The hospital where most of my parents medical visits occur is a beautiful new facility. It has huge windows, large corridors and many oversized paintings and photographs of scenes from nature. My mom is enamored with many paintings around the hospital.
The exam rooms are not so spacious when you have four people in them. We end up sitting in a room with the neurologist, my mom, my dad and myself. Our knees all seem to meet in the middle of the room as the appointment begins.
The neurologist asks my dad questions. She starts with “Why are you here?” He tells her it’s because his hip was hurting two months ago, but he is a little unsure of his answer. Thankfully, this doctor did her homework and knew that my dad fractured his hip three years ago. It’s a totally funky answer to her question.
The neurologist then turns to me and has me answer questions in more detail, truly revealing the nature of the visit.
- “When did you notice a change in your father?”
- “Did you see a doctor about your concerns?”
- “Did anyone else in his family have dementia?”
- “Are you concerned for his safety?”
I look at both of my parents before answering, take a deep breath and give the doctor my answers. While my parents have heard me say these things to them directly, I know they won’t recall them, so some of my words will be surprising and even may feel disloyal to the family code to keep things private. I know I have to speak now and speak honestly.
The neurologist moves on and starts to apply a mini-mental assessment on my dad. My mom and I are looking at the artwork in the exam room. I tell her I think it looks like natural materials underneath a microscope. She says to her it looks like an abstract painting.
I start to describe what materials I think are under the microscope – the first one looks like a turquoise geode, the next a black marble. My mom is listening and then puts on her glasses. “Wow! Thank looks really different with my glasses on!” We both break into giggles and disrupt the test going on.
I think we both recognize the gravity of the situation but are trying to find a place where we can both meet and have an enjoyable moment. Escaped.