Sometimes the cure is the worst part of being sick.

To say that the past few months were slanted downhill is to compare one lighted candle to the raging fires in Australia. But even to presume that the goings on in my life, our lives, are more awful than lives of others dealing with dementia, or any tragedy, is ridiculous. I cringe when I hear myself whining to family or friends.

I look for laughs as I would look for salve for a burn.

Take the recent several weeks. Peter had a miserable cold for four or five days although he insisted, as he always does, that he felt fine. His rheumy red eyes, dripping nose (also red), and growly voice belied his words. He was way better the first Sunday in this stretch. It was a gorgeous day, more like early October than early January. When I suggested a walk he agreed readily. We strolled along the trails at the facility where he’s lived for nearly two years. He enjoyed being outside. Two days later a rumbling cough developed. A gargling hippo came to mind.

Although he didn’t have a fever, he had feverish symptoms—he wouldn’t eat, he wandered the halls, he stayed awake all night, slept all day, he was incontinent, he babbled, he went into other resident’s rooms and, in one instance, climbed into an occupied bed. Not funny to the occupant, I can imagine.

At the after-hours clinic he fell asleep in the waiting room. It was a long wait but according to Mark, he’d slept all that afternoon. Once in the clinic proper, he had to provide a urine specimen. Way easier said than done, especially when he did not want any help, thank you very much. I convinced him not to scoop water out of the sink or the toilet and I proved to him that the breast pocket zipper on his jacket was not the one he needed to unzip. You get the picture. We were both giggling by the time that was over.

No pneumonia, the PA said, and Peter was his usual English stiff-upper-lipped self for the blood draw. He looked as if he might fall asleep right on the table. Lab tests showed no UTI, often a culprit in such cases, but the off-the-chart glucose levels were troubling as was a raging white blood count.

My contrary husband has a history of refusing pills. The antibiotic prescribed, an enormous capsule, would be hard to swallow for a willing patient, but considerably worse for Peter who chewed rather than swallowed. The taste made him sick, of course. Not without reason the pharmacist’s notes suggested the patient take probiotics and/or yogurt for the course of treatment. Enough said!

Peter is back to his old self now, but with changes in place—a more accessible doctor, additional tests, a selection of liquids to try in attempt to keep him hydrated, among other things. Forcing liquids only makes him rebel, but he did like the no-sugar grapefruit drink and Gatorade I bought. At the end of the day there are only so many cups of tea I can force on my English husband whose mantra has always been “the time for tea is every hour on the hour.”

Header photo: Peter enjoyed the warm October-like day in January.

 

 

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

8 thoughts on “Sometimes the cure is the worst part of being sick.

  1. Isn’t it amazing how very sick and symptomatic an elder can become from a UTI. My aunt could not even walk when she developed a UTI to say nothing of the cognitive confusion. My sister’s dementia is severely worsened with any infection but UTI’s seem to be the most frequent. My ward who has dementia told me this week, “I know I have dyslexia but at least I’m not forgetting things.” You have got to laugh to keep from crying.

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  2. ❤️… jello counts as liquid…popsicles…cranberry juice would be an excellent choice. Keep him eating Activia as well…you’re such a good nurse!

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    • If he would eat Jello…or popsicles…good thing he likes the Activia and the sugar-free grapefruit drink I found. Hm, I’m more a Nurse Ratchett, I think. (;-)

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