"He's getting stronger, wheeling himself around like that," Mom says, not hearing the last part. I'm not having a good feeling about the morning.
With Mom on my arm to guide and support her, we begin to cruise the halls. Turning a corner, we see Dad being wheeled back near the station by an aide.
"Hey, there you are, Dad!" I say.
"All right, let's go right now," Dad says.
He has that intense, strained, wild-eyed look that we are seeing too often. I say nothing, trying to provide no triggers for aggression or abusive behavior.
Eyes staring, Dad takes me in, my silence and all, and says, "You shut up, goddamnit!" I continue to say nothing. "All right, to hell with you," he continues, turning his wheelchair and rolling away down the hall.
"What should we do?" Mom asks.
"Let's wait here. Maybe he'll calm down if we don't follow him."
He storms down the hall, as best he can, his head and neck tensely snapping left and right as he studies his perimeter. His arm-strokes on the wheels propel him fairly quickly, considering his feebleness. He doesn't seem so feeble now, his actions flavored with a quick abruptness.
As he enters some patient's room, an aide at the station moves him out, Dad's hands gripping the armrests, his head still snapping left and right.
"Let's go to his room and meet him there," I tell Mom.
Two more aides meet us in his room as we arrive, Dad close behind, pushed by a fourth aide.
"Let's go! Goddamnit, you assholes can't keep me here," Dad yells at the aides.
"Harold, you can't talk to them like that. They're trying to help you," Mom says.
"You're my wife. Take me home."
"When you're stronger."
"Dad, Mom could hurt herself caring for you with her heart."
"There's nothing wrong with my wife. You shut the hell up!"
He lunges at me with an expression I can only describe as maniacal. I step out of reach as the aides grab and stabalize his wheelchair, keeping it motionless.
Mom steps forward. "I love you." She leans and they kiss.
"And I love you," Dad says. He reaches for her, and my heart leaps in two directions.
A nurse leans to him. "Let's lie you down to rest. Maybe you'll feel stronger after a rest."
"Don't tell me what to do!"
"We need to go," I tell Mom. "Maybe he will settle down after we're gone."
We enter and move down the hall. Mom is crying. "I don't know what to do," she says.
"We need to call before we come from now on," I tell her. "If Dad's upset, we can call again in the afternoon to see how he is."
"I don't know what to do."
"We'll call later, Mom."
"The stroke did of lot of it."
"We'll just do what we can."
That's the plan now, Plan B--call before visiting. I'll take Mom to visit Dad anytime, but Somebody Else we plan to avoid.
Addendum: Today we called and were told that Dad was sitting outside. When we showed up, he was wild again, saying I was ruining his marriage. Then he reached out to hit me. Mom and I left within minutes.
I told Mom we have to treat the situation like the weather--when it's nice, we enjoy it; when it's stormy, we get away from it and wait it out.
We're going now with Plan C: call before leaving home, and then upon arrival, have Mom sit in the lobby while I check to see Dad's mental state. Nice--we visit. If Somebody Else is on the rampage--we go away.
Today after leaving, I took Mom to the dollar store: three cans of soup, 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, and bath soap for $6.15. Not a solution but perhaps an anodyne.
Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved