Papa has an appointment with his neurologist this morning. Since moving to Virginia he has been to an internist, an audiologist and the dentist, but he has not yet seen his new neurologist. We have been trying to space his various doctor appointments because he seems to get a bit nervous about going, he worries about not only how he is getting to a new office, but also what he is going to say to the doctor, if they will take his insurance, or when he will have to return to see them. We have assured him that one of us will always be with him for his appointments; we will work out all of the scheduling and finances, help him to talk to the staff, and make sure he puts all future visits onto his calendar hanging on the back of his door, but he still feels a bit uneasy getting used to new places and different doctors.
We have had company for the past two weeks. It was wonderful to have a house full of people, big dinners around the table, and spending our evenings sitting around just talking or playing games and, of course, holding my granddaughter. This was a big contrast compared to the quiet routines we have set with Papa over the past few months. I noticed that after the first week of our visitors he was much quieter than usual; he was just trying to follow the conversations vice trying to join in. I realized that many of the conversations we had held prior to our guests arriving revolved around him in the past or our day to day activities whereas adding more people into our table talks the discussions would often quickly jump from one topic to another and they were frequently future based or open ended items which can be confusing. It must have been like following a ping pong match, turning and looking at each person as they were talking only to then turn as the next person responded, it was hard for him to keep up. During the times he was quiet I noticed he would tap his foot, drum his hands on the table, or run his fingers over a small comb in his pocket, and I would use these habits as my cue to quietly direct the conversation over to him for a moment. We had heard all of these sounds over the years; he would often make them with Nana when the conversations became overwhelming just to change the topic. She would say in an exasperated voice Wayne and he would act as if he had not done anything. I can only imagine that he still hears her voice and misses her reprimands during any overwhelming moments as well.
We did not realize the amount of anxiety Papa felt about today’s doctor visit until we woke up this morning and realized he had been quietly sitting up all night. I quickly asked him what he was up thinking about before I left for work: I thought you had to leave by 5:30 – It is ok, I am taking my time today. I hope the kids made it home safely – They are still driving, they stopped overnight and will be home today, we will call them this evening and make sure they are safe and sound. I have a great family, you can’t say my grandkids don’t have a good home – Yes, we do have a great family, we are all very blessed. Is Doug going with me today? – Yes, Doug will be with you today when you go meet the new doctor. I am almost out of my dizzy medicine – We will get more. He calls Aricept his dizzy medicine. He used to have bouts of dizziness at various times during the day, and he said that his Aricept helps that. The bottle has a warning that it may cause dizziness, but to him he believes he takes it to combat his dizziness. If it helps his dizziness, real or imagined, it is all the more reason for him to take it.
Driving to work today I realized we will have to take the next few weeks getting back into our quiet evening routines. Having Papa help with dinner again when we get home, rather than have five people in the kitchen all doing something different. Starting a new puzzle in the evenings where we can talk as we are looking for pieces rather than the stress of always looking at someone and perhaps being at a loss for words; and with fewer people it will be easier to direct the conversation for him to talk about times that are much easier for him to remember. And fortunately baseball season has started so we have evening games to look forward to watching. It has not taken long for him learn which channels televise spring training and to encourage him to become a Nationals fan. Go Nats!
Endnote: I received a call moments after Papa’s scheduled appointment time asking for a list of his medications. Before I could send one, Papa remembered he had carried one with him today. Success! I just hope that is not what he was up all night thinking about.