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Been Out of Touch for a Few Days

April 19th, 2009 (10:39 am)

I was supposed to spend much of Thursday evening, Friday, and Saturday in an National Federation of Press Women national board meeting. Luckily for me, it was close by -- at our national headquarters in Arlington -- so I didn't have to travel to it, for a change. It was great to see everyone, and we were feeling busy and productive. Then I got home late Friday night after a dinner at the National Press Club to hear that my grandfather had had an apparent stroke that day. He is 94 years old and was already suffering from Alzheimer's.

So Saturday found me at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, a high-tech planet-sized labyrinth of tiled corridors, sick people, and bureaucratic nonsense. It's an excellent hospital with a great reputation and various national rankings. I'm sure the quality of care is very high. But it's just so BIG. And, of course, there's not a doctor to be found in the place. (It always cracks me up to watch the hospital shows on television. At E.R.'s County General, the doctors all hang out with the nurses, patients, and patients' families, standing around in the corridors, chatting in the waiting room, and sitting for hours by someone's bedside, holding dying patients' hands. Also, they look like George Clooney.)
At any real hospital, nurses, of course, are the ones running the place, and the only staff who are actually visible are nurses and assistants. The nurses we saw yesterday were very helpful and professional, and unfazed by my grandfather's outbursts when he got agitated and cussed them out. Most of the time, I think he was just scared. He's mostly conscious, and he veers between carrying on lucid conversations and, well, not. It's hard to understand him when he talks, because he doesn't have full control of the muscles on one side of his face. Sometimes he seems to be thinking clearly (like when he asked me about my son's appearance in a local newspaper last week) but other times he's in some other place (like when he became upset because he needed to buy a backseat for the car -- apparently he was thinking it was 20 years ago, when he restored a classic Camaro). And sometimes he can't seem to speak at all, or just wants to know why he's here, why he can't get up, and when he can leave. Of course, he was already like that, because of the Alzheimer's, so it's difficult to assess just how much damage there is. Besides the Alzheimer's, he was in very good shape for his age. He was mobile and could easily carry on a conversation, though he tended to carry on the same conversation over and over again. He seems to be out of immediate danger and will probably be transfered to some sort of rehab facility in a few days. But his condition is still pretty bad.

My mother was out of town while all this was going on, but she cut her trip short and caught a flight home from California. I picked her up at BWI last night.

I'll be heading back to the hospital today. Please keep Papa in your thoughts.


Posted by: Lawrence M. Schoen (klingonguy)
Posted at: April 20th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)

Thinking healing thoughts.

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