I never was with Dad on any of his emergency room visits. By the time I flew in from Atlanta (if my presence was recommended), he was already in ICU. Dad had several ER visits in the last year of his life, while he lived in the care center. None of these trips involved Mom or I being by his side. He would fall or have some other minor issue, and the nursing home would send him to the ER, then pick him up when he was discharged.
Today, Mom was sent to the ER for what turned out to be yet another blood clot. (That would be #3 if you are keeping track. I know I am.) Luckily, Mom still has most of her mental capabilities and knows why she was brought to the hospital. She can interact and joke with the staff. No one enjoys visits to the ER, but Mom can maintain her good spirits throughout the ordeal.
But I thought about Dad today, and all of those ER visits when he was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. Was he frightened? He was no doubt disoriented. He could name some of the staff members at the care center, the ones he liked the most. (Well, he would get close enough to their names, say Ronnie for Ricky.) All of a sudden, he was whisked away to a new place with new people. Perhaps it didn’t faze him that much at all. It’s just one of those things I’ll never know.
I’ll also never know the degree of loneliness that Dad felt, if he felt any at all. The emergency room is a lonely place to be, and you usually have plenty of time to sit around and think about it, as long waits are legendary. Did Dad yearn for human companionship of some sort, even if he couldn’t remember his family any more? I don’t know.
But I am glad I made the decision to be with my mom now.