Of all the times that things seem to go awry, it always seems they do at the least convenient times and especially when my husband James and I are out of town. Why should we be any different right?
One of Dad’s first significant Lewy Body Dementia events happened about a year or so after his diagnosis. James and I had planned a trip to Mexico a year earlier and I grew skeptical about going as the departure date grew closer. Dad had been on his own for a few days here and there when his girlfriend was out of town. However, I was always within daily earshot and a swift 3-hour drive to rescue him if necessary. Additionally as “Murphy” would have it, his girlfriend also had plans to be out of town that same week we were to be away. So it was with great reluctance that I let Dad talk me into leaving for our trip down south.
Laughing, “I’ll be just fine Jennifer. You and James get out of this wretched winter for a few days and we’ll talk to you when you get back.”
“Are you sure Dad? What if something happens?”
“Nothing is going to happen. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself for a few days. I have everything I need right here, I don’t even need to go out. Have a good time honey, can’t wait to hear all about it!”
The phone rang in our hotel room at about 7am. James and I just looked at one another as if to ask; “who the heck could be calling so early, did you call for room service?” I rolled over and picked up the phone;
“Hi Jennifer it’s Liz. I’m so sorry to bother you on your first day of vacation!”
Liz was my mother’s younger sister who lived within an hour driving time to Dad’s. In addition to several other people, I had put Liz on alert in case anything came up while we were away.
“No problem, is everything ok?
“Your Dad is fine, but he’s in the hospital.”
“Really? What happened?!”
“Well, apparently he thought there were people coming into the condo through the fireplace and called 9-1-1 when they wouldn’t leave after he told them to. When the police arrived they could tell something just wasn’t right with him, so they took him to the emergency room to get checked out. The only person whose name he could remember was mine, so they called me.”
Holy crap I thought, of all times to have this happen and we’re thousands of miles away from home. How were we going to manage this?
“Liz, is he still there?”
“Yes, but they would like to discharge him if at all possible. I can take him with me, but I’ve got to work tomorrow so we’ll need some additional help.”
After a few (international) phone calls, I lined up several family members and friends to stay with Dad for the remainder of the week. Wow I thought, I should have listened to my intuition instead of being talked into leaving him home alone. Although he had managed previously, it seemed we had just crossed over into the next chapter of our life with LBD.