Angry Robot

Something Important Happened 2

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

After the first trip to the hospital you went back home. You said, “you really did it! You rebuilt it!” You thought it was a perfect replica of your house. I looked this up, it’s relatively common. it’s called reduplicative paramnesia.

Caregivers now came a few hours a day to help my mom.  It wasn’t enough. After a few weeks you nearly attacked one of them, and then you collapsed. So back to emergency.

After the second trip to the hospital you never went home again. The second time, it seemed like no one could find the records of the first time. They kept on asking the same questions.

There was no way to bring you back home. My mom was exhausted. You had a bizarre sleep schedule that involved early morning roaming, which given your shaky limbs (also part of the disease) meant my mom would have to wake and keep an eye on you, which meant that by the time of this second stay, she hadn’t had a good sleep in weeks.

They moved you to a place called Toronto Rehab, which had a floor for geriatrics. They took all the problem cases from nursing homes. The first time my girlfriend visited there she burst out crying. Many of the patients were far gone, difficult and screamy. There was a smell. But it was not a bad place – the nurses were incredible.

Your roommate Brian was deaf, blind and demented and he would call out to his dead wife in a boomy, old-style radio DJ voice. One time he started masturbating during dinner. A lot of us laughed.

They had you on anti-psychotics which made you much less prone to the sort of paranoid visions that had caused the two hospital visits. These were so uncharacteristic of you; it was a relief when they abated. You were quiet, withdrawn, and often amiable. Your awareness took on a multi-day cycle, from sleepy and unresponsive to borderline agitated a few days later. At your most aware you were unhappy with your situation. Who wouldn’t be – as a solidly independent man for the majority of your life, being so helpless must have enraged you.

Toronto Rehab was merely a temporary stop on a trip that would take you to a “long term care facility”, i.e. a nursing home. These things are often privately run, but in our province anyway the admissions list and the funding is administered by the government. You can choose three homes and then you go on a waiting list. My mom and I toured many facilities across the city. There are tons of them, huge buildings nestled into every community that you somehow never notice until you are looking for them. Most are horrible. Some are beautiful. The former have short waiting lists. The latter can take years. Of course we wanted the best for you, so we had you signed up for three homes with long waiting lists, the shortest being six months to a year.

In emergency situations – and in our province taking up a hospital bed like in Toronto Rehab is considered an emergency – you go on the ‘crisis list.’ This means you get priority placement ahead of anyone on the normal list. So you were on this special list, but even after two months passed there were still no openings for you. The government representatives started saying we’d have to choose somewhere with less of a wait or they would send us to the next available facility, meaning one of the horrible places.

We had seen a place in Scarborough that was a new building, beautiful and bright, that an older, previously all-female facility was in the process of moving into. It was far from us, but it seemed like a good place. They weren’t afraid to show us the dementia ward on the tour, which seemed refreshingly honest. So we signed you up, and a few weeks later you were moving in.

There turned out to be something wrong with this place.