It’s impossible for me not to compare my parents and their completely opposite experiences in the hospital. Of course, there are many reasons for the extreme contrasts. Dad had a mental illness, Alzheimer’s, which dominated any physical ailments that he suffered from. So for Dad, hospital experiences were muted. Sometimes, the physical symptoms could be treated with medications and procedures, but there was no cure for the disease that was robbing his mind. Luckily, he was not an aggressive dementia patient, but he was a shadow of his former self. The nurses and other caregivers that took care of Dad on his numerous hospital visits seemed to be able to see beyond the current shell of a man.
But unlike Mom, Dad never received the high fives and accolades that Mom has, as she recovers from surgeries and other medical setbacks. I thought about that again today, as Mom was wheeled out of the hospital by a nurse. She has developed a hernia from her surgical procedure back in July. She will need to have surgery in the next month, but for now, she can go home. People waved and cheered as she was rolled down the hallway, towards the front door to freedom.
While Dad was never violent, due to his dementia, he could not be a fully cooperative patient. Mom on the other hand is every nurse’s dream. Charming, funny, and always wearing makeup, she is the bright spot in what can be otherwise dreary days for healthcare workers. Mom may be battling physical ailments, but mentally, she can still delight others.
Just like Dad used to be able to do, before Alzheimer’s robbed him of his personality.