Ever and Always
Chapter 2: Waking Up - April, 2021
Copyright© 2015 by Banadin
William Donald Schaefer Memorial Rest Home April 13, 2021
In room 34 bed A, in a back corridor Richard "Rick" King slowly became aware of his surroundings. He felt like he was waking up from a sleep that was far too deep. He was disoriented and was not processing his environment. It did not match what he thought he remembered, so he just lay there trying to get his thoughts together.
As Rick laid there a black lady who he did not recognize at all came into the room. "Time for your dinner handsome" a cheerful Peggy Tapp announced. Rick tried to ask where he was but all that came out of his dry throat was a croak. A very startled Peggy Tapp stopped and looked at him carefully. Rick tried again, "Water," came out as a dry rasp.
Peggy left the room rapidly and returned quickly with a cup of water. She lifted it to his dry lips, so he could sip it. After several sips, he tried to talk again, "Where am I and who are you?"
"You're in the William Donald Schaefer rest home, and my name is Peggy Tapp," she told him. "Figures," he said in his raspy voice, "I'm a Republican." Peggy chuckled as she picked up his chart. It confirmed what she remembered. This was a patient listed as having severe dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. There was no way that this conversation should be happening!
Peggy thought rapidly, I have to report this so a doctor can look at him, but first dinner. "It is dinner time now, are you hungry?"
Rick did not have to think, "Yes!"
The smiling attendant said, "Let me raise the bed and put the tray in place." She was raising the bed as she spoke. Swinging the table stand into position, she placed the tray in front of him.
"Dinner is served," announced the almost giddy black lady.
Peggy had never seen a patient so far gone make this sort of recovery. After many years of nothing but the unremitting gloom of watching people pass this was a brief ray of hope. She had no illusions that it was nothing but a brief step back from the abyss for him, but it still felt good.
"Looks like mush," Rick commented.
"A step above, but that is what we have had to feed you for the last several months. Now do you need help?"
Rick got a rather stubborn look on him as he said, "Been doing it for eighty some years"
"Well then honey child, you go for it." Rick tried to raise a spoon in a shaky hand but could not get it to his mouth. After letting him try, Peggy spoon fed him.
"Is there any dessert?" he asked.
"Not right now but I will see if I can find something for when I come in to tuck you in for the night."
"It will be appreciated. I'm still hungry."
Later Peggy was at the nursing station and was talking to Liz Herring the night nurse on duty. She was describing what was occurring with Rick King.
Liz looked thoughtful for a minute, "This sounds extreme but possible. Alzheimer's is a funny disease. There is the disease, and there are secondary factors such as environment or another illness such as diabetes."
Liz went on, "These secondary conditions make the dementia appear worse, if the condition improves there seems to be remission in the Alzheimer's. I wonder what changed. I will put him on the list for rounds tomorrow."
William Donald Schaefer Memorial Rest Home April 14, 2021
Doctor Charles Meyers, a youthful looking resident at Baltimore East Hospital cleared his throat. "This is one of the stronger cases of dementia appearing worse than it actually is because of secondary causes."
"The real puzzler is that from the limited medical history we have there are none of the common secondary conditions present such as diabetes, anxiety drug use, depression, urinary tract infection, a thyroid imbalance or vitamin B12 deficiency. There have been no recent environmental changes."
"About the only thing that can't be ruled out is recovery from a series of mild silent strokes."
The recent graduate in Geriatric Medicine continued, "Because of the patients advanced age and known length of Alzheimer's, there is really nothing that would be achieved to confirm this by diagnostic testing. Continue care as before, but realize that for a brief time, you have a more aware patient who needs to be treated as such."
"Thank you Doctor, that is what we thought, but we needed it confirmed," stated Liz Herring the night nurse attending the conference after Doctor Meyer's rounds.
Lisa Hawkins the head nurse followed on with, "As long as he is aware we will work with him to get him out of bed and more involved with his own personal care and interaction with others."
"Sounds like a plan, now I need to get back to East to perform my rounds there. They keep talking about reducing our eighty-hour workweek, but nothing happens. How in the old days residents put in one hundred and twenty hours without killing everyone I will never know."
Both nurses chuckled at the never changing complaint of all resident intern physicians.
"Good afternoon Mister King, how are we today," bubbled Peggy Tapp.
"I am fine. I don't know about you," replied Rick in a fake crotchety manner.
"It is so good to hear that. Dismal is the norm here, so it is uplifting when something nice happens."
King asked, "What did the young kid have to say about me this morning, He certainly asked enough questions."
"Now don't be mean, Doctor Meyers is trying his best."
"I know, but everyone seems like children!"
Peggy grinned, "I hear you twenty to thirty year olds are beginning to look that way to me. I can see how that would be a problem for someone as ancient as you."
"Wait a minute, I am not ancient. I just look that way," King retorted.
Okay then, Old Man, let's get you out of this bed and take a walk."
"Not in this damn open gown I'm not!"
Peggy got a stern look, but then blew it by giggling, "Get your boney white butt out of bed. Anyway, I have a gown for you." While talking, she opened the cabinet which served as a closet and pulled out a threadbare men's nightgown. "We have a collection of the finest men's clothing."
"Better than this gown," grumped King. He struggled to sit up, Peggy raised the head of the bed then helped him bring his feet around. As he started to lean forward to stand he grabbed her arm and sat back down. "Dizzy."