Friday, August 05, 2011
Flip is in the hospital. I took him to the ER a week and a half ago because he was massively confused and combative, and I thought he might have had a stroke. After many hours, it was evident that I could no longer safely care for him alone, and he was admitted. He has been there ever since.
I spend many hours with him every day, and he seems to be worsening at a shocking rate. The hospital staff is wonderful, and has arranged for personal care assistants to be with him at all times as he needs help eating, walking and performing the most private acts. He is deprived of his dignity on an ongoing basis, mightily confused and often agitated, but still aware enough that he is miserable. It will be easier when he loses that awareness, even though it will also be sadder as there will be almost nothing left at that point which is incontestably Flip. This disease is eating his brain, his body, and his very essence. For me, every day inflicts a fresh wound as I steadily lose him in increments. He is dying inch by inch. What manner of deity concocted such a cruel punishment, and why has it afflicted someone who has always been incredibly compassionate, generous and kind?
The hospital case manager is pressuring me to take him out of there as he has overstayed his welcome, but the nurses who are actually involved in patient care agree that I can't safely care for him any longer. They claim to be amazed that I managed to do it for so long.
Yesterday, I visited my first-ever nursing home. It truly did resemble death's waiting room superimposed on an elementary school with a very low budget. All the residents I saw were decades older than Flip. I also disliked the fact that it was located in Daly City, which is a particularly odious part of the Bay area. I think Daly City is God's punishment for anyone stupid enough to leave San Francisco without crossing either the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge. Plus, I have always gotten lost there on my occasional forays to Krispy Kreme Donuts, the only one in the entire Bay area, on the way back from Home Depot. Yesterday was no exception. Mapquest helped me to navigate many surface streets and two freeways until I got to Daly City, at which point I got so lost I thought it must be a sign and nearly turned around. I was a half-hour late for my interview.
Today, the nursing home's administrator came to the hospital to assess Flip and decided that since he can still walk, he didn't belong there. Good! I wasn't planning to take him there anyway. In fact, I'm not sure what I'll be able to arrange because he doesn't qualify for Medi-Cal, called Medicaid in other states, but we can't afford private care at thousands of dollars per month. So we're at an impasse. I know there has to be a solution which hasn't yet revealed itself to me. One of the worst aspects of this dilemma is that I would normally discuss it with Flip and we would arrive at a solution together, but that is no longer possible. It feels a lot like betrayal and it tastes bitter, like blood, in my mouth.
A young couple moved into our apartment building today. I haven't seen them yet, but I have been hearing them since I returned from the hospital. They just noisily saw friends off who noisily arrived an hour ago, and yelled "Thanks for the champagne!" From this I infer that they are at the beginning of their life together, and I wonder what it will hold. Will one of them develop Alzheimer's after twenty happy years, and the other be where I am now? I'd like to think that in twenty years this disease will be cured or rarely contracted like small pox and bubonic plague. It deserves to be obsolete. But statistically, it is gaining in the polls and becoming epidemic, just when our national healthcare system is at its sickest. What manner of deity indeed?