When scheduling Dad's appointments the goal was to make them all on the same day. Corralling the chaos wore us both out, but just like tearing off a Band-Aid, when you’re dealing with dementia and doctors, it’s less painful to get it over with quickly.
I asked the "reminder people" to call me when confirming his appointments. When he scheduled his own, he’d conveniently not show up, either because the dementia stole the information or he just plain didn’t want to go.
On this particular day we started with the eye doctor and, as usual, he grumbled all the way there because he didn’t need to go to a fancy dancy doctor since his eyes were just fine. I reminded him this was a follow up to make sure everything was still “just fine,” after his cataract surgery, which he had already forgotten ever took place.
"It's a racket," he said as we entered the waiting room. Getting him to appointments, on time and without whining, was worse than dragging a 5-year-old to the dentist office.
I gave him the "look" as we sat down, and, as he glanced around the room at the plush carpeting, chandelier lighting, and a hostess passing out cookies and coffee, he gave me the “look” and I could’ve guessed what was coming next.
“Looks like the doctors’ makin’ a killing,” he broadcast across the waiting room, capturing everyone’s attention, mid bite of their cookie snack.
We went through the information together, for the hundredth time - his Medicare benefits, along with his insurance tie-in, meant he wouldn’t have to pay for anything out of pocket. I couldn’t blame him for not understanding the Medicare system, I’m not sure anyone understands it. He finally released the white knuckle grip on his billfold and let me put it in my purse.
He went through the eye exam with flying colors, although the heart doctor visit wasn't so simple. This time when we entered the waiting room he announced, "I'm probably helping the doc buy his retirement home in Florida."
When the nurse came in to take his vitals, she asked him a series of questions, although he only ever had one pat answer when asked if he any problems or issues, "just being broke." I knew that was my cue to chime in, as he’d forgotten what his problems were or why he was sitting in a doctor’s office.
We left with a good report, and as usual, he’d tell me we could have saved a lot of time and money if I would have just listened to him.
Just one more appointment to go.
The dentist office was the last stop and it literally was the last straw for Dad. Not only did he refuse to sit in the dentist’s chair, he wouldn’t open his mouth to let anyone take a look, so we were in and out of there in 10 minutes.
My only hope is my daughters will have that much fun with me on doctor day.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at email@example.com