Thursday, September 28, 2006

Selective Hearing

When Brian arrives for dad’s breakfast Dad is trying to get out of bed. Brian tells him to wait for a nurse and that settles him down. They do the two-person lift and put Dad in his chair. While he waits Brian tidies the room. He knows how much Dad likes things neat, having helped him tidy up his room at the Manor. Dad is ranting about the mess in his very small, simple hospital-like room. Dad has two dressers, one wardrobe; his TV sits atop one dresser. We placed three paintings and photographs around the room. I have bought a plant, with a big yellow bow for the bright window. Dad loves his plants and flowers. I know I married my mother, she and Brian joked about the preponderance they had for liking things just so. I am a clutter freak and Brian is a neatnik.

Brian manages to get Dad to eat a bowl of porridge and drink two glasses of orange juice. There are no eggs and Dad is really pissed off with this. He complains to Brian that he is feeding him too fast. Also, Brian changed spoons and that pisses him off, too. This takes me back to looking after my children as toddlers. Things had to be just so. They cannot tolerate any change in routine. They had a routine and a rigid expectation. It makes everyone feel better to know what to expect. It breaks my heart that Dad has to be there. We cannot cope with his intense needs at home. I have talked to so many women who care for ailing family members. The difference seems to be if both spouses are alive – they can cope or stay in denial about it. It puts a huge burden on daughters and neighbours, however.

Dad’s hearing aid is broken. It was lost, and has been found, but it is really broken. Communication is a very tricky proposition these days. We know that Dad has big problems with the small size of his ear canals. We do not know if this is due to his brain tumour, his brain swelling, or exactly what. The end result is the same. We must yell into dad’s ear to make ourselves clear. We do know that he has selective hearing. While he is quite upset with us, when the cute blond nurse comes by and cheerily asks, “Are you ready for your pills?”, he responds with a big smile. He is a wicked flirt! Again, the tumour and the dementia is removing his inhibitions.

Mom and Dad fought against hearing aids many years ago. They spent a long time in denial, and learned to read lips quite well. It is so ironic that I recall Mom fighting with her Mom to get hearing aids, many, many years ago. Hearing aids these days are quite small and make a huge amount of difference. Friends tell me that they have fought the same battle with their ailing parents that their parents fought with their grandparents.

Brian takes the one remaining hearing aid away to the hearing aid store. The young lady, Terri, has been very good about cleaning dad’s hearing aids. She come to mom’s funeral and popped in at the visitation last May. The cleaning cost nearly three hundred dollars. She tells Brian that dad’s hearing is 75% gone in his left ear and 25% gone in his right as of a hearing test two years ago. This explains a lot of our troubles. Dad, in his times of dementia, turns the hearing aids up so loud that they whine and buzz at a very high frequency. It disturbs many people around him.

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