Tuesday, February 16, 2010: By Guest Blogger Frank Firek, Jr.


As my sister mentioned in her post last night, my mom and I went to see my dad in the Geriatric Psych ward at Botsford Hospital yesterday evening.  Visiting hours were only from 6:30-7:30pm, and when we arrived my dad was in solitary confinement (a blank room with a cushioned floor mat to lie down on if you want) for the 2nd time this week.  He had apparently been sitting on another woman’s bed and wouldn’t get off of it when she wanted to use the bed.  Things escalated from there.  Ultimately, he wouldn’t take his medications to help calm him down, so again, he was held down by 3 security guards while they gave him a shot to “tranquilize” him.  He was then put into the solitary room to settle down around 6:00.

They went in to get him around 7:00.  He was sleeping on a mat on the floor and he was pretty incoherent as they tried to wake him.  They finally got him into a wheel chair, sobbing, and we wheeled him to his room to spend the last half hour with him and get him shaved.  He became more responsive as we talked to him, but what he was saying did not make sense.  We shaved him with his electric razor and it seemed to make a difference for all of us.  He continued to be more alert and he liked that he was clean-shaven again.  As for my mom and me, it was nice to get rid of the grizzled old man look.  We ended our visit by singing a few songs and reciting “The Night Before Christmas”.  My dad probably got about 75% of The Night Before Christmas correct, which is great as he had not practiced it for well over a month now. (For those that don’t know, my dad always recited The Night Before Christmas by memory at all Christmas functions he attended).

When visiting hours were over, we put him in bed, said we loved him, told him to have a good sleep, and told him that Mom and Joleen would be there to see him tomorrow.  He was crying in bed.  My mom said, “Don’t cry, honey”.  When I asked him why he was crying, he said, “Because I am so happy”.  We kissed him goodnight and left.

My mom and I then sat in the lobby for 10 minutes talking.  I asked her why she always tells him not to cry or says “Don’t be so shloopy” while he’s crying.  She said because it makes her feel bad to see him crying.  We then talked about how his brain is not working right and how he therefore can’t control when he is sad, so why tell him not to cry – it is like making him wrong for how he feels.  We don’t correct him when he says something wrong, so why try and stop the crying?  Later I talked to my wife about the same topic and she said it seems like you should react like you would to a kid who gets hurt and comes to you crying.  “Give them a hug, honor them that they got hurt so that they feel heard and understood, and then they will run back off to play.”  I think that sounds like to good plan for my Dad as well.

NOTES:  My mom and I talked to the psychiatrist assigned to my dad a couple days ago.  He said that their goal with the medications is to try and level out my dad’s mood so that he doesn’t have the violent outbursts.  They are not concerned about his medical condition and there is nothing they can do to alleviate the confusion and frustration that he feels – as his brain is dying.  They are just trying to level out his mood.  He also said that eventually the Alzheimer’s will start to cause his health to fail as his brain continues to deteriorate.  He said that we would probably start to see medical complications from the Alzheimer’s within a couple of years.

My mom talked to a nurse at Botsford yesterday about whether or not they could get my dad’s behavior under control so that he could go back to Sunrise.  She said they will absolutely get it under control.  If the current medications are not working, they will keep adding more until they get there.  But she also warned my mom that this is not the end.  After a while, he will get worse and will probably have to have his meds adjusted again.  It would be back at Botsford, or maybe through Hospice.  She said Hospice is a good idea as they can also use morphine, which will make him feel really happy.

3 Responses to “Tuesday, February 16, 2010: By Guest Blogger Frank Firek, Jr.”

  1. Shellie Avery-Franz said

    I have no words for what I feel right now. I am a friend of Karrie’s…. Sending you love and hope and strength. You have a marvelous family….. keep the faith…..

  2. Judy & Jim O'connor said

    I just want to say Thank-you so much for continuing with the updates. They mean so much to all of us. I know, I’m so hesitant to pick up the phone for fear of callin at the wrong time, or just making any of you recite for the umpteenth time what the status of things are. You ALL are continously in our thought, plans, & prayers. We are just hoping he’ll (Frank) be able to be back to Sunrise, happy, & able to enjoy some company again. Our love, always! J2O

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