A Hospital And A Family
In my hometown, there is a hospital called Parkview.
It has been around by one name or another since 1898.
Parkview was the hospital to go to for most of my life.
Actually, my life started there. Even though there was a hospital closer to my parents house, they chose Parkview.
Over the years, we have come to know every nook and cranny of the old building. My mom worked in the admissions office for almost 20 years.
My grandparents spent their last few days on earth at Parkview.
21 years ago, my son was born there in a newly created birthing center.
In the intervening years, the landlocked campus started to seem a little cramped and a new version was built near the interstate. The old building which once was so busy you were hard pressed to find a parking spot in the garage, now allows free parking. The garage on a recent Saturday was at about a fifth of its capacity. They have an emergency room and a few specialized areas in the old place.
Why do I bring this up?
Well, last Saturday, I went to the old hospital with my wife to see my Dad at the Continuing Care Unit.
He is 85 and over the last few weeks he had suffered a couple of episodes which had him going to the emergency room. He doesn’t have cancer or any other disease that a doctor can point to. He is just wearing out.
About 8 days ago, at my youngest brothers’ request, I went up to see him at his house. He had just gotten back from his second hospital stay. I was there to see how he was doing and to start the process of figuring out what to do with his living situation.
He was very proud of a recent purchase. My brother took him to Best Buy to get a TV which would replace the ancient console he had been watching.”Look at how thin it is,” he said.
He had started to see things that weren’t there in the shadows of the hallway. I was able to have lunch with him and try to get answers about what his wishes were for the future since living on his own was not going to be an option for much longer. We had a good visit. He was receptive to the notion of moving on. Resigned to it, more likely.
On the way back, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he would have been happy to just fall asleep there and not wake up. Wrapped in the arms of the memory of Moms’ embrace.
Mom has been gone for almost exactly 5 years now. She died the day after Thanksgiving. So, this time of year was always hard for Dad. I wrote about her in March.
I told my brother about the visit and we compared notes, agreeing that we had some time to look into the options.
That changed Monday when I got a call from my brother saying Dad was back in the hospital.
When my brother couldn’t get an answer to his phone calls Monday, he called the Fort Wayne emergency number and requested a “welfare check”. The police, or in this case, the fire department will come over and take a look to make sure everything is all right.
They couldn’t get an answer to the doorbell, so they broke through the door and found my Dad, alive but unconscious, on the living room floor. They revived him and against his wishes took him to the hospital. Back to Parkview. They were confused by his choice of facilities. There was a hospital much closer but what they didn’t know was that was the one where Mom died. He knew enough to be able to avoid that place. The hospital had done everything they could for her that day, but he never forgave them for not making her well.
Since Monday, he has been on a slow, sad slide. He is seeing more things that are not there. He can remember things from decades ago, yet he has trouble with more recent people and events. He sleeps a lot.
When we went up Saturday, he was supposed to start physical therapy. He wasn’t really up to it.
Maybe the doctor will have some encouraging news, but I doubt it.
85 years is a good run. I hope we will be able to make what is left of his life comfortable.
I really hope Parkview has it in her to take care of Dad. The old place owes us that much.