paved paths that they have around the neighborhood trying to keep in shape and to keep my energy up. Often when I get back, Dad is back in bed asleep. The hospice nurse tells us that as the disease progresses those with Parkinson’s will sleep more and more, sometimes up to 20 hours a day.
Mom and Dad eat lunch early, usually at 11 AM. They have something light like sandwiches or soup. I try to eat healthy, like a steak, chicken or shrimp. I’m amazed at the amount of processed food that my parents eat and that I see at the grocery store. It makes it easier and faster to eat but I’m trying to eat fresh which involves cooking for myself. Dad then heads back to bed for a nap. Mom and I usually do too. When you get up so early, a nap feels good.
I spend a lot of time watching TV, all of those shows that I can’t see in France or that are dubbed in French. I surf the net too of course. Dinner is at 4:30 or 5 PM, something that puts Maurice into shock when he is here as he seldom wants to eat before 8 PM. I’ve gotten the same way but once I get here, I sort of fall into the schedule of my parents.
By 7 PM, my Dad is ready for bed. Mom and I watch TV, read the paper and relax. We both are usually in bed by 10 PM. And then the next day, we start again. We never know what the day will hold. Will Dad be weak and mild or more full of energy and sort of aggressive? When he is, I have some medicine that I slip him so he calms down. It’s an up and down disease with a gradual downhill slope. I’m working on getting Mom help when I’m not here. I’m not sure if a nursing home will be needed eventually. We will just have to wait and see. It could be a long process or he could go quickly-like a fading sunset or a lamp being turned off.