The doctor asked Peter if he had grandchildren. Peter shook his head slightly, but looked at me. “I don’t, do I?” he said. I raised my left eyebrow and nodded. “Sam and Miah?” he asked, obviously still puzzled.
Doctor T is our family’s doctor. He’s taken care of our grandson since he was born twenty-two years ago, and Leslie, Martin and Samantha even longer. “Who’s your grandchildren’s grandfather,” he asked next with a twinkle in his eyes.
Peter thought a long time. “It’s not me, is it?”
“You’re the only grandfather they’ve ever known,” I told him.
“But they’re your grandchildren,” he said, “they’re not really mine are they?” (Their paternal grandfather died before they were born, and they met my ex-husband just once when they were in their teens.)
“You’ve known them and loved them all their lives, haven’t you?” The doctor smiled.
“Yes, oh yes!” Peter, aka Dad-Dad, answered. When Sam was about two we tried to teach her to say “Granddad” but she could only manage “Dad-Dad.” That’s who he’s been for more than twenty-seven years now.
The questioning took place at our semi-annual prescription/follow-up check. I schedule them back-to-back to save time. When Dr. T asked Peter how he was doing, he said, “I’m fine, no problems. The dog walks me twice a day.” That’s one of his standard conversational phrases.
“How do you think he’s doing?” the doctor asked me.
I sighed, I’m sure. “He’s more forgetful…and he’s having nightmares, kicking a lot. He kicked himself out of bed two weeks ago…” I could tell my husband didn’t believe me even though I’d told him it had happened. “And he carries on coherent conversations in his sleep sometimes…”
“Pffft, that’s not me talking,” he said, “I’m not a talker!”
“Not when you’re awake, but you are when you’re asleep.”
Doctor T laughed at us. “Actually the kicking isn’t really caused by nightmares,” he said, telling us the unpronounceable name for the condition. “I can ‘up’ your Aricept prescription slightly and that should take care of it. We don’t want you hurting yourself or your wife with ‘soccer ball’ kicks!” Peter laughed at that.
During my separate follow-up session, the doctor asked if I was doing OK. I waggled my hand and gave my standard, can’t complain too much answer. “There are caregivers who have much worse to contend with,” I said.
“I wish I could prescribe a pill that would help your situation,” he said. And I knew he understood.