Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Getting old isn't for sissies."

I am sitting with my 91 year old father in the urologists tiny examination room wedged between the large anatomically correct female poster on one side of the room and the male poster on the other. The doctor is more than an hour late and I've run out of things to read or talk about. 

This is our second doctor's appointment of the day. The first was at 9:30 am with the audiologist to take impressions for new hearing aides. Dad still has the one for the left ear, but can't remember where the he put the one for the right. He enjoys the attention he gets from Dr. Green as she prepares to take the impressions. We will have to schedule another appointment in two weeks to have the new hearing aides fitted, but I can't remember if he already has another doctor's appointment that week so I will have to call my sister before we can set the day and time.

The urologist finally comes in to tell Dad he will have to take two more weeks of pills to clear up his infection. This of course adds a trip to the pharmacy to our schedule and a followup appointment to our calendar. By the time we leave the medical clinic, it is close to noon and Dad wants to stop at Newport Bay for clam chowder before we shop for groceries and prescriptions.

One possible advantage of driving Dad is his handicap parking permit. Unfortunately there never seem to be any spots open so we go through the same routine at each stop. I pull up in front, put the car in park, set the brake and come around to the passenger side to boost him from his seat. He slowly creeps toward the door as I look for a parking spot. When we leave the procedure is played out in reverse. With two doctor's visits, lunch, the grocery store, and the pharmacy I make 10 trips around the car to either help him in or out. As the clock ticks away I'm thinking about his mountain of laundry to finish and his kitchen floor to mop.

By the time we get home it is nearly 2:00 pm. I put the groceries away and start a load of wash while my father settles into a chair in the living room for a nap. As I slip by his elevator chair at the bottom of the stairs, I think about how easy it is for me to take the stairs two at a time and how difficult it is for him just to get in and out of his chair.  I remember my mother saying an elderly friend told her once "getting old isn't for sissies." I understand now what she was talking about. 

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